Selected articles (January 31, 2020)

Druckversion: selected 31.01.2020



Selected articles (January 31, 2020)




The Assange Precedent: The Spark That Lit the Fire in the War on Journalism

By Nozomi Hayase

January 24, 2020

“[…] Assange’s extradition hearing is now set to proceed in two parts from the beginning of February 24, for one to two weeks and then continue further from May 18 for three more weeks. This is the most important press freedom case of the 21st century. The public must engage in order to end this war on journalism.”



Snowden Warns Targeting of Greenwald and Assange Shows Governments ‚Ready to Stop the Presses—If They Can‘

By Jessica Corbett

January 27, 2020

„The most essential journalism of every era,“ says the NSA whistleblower, „is precisely that which a government attempts to silence. […]“




President Donald J. Trump’s Vision for Peace, Prosperity, and a Brighter Future for Israel and the Palestinian People

Peace to Prosperity

A Vision to Improve the Lives of the Palestinian and Israeli People

January 28, 2020

„We are not here to lecture—we are not here to tell other people how to live, what to do, who to be, or how to worship. Instead, we are here to offer partnership – based on shared interests and values – to pursue a better future for us all. […]“

View the plan:



Top 5 ways Trump plan for Palestinians is a Crime against Humanity

By Juan Cole

January 29, 2020

„[…] Actually a whole book could be written about all the ways the Trump Plan for the hapless Palestinians contravenes international law. Since the over-all rubric is Apartheid, and Apartheid is a War Crime in the Rome Statute that underpins the International Criminal Court, the whole plan is a series of War Crimes, which amount in the aggregate to a crime against humanity.“




OPCW investigator testifies at UN that no chemical attack took place in Douma, Syria

By Ben Norton

January 22, 2020

„In testimony before the United Nations Security Council, former OPCW inspection team leader and engineering expert Ian Henderson stated that their investigation in Douma, Syria suggested no chemical attack took place. But their findings were suppressed. […]“



Syria: Army Liberates Maarat al-Numan – U.S. Plans New Mischief

Moon of Alabama

January 28, 2020

„[… ] The economic trouble makes it necessary for Syria to find an understanding with its neighbor Turkey. Turkey has supported the Jihadist rebel in Syria since its very beginning and it occupies several areas in north Syria. Russia has been pressing the two countries to find an agreement and to end the war:

The ramped-up Russian efforts finally translated into a high-level direct dialogue between the two sides when Turkey’s intelligence chief Hakan Fidan and his Syrian counterpart Maj. Gen. Ali Mamlouk met in Moscow on Jan. 13. Despite ongoing low-profile contacts, the face-to-face encounter of the two represents the first high-level meeting between the two sides since 2011.

Aware of the fact that the Syrian crisis cannot be settled without mending bridges, Russia is pushing for restoration of ties on the basis of the 1998 Adana accord, which envisages enhanced security cooperation against terrorist organizations. The two spymasters are said to have agreed on a nine-point road map to advance the dialogue, including a goal to cooperate against terrorism, according to Turkish reports. […]“




The World Demands US Out Of The Middle East

Will The US Listen?

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers / January 27th, 2020

“[…] We must continue to demand that the US follow the rule of law, respect the sovereignty of other nations, end the illegal coercive economic measures and get our bases and troops out of other countries. We urge you to participate in the upcoming events such as the day of action against sanctions and the conferences in New York and Cyprus.”



U.S. posture in the Middle-East: preparing for disaster

By The Saker

January 29, 2020

„Turns out that Trump and the Pentagon were lying. Again. This time about the true impact of the Iranian counter-strike on US forces in Syria. First they claimed that there were no injured U.S. personnel, only to eventually have to fess up that 34 soldiers had suffered traumatic brain injury (which Trump “re-classified” as a “headache”).  Then they had to admit that it was not really 34, but actually 50! […]“

„[… ] There is no doubt in my mind that the Iranians, who are superb analysts, are fully aware of the damage that the U.S. can inflict. The key factor here is that they also realize that once the U.S. unleashes its missiles and bombers and once they destroy many (if not all) of their targets, they will have nothing else left to try to contain Iran with.

