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WAR Main Persian Gulf Trouble thread
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Results 81 to 120 of 2006
  1. #81
    Quote Originally Posted by billet View Post
    Circle May 2 on your calendar.The U.S. had granted 180-day waivers to eight countries, allowing them to buy Iranian crude despite sanctions put in place in November, with the stipulation that the countries move toward reducing those purchases and eventually stopping imports.
    That waiver expires on the 2nd.
    The Mexicans will celebrate Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) which could be another element to deal with that week.
    Don't be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. --Richard Bach

  2. #82
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Behind Enemy Lines
    Mexicans don’t celebrate that day. Only here in America will you find a celebration.

  3. #83
    U.S. sanctions slashed more than $10 billion from Iran's oil revenue - U.S. official

    Florence Tan
    April 24, 2019 / 10:13 PM / Updated 3 hours ago

    SINGAPORE (Reuters) - U.S. sanctions against Iran have denied its government more than $10 billion (7.7 billion pounds) in oil revenue since President Donald Trump first announced the move last May, a U.S. official said on Thursday.

    Brian Hook, U.S. Special Representative for Iran and Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary of State, made the comment during a call with reporters days after Washington said it would end all exemptions to the sanctions. The United States demanded importers halt purchases from Tehran from May 1 or face punitive action.

    “Before sanctions...Iran generated as much as $50 billion annually in oil revenue.

    We estimate that our sanctions have already denied the regime more than $10 billion since May (2018),” Hook said.

    The United States re-imposed sanctions against Iran’s oil exports last November after Trump last spring unilaterally pulled out of a 2015 accord between Iran and six world powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme. But Washington initially allowed the eight biggest buyers of Iranian oil limited imports for another half-year.

    Iran’s biggest oil buyers are China, India, South Korea, Japan and Turkey.

    Taiwan, Greece and Italy stopped imports despite being given waivers.

    China is the biggest buyer, and Beijing has criticised the move to re-impose sanctions.

    U.S. officials speaking during Thursday’s call that they were confident China would be able to find alternative supplies to Iran.

    Before the reimposition of sanctions, Iran was one of the top five producers among the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) at close to 4 million barrels per day (bpd). Iran’s oil exports have now dropped to about 1 million barrels per day (bpd).

    The tightening of U.S. sanctions announced this week pushed crude oil prices to their highest levels this year. [O/R]

    South Korea is heavily reliant on Iran supplies as its petrochemical facilities are designed to use Iranian condensate, a super-light form of crude oil.

    The U.S. officials said the U.S. government was working closely with South Korea to ensure supply for its petrochemical facilities.

    Reporting by Florence Tan; Writing by Henning Gloystein; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell

  4. #84
    Quote Originally Posted by Dennis Olson View Post
    Mexicans don’t celebrate that day. Only here in America will you find a celebration.
    Celebrations sometimes are great cover for chaos. Here; not in Mexico.
    Don't be dismayed by goodbyes. A farewell is necessary before you can meet again. And meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is certain for those who are friends. --Richard Bach

  5. #85
    Stratfor‏Verified account @Stratfor · 3h3 hours ago

    Despite the #UnitedStates' move to end exemption waivers for #Iran's #oil exports, Tehran will continue to make some shipments. Nevertheless, the robust measures will exacerbate Iran's economic, currency and financial crises.

  6. #86
    Pepe Escobar: War On Iran & Calling America's Bluff

    by Tyler Durden
    Zero Hedge
    Thursday, 04/25/2019 - 00:15

    Authored by Pepe Escobar via,

    Vast swathes of the West seem not to realize that if the Strait of Hormuz is shut down a global depression will follow...

    The Trump administration once again has graphically demonstrated that in the young, turbulent 21st century, “international law” and “national sovereignty” already belong to the Realm of the Walking Dead.

    As if a deluge of sanctions against a great deal of the planet was not enough, the latest “offer you can’t refuse” conveyed by a gangster posing as diplomat, Consul Minimus Mike Pompeo, now essentially orders the whole planet to submit to the one and only arbiter of world trade: Washington.

    First the Trump administration unilaterally smashed a multinational, UN-endorsed agreement, the JCPOA, or Iran nuclear deal. Now the waivers that magnanimously allowed eight nations to import oil from Iran without incurring imperial wrath in the form of sanctions will expire on May 2 and won’t be renewed.

    The eight nations are a mix of Eurasian powers: China, India, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Italy and Greece.

    Apart from the trademark toxic cocktail of hubris, illegality, arrogance/ignorance and geopolitical/geo–economic infantilism inbuilt in this foreign policy decision, the notion that Washington can decide who’s allowed to be an energy provider to emerging superpower China does not even qualify as laughable.

    Much more alarming is the fact that imposing a total embargo of Iranian oil exports is no less than an act of war.

    Ultimate Neocon Dream

    Those subscribing to the ultimate U.S, neocon and Zionist dream – regime change in Iran – may rejoice at this declaration of war. But as Professor Mohammad Marandi of the University of Tehran has elegantly argued, “If the Trump regime miscalculates, the house can easily come crashing down on its head.”

    Reflecting the fact Tehran seems to have no illusions regarding the utter folly ahead, the Iranian leadership — if provoked to a point of no return, Marandi additionally told me — can get as far as “destroying everything on the other side of the Persian Gulf and chasing the U.S. out of Iraq and Afghanistan. When the U.S. escalates, Iran escalates. Now it depends on the U.S. how far things go.”

    This red alert from a sensible academic perfectly dovetails with what’s happening with the structure of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — recently branded a “terrorist organization” by the United States. In perfect symmetry, Iran’s Supreme National Security Council also branded the U.S. Central Command — CENTCOM — and “all the forces connected to it” as a terrorist group.

    The new IRGC commander-in-chief is Brigadier General Hossein Salami, 58. Since 2009 he was the deputy of previous commander Mohamamd al-Jafari, a soft spoken but tough as nails gentleman I met in Tehran two years ago. Salami, as well as Jafari, is a veteran of the Iran-Iraq war; that is, he has actual combat experience. And Tehran sources assure me that he can be even tougher than Jafari.

    In tandem, IRGC Navy Commander Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri has evoked the unthinkable in terms of what might develop out of the U.S. total embargo on Iran oil exports; Tehran could block the Strait of Hormuz.

    Western Oblivion

    Vast swathes of the ruling classes across the West seem to be oblivious to the reality that if Hormuz is shut down, the result will be an absolutely cataclysmic global economic depression.

    Warren Buffett, among other investors, has routinely qualified the 2.5 quadrillion derivatives market as a weapon of financial mass destruction. As it stands, these derivatives are used — illegally — to drain no less than a trillion U.S. dollars a year out of the market in manipulated profits.

    Considering historical precedents, Washington may eventually be able to set up a Persian Gulf of Tonkin false flag. But what next?

    If Tehran were totally cornered by Washington, with no way out, the de facto nuclear option of shutting down the Strait of Hormuz would instantly cut off 25 percent of the global oil supply. Oil prices could rise to over $500 a barrel, to even $1000 a barrel. The 2.5 quadrillion of derivatives would start a chain reaction of destruction.

    Unlike the shortage of credit during the 2008 financial crisis, the shortage of oil could not be made up by fiat instruments. Simply because the oil is not there. Not even Russia would be able to re-stabilize the market.

    It’s an open secret in private conversations at the Harvard Club – or at Pentagon war-games for that matter – that in case of a war on Iran, the U.S. Navy would not be able to keep the Strait of Hormuz open.

    Russian SS-NX-26 Yakhont missiles — with a top speed of Mach 2.9 — are lining up the Iranian northern shore of the Strait of Hormuz. There’s no way U.S. aircraft carriers can defend a barrage of Yakhont missiles.

    Then there are the SS-N-22 Sunburn supersonic anti-ship missiles — already exported to China and India — flying ultra-low at 1,500 miles an hour with dodging capacity, and extremely mobile; they can be fired from a flatbed truck, and were designed to defeat the U.S. Aegis radar defense system.

    What Will China Do?

    The full–frontal attack on Iran reveals how the Trump administration bets on breaking Eurasia integration via what would be its weakeast node; the three key nodes are China, Russia and Iran. These three actors interconnect the whole spectrum; Belt and Road Initiative; the Eurasia Economic Union; the Shanghai Cooperation Organization; the International North-South Transportation Corridor; the expansion of BRICS Plus.

    So there’s no question the Russia-China strategic partnership will be watching Iran’s back. It’s no accident that the trio is among the top existential “threats” to the U.S., according to the Pentagon. Beijing knows how the U.S. Navy is able to cut it off from its energy sources. And that’s why Beijing is strategically increasing imports of oil and natural gas from Russia; engineering the “escape from Malacca” also must take into account a hypothetical U.S. takeover of the

    Strait of Hormuz.

    A plausible scenario involves Moscow acting to defuse the extremely volatile U.S.-Iran confrontation, with the Kremlin and the Ministry of Defense trying to persuade President Donald Trump and the Pentagon from any direct attack against the IRGC. The inevitable counterpart is the rise of covert ops, the possible staging of false flags and all manner of shady Hybrid War techniques deployed not only against the IRGC, directly and indirectly, but against Iranian interests everywhere. For all practical purposes, the U.S. and Iran are at war.

    Within the framework of the larger Eurasia break-up scenario, the Trump administration does profit from Wahhabi and Zionist psychopathic hatred of Shi’ites. The “maximum pressure” on Iran counts on Jared of Arabia Kushner’s close WhatsApp pal Mohammad bin Salman (MbS) in Riyadh and MbS’s mentor in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Zayed, to replace the shortfall of Iranian oil in the market. Bu that’s nonsense — as quite a few wily Persian Gulf traders are adamant Riyadh won’t “absorb Iran’s market share” because the extra oil is not there.

    Much of what lies ahead in the oil embargo saga depends on the reaction of assorted vassals and semi-vassals. Japan won’t have the guts to go against Washington. Turkey will put up a fight. Italy, via Salvini, will lobby for a waiver.

    India is very complicated; New Delhi is investing in Iran’s Chabahar port as the key hub of its own Silk Road, and closely cooperates with Tehran within the INSTC framework. Would a shameful betrayal be in the cards?

    China, it goes without saying, will simply ignore Washington.

    Iran will find ways to get the oil flowing because the demand won’t simply vanish with a magic wave of an American hand. It’s time for creative solutions. Why not, for instance, refuel ships in international waters, accepting gold, all sorts of cash, debit cards, bank transfers in rubles, yuan, rupees and rials— and everything bookable on a website?

    Now that’s a way Iran can use its tanker fleet to make a killing. Some of the tankers could be parked in— you got it — the Strait of Hormuz, with an eye on the price at Jebel Ali in the UAE to make sure this is the real deal. Add to it a duty free for the ships crews. What’s not to like? Ship owners will save fortunes on fuel bills, and crews will get all sorts of stuff at 90 percent discount in the duty free.

    And let’s see whether the EU has grown a spine — and really turbo-charge their Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) alternative payment network conceived after the Trump administration ditched the JCPOA. Because more than breaking up Eurasia integration and implementing neocon regime change, this is about the ultimate anathema; Iran is being mercilessly punished because it has bypassed the U.S. dollar on energy trade.

  7. #87
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    After reading the Zerohedge report, I've got a bad feelin 'bout this whole thing.

  8. #88
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Quote Originally Posted by billet View Post
    After reading the Zerohedge report, I've got a bad feelin 'bout this whole thing.
    Yeah, it begs the questions:

    - Will Russia and China stay out of it or get "involved".
    - How brittle is the regime in Tehran?
    - How fast will Iran, via Hezbollah et al drag Israel, and thus everyone else, into such a conflict? And at that point how far does Israel "escalate" their response?
    - Can the US "service" enough key targets fast enough to cause internal "regime change" or will things get "drawn out"?

    And those are just off the top of my head....HC

  9. #89
    Ah, the zh article was silly and chock full o’ hyperbole.
    We are not placing an «*embargo*» (an act of war) on Iran - we are just forcing hard choices on tations who wish to trade with Iran.

    Iran will not shut down the Strait - not for long.

    And yes, we ARE going to war with Iran - it’s been a long time coming
    "Be Prepared" - Boy Scouts Motto
    "And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch." - Jesus Christ, Mk 13:37
    "Don't worry, be happy" - Bobby Mcferrin
    "Take a chill pill" - Mongo

  10. #90
    Join Date
    May 2001
    In CLE again
    One thing that might CHANGE the trajectory of what's coming would be the "kids" of 20-40 finally deciding to risk making their country "non-theological" or rather MUCH MORE secular.

    Gotta remember that most of the Generals who MIGHT have supported a secular Iran were "removed" about 5-6 years ago when someone started JUST enough crap for them to raise their voices (and heads) enough to be identified and thus LOSE those heads.
    "EHR KUMT"

    RULE 1:
    THEY want you DEAD.

  11. #91
    No wind-down for China on stopping its Iran oil buys: Trump officials
    Timothy Gardner, Humeyra Pamuk
    April 26, 2019 / 2:37 PM / Updated 2 hours ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two Trump administration officials said on Friday that neither a wind-down period nor a short-term waiver on China’s oil purchases from Iran are being contemplated after Washington surprised Iran’s customers on Monday by demanding they halt the purchases by May 1 or face sanctions.

    The administration has been clear to China, Iran’s top oil consumer, about no additional waivers to the sanctions after the ones granted last November, one of the senior officials said.

    “They’ve known about it, so to my knowledge that’s not being contemplated,” said the official, adding that ultimately questions about any wind-down period are for the State Department. The State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

    Under U.S. sanctions law, importers of Iranian oil including China, India and Turkey, could be allowed a wind-down period before getting to zero oil purchases, including a short-term waiver. Any wind-down measures would be different than the 180 day exceptions the Trump administration granted in November to China and seven other importers for significantly reducing oil purchases from Iran, measures set to end in May.

    China has alternative oil suppliers including the United States and Saudi Arabia said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    “We understand they don’t like this,” the official said about China’s aversion to sanctions on Iran from the United States alone. “But at same time they tend to act pragmatically and they are going to take what the best most reliable deal is.”

    President Donald Trump left the Iran nuclear deal between Tehran and six world powers last May. Trump is now reapplying the oil sanctions, without exceptions, for reducing oil purchases, a step the Obama administration never took when it slapped sanctions on Iran.

    Trump’s sanctions on Iran are intended to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile program and reduce its influence in Syria, Yemen and other countries in the Middle East. Obama’s sanctions targeted only Iran’s nuclear program.

    After the Trump administration announced on Monday its intent to sink Iran’s oil exports to zero, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards repeated a threat to block the Strait of Hormuz, a vital shipping route linking Middle East oil producers to markets in Asia, Europe and North America.

    One of the Trump officials said such a move would hurt both Iran and its allies.

    “Any attempt to disrupt freedom of navigation would be debilitating to Iran first and foremost ... and then to the range of the international community ... working hard to advocate on their side,” the official said.

    If China does not cut Iran oil purchases to zero, the Trump administration may have to make a decision on blocking Chinese banks from the U.S. financial system. That could have unintended consequences for finance and business between the world’s two biggest economies, already in negotiations over trade disagreements.

    “It could,” one official conceded about the potential for unintended consequences, “but that’s why China’s decision is easy, it’s not a difficult decision for them mathematically. They do business with the U.S. which is critical, they do business with Iran which is not critical.”

    Reporting by Timothy Gardner and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Editing by James Dalgleish and David Gregorio

  12. #92
    Well, next week will be the week, if this goes south.


  13. #93
    A New Middle East Mega-War Is Unfolding Right Before Our Eyes
    By Yossef Bodansky - Apr 24, 2019, 5:00 PM CDT
    Join Our Community
    Mid East from space

    Iran is leading a new bloc, with Turkey and Qatar, intent on remaking the greater Middle East. The Iranian leadership recognizes that this drive might lead to a regional war and is actively preparing for such an eventuality.

    Iran’s timing is logical. The main fratricidal wars in the region - mainly in Syria and Iraq - are slowing down because of the exhaustion of the main warring factions. The modern Arab states of the past decades are effectively gone. Neither continued recognition by global powers and international entities nor the chimera of elections will alter these dynamics.

    Hence, the overall dynamic affects all the countries of the region and all the great powers with interests there.

    Russia, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and Israel are taking active measures - from political to military - to contain and reverse the Iranian ascent. In all of this, the U.S. is proving irrelevant, despite its strident anti-Iran policies.

    A new bottom-up, decentralized reality is emerging on its own, and the main powers involved in the region are determined to exploit the dynamic in order to better control the post-crisis greater Middle East.

    At the core of the anticipated escalation and possible war is the race between Iran and Turkey for pre-eminence in the area of Lebanon-Syria-Jordan-Iraq, as well as the dismemberment and collapse of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. It is logical to assume that a clash with Israel would inevitably ensue, for Israel is expected to strenuously resist the collapse of the regional order, which would be to its detriment.

    Indeed, it was the gradual escalation of Israeli air strikes on Iranian facilities mainly in north-western Syria since early 2019 which provided the last push for the current war preparations.

    There is a rush to implement the resolutions of the March 18, 2019, summit in Damascus of the military leaders of Iran, Iraq, and Syria to better coordinate region-wide military undertakings. On April 7, 2019, Iran and Iraq exploited the state visit to Tehran of Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in order to expedite the process. Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Maj.-Gen. Mohammad Bagheri signed a comprehensive agreement on cooperation with his Iraqi counterpart, Lt.-Gen. Othman al-Ghanmi.

    The most important element of the agreement was the effective integration of the air defense systems of both countries in order “to fend off the challenges facing their respective air spaces”. The two commanders agreed on “the integrated defense of Iran and Iraq’s skies, because we might sense threats coming from the direction of [our] western borders”, Bagheri explained. “Accordingly, it was agreed that the countries’ air defense sectors work together and more coordination be made in this regard.”

    Syria was not integrated into the joint air defense with Iran and Iraq because the Russians, who are present everywhere in the Syrian air defense system, would not permit it. Hence, Damascus and Tehran started secret negotiations about replacing Russian advisers and experts with Iranians from the IRGC (the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps: the Pasdaran). Iran agreed to meet all the Syrian requests and volunteered to deploy Iranian air defense missile batteries and radars to Syria.

    Damascus, however, was in no position at this stage to expel the Russians from the Syrian Armed Forces.

    Also during the visit, Abdul-Mahdi agreed to the acceleration of the Iran-controlled strategic transportation projects on the territory of Iraq. The first phase was to complete “the new highway from Tehran to the Mediterranean” which would link Tehran, Baghdad, and Damascus. This highway would be the first component of a comprehensive network of “new highways and rail systems that would link Syria with Iran via Iraq”.

    On April 14, 2019, Syria, Iran, and Iraq held the first high-level trilateral meeting “on the connection of their railway systems into one”. The meeting took place in Damascus. According to senior officials at the Syrian Ministry of Transport, “the countries are working on the resumption of the project connecting the railways of Syria, Iran and Iraq and are determining the date of the meeting between the representatives of the countries to develop the points of view”.

    “The aim of the strategic project,” they added, “is to provide Baghdad and Tehran with access to Syrian ports.” The three countries are committed to a major crash program in order to quickly establish a redundant network of roads, railroads, and pipelines which would connect them. Iranian senior officials explained that this unified system of transportation would constitute “a single large security and economic whole” which would guarantee “the existence and development of the Axis of Resistance” in the Middle East.

    Damascus is not oblivious to the strategic ramifications of the undertakings.

    Any efficient on-land transportation system would greatly improve Iran’s ability to deploy forces and assets into Syria. It would negate the inherent vulnerability of the current reliance on a few Syrian airports for the delivery of strategic systems from Iran by transport aircraft. Hence, Damascus is cognizant and apprehensive of the Israeli reaction.

    “With Israel’s determination to not allow any Iranian military presence in Syria, Damascus and Tehran are attempting to counter this by developing a railway and international highway that stretches between the two countries. While this will not necessarily halt the Israeli air-strikes, it will allow Iran and Syria to widen their operational capabilities. This will help Iran immensely because the heavy sanctions imposed on them by the United States have obstructed their naval operations in the Mediterranean,” explained Syrian senior officials on April 18, 2019.

