Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 08, 2020

Iran's Missile Launch Against Two U.S. Bases in Iraq Calls Trump's Bluff - Updated

Updated below

Last night Iran fired 22 Qiam missiles towards two U.S. bases in Iraq. Between 1:45 and 2:15 local time (~22:00 UTC) seventeen missiles hit the Ain al Assad airbase west of Ramadi. Five missiles were aimed at Erbil airport in the northern Kurdish region of Iraq. There were no casualties.

The Swiss embassy in Tehran, which represents the U.S., was warned at least one hour before the attack happened. Around 0:00 UTC the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration issued a Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibited civil U.S. flights over Iraq, Iran, the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman.

This attack was the "open" and "proportional" response for the U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani which Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei had promised. It will certainly not be the only response but represents the opening shot of a long and much more silent campaign to kick the U.S. out of the Middle East.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who had threatened to destroy 52 targets in Iran including cultural sites if Iran would take any revenge, seems to have understood that this attack was intentionally limited to avoid a larger war:

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 2:45 UTC · Jan 8, 2020
All is well! Missiles launched from Iran at two military bases located in Iraq. Assessment of casualties & damages taking place now. So far, so good! We have the most powerful and well equipped military anywhere in the world, by far! I will be making a statement tomorrow morning.

The Qiam missiles Iran launched are a derivative of the Soviet Scud type. They are liquid fueled with a warhead of about 700 kilogram. They have a range of some 800 kilometer. Iran has more capable and precise solid fueled missiles it could have used.

The Ain al Assad airbase which was hit is where the drones that killed Soleimani and the Iraqi leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis were launched from. Erbil airport is the logistic center for the U.S. forces in Syria.

Videos show the launch and the impact of the missiles.

No U.S. air or missile defense against the incoming projectiles was observed.

The message from Iran is thus: "We can attack all your bases and you can do nothing to prevent that."

Iran's leader said that the attack was "slap in the face" for the U.S. and that this military reaction to the U.S. crime is not the only one that will happen:

Ayatollah Khamenei addressed the nation live on TV in a meeting with a large group of people from Qom, in commemoration of the 42nd anniversary of the January 9, 1978 uprising in Qom against the Pahlavi regime.

The live address also took place hours after the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) targeted the US airbase of Ain al-Assad in Anbar province in western Iraq after launching a wave of attacks in early hours of Wednesday to retaliate the US assassination of IRGC Quds Force commander, Lt. Gen. Qasem Soleimani.
“What is important in addition to retaliation is that military operations do not suffice. It is important to end the US corrupting presence in the region,” the Leader stressed.

“Americans are insisting on bringing corruption and destruction into our dear Iran. Talks of sitting down at the negotiating table is a preface to interventions, which must end. Regional nations do not accept the US presence and its meddling measures,” he added.

“The US enmity toward Iran is not temporary; it’s inherent. It is a ‘gross mistake’ to think if we took a step back and comprised, the US would stop its enmity,” he stressed.

Hours after Iran had launched the missiles a Ukrainian airliner crashed three minutes after it had taken off from Tehran airport. All 176 people on board died. The passengers were mostly from Iran, Canada and the Ukraine. The airplane was a three years old Boeing 737-800 NG operated by Ukrainian International Airlines, the country's flag carrier. Video shows the burning airliner coming down on a glide path. Photos from the crash site show shrapnel like impacts on the fuselage. The evidence is consistent with an uncontained turbine disc rupture but other potential causes can not be ruled out. The incident will be investigated like all other airliner crashes.

The Iranian military revenge was less intensive then I had expected. But it was also a clear sign that Iran is capable and willing to openly attack U.S. bases in the larger area. The missile attack came despite Donald Trump's threats to Iran. It called his bluff.

Further reactions will depend on the U.S. reactions to the demand of the Iraqi parliament that all foreign forces leave Iraq. Should the U.S. leave Iraq peacefully all will be well. Should it insist on staying U.S. soldiers will die.

Update - 17:00 UTC

Additional information has come in which corrects or adds to some of the above made claims.

The 17 missiles launched against Ain al Assad airbase were of the Qiam-2 type which is an updated version of the original Qiam with a guided warhead and much better accuracy. The missiles launched towards Erbil airport were solid fueled Fateh 313 missiles which have a 500 kilometer range and additional anti-interception devices.

Damage pictures of Ain al-Assad airbase show that the hits were well targeted and extremely precise.

Source: ArmsControlWonk - bigger

Source: ArmsControlWonk - bigger

Trump confirmed that there were no U.S. casualties. The situation is thereby de-escalating as the U.S. will now stand down. Trump called the damage on the base "minimal" even while several airplane/drone hangers were obviously hit and completely destroyed with everything they contained. Iran must have had very good intelligence about the site. Trump also lauded an early warning system that, he said, prevented casualties. The Swiss embassy in Tehran will have a good laugh at that comment.

Higher quality daylight pictures of the crashed Ukrainian plane show that at least some of the "shrapnel impact holes" are not holes at all but are debris or dirt lying on top of the aircraft pieces. Additional pictures also show no evidence of an externally induced event.

The Flight Data Recorders of the airplane were found. Iran will download the data from them or, if it does not have that capability, will ask some other country (France?, Germany?) to do so. A preliminary accident report will be published after one month.

Posted by b on January 8, 2020 at 11:45 UTC | Permalink

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@99 b4real, I agree. How there are no videos, pics, or even satellite pics other than what we listed is beyond strange. It definitely smells like information warfare is being employed as narrative management and/or damage control.

Posted by: Sorghum | Jan 8 2020 16:28 utc | 101

@activate #86

You don't seem to have commented here before, yet you take it upon yourself to comment now, and in sudden vehement opposition to this post. That seems suspicious, to say the least.

Going to the substance of your comment, you claim that last night's attack was an empty gesture. Regardless of the actual impact of the attack, it seems to be in the US establishment's interest to spin it as an empty gesture. The point here is to not trust what the US establishment says, for it very well could be lying, and "When it gets serious, you have to lie."

From here, though, the attack seems anything but an empty gesture. Iran seems to have successfully defeated US air defenses and destroyed expensive US military hardware. Even if the attack was really just a demonstration, it was a powerful one.

Posted by: Cynica | Jan 8 2020 16:29 utc | 102

arby @90

Trump has accomplished 3 things in 3 years.

1. Being Santa Claus to Netanyahu, the far right and the very rich (Generous donors)
2. Doing the impossible, making Hillary look like the better of 2 terrible choices
3. Proving 42% of the American public aren't too swift.

Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 16:29 utc | 103

Trump is currently on the air, lying his ass off.

Posted by: AntiSpin | Jan 8 2020 16:32 utc | 104

Trump is such a douchebag. He claims there were no lives lost due to their "early warning system" -- no mention that the "early warning system" was a phone call!

Now he's once again justifying assassination, etc.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 8 2020 16:32 utc | 105

The missles last nite is not the promised retribution ...rather, iran is keeping focussed on the primary goal get the usa out of iran / iraq. ...once that iss done, they will be free to actually do some serious payback.