Here is how you can think of the Iranian strategy:

  • If the U.S. does nothing or only engages in symbolic strikes (say, like Israel’s strikes in Syria), the Iranians can simply ignore these attacks because while they are very effective in giving the Americans (or the Israelis) an illusion of power, they really fail to achieve anything militarily significant.
  • If the U.S. finally decides to strike Iran hard, it will exhaust its “punishment card” in that counter-attack, and will have no further options to deter Iran.
  • If the U.S. (or Israel) decides to use nuclear weapons, then such an attack will simply give a “political joker card” to Iran saying in essence “now you are justified in whatever retaliation you can think of”. And you can be darn sure that the Iranian will come up with all sorts of most painful forms of retaliation! […]“

„[…] Empires can survive many things, but once they are not feared anymore, then their end is near. The Iranian strike proved a fundamental new reality to the rest of the world: the USA is much more afraid of Iran than Iran is afraid of the USA. U.S. rulers and politicians will, of course, claim otherwise. But that futile effort to re-shape reality is now doomed to failure, if only because even the Houthis can now openly and successfully defy the combined might of the “Axis of Kindness”. […]“



Barometer: US-Iran war prospects

By Helena Cobban

January 23, 2020

„[…] But there are some modest reasons to think that some form of an internationally brokered deal between Washington and Iran might be possible:

  1. The United States is not nearly as commanding force inside the UN now as it was in the 1990s. Back then, it could often bend the UN to its will, including over the issues of sanctions against Iraq. Now, in contrast, many (though not all) of the current rounds sanctions against Iran and Syria are unilateral US sanctions, that are enforced by Washington through its command of the SWIFT system for international payments. Russia and China have talked about setting up an alternative to SWIFT, and have also been exploring various barter arrangements with Iran.
  2. Russia has demonstrated a sure grasp of the complex diplomatic skill and breadth of understanding of the region’s dynamics that can enable its diplomats to contribute creatively to the required diplomacy. Russia has good working relations with all the relevant actors (except, perhaps, today, with Washington; a situation that needs to change.)
  3. China brings its considerable economic heft to the table, as well as a non-trivial diplomatic presence in this region, which lies at the western end of its own home continent. Beijing has been careful not to over-extend itself in the region. But it has considerable interests in the countries both north and south of the Gulf. In 2016, Pres. Xi Jinping made prestigious visits to Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Iran. Last year, Iraq’s Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi visited Beijing.
  4. The GCC states, especially UAE and Saudi Arabia, were until recently seen as major forces critical of the JCPOA and urging greater US pressure against Iran. After the attack on Abqaiq, and even more after the tensions stoked by the killing of Qasem Soleimani, that stance seemed to change. Given the power that Saudi Arabia’s and the UAE’s de-facto leaders exert on decisionmaking in Washington, including through the personal relationships they enjoy with members of the Trump-Kushner clan, it is possible that they might both help persuade the President to back down some from his policy of suffocating “maximum pressure” on Iran and help him find a face-saving way to achieve this…

Thus, as I said above, it is possible that a serious de-escalation between Washington and Tehran might be achieved through smart, engaged international diplomacy. (Note that I don’t even mention any European role in the above list… ) If this does happen, regarding the oft-hyped Iranian nuclear issue, we might see something like a reinstatement of JCPOA. But numerous other issues of contention would need to be resolved as well. Any such negotiated stand-down would involve some pain for all parties. But such is the nature of negotiation.

And the alternative to that would be… ? A continuing, quite horrendous risk of a cataclysmic regional or global war.“



Realism and Restraint in the Persian Gulf

January 30, 2020

By Kristian Coates Ulrichsen

“[…] Since the Soleimani killing, diplomacy in the Gulf has intensified with the Qatari and Omani foreign ministers as well as the Emir of Qatar all traveling to Iran, and leaders in every capital, including Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, expressing the importance of de-escalating tension — a far cry from the bellicosity of comments by leading Saudis and prominent Emiratis in 2017 and 2018, directly targeting Iran. The effects of the demonstration of Iranian threat and concern at the U.S. response has had a restraining impact on regional leaders, especially as they gear up for Dubai’s World Expo 2020 and Saudi Arabia’s G-20 Summit. An ‘outbreak of diplomacy’ may not chime with the Trump administration’s desire to further ramp up pressure on Iran, but it does at least offer the hope that regional security arrangements might be based on more realistic power projections in the future than they have been in the past.”



The US has a backup plan to kill the Iran nuclear deal. It could spark a crisis at the UN.

