While viewers watch the impeachment show, the situation is heating up not only in the Middle East.
The Americans, as well as much of the rest of the world, observed or otherwise monitored the impeachment process in Washington and did not pay much attention to events in the Middle East, which are likely to set the stage for a new war.
No one should be surprised at the fact that Washington has no real policy to complete what it does and get out. Therefore, it allows its so-called allies in the region to lead themselves. It happened that almost completely cancels the decision taken in early October by President Donald Trump to de-escalate in the region by withdrawing American troops from northern Syria. Immediately after the decision on the occupation of Syrian oil fields to implement this decision and the statement that American soldiers would shoot to kill Russian and Syrian soldiers who would try to recapture this piece of sovereign Syrian territory, you will now find out that the American troops are again operating on a hand with Kurdish militias to attack what was declared as the remains of ISIS.
Defenders of Donald Trump continue to insist that he does not want war and is serious about getting out of “meaningless” conflicts. But it would be difficult to arrive at such a judgment based on what the president and his staff of pathological villains actually do. In fact, it can reasonably be argued that the administration is planning a war on several fronts.
Russia has long been the target of the neoconist foreign policy of ignorant Trump. This policy includes a refusal to renew several remarkable treaties that limited the spread of certain types of weapons. In addition, the lethal military assistance to the “valiant little Ukraine,” which has been talked about a lot in the news lately, is actually Washington’s dangerous mistake, since Russia sees its border with this country as a vital interest, while defending Kiev on in fact, it is not at all from the point of view of national security of the United States.
And there is something else left. Negotiations are underway with Bulgaria’s new NATO ally on the establishment of the Black Sea Coordination Center in Varna. The United States is considering a ten-year roadmap for defense cooperation with Bulgaria and is committed to providing Sofia with greater access to its advanced military technology. Advanced technologies will include intelligence tools specifically directed against Russia.
There is also a second fundamental level of stupidity in placing such funds in Bulgaria, since the Turks, who also often clash with Washington, control the gates to the Black Sea through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles. If relations really deteriorate, and if demands to kick Turkey out of NATO ever bear fruit, then Ankara will be able to greatly impede the passage of NATO warships into the Black Sea.
However, as always, the Middle East and, in particular, the Persian Gulf, where the series of relatively insignificant events have taken place, which together pose a serious threat that the war could break out by intent or occasionally.
The main alignment of forces in what is happening in the Persian Gulf region looks something like this: Israel, Saudi Arabia and most of the Gulf countries seek to attack Iran, which, for its part, has built Iraq, Syria and Lebanon as friends and allies. Those seeking a war with Iran would like to see the United States do the hardest work, since only they can use their strategic bombers to destroy military targets deep underground or otherwise heavily defended. The Trump administration has so far remained a step away from the war with the Iranians, although it has done everything possible to punish them, including its short-sighted withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Action Plan (JCPOA), which limited Tehran’s nuclear development program. The White House also introduced a large dose of sanctions, which are clearly aimed at causing harm to ordinary people and clearly cause significant difficulties in the country. The idea of the United States is to starve the Iranian people to rebel against their government.
But the riots are also reportedly fueled by Saudi paid agent provocateurs, as well as a flood of propaganda in the media and social networks that are also supported and organized by Riyadh.
One recent incident, which attracted surprisingly little media attention, was the Israeli attack on Syria on November 19. It is reported that two headquarters of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were destroyed, one of which was located at Damascus International Airport. At the same time, twenty-three people were probably killed, sixteen of whom were probably Iranians. The attack was carried out in response to Israel’s unsubstantiated statement that four missiles were launched from Syrian territory controlled by Iran – although they were intercepted by the Iron Dome and did not cause any damage. The overwhelming and disproportionate reaction of Israel suggests that Tel Aviv would like to provoke a proportionate response from the Iranians, after which an escalation could follow. But in this case, Tehran chose not to strike back, perhaps because he understood that it was probably a trap.
In addition, a number of key meetings have been held in the region, which indicate that something important is coming. In a strange outburst, the United States and France agreed to take steps to improve security in the Persian Gulf region by strengthening defensive systems in the Gulf states and in Saudi Arabia. This move is supposedly a response to the destructive attack of drones at a Saudi oil refinery in September, which the Iranians are accused of – although without showing any evidence. In the past, improving security in the Persian Gulf region has often been a prelude to attacks by Western powers.
Other recent visitors to the region include CIA Director Gina Haspel, who met with Saudi King Salman on November 7 to discuss “topics of interest,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who visited the United Arab Emirates to talk about Iran and other regional issues, and Vice President Mike Pence, who organized an unexpected visit to the Syrian Kurds. Pence assured the Kurds that they were not forgotten and would be protected by the United States.
General Kenneth A. Mackenzie, who heads the US Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East, also warned last week that even with the 14,000 additional troops Trump had sent to the region earlier this year, there would be insufficient forces to deter an Iranian attack to Saudi Arabia or to one of the Gulf states. Mackenzie spoke at a conference in Bahrain, where the Fifth Fleet of the United States Navy is based. Comic assistance was provided by US Under Secretary of Defense John C. Rood, who said “that Iran made clear its intention to follow a pattern of aggressive behavior that leads to destabilization”, conveniently forgetting that it was Washington that completely destabilized the entire region since it invaded Iraq in 2003.
Iran, for its part, was hurt by recent violent protests and declared its readiness to tackle both Saudi agents and, allegedly, CIA and Israeli Mossad agents, who violate the current state of things by organizing a mess. The riots were serious, numerous casualties were reported, and Iran was fully capable of using its missile arsenal to hit targets in both Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Thus, it may turn out to be extremely naive the generally accepted point of view that a serious war is too dangerous to be considered in the confined spaces of the Middle East, since representatives of a number of countries think only about how to fight against each other and win. One wrong step or even provocation “under the wrong flag” is all that is needed for the whole region to be caught in flames. It may be a conflict in which many will die, but no one can truly emerge victorious. But the real tragedy is that it can be avoided, since no one has a genuine vital interest that could be resolved through war with neighbors.
About the Author: Philip M. Giraldi, a former military intelligence and CIA officer with an expert in counter-terrorism, has been working for about 20 years in Turkey, Italy, Germany and Spain. From 1989 to 1992 he was the head of the CIA residency in Barcelona. He was one of the first Americans to enter Afghanistan in 2001. He speaks Spanish, Italian, German and Turkish. He is currently Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest.