Tag: Iran

Well, This is a Relief

The Pentagon is ordering the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) to return to port from the Persian Gulf.

This marks a major deescalation with regard to Iran, and I am wondering if Trump was even informed of this in advance by the military:

The Pentagon has abruptly sent the aircraft carrier Nimitz home from the Middle East and Africa over the objections of top military advisers, marking a reversal of a weekslong muscle-flexing strategy aimed at deterring Iran from attacking American troops and diplomats in the Persian Gulf.

Officials said on Friday that the acting defense secretary, Christopher C. Miller, had ordered the redeployment of the ship in part as a “de-escalatory” signal to Tehran to avoid stumbling into a crisis in President Trump’s waning days in office. American intelligence reports indicate that Iran and its proxies may be preparing a strike as early as this weekend to avenge the death of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.

Senior Pentagon officials said that Mr. Miller assessed that dispatching the Nimitz now, before the first anniversary this Sunday of General Suleimani’s death in an American drone strike in Iraq, could remove what Iranian hard-liners see as a provocation that justifies their threats against American military targets. Some analysts said the return of the Nimitz to its home port of Bremerton, Wash., was a welcome reduction in tensions between the two countries.

“If the Nimitz is departing, that could be because the Pentagon believes that the threat could subside somewhat,” said Michael P. Mulroy, the Pentagon’s former top Middle East policy official.

I really hope that the balloon does not go up in the next 2 weeks.

This Will Not End Well

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, Iran’s most senior nuclear scientist, was assassinated outside of Tehran today.

The Iranians are blaming the Israelis, but the timing of this action would imply that this may be the part of a coordinated attempt between Israel (whose Mossad, unlike the CIA, doesn’t routinely screw up such operations) and the US, specifically the Trump administration, to foment an actual shooting war with Iran before Biden takes office.

Or, it could be just some random group of dudes with an amazing intelligence network and operational experience:

Iran has vowed retaliation after the architect of its nuclear programme was assassinated on a highway near Tehran, in a major escalation of tensions that risks placing the Middle East on a new war footing.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was ambushed with explosives and machine gun fire in the town of Absard, 70km (44 miles) east of Tehran. Efforts to resuscitate him in hospital failed. His bodyguard and family members were also wounded.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, said Israel was probably to blame, and an adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, vowed retaliation. “We will strike as thunder at the killers of this oppressed martyr and will make them regret their action,” tweeted Hossein Dehghan. 

There will be no claim of responsibility.  Whoever did this was a pro, and pros don’t make claims of responsibility.

The killing was seen inside Iran as being as grave as the assassination by US forces of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qassem Soleimani in January.

Israel will face accusations that it is using the final weeks of the Trump administration to try to provoke Iran in the hope of closing off any chance of reconciliation between Tehran and the incoming US administration led by Joe Biden.

Which is why reports of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s secret meeting with both Netanyahu, and Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) is significant. 

You had three people who are all forceful backers of open warfare between the United States and Iran allegedly in a room together, with the knowledge that a less confrontational approach to the Islamic Republic was in the works with the new administration in a room together.

It does not strain credulity that they all agreed that an immediate escalation of tensions would be beneficial for them agendas.

Fakhrizadeh had been described by western and Israeli intelligence services for years as the leader of a covert atomic bomb programme halted in 2003. He was a central figure in a presentation by the Israeli prime minister, Benajmin Netanyahu, in 2018 accusing Iran of continuing to seek nuclear weapons. “Remember that name, Fakhrizadeh,” Netanyahu said during the presentation.

I don’t think that the Iranians have any hard evidence, but I do believe that their conclusions are a reasonable conjecture by the Iranian state security apparatus.

European Leaders Call Bullsh%$ on Trump’s Anti-Iran Jihad

We don’t care, we don’t have to ……… we’re the United States.

The European signatories of the Iran nuclear deal are saying that they will not support the US move to reimpose UN sanctions on Iran

More specifically, they note that, since the US unilaterally pulled out of the deal, the UN response is none of our business.

