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Iran Escalation (9)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

The arrogance, the absolute deceit of Ben Rhodes et al, is beyond the pale.  He has lead efforts to deceive Congress, undermine the Trump administration, and abrogated his position of Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications. The story of the Echo Chamber he created in regards to Iran is but the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

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More toxic invective from Tehran. More toxic invective in the US media. The toxicity of the polarised domestic debate on Iran rivals the toxicity of Tehran’s comments – and may also be directly scripted. Reports, yet to be confirmed, that the S-300PMU2 / SA-20B is being redeployed to the Gulf area, another escalation as it is an A2/AD asset capable of denying significant airspace over the Gulf.

Joseph V. Micallef | Trump Administration Zeroes In on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps |

In targeting the IRGC, the administration is zeroing in on the organization most responsible for maintaining the regime. 

Dems Tied to Obama’s Pro-Iran ‘Echo Chamber’ Amplify Top Iranian Official’s Talking Points | Free Beacon

A cadre of former top Obama administration figures and their allies in Congress have been working to amplify anti-Trump talking points issued by a senior Iranian regime official in what sources have described as an effort by Obama’s pro-Iran echo chamber to drive a wedge between President Donald Trump and his national security team. As tensions mount between the United States and Iran, leading Democrats have become embroiled in controversy for widely repeating anti-Trump talking points first issued by Iran’s hardline regime. Additionally, former top officials from the Obama administration have taken to social media and other outlets to push a narrative that Trump is at odds with his hawkish National Security Adviser John Bolton over how far to go in punishing Tehran for its global support of terrorism and continued efforts to secure contested nuclear technology. The effort to push this narrative to the media has gained steam following a war of words between Trump and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is said to have been in contact with top Democrats in Congress and their allies in the Obama administration, sources said. Just days after Zarif labeled Bolton and other top Trump national security officials as the “B Team,” former top Obama aides Ben Rhodes and Colin Kahl repeated this rhetoric online in a series of postings bashing Trump. Rhodes and Kahl are most well known as the creators of a pro-Iran “echo chamber” that was used to mislead Congress and the American public about the terms of the landmark nuclear deal, which Trump abandoned last year. It has become increasingly clear in recent days that these former officials and their Democratic allies in Congress are seeking to build support for the United States to reenter the Iran nuclear deal should a Democrat defeat Trump in the next election, as the Washington Free Beacon has reported in past weeks.

Iran Allegedly Transfers S-300 to Persian Gulf Amid Tensions With US (VIDEO) – Sputnik International

The reports come just a few weeks after the United States deployed an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Persian Gulf in what White House National Security Adviser John Bolton described as a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran. 

Khamenei: Iran’s youth ‘will witness demise of Israel, American civilization’ | The Times of Israel

Islamic Republic’s supreme leader slams his president, foreign minister over nuke deal handling, with US tensions running high

Khamenei predicts demise of Israel and the US – Israel National News

Iranian Supreme Leader says Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization.

Khamenei: Iran youth will witness demise of Israel, ‘American civilization’ – Middle East Monitor

Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilization, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday in comments published on his official website, Reuters reports. You young people should be assured that you will witness the demise of the enemies of humanity, meaning the degenerate American civilization, and the demise of Israel, Khamenei said in a meeting with students. He gave no further details. Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East, including an aircraft carrier, B-52 bombers and Patriot missiles, in a show of force against what US officials say are Iranian threats to its troops and interests in the region. Khamenei said last week that there would be no war with the United States. Separately, Khamenei distanced himself from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal in his comments on Wednesday.

Iran youth will witness demise of Israel, ‘American civilisation’: Khamenei – CNA

GENEVA: Iran’s youth will witness the demise of Israel and American civilisation, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday …

Iran’s youth ‘will witness the demise of America and Israel’, Ayatollah Khamenei vows | Daily Mail Online

Tensions have spiked between Iran and the United States after Washington sent more military forces to the Middle East.

Iran’s supreme leader promises young Iranians will see US & Israel crumble — RT World News

Israel and US civilization in its present state are doomed and will last no longer than one generation, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said, promising Iranian students they would see them crumble.

