Thursday, 23 May 2019

Overtures and Confrontations between United States and Iran

I am an ardent reader of the proceedings of ‘United States Institute of Peace’, particularly on Iran. Today, I am referring to a few snapshots of its recent release on Iran. 
I want my readers to read the briefs but also keep two points in minds: 1) since Islamic revolution in Iran, US has emerged as its worst enemy and 2) every failed attempt to ‘change the regime in Iran’ adds to US frustration and desperation.
Keeping Iran under ‘stringent economic sanctions’ has not weakened it, on the contrary, Iran has emerged the biggest resistance in the creation of ‘US hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula’.
According to United States Institute of Peace, “Half of American adults expect the US to go to war with Iran “within the next few years.”  In a survey conducted by Reuters of a representative sample of 1,007 adults were asked a series of questions from May 17-20 amid heightened tensions between Washington and Tehran. Some 53 percent of adults considered Iran a “serious” or “imminent” threat. But only 12 percent said US forces should conduct a preemptive attack on Iranian military interests.” 
Since the 1979 revolution, Washington and Tehran have gyrated between hostile actions and diplomatic overtures. Relations have never recovered from the seizure of the US Embassy and 52 diplomats. The US attempted military action to end the drama but eventually turned to diplomacy. Since then, the Islamic Republic has been linked, directly or indirectly, to the deaths of hundreds of Americans, while the US has been responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Iranians. Yet both countries have also dabbled in bold outreach, with mixed results.  
Lately, Acting US Defense Secretary, Patrick Shanahan has reiterated that the US does not want to go to war with Iran. On May 21, he told reporters that recent US moves have deterred attacks on US interests in the Middle East. “Our biggest focus at this point is to prevent Iranian miscalculation,” he said.
US lawmakers have been divided over what to do next to deal with the escalating tensions between the US and Iran. The split is largely along partisan lines. Democrats voiced concern that the Trump administration was leading the US into a new Middle East war. Republicans largely denied that the administration sought war with Iran but emphasized that the US would respond forcefully if its forces in the Middle East were attacked.  
A peep into recent history indicates President Trump’s election produced dramatic change in US policy in 2017. The US withdrew from the nuclear deal with Iran and the word’s major powers in May 2018. The Trump administration has been following a “maximum pressure campaign” to press Iran to change its policies and negotiate a more comprehensive deal.
Since taking office, Trump has taken an increasingly aggressive posture toward Iran. The tone was set less than two weeks into Trump’s presidency when then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn responded to an Iranian missile test. “The Obama Administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran’s malign actions—including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms,” he said. “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.” 
The recent attacks on ships near a UAE port provided the US an opportunity to accumulate its troops, naval ships and aircrafts closer to Iran to warn of a preemptive attack. Though, both Washington and Tehran have been saying ‘we do not want a war’, it is feared that any adventurous move by any of the proxies could ignite a spark enough to break a war between two mind sets, Zionist and Islamisit.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Exempting Iranian Chabahar Port from US economic sanctions

It seems certain that the United States will not impose any sanctions on movement of Afghan transit goods through Iranian port Chabahar. This exemption will be aimed at consolidating Afghan-Indian economic relations.
The port has been constructed with the Indian assistance to boost trade between one of the largest regional economies, India, and landlocked and war ridden Afghanistan.
The exemption will be aimed at facilitating Afghanistan in reducing its dependence on Pakistan. If a contrary decision is made, it will increase the transit costs of Indian commodities and put further restrictions on Afghan merchants.
Some analysts believe reveal that imposing sanctions on Iran as the most secured and less expensive access route for Afghanistan implies imposing sanctions on Afghanistan as well.
As far as the India is concerned, the significant point is that the India’s commodities to be transit to Afghanistan are not extensive and voluminous enough to rationalize marine and road transportation expenses and to create a significant growth in India’s balance of trade.
Indian analysts are of the view that bearing in mind the trade volume of Afghanistan, Russia and Central Asian countries which altogether are more than 16 million tons and the insignificant share of Afghanistan, it could be concluded that without making possible the transportation of all India’s merchandise to above mentioned countries through Chabahar Port, the exemption of this port will not make any noticeable change in India’s trade.
Therefore, Chabahar Port’s exemption will only be a competitive advantage for India, if all Indian merchandise toward Afghanistan, Russia and Central Asian countries could be transported through Chabahar Port without any restriction in banking and insurance transactions.
The noteworthy point about Afghanistan is that the exemption of Chabahar Port will only be fruitful, if there is no restriction on entering and leaving Chabahar Port for vessels carrying Afghanistan’s merchandise; as well as commercial transactions of cargo owners, merchants and shipping lines, particularly banking transactions are done without limitation.