I get what is going on here, Trump, who wants to overturn one of the few Obama administration foreign policy successes, has found common ground with the regime change folks, but this is not a basis for a winning friends and influencing people:  (Also, Russia and China still have a veto)

European leaders have warned the US that its claim to have the authority to reimpose sweeping UN-mandated sanctions on Iran has no effect in law, setting up a major legal clash that could lead to Washington imposing sanctions on its European allies.

In a joint statement on Sunday, France, Germany and the UK (E3) said any attempt by the US to impose its own sanctions on countries not complying with the reimposed UN ones was also legally void.

On Saturday, the US moved to reinstate a range of UN sanctions against Iran, saying it had the authority to do so as an original signatory of the joint comprehensive plan of action (JCPOA), the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and other major powers.

The other signatories claim the US left the JCPOA in 2018 and therefore no longer has a unilateral legal right to either declare Iran in breach of the agreement or to reimpose sanctions in the name of the UN.


The disagreement is not just a legal wrangle since the Trump administration claims the US now has the authority to act against any country breaching the reimposed sanctions.

The US also claims the scheduled lifting of the UN embargo on arms sales to Iran in October is null and void. There is also a risk that the US will claim it has a new mandate to interdict Iranian shipping, a move that could lead to a naval clash in the Gulf.

In a joint statement, the E3 said: “The United States of America ceased to be a participant in the JCPOA following their withdrawal from the agreement on 8 May, 2018. Consequently, the notification received from the United States and transmitted to the member states of the [UN] security council, has no legal effect. It follows that any decision or action which would be taken on the basis of this procedure or its outcome have no legal effect.


Earlier on Saturday the US secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, said the US had reimposed UN sanctions and expected “all UN member states to fully comply with their obligations to implement these measures”.

Since the fall of the USSR, the United States’ foreign policy can be summed up as, “Rules for thee, but not for me.”

I am stunned that France and Germany have called the Trump administration on this, and I am positively flabbergasted that the US poodle in Europe (the UK) is also making the same statement.

Another Bounty on US Troops? Yawn.

Have you heard the story of the boy who cried wolf?

Well now, the US State Security Apparatus is alleging that Iran paid bounties for attacks on US troops.

Coming next, unnamed sources evidence that LeBron James is paying bounties for attacks on US military personnel in Afghanistan:

Iran is reported to have paid bounties to a Taliban faction for killing US and coalition troops in Afghanistan, leading to six attacks last year including a suicide bombing at the US airbase in Bagram.

According to CNN, US intelligence assessed that Iran paid the bounties to the Haqqani network, for the Bagram attack on 11 December, which killed two civilians and injured more than 70 others, including two Americans.

The Pentagon decided not to take retaliatory action in the hope of preserving a peace deal the Trump administration agreed with the Taliban in February, the CNN report said. In January, less than a month after the Bagram attack, the US killed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard general Qassem Suleimani, in a drone strike in Baghdad, but that attack is not thought to have been a direct retaliation for Bagram.


The report comes nearly two months after allegations that Russia was paying bounties to Taliban fighters for killing Americans in Afghanistan. Donald Trump rejected those reports as a “hoax”, but the secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, confirmed he warned his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, that there would be “an enormous price to pay” if Moscow was paying such bounties. The Pentagon has said it will investigate the reports of Russian bounties but has so far not produced a conclusion to that investigation.

The credence that the national security press gives their sources in intelligence, who are literally professional liars, buggers the mind.

Breaking News from the Gulf of Tonkin

My bad, it’s not the Gulf of Tonkin, it’s the Persian Gulf, but given that it looks like we are dealing with yet another false report that could lead to war, the similarities are uncanny.
The rocket attack on the military base that eventually led to the assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani was probably executed by Daesh, not an Iranian backed militia:

The white Kia pickup turned off the desert road and rumbled onto a dirt track, stopping near a marsh. Soon there was a flash and a ripping sound as the first of the rockets fired from the truck soared toward Iraq’s K-1 military base.

The rockets wounded six people and killed an American contractor, setting off a chain of events that brought the United States and Iran to the brink of war.

The United States blamed an Iraqi militia with close ties to Iran and bombed five of the group’s bases. Angry Iraqis then stormed the American Embassy. The United States then killed Iran’s top general. Iran then fired missiles at American forces and mistakenly shot down a passenger jet, killing 176 people.

