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Iraq REJECTS US demands to expel Iranian military advisers from the country

The US is being checkmated out of Iraq.

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Yesterday, the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attempted to broker a meeting between Iraqi and Saudi officials in Riyadh during which he expressed American frustrations over Iran’s assistance to Iraq in the fight against terrorism.

Tillerson stated,

“Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against … ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home.

The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control”.

This admonition from the United States was met by a defiant statement from the office of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi which stated that all troops fighting in Iraq, including the Popular Mobilisation Forces, are Iraqis and that furthermore, any assistance provided by foreign powers (including Iran) is welcomed and done with the consent of Iraq.

Below is a translation of the full statement, first posted on Facebook:

“A very close source expressing the strangeness of the statements attributed to the American Foreign Secretary.
=========

A source close to Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi expressed his surprise at the statements attributed to the United States Secretary of state about the Popular Mobilisation Forces.

According to the source, the combatants of the Popular Mobilisation Forces are Iraqi nationals who have made enormous sacrifices to defend their country and the Iraqi people and answer to Iraqi leadership by the law of the house of representatives.

The source said that no party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters.

The source confirmed that Iraqis were fighting on Iraqi territory and there were no foreign fighters in Iraq.

The source explained that the presence of the international coalition forces in Iraq or any other state was limited in preparation for training, logistical and air support and not for fighting on Iraqi territory”.

What is curious about the remarks from Tillerson and al-Abadi is that such statements took so long to be voiced in public. Iraq is unique in the world in that it counts Iran as a neighbouring ally while Iraq also cooperates with the United States. Technically, the US is in fact an Iraqi ally, even though most Iraqi citizens and even most Iraqi politicians hold Iran in much higher regard than the US. This is the case for the simple reason that all adult Iraqis have vivid memories of the destruction the US caused to Iraq starting in 2003 and furthermore, Iraq’s majority Shi’a government looks for both political and spiritual guidance to the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It was only a matter of time before the US, whose previous financing of Sunni extremists in Iraq was designed to thwart Iran’s influence in Iraq, would transform into an open political crisis in the aftermath of the defeat of most Takrifi jihadists on Iraqi soil. The fact that Iran’s assistance to Iraqi troops played a large part in the professionalisation of and moral boost too the Iraqi armed forces, has only served to further enhance Iran’s prestige in Iraq.

I previously stated that the stubborn attempts by Iraqi Kurds to carry through with a secession referendum and then insist on occupying parts of Iraq, like Kirkuk, which are not even part of the legally designated autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq, were due to a combination of arrogance from the Kurdish leader Masoud Barzani as well as tacit US approval and encouragement of Kurdish provocations.

READ MORE: 

Iraqi Kurds’ unwillingness to negotiate with Baghdad, indicates they are banking on foreign support

To this end, I have also stated that continued US attempts to meddle in Iraq and maintain a large military presence in Iraq are part of a multifaceted proxy war against Iran which thus far has been fought on Iraqi and Syrian soil, as the US is not yet mad enough to attack Iran directly.

READ MORE: 

The proxy-war against Iran is under way in Iraq and has just entered a new phase

However, in all of this, the US miscalculated the following points which are now starkly clear in the aftermath of Iraq’s rapid and mostly bloodless victories over Kurdish forces.

1. Kurdish Peshmerga militants are not as apt a fighting forces as many suspected. This indeed gives further credence to reports that rather than engage ISIS in battle, many Peshmerga leaders simply brokered deals with ISIS so that Kurds could move in to once ISIS occupied terrorises and unharmed ISIS fighters could go elsewhere in Iraq.

2. The Iraqi armed forces are more professional, loyal and more buoyant with morale than had previous been thought.

3. Iraqi Arab Sunnis and Shi’as as well as Sunni Iraqi Turkomen all united around the Iraqi flag in Kirkuk and neighbouring regions, in one of the most profound displays of Iraqi unity since prior to 2003.

4. Turkey would not stand by and allow Kurdish secession to take place in Iraq (or elsewhere) without making preparations to intervene, including militarily, in order to stop it. This point was in fact easy to anticipate, but nevertheless, the US acted either as though it did not know or did not care about this point.

The US cannot realistically re-supply Iraqi Kurds for a would-be rematch with Iraq forces, without taking on the Iraqi armed forces directly. This would clearly end what little good will remains between Baghdad and Washington. Alternatively, the US could violate the Turkish no fly-zone which has been established over northern Iraq with the cooperation of Baghdad. This option would have an even uglier result for the US.

Therefore, because the US has few realistic (even by US standards) military options at its disposal to foment further proxy wars against Iraq and its Iranian ally, the US has resorted to open threats, which in reality amount to little more than begging Iraq to sever ties with what is today, a natural ally.

Iraq said no to the US, in a sign that Iraq is finally emerging from the shadows of 21st century western colonialism and is looking to re-establish its dignity and sovereignty. It must be said that as a large neighbouring ally, Iran has in fact played an important role in achieving this.

In a formal sense, the US has been checkmated out of Iraq, even while its personnel are still very much inside the country.