Posted by: James j | Jan 8 2020 16:34 utc | 106

@88 Thank you for an interesting factual post. It does suggest that Iran was demonstrating their missile expertise without causing (m)any casualties.

Posted by: dh | Jan 8 2020 16:34 utc | 107

Posted by: TheBAG | Jan 8 2020 16:20 utc | 98

Of course.

Ayatollah Khamenei: Iran's retaliation against US only 'a slap'

Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Iran’s early Wednesday missile attack on US bases in Iraq following the American assassination of a top general was just “a slap”.

"The talk of revenge and such debates are a different issue. For now, a slap was delivered on their face last night," Ayatollah Khamenei said in remarks broadcast live on national television Wednesday.

"What is important about confrontation is that the military action as such is not sufficient. What is important is that the seditious American presence in the region must end," he said to chants of "Death to America" by an audience in Tehran.

The threats on how to answer on new US attacks have been issued without a date of expiry.

It all depends now on Trump's reelection strategy: Will he run on bringing the troups home or will he run on another Middle East war.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2020 16:34 utc | 108

I had expected Iran would hold off retaliation while working to have the US kicked out of Iraq.

Teleprompter Trump is saying the lack of casualties was thanks to an "early warning system that worked very well".

Posted by: Keith McClary | Jan 8 2020 16:34 utc | 109

there was no "better choice" between trump and clinton. i still think clinton represented a greater danger than trump of getting into a war with russia, but they are both warmongers first class. for our next election, we may have a choice between ebola and flesh eating bacteria, or brain cancer and leprosy. if the game is rigged there's no winning it playing by the game's "rules".

Posted by: pretzelattack | Jan 8 2020 16:39 utc | 110

Well it was certainly no "A Day That Will Live In Infamy!!" speech. Nitwit. But it looks like WWIII has been postponed til another day.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 8 2020 16:40 utc | 111

I think the Iranians have won no matter what as they can escalate in a way that is retaliation resistant. Remember the US never backs down from its "narrative". So go after the US service personnel that worked with QS, because if QS was a bad guy, they must be bad guys, so must their commanders all the way up to the CiC, QED.

Posted by: TJ | Jan 8 2020 16:42 utc | 112

Posted by: psychohistorian | Jan 8 2020 16:17 utc | @96

agree. effective AA is the separation line in military capabilities

Posted by: trind | Jan 8 2020 16:42 utc | 113

The percentage of the American public who are not too swift are the 90+ percent who voted for either Trump or Hillary. The mystery is why so few Americans vote third party, even in a year when the two major party choices on offer are so dismal. Are the vote counts honest?

Posted by: lysias | Jan 8 2020 16:49 utc | 114

Posted by: Tom_LX | Jan 8 2020 16:20 utc | 97

I don't know about improbable. On their own territory they have the investigation under control.

There have been vile attacks by the MEK lot - Giuliani's friends - inside Iran. Canada's Stephen Harper gave paid talks at their congregations.

It seems to turn out dual national families with kids were on the plane. So probably not by Iran. Possibly it was an MEK/Saudi attack threatening Iranian Canadians.

Posted by: somebody | Jan 8 2020 16:51 utc | 115

@ Posted by: pretzelattack | Jan 8 2020 16:39 utc | 110

Trump was by far the best option in 2016. I rooted for his victory then (I'm not American and never set foot on American soil nor do I know any American citizen on a personal level, so that's all I could do), was extremely happy he won and I did not regret one second of that time.

The reason is very simple: Trump's unexpected victory opened a fissure in the American political system. It created an instability within the system that is unparalled in its Imperial Era (1943-). The only greater instability that have ever happened before was the one caused by James K. Polk's conquest of northen Mexico, which resulted/culminated with the American Civil War (1861-1865).

Now, there's a "second front" opened in the USA: an internal (domestic) one. Yes, Trump's rise resulted into a far-right fallout in its spheres of influence (Europe and Latin America), but I still think this was a small price to pay - even an inevitable side effect.

For 2020, I hope Trump loses to the worst possible Democrat candidate (my favorite in this case would be Michael Bloomberg, the superbillionaire). And I hope Bloomberg wins with a blatant fraud - at least of the size of W. Bush's vs Al Gore. This will deepen the divisions within the empire and thus strengthen the "axis of resistance" or whatever you wanna call the Eurasian alliance centered on China and Russia.

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 16:55 utc | 116

@ 101, they hit the targets, old man. this is repost from Brenden> "At least five structures were damaged in the attack on the base in Anbar province, which apparently was precise enough to hit individual buildings. "Some of the locations struck look like the missiles hit dead center," says David Schmerler an analyst with the Middlebury Institute."

Posted by: Walter | Jan 8 2020 16:59 utc | 117

Laguerre @100:

Your scenario is, unfortunately, highly plausible. I'm not so sure about your concluding advice that we fly Airbus instead of Boeing, however, given the slavish obedience of European states and European corporations to Uncle $am's wishes. In other words, it's possible that some Airbus jets would be similarly "equipped" with a suicide program.

For those of us who don't need to travel, it might be safest to wait for whatever COMAC and UAC produce jointly?

Btw, are you the same Laguerre who used to do battle against Brown Noses, umm, Brown Moses aka Eliot Higgins aka Bellingcat on Grauniad back when that rag allowed commentary on the war in Syria? If so, kudos!

Posted by: corvo | Jan 8 2020 16:59 utc | 118

And....Survey Says,

Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq: Satellite photos show extensive damage caused by Iran’s missile attack

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 8 2020 17:00 utc | 119

pretzelattack @110: there was no "better choice" between trump and clinton.

From the standpoint of the US Deep State, there was a better choice.

Hillary has too much baggage to pretend to be "populist" or "nationalist". And her husband Bill was too clearly involved with Epstein.

But she made excellent foil for the person that was selected to be President (Trump).


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 17:01 utc | 120


I have just updated and appended the original piece with some corrections and damage pictures.

Posted by: b | Jan 8 2020 17:02 utc | 121

trump opened a fissure, but i'm afraid just in the game of thrones that goes on at the top. the real fissure is the growing class divide, and don't think that will be addressed by the electoral process. sanders is the best hope on the domestic front for addressing it, and gabbard on the foreign policy of endless wars, but neither of those is going to be allowed to win the rigged game (both have issues of their own--sanders seems to endorse the russiagate propaganda, and gabbard walks back on medicare 4 all). the dissolution of an empire can be messy or more gradual;
for everybody's sake i hope it's more on the gradual side.

Posted by: pretzelattack | Jan 8 2020 17:05 utc | 122

@ Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 16:28 utc | 100

The problem with your theory is that 1) the plane still fell on Iranian soil (therefore, the black box is in Iranian possession) and 2) there's absolutely no evidence such backdoor exists in any plane model, so you're in fact putting the burden of proof on the people who would try to disprove you (which is a typical conspiracy theory logical fallacy).

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 17:08 utc | 123

The Ukraine wants to do the 737 accident investigation. Why? To delegate it to the Dutch, get Bellingcat involved and blame it on Russia?

I am sure Bellingcat will find some shitty video online of a Russian Buk that backed up all the way from Kursk to Tehran without nobody else noticing it. Putin's niece was driving it by direct order from the Kremlin!

Mike Pence will blame Iran for MH17 and Iraq will be sanctioned for it.

Don't you just love the rule based order?

Posted by: Symen Danziger | Jan 8 2020 17:11 utc | 124

Iran should have managed to kill american troops (as some people erroneously earlier today claimed here had occured, definately) because now they are in a bad situation.
The photos from the attack of course didnt hurt anything since the base had already taken precaution to move goods out of the area past days.

Iran misjudged Trump's response/speech, Trump talked about peace and not escalation (he is lying of course), if Iran keep attacking US from now on, Iran will be framed as the threat and that Trump have the right to retaliate.

Aslong as no one was killed on the american side apparently Trump see no reason to use military means, meanwhile Iran is left with no kills which could make them more desperate.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 125

vk @116:

Trump's unexpected victory opened a fissure in the American political system.

A naive reading by anti-USA wishful thinkers.

USA Deep State is fully in control. Trump is a faux populist, just as Obama was. His election was intimately tied to Russiagate which is simply a means of initiating a new McCarthyism.

Trump has proven that he isn't the peace-loving America First President that he pretended to be. He is Empire-First, like all US Presidents. Yet hopeful 'Trumptards' just can't let go of the dream and refuse to see how both Trump and Obama have played upon the hopes of their deluded supporters.

The US electoral system is designed to prevent anyone that is really a "populist outsider" from being elected as President.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 126

" Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq: Satellite photos show extensive damage caused by Iran’s missile attack "

All I see is a handful of inconsequential out of the way buildings destroyed / damaged . This not significant damage at all.

Posted by: Fog of War | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 127

>" Ain al-Assad air base in Iraq: Satellite photos show
>extensive damage caused by Iran’s missile attack "
>All I see is a handful of inconsequential out of the way
>buildings destroyed / damaged . This not significant damage at all.
>Posted by: Fog of War | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 127

It's typical Press TV headlines -- it definitely pays to look close at the detail, like with any other establishment press.

Posted by: Trailer Trash | Jan 8 2020 17:20 utc | 128

vk @123:

Your second point is well taken, but your first is immaterial. Western powers won't believe anything the Iranians have to say about the contents of the black box; conversely, there would be no reason to believe anything Western powers would have said about it, had it fallen into their hands.

Posted by: corvo | Jan 8 2020 17:20 utc | 129

Probably the most important new info from Trump's statement is that he will get NATO involved.

If so, that likely is a cover for Turkish troops in Iraq.

Turkey has the largest military in NATO (except USA) and largest in the area. They would almost certainly make up the largest part of a NATO force by far.

Those who complain that USA doesn't have the troop necessary troop strength in Iraq now have their answer: NATO/Turkey.

Once again, Erdogan will play both sides. Pretending that he MUST deploy his troops to fulfill his NATO obligations while claiming to be on Russia's side as well.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 17:21 utc | 130

Btw, are you the same Laguerre who used to do battle against Brown Noses, umm, Brown Moses aka Eliot Higgins aka Bellingcat on Grauniad back when that rag allowed commentary on the war in Syria? If so, kudos!

Posted by: corvo | Jan 8 2020 16:59 utc | 118

Yeah, the same, thanks. You just remind me how much of my life I've wasted commenting, when I could have been doing something useful, that would actually have had an effect.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 17:23 utc | 131

Maybe this may encapsulate the current situation somewhat.

Cold-war era, but highly pertinent.

Men at Work-It's a mistake.

Posted by: Jon_in_AU | Jan 8 2020 17:23 utc | 132

The Iranian pic shows five precise hits spread across the US base. Trump says no casualties. Where were the yanks hiding. Do they have underground bunkers or did they go over to the Iraqi base and hide amongst the Iraqi's.
Listening to Trump's address to the nation speech, he will not be standing down. He has a fourty year hatred of Iran.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 17:30 utc | 133

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 16:55 utc | 116
I too have no problem admitting that I chose the lesser of two Devils, Trump. Trump was NOT the Establishment's choice. If he was and we just watched a theater for 3 years then I think we better simply forget about trying to play 4-D Chess with these people.

Hilary on the other hand is on par with Madelyn Albright when it comes to killing innocent people which she proved in Benghazi and in Libya. That is not the Trump MO. Albright's comment about the Iraqi children is despicable. Hillary is just few steps behind her and would have been completely out of control as a President.

I still have tiny tiny hope that what I thought about this guy when he ran for president is still true. But when we got the story that Kushner did not get along with Bannon I knew the fix as in as to how Trump would be managed. Trump got rid of Bolton but that did not help. He was surrounded and is simply out of his depth in this Swamp. :-)

Posted by: corvo | Jan 8 2020 17:20 utc | 129
The investigation in Ukraine of the shot-down Malaysian plane was taken away from Malaysia by the Dutch. Not for a second would I believe that Malaysia would without duress give it to the Dutch !!!! If I correctly recall the boxes in the end went to "experts" in UK

Posted by: Tom_LX | Jan 8 2020 17:31 utc | 134

Trump tweet: All is Well!

Khamenei words: There won’t be any war. (link)

Netanyahu: The killing of Soleimani is a U.S. event, not an Israeli event, and we should stay out of it.

If Netanyahu got cold feet, that would be very naive of him, completely out of character. No.

My pov re. Israel is that the US-uk and Isr. are in a symbiotic dependency relationship, with the US as the controlling party.

Pov. bashed by USA stalwarts who love to blame Israel, Zionazis, Jews, the Mossad, etc.. for “bad stuff” that the US does.

The most powerful country in the world is controlled by some evil hateful figures in a minuscule, depressing postage-stamp outpost (not..) plus and/or by infiltrating US Gvmt./ Media (more realistic..but was allowed, etc.)

Isr. only exists because of the support, international protection, huge stipends, offered by the Hegemon.

No war with Iran. I have said this for years (and hope I continue to be right) see also Petri at 21, others.

Posted by: Noirette | Jan 8 2020 17:31 utc | 135

thanks b.. it is really unfortunate about the loss of those on the plane.. it is a strange coincidence of timing and a tie in with ukraine is also rather odd...

here is how i look at this.. usa-israel hasn't faked its squeeze on iran which has been going on for what feels like forever.. usa-israel didn't fake taking out qassem s... the sanctions on iran continue.. this war on iran will continue.. how could it stop after all this time? what has changed? nothing has changed in the minds of these sick neo cons..

i share @ James j's comment which i quote here - "The missles last nite is not the promised retribution ...rather, iran is keeping focussed on the primary goal get the usa out..." i don't see that it is going to work though...

it seems to me iran works quite differently then usa-israel... they have provided a warning so that action last night looked fake and trumps response 'all is well' was fake as he knew they had been issued an advance warming... but the message is clear.. 'get the fuck out'..

i also share @ cynica's position in her earlier posts.. the shit here is real.. the world needs to find a way out of this mess and it won't come from western countries cowtowing to usa-israels warmonger agenda either...

i don't know what the doofus in command has said today.. it doesn't matter what he says... usa-israel will not back down.. they want war.. iran responded very diplomatically... i just don't believe usa-israel are interested in diplomacy, as opposed to war and prep for war.. as someone said last night - all that money to be made off prep for war, the MIC and etc. etc.. i wish this would end, but i can't see it..

