Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran

Iran Escalation (3)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting

We are clearly witnessing the Strategic Communications warmup to actual commitment of forces by the US.  Iran, in turn, will make statements, conduct exercises, releases results of tests of miraculous unheralded weapons, and other saber-rattling drills.  If cooler minds prevail, both sides will stand down and declare victory through a war of words. 

If, as I expect, the gates of hell are cracked just a smidgen, a US task force will be positioned within striking distance of the Straits of Hormuz. I expect Iran will say they forced the mighty United States to deploy a carrier task force but they were too scared to enter the Persian Gulf.  That would be a logical point for all forces to stand down.  Perhaps it might be when up to 120,000 US land, air, and sea forces begin to muster to embarkation points. Either way, at that point, all sides can declare victory.  

We are a long way from conflict.  A very long way.

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One could be forgiven for believing that the commencement of Operation Persian Freedom is imminent, judging from the tirades in the US and UK media, Moscow, Tehran, and various European capitals. Alas the reality is far more mundane, as Rogan and others point out. Never let facts get in the way of of a good bout of hysteria!

Until we see hundreds of combat aircraft and supporting assets deployed into theatre, and working up, as happened in 1990, this hysteria is simply encouraging Tehran to escalate as it provides them with the propaganda theater they need at home. The hypocrisy of the media and partisan commentators promoting this nonsense defies comprehension. If this ends up in massive body counts, they will be as complicit as the regime in Tehran, and its supporters in Muscovy.

Putin warns Washington Moscow won’t act as a ‘fireman’ in Iranian dispute | Daily Mail Online

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Iran was adhering to its obligations under the 2015 Paris nuclear agreement. He said: ‘Iran was and still is the world’s most verifiable country’.

Saudi Prince Says Iran Ordered Pipeline Attack as Tensions Mount – Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia accused Iran of ordering this week’s attack by Yemeni rebels on a key oil pipeline, stoking concerns that the world’s largest oil-producing region is edging toward another war. Crude prices rose.

Using Proxies, Iran Appears to Be Hitting Back in the Fight Over Oil – Foreign Policy

Experts believe Tehran is behind recent attacks on Saudi oil installations and vessels.

U.S. intel showed Iran-backed militias moving rockets in Iraq: Report – Washington Times

The current ramping up of U.S. military posturing against Iran was triggered by U.S. intelligence that showed Tehran-backed militias in Iraq moving rockets to locations that could hit bases where American troops are positioned in the nation, according to sources familiar with the intelligence.

Iran’s defense minister vows to defeat US, Israel if attacked

“We will defeat the American-Zionist front,” Minister of Defense Amir Hatami said, according to the Islamic Republic News Agency, which also ripped the US for escalating the conflict between the two countries.

Iran’s Zarif warns of risk from extremist individuals in U.S. government – Reuters

Iran’s foreign minister said on Tuesday that “extremist individuals” in the U.S. government were pursuing dangerous policies, amid a war of words with Washington over sanctions.

Iran suggests oil attacks orchestrated to spark conflict | USA News | Al Jazeera

FM Javad Zarif says his country anticipated ‘activities to escalate tension’ by ‘hardliners’ in the US and Middle East.

Iran accuses US of escalating tensions as Russia decries ‘downward spiral’ – CNNPolitics

Senior Iranian officials warned the US against conflict Tuesday, as Russia’s foreign minister spoke of a “downward spiral” and the US narrative of a deepening threat from Iran was questioned and contradicted.

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “The Fake News Washington Post, and even more Fake News New York Times, are writing stories that there is infighting with respect to my strong policy in the Middle East. There is no infighting whatsoever….”

Donald J. Trump on Twitter: “….Different opinions are expressed and I make a decisive and final decision – it is a very simple process. All sides, views, and policies are covered. I’m sure that Iran will want to talk soon.”

Trump Says He Is Sure Iran Will Seek Talks ‘Soon’

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is sure Tehran will “soon” seek to negotiate with Washington, and he dismissed media reports suggesting there was disagreement within the administration of his p…

Trump rips New York Times and Washington Post over reports of White House discord on Iran | Fox News

President Trump on Wednesday trashed The Washington Post and The New York Times for reporting on alleged infighting within the White House over the administration’s policy in the Middle East.

Marco Rubio on Twitter: “URGENT: 1/5 These actions are not the prelude to a U.S. attack against #Iran There is clear & persistent evidence,supported by observable movements on the ground,that Iran’s proxy forces in #Iraq & #Yemen plan to attack Americans with the intent of inflicting mass casualties…”

Here’s how you’ll know we’re about to go to war with Iran — right now, we’re not

National security adviser John Bolton might be open to war with Iran. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo might also. But not so much President Trump, who has distanced himself from these top two advisers.

Trump’s Counter-Iran Moves Are Provocative, But They’re Not War – Defense One

Truly bad messaging is undermining trust among allies and the American public — and increasing the chance of accidental escalation.

Sen. Romney says it’s ‘close to inconceivable’ Trump wants to start a war with Iran – The Salt Lake Tribune

Washington • Sen. Mitt Romney rejected suggestions that President Donald Trump was eyeing a war with Iran after reports that the White House was considering sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if Iran escalates its nuclear weapons program or attacks U.S. soldiers or interests. Romney, who on Tuesday voted against a Trump judicial pick, said he didn’t believe the president was contemplating a new war. “It’s close to inconceivable that the president, the administration would consider a war with Iran,” Romney told reporters at the Capitol on Wednesday. Trump “made it clear when he ran for president that one of the worst foreign policy mistakes in American history was the decision to go to war with Iraq.” Romney added that it would be “unthinkable” that Trump would consider another war in the region with a much bigger and stronger foe. The New York Times reported this week that acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan unveiled a plan to Trump’s advisers that would send up to 120,000 U.S. troops to the Middle East, though a land invasion was not part of the proposal led by hard-liners, such as Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton.

US-Iran Standoff Is No Cause for Alarm

There are no signs that either side wants to go to war.

U.S. Air Forces Central Command aircraft flew deterrence missions in area of responsibility – Defence Blog

The U.S. Air Forces Central Command has announced that its combat aircraft flew deterrence missions in the area of responsibility and provides security and stability in the region. For reference, the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, or AFCENT, is the Air Force Service Component of United States Central Command (USCENTCOM), a joint Department of Defense combatant command responsible for U.S. security interests in 27 nations that stretch from the Horn of Africa through the Persian Gulf region, into Central Asia. U. S. Air Force F-15C Eagles, F-35A Lightning IIs and B-52H Stratofortress aircraft flew deterrence missions in the U.S. Air Forces Central Command area of responsibility, supporting U.S. and Coalition aircraft in various operations conducted in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan. The missions were refueled by KC-135 Stratotankers from the 28th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron. The 28th EARS supports the constant Combat Air Force presence in the AFCENT AOR. F-35As, deployed from Hill Air Force Base, Utah to the Combined Forces Air Component team in AFCENT. This marks the F-35A’s third deployment and first to the CENTCOM AOR. In preparation for deployment, crews prepared and trained on the aircraft for the AFCENT mission. The U.S. B-52H Stratofortress aircraft are assigned to the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, at an undisclosed location in Southwest Asia. The B-52H offers a diverse capability including the delivery of precision weapons in support of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command mission to provide security and stability in the region. This was the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to U.S. Central Command area of responsibility to defend American forces and interests in the region.

