Saturday, 25 January 2020

United States making every effort to keep its troops in Middle East

Iraqi Parliament passed a resolution to expel US troops from the country two weeks ago. However, Washington does not seem ready to leave the country. According to some analysts, the US administration knows it very well that leaving Iraq could become the preamble of complete exit from Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
There is growing consensus that the presence of US troops in MENA and South Asia, especially Iraq, is part of greater agenda of fragmentation and establishing a “Feeble Middle East”. The strategy was formed during Bill Clinton’s presidency and it was practically launched by George W. Bush. 
The strategy has been applied in all the tactics and policies of US foreign and defense policies in the past two decades. There seems no ambiguity or disagreement between Democrats and Republicans regarding the necessity of its implementation. Criticizing Donald Trump’s recent behavior in the region by his Democratic rivals is related to the failure of the White House in carrying out the strategy.
The US withdrawal from the JCPOA, exerting pressure for a new deal or at least including new articles in the current deal, and insisting to limit the Iranian influence in the region can be assessed in this regard.
Washington has made great investment in exploiting the terrorist potential of Takfiri groups for the fragmentation in the region. The presence of US troops in the region, under the pretext of the fight against ISIS, is an issue of crucial importance for the White House, which it will not easily ignore.
The United States has witnessed major d.efeats in the political, military and intelligence areas by the axis of resistance. It has failed in executing its plans, despite spending billions of dollars of US tax payers. This became an important matter in Iraq and officials provided the conditions for greater synergy with the axis of resistance, a move that infuriated the White House.
Over the last four months, the US has put the tactic of “creating a power vacuum based on social protest” on its agenda to weaken those leaders who want complete expelling of US troops from the region. Washington has sought to undermine the Iranian-Iraqi strategic unity through anti-Iran slogans and prepare the ground for its troops to remain in Iraq.
The assassination of senior commanders of the resistance movement, Major General Qassem Soleimani, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, was the same blunder that the theorists of the partition project were afraid of since they considered it as the loss of all American possessions in the region.
Iraqis agreed upon the expulsion of US troops from the country. The incident was the beginning of the new White House game in Iraq, US administration made every effort to disrupt the implementation of the resolution.
The US administration termed the resolution illegal and then claimed that the parliament did not have a quorum at the time of voting. The US administration also stated that under the Iraqi constitution, parliamentary sessions will take legal form if more than half of the members plus one person attend the session. This is exactly what happened during the voting.
When they failed in proving the allegation, US officials resorted to bypassing the resolution by bringing up again the old disputes between the Kurdish leaders and Baghdad. 
The US is also trying to convince the UN Security Council of the necessity of continuing its presence in Iraq to fight terrorism, by transferring a number of ISIS leaders (trained at U.S. bases, especially in Syria's Al-Tanaf and Al-Hasakah) to Iraq. In fact, several terrorist operations recently carried out by ISIS elements in Iraq is an example of the US hostility.
A new wave of violent protests has been staged in the past few days, which are allegedly being directly led by the US embassy in Baghdad. Washington is seeking to seize the opportunity and stabilize its presence in Iraq by disrupting the process of appointing a new prime minister. 
It seems that Iraq will witness some unrest due to enmity of the US and its regional and European allies, including Britain, United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Lopsided reporting on United States-Iran Conflict

