It’s Iran Again

Iran pretty much fell off the radar there for about a year but then we had an election and the winner has started saying one thing then another….and when you have leaders in DC with nicknames like “Mad Dog” then there has got to be chest thumping about Iran…..

I was taking notes to write this post and then decided I would do it another way because in the last week or so everybody has had an opinion on Iran and how to handle the situation…..

So to make it easier on me and for my readers I will give you links on this issue and you decide what you want to know……get caught up before the fall…..

The Trump administration is exploring ways to break Russia’s military and diplomatic alliance with Iran in a bid to both end the Syrian conflict and bolster the fight against Islamic State, said senior administration, European and Arab officials involved in the policy discussions. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

President Trump’s tough talk on Iran is winning him friends in the Arab world, but it also carries a significant risk of conflict with a U.S. rival that is now more powerful than at any point since the creation of the Islamic republic nearly 40 years ago. – Washington Post

New sanctions that the Trump administration imposed on Friday to punish Tehran’s latest ballistic missile test marked the beginning of what officials called the end of an era in which the United States was “too tolerant of Iran’s bad behavior.” – New York Times

Iran on Saturday began extensive military exercises in a defiant response to a week of warnings from the Trump administration, including new sanctions, with a senior Iranian military commander calling the actions “futile” and threatening to “rain” missiles down on the country’s enemies. – Washington Post

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described Iran as the world’s greatest sponsor of terrorism on Saturday, but he emphasized that there was no pressing need for the United States to beef up its military presence in the Persian Gulf region. – New York Times

Until President Trump’s inauguration, Iran’s clerics felt comfortable leading worshipers in a chorus of “Death to America” while simultaneously signing a $16.6 billion deal with Boeing. Now, the establishment is treading carefully, with even most hard-liners concerned that the smallest provocation could lead to military conflict. – New York Times

Iran is set to boost its crude output next month and a deadline to bid for oil and gas fields has been pushed back, a top Iranian oil official was reported as saying Saturday, amid fears a recent missile test could lead to new U.S. measures that would deter foreign companies from investing in the nation’s petroleum. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Donald Trump jetted off Friday for his first weekend away from the White House after his first two weeks in office, capping off 14 days in which his administration moved aggressively to move on his campaign promises and take shots at the Obama era. Yet, as the president heads for his Mar-a-Lago retreat in South Florida, his first two weeks produced little clarity about the next four years. – Roll Call

Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) says the Iran deal negotiated by the Obama administration is likely to remain in place. – The Hill

A member of the House Armed Services Committee is urging the Trump administration to build a new ballistic missile defense system in the Middle East to counter Iranian aggression and defend U.S. allies, according to communications to the White House obtained by the Washington Free Beacon. – Washington Free Beacon

Iran’s nuclear chief says it will have 60 percent more stockpiled uranium than it did prior to the landmark 2015 agreement with world powers after a shipment expected later this week. – Associated Press

Editorial: Iran’s missile launch is a deliberate effort to test the seriousness of the new U.S. Administration. Iran may now decide to test the White House again on how far it is willing to go to enforce the meaning of “on notice.” The more unequivocal the Administration’s response, the sooner Tehran will get the message that, this time, it faces a U.S. government that means what it says. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Editorial: Rolling back the gains Iran has made across the Middle East in the past decade will be, at best, a work of years. To succeed, the Trump administration will have to clarify priorities: Russia, which it regards as a potential ally in the region, has become Iran’s strategic partner. Leaving the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad in place will lock in Iranian domination where it matters most. Until it has a strategy for addressing such challenges, the administration will find it hard to impress the mullahs. – Washington Post

John Bolton writes: Time always works on the side of nuclear proliferators, and the Iran deal is providing the ayatollahs with protective camouflage. Every day Washington lets pass without ripping the deal up is a day of danger for America and its friends. We proceed slowly at our peril. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Fred Fleitz writes: Putting Iran on notice is significant because it signals the return to the global stage of a strong and decisive United States prepared to reinstate the successful national-security strategy of President Ronald Reagan: “peace through strength.” Such a jolt to the international order could convince rogue states such as Iran and North Korea to dial back their destabilizing behavior and possibly agree to talks to address regional concerns about their missile and weapons-of-mass-destruction programs. – National Review Online

As Iran tries to calibrate how to deal with President Trump, its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in caustic comments to air force commanders, thanked the new American leader for revealing “the real face” of the United States. – New York Times

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday urged Western leaders to follow U.S. President Donald Trump in imposing fresh sanctions against Iran. – Wall Street Journal (subscription required)