    Meanwhile, Iran seemed determined to make its presence in the on-land corridor to the Mediterranean irreversible.

    The key instrument was the escalation of the Shi’itization and Persianization of the pertinent regions of Syria and Iraq, from the dispatch of “students” and their families to the Shi’ite zones of Iraq way beyond Najaf and Karbalah to the flow of Persian families to Syria. On April 20, 2019, Ayatollah Seyyed Abolfazl Tabatabai Ashkzari, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamene’i’s personal representative in Syria, explained that “the Axis of Resistance has developed as a result of recent victories in the Middle East”. The primary instrument of these triumphs was the spread of Shi’ite-Persian influence.

    “Now at the beginning of a new era in Syria,” he stressed, “we believe that a cultural cornerstone is emerging in the region of resistance, and that is the civilization of people who are derived from moderate [Shi’ite] Islam and not [Sunni] Takfiri, extremist Islam and extremism.”

    In Syria, Persian migrants have been taking over urban neighborhoods abandoned during the war in Aleppo, Hama, and Homs; that is, along the corridor which is key to Syrian economy and the center of Turkey’s long-term aspirations to reach Jordan and beyond. These Persians play a major role in the Iran-financed reconstruction of Syrian economy at the expense of Syrian citizens, including returning refugees and internally displaced families. Also, Iran is building residential neighborhoods for Persians and Shi’ite Lebanese in the vicinity of the Sayyidah Zaynab Mosque near Damascus.

    Most of the Persian migrants are families of Pasdaran troops (including families of the dead and wounded) who are eligible for relocation on account of their service in Syria. Significantly, most of these Pasdaran personnel have been coming from downtrodden slums and remote villages in Iran, so this is a major economic improvement for them and their families. Consequently, the migrant relocation program has already generated a wave of Persian volunteers to the elite units of the Pasdaran so that they can bring along their families.
    Related: Chevron And Occidental Start Bidding War For Anadarko

    However, the Shi’itization and Persianization of western Syria, mainly the ‘Alawite areas, has been a major point of contention between Damascus and Tehran from the very beginning, when Tehran sought to convert ‘Alawites into Ja’fari Shi’ites in accordance with the teachings of the late Imam Musa Sadr back in the early-1970s. The Bashar al-Assad leadership has become increasingly beholden to the ‘Alawite traditionalist leadership as the war progressed. Alas, this segment of the ‘Alawite population is vehemently anti-Shi’ite: that is, against the Iranian-HizbAllah presence and influence, particularly in ‘Alawite western Syria. But this region - the rim along the shores of the Mediterranean - is the focus of the Iranian strategic objectives. Thus, there is no easy or viable solution to the brewing crisis.

    In mid-April 2019, Iran shipped large quantities of oil to Syria via the Suez Canal to the Latakia port as both a show of defiance of the U.S. sanctions and commitment to its Syrian ally. On April 15, 2019, the Iranian tanker Stark I crossed the Suez Canal ostensibly en route to a Turkish port near Izmir. In reality, the Stark I was sailing to Latakia in order to alleviate Syria’s worst fuel crisis in recent memory. Accepting the sailing plans to Izmir without question, the Egyptian authorities did not block the tanker from transiting the Suez Canal.

    Iraq is also flagrantly ignoring the U.S. sanctions on both Iran and Syria, increasingly serving as a corridor for the transporting of contrabands.

    Meanwhile, Turkey is also determined not to miss the opportunity to improve its regional posture as well as strike out at Saudi Arabia and particularly the Hejaz and the Holy Shrines in Mecca and Medina. Ankara is convinced there is a conspiracy aimed to deprive Turkey of the opportunity to rise into regional prominence by exploiting the current regional dynamics. Hence, in mid-April 2019, Pres. Reçep Tayyip Erdo?an instructed the Turkish military and intelligence services to prepare for an imminent escalation in both northern Syria and northern Iraq, as well as a wide array of regional undertakings.

    On April 18, 2019, Ibrahim Karagul, one of Erdo?an’s closest soul-mates, explained in a Yeni Safak editorial the conspiracies against Turkey and Ankara’s resolve to triumph. He warned that “incredible developments have been taking place all around Turkey. From the Balkans to the north of Syria, from the Ćgean to the Mediterranean, from the island of Crete to Sudan, from Libya to the Persian Gulf, an extremely insidious plan is being implemented with the aim of limiting Turkey’s area of influence.” These actions were all part of a global conspiracy against Erdo?an’s Turkey. “There are two main reasons behind every organization, every attempt, every intervention, every partnership and every enmity that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are involved in: to stop Turkey, and pave the way for a new tutelage era in the region on behalf of the US and Israel.”

    Both the U.S. and Israel were concerned as to the ramifications of the ascent of Turkey, Karagul explains, and were therefore determined to contain and stifle Turkey. “They want to drive us from the north of Syria, distance us from the Balkans, push us away from the Red Sea, corner us in the Aegean and then drown us in the Mediterranean.” In order to attain these objectives, Karagul continued, “Saudi Arabia and the UAE are providing weapons and hundreds of millions of dollars to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The target here is Turkey!”

    Therefore, there was an urgent imperative for Turkey to prepare for a fateful fight, Karagul said. “The regional tension being boiled up is so huge, and Turkey is at the center of it all. Turkey has no choice but to carry out the preparations of a multi-front fight at an extraordinary tempo. It must start preparing for an extraordinary defense.” Resolving the crisis in Syria was only a first and necessary step toward resolving the crucial regional challenges. Hence, Karagul wrote, “Ankara must take urgent and radical steps to immediately conclude the Syrian war. It must do whatever is necessary to negate the plan being carried out in northern Syria through terrorist organizations which targets out country, regardless of the cost.” Then, he concluded, Turkey would be able to focus on the real challenge paused by the implacably hostile proxies of the U.S. and Israel, and Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

    Turkey intended to prioritize regional objectives with the initial focus on the Arabian Peninsula.

    Mid-April 2019 saw the establishment of what Ankara called Turkey’s “triangle of peace”. The triangle was defined by Turkey’s system of military bases in Doha, Qatar, in Mogadishu, Somalia, and on Sudan’s Suakin Island. After the coup, the Sudanese military authorities assured Ankara that the Turkish presence would be permitted to continue. Officially, Turkey aimed to guaranty “stability in the region” through its “peace triangle” bases.

    In reality, the triangle aims to help stifle Saudi Arabia and serve as a springboard for reaching the Hejaz from across the Red Sea. Such undertaking would add to the ongoing Turkish plans to reach the Hejaz via Jordan. On April 15, 2019, Yeni Safak alluded to this objective when describing the legacy of the Turkish presence on Suakin Island. “Suakin, one of the oldest seaports in Africa, used to be used by African Muslims on pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia. Ottomans used the port city to secure the Hejaz province — present-day western Saudi Arabia — from attackers using the Red Sea front.”

    Regarding Syria, Turkey internalized that there was no substitute for reaching agreements with Iran in the context of their overall bilateral relations and cooperation. The first step in this direction was undertaken by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif on April 17-18, 2019. Zarif arrived in Ankara after a brief visit to Damascus where he informed Syrian Pres. Bashar al-Assad on the latest policies of Tehran.

    First, on April 17, 2019, Zarif met mainly with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in order to discuss the overall bilateral relations. The focus was on Iranian free energy supplies and other economic aid to Turkey’s collapsing economy in return for Turkish facilitation of all-out sanctions busting. According to Cavusoglu, both sides committed “to set up new mechanisms to improve bilateral trade ties” in total disregard of “the US sanctions on Iran” and other international sanctions. Turkish senior officials elaborated that the two countries strive to triple the current level of bilateral trade to “a target of 30 billion US dollars” annually.

    The next day, April 18, 2019, Zarif dealt mainly with Erdo?an.

    He presented Erdo?an a detailed report about his talks in Damascus. He delivered a special message from Bashar al-Assad which called for a rapprochement between the two countries. Zarif assured Erdo?an of Tehran’s commitment to helping Ankara and Damascus establish “good relations”. Erdo?an responded that Turkey was not against improving of relations with Syria except for the threat emanating from the US-sponsored Kurdish forces in northern Syria. Zarif noted that “Iran acknowledges Turkey’s concerns about the PKK-linked YPG in Syria.” However, since the Kurdish forces were also anti-Assad, cooperation between all relevant parties — Turkey, Iran, and Syria — was the best way to defeat and destroy them. Erdo?an was adamant that Turkey’s vital interests be guaranteed in any future agreement on a post-war Syria. Erdo?an and Zarif agreed that “Turkey and Iran will continue to work together in the Astana process with the aim of reaching a political solution in Syria, particularly in Idlib.”

    Meanwhile, the Arab World is changing profoundly. The new greater Middle East was making the attainment of the grand objectives of the new “Middle Eastern Entente” possible.

    Saudi Arabia is no longer relevant as a regional actor. Consequently, there is no anchoring for a viable Arab coalition counterbalancing Iran and the new bloc alliance. The ongoing quagmire in Yemen had aptly demonstrated the ineptitude of the Saudi, UAE, and assortment of mercenary forces against the Iran-sponsored Houthi forces.

    Moreover, all regional leaders and foci of power now assess that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin ‘Abd al-’Aziz al Sa’ud (MBS) would not survive for long, and that Saudi Arabia would implode and disintegrate as a result of his excesses and erratic reign. The assessment of both friends and foes is that Iran, Turkey, and Qatar are best positioned to both exacerbate and exploit the forthcoming self-destruction of Saudi Arabia under MBS.

    Egypt, for long the guardian and savior of the conservative Arab states, is no more in that position. Cairo is no longer ready to rush to save Arab states in return for the platitudes and empty promises Egypt used to get.

    Egypt is focusing on addressing the multitude of adjacent threats to its vital interests: that is, the jihadist insurgency in the Sinai, the jihadist destabilization of Libya (where Egypt supports the forces of Khalifa Haftar), restoring stability in Sudan in the aftermath of the coup against former Pres. Omar al-Bashir, and securing access to the sources of the waters of the Nile in lieu of the lingering dispute with Ethiopia over the (now reduced) impact of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the waters of the Blue Nile.

