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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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Media meltdown hits stupid levels as Trump and Putin hold first summit (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 58.

Alex Christoforou

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It was, and still remains a media meltdown of epic proportions as that dastardly ‘traitor’ US President Donald Trump decided to meet with that ‘thug’ Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Of course these are the simplistic and moronic epitaphs that are now universally being thrown around on everything from Morning Joe to Fox and Friends.

Mainstream media shills, and even intelligent alternative news political commentators, are all towing the same line, “thug” and “traitor”, while no one has given much thought to the policy and geo-political realities that have brought these two leaders together in Helsinki.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou provide some real news analysis of the historic Trump-Putin summit in Helsinki, without the stupid ‘thug’ and ‘traitor’ monikers carelessly being thrown around by the tools that occupy much of the mainstream media. Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

And if you though that one summit between Putin and Trump was more than enough to send the media into code level red meltdown, POTUS Trump is now hinting (maybe trolling) at a second Putin summit.

Via Zerohedge

And cue another ‘meltdown’ in 3…2…1…

While arguments continue over whether the Helsinki Summit was a success (end of Cold War 2.0) or not (most treasonous president ever), President Trump is convinced “The Summit was a great success,” and hints that there will be a second summit soon, where they will address: “stopping terrorism, security for Israel, nuclear proliferation, cyber attacks, trade, Ukraine, Middle East peace, North Korea and more.”

However, we suspect what will ‘trigger’ the liberal media to melt down is his use of the Stalin-esque term “enemy of the people” to describe the Fake News Media once again…

 

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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Europe divided over possible trade compromise with Trump

Even if a European proposal could score a trade cease fire, the war isn’t over

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US President Donald Trump has just lectured NATO on it member’s commitment performance and held a controversial meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and is next week to receive EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with trade matters being high up on the agenda.

Juncker is expected to present Trump with a package of proposals to help smooth relations and potentially heal areas of division, particularly those surrounding Europe’s trade relationship with America. Those proposals are precisely what is cropping up as another area of divergence between some members of the EU, specifically France and Germany, just after a major contention on migration has been driving discord within the Union.

This gets down to whether Europe should offer concessions to Trump on trade while Trump is admittedly describing the Union as a ‘foe’ and has initiated a trade spat with the Union by assessing trade tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, spurring retaliatory tariff measures from the EU Commission.

France, specifically, is opposed to any sort of compromise with Trump on the matter, where Trump is perceived as an opponent to the Union and its unity, whereas Germany is economically motivated to seek an end to the trade dispute under the threat of a new round of tariffs emanating from the Trump administration, and is therefore seeking to find some sort of proposal that Trump will accept and therefore back down on his protectionism against the EU, and Germany in particular.

Politico reports:

Only a week before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker flies to Washington, France and Germany are divided over how much he should offer to U.S. President Donald Trump to end a deepening trade war, say European diplomats and officials.

But, they add, Germany has the upper hand. Berlin is shaping Juncker’s agenda, suggesting three offers that he could take to Trump on July 25 to resolve the dispute, according to people familiar with the plans.

The French are uneasy about the wisdom of such a conciliatory approach, however, and publicly accuse Trump of seeking to splinter and weaken the 28-member bloc, which he has called his “foe.”

Despite Paris’ reservations about giving away too much to the increasingly hostile U.S. president, the diplomats say that the European Commission’s powerful Secretary-General Martin Selmayr supports the German attempt at rapprochement, which makes it more likely that Juncker will offer some kind of trade fix next week.

“It’s clear that Juncker can’t go to Washington empty-handed,” one diplomat said. He stressed that Juncker’s proposals would be a political signal to Washington and would not be the formal beginning of negotiations, which would have to be approved by EU countries.

European ambassadors will meet on Wednesday to discuss the scope of Juncker’s offer — and indeed whether any offers should be made at all. France’s official position is that Europe must not strike any deal with a gun to its head, or with any country that has opted out of the Paris climate accord, as Trump’s America has done.

While Berlin is terrified by the prospect of 20 percent tariffs on cars and is desperate for a ceasefire deal, France has more fundamental suspicions that the time for compromise is over and that Trump simply wants to destroy EU unity. Paris is concerned that Trump’s next target is its sacred farm sector and is putting more emphasis on the importance of preserving a united political front against Washington.

Two diplomats said Berlin has a broad menu of offers that should be made to Trump: a bilateral deal to cut industrial tariffs, a plurilateral agreement to eliminate car duties worldwide, and a bigger transatlantic trade agreement including regulatory cooperation that potentially also comes with talks on increasing U.S. beef exports into Europe.