Without mincing words, it may be said that Pakistani readers/viewers get no clue of the current United States-Iran Conflict. To be precise they are lost by reading reports released by international media houses. The reason in most obvious, these media houses are owned and operated by anti-Muslim elements.
Over the years, distorted news reports were released about Pakistan-India conflict that culminated at East Pakistan, becoming Bangladesh. During 1965 and 1971 Pakistanis became addicted to BBC, as they were made to believe that the reporting was ‘fair’. When Saddam Hussein of Iraq attack Kuwait Pakistanis were introduced to another fantasy, CNN, as live coverage were provided by ‘embedded journalists’. After 9/11, United States attacked Afghanistan and Iraq and over the last four decades, Pakistanis have been completely brain washed and now they believe only Western media provides unbiased reports.
Let me point out the deficiency of Pakistani media houses, they hardly have correspondents even in Brother Muslim countries. As a result these media houses are obliged to use tinted reports released by international agencies, numbering less than half a dozen. Interestingly Pakistani news agencies also have arrangement with some foreign agencies and use their content without any deciphering.
Added to this, are the political affiliation of the owners of media houses with countries and sects. It is also not a secret that the successive governments in Pakistan have remained inclined to certain global and regional super powers, as a result some reports are overblown and some are completely blacked out.
Now coming to the current and the most contentious issue of United States-Iran confrontation, no one can deny Pakistan has been towing the US foreign policy, since independence. Over the years Pakistan also faced tenses relations with USSR. It has been facing tense relations with Afghanistan, Iran and India.
The biggest example of US hegemony is non-completion of Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) gas pipeline. The dichotomy of US policy can be gauged from the fact that India was allowed to construct Chabahar Port in Iran as well as rail and road links connecting the port to Central Asian Countries. Was not this hoodwinking aimed at undermining the importance of Pakistan?
I am inclined to infer that the most important aspects of present media system, and yet hardly known to the public that most of the international news coverage in Western media is provided by only three global news agencies based in New York, London and Paris.
Western media often report on the same topics, even using the same wording. In addition, governments, military and intelligence services use these global news agencies as multipliers to spread their messages around the world.These news agencies are the most important suppliers of material to mass media around the world and Pakistan cannot be an exception. No daily media outlet can manage without them. They influence our image of the world; above all, we get to know what they have selected.
In view of their essential importance, it is all the more astonishing that these agencies are hardly known to the public: A large part of society is unaware that news agencies exist at all.  On the contrary, they play an enormously important role in the media market.
There is something strange about news agencies. They are little known to the public. Unlike a newspaper, their activity is not so much in the spotlight, yet they can always be found at the source of the story.
In fact, not only the text, but also the images, sound and video recordings that we encounter in our media every day, are mostly from the very same agencies. What the uninitiated audience might think of as contributions from their local newspaper or TV station, are actually copied reports from New York, London and Paris.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Iraqi Parliament votes to expel US troops from Iraq

Reportedly in an extraordinary session on Sunday, the Iraqi parliament voted for a resolution requiring the government to order the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq.
The session came two days after a US drone strike on a convoy at Baghdad airport which killed Iranian Military Commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) Deputy Chief Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.
“There is no need for the presence of American forces after defeating Daesh,” said Ammar al-Shibli, a lawmaker and member of the parliamentary legal committee.
“We have our own armed forces which are capable of protecting the country,” he said, Reuters reported.
Around 5,000 U.S. troops remain in Iraq, most of them in an advisory capacity.
During a massive funeral procession for General Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC Quds Force, and al-Muhandis in Baghdad, al- Kadhimiya, Karbala and Najaf, hundreds of thousands of angry Iraqi mourners carried placards demanding an immediate expulsion of “U.S. terrorists” from their country.
In the face of the Iraqi people’s will, the Iraqi parliament made a historic test about by voting to expel the U.S. troops.
Expelling Iraqi troops had turned into a “national demand” after the terrorist attacks on the top Iranian and Iraqi military commanders. 
Following the terrorist attack by the US, Iraqi caretaker Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi had asked the parliament to take a decision based on Article 58 of the Iraqi constitution about the “illegal action” of the US army.
The Prime Minister said the US move was a violation of the Iraqi sovereignty and an affront to national pride.
He called the US act a dangerous move which will trigger another devastating war in Iraq and the region.
Since the US terrorist attack, rival political leaders had been calling for expulsion of US troops from Iraq in an unusual show of unity among factions.
Hadi al-Amiri, the top candidate to succeed al-Muhandis, repeated his call for US troops to leave Iraq on Saturday during an elaborate funeral procession for those killed in the attack.
Iraqi Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri has expressed anger over the US attack on the military convoy, saying, “What happened around Baghdad airport was an open violation of the Iraqi territorial sovereignty and violation of international agreements.”
He added, “Any security and military operation should be with the agreement of the government.”
Faleh al-Fayad, Iraq’s national security advisor and chief of Hashd al-Shaabi or PMF), has also said it is the duty of the Iraqi government and judiciary to respond to the violation of the Iraqi sovereignty.  
Also, Abdelkarim Khalaf, spokesman for the Iraqi Armed Forces has said "these strikes represent a treacherous stab in the back."

Saturday, 4 January 2020

Protests erupt in United States after assignation of Soleimani in a US attack in Iraq

According to a Reuters report, groups of protesters took to the streets in Washington and other cities of United States on Saturday to condemn the air strike in Iraq ordered by President Donald Trump that killed Iranian military commander Qassem Soleimani and Trump’s decision to send about 3,000 more troops to the Middle East.
“No justice, no peace. US out of the Middle East,” hundreds of demonstrators chanted outside the White House before marching to the Trump International Hotel a few blocks away.
Similar protests were held in New York, Chicago and other cities. Organizers at Code Pink, a women-led anti-war group, said protests were scheduled on Saturday in numerous US cities and towns.
Protesters in Washington held signs that read “No war or sanctions on Iran!” and “US troops out of Iraq!”
Speakers at the Washington event included actress and activist Jane Fonda, who last year was arrested at a climate change protest on the steps of the US Capitol.
“The younger people here should know that all of the wars fought since you were born have been fought over oil,” Fonda, 82, told the crowd, adding that “we can’t anymore lose lives and kill people and ruin an environment because of oil.”
“Going to a march doesn’t do a lot, but at least I can come out and say something, that I’m opposed to this stuff,” said protestor Steve Lane of Bethesda, Maryland. “And maybe if enough people do the same thing, he (Trump) will listen.”
Soleimani, regarded as the second most powerful figure in Iran, was killed in the US strike on his convoy at Baghdad airport on Friday in a dramatic escalation of hostilities in the Middle East between Iran and the United States and its allies.
Public opinion polls show Americans in general have been opposed to US military interventions overseas. A survey last year by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found 27% of Americans believe military interventions make the United States safer, and nearly half said they make the country less safe.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Trump administration justifies killing of Soleimani