    To meet these challenges and be able to focus on them, Egypt committed to a major military build-up. The vast majority of the new generation of weapons will be purchased from Russia and China. As well, Egypt is permitting China to rebuild the country’s strategic infrastructure despite strong opposition from the US.
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    On April 11, 2019, after a lackluster visit with U.S. Pres. Donald Trump, Egyptian Pres. Abdul Fattah al-Sisi withdrew from the US-led “Middle East Security Alliance” which is commonly known as the “Arab NATO”. The alliance was supposed to be the key to confronting Iran and shielding Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

    Arab senior officials acknowledged that the Egyptian withdrawal was “a mortal blow” to the U.S. “strategy to contain Iranian power”. Simply put, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States cannot withstand any major foreign onslaught without swift intervention by the Egyptian Armed Forces, and with U.S. intervention and protective umbrella like that provided in 1990-91 no longer guaranteed, the conservative Arab states are extremely vulnerable.

    This vulnerability is growing with the concurrent disappearance of the main regional buffer against both Iran and Turkey.

    The Kurds - the cornerstone of the Fertile Crescent of Minorities that has been the traditional barrier of the greater Middle East against the encroachment of both Iran and Turkey - are being abandoned to their fate by their traditional patrons, the U.S. and the West. After spilling huge amounts of blood fighting the U.S.-led proxy war against jihadist terrorism in both Iraq and Syria, the Kurds are being left with only empty promises.

    The Kurds are being abandoned as Turkey and Iran are more determined than ever to resolve the Kurdish challenge once and for good: that is, to slaughter the Kurds. The anticipated defeat of the Kurds would bring about the collapse of the Fertile Crescent of Minorities and would open the door for both Iran and Turkey into the heart of al-Jazira, the Arabian Peninsula, and dominance of the greater Middle East.

    With momentous changes unfolding throughout the greater Middle East, Tehran in early April 2019 made a major decision to consider escalation of the protracted wars-by-proxy with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States (in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan-Pakistan, etc.) into a direct confrontation aimed to destroy the House of al-Sa’ud. The current circumstances in the greater Middle East make such a bold move likely to succeed.

    Tehran seems convinced that the regional Arab armies would not confront Iran, and that Saudi Arabia would collapse quickly because of its inherent weakness. Moreover, Turkey is still not ready for the regional surge, while the Kurdish forces in northern Iraq are still viable and would thus slow down any Turkish advance which could constitute a credible Sunni challenge to the Shi’ite surge. Iranian forces can attack along a wide front from across the Gulf and through southern Iraq while capitalizing on the active support of the Shi’ite insurgents of the eastern Arabian Peninsula, the Houthi forces, and a host of Iran-sponsored Sunni jihadist networks in the country’s main cities.

    The only question mark which seemed to remain in Tehran was the possibility of a U.S. quick intervention to protect Saudi Arabia.

    Hence, the essence of the decision in Tehran was to move rapidly the moment Iranian Intelligence could guarantee that the U.S. would either not intervene at all or that U.S. intervention would be symbolic at best. Iranian intelligence assessments are that presently this is indeed the case. Significantly, this decision was reached in early April 2019, before the U.S. designation of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC or Pasdaran) as a Foreign Terrorist Organization on April 8, 2019.

    Throughout, Doha keeps encouraging Tehran to act quickly, claiming profound rot in Riyadh. The Qatar leadership seems convinced it would be able to prevent the U.S. from using the Al-Udeid air base. Oman concurred. The Omani and Iranian militaries held six days of high-level military consultations in Tehran which culminated, on April 18, 2019, in the signing of a major agreement to boost military cooperation. The Omanis promised not to intervene in any regional conflagration and not to permit third-party forces to use Omani bases and territory against Iran.

    The U.S. designation of the Pasdaran hurt Iran’s pride, and so Tehran unleashed, on April 11, 2019, a virulent media campaign which included threats to the U.S. and Israel. “The US administration’s move to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group is actually a desperate attempt and retaliation to cap the US failures in the region and of course, it lacks operational value and validity and is practically doomed to failure,” read the statement of the General Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces.

    The unleashing of the media campaign coincided with an important meeting between the Commander of the IRGC Aerospace Force, Brig.-Gen. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, and the Commander of the Iranian Air Force Brig.-Gen. Aziz Nasirzadeh. They met in order to coordinate air and air defense operations under the new regional circumstances, namely the new agreement with Iraq to the growing challenges in Syria caused by both the growing assertiveness of the Israeli Air Force and the Russian restraining of the Syrian Air Defense.
    Related: Saudi Oil Minister: We Won’t Ramp Up Oil Production Soon

    They concluded that the current impasse is untenable and that escalation is all but inevitable. Hence, Iran might seize the initiative to its own benefit.

    At the end of the meeting, both commanders issued statements warning the U.S. of the long-term implications of the brewing crisis. The Iranian Armed Forces “will not hesitate even one moment to carry out their dangerous and strategic missions, especially in confrontation against the threats resulting from the plots hatched by enemies, including the criminal and terrorism-nurturing US”, Gen. Hajizadeh stated. “The US flagrant measure against the dear IRGC will complete the chain of collapse of the US and Zionism’s terrorist system,” Gen. Nasirzadeh asserted.

    However, the main challenge facing Iran in the pursuit of its regional aspirations is what Arab senior officials call the “cold war” between Iran and Russia in Syria. With fighting subsiding, all key players are focusing on their role and posture in the post-war greater Middle East. Russia, Iran, and Turkey are each determined to be the dominant force in the region.

    Iran has long known that Russia opposes the Iranian ascent as the main regional power and control over the shores of the Mediterranean (unless Iran joined the Fertile Crescent of Minorities where Israel has a major role). Their face-off is now escalating.

    Indeed, there were already some minor clashes between Russia-controlled Syrian military units and Iranian and Iran-controlled Shi’ite units mainly over the control of key villages and strategic points, including Tal-Rifaat, on the edges of the Idlib pockets and in the vicinity of Aleppo. In all these cases, the Iranian and Shi’ite forces refused to withdraw from these sites in compliance with Russian-negotiated agreements with Turkey.

    Moscow considers these clashes expressions of Tehran’s resolve to dominate the region and the harbingers of the escalation to come.

    Russia is cognizant of, and increasingly worried about, the long-term impact of the Persian civilian presence in Syria and Iraq and the growing Shi’itization and Persianization of western Syria. Russian military experts note that thousands of young Syrians now join the Iran-controlled Shi’ite forces rather than the Syrian Army. These youth are not attracted by financial incentives but rather by “doctrines and religion”.

    Hence, Tehran is convinced that while the Russians cannot afford, at this point, to confront Iran directly over its presence in the Lebanon-Syria-Iraq region, Russia can, and does, benefit from the Israeli relentless campaign against Iran in Syria and beyond. Tehran is convinced that there is a tacit “collusion” between Russia and Israel against Iran, and that the Russian forces in Syria support, even assist, Israel.

    In mid-April 2019, in the aftermath of the Israeli heavy air-strikes in ‘Alawite north-western Syria, Syrian senior air defense officers concurred with the Iranian assertions and, for the first time, even criticized the Russians. They explained that the Israeli air-strikes are so effective because Israeli military intelligence “not only benefits from close intelligence ties with the US coalition but also the Russian military”.

    The senior officers noted that during the Israeli air-strikes in mid-April 2019, the 99th Air Defense Brigade in the Hama area (which is responsible for the defense of the attacked area) received orders from the Syrian High Command in Damascus to open fire a few minutes after the Israeli aircraft left the area, and then, only with their 23mm anti-aircraft guns which were useless at this point. The High Command’s order explicitly forbade the Brigade to launch either the S-200 or the S-300 long-range SAMs which could still hit the Israeli aircraft “because the Russians did not approve of such use” ostensibly for fear of hitting Russian aircraft. For the Syrian senior officers, this was a proof of “Russian collusion” with Israel. Damascus is convinced that there is a Russian-Israeli grand design. “Russia may disapprove of the Israeli air-strikes in Syria, but they will not intervene to stop them as they currently have an agreement with the Netanyahu administration,” the senior officers asserted.

    Hence, Tehran is apprehensive of an Israeli military intervention in case of any Iranian surge, even if only against the Arabian Peninsula, because such a move would make Iran the regional power and Jerusalem could not accept this. Therefore, Tehran in recent weeks ordered a rapid build-up of HizbAllah, Al-Hashd al-Shaabi, HAMAS and Palestinian Islamic Jihad forces in south Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and even the Golan Heights (where these undertakings cause clashes with Russian and Syrian military forces).

    Visiting Beirut on April 20, 2019, Amir Khojasteh, the head of the Iran-Palestine Parliamentary Friendship Group, noted that “the Zionist regime is now surrounded by Resistance forces so that on one hand it faces HAMAS and on the other hand HizbAllah, Syria and Iraq”. He explained that “the Israeli regime is well aware that Resistance forces missiles will destroy it if it makes a mistake”.

    The overall objective of this Iran-sponsored build-up is to put Israel on the defensive once Iran strikes out elsewhere, and compel Israel to prioritize dealing with threats to its civilian population through rocket barrages and commando raids from Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza. Consequently, Israel would not be able to focus on blocking the Iranian surge if and when it came.

    The Chinese, who work closely with the Russians, are ready to invest in regional recovery and rebuilding.

    In principle, Beijing considers Iran to be “the strategic partner” in the greater Middle East and “a key pivot to China’s BRI [Belt and Road Initiative] in the region.” The PRC also considered the Iranian-dominated network of roads, railroads, and pipelines all the way to the Mediterranean a major contribution to the New Silk Road. But now, Beijing is increasingly concerned by the sudden possible slide to a regional war caused by the assertiveness of Iran and its allies in the new “Middle Eastern Entente”. Such a war could reverse all the Russian and PRC achievements and could disrupt the flow of oil and gas from the Gulf for years to come.

    In recent weeks, the Forbidden City sent several secret messages to Tehran urging restraint and caution, only to be ignored.