Iran, U.S. tension is a clash of wills: Guards commander – Reuters

The standoff between Iran and the United States is a “clash of wills”, a senior commander of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday, suggesting any enemy “adventurism” would meet a crushing response, Fars news agency reported.

Iran Rebuffs Trump’s Threat To ‘Officially End’ Them Amid Rocket Attack and U.S. Navy Exercises – The Drive

Both countries insist they want to avoid an outright conflict as they accuse each other of inflaming the situation.

Khamenei criticizes Iran’s president, foreign minister amid tensions with U.S. – The Globe and Mail

Iran’s supreme leader said he disagreed with the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal they had negotiated with world powers

Iran Supreme Leader Criticizes Politicians amid US Tensions |

Iran’s supreme leader publicly chastised the country’s moderate president and foreign minister Wednesday, saying he disagreed with the implementation of the 2015 nuclear deal they had negotiated with world powers. The extraordinary comments by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the first time he’s criticized both politicians by name, came amid tensions with the United States a year after Washington’s withdrawal from the accord. Khamenei has final say on all matters of state, and his blaming the deal’s unraveling limits the influence of President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif — relative moderates within Iran’s Shiite theocracy who had struck the deal. It also shows the growing power of hard-liners.

The Latest: Iran supreme leader critical of FM in nuke deal

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — The Latest on increased tensions between the U.S. and Iran (all times local):

Iran’s supreme leader criticizes country’s president and foreign minister over nuclear deal | Fox News

Iran’s supreme leader criticized the country’s president and foreign minister by name for the first time over his concerns about the 2015 nuclear deal, saying Wednesday they didn’t act as he wished in carrying out the agreement with world powers.

Iran Stiffens Its Resolve as the Trump Administration’s Pressure Mounts – The New York Times

Increasing pressure has taken a toll on Iran, but if the goal was to change its behavior or its government, it has so far achieved neither.

Iran doesn’t want direct or proxy war with US, lawmaker says | The Times of Israel

‘Under no circumstance will we enter a war,’ says Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, amid soaring tensions

Iran-US latest World War 3 news: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s chilling threat | World | News |

IRAN stoked the flames of conflict with the US after its supreme leader promised children they would “witness the demise” of Washington and Israel.

How Iran could cripple US in the Middle East by using bloodthirsty jihadi militias armed with war drones and deep sea mines

The hardline country says it can use its naval forces to control the Persian Gulf and has the ability to use explosives to threaten US warships

President Hassan Rouhani rejects talks, says Iran faces US ‘economic war’ | World –

President Hassan Rouhani says Iranians will never bow to a ‘bully;

Iran’s Rouhani Seeks More Powers to Confront U.S. ‘Economic War’ – Bloomberg

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said his government needs more powers to push back against an “economic war” being waged by the U.S., signaling the country is bracing for a prolonged period of turmoil.

Iran’s Rouhani Asks For More Powers, Khamenei’s People Say ‘No’

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has been complaining about his “limited powers”. But if saying so he means control over foreign policy, that is something the Supreme Leader will never give up.

Up to 10,000 more troops may head to Middle East to deter Iran – ABC News

U.S. Central Command is requesting additional defensive capabilities that could lead to as many as 5,000 to 10,000 additional troops being sent to the Middle East.

Can Oman pull the US and Iran back from the brink of confrontation?

Oman’s goodwill and relationships with the Muslim world and the West could prove vital, as they have historically, to ensuring that US-Iran tensions don’t boil over.

Germany to mediate in Iran | News | DW | 23.05.2019

The German government is to send a high-level diplomat to Tehran as tensions between the US and Iran intensify, threatening a prolonged conflict.

EU should stop an insane US-Iran war

“If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!”, US president Donald Trump tweeted on Monday (20 May).