Qassem Soleimani, Commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, was killed in the US air strike in Baghdad, the attack was ordered by President Donald Trump.  His killing has instantly upped the military stakes in the region. Some believe that his killing was an adventurist step that will increase tensions throughout the region and make the world even more dangerous. Others believe that the incident opens the doors of the region to all possibilities, except peace and stability and United States will have to bear the responsibility for that. Let us review what the western media has to say.
According to media reports, Trump administration has justified killing of Soleimani as an act of self defense. This announcement came in response to the accusations that United States has violated international law and concerns raised by legal experts and a senior UN rights investigator.
According to Reuters, Republican and Democratic lawmakers dispute the wisdom of the attack. Some legal experts questioned whether Trump had the legal authority to target Soleimani on Iraqi soil without the permission of Iraq’s government, and whether it was legal under international and US law.
Iraq’s prime minister said Washington had with the attack violated a deal for keeping US troops in his country, and several Iraqi political factions united in a call for American troops to be expelled.
The UN Charter generally prohibits the use of force against other states but there is an exception if a state gives consent to the use of force on its territory. Legal experts said the absence of consent from Iraq makes it difficult for the United States to justify the killing.
Yale Law School professor Oona Hathaway, an international law expert, said on Twitter that the available facts “do not seem to support” the assertion that the strike was an act of self-defense, and concluded it was “legally tenuous under both domestic and international law.”
The Pentagon said targeting Soleimani was aimed at deterring “future Iranian attack plans,” while Trump said the Iranian general was targeted because he was planning “imminent and sinister” attacks on US diplomats and military personnel.
Robert Chesney, a national security law expert at the University of Texas at Austin School of Law, said the administration’s best argument on the UN Charter issue is self defense. “If you accept that this guy was planning operations to kill Americans, that provides the authority to respond,” he said.
Scott Anderson, a former legal adviser to the US Embassy in Baghdad under Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, said Trump’s justification so far under international law is questionable, but he could try to argue that the Iraqi government was either unwilling or unable to deal with the threat posed by Soleimani, giving the United States the right to act without Iraq’s consent.
Article 51 of the U.N. Charter covers an individual or collective right to self-defense against armed attack. The United States used the article to justify taking action in Syria against Islamic State militants in 2014. The US troops in Iraq had been fighting Islamic State, and about 5,000 troops remain, most of them in an advisory capacity.
A strategic framework agreement signed in 2008 between Washington and Baghdad called for close defense cooperation to deter threats to Iraqi “sovereignty, security and territorial integrity,” but prohibited the United States from using Iraq as a launching point for attacks on other countries.
Under historic norms of international law, a country can defend itself preemptively if it acts out of necessity and responds proportionally to the threat.
Agnes Callamard, the U.N. special rapporteur on extra-judicial executions, questioned whether the attack met this threshold.
The targeting of Soleimani “appears far more retaliatory for past acts than anticipatory for imminent self-defense,” she said. “Lawful justifications for such killings are very narrowly defined and it is hard to imagine how any of these can apply to these killings.”
Democratic lawmakers called on Trump to provide details about the imminent threat that he said Soleimani represented.
“I believe there was a threat, but the question of how imminent is still one I want answered,” Senator Mark Warner, the Democratic vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told Reuters.
Other critics raised questions about Trump’s authority to kill Soleimani under US law, and whether he should have acted without first notifying Congress.
Legal experts noted that recent US presidents from both parties have taken an expansive view of their unilateral ability to preemptively engage in force, including through targeted killings, a view bolstered by executive branch lawyers in successive administrations.
In the case of Soleimani, the administration’s self-defense arguments may hinge on disclosing specific knowledge of his imminent plans to attack Americans.
Self-defense could allow the administration to act without having to first notify Congress or act under a prior congressional authorization for the use of military force, Chesney said.
Democratic lawmakers did not defend Soleimani, who US officials have said is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans, but they called on Trump to consult with Congress going forward.
“This administration, like all others, has the right to act in self-defense,” said Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a former Central Intelligence Agency analyst who worked in Iraq focusing on Iranian-backed militias. “But the administration must come to Congress immediately and consult.”