    In late-March 2019, Iranian Economic Minister Farhad Dejpasand visited Beijing to plead for PRC help in sustaining the economy in the face of U.S. sanctions. Publicly, Xi Jinping was supportive of Iran. “No matter how the international and regional situation changes, China’s resolve to develop a comprehensive strategic partnership with Iran will remain unchanged,” he said.

    In private, however, the PRC senior officials issued strong warnings of waning PRC support unless Iran contributed to the stability of the region and desisted from provocations. The officials stated that the long-standing assumption in Tehran of Beijing’s unconditional support against the was wrong. According to PRC senior officials, their Iranian counterparts simply ignored their - the PRC officials’ - concerns and apprehension. The Iranians were only interested in increasing their oil exports to, and imports from, the PRC.

    For the Forbidden City, this loss of face is unacceptable.

    Hence, Beijing took the unprecedented move and publicly urged Tehran to desist. On April 14, 2019, Yin Gang of the Institute of West-Asian and African Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences published an article in the authoritative Global Times titled “Strategic retreat the better choice for Iran”. He warned that the U.S. would exploit the growing tension in the region in order to attempt to drastically resolve the Iran crisis. If politics and sanctions would not work, the U.S., Israel and their Arab allies could use force. Yin Gang explained that the strategic outreach of Iran in Syria and Yemen became unacceptable to all regional powers. “Antagonism between Iran and Arab states and Israel will now exacerbate,” he observed. The U.S. is pressing its regional allies to confront Iran.

    Tehran must defuse the situation before it was too late, Yin Gang warned. “With little prospect of a thaw between Washington and Tehran in the future, tensions are likely to rise. A better choice for Iran to deal with the situation is a strategic retreat in Yemen and Syria.” Yin Gang can see no alternative to such a painful move by Iran because the regional powers will not accept the strategic posture of Iran under any circumstances. It is Israel and its Arab allies, not the U.S., that Iran should fear most. “In recent years, Iran’s strong presence in Yemen and Syria has triggered panic in the Arab world and Israel. If Iran adopts a prudent policy of strategic retreat, war and severe internal turmoil could be avoided. But if it continues to be intransigent, the denouement would be hard to imagine.”

    In Tehran, however, the aggregate impact of the Russian-Israeli “collusion” and the PRC pressure has been the emboldening of the mullahs to strike out fast and decisively before it was too late. Significantly, the revered commander of the IRGC’s Qods Forces, Maj.-Gen. Qassem Soleimani, is among the strongest proponents of the urgent imperative to strike out before an Israeli-led anti-Iran coalition could be consolidated and while Saudi Arabia was falling apart from within.

    In Beirut, Khojasteh stated that “Iran has succeeded in overcoming the problems by relying on popular support, guidance of Ayatollah Khamene’i and national unity, and is now the region’s superior power.”

    Thus, as Jerusalem, Moscow and Beijing know and agree, Tehran is adamant on exploiting the current window of opportunity and the strategic gravitas provided by the new “Middle Eastern Entente” in order to attain its historic aspiration to be the leading regional power dominating the on-land access to the Mediterranean and the heart of the Arabian Peninsula. Hence, the audacious yet prudent mullahs in Tehran seem likely to keep prodding and pushing as far as they believe they can get away with. In the process, the mullahs might make mistakes which could prove most painful.

    Meanwhile, the new decentralized region is emerging on its own from the ashes.

    All the main powers are posturing to exploit the dynamics in order to improve their respective positions in the post-crisis greater Middle East. Iran, Turkey, and Qatar - both together as a bloc and individually - are pushing hard to attain pre-eminence in the area once known as Lebanon-Syria-Jordan-Iraq, as well as to hasten the dismemberment and collapse of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States. They understand that their surge, particularly Iran’s, could cause escalation and possible war.

    Current strategic opportunities might prove irresistible despite the entailed risks. Thus, unless Russia and the PRC succeed in restraining and containing the new bloc, especially Iran, an eruption of violence is all but inevitable. This might happen by design, by misunderstanding, or by accident. Any such conflagration with regional ramifications will escalate to a war with Israel, for Israel will surely resist by determined force a collapse of the regional order to its detriment.

  14. #94
    China says consistently opposes unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran

    1 Min Read

    BEIJING (Reuters) - China consistently opposes unilateral U.S. sanctions against Iran, the Chinese foreign ministry said on Monday amid reports that Washington is expected to announce that buyers of Iranian oil must halt imports soon or face sanctions.

    Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang, speaking at a daily news briefing, said China’s bilateral cooperation with Iran was in accordance with the law.

    China is a major importer of Iranian oil and was one of eight buyers who were granted a waiver by the United States to continue buying Iranian oil.

  15. #95
    Opinion Trump's Mayhem Allows Putin's Russia to Take Over the Middle East, One Country at a Time

    Haaretz - Israel News
    Saturday, April 27, 2019.
    Nisan 22, 5779 Time in Israel: 1:34 PM

    Obama thought Syria would be Russia’s Vietnam: in fact, the Mideast has become Putin’s playground. Thanks to diplomacy, arms sales and nuclear reactors - and Trump’s policy chaos - Russia is back, big time

    Chuck Freilich
    Jul 19, 2018 1:49 PM

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    Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has staged a major comeback in the Mideast. Thanks to Obama's weak regional policy and Trump's total mayhem, the Mideast has become Putin’s playground
    Under Vladimir Putin, Russia has staged a major comeback in the Mideast. Thanks to Obama's weak regional policy and Trump's total mayhem, the Mideast has become Putin’s playgroundREUTERS/Grigory Dukor

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    In recent years Russia has staged a comeback in the Mideast, big time, to the extent that it may replace the United States as the leading foreign power in the region.

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    Russia’s success results from a combination of both deft diplomacy and weapons and nuclear reactor sales to states throughout the region, from Iran to Morocco. The weakness of American regional policy under the Obama administration, followed by the total chaos under Trump, have further contributed to Russia’s success. Russian policy has been sophisticated, but has also benefited from the void left by the U.S.

    President Vladimir Putin’s fundamental strategic objective is to restore Russian global leadership, or to put it somewhat less delicately, to stick it to the U.S. wherever possible.
    US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018.
    US President Donald Trump and Russia's President Vladimir Putin at a joint press conference at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, on July 16, 2018.AFP

    His primary problem is that Russia does not have that much to offer: it cannot compete with the U.S. and Western countries on an economic level, or usually a diplomatic one, and all it does have to offer is weapons, nuclear technology and energy.

    The Middle East is one of the primary regions in the world in which Russia can pursue its ambitions today. Most global weapons sales are with Middle Eastern states and a race is underway among them to procure nuclear power reactors. Moscow’s willingness to sell them weapons and reactors, and to maintain close relations with rogue regimes such as those in Damascus and Teheran, provide it with a degree of influence that it does not have in much of the rest of the world.

    In Syria, with a minimal deployment of two fighter squadrons, Russia succeeded in turning the tide in the civil war, stabilized the Assad regime and defended it from accusations that it had repeatedly used chemical weapons, despite the clear proof that it has done so.

    Russia allowed Iran and its affiliated militias to do the bleeding on the ground in Syria, while it hardly paid any price at all for intervening. In so doing, it has put paid to Obama’s fears of intervention, lest the U.S. become mired in the Syrian quagmire, and his prophecy that Syria would become the Russian Vietnam.
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    The fact that Russia is the only player in Syria today that maintains relations with all of the sides involved, has turned it into the leading actor there and the only one that just may be able to bring about a diplomatic resolution of the domestic crisis and prevent a direct conflict between Iran and Israel.

    Russia has also succeeding in ensuring that its presence in Syria, in the Hamimim airbase and Latakia naval base, will be for the long-term. Advanced S300 and S400 air defense systems - manned so far solely by Russian personnel - have been deployed in Syria to defend these bases, which provide Russia with the ability to project power throughout the Middle East.
    Syrian walk by posters of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018
    Syrian walk by posters of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Aleppo, Syria, Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018Hassan Ammar/AP

    In Egypt, after four decades in which Cairo has been aligned entirely with the U.S., Putin succeeded in using the regime’s anger towards Washington that followed Mubarak’s ouster and American sanctions on arms sales to deepen relations. Military ties have been renewed, including the sale of approximately 50 MIG 29 fighters and a similar number of attack helicopters, S300 missiles and joint military exercises.

    The two countries are now cooperating in Libya, including the deployment of a small Russian military force in western Egypt. Last year a deal was concluded for the provision of four Russian nuclear power reactors to Egypt.

    Saudi Arabia, which has long lived under an American security umbrella, is now afraid to continue placing all of its “strategic eggs” in the American basket and has also improved ties with Russia. The first visit ever of a Saudi king in Russia took place last year, and the crown prince has also visited since then. A deal for the sale of S400 and antitank missiles has been signed, as well as a nuclear cooperation agreement, in preparation for Russian participation in a Saudi tender for the first two out of 16 planned nuclear power reactors.

    Saudi Arabia and Russia, which jointly account for some 20% of the world’s oil production, have also begun investing in joint energy projects and, more importantly, to coordinate moves in order to bring about a cut in the global supply of oil and a price hike.
    Putin meets Rohani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Qingdao, June 9, 2018.
    Putin meets Rohani on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Summit in Qingdao, June 9, 2018.ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP

    For decades, Russia has maintained a strategic relationship with Iran. A Security Council resolution prevents resumption of arms sales to Iran until 2020, but talks are underway regarding the sale of fighter aircraft, tanks and artillery and Russia has already supplied Iran with S300 missiles.

    The American withdrawal from the nuclear agreement and its resumption of sanctions, make Iran even more dependent on Moscow. Both strategic and economic cooperation between the two, including a possible free-trade zone, is expanding further.

    Turkey may still go ahead with the purchase of S400 missiles, over the protestations of its NATO allies and despite the threat the deal poses to the future of the alliance. Morocco, Bahrain and Qatar are also interested in the S400. Russia has concluded large arms sales with the UAE and a nuclear cooperation agreement with Tunisia. Russia is now interested in naval bases in Libya.