Posted by: james | Jan 8 2020 17:32 utc | 136

I see the ungrateful Orange Dotard has not seized on the opportunity Iran graciously offered showing unbelievable restraint in its strikes on U.S. bases. The idiot who had Soleimani murdered again resorted to his usual inflated hubris and lied through his teeth on many things, the least of which was that U.S. forces were saved by early warning system when in fact Iran warned them of the attack two hours prior. It's obvious that there is no way to deal with Trump except by obliterating all bases to kingdom come and that unfortunately cannot happen without consequences for the entire planet, therefore Trump must be KICKED OUT OF THE WHITE HOUSE WITH THE DOOR HITTING HIM ON HIS WAY OUT!

More than ever I believe that the only hope left is Bernie Sanders who wants to upend the entire system. I believe he can at a minumum restore the JCPOA. Just that is enough for me! Everything else positive he may do will be a bonus after the TRUMP NIGHTMARE.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 8 2020 17:33 utc | 137

„The Qiam missiles Iran launched are a derivative of the Soviet Scud type. They are liquid fueled with a warhead of about 700 kilogram. They have a range of some 800 kilometer. Iran has more capable and precise solid fueled missiles it could have used.“

According to Fars news agency 2 of the missiles were of type Fateh313 (solid fueled – 500km range) the rest were a modified version of Ghiyam (multiple warheads - 800km range).

„No U.S. air or missile defense against the incoming projectiles was observed.“

In spite of public and unofficial announcement by Iran about the attack even short time ahead, Yankee was not able to repel and defend their modern and costy military base. According to Fars news agency radar jamming technology were used in this attack.
The attack is over, Trump‘s reaction is published, but still no one is allowed to enter the military base.

Posted by: omid | Jan 8 2020 17:33 utc | 138

there's absolutely no evidence such backdoor exists in any plane model, so you're in fact putting the burden of proof on the people who would try to disprove you (which is a typical conspiracy theory logical fallacy).

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 17:08 utc | 123

So, you're a government stooge, are you? I've had my doubts.

There was a need for such a backdoor, so I should think they did it. They would have been fools not to. The heinous part is to reuse the facility for other, more trivial, purposes.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 17:34 utc | 139

re: missiles at bases - no "american" casualties? no casualties at all? unclear.
anyway it shows both sides want to slow it down a bit, trump declaring victory etc. make no mistake tho, there is no backing out of this.

re: plane - could be a third party agitating? could be unintended consequence of US or 3rd party messing with air defenses (speculating - block radar or plane's transponder or something like that, it suddenly pops up close / auto shoots). also, who was on it?

re: black box - keeping it is reasonable, Iran has no basis for trusting a US investigator

in general Iraq will be the most important "audience" in the short term. then Israel (elections etc). then US (same). Iran making statements opposing Trump's election (of course opposite effect b/c of paranoia about foreign influence) would be a whole another level of twisted irony

Posted by: ptb | Jan 8 2020 17:34 utc | 140

@ Fog of War | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 127

You are missing the point. An airbase is a huge target with mostly empty space. The fact that the Iranians were able to target and hit specific buildings in it, is a truly nightmarish scenario. They actually told US that they have the capability to hit whatever they want. USA can send a drone and kill a general but US has generals too. It is easy to find where a general's house in Qatar base is for example and hit it with the same accuracy. How does that general sleeps at night from now on? How can you plan the typical US bombing campaign, when your enemy has the ability to strike back at you where it hurts?

Posted by: Erlindur | Jan 8 2020 17:35 utc | 141


Crazy talk.

Posted by: Circe | Jan 8 2020 17:37 utc | 142


Agree with everything you said but this:

. I believe he can at a minumum restore the JCPOA. Just that is enough for me! Everything else positive he may do will be a bonus after the TRUMP NIGHTMARE.

JCPOA is dead, there is no way that Iran will ever make a deal with the US again on anything.
I believe Iran wont ever make any similar deals with the EU. They cannot be trusted after their support.

Yes Bernie is the hope for the whole world now, he is far behind Biden in the race right now.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 17:41 utc | 143

I think Iran already scored big with idiotic US actions in Iraq during the last couple of weeks. US's position within Iraq and reputation in the world (or whatever is left of it) is much weaker. Why would Iran get into an open conflict with US? However, do couple of calculated chess moves (like hitting remote US bases with high precision even after informing the US side via Swiss) can mark the perimeter for American's much more clearly. I think this was done.

Posted by: Someone | Jan 8 2020 17:41 utc | 144

"#Iran informed #Iraq Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi of its intention to bomb #US military bases in #Anbar and #Kurdistan before the attack.

Abdel Mahdi warned the Americans who took their precautions before the attack."

If this is true then there really is no hope for the Iraqi's. This is the clown that writes letters to the US saying US has been naughty and resigned when Trump puts some pressure on him, leaving Iraq gov parylized..

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 17:42 utc | 145

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 126

I know Trump is no populist. I've never said he was a destabilizing factor because he's a populist.

The real reason Trump destabilized the American political system is that he's an outsider.

By "outsider", I mean, in this context, mainly two things:

1) in relation to the GOP machine (i.e. Trump didn't pertain to the "Kochtopus", the GOP de fact council since 2008. The Kochs were pretty much to the GOP what the Clintons are nowadays for the DNC, and Trump managed to defeat them); and

2) he's the first isolationist ever electect POTUS in the USA. Maybe there was an isolationist POTUS in the republican era (1776-1929), but, in the imperial era (1943-) he's definitely the first.

So the controversy at home surrounding Trump is not the fact that he's seen as a populist or even as a far-rightist (the far-rightists themselves don't consider Trump a far-rightist), but the fact that, as an isolationist, he's seen by the "establishment" (i.e. the Deep State + the "centrist" factions of both the GOP and the Dems) as unnatural. And they are correct: there's no place for an isolationist head of state in an empire, that simply doesn't make any sense.

Speaking of the isolationist, it seems Trump - the libertarian one-trick pony - has turned back to his default mode:

White House Begins Drafting Possible Sanctions Against Iraq - Report

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 17:43 utc | 146

Iran was proving the reach and accuracy of their armaments, and the inadequacy of the US Patriot etc. anti-air-attack systems. Trumps Tomahawks fired at Syria either went wrong guidance-wise, were hacked or were shot down by Russian-made defenses. No comparison, Iran wins the "rockets that don't kill anyone" competition. Iran also has Russian-made air defense systems. Cheaper too... LOL!

I expect that the Iraqi gov't administration will quietly try to back-pedal from the Parliamentary vote to evict the US. Then the various militias will band together (maybe even Shia/Sunni alliances, the enemy of my enemy style) and keep US/ZATO troops mostly bottled up in their bases until the US actually withdraws. The Iraq administration will be forced to bend to the Parliament's and Iraqi peoples' will that the US/ZATO leaves. Pompeo and Trumpty Dumbdy won't be able to tap dance around this scenario, even in front of the US/ZATO public. Iran may not have to lift a finger in Iraq, but will find other ways to hurt the US AND ZATO that don't meet the threshold for US military retaliation.