Kevin L. Schwartz | War with Iran: The Pretext of Proxies – LobeLog

The prospect of war between the United States and Iran is more likely than it has been in decades, with the pretext for justifying a U.S. military strike or invasion already in place. In recent weeks, leading Iran hawks in the Trump administration have presented a framework to assign culpability to Iran in any future attack. Intentionally broad statements threaten military action in response not only to Iranian actions, but the attacks of “their proxies of any identity.” They also assert that the United States will respond to actions against a wide array of interests including U.S. military vessels, commercial vehicles, and oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Such an expansive framework has already been used to explain recent events and beat the drums of war. Following a cursory assessment, American officials cast blame on Iran or Iran-backed proxies in an explosives attack on four oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman, while noting that there was no definitive evidence to back such a claim. (Upon the collection of further evidence, the determination was upgraded to “highly likely.”) By presenting the possibility that Iran could be blamed for hostile actions, even when carried out by other groups, the United States has afforded itself a high-degree of latitude in justifying a potential retaliatory attack. As Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who has been briefed on recent intelligence on Iran, noted: “We are not going to start a war. But if we are attacked by Iran’s proxies, we are going to respond against those proxies and hold Iran responsible. And they’re going to pay a price for that as well. Who could disagree with the notion that if we are attacked, we have a right to defend ourselves and respond.” This attitude represents a key difference between the build-up to a potential war with Iran and the lead-up to the 2003 Iraq War. There are certainly striking similarities between the two—the lack of transparency, presentation of selective or disputable intelligence, and desire for regime-change—but the pretext for an attack on Iran is significantly broader, making it all the more cavalier. In the case of the Iraq War, the justification followed a narrow and direct path to link Saddam Hussein to weapons of mass destruction because the United States decided it needed to secure a UN mandate and coalition partners. In this case, the path is quite wide: a military strike or war can be initiated in response to the actions of any number of Iran-backed militias in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen and possibly any action undertaken by a Shiite individual or group deemed hostile to the interests of the United States and its allies in the Gulf. The only requirement is to consider a group as an “Iranian proxy,” an idea already ingrained in public discourse as a way to describe Iran’s strategy of malfeasance in the region, with little differentiation among the levels of support and direction provided. The label already written is ready to be affixed and paraded as a justification for war. Although the current U.S. approach to confront Iran more forcefully may prove to be more bluster than bite, it’s worth assessing its claims. What is the evidentiary threshold for determining Iranian culpability in actions carried out by groups it supports? Where does the line of culpability for proxy militias end and sponsorship begin? Would financial support and the supply of Iranian arms—a long-standing feature of Iran’s relationship with groups it supports—be enough to blame Iran for an attack on U.S. interests or would more convincing evidence, like the ordering of an attack, be necessary? As the United States has learned through its support of the Saudi-led bombing campaign in Yemen and its reliance on proxies in Syria and elsewhere, the use of such weapons does not always adhere to even the most perfunctory of conditions under which they were granted, nor do proxies invariably follow the orders of their sponsors. Justifying a war with Iran based on the actions of its proxies, especially without clear evidence of Iranian direction, is dangerously misguided. It is founded on the flawed logic that Iran operates as an omnipresent puppet master to create havoc across the Middle East, seemingly impervious to the challenges of operating proxies faced by others, including Western countries. It also suggests that such groups do not have motivations and aspirations of their own in confronting U.S. interests and those of its allies. Should it be to anyone’s surprise, for example, that Yemen’s Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the drone attacks on Saudi oil facilities in response to what an official spokesman deemed the Saudi-led coalition’s “aggression” and “genocide” against the Yemeni people? Understanding the Houthis, or Shiite militias in Syria and Iraq for that matter, as merely pawns operating at Iran’s direction is based on a simplistic misreading of current dynamics and politics in the Middle East. Conflating their interests with Iranian regional ambitions and discarding their actions as the mere handiwork of Iran nullify any necessity to faithfully confront the political and social realities shaping their attitudes and driving their behaviors. U.S. allies, like Israel and Saudi Arabia, also often use this tactic to avoid addressing the underlying causes of social strife. Relying on the Iran threat and its network of proxies to explain away all Middle Eastern ills obviates the need for more complex thinking and solutions. Such a pretext for another avoidable conflict in the Middle East suggests such a limited understanding of regional dynamics that the result is likely to be unsuccessful, costly, and counterproductive. Kevin L. Schwartz is a research fellow at the Oriental Institute at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague where he focuses on Iran. He was previously a research fellow at the Library of Congress and Distinguished Visiting Professor (Middle East Chair) at the US Naval Academy. He holds a PhD in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California, Berkeley.