    Lebanon, too, has become a focus of Russian interest, in the attempt to reduce American influence in that country. Russia has offered Lebanon a large arms sale at zero interest and expressed interest in air and naval bases. Russian firms have also competed for oil and gas exploration tenders in Lebanese territorial waters. Russian weapons have reached Hezbollah, apparently through Syria and/or Iran, without Moscow making a major effort to prevent this.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. May 9, 2018.
    Russian President Vladimir Putin welcomes Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the Victory Day military parade in Moscow. May 9, 2018MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP

    At the same time that it has deepened ties with Arab states, Russia has also succeeded in establishing a strong relationship with Israel and creating growing Israeli dependence on it.

    Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and the prospects of a direct Israeli-Iranian conflict, with Hezbollah as well, depend to a large extent today on Moscow. As the only power that has strategic relations with Iran, the crisis over its nuclear program, following the American withdrawal from the nuclear agreement, may provide Russia with a unique role in the efforts to bring the sides back to the table and to reach a "better" deal. It is not for nothing that Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has made urgent visits to Moscow every few months.

    The U.S. is Israel’s strategic ally, but it has adopted a diminished role on issues of vital importance for Israel’s national security, making Israel increasingly dependent on Moscow. There have been conflicting reports so far regarding Moscow’s willingness to take Israel’s security concerns into account.

    President Trump has sought to disrupt long-established strategic realities everywhere. In the Middle East, he has succeeded in causing not just disruption but mayhem, clearing the way for Russia and Iran to supplant and dominate.

    Chuck Freilich, a senior fellow at Harvard’s Belfer Center and former Israeli deputy national security adviser, is the author of Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change (Oxford University Press, 2018)

  16. #96
    U.S. Moves to Stop All Nations From Buying Iranian Oil, but China Is Defiant

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would no longer grant oil waivers to China and India, Iran’s two largest customers.CreditAndrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would no longer grant oil waivers to China and India, Iran’s two largest customers.CreditCreditAndrew Caballero-Reynolds/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

    By Edward Wong and Clifford Krauss

    April 22, 2019

    WASHINGTON — In tightening sanctions on Iran, the Trump administration moved on Monday to isolate Tehran economically and undercut its power across the Middle East. But the clampdown has complicated relations with China at a particularly sensitive moment.

    The decision to stop five of Iran’s biggest customers from buying its oil was an audacious strike at Tehran’s lifeline — one million barrels of oil exports daily, fully half of which go to China. The order was also aimed at India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey, all countries that trade robustly with the United States.

    All are also partners with the United States on major security and diplomatic issues that do not involve Iran.

    “We will no longer grant exemptions,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing that current sanctions waivers to the five nations would expire on May 2, clearing the way for American economic penalties against all companies or financial institutions that continue to take part in transactions linked to buying Iranian oil.

    By withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, and phasing in sanctions, the Trump administration has sought to cripple the Iranian government and weaken the power of its ruling clerics. Mr. Pompeo said Iran has earned about $50 billion annually from oil sales, accounting for as much as 40 percent of government revenues.

    The Iranian economy is already reeling from sanctions that have also led to a shortage in critical medicine, and Iranian-backed militias have been forced to tighten their payrolls.
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    By retracting its oil exemptions, the Trump administration is encroaching on China’s energy security even as Washington is trying to strike an all-important trade deal with Beijing. The United States also needs China’s help in controlling North Korea’s nuclear weapons development.

    The Chinese government immediately pushed back against the decision on the waivers, although analysts said both Beijing and Washington will be careful not to jeopardize their trade talks.

    “China consistently opposes U.S. unilateral sanctions,” said Geng Shuang, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman. “The Chinese government is committed to protecting the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises.”
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    Mr. Pompeo said the United States has been in “constant discussions with allies and partners” to find an alternative source of oil, including the United Arab Emirates. It is also further embracing Saudi Arabia to punish Iran but avoid damaging the global economy.

    But the Trump administration’s increased coordination with Saudi Arabia, to ensure that oil markets remain fully supplied, follows persistent and bipartisan criticism in Congress of the kingdom’s human rights record, its war in Yemen and its role in the October killing of the dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi, who was a resident of the United States.

    Saudi Arabia is an avowed enemy of Iran. It has also been coordinating with Russia in recent years to manage global oil prices. Should Russia balk at increasing its own output to stymie the United States, oil prices could soar and hurt the global economy.

    International oil prices, which had already climbed $20 a barrel this year, soared by 3 percent after the first reports on Sunday of the administration’s policy shift. With the summertime surge in energy use and the 2020 elections drawing closer, President Trump has railed on Twitter against higher gasoline prices that have resulted from rising oil prices. Those prices are now at roughly their highest level in six months.

    Iran reacted angrily, threatening to close the Strait of Hormuz, a move that would effectively sabotage the world economy.

    “In the event of any threats, we will not have the slightest hesitation to protect and defend Iran’s waterway,” said Alireza Tangsiri, the head of the Revolutionary Guards’ naval force, according to state media.

    Among all of the complications, one stands out. China is Iran’s largest oil buyer and has been increasing its purchases this year, contrary to Trump administration demands that it gradually bring the imports to zero.
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    “We’re going to zero,” Mr. Pompeo said. “We’re going to zero across the board.”

    The United States and China have been closing in on an agreement that would cover a wide range of trade issues.

    Negotiations are expected to continue over the next two weeks, first in Beijing and then in Washington, to resolve several sticking points, including removing current tariffs. If those gaps are bridged, the two sides will look to schedule a signing meeting between Mr. Trump and President Xi Jinping of China in May or June, said a person who has been briefed on the talks and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss them.

    Any move by Beijing to keep buying Iranian oil — which analysts predicted China almost certainly will find some way to do — would force the United States to decide whether to impose sanctions on Chinese financial institutions, which are increasingly important in the worldwide economy. China could also set up a new vehicle as an alternative to using the current banking mechanisms, as the European nations have done to keep doing some business with Iran.

    “Iran sanctions are going to be a big challenge for the U.S.-Chinese relationship,” said Jason Bordoff, the director of Columbia University’s Center on Global Energy Policy and a former energy adviser to President Barack Obama.

    He added that if Chinese imports do not drop quickly, the American sanctions could be applied to Beijing’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China.

    The United States and China are already at odds over an incendiary case involving Iran sanctions.

    In January, Canadian authorities arrested a top Chinese technology executive, Meng Wanzhou, at the Vancouver airport at the request of American officials. The Justice Department is seeking her extradition to face charges of helping her company, Huawei, evade sanctions on Iran in a scheme that involved tricking American banks.

    That case has been criticized by Chinese officials, who have said it is motivated purely by politics. It also heightened fury and grievances from the Chinese government over sanctions imposed by the United States on Iran in the administrations of both Mr. Obama and Mr. Trump. Chinese companies have many business ties to Iran.

    The case of Ms. Meng shows how tensions over various issues could affect the trade talks. Mr. Trump has suggested he could help with Ms. Meng’s release if China cooperates in the negotiations. The oil issue could also end up as a bargaining chip in those talks.

    Leaders of the other four nations are also certain to be upset by Monday’s announcement.

    The United States needs to keep frictions at a minimum with South Korea and Japan, both of which are key partners in a policy to deal with North Korea. Turkish officials in Washington last week asked for a continued waiver for oil purchases, with Ibrahim Kalin, a senior adviser to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, noting that “we have a long border with Iran, we have cultural ties.”

    And India, which imports four-fifths of its oil, depends on Iran as one of its main suppliers. Monday’s decision could have an immediate effect on Indian financial markets if it causes oil prices to jump.

    American officials had granted six-month oil purchase waivers last November to eight governments after imposing major sanctions on Iran. In recent weeks, they had debated whether to continue the exemptions for the five nations still buying oil from Iran.

    For all of its complications with Washington, Saudi Arabia enthusiastically endorsed the end of the exceptions. The rise in global oil prices finance the kingdom’s budget and may attract international investors to its proposed initial public offering of Saudi Aramco, which has been delayed over the past year.

    “Saudi Arabia will coordinate with fellow oil producers to ensure adequate supplies are available to consumers while ensuring the global oil market does not go out of balance,” said Khalid al-Falih, the Saudi minister of energy.

    But some experts warned that relying on Saudi Arabia presents other threats to the stability of the Persian Gulf, including possible Iranian cyberattacks on Saudi energy facilities. “The disruption of Saudi oil production could systematically rattle markets,” according to a research note by the consultancy Eurasia Group on Monday.

    Russia, which is able to deliver more oil supplies, also stands to profit. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia said last week that he was satisfied with the rise in prices, and that it was premature to reconsider production levels for the second half of the year.

    Since the administration withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal nearly one year ago, oil prices have been on an erratic ride.

    Oil prices first soared to more than $85 a barrel as tensions between the United States and Iran escalated, before plunging to around $50 after the administration granted the waivers six months ago. As crude prices have rebounded since January, so have prices for American drivers at the pump.

    The average price of regular gasoline nationwide has increased by 23 cents over the past month alone, to $2.84, 8 cents higher than a year ago. They are bound to go higher during the summer driving season, energy analysts said, especially if American sanctions remain against Venezuela and political crises persist in Libya, two other major oil producers.

    Edward Wong reported from Washington, and Clifford Krauss from Houston. Ana Swanson and Katie Rogers contributed reporting from Washington, and Keith Bradsher from New Delhi.

    Get politics and Washington news updates via Facebook, Twitter and the Morning Briefing newsletter.

  17. #97
    Report: Iran Guard monitors US aircraft carrier with drone

    Byamir vahdat, Associated Press
    TEHRAN, Iran — April 27, 2019, 12:59 PM ET

    Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard successfully managed a surveillance flight over a U.S. aircraft carrier, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported Saturday.

    The report included footage apparently from a Guard drone that flew over the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and another U.S. warship in the Persian Gulf. The images show fighter planes parked on the carrier deck.

    Tasnim did not say when the footage was shot.

    The development comes after the U.S. government earlier this month designated the Guard as a terrorist group to increase pressure on Iran and further isolate the country. Iran responded by labeling all U.S. forces as terrorists.

    Lt. Chloe J. Morgan, a U.S. Naval Forces Central Command spokesperson, said in an email, however, that the Eisenhower has not been in the Persian Gulf since 2016. She said the U.S. and its allies are committed to freedom of navigation in the Strait of Hormuz.