But Iraqi military and intelligence officials have raised doubts about who fired the rockets that started the spiral of events, saying they believe it is unlikely that the militia the United States blamed for the attack, Khataib Hezbollah, carried it out.


American officials insist that they have solid evidence that Khataib Hezbollah carried out the attack, though they have not made it public.


If they had evidence, we would have heard it.

They wanted to get their war on, facts be damned.


The rockets were launched from a Sunni Muslim part of Kirkuk Province notorious for attacks by the Islamic State, a Sunni terrorist group, which would have made the area hostile territory for a Shiite militia like Khataib Hezbollah.

Khataib Hezbollah has not had a presence in Kirkuk Province since 2014.

The Islamic State, however, had carried out three attacks relatively close to the base in the 10 days before the attack on K-1. Iraqi intelligence officials sent reports to the Americans in November and December warning that ISIS intended to target K-1, an Iraqi air base in Kirkuk Province that is also used by American forces.

And the abandoned Kia pickup was found was less than 1,000 feet from the site of an ISIS execution in September of five Shiite buffalo herders.

These facts all point to the Islamic State, Iraqi officials say.

The repercussions for this bit of insanity will be playing out for decades, and they will not be good for us.

Tweet of the Day

Hate to say it but reports claiming US military leaders were “stunned” when our totally normal president took their most extreme suggestion is military PR. Of course they knew it was a possibility, and they were ok with it; otherwise they wouldn’t suggest it to a lunatic.

— Alex Kotch (@alexkotch) January 5, 2020

This take is not completely accurate.

It increasingly seems that there are elements within the Trump administration, the foreign policy establishment, and the state security apparatus who have been doggedly trying to go to war with Iran for decades.

Still, whoever was involved in this decision needs to be named and shamed.

Why You Don’t Hire or Promote Torturers

The CIA torture fetishists are not realists, nor do they show competence or perspective.  Rather, they spend their lives trying to force the world to comply with their own paranoid and twisted version of reality. (Paraphrasing from an online post, whose sourc I cannot find)

Appearing on a video screen was Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director, who was monitoring the crisis from the agency’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. In the days before General Suleimani’s death, Ms. Haspel had advised Mr. Trump that the threat the Iranian general presented was greater than the threat of Iran’s response if he was killed, according to current and former American officials. Indeed, Ms. Haspel had predicted the most likely response would be a missile strike from Iran to bases where American troops were deployed, the very situation that appeared to be playing out on Tuesday afternoon.

Though Ms. Haspel took no formal position about whether to kill General Suleimani, officials who listened to her analysis came away with the clear view that the C.I.A. believed that killing him would improve — not weaken — security in the Middle East.

This is why Obama should have jailed CIA torturers instead of promoting them.


The hashtag is trending on Twitter following Donald Trump’s speech on Iran.

Following reports by an ex-staffer on The Apprentice that routinely Trump snorted the stimulant Adderall and abused Sudafed.

Trump’s speech is reported (not gonna watch it, he makes my flesh crawl) to have slurred words, mispronounced words, and sniffed constantly, (58 times) and people noticed:

Why all the sniffing? Why the slurring?

I wonder why President Donald Trump sniffs so much when he’s giving super important public addresses.

What’s up with that snort?

I wonder why he appeared to be slurring his words today.

Anxiety? Dementia, or some other health disorder? Drugs? Lack of drugs?

There are rumors, but nothing confirmed.

Whatever it is?

It ain’t good.

This is guy has the authority to start World War III.

Pleasant dreams.

I’m Not Sure That This Is Good News

A lot of people have been making hosannas over John Bolton’s announcement that he would testify if he were subpoenaed by the Senate for the impeachment trial.

I’m a pessimist about this.

Given that John Bolton is probably still sporting an erection from our recent assassination of an Iranian general*, and the former National Security Advisor has been aggressively called for war with Iran for decades, I do not think that he will do ANYTHING that would make it difficult for Trump to launch a war against Iran:

Awfully mustachioed of you, John. It was nice visiting your website, too.

