Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Middle-East indicators and warnings point to war

The rumors about a US attack on Iran have been recently re-energized by the sacking of Admiral Fallon, the arrival of a new US Navy Carrier in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf, Cheney's recent visit to the region, General David "Ass-kissing chickenshit" Petraeus' testimony in Congress, Secretary Gate's silly comments about Iran wanting nukes after all, nevermind the NIE, or the New York Times resuming some of its worst war-mongering since the invasion of Iraq. All these are worrying signs, of course, but three recent developments look outright ominous to me: the US campaign against Sadr's Mehdi Army, the attempts by the Siniora 'government' in Lebanon to trigger a crisis with Hezbollah and the Syrian 'rapprochement' with Israel and the USA.


It now clearly appears that the recent US attacks against Sadr's Mehdi Army in Basra and in the capital are more than just a military phase of the (in)famous 'redirection' (basically, the US switching sides and trying to create a grand anti-Shia coalition). As many others, I also initially thought that the attack on Sadr's forces (who had fully respected the year long ceasefire) was a "preparation", of sorts, of the upcoming elections. Recent revelations by Gareth Porter during an interview with Scott Horton (and the ominous developments in Lebanon) are beginning make me think that what is really going on is a careful preparation for an attack on Iran.

The situation in Iraq is both fluid and complex. Simply put, the US occupation forces do not have the means to fight the Sunni and Shia resistance forces at the same time. The US also knows that if it attacks Iran the Iraqi Shia will retaliate; both al-Hakim and al-Sadr have made that very clear in official declarations. Thus, the 'redirection' is a desperate attempt to secure as best can be the situation on the ground in Iraq with the help of the very same forces who only recently were called "terrorists" by CENTOM, the White House and the State Department. Having bought-off, at least for the time being, the Sunni resistance, the Americans are now turning their guns on the Shia or, should I say, the Shia which are considered a threat by the Occupation Forces: the Mehdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr.

(Maliki's Dawa Party does not have a militia of its own and it relies on al-Hakim's Badr Corps for muscle. These forces are, rather paradoxically, officially supported by both the USA and Iran. I have come to the conclusion that there is more to Iran's support for the Maliki government than meets the eye.)

Yes, Iran does officially support the 'democratically elected government of Iraq' and some Iranian officials have even expressed their support for the "crackdown on armed militias" (a codeword for a war on the Sadrists). Still, I am getting a strong sense that Iran only sees the Maliki government as a useful tool to prevent the Americans from putting a CIA-stooge like Alawi or even a Sunni in power. By declaring its support for the Maliki government Iran is, in reality, declaring its support for the majority Shia in Iraq. However, I believe that Iran is fully aware of the fact that the Maliki government is hated everywhere in Iraq, including by most Shia, and that Maliki and al-Hakim are becoming pawns in the anti-Shia 'redirection'. While there is no doubt that the Iranians has reservations about the personality of al-Sadr, they also realize that he is, by far, the most popular figure in Iraq and that he, unlike Maliki and al-Hakim, truly opposes the occupation.

Initially, the occupation of Iraq was objectively in Iran's interest. It booted out Saddam and his Baathist clique, it brought the majority Shia to power and, best of all, it distracted the USA from an attack on Iran (which otherwise would have already happened). At this stage though, the only 'advantage' of the occupation for Iraq is the fact that it puts 150'000 US soldiers well within the reach of many different kinds of possible Iranian responses to a US attack. The US is well aware of that and the operations against the Sadrists appear to be an attempt to negate this situation (again, listen to Gareth Porter's interview for more details).

My guess is that the Iranians, who are fully cognisant of all this, are covertly switching their support from Maliki to the Sadrists (while quite possibly pressuring al-Hakim and the Badr organization to be prepared to 'drop' Maliki at a moment's notice). The Iranians simply cannot officially refuse to support the 'democratically elected government of Iraq', but they sure as hell do not need to give it more support than lip service statements. Think of it as a 'redirection' of their own, if you want, the quiet but crucial adaptation by Iran to a new reality on the ground.

What all this means, however, is that the war between the USA and Iran has already entered its first, covert, phase and that both sides are trying to prepare themselves for the inevitable full-scale war which, no doubt, will be carefully timed to help McCain get elected.