    The strait, which sees nearly a third of all oil traded by sea pass through it, has been the scene of past confrontations between the U.S. and Iran, including a one-day naval battle in 1988.

    In recent years, the U.S. Navy has accused Iranian patrol boats of harassing American warships in the waterway.

    The drone that took the footage is an Ababil-3 with an eight-hour flight capability at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) and a 250-kilometer (155-mile) range.

    The Trump administration said Monday that it will no longer exempt any countries from U.S. sanctions if they continue to buy Iranian oil, stepping up pressure on Iran in a move that primarily affects the five remaining major importers: China and India and U.S. treaty allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey. The move is part of the administration's "maximum pressure" campaign on Iran that aims to eliminate all of its revenue from oil exports, which the U.S. says are used to destabilize the region.

    Iran reiterated its long-running threat to close the Strait of Hormuz if it's prevented from using the crucial waterway in the Persian Gulf, through which about a third of all oil traded at sea passes.

    In 2016, Iran's navy similarly took video footage of the nuclear-powered carrier USS Harry Truman, based in Norfolk, Virginia, while it was in the Persian Gulf region launching airstrikes and supporting operations against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

  18. #98
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Remember: Iran is NOT YET under The Rothschild's Banking System / Petro Dollar.

  19. #99
    Filled up today at $2.69 per gallon with 10 cents off price...…...gulp

    myopically challenged

  20. #100
    Tick, tick, but I think we will see financial collapse before WWIII. Banks will close for months. Good for getting men into uniform for a feed.

  21. #101
    Join Date
    Aug 2004

    3 Call Us Taxington

    Quote Originally Posted by SAPPHIRE View Post
    Filled up today at $2.69 per gallon with 10 cents off price...…...gulp
    Did the same Thursday but paid $3.38/gal with a .10/gal discount. Thank you, state government.

    Read the amount of tax charged per gallon that was posted on the pump a few weeks ago; very enlightening. We're approaching the point of paying more for the gas tax than for the gas itself here in Blue Washington.

  22. #102
    Join Date
    May 2001
    Behind Enemy Lines
    $2.49 in the Austin area.

  23. #103
    Join Date
    May 2001
    cornfield county

    16 it went up to,

    2.99 in north central indiana
    If heaven is gained by merit your dog will get in before youť Mark Twain

    forget the 5.56, go on up to 308 or 338,

  24. #104
    Join Date
    Sep 2010

  25. #105
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Filling up today for 2.52

  26. #106
    Iran News
    Iran: Business as usual in Strait of Hormuz after blacklisting


    Iran: Business as usual in Strait of Hormuz after blacklisting

    No change in US military behaviour despite Washington's blacklisting of Revolutionary Guard Corps, Iranian general says.
    Iraq demands apology after Bahraini FM calls al-Sadr a 'dog'

    Iraq demands apology after Bahraini FM calls al-Sadr a 'dog'
    Iran's Revolutionary Guard 'shoots drone footage' of US warships

    Iran's elite Guard monitors US warships with drones
    Shirin Ebadi: Iran sanctions 'can weaken the government'

    Shirin Ebadi: Iran sanctions 'can weaken the government'
    The Mueller report: Can Trump be impeached?

    The Mueller report: Can Trump be impeached?

    Middle East26 April 2019
    Iraq PM: We will try to ease US-Iran tension

    Iraq looks for ways to balance both its relationship with the US and Iran.
    Iraq PM: We will try to ease US-Iran tension

    War & Conflict25 April 2019
    Iran's FM Javad Zarif: I don't think Donald Trump wants war

    In an interview with Reuters, Iran's foreign minister said John Bolton and Netanyahu could lure the US into conflict.
    Iran's FM Javad Zarif: I don't think Donald Trump wants war

    United States25 April 2019
    US gives exemptions to sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

    Governments and businesses that have dealings with the IRGC will not be subject to a ban on US travel under waivers.
    US gives exemptions to sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guard

    Turkey25 April 2019
    Turkey faces hike in oil prices as US thwarts Iran oil sales

    Because of oil-import dependency, Turkey's economy is vulnerable to price rises while the lira could plunge further.
    Turkey faces hike in oil prices as US thwarts Iran oil sales

    Iran25 April 2019
    Iran's Zarif warns US of 'consequences' over oil sanctions

    Foreign minister defiant over US move to stem Islamic Republic's oil revenue stream by ending sanctions waivers.
    Iran's Zarif warns US of 'consequences' over oil sanctions

    Iran24 April 2019
    Zarif slams US silence on Saudi mass executions

    'Membership of the #B_team - Bolton, Bin Salman, Bin Zayed & "Bibi" - give immunity for any crime,' Zarif tweets.
    Zarif slams US silence on mass executions in Saudi Arabia

    Iran24 April 2019
    Iran's parliament approves bill labelling US army as 'terrorist'

    Move comes after US said that no country would any longer be exempt from sanctions if it continues to buy Iranian oil.
    Iran's parliament approves bill labelling US army as 'terrorist'

    Inside Story24 April 2019
    US: Stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions

    Washington lifts exemptions from sanctions to trading partners importing oil from Tehran.
    US: Stop buying Iranian oil or face sanctions

    Iran23 April 2019
    US will not reissue waivers for Iran oil imports

    In an effort to increase economic pressure on Iran, US announces it is ending waivers for countries importing Iran oil.
    US will not reissue waivers for Iran oil imports

    Iran23 April 2019
    Asian countries assess impact of US sanctions against Iran

    US move to end waiver on sanctions against importers of Iranian oil could hurt regional economies, analysts say.
    Asian countries assess impact of US sanctions against Iran

    Iran23 April 2019
    Iran denounces 'illegal' US sanctions as oil waivers end

    Iran says because US sanctions are 'principally illegal ... it does not attach any value' to the sanctions waivers.
    Iran denounces 'illegal' US sanctions as oil waivers end

    Pakistan23 April 2019
    Pakistan and Iran to form rapid reaction force along border area

    Border security topped the agenda for Imran Khan's visit to Tehran as he met President Rouhani and the supreme leader.
    Pakistan and Iran to form rapid reaction force along border area

    Iran23 April 2019
    Iran's supreme leader appoints new Revolutionary Guard chief

    Appointment of General Hossein Salami as head of the elite IRGC comes weeks after it was dubbed a terrorist group by US.
    Iran's supreme leader appoints new Revolutionary Guard chief

    Middle East22 April 2019
    Iran's flood repairs to cost $2.5bn

    Officials want to get the newly homeless out of tents and into temporary homes.
    Iran's flood repairs to cost $2.5bn

    Pakistan22 April 2019
    Pakistan PM Imran Khan visits Iran amid tense relations

    Border security and regional issues on the agenda as Pakistan's Imran Khan set to meet Iranian leaders on two-day visit.
    Pakistan PM Imran Khan visits Iran amid tense relations

  27. #107
    Join Date
    Feb 2012
    Northeast Wisconsin
    Didn’t fill up today and running on fumes.

    I am sure if they close the straights I will pay an extra $20 for the next tank.

  28. #108
    U.S. sanctions on Iran, Venezuela set up crunch for heavier oil (link:… via
    U.S. sanctions on Iran, Venezuela set up crunch for heavier oil
    7:48 PM · Apr 28, 2019 ·

  29. #109

    Iranians evacuate after unidentified aircraft seen in east Syria
    8:37 PM · Apr 28, 2019 ·

    kyle wheeler
    Replying to
    Makes me wonder if they did an overflight or test run with newly deployed F35s out of UAE?


    Replying to
    "The sources stated that the aircraft did not carry out any attacks, but just circled the area for 30 minutes and then left. No shots were fired at the planes."

  30. #110
    The contest over the Strait of Hormuz’s closure has begun at… Libya’s Ras Lanuf Five of Iran’s top leaders have threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz to oil traffic. Why is President Donald Trump unfazed in his resolve to tighten sanctions on the Islamic Republic?
    On Sunday, April 28, Iran’s armed forces chief of staff Gen. Mohammed Bagheri said: “We are not after closing the Strait of Hormuz. If our oil does not go through the strait, other countries’ oil will certainly not cross the strait too.” Bagheri was echoing supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Hassan Rouhani, foreign minister Mohammed Javad Zarif and Guards Navy chief Rear Adm. Alireza Tangsiri.

    Unfazed by this collective threat, the Trump administration has not backed off from its decision to cancel the oil embargo exemptions granted to eight of Iran’s biggest oil importers, including China, India and South Korea. In fact, a new set of penalties are in store.
    DEBKAfile’s sources report that the cancellation of the waivers will slash Iran’s oil sales down from 1.1m barrels per day to half a million. But that’s just for starters. The next round of penalties aims to lower the figure to zero.
    No one in Washington or the Middle East expects the Iranians to take the loss of their primary source of income lying down. And so the US is making plans accordingly.

    On Saturday, April 27, US Central Command chief Gen. Kenneth McKenzie stated: “The United States would deploy the necessary resources to counter any dangerous actions by Iran.”
    The US administration is in full-flight of an effort to replace Iranian oil with alternative energy supplies to the world markets while holding oil prices down from flying out of control. Even the partial closure of the two energy choke points for exported Gulf oil – at the Strait of Hormuz or the Bb al-Mandeb entrance to the Red Sea – is liable to send oil prices shooting up. For instance, each added dollar on the world energy market adds $4bn of extra revenue to the coffers of the Russian government, which is itself under US sanction.
    Saudi Arabia and the other oil-rich Gulf nations are currently in no position to raise output to cover the loss from Iran – mainly because of their commitments to OPEC and Moscow. The Trump administration therefore cast about for a regular, preferably stable, source for at least half a million barrels of all a day to cover the shortfall. The solution was found in Washington’s first intervention in the Libyan crisis since Trump’s predecessor Barack Obama contrived the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi.

    On April 4, President Trump put in a phone call to Gen. Khalifa Haftar, head of the Libyan National Army (LNA) militia fighting to conquer the Libyan capital, Tripoli. At this peak moment of the turbulent Libyan civil war, Haftar, backed by Russia, Egypt, the UAE and France, is fighting to unseat the national government sponsored by the UN and Italy. Trump and his advisers reckon that Haftar’s LNA, which already controls Libya’s eastern and southern oil fields, is capable of also seizing its main oil terminals at Ras Lanuf and Es Sidr on the Mediterranean (see map).