Pakistan grants oil exploration license to Kuwaiti firm

The Government of Pakistan (GoP) has granted the license for exploration of oil in the Makhad block to a subsidiary of Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company.
According to the details, the GoP has executed an Exploration License (EL) as well as a Petroleum Concession Agreement (PCA) signed by Petroleum Division Secretary Mian Asad Hayauddin and Qazi Mohammad Saleem Siddiqui, Director General, Petroleum Concessions, and CEO of Kuwait Foreign Petroleum Exploration Company (KUFPEC) at a ceremony also attended by Federal Minister for Petroleum, Omar Ayub Khan.
On the occasion, the Petroleum Minister said that "the execution of PCA and EL will attract foreign investment in the petroleum sector and bridge the demand and supply gap in the energy sector."
Khan further said that the efforts will bear fruit in future years in the form of hydrocarbon reserves.
The Makhad block, is situated in Attock, Mianwali and Chakwal in Punjab as well as Kohat in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. It is said to be spread over 1,562.92 square kilometers.
Kufpec will invest at least US$9.8 million in the block. Apart from the minimum firm work commitment, the company is also obligated to spend a minimum of US$30,000 per year in Makhad block on social welfare schemes.

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Israel’s role in Iran-United States conflict

The worst happening in the Arabian Peninsula is a war being waged by the Trump administration on Iran.  The financial terrorism and economic sabotage already inflicted on Iran by the US can also be termed acts of war. Truly, it does not get any more serious than this colossal foreign policy fiasco. Once again, Israel has successfully hijacked the US Military, State Department and Intelligence Community to wage an unprovoked war on a sovereign state in the Middle East. It may not be wrong to say that this war-in-the-making is the culmination of a covert plan to advance the Greater Israel project. The logic is as follows:
This is illegal, reckless and catastrophic war because such misguided warmongering is aimed at triggering the World War III. The global crime syndicate known as the International Banking Cartel, which runs the perpetual war economy across the planet, knows that the end is very near for them.  The entire Global Economic and Financial System is teetering on the precipice of a total and final collapse.  Their only way out is war, Third World War to establish a totalitarian One World Government.
Iran has become the lynchpin in this insane scheme to plunge the world community of nations into chaos.  This is precisely why President Trump was ordered by his Zionist masters to form his stone-cold war cabinet of Bolton, Pompeo, Pence, Haspel, Abrams and Shanahan.  Each chronic warmonger was hand-picked by Israel to develop and implement the war plans necessary to conquer Iran.
About eight months back MEK supporters tell them they will overthrow Iran’s regime and celebrate in Tehran with Bolton himself present. One also has to look at the rapidly evolving events in the Mideast, especially in the regions surrounding Iran. It has been quite clear ever since Trump first declared his candidacy in June of 2015 that war against Iran was the very centerpiece of his foreign policy.  Every major foreign affairs decision has been made toward that end, including the intentionally failed military coup against Venezuela.
Even Trump’s decision to continue the war in Afghanistan was made in order to maintain that strategic location which shares a long border with Iran.  The US occupation of Syria also remains firmly in place despite several promises to withdraw all troops because of the planned war with Iran; so is the large U.S. military presence in Iraq contrary to that nation’s wishes.
Now the whole world is seeing just how much premeditation and stealth have gone into this ‘American war’ against Iran fought on strictly behalf of Israel.  Zionists have been planning this armed conflict for decades, and they know it must not fail.
These warmongers know that there’s a tried and tested way to start any regional war, especially one that needs to capture the full support of the American people.  They will raise a false flag of terrorist attack on American assets somewhere in the world that is inordinately vicious and provocative.  If not that, they will secretly stage a surprise attack on the US Navy in the Mideast which will immediately be blamed on Iran.  There’s also the distinct possibility of a false attack on Saudi Arabian oil tankers.
The Israeli attack on the USS Liberty provides the best example of how Israel might be used to stage this false flag operation. Netanyahu has already proven to be an arch enemy of the United States as demonstrated by his own words and he will do whatever it takes to deceive the U.S citizenry into supporting another odious war to advance the Greater Israel project.