Sanctions the Trump administration imposed on Iran after the country conducted another ballistic missile launch are more symbolic than punitive, a former Obama administration Treasury Department official said Monday. – The Weekly Standard

James Rubin writes: Republicans and Democrats can and should agree on the broad thrust of U.S. policy toward Iran’s nuclear program and Russia’s international aggression. For one day at least, that is possible. – Politico

Mark Dubowitz and Behnam Ben Taleblu write: The administration could also accelerate the process, both technical and diplomatic, of getting America’s Middle East partners and allies to integrate existing ballistic missile defense systems. But most important, the U.S. can respond against future missile tests by targeting sectors of the Iranian economy that underwrite, procure, produce, develop, and house those capabilities. – The Hill

See what I mean?  Anyone with a keyboard has a better idea…..

Foreign Policy Is Off With A Bang

We enter into our third week of thew Trump presidency….and the area that I was most concerned with, foreign policy, is making news….lots of news.

To begin with we have a new SecState……

The Republican-led Senate has confirmed Rex Tillerson as President Trump’s secretary of state, the AP reports. Senators voted 56-43 largely along party lines to approve Tillerson’s nomination to be the nation’s chief diplomat. Most Senate Democrats opposed Tillerson’s nomination, angering Republicans who considered the former Exxon Mobil CEO to be highly qualified for the post.

That was the only thing that could inaccurately be called “good news”…..

Then the president spent some time on the phone with PM of Australia and the president of Mexico……

For decades, Australia and the U.S. have enjoyed the coziest of relationships, collaborating on everything from military and intelligence to diplomacy and trade. Yet an irritable tweet President Donald Trump fired off about Australia and a dramatic report of an angry phone call between the nations’ leaders proves that the new U.S. commander in chief has changed the playing field for even America’s staunchest allies.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was left scrambling to defend his country’s allegiance to the U.S. after The Washington Post published a report on Thursday detailing a tense exchange that allegedly took place during the Australian leader’s first telephone call with Trump since he became president. During the call, the Post reported, Trump ranted about an agreement struck with the Obama administration that would allow a group of mostly Muslim refugees rejected by Australia to be resettled in the United States. The newspaper said Trump dubbed it “the worst deal ever” and accused Turnbull of seeking to export the “next Boston bombers” — a reference to Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, U.S. citizens born in Kyrgyzstan who set off explosives at the 2013 Boston marathon.

Next up was a threat to the Mexican president…..

President Trump threatened in a phone call with his Mexican counterpart to send US troops to stop “bad hombres down there” unless the Mexican military does more to control them, according to an excerpt of a transcript of the conversation obtained by the AP. The excerpt of the call did not make clear who exactly Trump considered “bad hombres”—drug cartels, immigrants, or both—or the tone and context of the remark, made in a Friday morning phone call between the leaders. It also did not contain Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto’s response. Still, the excerpt offers a rare and striking look at how the new president is conducting diplomacy behind closed doors. Trump’s remark suggest he is using the same tough and blunt talk with world leaders that he used to rally crowds on the campaign trail.

“You have a bunch of bad hombres down there,” Trump told Pena Nieto. “You aren’t doing enough to stop them. I think your military is scared. Our military isn’t, so I just might send them down to take care of it.”

And now for the chest thumping toward Iran…….

President Trump’s national security adviser said the US is “officially putting Iran on notice,” without specifying exactly what that means, Reuters reports. According to NBC News, Michael Flynn made the remark during a “surprise appearance” at a White House press briefing Wednesday. It was spurred by a recent Iranian missile test that Flynn characterized as “destabilizing activity.” While Flynn didn’t offer specifics on how the US may respond, three senior administration officials tell CNN they are “considering a whole range of options,” including everything from economic sanctions to military action.

If these situations are true then I would say that we are off to a rough 4 years internationally….

Dark Days For “Moderates”

There has been an incident on the international stage that could have far ranging consequences……and NO it is not this story……

Looks like police in France have finally caught up with the Kardashian robbers. Officials say 16 people have been arrested in connection with the Oct. 3 robbery at a Paris residence of Kim Kardashian West, who was tied up and locked in a bathroom by armed attackers who made off with an estimated $10 million in jewelry, the BBC reports. The New York Daily News reports that the suspects have not yet been charged, but they can be held for at least 96 hours under French law. Kardashian West, who recently spoke out about the terrifying experience for the first time, may be asked to identify the suspects in a lineup presented via video feed.