The US/ZATO deserves to suffer millions of cuts, hopefully one cut for each person murdered by the US since 9/11.

MAGA Make America Go Away

Posted by: A P | Jan 8 2020 17:43 utc | 147

Backdoor in planes? Well, since it's widely known there's a big one in the F-35 and that all data are uploaded to the US for analysis - meaning any military which uses it is basically betraying its own procedures and strategies to a foreign power -, it's only logical to assume other planes have it, including recent civilian ones. With the 737, though, how old was the design of the plane - might be from a time where such a backdoor simply wasn't possible.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Jan 8 2020 17:44 utc | 148

Erlindur 141

Iran have had MIddle-range and shor-range missiles for decades. Of course they can hit an area in a neihbouring country. Its not spectacular or shocking about that fact.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 17:46 utc | 149

vk @ 116

I hear you but have you considered this seemingly internecine war trump is leading against his lefty foe and this yet to be defined illusionary enemy, the Deep State is all a ruse? Two teams with the same bosses battling it out for who gets to sit on the right side of the boss and has first dibbs at the trough? That's what political parties in a 2 party system are basically about.

You may have noticed no Democrats in the top tier said killing Soleimani was wrong because it broke the legal agreement the US had with Iraq defining their purpose in being in Iraq or that it was simply wrong to break long standing unwritten rules between state adversaries. No, they criticized his actions based on the potential danger to Americans it might represent. Typical response for those angling for political gain.

For more, see @ JackRabbit's comments.

Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 17:48 utc | 150

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 17:23 utc | 131

" much of my life I've wasted commenting, when I could have been doing something useful, that would actually have had an effect"

Well said, and I'm sure many of us here face the same quandary - I know I do

On the one hand, I feel compelled to stay informed, especially when places like this exist, but then I also realize too much time spent here takes away from my duties and responsibilities to my family, friends & community. BTW I've pretty much given up on trying to directly impact anything above that level, as doing so would put me in the cross-hairs of the ne'er-do-wells, which would adversely affect my aforementioned prime directive

Posted by: xLemming | Jan 8 2020 17:48 utc | 151

Eric Zuesse on Strategic Culture. I do have mixed feelings concerning that author.

Posted by: moon | Jan 8 2020 13:59 utc | 38

Me, too, There is something weird about Zuesse. Frankly, he is a pretty bad writer and shows no awareness of this or inclination to show his readers some mercy. I am surprised he is getting as much play on Strategic Culture as he is currently getting. They have some excellent analysts and writers there, better than Zuesse.

Posted by: Really?? | Jan 8 2020 17:49 utc | 152

@Zanon | Jan 8 2020 17:46 utc | 148

Yes but everybody dismissed them as cheap copies of obsolete Soviet hardware. Till now...

The message was not that Iran can hit some place with a missile but that Iran can hit a specific building of it's choosing with a missile. There is a huge difference.

Posted by: Erlindur | Jan 8 2020 17:54 utc | 153

@145 vk

"Isolationist" is a imperialist label put on someone against war. And the U.S. has always been an imperialist nation. There's no such thing as a limited era of imperialism for the U.S.

Posted by: SharonM | Jan 8 2020 17:59 utc | 154

If this was a face-saving, forehand agreed operation, Yankee president didn‘t need more then 17 hours to react publicly. More logical would be that the White House was so shocked and in panic that a seasoned advisors idea was the only possible out-way. That might sound like this:

„Ok, let‘s calm down now. We order MSM first to start a campaign, „No casualty“, „just Iraki casualty“, „Iranians asked us to give them a face-saving opportunity“, „old type missiles from Iran-Irak war“ and so on … meanwhile we transport our casualty and injured personnel, no entry to the base and extended clean up operation. Give this some 12 hours and then PotUS may make a calm statement to downplay this incident the best he can.“

Posted by: omid | Jan 8 2020 18:01 utc | 155

"Iran misjudged Trump's response/speech, Trump talked about peace and not escalation (he is lying of course), if Iran keep attacking US from now on, Iran will be framed as the threat and that Trump have the right to retaliate.

Aslong as no one was killed on the american side apparently Trump see no reason to use military means, meanwhile Iran is left with no kills which could make them more desperate."

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 17:12 utc | 125

I typical post that misses the point. The goal is to remove all the NATO trash from Syria and Iraq. That has to be done by Iraqis, of which the bold ones are clobbered with air strikes and the timid are intimidated. It is utterly pointless how Americans perceive the situation, and even less germane what is the opinion of the vassals. The audience that matters is in Iraq.

So what USA did? Dissed Iraqis quite serially, including the murder at the main airport with no warning to the legal authorities of the place. Iran tries to be as un-American as possible, so duly notifies Iraqi PM about the strike, an hour in advance, and perhaps follows the suggestion to warn Americans directly. Giving the proper recognition of the rights of the allies takes precedence over expedience, even in the moment of extreme pain and grief. Mind you that Saudi, American or whoever has stooges in Iraq that villify it as a dominator taking advantage etc., and that was a major theme in recent riots. It seems that one block of rouble-risers is reconverted to anti-American solidarity, but those people have to be humored, not taken for granted.

Taking opinions of others seriously even if there is no perfect agreement, especially if the other party is not Israel, is the profound lack of Americans, and the rest of the West to to a lesser degree.

The other aspect is how Shia view religious leaders and how those leaders view themselves. There are rather high standards. This is not an operation under a local commander. Supreme Leader is personally engaged. Taking proper account of host country prerogatives is also good regard for Grand Ayatollah Sistani and other Iraqi marjah etc. Contrast with untrustworthy, arrogant and cowardly infidels has to be maintained.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Jan 8 2020 18:01 utc | 156

Concerning the November U.S. 2020 election, it's surprising that anyone expects its bringing any "relief".

Among other things, this.

Posted by: Evelyn | Jan 8 2020 18:02 utc | 157

A lot of commenters seem concerned that Iran's response was very weak. I think you can all be quite confident that Iranian/Iraqi leadership, military and population are perfectly aware of what is going on. Keep your eye on the "red flag" in Iran guys.

As an immediate first step, last night's attack has been a VERY effective strategy. Look what it has achieved. Trump late for his speech ((anxiously) meeting with even Democrats, and the end result, no military attacks at the moment on iraqi/iranian soil - a lot of "avoiding war" talk! This after a day ago threatening to destroy 52 targets? All the hot air talk about how bad "they" are and how "great" we are, was just to kinda comfort himself. It was kind of embarassing to watch.

Many many many other events will be following. It's not over till the red flag has been taken down.

Posted by: Margie | Jan 8 2020 18:02 utc | 158


No one is suprised Ballistic missiles are intend to strike a certain target.
We dont how many targets that actually hit the intended goal or not. Of several dozens strikes we have seen 1 photo of 2 strikes of some buildings.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 18:05 utc | 159

vk @145:

... he's an outsider. 1) in relation to the GOP machine ... 2) he's the first isolationist ever electect POTUS ...

Obama was said to be an "outsider" too. Obama defeated "insider" Hillary and thus was portrayed as a populist hero - just like Trump.