By Julia Masterson and Samuel M. Hickey

January 30, 2020

„Early in January, the European members of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran made a risky move by triggering the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism. Though it was a desperate attempt to save the agreement, it could, if not managed carefully, result in the reimposition of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran—effectively collapsing any remnants of the deal. […]“

„[…] At a time when the Security Council stands divided on the deal’s future, any unilateral action at the Security Council could leave the body in serious disarray. […]“



Iran’s reserve of last resort: Uncovering the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces order of battle

American Enterprise Institute

Critical Threats Project

By Marie Donovan, Nicholas Carl, and Frederick W. Kagan

January 21, 2020

„Key Points:

Ο The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Ground Forces are organized around headquarters that are meant to coordinate the operations of Iranian paramilitary forces and support the Quds Force’s use of proxy groups such as Iraqi Shi’a militias abroad.

Ο Their basing in Iran indicates a primary focus on suppressing internal unrest and waging irregular warfare in the rear of an invader rather than on defending against an invasion conventionally.

Ο Their organizational structure and the pattern of their operations in Syria suggest that they might be challenged to coordinate large-scale (multi-division) operations abroad and possibly at home.

Ο The fact that the Iranian leadership has not yet had to use them on a large scale to suppress growing domestic unrest suggests that the regime still has a potent reserve force to ensure its survival even if the unrest grows considerably, as long as it does not also face a requirement for large-scale military operations abroad. […]“



Europe, Iran and the United States: A Roadmap for 2020

By Sir Adam Thomso and Sahil Shah

Global Security Report

The European Leadership Network (ELN)

January 27, 2020

„It is becoming increasingly clear that Europeans hold a weak hand on Iran that they must play as skillfully as possible.

They have chosen not to stand up to the US threat of secondary sanctions and as a result, are being comprehensively coerced by their closest ally. Consequently, they cannot offer the economic benefits that Iran expects from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), nor have other JCPOA participants (Russia and China) and Iran’s traditional trading partners (such as India and South Korea) filled the gap. In response, Tehran has set a tempo of progressive steps away from full implementation of the deal that we may not have seen the full effects of yet. These have already reduced Iran’s break-out time, although not significantly, and are starting to irreversibly augment Iran’s nuclear expertise through research and development on uranium centrifuges.

Looking at the 2020 timetable, there is, for now, a strong sense of a potential car crash by the summer: a final collapse of the JCPOA, Iran halting voluntary implementation of the IAEA Additional Protocol (AP) and/or issuing notice of withdrawal from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), further military crisis, or all these things and more.

So what is the best path for Europe to take with regards to Iran in 2020? A December 2019 meeting of experts and officials, convened by the European Leadership Network (ELN) in partnership with the Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF), weighed the options. These can loosely be grouped under the headings: Duck, Divert, Disrupt and/or Develop. This report considers each option in turn and offers recommendations for components of a future roadmap between Europe, Iran and the United States.“



Signposts of Struggle: Iran’s Enduring Protest Movement

CSIS Briefs (Center for Strategic and International Studies)

By Danika Newlee, Seth G. Jones, Joseph S. Bermudez Jr.

January 24, 2020

„The U.S. strike against Qasem Soleimani inspired nationalist and anti-Western sentiment in Iran. But Tehran’s mishandling of the Ukraine International Airlines crash on January 8, 2020 reinvigorated widespread protests against the Iranian government. While these protests are unlikely to threaten regime survival—at least for now—the underlying economic and political grievances pose a long-term challenge for the government. The regime would likely face more serious problems if there were defections from key units within Iran’s security forces and if the protest movement became more centralized and better organized. […]“

 „[… ] While the United States has repeatedly signaled its support for the current protest movement, Washington is suffering from a loss of credibility following the killing of Qasem Soleimani. Any direct or indirect aid to the Iranian opposition—including funding for diaspora television, print, internet, and social media programs, as well as direct aid to protesters—should be given cautiously and allow for change to be driven from within. A heavy U.S. hand will only reinforce the regime’s narratives of foreign interference and provide a justification for future crackdowns. However, limited U.S. activity driven by limited goals may have greater success. Instead of regime change, for example, the United States should encourage a more pluralistic and open Iranian political and economic system. Providing moderate levels of aid–whether from the U.S. government or non-governmental organizations–may help achieve this goal by allowing the existing protest movement to organically expand its membership and its ability to influence policy. […]“



How the Trump Administration has Abused the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) to Ban Muslims from the U.S.