Here Are The Shots Of The U.S. B-52s Flying First Deterrence Mission As Part Of Bomber Task Force Based in Qatar – The Aviationist

B-52s as well as F-15Cs and F-35As have conducted “deterrence missions” in the CENTCOM AOR recently. As already reported, four B-52 bombers deployed from Barksdale AFB, Lousiana, to Al Udeid, Qatar, as part of a BTF (Bomber Task Force) created in response to “troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” related to Iran. The first two of four B-52 bombers, radio callsign “MYTEE 51-52” landed in Qatar on May 8; the second “wave” (MYTEE 53-54) followed on the same route on May 9. The bombers are part of a build up in the region aimed at deterring unspecified threats from Iran and regional proxies, that include the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the U.S. Air Force F-15C Eagles from the 48th Fighter Wing deployed from RAF Lakenheath, UK. All these forces have joined the assets already in the region, including the six F-35A Lightning II, belonging to the active duty 388th and reserve 419th Fighter Wings at Hill Air Force Base, Utah and deployed since Apr. 15, 2019, to Al Dhafra, UAE, that have carried out their first air strike on Apr. 30. On May 12, both the F-15s and F-35s, as well as the 20th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron’s B-52 have carried out deterrence missions aimed “to defend American forces and interests in the region”: for the Stratofortress aircraft this was also the first mission of the Bomber Task Force deployed to U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. The photographs released by AFCENT provide some details about the configuration of these assets for yesterday’s mission. The B-52 aircraft (at least, the one depicted in the images) externally carried only empty bomb racks and an AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP (Advanced Targeting Pod) under the right wing.

Foreign Relations senators demand Iran briefing | TheHill

Senators from both parties on the Foreign Relations Committee called Wednesday for an immediate briefing on the Trump administration’s Iran policies and plans after the State Department announced it is pulling diplomatic personnel from Iraq amid r

Tanker attacks near UAE expose weaknesses in Gulf Arab security – Reuters

Attacks on Saudi tankers and other vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates this week expose vulnerabilities in the security of a key oil-shipping route amid rising tensions between the United States, Iran and Gulf Arab states.

Germany, Netherlands suspend operations in Iraq over security threat – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

A German defense ministry spokesman said Berlin had no indications of its own of any impending attacks. A Dutch source cited an unspecified security threat.

Trump administration’s Iran threat claim disputed by foreign officials

The Trump administration’s strong-arm tactics against Iran amidst claims the regime is increasing threats is disputed by allies in Europe.

Gulf states are sabotaging Trump’s campaign against Iran – and their own security – Middle East News –

Recent attacks on shipping, blamed on Iran, expose the fragility of Gulf states’ security and economies. But their in-fighting could derail U.S. strategy on Iran – and fuel insecurity across the Mideast

Germany’s Merkel Welcomes European Unity Over Iran

German chancellor says Europe needs to ‘reposition’ itself in a changing world

Iran and the West: Can Europe restrain the US? | Middle East | Al Jazeera

The EU seems to be the only major power willing to stand up to the US on Iran. But does it have the strength to do so?

Fears of US War With Iran Weigh on Spain

Madrid pulls frigate from US navy task force in Persian Gulf; move may imperil bilateral defense contracts

President Trump’s Iran policy sows confusion, angst – The Washington Post

Who is in charge here?

Iran’s Gulf Aggression Can Be Stopped Without War – Bloomberg

It’s a time for restraint, building up defenses and calling on allies.

Is John Bolton the most dangerous man in the world? | Ben Armbruster | Opinion | The Guardian

The US is closer to war with Iran than it has been since the Bush years, or perhaps ever. And Bolton is largely to blame

Opinion | How to Stop the March to War With Iran – The New York Times

Congress, Europe and business leaders can stand in John Bolton’s way.

Trump’s potential war with Iran is all John Bolton’s doing. But it might also be his undoing.

The national security adviser has drawn up plans to send troops to the region. But the president has shied away from the direct aggression his adviser wants.

Trump and Bolton: Two fat heads with itchy trigger fingers and 120,000 troops |

Unverified claims of hostility in a far off gulf. We’ve seen this before. We know how this ends: More dead bodies

America Must Not Stumble into a Third Gulf War | The National Interest

Iran is a threat, but not one that requires another costly war.