Iran’s Proxy Armies Become a Regime Liability

Mark down May 2019 as the month Iran’s war-by-proxy-forces racket became an undeniable problem for Tehran’s dictators. This month, Saudi Arabia and the U.S. informed the Iranian regime it will suffer violent consequences if and when the militias and terror cells Tehran employs throughout the Middle East and the world attack Saudi and American targets. Tehran no longer enjoys the diplomatic nicety of plausible deniability that armed surrogates supposedly provide. The regime will be held directly responsible for its proxy’s violent actions. Several armed incidents this month led Saudi Arabia and the U.S. to threaten the Iranian dictatorship with military reprisals. On May 14, the United Arab Emirates accused Iran of “sabotaging” four tankers anchored off the UAE Fujairah emirate. Two tankers were Saudi owned. The anchorage is near the Strait of Hormuz — the Persian Gulf chokepoint for ships entering the Indian Ocean. Subsequently, Reuters reported that an international insurer believed it “highly likely” Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) personnel conducted the attack. Two days later, Yemeni Houthi rebels attacked two Saudi Arabian oil pumping stations. The Houthis purportedly used small drone aircrafts carrying explosives. The Iranian regime bankrolls the Houthis and provides them with training and weapons, which include short-range ballistic missiles. Then on May 19, a rocket likely fired by Iranian-sponsored Shiite militias struck near the U.S. embassy in Baghdad. The rocket missed the embassy, and there were no casualties.

Iranian Proxies Play A Key Role In Trump’s Hawks Push For Armed Conflict | HuffPost Australia

Experts warn that treating a wide array of groups as official Iranian actors is dangerous and misinformed.

Iran crisis: Democrats caution Trump administration using intelligence to justify war – Iran –

‘We’re concerned that information is being used for the purposes of accomplishing an objective, rather than for the purposes of making a decision,’ said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer

Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran | TheHill

The Iraq War is casting a long shadow over the debate on Capitol Hill about what to do with Iran.

House Dem: Trump could start war with Iran to thwart impeachment | TheHill

A House Democratic lawmaker said Wednesday that President Trump could launch a war with Iran for a purely political reason: to deter Democrats from impeaching him.

The Missing Piece in Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ Iran Campaign | The National Interest

Washington should use its military soft-power to help Iranians and further drive a wedge between Iranians and the IRGC as well as isolate the IRGC ideologues within the system.

Caroline Glick: Fear the ‘Stache — Trump’s Iran Policy Is Working | Breitbart

Trump’s maximum pressure campaign against Iran is succeeding. That is why the Obama alumni and the Iranian regime hate it so much.

The last thing Trump wants is a war with Iran – The Globe and Mail

With its uptick in pressure, the U.S. is playing a dangerous game in the Persian Gulf