    On Sunday, April 24, as the battles for these key targets between the LNA and government forces intensified, US Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in an interview to Face the Nation that this was having an “unnerving effect in the region.”

    To secure the port facilities of Ras Lanuf, in Libya’s key Oil Crescent region and one of the world’s crucial maritime oil export points, Haftar on Sunday sent an Alkarama patrol vessel to the port. The oil trade in the country divided by the civil war is operated by the National Oil Corporation (NOC), which tries to position itself as a neutral side in a conflict between the LNA and the Government of National Accord (GNA), operating across the entire country, sending the profits to the Tripoli-based central bank, but also a portion to public servants in the LNA-controlled lands.

  31. #111
    For instance, each added dollar on the world energy market adds $4bn of extra revenue to the coffers of the Russian government, which is itself under US sanction.
    Important ^^^

  32. #112
    Iran’s Al Qods Brigades and Hizballah on battle alert on day before next US sanctions

    May 1 2019

    The day before new US oil sanctions against Iran go into effect on May 2, DEBKAfile reports heightened war preparations by Al Qods units in Iraq and Syria, and by Hizballah in Lebanon.

    Iran’s Al Qods Brigades fighters have disappeared from their regular bases in Syria and Iraq – whether having gone to ground in prepared hideouts or scattered across wide spaces to elude possible attack. In Lebanon, Hizballah, according to DEBKAfile’s military sources, has replaced the veteran war commanders of its contingents in southern Lebanon opposite Israel with younger men, better able to lead the units which have been recast in new, more mobile array.

    Two additional steps by Tehran are revealed here:

    The Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) have called off plans to deploy a line of surface missiles in western Iraq. The plan was to unleash a missile attack on Israel in coordination with a parallel Hizballah barrage from western Syria and Lebanon. There are at least two reasons for cancelling this operation. One is Tehran’s acute shortage of funds, even after slashing the paychecks of serving officers and men. Iran may also have run up against opposition in Baghdad and its reluctance to lay Iraq open to American or Israeli payback.

    DEBKAfile’s exclusive sources also reveal that Iran has suspended its supply of missile components to Yemen’s Houthi insurgents for them to assemble and arm with precision guidance gear. This is good news for Saudi Arabia, since it means that the Houthis will have to cut down on their surface missile strikes against the oil kingdom’s cities in order to reserve enough for their own use in decisive battles. Once again, Iran may be pulling in its horns because it is strapped for cash. Tehran may have found that in its present dire financial straits it can’t afford to both prepare for a war escalation with the US and Israel and at the same time keep up its military assistance to its Yemeni ally. Another less optimistic theory is that Iran is scraping together those missile components for its own use and that of Hizballah, in readiness for major military confrontations in Syria and Lebanon.

  33. #113
    Is this still a problem?

    If so why is - none - of either side of the media talking about it?

  34. #114
    Wow, Obama money didn't last long. I just hope they aren't re-targeting their weapons.

  35. #115
    Iran will respond if OPEC members threaten its interests: oil minister

    May 2, 2019 / 6:07 AM / Updated an hour ago

    GENEVA (Reuters) - Iran will respond if other OPEC members threaten its interests, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said on Thursday amid rising pressures from Washington to bring Iranian crude sales to zero with the help of Tehran’s regional rivals.

    The United States has demanded that buyers of Iranian oil stop purchases by the start of May or face sanctions, ending six months of waivers that had allowed OPEC member Iran’s eight top customers, most of them in Asia, to import limited volumes.

    Saudi Arabia has welcomed the U.S. move to end all Iran sanction waivers and has said it is ready to meet oil consumers’ demand by replacing supplies from Tehran.

    After a meeting with OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo in Tehran, Zanganeh warned that OPEC might “collapse” because of “unilateral actions” by some members, in an obvious reference to Saudi Arabia.

    “Iran is a member of OPEC because of its interests, and if other members of OPEC seek to threaten Iran or endanger its interests, Iran will not remain silent,” Zanganeh was quoted as saying by the oil ministry’s news agency, SHANA.

    Earlier in the day, Barkindo said at an oil and gas exhibition in the Iranian capital that “OPEC tries to depoliticize oil”, Iran’s oil ministry reported on Twitter.

    “I have told my colleagues at OPEC that you must leave your passports home when coming to this organization,” Barkindo was quoted as saying.

    Asked by a reporter if it was technically possible to implement U.S. sanctions against Tehran, Barkindo said: “It is impossible to eliminate Iranian oil from the market.”

    Echoing Zanganeh’s comments, Barkindo said “We have faced troubles in the OPEC in the last 60 years, but we have resolved them by unity.”

    “What is happening in Iran, Venezuela or Libya has an impact on all the market and the energy sector.”

    (The story has been refiled to add source to headline)

    Reporting by Babak Dehghanpisheh; additional reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin in London, editing by Jason Neely and David Goodman

  36. #116
    Aircraft carrier sent to Middle East after indications Iran planned attack on US forces

    By luis martinez and meridith mcgraw
    ABC News
    May 5, 2019, 11:38 PM ET

    The United States is deploying an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East on short notice in response to "clear indications" Iran and Iranian proxies were planning an attack on U.S. forces in the region, a U.S. official told said.

    Late Sunday night, the White House made a surprise announcement that the USS Abraham Lincoln and a bomber task force were being deployed in response to unspecified "troubling and escalatory indications and warnings."

    A statement from National Security Adviser John Bolton said the deployments were intended "to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force."

    "The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or regular Iranian forces," the statement continued.

    A U.S. official told ABC News the deployments were in response to "clear indications" Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were preparing for a possible attack, and that the decision to send forces was made on Sunday.

    "The movement of the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the region was expedited, and it was ordered there effective immediately," said the official.
    The carrier is currently in the Mediterranean after leaving Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1. The Navy no longer provides destinations for its carrier deployments, but the carrier likely would have had to transit through the Middle East toward its new home port of San Diego at the end of its deployment.

    The aircraft carrier USS John Stennis operated in the Persian Gulf twice during its recent deployment, for three weeks earlier this year and a week in early April.

    "It’s something we’ve been working on for a little while," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters traveling with him to Europe. "It is absolutely the case that we have seen escalatory actions from the Iranians, and it is equally the case that we will hold the Iranians accountable for attacks on American interests."

    Pompeo did not provide specifics on Iran's potential actions, but said Iran "should understand about how we will respond to actions they may take" and that for any actions by related third-parties or proxies "we will hold the Iranian leadership directly accountable for that."

  37. #117
    U.S. deploying carrier, bombers to Middle East to deter Iran - Bolton

    Matt Spetalnick, Idrees Ali
    May 5, 2019 / 9:01 PM / Updated an hour ago

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration is deploying a carrier strike group and bombers to the Middle East in response to troubling “indications and warnings” from Iran and to show the United States will retaliate with “unrelenting force” to any attack, national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday.

    With tensions already high between Washington and Tehran, a U.S. official said the deployment has been ordered “as a deterrence to what has been seen as potential preparations by Iranian forces and its proxies that may indicate possible attacks on U.S. forces in the region. ”However, the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States was not expecting any imminent Iranian attack.

    Bolton - who has spearheaded an increasingly hawkish U.S. policy on Iran - said the decision, which could exacerbate problems between the two countries, was meant to send a “clear and unmistakable message” of U.S. resolve to Tehran.

    Though he cited no specific Iranian activities that have raised new concerns, Iran has recently warned it would block the Strait of Hormuz if it was barred from using the strategic waterway. About a fifth of the oil consumed globally passes through the strait.

    “The United States is not seeking war with the Iranian regime, but we are fully prepared to respond to any attack, whether by proxy, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or regular Iranian forces,” Bolton said in a statement.

    It marked the latest in a series of moves by President Donald Trump’s administration aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Iran in recent months.

    Washington has said it will stop waivers for countries buying Iranian oil, in an attempt to reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero. It has also blacklisted Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps, taking the unprecedented step of designating it as a foreign terrorist organization, which Iran has cast as an American provocation.


    The Trump administration’s efforts to impose political and economic isolation on Tehran began last year when it unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal it and other world powers negotiated with Iran in 2015.

    “The United States is deploying the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and a bomber task force to the U.S. Central Command region to send a clear and unmistakable message to the Iranian regime that any attack on United States interests or on those of our allies will be met with unrelenting force,” Bolton said.

    Bolton did not provide any further details.

    A U.S. Navy statement issued early last month said the aircraft carrier and its accompanying convoy of ships had steamed out of Norfolk, Virginia, on April 1 “for a regularly scheduled deployment”, but it did not give any destination at the time.

    While it is not rare for the United States to have aircraft carriers in the Middle East, Bolton’s language could increase tensions.

    The threat late last month from the IRGC to close the Strait of Hormuz followed a U.S. announcement that it would end exemptions granted last year to eight buyers of Iranian oil and demanding they stop purchases by May 1 or face sanctions. European governments have opposed Washington’s reinstatement of sanctions on Iran.

    A senior Trump administration official said at the time that any aggressive move by Iran in the strait would be unjustified and unacceptable.

    Iran has made threats to block the waterway in the past, without acting on them.

    Reporting by Matt Spetalnick and Idrees Ali; Editing by Peter Cooney & Simon Cameron-Moore

  38. #118
    luis martinez‏Verified account @LMartinezABC · 3h3 hours ago

    NEW: US official says the carrier & bomber deployment announced by WH was based on clear indications of Iranian and Iranian proxy forces preparing for a possible attack on US forces in the region.

  39. #119
    zerohedgeţ @zerohedge · 3h3 hours ago

    Bolton Announces Carrier Strike Group Deployed In "Message" To Iran

  40. #120
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Between what was already in theater and these "additions", message sending aside, there's enough US force there to literally change the regional power balance in under 24 Hours. Adding to all of this, between the current domestic situation and the butcher's bill already owed by the IRGC and the muhllahs it's easier to explain why Trump should "do it" than not, particularly if it were a "sincere" strike plan...Yeah I know, I'm just a well of happy thoughts (sarc)....


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