Party "insider" or "outsider" is a label used as a red-herring. Trump's long interest in politics, his large fortune, his business interests, and his closeness to the Clintons all make him an insider.

Once again, the US electoral system makes it impossible to elect a real outsider as President. The Presidency is too important to the Empire to allow for a democratic choice.

And Trump is no isolationist. That is clearly bullsh*t after what we've seen over these four years.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 18:05 utc | 160

Something seems very wrong with this picture. When was the last time a nation launched a missile attack against US military bases and the US did not retaliate at all?

Is there any evidence that the US attempted to intercept the Iranian missiles? There were some videos last night that seemed to show air defense missiles (I assume Patriots) being launched against incoming Iranian missiles, but I have no way of knowing if those were actually from last night and legitimate.

If no missiles were launched, then why weren't they launched? Part of an agreement made with Iran, why would the US agree to that? Surely Patriots were present on that base. The silence on this is deafening . . . think how loudly the US trumpeted the success of its Patriots in the Gulf Wars (later shown that the Patriots missed most of the time). But this time . . . silence.

I assume all the "news" on controlled MSM is just the official narrative, and I admit that I stopped watching some time ago. But somehow this really stinks to high heaven, it is more than contrived. So many plots withing plots.

As Zappa said, "Government is the Entertainment division of the military-industrial complex"

Posted by: Perimetr | Jan 8 2020 18:08 utc | 161

I guess I simply don't 'get it'. I thought everyone was in agreement that sanctions ARE war. and trump just announced yet more sanctions on iran in his typical-narcissist speech where he conveniently contradicted his own words at LEAST what, twice? So how is that being seen as the usa NOT escalating their attacks on Iran?

Grieved, my friend, I so desperately wish for you to be right that the world has changed, but again I just don't 'get it'. Are we one bit closer to jewish and christian zionists losing control of usa foreign policy? are we one bit closer to Palestinian children out of Izrahelli prisons? Are we one bit closer to stopping lockheed martin and the cia raking in the money that could stop the starvation of millions per year? are we one bit closer to ridding this egregiously suffering world from the diabolically evil and stupid idea to go on dangling the carrot of unlimited wealthpower in front of the least scrupulous beings in all of the universe?

Ah, nevermind me and my despair.

How small it's all.

Posted by: Phryne's frock | Jan 8 2020 18:09 utc | 162

Piotr Berman

US have not been asked to leave by the iraqis so how are they supposed to leave? Especially since they are not going to leave by themselves?

Esper: Iraqi government has not asked US troops to leave

Iraq’s government has made no formal request that American forces leave its country, despite a nonbinding vote Sunday to expel U.S. and other troops after the Pentagon killed a top Iranian commander in Baghdad, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday.

Same for Syria, you cant just tell americans to leave, you have to make them.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 18:10 utc | 163

" You are missing the point. An airbase is a huge target with mostly empty space. "

I don't think so. Look at the buildings hit, and then look at all the other more valuable buildings that could have been hit. Basically, it looks like they hit a couple of storage warehouses, or small hangar like buildings. Totally inconsequential. I believe that the ZioAmericans knew the attack was coming and stood down their AA forces on purpose. Trump's speech showed no change in US attitude and had symbolic value with all the generals in back of him. The US now can say that they tolerated Iran's retaliation without responding, basically playing the good guy. If a false flag happens or Iran does anything else, they and its NATO lapdogs will say " see we tried be peaceful " and all bets will be off. This whole episode was for the US public's consumption in preparation for the " real show".

Posted by: Fog of War | Jan 8 2020 18:11 utc | 164

cynica 102
@activate #86

You don't seem to have commented here before, yet you take it upon yourself to comment now, and in sudden vehement opposition to this post. That seems suspicious, to say the least.

I was thinking the same thing.
Activate commented in very hostile, insulting terms, yet I have not noticed him/her before. That made my antennae twitch.

Posted by: Really?? | Jan 8 2020 18:11 utc | 165

Regarding warning the Swiss embassy of the attack. Also very strategic move. If there were loss of American life due to no warning, it would have been near impossible for Trump to not counter attack.

Furthermore, the US now thinks their enemy is weak or afraid. I feel kind of disappointed by you guys who also think that, honestly? Did you see the reaction of the millions who came to honor Souleimani? Do you really think the Iranian/Iraqi military and population are wimps?
c'mon! take heart guys!

Posted by: Margie | Jan 8 2020 18:13 utc | 166

I think that the people throwing up about Trump being any kind of symbolic anti-establishment thing after witnessing his coups, bombings and assassinations the last three years are a special kind of moron.

Posted by: SharonM | Jan 8 2020 18:16 utc | 167

America First Trump today:

We don't need the oil.

ISIS is 100% defeated.

So why are US troops in harms way?


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 18:18 utc | 168


Iraq is divided, its government very weak and Trying to straddle the fence. The PM placed himself in caretaker mode. US have plenty of allies and proxies in Iraq. The militias are a different story though even they were divided before the US killed Soleimani killing. I think one Iraq shia militia or group is still very much anti Iran.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 18:21 utc | 169

Abdel Mahdi warned the Americans who took their precautions before the attack."

If this is true then there really is no hope for the Iraqi's. This is the clown that writes letters to the US saying US has been naughty and resigned when Trump puts some pressure on him, leaving Iraq gov parylized..

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 17:42 utc | 144

It's pretty widely known that Abdel Mahdi is a weak figure. That was what the US would agree to, and, if he's replaced, the successor will be the same.

No hope? No I don't think so. Only slower than one would like. The point being that the Iraqi strength lies in popular opinion, which led to the vote in the parliament for troops to withdraw (as opposed to Zanon's claim @162 that they didn't - they did).

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 18:22 utc | 170

Sorry if I missed it -
Anyone have plausible explanation why a civilian airliner was taking off in midst of start of war?
And Ukrainian - a bit too ironic.
That will become the fly in the ointment - and is a tragic result obviously.

Posted by: jared | Jan 8 2020 18:27 utc | 171


Look here:

Also complicating matters was parliament attendance. While the Iraqi parliament voted 170-0 to approve the bill, more than 150 members weren’t in attendance

Iraq is more than shia parties. Unfortunately.

Posted by: Zanon | Jan 8 2020 18:28 utc | 172

@ Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 18:05 utc | 159

By American standards, he is. If it depended on Clinton and the Deep State, the USA would've already been knee-deep into the Persian desert, with a full-fledged, 300,000+ American troops invasion; the Ayatollah's head would've already been on a spike in Tehran's central square.

Krushchev painted himself and his doctrine as pacifist. And, until today, all the serious scholars agree he was a peaceful General Secretary - even though he crushed the Hungarians in 1956.

The answer to this is: yes, Krushchev was a pacifist - by Soviet standards.

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 18:29 utc | 173

Trump speech - it seems he cant afford a writer.
Is like trying to extract info from barking dog (not really a good analogy because dogs are great creatures).