Saturday, 18 May 2019

Can European Union resist United States pressure to join war against Iran?

With bitter memories of the catastrophic war in Iraq, European Union (EU) members seem united in opposing the United States’ effort to provoke Iran into a shooting war. However, flat refusal to Washington appears a difficult decision for the EU members. Initially, Britain expressed that there was no enhanced threat from Iran in Iraq and Syria, but expected to change its opinion under the US pressure.
While Europeans were reluctant to confront Washington directly, Britain officially agreed with the Americans and Germany and the Netherlands suspended their troop training in Iraq. Germany subsequently said it was planning to resume the training exercises.
“Every single European government believes that the increased threat we’re seeing from Iran now is a reaction to the United States leaving the Iran nuclear agreement and trying to force Iranian capitulation on other issues,” said Kori Schake, a former Pentagon official who is now deputy director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies. “They believe that the U.S. is the provocateur and they worry that the U.S. is reacting so stridently to predictable Iranian actions in order to provide a pretext for a U.S. attack on Iran,” Ms. Schake said.
“It is different from the debate preceding 2003 Iraq war, which split Europe in two,” said Tomas Valasek, the director of Carnegie Europe and a former Slovak ambassador to NATO. “This is a case of all European governments saying to Washington that this is insane, we shouldn’t be here, and it’s your fault that we’re actually talking of war.”
The Europeans are trapped between Trump and Tehran, trying to keep decent relations with Washington while committed to supporting the 2015 Iran nuclear deal that Trump mocked and then abandoned. Senior European government officials say they believe that Trump does not want a major war in the Middle East, but they also believe that Bolton does. They often cite a New York Times opinion article by Bolton in 2015, when he said “To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.”
European officials are puzzled by Trump’s insistence that he simply wants to force Iran into new negotiations. Ms. Schake has rightly raised two question: “Why, would Tehran concede or even value any deal done with the president who just abandoned a nuclear deal so painfully negotiated with the last American president? “Why would they trust us now after Trump pulled the plug on the last thing they negotiated with Washington?”
The public position of European officials has been “maximum restraint,” that is opposite to Washington’s stated policy of “maximum pressure” on Tehran, including economic sanctions designed to block its international trade, especially in oil, on which the economy depends.
Foreign ministers, including Britain’s Jeremy Hunt and Germany’s Heiko Maas — have spoken about the dangers of escalation and accidental war. “We are very worried about the risk of a conflict happening by accident with an escalation that is unintended,” said Hunt.
Maas told German legislators that putting intense pressure on Iran added to the risk of an unintended escalation. “What has happened in recent days — acts of sabotage against ships or pipelines — are indications that these dangers are concrete and real,” he said, referring to reports that four oil vessels were recently attacked.
“The Iranians may have walked into a Washington hard-liner trap,” said Jeremy Shapiro, a former senior State Department official who is now research director for the European Council on Foreign Relations. “Iran as usual is sending messages and going up the escalator ladder one-eighth of a step at a time, through proxies,” he said. “They’re following the script. Iranian and US hard-liners have a toxic interaction and feed off each other.”
In the first gulf war, in 1990-91, the United States led a broad multinational coalition; in the second, in 2003, the European “coalition of the willing” was essentially reduced to Britain and Poland. Part of Europe’s skepticism is rooted in that 2003 war, when there were charges of fake or exaggerated intelligence, which continue to haunt the reputations of then-loyal European leaders, such as former Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain and former President Aleksander Kwasniewski of Poland.
“Every European politician who supported George W. Bush was taken out and effectively executed,” Shapiro said. “Even in the UK, no way there can be a repeat of that. If the US policy is in force, there will be no European support.”
But the Trump administration — which has already strained relations with Europe badly through unilateral moves over trade, climate change and relations with Israel and Russia, let alone Iran — probably doesn’t much care what the Europeans think.
 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo came to Brussels and spoke to European foreign ministers about Iran and American assessments of enhanced threat. For internal administration debates, European may agree to tactical support or face a bitter choice, “Either you are with us or against us.”