By The National Iranian American Council

January 23, 2020

„President Trump’s Muslim ban survived judicial review largely due to a favorable interpretation of the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), which provides the President with authority to limit the entry of aliens. In the majority opinion of the Supreme Court case, Chief Justice Roberts stated that “the President has lawfully exercised the broad discretion granted to him under [the Immigration and Nationality Act] to suspend the entry of aliens into the United States.” […]“



„It’s a Disaster for Europe To Be So Subservient to the U.S“

Interview with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif conducted by Christiane Hoffmann in Tehran

January 24, 2020

In an interview, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warns of the threat of escalation in the nuclear dispute. He says Tehran won’t rule out negotiations with Washington, even after General Qassem Soleimani’s assassination, if the U.S. changes course and lifts sanctions. He also shows understanding for the protests against the government. […]“



Israel Role in Soleimani’s Assassination and Iran’s „Unprecedented“ Move

Interview with Ramzy Baroud conducted by Mostafa Afzalzadeh

January 25, 2020

„Ramzy Baroud is a US-Palestinian journalist and the Editor of Palestine Chronicle. He has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years and holds a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter. He believes Israel plays a role in the assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani because it “has more experience in targeted assassinations in the region than all Middle Eastern countries combined.”[…]“



Noam Chomsky: US Is a Rogue State and Suleimani’s Assassination Confirms It

Interview with Noam Chomsky conducted by C.J. Polychroniou

January 7, 2020



Iran Strike Proved Worthlessness of US Military’s Vaunted Tech: American Analyst

Interview with Charles Dunaway conducted by Tasnim News Agency

January, 26, 2020

„[…] If rule-changing actions like assassinations of government officials are now to be considered normal policy of the US regime, then every official of every government that opposes US global hegemony is now at risk. Needless to say, without any remaining vestige of international law, the officials of the US are also fair game – an unintended consequence of the immoral and illegal behavior of the US government. […]“

„[…] Although President Trump ran on a platform of extricating the US from its regime change wars in the Middle East, that desire for withdrawal never applied to Iran.  Trump is heavily supported by Zionists such as Sheldon Adelson who are no doubt encouraging him to increase pressure on Iran on behalf of the nation that has their true allegiance. […]“

„[…] If the US were either a democratic nation or one governed by intelligent and prudent people, then the successful IRGC attack on Ayn al-Asad Air Base on January 8 would be sufficient to cause a reassessment of policy and look for ways to de-escalate the situation.[…]“

„[…] Currently, we have an impeachment trial underway in which President Trump is accused primarily of interfering in the imperialist foreign policy operations of the Deep State. The charges originated with the CIA and the Democratic Party as a result of the defeat of Hillary Clinton in 2016. Trump is not charged with making war illegally or imposing illegal sanctions on other nations because the Democratic Presidents have done the same. Not a single viable candidate for the Presidency is likely to significantly alter US imperialism and its concomitant aggression or its slavish devotion to the whims of the Zionist regime in Tel Aviv.“



Alternatives to War with Iran are Dwindling

By Robert E. Hunter

January 21, 2020

President Donald Trump and Iran’s leaders, notably the Supreme Leader and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), have long been locked in confrontation. They feed on one another, for reasons both of foreign policy and domestic politics. For the most part, so far the confrontation has been “manageable.” That time is moving toward an end, with only a handful of options. […]“



Iran eyes enhanced oil recovery in Azadegan joint field

By The Iran Project

January 26, 2020

Iran eyes enhanced oil recovery in Azadegan joint field

„[…] Answering a question about the performance of the petrochemical industry, the petroleum minister said, “We hope that the second petrochemical leap will be achieved by the year 2021, with the realization of which the annual petrochemical production capacity will be around 100 million tonnes and the value of the produced items will be close to $27 billion.”