The US proxy wars against Iran and others which are currently winding up in both Iraq and Syria is however, not going to end anytime soon. It is simply going to enter an even more devious phase. The anti-Kurdish alliance which includes Iraq, Iran and Turkey, is now a supreme target for US proxy aggression. Syria, an ally of both Iran and Iraq, can for strategic purposes, also be included in this new alliance (in spite of having no relations with Turkey at present), as Syria shares the common enemy of Kurdish nationalists whose loyalty largely belongs to the US and Israel. Each country is now invested in maintaining the territorial unity of the other countries. This is a far more sound foundation for an alliance than ideology or worse yet, ambition.

Turkey is in many ways, the strongest among the aforementioned countries and with Takfiri jihadism on the wane, so far as military strength is concerned, all eyes will be on Turkey as the most ardently anti-Kurdish state in the region and the one most vigorously opposed to Kurdish ethno-nationalism in the region.

As I wrote earlier,

“In Iraq, Kurdish provocations backfired, as Iraq was emboldened to take the necessary steps to fully reinstate its legal control over its own territory, including Kirkuk, a city and region which has never been part of the Kurdish autonomous zone in northern Iraq, in spite of a three year period of Kurdish occupation which Iraq has now ended.

In Syria, would be ethno-nationalist Kurds could be in for an even more difficult time than their Iraqi brethren. While the Kurdish factions in Iraq historically have poor relations with the Turkish PKK, Syria’s YPG is often seem by Turkey, as little more than a regional offshoot of the PKK. The Turkish narrative has been backed up by YPG forces celebrating the US reduction of Raqqa by hoisting large photos of jailed PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan over the smouldering remains of the city.

This will be viewed in Ankara as a direct threat to Turkish security and unlike Iraq, Turkey already has a number of troops in Syria territory, including that which is claimed by Kurds. In this sense, the equivalent of the Iraqi push-back of Kurds could be even more resounding in Syria, not least because Turkey, in spite of its non-relations with Damascus, would likely do the heavy fighting.

However much the US wants to use Syrian Kurds to divide, occupy or even annex parts of Syria, the truth of the matter is that without fighting Turkey, the US will have hit a brick wall. With Turkey all but ejected from the position of a US ally, many pragmatists (by US standards) in Washington will urge caution before openly defying the stated security concerns of a large and powerful longtime NATO member. In the short term, these voices of caution will likely win the argument in the Pentagon.

Because of this, the US will almost certainly try and use both Kurdish and Takfiri terrorists to try and slow the progress of Syria and her allies in liberating the remaining 15% of the country that is not back under government protection.  Beyond this, the US and Israel are caught between a rock and a hard place. Both Israel and the United States would like nothing more than a Kurdish puppet state in Syria, but both know that taking on Turkey is a step too far, even by their aggressive standards.

The remaining danger is therefore that the US could pivot its jihadist proxy war against Turkey. Although Turkey has its own share of jihadist proxies in Syria who typically fly under the largely meaningless FSA banner, it is not beyond the realm of possible, that the US could use other jihadist proxies to create attacks and disturbances on Turkish soil. Some in Turkish media have attested that recent jihadist attacks in Turkey are a result of shadow US proxies, althoguh others argue that it is merely the phenomenon of jihadist blow-back from disgruntled former Turkish proxies.

Even more importantly in respect of upsetting Turkey’s internal political situation, with US links to the illegal terrorist organisation of Fethullah Gulen becoming ever clearer, the possibility of Washington using Gulenists to destabilise Erdogan’s Turkey is also very much on the table. Turkey continues to blame Gulenists with deep US connections for the failed 2016 coup against Erdogan and recent events, such as the US willingness to de-facto defend consular employees arrested by Turkey for being Gulenist terrorists, serve to bolster Erdogan’s version of events.

It is not without precedent for the US to wage war of one kind or another against a former or even current “ally”. Saddam Hussein’s Iraq worked closely with the west during the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s. Likewise, Panama’s leader Manuel Noriega was on the CIA payroll before the US deposed and imprisoned Noriega.

An even better example of the phenomenon of the US working to undermine a so-called ally can be seen in the last several decades of America’s relationship with Pakistan. While the US considers Pakistan an ‘ally’, the US has constantly worked to undermine the security situation in Pakistan. Even more worryingly, the US has contradicted Pakistan’s concerns in neighbouring Afghanistan, while the US continues to provide India with heavy weapons. Furthermore, the US continually meddles in Pakistan’s important and very real alliance with China. These are just the most strident examples of how the US works to undermine Pakistan all while calling Islamabad an “ally”. The popularity of anti-American parties and movements in Pakistan, is a testament to the fact that many ordinary Pakistanis are fully fed up with Washington’s abuse of Pakistan.

The future of US-Turkey relations could begin to look very similar. While the US does not want to fully alienate Turkey or Pakistan, it is doing everything it can to do so, albeit with a “lead from behind strategy”. Just as Pakistan’s relationship with China and now Russia also, has only been strengthened due to Islamabad’s frustrations with the US, the same now holds for Turkey’s new partnerships with Russia, Iran and also China.

The US cannot stop Turkey from exercising its security prerogative in the region, but the US can work to undermine Turkey while pretending to still be an ally. For anyone who thought that Ankara’s relationship with Russia and Iran was not sincere, events on the ground have made such a relationship even more than sincere: they have made it inevitable and necessary”.

Turkey is next in line to be a Pakistan style “frenemy” of the US

Thus, while Iraq moves closer to Iran, the US will simply pivot its proxy war against Iran to new and uncharted territory, all while trying its hardest to encourage havoc in the places that have long been home to US led proxy wars.

 

 

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Alex Christoforou

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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