Making such generous offers is contentious when Trump crystallized his trade position toward Brussels on CBS news on Sunday: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

This undiplomatic bombshell came not long after he reportedly advised French President Emmanuel Macron to quit the EU to get a better trade deal than he was willing to offer the EU28.

In announcing Juncker’s visit on Tuesday, the White House said that he and Trump “will focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership.”

Talking to the enemy

Diplomats note that a French-led camp in Brussels reckons Trump’s goals are strategic, and that he’s not after the sort of deal Germany is offering.

A French government official said that Washington quite simply wants to shift the EU off the stage: “Trump’s objective is that there are two big blocs: The United States and China. A multipower world with Europe as a strong player does not fit in.”

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire this month also issued a stark warning that Trump is seeking to drive a wedge between France and Germany — courting Paris, while simultaneously attacking Berlin’s trade surplus with the U.S. “In this globalized world, European countries must form a bloc, because what our partners or adversaries want is to divide us,” Le Maire said at an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence. “What the United States want, that’s to divide France and Germany.”

Despite these remarks from Le Maire, Anthony Gardner, former ambassador to the EU under the Barack Obama administration, said that he suspects the full magnitude of the threat has not sunk in. “Europe wake up; the U.S. wants to break up the EU,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Remember Belgium’s motto: L’union fait la force. [Unity creates strength]. Especially on trade. No side deals.”

One EU diplomat insisted that Brussels is not blind to these dangers in the run-up to Juncker’s visit.

Trump thinks that Europe is “too big to be controllable by DC, so it’s bad for America. Simple logic. And therefore the only deal that will bring the president to stop the trade war is the deal that breaks up the European market. I don’t quite think that’s the legacy Juncker is aiming for,” the diplomat said.

Europe is source of a deep frustration for Trump, as it runs a massive goods surplus with the U.S., at $147 billion in 2016. In particular, the U.S. president blames Germany’s mighty car exporters for this imbalance.

Leveling the field is not easy, however. With its market of 510 million consumers, Europe not only has the clout to stand up to the United States, but is increasingly setting global standards — particularly on food. This not only limits U.S. exports in Europe but also means that the European model is used in a broader trading ecosystem that includes Canada, Mexico and Japan.

New world order

Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch member of the European Parliament, observed that the U.S. trade strategy meshed with Trump’s political agenda.

“You could say there’s a new transatlantic relation emerging, of nationalists, populists and protectionists,” she said, pointing out that Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast doubt on America’s commitment to supporting European security.

Trump’s opposition to the EU partly builds on an long-standing American discomfort about the EU’s economic policies.

“We already saw problems during the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where the U.S. didn’t like EU demands such as on geographical indications [food name protections], and certainly didn’t like that we had ambitious requests in areas like public procurement,” said Pascal Kerneis, managing director of the European Services Forum and a member of the now defunct TTIP advisory group.

Kerneis said that Trump’s trade attacks are shifting the tensions to a completely new level: “He’s attacking on all fronts, hoping to break our unity, particularly between Germany and France.”

France particularly fears that Trump’s duties on Spanish olives could only be the first salvo on Europe’s whole system of farm subsidies.

EU lawmaker Schaake said that France is right to worry about a conflagration. “Once we give in in one area, he will attack at the next one,” she said. “If we allow Trump to play Europeans against each other, sector by sector, it will be a losing game.”

Even if Europe goes about capitulating to Trump’s gripes about the Union, whether it gets back to NATO defense spending or the trade deficit, the question remains whether this will satiate Trump’s political appetite and result in an improved trade perspective and politically acceptable position with Washington, and France’s concern that the matter runs deeper and has a foreign policy agenda behind it, and that caving to Trump’s pressure will only end in defeat for the EU would therefore appear reasonable.

But Germany is staring down the barrel of a possible new round of tariffs that would hurt some of their largest industries and is therefore under a lot of pressure to find a solution, or at least some sort of agreement that could deescalate the situation.

However, Germany’s recent record of resolving international issues is such that Germany is really only scoring cease fire agreements, rather than ending the real political conflicts, referring mainly to the immigration issue which recently resulted only in diffusing some inter Union tensions, but without resolving the problem itself.

In this context, Germany could promise the moon and stars to Trump, possibly avert further trade tensions, but yet fail to address the core political and trade conflicts that have already broken out. Essentially, then, such a compromise would only serve to function as damage control, while leaving Germany and the Union at a further disadvantaged political position relative to the States at the political table.

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