He further said the projects that would reach fruition after then would be categorized in the third leap of the industry. By the end of the leap, Iran’s petrochemical production capacity is envisaged to cross 136 million tons per annum and the value of the produced items will generate $37 billion for the country. […]“



How Britain helped Iran’s Islamic regime destroy the left-wing opposition

By Mark Curtis and Phil Miller

January 21, 2020

Britain supported Iran’s new Islamic regime in crushing the last remaining opposition to its rule in 1983 while the UK’s leading official in the country joked about Iran’s torture techniques, declassified files reveal. […]“



“America Exists Today to Make War”: Lawrence Wilkerson on Endless War & American Empire

January 13, 2020

„Retired U.S. Army Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who served as Secretary of State Colin Powell’s chief of staff from 2002 to 2005, says the escalation of tensions between the U.S. and Iran today is a continuation of two decades of U.S. policy disasters in the Middle East, starting with the 2003 run-up to war with Iraq under the Bush administration. “America exists today to make war. How else do we interpret 19 straight years of war and no end in sight? It’s part of who we are. It’s part of what the American Empire is,” says Wilkerson. “We are going to cheat and steal to do whatever it is we have to do to continue this war complex. That’s the truth of it. And that’s the agony of it.”“



Debating Trump’s ‚maximum pressure‘ on Iran w/ Michael Doran

January 26, 2020

„Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former senior official in the Bush administration, joins Pushback to discuss the Trump administration’s Iran policy; the Iran nuclear deal; and decades of US-Iran confrontation in the Middle East. Guest: Michael Doran, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former senior official in the Bush administration.“



US seeking to carve out Sunni state as its influence in Iraq wanes

With Shia parties pressuring American troops to leave, Washington wants to create an autonomous region around Anbar to maintain its presence

By Suadad al-Salhy

January 23, 2020

„[…] In the early hours of 8 January, Iran targeted two Iraqi military bases hosting US forces, one in western Iraq and the other in the north, with ballistic missiles that left no casualties.

Less than 24 hours later, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker flew to Erbil, without going through Baghdad, to meet key US ally and former president of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, in addition to a number of other Kurdish officials.

Although statements later issued by the US did not mention any meetings that took place with Sunni leaders in Erbil, many sources confirmed that both the assistant secretary of state and Stephen Fagin, the US consul in Erbil, met a number of Sunni politicians “to discuss the implications of the parliament’s decision, the threats that Sunnis face and options for facing the two issues”.

On the same day, Schenker flew to the UAE. There, he later said, he met „by chance“ with the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, Muhammad al-Halbousi, “who happened to be there”. […]“

„[…] The proposed Sunni region will be created first in accordance with the articles of the Iraqi constitution, which allows for administrative regions to be established alongside Kurdistan.

Later, the region will be temporarily annexed to Kurdistan in a federal or confederal form, „to avoid the conflict between Sunnis and Kurds over Kirkuk and the disputed areas“, according to a prominent Sunni leader.

The last step, MEE understands, will be to have this region recognised internationally. […]“



War With Iran Could Be Sharp & Short With Fifth Gen Aircraft: Deptula

By david Deptula

January 23, 2020

(„David Deptula, a member of the Breaking Defense Board of Contributors and retired Air Force Lt. General with over 3,000 flying hours, planned the Desert Storm air campaign, orchestrated air operations over Iraq and Afghanistan, and is dean of the AFA’s Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Power Studies.“)

„[…] The bottom line is that modern aerospace power provides America asymmetric options to succeed in meeting challenging security situations. When dangerous circumstances unfold—as most recently evidenced with Iran’s malign behavior—the courses of action available to leaders are governed by what is in their toolkit at the time. Ensuring we possess disproportionate advantage in our defense demands wise preparation. Solutions in the modern era are complex and take significant time to generate. Decisions made today to rapidly increase inventories of the F-35 and B-21 will shape advantageous security options for America well into the future.“



Pompeo: Iranian Proxy Mobilizing In America’s Backyard

Just as impeachment heats up, the scaremongering secretary conveniently resurrects the Hezbollah-in-our-hemisphere bugaboo.

By Barbara Boland

January 28, 2020

Hezbollah and Iran have “put down roots” in South America in America’s backyard, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said last week in an interview with a Bloomberg reporter.

Unlike the interview Pompeo gave Friday with NPR reporter Mary Louise Kelly, where he cursed at her and accused her of lying, Pompeo’s statements hyping Iran’s national security threat south of the border received almost no notice from a press glued to impeachment proceedings.

Why is Pompeo suddenly directing increasingly heated rhetoric towards Iran and its proxies in South America?[…]“