Posted by: jared | Jan 8 2020 18:30 utc | 174

I'm seeing a lot of shit about the Iran nuclear deal, and how it was sooooo important. BS. Iran is capable of deciding whether they want nuclear weapons or not, they don't need permission. Even under such imperialist hostility, they decided years ago that it was against their beliefs to have them--before the "nuclear deal". The "nuclear deal" was just U.S./Israeli propaganda from the beginning. The nuclear deal meant nothing, and it still means nothing.

Posted by: SharonM | Jan 8 2020 18:32 utc | 175


Iraqi parliament minus Kurds and Sunnis passed a resolution saying all international forces must leave. Not US or coalition, but all international forces. What will come of the resolution. A letter to the UN is all that's been threatened so far. Perhaps a law will be passed saying US must leave but I doubt it and even if a law was passed, Iraq government won't have the balls to do anything about.
The resolution stating all foreign forces must leave - Iraq even if it had the balls would still need help from allies in booting the US out, but they have killed that by passing a resolution against all foreign forces rather than targeting the US which is the number one enemy of, and threat to Iraq.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 18:32 utc | 176

Oh what a day makes
Is Trump backing to a defensive stature? Is Iran doing the same? Might this conflagration already be over? I certainly hope so Tom Clancy and the TV show '24' spring to mind.

Posted by: aaaa | Jan 8 2020 18:35 utc | 177

Margie @165:

If there were loss of American life ... US now thinks their enemy is weak or afraid

There's another possibility. USA could be covering up casualties for propaganda purposes. Remember, the goal is not to engage Iran in an all-out war but to install a Western-friendly Iranian government.

Instead of all-out war, Trump has:

1) made Iranian leadership look weak;

2) Increased sanctions (and probably threats on anyone trading with Iran);

3) Said he was get NATO involved - most non-US NATO troops would likely be from Turkey.

These are significant measure that represent doubling-down on the strategy that is already in place.

See my comment @80 for more.

It seems likely that we see a civil war/proxy war in Iraq.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 18:41 utc | 178

Phryne's frock @162

"Ah, nevermind me and my despair."

Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 18:42 utc | 179

Posted by: Peter AU 176

"The resolution stating all foreign forces must leave - Iraq even if it had the balls would still need help from allies in booting the US out,"

but but, Democracy Peter, spreading Democracy! See all the US think tanks, Fed funded NGO's etc. with Democracy in their name. Surely, that's tantamount to Imperialism? /s

Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 18:50 utc | 181

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 18:21 utc | 168

Iraq is divided, its government very weak

I think that could be exaggerated. I was discussing this question last night with an Iraqi, who follows what's happening in Baghdad, and he did in fact take a similar line. So I asked him, where is the division? The Sunnis are out of it for the moment, having been comprehensively defeated. The Kurds are holed up in their own territory, and don't have so much influence outside these days. He said, between the Shi'a militias. Well, you know, the Shi'a militias all have basically similar interests. The division is between different leaders. Things could suddenly turn on a halfpenny, and they glue together, at least for a while. Especially if the US is particularly abusive, could easily happen.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 18:50 utc | 182

vk @173:

By American standards, he is. [an outsider/isolationist]

No, he isn't. You're just regurgitating Trump apologist bullcrap.

If it depended on Clinton and the Deep State, the USA would've already been knee-deep into the Persian desert ...

No. What part of "politicians lie" and "Deep State control" don't you understand?

Hillary was the heavy. She made herself the greater evil because Trump plays the MAGA Nationalist and populist much much better. But if elected ... she wouldn't followed the Deep State plan just like Trump has.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 18:50 utc | 183

Lol, Jackrabbit and Zanon already on the post, spreading cheap FUD as usual.

Posted by: WHAT | Jan 8 2020 18:51 utc | 184

So were there no missile defense counter measures deployed to intercept the missiles? A la the Patriots?

Is this part of the phony war similar to Trump's symbolic attack against Syria during the phony "chemical weapons" punishment against Assad?

Posted by: Anunnaki | Jan 8 2020 18:52 utc | 185

gadzooks @ 69

...ghost_ship@47 believe Iran is using "old stocks".

Never said that - they're probably using relatively recent versions but with dummy or much reduced warheads but good accuracy. If they have hit buildings then they were counting on the Americans evacuating them so then that's the best demonstration of accuracy.

But my real takeaway from last night is:


It took the United States, UK, Franch, etc. the best part of six months to get their forces ready for the First American-Iraq War over Kuwait and that was without any preemption by Iraq because Saddam Hussein thought he could get a deal with George HW Bush. Iran knows that any war with the United States is only about regime change and as its action last night shows that it's fully prepared to take preemptive action against any United States preparation for war and that action will be effective. Any airfield, other base or port within 2,000 km of Iran would be subject to bombardment by missiles at any time so the build up could not be completed. Even if they start the build up now, the forces aren't going to be ready until July/August and the bodybags from will probably be arriving on an hourly basis at Dover AFB right through the election campaign.

Posted by: Ghost Ship | Jan 8 2020 18:55 utc | 186

Why bomb a military airbase without taking out the runways, precision an’ all?!

Posted by: Qaotico | Jan 8 2020 18:57 utc | 187

Pepe Escobar is speculating with the alleged news that 242 American soldiers were injured:

BOMBSHELL: 242 INJURED US SOLDIERS: Now THAT's an explanation for those stone-faced military behind Trump.

I don't know if this is true or not, but it's important to highlight that, before even Trump's first tweet (the "everything is fine!" one), the IRGC officials had publicly stated that, based on outside recognition post-bombing images, there were at least 80 killed in the Iraqian base. It was later (it seems, I may be wrong) retracted, moments after both sides calmed down.

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 19:00 utc | 188

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 18:32 utc | 176

You exaggerate. Like I said at 170, the strength of the Iraqi position lies in popular opinion. The precise details of the vote don't matter. The question is whether the US can survive in Iraq, if Iraqis don't acquiesce in the presence. The Shi'a militias could easily turn against the US, and give the US a lot of trouble.

Posted by: Laguerre | Jan 8 2020 19:02 utc | 189

Correction @183: she would've followed the Deep State plan


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Jan 8 2020 19:04 utc | 190

I see most Shia groups or militias have united since the killing, but as non state actors. One shia group apparently strongly anti Iran is out of it. Early days yet but kurds and perhaps a good number of Sunni's will act as US proxies.

The Shia militias will now most likely ally with Iran in booting the US out of the region but they will be operating as non state actors. Sadr from what I read has the largest block in parliament and he has declared war on the US. I guess my thought now is the Iraqi government will be largely inconsequential for the foreseeable future. At least until the US is booted out and the US designed Iraqi government restructured.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 19:05 utc | 191

@likklemore 31

Iraqi Militia Leader Says Their Response to US Will Not be Lesser Than Iranian Retaliation - Reports

"The initial Iranian response to the assassination of the martyred commander Soleimani has happened. Now it is time for the initial response to the assassination of the martyred commander Muhandis. And because Iraqis are brave and zealous, their response will not be any less than that of Iran's. That is a promise", al-Khazali was quoted as saying.

