So who Created ISIS?

William Morris, the Next Century Foundation’s Secretary General, addressed lecturers at Takrit University in Northern Iraq as a precursor to discussions the subject of which was, at Takrit University’s behest, the role of Iran and America respectively in Iraq. This podcast was made in the aftermath of that meeting and reflects salient points from that discussion. Podcast from NCF Secretary General William Morris on this link

The following observation and associated note for clarification is relevant and comes from our senior member in Iraq, Stafford Clarry:

Following the drone assassination of two top military commanders – one Iranian and the other Iraqi, an Iranian military strike against US military forces in Iraq, and the Iraqi Parliament passing a non-binding resolution for withdrawal of US forces, the US-led coalition and Iraqi military have since resumed joint operations against ISIS. In addition, the US is negotiating to install defensive Patriot missiles in Iraq. Further, the US is urging a review of the SFA.

To clarify:

In 2008, the US and Iraq entered into two binding agreements.

  • One, the Strategic Framework Agreement (SFA), covered the overall political, economic, and security relationship.
  • The other, the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), required all US combat forces to withdraw from major populated areas by end-June 2009 and for all US forces to withdraw from Iraq by end-December 2011.

These binding agreements were decided and signed during the White House administration of President George W. Bush. They were publicly endorsed by both Iraq’s President Jalal Talabani and US President George W. Bush in December 2008 in Baghdad.

Thus, contrary to misinformation, President Obana DID NOT decide to withdraw US forces from Iraq. In 2014, in reaction to the ISIS onslaught, however, upon the invitation of the Iraqi government, President Obama DID decide to send US combat forces back into Iraq.

President Obama used the 2001 Authority for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al-Qaeda and other associate militant groups that was passed by the US Congress on 14 September 2001 and signed into law by President George W. Bush on 18 September 2001.

 

Former US presidential envoy speaks candidly about Iraq and Iran

Brett McGurk, a senior national security adviser to three presidents, left the Trump Administration after the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. Our Senior NCF member in Iraq, Stafford Clarry, shared this fascinating insight from Andrew Dyer of the San Diego Union Tribune datelined Jan. 23. It is of particular interest because the NCF is partnering with Takrit University’s Department of Peace Studies and for our first guest lecture, this Thursday, they have asked us to talk to students on the involvement of the USA and Iran in Iraq. For the original text see this link:
https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/military/story/2020-01-23/former-presidential-envoy-to-defeat-isis-coalition-talks-about-iraq-iran-conflict-at-sdsu

SAN DIEGO — A former national security advisor under three presidents, including President Donald Trump, described the administration’s current Middle East policy as “aimless” and flawed during a recent talk at San Diego State University.

Brett McGurk, who resigned in December 2018 as special presidential envoy to the coalition to defeat ISIS, described his experiences in the region, from when he first arrived as an adviser to the early Iraq provisional government, set up under then-President George W. Bush, until he left shortly after Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned and Trump ordered the withdrawal of American troops from Syria.

McGurk said during his talk that Trump’s decisions in the Middle East over the last three years — such as pulling out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, pulling U.S. forces out of Syria and assassinating Iran’s top general — were indicative of a poorly thought-out strategy.

“I just don’t think the Trump Administration has thought this through,” he said.
McGurk said that withdrawing from the Iran Nuclear Deal has resulted in a series of consequences that effectively leaves the U.S. in a “strategic trap” with Iran.

“(The Iran deal) was an arms control deal — it wasn’t designed to change the Middle East,” McGurk said. “It was designed to put this horrible problem at least on the back burner (so) we can deal with other things in other ways, and that makes strategic sense.”

Trump criticized the international deal, which lifted sanctions on Iran in exchange for certain limits on the country’s nuclear program, during his 2016 campaign. In May 2018, Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the deal and reimposed sanctions on the country.

In 2019 Iran-backed militias in Iraq, which had been U.S. allies in the fight against ISIS, began targeting U.S. facilities in the country. In December, the U.S. struck back at some of those militias in Iraq and Syria with airstrikes.

In retaliation, militia supporters broke into and set fire to part of the U.S. embassy compound in Baghdad, leading to Trump’s decision to assassinate Iranian General Qassem Soleimani in a January drone strike.
Days later, Iran launched missiles at two Iraqi bases that house U.S. troops and, during the strikes, also shot down a Ukrainian airliner after it took off in Iran, killing all 176 people aboard.

Trump then announced new sanctions on Iran. Sanctions aren’t the solution, McGurk said.

“(The Trump Administration) thinks sanctions will fundamentally change Iran’s behavior, but there’s no evidence of that at all,” McGurk said.
“It makes their behavior worse. Everything is going the wrong way.”

Another consequence of the Soleimani strike — which occurred at the Baghdad airport — was a vote in Iraq’s parliament to kick the U.S. out of the country.

While McGurk said he felt a sense of justice in Soleimani’s death, “elementary errors” by the Pentagon in the immediate aftermath — such as the drafting of a letter announcing the U.S. would comply with the country’s parliament and withdraw entirely from Iraq — did not paint the U.S. in the best light in the region and among our allies, he said.

“It makes people think we don’t know what we’re doing,” McGurk said.

The talk at SDSU, which was hosted by the nonpartisan nonprofit San Diego Diplomacy Council and the university’s Fowler School of Business, attracted more than 120 people. McGurk took questions from attendees about a broad array of U.S. policies in the Middle East — especially on the fight against ISIS.

McGurk addressed the controversial decision by Obama not to order air strikes in Syria after President Bashar al-Assad’s regime was credibly accused of using chemical weapons in 2013. Obama was on record as saying the use of such weapons was a “red line” Assad could not cross.

McGurk said he didn’t think U.S. airstrikes would have been effective in that instance. He cited strikes ordered by Trump in response to more chemical weapons use by Syria in 2018.

“I am skeptical of the view that had Obama enforced the red line, that that would have been the end of Assad,” McGurk said. “Trump has done two series of air strikes against the Assad regime after the use of chemical weapons, and it made no strategic difference in the conflict at all.”

After his talk, McGurk spoke with the Union-Tribune about why it’s important for the U.S. to maintain a presence in Iraq and Syria, because of potential Russian involvement there.

“We built a force of 60,000 Syrians, and it gave us some leverage against Russia, and President Trump gave it up overnight,” he said.
“I thought that was a big disaster. But if we can’t stay in Iraq, then we also can’t stay in that chunk of Syria we’re still in…. The vacuum will be filled by ISIS and by Iranian-backed militias. And the great power that will come in to fill our space is Russia. So we need to stay. “

McGurk currently serves as the Frank E. and Arthur W. Payne Distinguished Lecturer at Stanford University.

 

Stumbling toward war: Why?

The following sequence of events was recorded by Stafford Clarry, one of our senior members in Iraq. He covers most everything in his list, except the key rocket strike on the Saudi oil field on September 14th, which, though never publicly admitted, was, we are led to believe, launched from Iraq by an Iran backed militia group.

Recent militaristic events in Iraq and Iran clearly demonstrate how situations can rapidly go out of control to a point verging on another war with devastating consequences on all sides and beyond.

In Iraq, most everyone has suffered through a lifetime of conflict – battles and bombings during the 1960s and 1970s; chemical weapon attacks, disappearances, community destruction, political detention, torture, and forced dislocation during the 1980s; effects of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War and the 1961 Gulf war; 13 years of severe economic sanctions (1990-2003); the 2003 war followed by vicious sectarian conflict; the 2014-2018 ISIS war with its savagery; and even more violence in between.

At the country level, those who are more inclined to wage war (the hawks) tend to treat the land and its leadership as essentially separate from the countless families who want what families everywhere want: the opportunity to live peaceful and prosperous lives.

Keeping in mind there are no winners in war, and notably keeping in mind the purposes/intentions of the Vietnam and 2003 Iraq wars, let’s help ourselves get a better grip on what’s been recently happening in Iraq and Iran, its consequences and impact. We are where we are, but it could be much worse.

Discussions continue about the how, why, short-term consequences, and long-term impact of recent incidents. It begins with the JCPOA (nuclear agreement). Very briefly, here’s the sequence of relevant main events:

14 Jul 2015

  • JCPOA agreed, negotiated by six leading countries (P5+1/EU3+3) against one country (Iran) to halt Iran’s movement toward developing nuclear weapons. UN and EU sanctions were terminated/suspended. US sanctions for human rights abuses, missiles, and support for terrorism remain in operation.

8 May 2018

  • Unilateral US withdrawal from JCPOA.

4 Nov 2018

  • Unilateral re-imposition of severe pre-JCPOA sanctions.