The reason I point out this story is that it got more attention than something that could be a thorn in Trump’s ass after 20Jan17…….please someone, anyone explain why this celeb is so goddamn important!

Yet another “Flash” for the MSM……mindless bullsh*t.

This report could be a lot more troubling than the antics of a ignorant celeb……

Former Iranian president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a pugnacious moderate who survived for decades despite challenging his own turbaned elite, died on Sunday after suffering a heart attack.

Rafsanjani, who was 82, was a pivotal figure in the foundation of the Islamic republic in 1979, and served as president from 1989 to 1997.

Rafsanjani’s death is a huge loss for both reformists and moderates, as he stood as a pillar for the two camps.

Rafsanjani emerged as a moderate counter-figure to the ultra-hardliners clustered around Ahmadinejad — under whom Iran’s relations with the West plummeted — and criticised the crackdown that followed Ahmadinejad’s disputed re-election in 2009.

His voice was a voice of moderate thought within the government of Iran…..with him gone the hard-liners may once again rule the roost…..and that could be a problem for the incoming admin…..

Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace

Yes sports fans Turkey and Iran have come top an agreement on the Syrian civil war…..

I know that countries and pundits alike have been looking for a way to end the death and destruction in Syria….among other countries….and it appears that Turkey and Iran have come to some sort of agreement on how to proceed…..

In a stunning diplomatic surprise, Turkey and Iran have announced a preliminary agreement on fundamental principles for a settlement of the Syrian conflict.

The dramatic turn in the diplomacy of the Syria War was revealed in Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim’s regular weekly speech to the ruling AKP Party in the parliament and confirmed by a senior Iranian foreign ministry official Tuesday.

Both Yildirim’s speech and the Iranian corroboration were reported Tuesday by Al-Araby Al-Jadeed and Al-Hayat, Arabic-language newspapers published in London, but the potentially pivotal development has been unreported thus far in Western news media.

Source: Turkey and Iran Reach Agreement on Conditions for Syria Peace – Antiwar.com Original by — Antiwar.com

This is all well and good…..just I have one problem with this idea……

Where is the input of the Syrian people?  After all it is their country…..well at least for now…..I believe they should have a voice in any solution offered.

They had NO input in 1918 and look where that eventually came to…..maybe they should have the lead voice on any solution that involves their country…..just a thought.

Whatcha think?

But I guess since that plan is not what everyone wanted…….bullets are always easier then words……

A Middle East Cold War

2016 is shaking out as an election on foreign policy…..the winner will be ass deep in the Middle East for decades longer…..

The Cold War that we all know and love was  between the years of 1945 and 1991….when the US and Western powers would stand-off against the Soviet Union…….across the globe.

In 1979 with the Iranian revolution there began another Cold War….this one was for the hearts and minds of the Middle East…..waged between Saudi Arabia and Iran……

For years the Saudis had the upper hand thanks mostly to their close ties with Washington……but in the last decade or so……… that pendulum is swinging toward Iran……

Just as the US and the USSR fought proxy wars the Saudis and the Iranians are doing the same things……the battlefields are in such places as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon….and the situation seems to be expanding…..

A cold war is taking place in a very hot place. A key component of the sectarian competition between Shia and Sunni Islam in the Middle East is geopolitical, with Iran facing off against Saudi Arabia and its Gulf allies in a struggle for regional dominance.

As with the original Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States, the conflict does not involve direct military confrontation between the main rivals, at least not yet. It is being fought diplomatically, ideologically, and economically – especially in the oil markets – and through proxy wars, such as the conflicts in Syria and Yemen. There are few problems in the wider Middle East that cannot be traced back to the power rivalry between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Source: Is Iran winning their Mideast Cold War with Saudi Arabia? | Informed Comment

truemapofmiddleeastThomas_Map-01

There are more observations of the “Middle East Cold War”……..

There are, at the present moment, four game plans colliding with each other in a terrain filled with hidden mines. The sum of the collusion will be totally different than the objectives of each of the players. Worst, no one has the ability to predict the outcome, not even the players themselves.

Let us examine briefly each game plan as seen by each player before addressing, in general, the potential paths of this dangerous game.

Saudi Arabia:

From the Saudi perspective, Iran has gone too far. Ideologically, Tehran enshrined the export of its revolution into its constitution. Practically, it has the Quds Force of the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRGC) to make sure that this principle is implemented. Furthermore, it achieved progress through infiltrating Iraq after the US-UK ill-advised invasion and it moved and it is actively present in Damascus now. This came after successfully creating Hezbollah in Lebanon and was followed by the Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the control over Sana’a. The Shia Crescent developed into a full moon.