Iranian Hardliners Suggest More Attacks On UAE And Saudi Interests

Iranian hardliner journalists and analysts have been suggesting this week that Iran should attack Saudi and UAE interests in the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, attributing the UAE and Saudi attacks …

Trump, frustrated by advisers, is not convinced the time is right to attack Iran – The Washington Post

“They are getting way out ahead of themselves, and Trump is annoyed,” one official said of aides pushing for aggressive action.

Iranian presidential aide says Trump will ‘get a war’ for listening to ‘the mustache’ John Bolton | Fox News

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s advisor assailed President Trump, saying he will get a “war” for listening National Security Advisor John Bolton, who was nicknamed as “the mustache.”

U.S. Defends Gulf Military Buildup, Says It’s ‘Not Spoiling For Fight’

Amid growing concerns of a conflict between the United States and Iran, U.S. officials have told their European allies that its military buildup in the Persian Gulf region is a “defensive” move in response to multiple threats coming out of Iran.

US does not seek war with Iran, says Mike Pompeo – BBC News

But the secretary of state vows to keep pressuring Iran as tensions rise over an incident in the Gulf.

Mike Pompeo: US not seeking Iran war – YouTube

Sky News Published on May 14, 2019 The US military has warned of an imminent threat to its troops in Iraq from Iranian-backed forces. Yet as America’s secretary of state met with President Putin in Russia, he said he “doesn’t see war” with Iran but wanted it to behave like a “normal country”. From Sochi, Sky correspondent Diana Magnay sent this report. SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos:

U.S. pulls some government employees from Iraq – Reuters

Washington ordered the departure of non-emergency government employees from Iraq on Wednesday, after repeated U.S. expressions of concern about threats from Iranian-backed forces.

U.S. Orders Partial Evacuation of Embassy in Baghdad – The New York Times

The decision came after the Trump administration warned of an increased threat linked to Iran. Officials in Iraq and elsewhere doubted that such a threat existed.

US non-essential personnel ordered to leave Iraq Embassy, consulate | Fox News

The State Department has ordered all non-emergency personnel at the U.S. Embassy and consulate in Iraq to leave the country amid rising tensions between the U.S. and Iran, the agency said in a security alert on its website early Wednesday morning. The alert also said that normal visa services would be temporarily suspended.

U.S. Embassy Staff to Leave Iraq as Iran Tensions Mount – WSJ

The U.S. ordered all its nonemergency staff to leave Iraq immediately, amid heightened tensions with Iran over recent attacks against oil tankers and facilities in the Persian Gulf region.

A Bewildering Briefing on the Iranian Threat Leaves More Questions Than Answers – Defense One

A deputy commander of the counter-ISIS coalition appeared to rebut White House claims about Iran-backed militias in Iraq and Syria.

U.K. Military Says No Increased Iran Threat in Syria or Iraq | Time

The U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier citing the threat of Iranian-backed forces, but British Maj Gen. Christopher Ghika refuted the claims

British general rebuked as US orders all ‘non‑emergency’ staff home from Iraq | World | The Times

Britain’s top general in Iraq earned a rare public rebuke from the Pentagon after he dismissed US warnings about the alleged Iranian threat to troops in the Middle East.Major-General Chris Ghika, the deputy commander of the US coalition fighting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, told Pentagon reporte

Pentagon disputes British general’s assessment on Iranian threat

U.S. Central Command raised the threat level in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, rebuking comments from a top British general that Iranian-backed fighters do not pose an increased risk to coalition forces fighting the Islamic State. “There’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” British Army Maj. Gen. Christopher Ghika, a deputy commander with the Operation Inherent Resolve coalition, said Tuesday during a video briefing from Iraq. Ghika added that the measures in place to protect U.S. and coalition forces were “completely satisfactorily,” and said that the coalition’s leadership does not “intend to change them.” In the hours following Ghika’s press briefing, CENTCOM announced that the threat level was increased. “Recent comments from OIR’s Deputy Commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian-backed forces in the region,” said Capt. Bill Urban, CENTCOM’s lead spokesman. “U.S. Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria,” Urban added. “OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to U.S. forces in Iraq.” The comments from the international coalition’s deputy commander were at odds with warnings from the White House and the Pentagon over the past week used to justify a military build-up in the region. Some worry the U.S. is unnecessarily ratcheting up tensions as part of a pressure campaign against Iran that also involves economic sanctions.