Hezbollah is the other ally of Iran in the region, and a far more formidable one than any Iraqi Shia faction. Hezbollah is, arguably, the single most powerful player in the region, with a unmatched intelligence and analysis capability, a truly formidable military component and an ironclad alliance with Iran which guarantees it all the money it needs. Hezbollah is lead by the most popular man in the Arab world and has a cadre of highly competent and sophisticated officials. Lastly, Hezbollah is directly connected to Iran's Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei (Sheikh Fadlallah is *not* the spiritual leader of Hezbollah, but only the spiritual leader of most of the non-Hezbollah Shia of Lebanon), and it enjoys his full support. Still, it does not have proximity access to hundred of thousands of US troops like the Sadrists do. What is does have is the ability to shut down anywhere from a 1/3 to 1/2 of Israel in less than one hour and that is a truly formidable deterrent not only for Israel, but even more so for the Neocon controlled USA.

The first attempt to destroy or cripple Hezbollah came with the 2006 war and ended in abject failure. This time, the Empire is trying to achieve by political means using its CIA-controlled stooges in Lebanon what it could not do with military force: substantially degrade Hezbollah's ability to defend itself against an Israeli attack.

It all began with otherwise laughable allegations made by CIA puppets in Lebanon about Hezbollah placing hidden cameras to observe the Beirut airport (why Hezbollah would need to place cameras along the airport which is located next to the Shia neighborhoods of Beirut is left unclear). Next came the recent statement by the Sinora regime about its decision to dismantle the Hezbollah communication network. Since the Phalangists understand perfectly that Hezbollah will *never* let that happen this appears to be nothing less of a provocation to create a casus belli and force Hezbollah into a civil war which it has always refused to contemplate (Hezbollah is the only faction in Lebanon which never turned its guns on fellow their Lebanese). The preparation for a conflict with Hezbollah brings me to the third "blinking" indicator and warning:


Syria, a longtime covert ally of the Empire which is more than happy to torture kidnapped suspects on behalf of the CIA, is still my prime suspect in the murder of Imad Mughniyah (see here, here and here). His widow agrees with me. Of course, the murder itself was ordered by the Israelis, but there is no conceivable way they could have pulled this off without Syrian assistance. To make sure that Syria "behaves" the Israelis have used a carrot and stick approach. The stick part was the recent (and otherwise comical) "warning" strike on the alleged Syrian-DPRK "nuclear facility" and the carrot part is the recent ouvertures made to Syria by Olmert to return the Golan Heights.

Make no mistake, for all the empty words about the "axis of evil", Syrian support for terrorism in general and Hezbollah in particular, Assad is just another garden variety Baathist dictator who will do anything to remain in power. Sure, Assad will negotiate and bargain, as any smart Middle-East businessman would do, but he will not ask for too high a price for his final sellout (having seen Saddam hanged sure was convincing enough for him). So far, Assad has clerverly impersonated an Arab patriot and nationalist, but he is clearly working out the modalities of going down the same road as Mubarak in Egypt or Abdullah in Jordan: becoming an obedient servant of the Empire.


Connect the dots here and the picture is becoming clear: the Shias in general and Iran in particular are about to be openly attacked. The covert phase of this agression has already been under way for at least a year now and it will soon be over. The next phase will probably consist of either an Isareli strike on Iranian nuclear objectives or a US strike on Pasdaran bases inside Iran. The aim of the operation will be to trigger an Iranian response which, in turn, will trigger a full-scale massive bombing campaign against Iran. The purpose of this campaign will not be to destroy a (non-existing) nuclear weapons program, but to destroy the Iranian economy (just like what the Israelis did to Lebanon in 2006 or what the Americans did to Iraq many times over) thereby inflicting a crippling strike against the economy of the only country in the Middle-East which openly dares to defy Israel. I predict that this goal will be substantially achieved and that in response to this attack the Iranians will finally embark on a full-scale nuclear weapons program. It appears that being a fully compliant member of the NPT will only get Iran bombed. No matter how distasteful and immoral Iran's leaders find nuclear weapons (Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has even issued an official ruling condemning nuclear weapons a long time ago) a US/Israeli agression will only prove to them that having nuclear weapons is the *only* way to protect their country and their people.