If this report is true, the response is just beginning.
The problem is that the USA will assign any PMU response to "Iranian Influence" or Iranian Direction" and the cycle will have a very good chance of winding back up to USA military response

Posted by: loneplateau | Jan 8 2020 19:06 utc | 192

Nassim Taleb Twitter thread on US/Iran

Posted by: JackB | Jan 8 2020 19:07 utc | 193


Iran has the worlds top university in electronic engineering. They are at the cutting edge in that field and they have said some missiles had jammers and the defence radar was taken out first. That is why there was virtually no US response.

Posted by: Peter AU1 | Jan 8 2020 19:09 utc | 194

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 18:29 utc | 173

You are projecting. In defense of your belief trump was the better of 2 horrible choices?
Btw, Libya wasn't hillary's idea, it was Sarkozi's and some self promoting twit who calls himself an intellectual by the name of Bernard Henri Levy. Both were in it for the bucks, both have shared 'cultural heritage'. Look it up.

Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 19:12 utc | 195

Is the Red Flag of Vengeance still flying atop the mosque at Qom?

Escobar writes:

"Even before US President Donald Trump addressed world public opinion from the White House, following the Iranian missile strike in retaliation for the assassination of Major General Qasem Soleimani, a top US intel source sent me this analysis in response to a detailed question:"

Four paragraphs follow that can be read at the link. Pepe concludes:

"We still don’t know in detail – because no one is talking – but there’s a lot of ultra-high-level back room diplomacy going on especially between Iran and Russia, with the Chinese on full alert but very discreet.

"There’s ample consensus among the Axis to Resistance that China is way more important than the Chinese actually think. Especially in the Levant, where everyone looks at China as a future partner progressively replacing US hegemony.

"As it stands, what Iran and Russia are discussing diplomatically carries the Chinese imprimatur – as there is a very strong Shanghai Cooperation Organization component in action. President Putin is quite active on the chessboard: he’s been to Syria and then Turkey. And according to Russian sources, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is sending some appropriate messages to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in no uncertain terms."

Many know Putin was in Turkey to formally open the TurkStream project. His remarks and their conclusion:

"I would like to say one more thing in conclusion: we live in a complicated world, and unfortunately in the region where we are located, we are seeing more indications that the situation is being further aggravated. But Turkey and Russia are modelling completely different behaviour – an example of interaction and cooperation for the benefit of our peoples and the peoples of Europe, and the whole world. I know that we will act in the same way in the future and will achieve new successes."

From their earlier joint meeting, Putin and Erdogan called on those forces fighting in Libya to ceasefire as of midnight 12 January, likely to spare Tripoli of massive casualties. IMO, it's clear Turkish assistance to GNA wasn't able to alter the results on the battlefield, while it also seems clear that the initial destabilizers of Libya--US/NATO--no longer have any control over the situation. I expect negotiations to take place under the aegis of Russia, Turkey, UN, and neighboring North African nations.

Posted by: karlof1 | Jan 8 2020 19:14 utc | 196

@ Posted by: Bubbles | Jan 8 2020 19:12 utc | 195

I will take it both you and the other commenter who criticized me on this are Americans or First Worlders in the least.

The very fact people like you are inconsolable with Trump's victory is already enough evidence that proves my point. By electing Trump, you got no benefits at all (i.e. no pacifist POTUS) with all the malefices of electing an outsider (loss of cohesion of the American political system, loss of the aura of unbreakable unity within the American people, loss of prestige of the liberal democratic "western" system).

After Soleimani, Americans all over the country are wishing Clinton had won in 2016, for the simple fact at least the illusion of a thousand-year empire would be kept alive.

Posted by: vk | Jan 8 2020 19:19 utc | 197

Probably in the medium term the situation for the US in ME will be worse, but in the short term (in an electoral year) the people I talked, with some knowledge of the recent history of the ME, and me, we think:

a) Trump dares to do what at least 3 former administration did not dare to do: kill the first "terrorist" on the list (as ex-admiral William J. Fallon has said, Suleimani was the Nº 1 in his list for 12 years), so for the American people is the more resolute and brave POTUS of at least 10 administration (somebody says from Lincoln times). Obama was a coward.

b) The fact that Suleimani was a national hero for a nation of 82 million people and also for 150 million of shia around the world, mourned by millions in the streets, make a bigger Trump "victory" over the Iranian "regime", and it is a powerful advice to the others leaders and commanders in the world that try to fight or oppose to USA.

c) People say that after killing Al-Bagdadi, Suleimani, Muhandis, the next in the list is Nasralah (pure wishful thinking but right now, why not thinking that?)

d) The USA did no use their AA system to shut-down the incoming missiles to not give a clue to the Iranians of their real effectiveness in combat situation and because the Russians have many SIGINT platforms following the events to capture the signals, methods, tactics and technolgy of the US anti-ballistic missiles systems. So now the Iranians are blind of the real effectiveness of their missiles in a real combat situation and the Russians do not have a clue also. For sure USA can take down at least some modified SCUD C missiles, simply it was not worth to do.

e) The fact that Trump did not retaliate is not a symptom of weakness, simply no American was hurt after killing Suleimani (an act of war), only some holes in the sand.

f) In the speech of today Trump is defiant with the killing of Suleimani and with more economic sanctions to Iran, that will be more crippling than now. He does not want to escalate (more). There will be a deal in the future, but much less good for the Iranians than the Obama's JCPOA (it was an electoral promise).

g) The retaliation of the PMU, they say, "will be similar than that of Iran", translating it : "lob some katyusha rockets in the backyard of few US bases giving advice to the Americans do not go out". No risks at all, the se-escalation is complete.

h) Trump is defiant about not leaving Iraq, I think at the end they will go but after they have a very good deal. Of course it is all about the Iraqi oil, in exchange for the American blood and money wasted in Iraq. Iraq has the biggest oil reserves in the world and USA want a good chunk of them, they never ever leave "giving" all of them to the Chinese or Iranians or anybody else. Trump does not want US soldiers in Iraq, but he wants the oil above anything else (it is condition "sine qua non" to maintain the Empire)

i) Trump has now the full enthusiastic support of the AIPAC and all the others powerful Israeli lobby he will have more money than required for the election. He has demonstrated he is the best possible POTUS for Israel

j) In the short term USA will leave Syria and in the medium term Iraq, OK, but they never ever leave "all the region", they need to be there to maintain the "American Way of Live" (US $ as reserve currency)

If nothing dramatically change, I expect a crushing victory of Trump in the coming US election, he has all the cards now in his hand, and he will not waste them.

Posted by: DFC | Jan 8 2020 19:20 utc | 198

The 5 lightweight hangars at the Ain al-Asad airbase that were destroyed in the Iranian bullseye hit housed US drones. Possibly the very one used to assassinate General Qassem Soleimani.

See this tweet by Babak Taghvaee from yesterday with photos:

#BREAKING: It is now confirmed that the #IRGC backed Kataib Hezbollah (45th Brigade of #PMU) launched 40 unguided rockets at Ain Al Asad Air Base where the #USArmy's MQ-1Cs are based. At-least one of them participated in the operation for elimination of #Soleimani in #Baghdad!

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Jan 8 2020 19:22 utc | 199

The US contractor that was killed worked for Valiant Integrated Services.


Posted by: arby | Jan 8 2020 19:22 utc | 200

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