Thursday, 2 January 2020

US warns of preemptive attack against forces allegedly backed by Iran

The predictable result of the Trump administration’s reckless bluster, escalation and miscalculation in the Middle East is that the super power is now hurtling closer to an unauthorized war with Iran. America has the surprising audacity of attributing to Iran the protests of the Iraqi people against (Washington’s) savage killing of at least 25 Iraqis.
The embassy incident came seven years after the 2012 attack by armed militants on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, that resulted in the death of the US Ambassador and three other Americans and led to multiple congressional investigations.
The unprecedented attack on an American diplomatic mission in Iraq marked a sharp escalation of the proxy conflict between the United States and Iran - both influential players in the country - and plunged US relations with Iraq to their worst level in years.
Mark Esper, US Defense Secretary said on Thursday that there were indications Iran or the forces it backs may be planning additional attacks and said it was possible the United States might have to take preemptive action to protect American lives.
“There are some indications out there that they may be planning additional attacks, that is nothing new ... we’ve seen this for two or three months now,” Esper told reporters.
“If that happens then we will act and by the way, if we get word of attacks or some type indication, we will take preemptive action as well to protect American forces to protect American lives.”
Iranian-backed demonstrators who hurled rocks at the U.S. embassy in two days of protests withdrew on Wednesday after Washington dispatched extra troops.
Donald Trump, US President, who faces a re-election campaign in 2020, accused Iran of orchestrating the violence. He threatened on Tuesday to retaliate against Iran but said later he did not want war.
The unrest outside the US embassy in Baghdad followed US air raids on Sunday against bases of the Tehran-backed Kataib Hezbollah group. Washington said the air strikes, which killed 25 people, were in retaliation for missile attacks that killed a US contractor in northern Iraq last week.
The protests marked a new turn in the shadow war between Washington and Tehran playing out across the Middle East.
“The game has changed and we are prepared to do what is necessary to defend our personnel and our interests and our partners in the region,” Esper said.
During the same press briefing, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said there had been a sustained campaign by Kataib Hezbollah against US personnel since at least October and the missile attack in northern Iraq was designed to kill.
“Thirty-one rockets aren’t designed as a warning shot, that is designed to inflict damage and kill,” Milley said.

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Motives behind US air strikes in Iraq and Syria

The fighter jets of United States targeted several bases of the Iraqi popular forces of Hashd al-Shaabi at border with Syria on Sunday evening. In a statement, the US defense secretary confirmed the attacks. Now the question is, which objectives had the US wanted to achieve from the attacks?
There is growing perception that the US was not comfortable with the consolidation of relationship between Iraq and Syria, especially in security and economic fields. Therefore, Washington wanted to seal Iraq-Syria common borders and passageways by targeting military positions in Iraq and Syria as well as providing support for the existing terrorists and creating fresh terrorist group.
Keeping the terrorist groups protected and providing backup for them seems to be the main objective of the US  after a number of reports hinted towards relocation of terrorists from Syria into Iraq or vice versa. In the meantime, the US has raided the Iraqi army several times to provide support for the terrorist groups in the country. 
Certainly, weakening Iraq and turning it into a crisis-hit country is aimed at providing the ground for the US to impose its will on Baghdad. Weakening the Iraqi popular forces and damaging relations and cooperation between the country’s army and the popular forces are also among the main objectives of such plots. 
Other dimensions of the US recent plot against Iraq can be mentioned as spreading chaos and turning peaceful protests of the Iraqis into violence, destabilizing Iraq’s political situation by interfering in the trend of forming the country’s new government, weakening Iraq’s security forces through conducting attacks on the Army centers and Hashd al-Shaabi’s bases and cutting Iraq’s ties with its neighboring countries including with Iran.
The new US plot is also aimed at deviating public opinion from critical situation of the Zionist regime of Israel as well as appeasing the Zionist lobby to continue supporting Donald Trump who is facing the congress impeachment.
By acts, the US proves it is the number one supporter of terrorism. Washington’s claim of campaign against terrorism is only a deception that is why their claimed military coalitions in the Persian Gulf and in the Bab al-Mandab Strait have brought about nothing but enhancing terrorism.   
The US has not been a savior but it has been disruptor of the region’s security and stability. The secret trips of the US officials to Iraq have certainly roots in their fear from the Iraqis’ rage against Americans’ crisis-making behaviors.
Widespread supports of popular and political groups as well as the country’s religious authorities for Hashd al-Shaabi against the US aggressive policies shows nationwide trust of Iraqis in the resistance forces which in turn shows failure of the White House’s anti-resistance project.