I don’t trust this guy as far as the car threw me. He’s going to be the shot that brings down the elephant now that we’re just inches away from the war for which he’s been slavering his entire adult life? Please. At the very least, this is a bag job to give cover to whatever Mitch McConnell’s plan to chloroform the impeachment trial is. They can refuse to call him, and he’s covered. He can show up and refuse to answer—executive privilege, state of war, in these perilous times, y’know? But the idea that Bolton’s going to cooperate in any meaningful way, and that his testimony will advance the case against the president* in any meaningful way, requires a suspension of disbelief that rivals that of the Brooklyn Bridge.

Even if Bolton is a vindictive SOB, and he is, and even if he is probably VERY angry that Trump fired him, he will never, ever, do anything that might lead to peace with Iran.

Bolton really wants to send poor young Americans overseas to fight and die.

*Really sorry about that mental image.
No really, I am SINCERELY sorry about that mental image.
You were aware that in the late 1970s, he was frequently seen at the infamous sex club Plato’s Retreat, so I figure that there are WAY too many people who have seen his erection.

Your End of the World Update

1200 km from Mar a Lago

I’ve generally thought that the War Powers Act was largely a dead letter, with Presidents ignoring the requirements of the law, and Congress lacking the cojones to devend the law in court.

That being said, Trump claiming that a tweet is sufficient notice to Congress takes the cake:

President Trump claimed Sunday that his tweets are sufficient notice to Congress of any possible U.S. military strike on Iran, in an apparent dismissal of his obligations under the War Powers Act of 1973.

Trump’s declaration, which comes two days after his administration launched a drone strike that killed top Iranian military commander Qasem Soleimani, was met with disbelief and ridicule from congressional Democrats, who called on the president to respect the role of the legislative branch in authorizing new military action abroad.

Meanwhile, Trump is claiming that he will target Iranian cultural sites, a war crime, and an Iranian official has tweeted a link to a Forbes article that listed Trump properties around the world in response.

Given that the Houthi drones that struck Saudi oil facilities have a range of (at least) 1200 km (750 miles), and are small enough to be carried on a boat not much larger than the one that carried Greta Thunberg across the Atlantic.

The boat, or for that matter a pickup truck, could be parked in Cuba, Nassau, or Cancun and hit Mar a Lago, which is, of course, what Hesameddin Ashena implied in his tweet.

If I were Trump, I would not be OCD about making his tee times.

Meanwhile, CBP is arbitrarily detaining US citizens of Iranian origin at the US border, which, notwithstanding denials, appears to be a part of a deliberate, and bigoted, policy.

This is seriously f%$#ed up.

Mixed Emotions

I am happy that Donald Trump has not initiated military strikes against Iran in response to the shoot-down of Droney McDroneface, but the fact that he called for them, and then reversed himself, is not reassuring:

President Trump approved military strikes against Iran in retaliation for downing an American surveillance drone, but pulled back from launching them on Thursday night after a day of escalating tensions.

As late as 7 p.m., military and diplomatic officials were expecting a strike, after intense discussions and debate at the White House among the president’s top national security officials and congressional leaders, according to multiple senior administration officials involved in or briefed on the deliberations.

Officials said the president had initially approved attacks on a handful of Iranian targets, like radar and missile batteries.

The operation was underway in its early stages when it was called off, a senior administration official said. Planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down, the official said.


The retaliation plan was intended as a response to the shooting down of the unmanned, $130 million surveillance drone, which was struck Thursday morning by an Iranian surface-to-air missile, according to a senior administration official who was briefed on the military planning and spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss confidential plans.

The strike was set to take place just before dawn Friday in Iran to minimize risk to the Iranian military and civilians.

My thought go out to the grieving family of Droney, but the air-strike was a bad idea to begin with, and my guess is that it came from the fevered brain of NSC Chairman John Bolton, who would do or say anything to get his war on.

Captain Putnam Browne is Not a Fool

Donald Trump sent the Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) to the Persian Gulf to pressure Iran, but it is remaining outside of the Persian Gulf in Indian Ocean.

When you consider the restricted waters of the the Gulf this is a common sense move.

If the Lincoln were in the Gulf, the Iranians would know exactly where they are, and any attack would have a reaction time of a few minutes.

This guy is not painting a target on his back in order to promulgate John Bolton’s stiffy for regime change:

A U.S. aircraft carrier ordered by the White House to rapidly deploy to the Mideast over a perceived threat from Iran remains outside of the Persian Gulf, so far avoiding any confrontation with Iranian Revolutionary Guard forces amid efforts to deescalate tensions between Tehran and Washington.

Officers aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln repeatedly told The Associated Press on Monday they could respond rapidly to any regional threat from their position, at the time some 320 kilometers (200 miles) off the eastern coast of Oman in the Arabian Sea.

However, after decades of American aircraft carriers sailing through the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow mouth of the Persian Gulf through which a third of all oil traded at sea passes, the U.S. Navy’s decision to keep the Lincoln away is striking.

“You don’t want to inadvertently escalate something,” Capt. Putnam Browne, the commanding officer of the Lincoln, told the AP.

Also, you know, the whole getting sunk thing.

He Should Not Apologize

Lately, Bernie Sanders has been criticized for his opposition to the Vietnam War, the invasion or Iraq, and a potential invasion of Iran.

He has refused to apologize, and he should continue to refuse, because he was, and is, right, and his critics are, and were, wrong:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took aim at calls for him to “apologize” for his refusal to support U.S. armed conflicts in the Middle East, saying Friday that he was “right” about past U.S. wars and would continue to advocate against war with Iran.

In a tweet, Sanders wrote that he will “apologize to no one” for supporting peaceful diplomatic efforts over armed conflict with Iran, citing U.S. wars in Iraq and Vietnam as examples of past U.S. armed responses that resulted in long-running and exhausting wars.

“I was right about Vietnam. I was right about Iraq. I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran. I apologize to no one,” the senator tweeted, along with a video explaining his stance against war with the country.

I was right about Vietnam.

I was right about Iraq.

I will do everything in my power to prevent a war with Iran.

I apologize to no one. pic.twitter.com/Lna3oBZMKB

— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) May 24, 2019

In the topsy-turvy world inside the Beltway, being right is somehow indicates that he is not “serious” about foreign policy.

Needless to say, this is complete bullsh%$.

Yeah, This is Working So Well

In response to new sanctions against new sanctions against Iran, Russia is planning to invest fifty billion dollars in the Iranian energy industry:

Iran has touted $50bn worth of potential Russian investments in its oil and gas sector as it seeks to deepen its relationship with Moscow, amid mounting pressure from the US to curb the country’s energy exports and diplomatically isolate Tehran.


“Russia is ready to invest $50bn in Iran’s oil and gas sectors,” Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior adviser to Iran’s supreme leader, said during a visit to Moscow that included a meeting with President Vladimir Putin. “Military and technical co-operation with Russia is of major importance to Iran.”


Mr Velayati, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s top diplomat, also used a media interview during his visit to say that a Russian oil company had already signed a $4bn deal with Iran that “will be implemented soon”, without providing details. He added: “Two other major Russian oil companies, Rosneft and Gazprom, have started talks with Iran’s oil ministry to sign contracts worth up to $10bn.”


The suggestion of deeper co-operation between the two countries’ energy industries comes eight months after Russian companies signed preliminary agreements to invest up to $30bn in Iran’s oil industry, as part of a visit by Mr Putin to Tehran.


But Mr Trump’s decision to rip up that accord and threaten to sanction companies that trade in Iranian oil has led Tehran to work with Moscow. Hardline Iranian politicians have urged Mr Rouhani’s government to expand co-operation with Russia and China to replace European companies unwilling to risk the wrath of Washington.

This is a foreseeable result of bad policy. 

Sanctions after sanctions, particularly without the support of allies, is like pushing on a string.

Headline of the Day

Iran’s Khamenei Likens U.S. to Cat in ‘Tom and Jerry’


So Iran’s supreme religious leader knows enough about US culture to make a Tom and Jerry reference, specifically that, “The U.S. has tried various political, economic, military and propaganda undertakings to hit the Islamic Republic, but all these plots failed. Like the famous cat in Tom and Jerry they will lose again.”

I cannot imagine a Saudi cleric even knowing who the hell Tom and Jerry are.