Skeptical U.S. Allies Resist Trump’s New Claims of Threats From Iran – The New York Times

The Trump administration is laying the groundwork for major military action against Iran, but it may have a hard time rallying domestic and international support.

Europe Urges Restraint as Fears of US-Iran Conflict Escalate

EU trying to keep 2015 Iran nuclear agreement alive, despite US ramping up pressure

U.S. pressures Baghdad over Iran-backed militias – Reuters

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s surprise visit to Baghdad this month came after U.S. intelligence showed Iran-backed Shi’ite militias positioning rockets near bases housing U.S. forces, according to two Iraqi security sources.

Iran officially ends some of its nuclear deal commitments: ISNA

Tehran is officially ending one of its key commitments to the 2015 nuclear deal, local media reported Wednesday, citing a senior official at the country’s Atomic Energy Agency.

Oil tanker headed for US sabotaged | TheHill

Two Saudi oil tankers off the coast of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) were sabotaged Sunday in attacks that caused “significant damage” to the ships, Saudi Arabia said Monday.

Yemeni Armed Drones Attack Saudi Oil Pipeline | World Report | US News

The strike was believed to be backed by Iran, which warned Tuesday of U.S.-created ‘false flag attacks’ as the likelihood of conflict escalates.

Ship sabotage mystery raises fears of accidental conflict with Iran

The United Arab Emirates said four commercial ships were sabotaged off its coast.

GOP senator says war with Iran would be just ‘two strikes’ – ThinkProgress

Isn’t this how the Iraq War was described in 2003?

For now, talk of war with Iran is just talk

POMPEO: ‘OUR AIM IS NOT WAR’: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrives this morning in Sochi, Russia, for talks with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin. The meetings are supposed to cover a wide range of issues, including new arms control agreements and the U.S.-backed effort to topple Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro.

Alarm And Grief: Mindful Of 1980s, Iranians Warn Of War’s Devastation

Iranians take to social media to air concerns about a possible military conflict.

British Council confirms arrest of its Iranian staffer | Fox News

The British Council is confirming that a woman who Iran sentenced to 10 years in prison on charges of spying for Britain is an Iranian national employed by the group.

Iran Takes Step Toward Abolishing Discriminatory Citizenship Law

Iranian lawmakers have voted to abolish a longstanding law that denies citizenship to Iranian children born to foreign fathers. Leaving it up to a powerful clerical body to make it so.

Who Wins When U.S.-Iran Tensions Rise? China – Defense One

The Sino-Iranian relationship advances Chinese interests — and particularly when Washington tries to turn the screws on Tehran.

Donald Trump Iran oil brinksmanship puts India in crossfire – Washington Times

President Trump’s brinkmanship on Iranian oil has sucker-punched India, which is dealing with the potential cutoff of a primary energy supplier in the middle of a national election and a low-intensity trade war.

Oil settles higher as market shrugs off rising US crude stockpiles

Data shows a surprise rise in U.S. crude inventories and the U.S.-China trade dispute threatens demand, but Middle East tensions capped losses.

Iran’s So-Called ‘Stealth’ Fighter Is a Paper Tiger – To Inform is to Influence

One thing we can usually count on from Iran is lots of lies, bluster, and buffoonery. Ever since Iran’s fake missiles in 2008, which were crudely photoshopped, Iran has released more multiple fakes and has usually been caught. Everything from missiles to jets and now a stealth fighter. This appears to be a problem with the rogue’s gallery of Russian allies, where sloppy deceitfulness appears to be a mandated criteria for membership. Iran needs to rebuild their credibility before making any more wild claims. </end editorial>