Saturday, 11 May 2019

Will Iran replace Pakistan in Afghan transit trade?

While the United States is creating war hype, India is using Iranian port, Chabahar as transit route to send goods to Afghanistan.   
According to an IRNA report, India’s first consignment of rice to Afghanistan which is due to be delivered through India-Iran-Afghanistan trade route arrived at Chabahar Port.
According to Khan Jan Alokozay, First Vice President, Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Industries (ACCI), it is the first of its kind and more shipments will follow in the near future.
India launched a trade route to Afghanistan via Iran through shipping its first consignment of wheat to Afghanistan in October last year, bypassing longtime rival Pakistan. 
Also in February, the Afghanistan-Iran-India trade corridor in which Afghanistan will export goods to India through Iran’s southeastern Chabahar Port was inaugurated.
Afghanistan's first 570 ton export cargo included 200 tons of grains and 370 tons of talc stone which arrived in Chabahar port late February.
Afghanistan is planning to boost is exports revenue to US$2 billion this year and according to Afghan officials, a significant share of the country’s exports will be through Iran’s Chabahar Port.
In 2016, Iran, India and Afghanistan decided to jointly establish a trade route for land-locked Central Asian countries.
India has committed US$500 million to Chabahar Port development as a way to bypass Pakistan and crack open a trade and transport route to landlocked Afghanistan, as well as the resource rich countries of central Asia.
India is expanding its economic diplomacy in Afghanistan, seeing itself as a regional power. Its involvement in Chabahar’s development is primarily about establishing a gateway to Afghanistan, more than Iran itself.

Monday, 6 May 2019

India expresses interest in investing US$20 billion in Iran

According to an IRNA report, India has shown interest in investing up to US$20 billion in Iran. This was expressed by Indian Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
He made these remarks during Iran-India Business Round Table which was held in New Delhi. He expressed India was willing to invest in Iran’s southeastern port of Chabahar. He said his country would make such an investment ‘if conditions become conducive’.
 Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, senior managers from Iranian and Indian chambers of commerce, banks, and other sectors including industry, trade, and science attended the business forum.
Pradhan also said that the two countries can increase bilateral oil and gas trade. He, in addition, showed his country’s willingness to participate in the development of Iranian Farzad-B gas field in the Persian Gulf.
During the meeting, the chairman of Iran Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture, Gholam-Hossein Shafei, said the current level of bilateral trade is not proportional to potentialities, saying that the value of trade can reach US$30 billion in the future.
Shafei underlined that possessing huge energy resources, the Islamic Republic can act as a reliable source to meet India’s need for energy.
He also mentioned transportation sector as one of the possible fields of cooperation between the two countries, adding that the recently signed trilateral agreement between Iran, Afghanistan, and India to develop the Iranian port of Chabahar can change Iran into the region’s transportation hub.
Highlighting the significance of Chabahar port in the expansion of Iran-India relations, the Iranian foreign minister noted that the port can be beneficial not only to Iran but also to all other regional countries.
Referring to the importance of banking relations as the backbone of economic ties between the two countries, Zarif expressed hope that relations would continue developing in the future.
On the first leg of his three-nation tour of Asia, Zarif arrived in New Delhi to take part in the Heart of Asia Conference on the situation in Afghanistan and also to hold talks with high-ranking Indian officials.
Iranian foreign minister is accompanied by a 70-member high ranking politico economic delegation who will take part in trade and business meetings with India, China, and Japan.