Deter Iran, yes; war with Iran, no

The Islamic Republic of Iran is an enemy of the United States. It poses a constant threat to American interests. Iran was responsible for the murder of hundreds of American service personnel in Iraq between 2003 and 2011, as they sought to support Iraq’s transition to a multisectarian democracy. Iran killed them for the same reason it killed Americans in Beirut in 1983 and has killed Americans across the world for the last 40 years. Our soldiers, Marines, and sailors stood in the way of the authoritarian Shiite empire that Iran’s theocratic leadership seek to create. The U.S. must constrain Iran’s construction of that empire. That’s why we’ve cheered President Trump’s efforts to renegotiate the flawed Iran nuclear deal of 2015, and we’ve cheered robust U.S. intelligence and political activity to restrain Iranian malevolence. The Obama administration’s appeasement of Iran with billions of dollars and a blind eye to aggression only emboldened the hard-liners. But war with Iran, the risk of which appears to be growing, would be a terrible policy mistake, certain to cause the loss of thousands of American service personnel and civilians as well. Iran’s leaders are increasingly desperate. Facing relentless U.S. sanctions pressure but the absence of clear American interest in nuclear-focused negotiations, the Iranian hard-liners are winning influence over Iranian leader Ali Khamenei. They may soon force America’s hand by launching a reckless attack on U.S. interests. At that point, the U.S. will have to respond, and the risks of escalation will grow immensely. A major war would be a disaster for America and the region. Laptop generals like to paint a picture of war as easy, as if the U.S. could wage war by air power alone. The regime’s removal would necessitate large numbers of U.S. ground forces fighting in a country whose population is twice that of Iraq and whose inhabitable land area is vastly larger. Considering Iran’s apex-capability in asymmetric or insurgent-based warfare, U.S. ground forces would suffer appalling casualty rates. Conversely, if the U.S. employed a major air campaign merely to decapitate the Iranian leadership, Iran would lash out with all its power. The Iranian hardliners may be patient strategists, but they are also fanatics. They serve a theological project motivated by the perception of duty to God. They would not surrender. And as American bombs and missiles rained down on them, they would do all they could to strike back. That would mean terrorist attacks on American citizens, possibly also inside the U.S. It would mean ballistic missile attacks on U.S. allies including Israel, perhaps armed with chemical warheads. It would mean attacks on shipping throughout the Persian Gulf. It would mean Iran’s unleashing of unrestrained sectarian warfare in Lebanon, Iraq, and Bahrain. It would unleash a world of unpredictability defined by ferocious and brutal violence. The possibility runs sharply against Trump’s stated foreign policy vision of maintaining U.S. interests first and avoiding stupid wars. Trump has a better course of action here. Rightly aware of the need to deter attacks, he should clarify to Khamenei that any attack on U.S. interests will result in a significant retaliatory response. But Trump should also make clear to President Hassan Rouhani that he is interested in negotiating an improved nuclear agreement and that he has no interest in invading or initiating a war with Iran. Trump will do well so long as his preference is for diplomacy from a position of strength and against a war that would damage or destroy diplomacy, world stability, lives, and American interests.

The Trump Administration Wants a War With Iran | The National Interest

The warning signs are obvious.

Washington Has Become a Warmonger’s Paradise | The National Interest

Donald Trump needs to reclaim control over his policy toward Iran.

Is John Bolton trying to drive Trump to war with Iran? – podcast | US news | The Guardian

Julian Borger describes the role of Trump’s national security adviser in the tense standoff with Tehran. Also: Katharine Viner on how the Guardian is updating its language on climate

Trump can’t bluff our enemies into surrender – The Washington Post

There is a yawning mismatch between his maximalist ends and minimalist means.

Will the hawks in Washington win? | The Daily Star

It is very apparent that President Trump is blowing hot and cold in the same breath on Iran. While one moment it seems that he has climbed down from his high horse on the Iran issue, the next moment he threatens Iran with dire consequences. His confusing stance indicates an ambiguous mind, his actions not a product of rational process of thought but of a mind pulverised by arrogance and clogged by preconceived notions about international issues, particularly Iran and the Middle East.

If the Gulf crisis worsens, Israel won’t be able to keep out –

How Yemen’s rebels increasingly deploy drones

The Houthis claimed a coordinated drone attack, underscoring how the Arab world’s poorest country has become one of the world’s top battlefields for drones.

Democrats warn Trump may soon push through Saudi arms sale | TheHill

Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned Wednesday that President Trump may soon push through an arms sale to Saudi Arabia in a way that prevents Congress from blocking it.

Senator: Trump may use Iran threat to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration plans to use a loophole and rising tensions with Iran to sell bombs to Saudi Arabia, Senator Chris Murphy said on Wednesday.

Almost two-thirds of Americans oppose pre-emptive US strike on Iran, fresh poll finds — RT World News

A sizeable majority of US citizens oppose the idea of pre-emptive strikes on Iran, and massively disapprove of Trump’s policy towards the Islamic Republic, a survey has revealed as tensions continue to flare in the Gulf.