Source: Washington, Moscow, Tehran and Riyadh: The Coming Conflict over the Middle East | Middle East Briefing

This is the region that the US created and the problems that our new prez will be facing….personally I do not see either one of the candidates capable of making the most important decisions pertaining to the region.

Do you?

Riverine Mystery Solved

By now most Americans will not recall this incident….they have moved on to other things……but…….

I waited a few days after a report to see how the blogosphere would react….especially those on the Right….and as I thought there was little mentioned in their daily regurgitation….so I guess it is up to me after all……but since it will not confirm the paradigm about our troops then it also was ignored….(go figure)….

Back in January of this year there was an international incident that sent the American press into a batcrap crazy frenzy……that situation was the capture of Americans sailors in Iranian waters….I wrote a couple of posts after I saw the vid that the Iranians provided……to get a little background may I suggest that you spend some time to familiarize yourself with the posts I wrote…..

https://lobotero.com/2016/01/15/iran-i-have-questions/

https://lobotero.com/2016/01/28/iran-the-riverine-mysteries/

The government the other day has released its finding is the cause of this incident……

On Thursday, the US Navy released its official report on the 10 sailors detained by Iran last January, and the whole thing sounds like something out of Down Periscope. Problems started instantly, as the two Navy vessels left Kuwait for Bahrain four hours behind schedule, Fox News reports. The vessels then attempted to take a shortcut, veering off course without any apparent concern for where they actually were. According to Reuters, that’s how the vessels ended up passing through Saudi Arabian waters before suffering mechanical difficulties in Iranian territory. The report found that all it would have taken to figure out their location was for a crew member to zoom in on their navigation system’s map. Instead, 10 sailors were captured by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

And the problems continued. “It is clear that some, if not all, crew members provided at least some information to interrogators beyond name, rank, service number, and date of birth,” Reuters quotes the report as saying. Information given up by sailors included passwords to phones and laptops and the capabilities of their vessels. The detained sailors also shouldn’t have eaten on camera, as the video was used as propaganda by Iran, CNN reports. The problems with the mission were blamed on low morale, bad planning, and lack of oversight, among other factors. Or as CNN sums up: “Crews were poorly prepared, their boats not properly maintained, communication almost entirely lacking.” The Navy will use the incident as a “case study” in the future.

Having dealt with these agencies in the past I can say here and now…BULLSHIT!

First, if you believe these findings then I have a bridge that can be yours for the right amount of cash……

Now that it comes out that they (Iranians) were given laptops, passwords and other “sensitive” equipment and/or information…..that was the operation all along….false intel…..

Beyond that…we are told that the US troops are the best trained and armed force in the world, right?  Then how do they want to explain this statement…..“Crews were poorly prepared, their boats not properly maintained, communication almost entirely lacking.”  Is it a one time thing or is it a symptom?

When the original story broke I said there was something terribly wrong with the story as told to the press….how stupid do they think we are?

Mystery solved!

Anchors Aweigh–You’re Fired!

Sounds like something Donald Trump would say, right?  Well, not this time.

A few months back a couple Naval boats strayed into Iranian waters and were captured….of course the normal outrage at such an act….but for me I found it strange that it occurred and ask some questions that others failed to ask….How did both boats get lost?  If one boat broke down why did not the other come to their rescue and tow them to international waters?  What happened to both boat’s GPS system?

There was more to the incident than a simple confusion on navigation.

I mention all this because it seems that the Navy has found its scapegoat for this incident……

The commanding officer responsible for 10 sailors captured by Iran is no longer commanding anybody. The Navy says Cmdr. Eric Rasch of Coastal Riverine Squadron 3 has been fired because of a “loss of confidence” in his ability to command after the embarrassing international incident in January, the Navy Times reports. Sources tell Reuters that other sailors involved in the incident have also been disciplined.

The sailors were held overnight and interrogated after their two vessels ended up in Iranian waters around Farsi Island when they were supposed to be going from Bahrain to Kuwait. Officials blamed a navigational blunder, along with some serious errors in judgment, possibly including a decision to take an unauthorized shortcut. The Navy has yet to release its official report on the incident.

And even with the investigation more questions arise.

Like was the short cut authorized?  If not then why not discipline the sailors on the boats.

My guess is this will be the last we hear of this incident (except when the lunatics want to use it to further a conspiracy)……..we will probably not get to see just what the investigation revealed……

Any thoughts?