27 Dec 2019

  • Rocket attack on K-1 Iraqi military base near Kirkuk (Iraq) where US military personnel were located, with casualties, one fatal. This followed earlier attacks on various locations that occurred without casualties.

29 Dec 2019

  • Airstrikes on five Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) sites in Iraq and Syria. PMF are independently formed and operated (private) militia groups that are included as official security forces of the Iraqi government, which funds and provides weaponry, including equipment received from the US-led international coalition against ISIS. Some PMF units are also backed and perhaps supervised/directed by Iran.

31 Dec 2019

  • US Embassy in Baghdad attacked by PMF supporters/sympathizers. No casualties.

3 Jan 2020

  • Suleimani (Iranian) and Muhandis (Iraqi), both senior government officials, assassinated.

8 Jan 2020

 

Conservative parliamentarians call for comprehensive new Iran deal

The Conservative Friends of Israel sent us the following note on the call from Tory MPs for a new deal with Iran. The trouble with this kind of thinking is that it undermines the JCPOA which took the best part of ten years to negotiate. The JCPOA was and is flawed but it is the best we have got and reinventing the wheel never helped anyone. The video link above may be of interest to those of you that speak Arabic. It is of Catherine Shakdam, the Head of our Yemen Unit, talking on Iran on BBC Arabic.

In both the House of Commons and House of Lords this week, Conservative parliamentarians called for a new, more comprehensive deal with Iran, in light of the UK’s triggering of the dispute resolution mechanism of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran. CFI Honorary President Lord Polak CBE called for a “complete redrafting” of the Iran deal, with “provisions to curtail Iran’s international aggression and financing of terror that were omitted from the original agreement”. He underlined: “One of the major criticisms of the JCPOA at the beginning was that it allowed Iran to continue its destabilisation of the region”. In a House of Commons debate following a statement on the JCPOA by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, Rt. Hon. Mark Harper MP welcomed the Government’s decision to trigger the JCPOA dispute resolution mechanism and argued that the agreement should be widened “to encompass all of the other activities of Iran”. Philip Hollobone MP asked: “Isn’t it time for a truly comprehensive agreement covering both nuclear weapon technology, missile technology and Iran’s export of terror?” The new MP for Bury South, Christian Wakeford MP, raised concerns about Israel’s safety as a result of Iran’s deception over its nuclear programme. In response, Foreign Secretary Raab underlined: “We share Israel’s concern, not just about the nuclear ambitions that Iran has but also about the wider activities in the region”.

Is everything about Netanyahu?

The assassination of General Qassim Soleimani may or may not have been a risky strategy on the part of the US President intended to boost his chances in forthcoming US elections; however, it certainly distracted Iraqis from the anger they were feeling against Tehran’s perceived culpability for encouraging the shooting of young Shiite demonstrators in Iraq. And it also helps Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibi) Netanyahu strengthen his position in Israel. 

Regardless of Trump’s eloquent claim that Iran “was looking to blow up our [US] embassy”, there is no evidence to prove that was the case. Nor was the killing of Soleimani motivated by the need to retaliate for events directly preceding the strike – the demonstrations at the US embassy in Baghdad and the death of Iraq born American contractor Nawres Hamid in a rocket attack on 27 December 2019. Information shared with the Next Century Foundation makes it clear that the assassination was actually planned prior to 24th December.

Whether or not the US had any long-term interest in killing Soleimani, the Quds Force leader was certainly previously targeted for assassination by Israel’s forces at least once, in 2015. Prior to that Soleimani barely escaped an Israeli air-strike while in Lebanon in 2006. In any case Netanyahu considered him responsible for many of the actions of Iranian proxies taken against Israel in recent years. As leader of the Quds Force (the Iranian military presence outside Iran) Soleimani was said to be in charge of the missile strikes on Israel fired from Iranian positions in Syria in 2018. Even more importantly, Soleimani had enormous influence over Hezbollah (whose salaries are subsidised by Tehran) and was a powerful figure in Beirut. He is now publicly mourned by many Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon.

Netanyahu was one of a small number of Mid East political leaders informed in advance by the US about the plan for Soleimani’s assassination. Claims that Israel provided intelligence necessary to carry out the strike are less credible, and if they did so they have much to answer for since the US had such flawed intelligence that it knew nothing of the presence of key Iraq Militia Leader Mohandis in the kill zone. In any case, Israel had one of its arch-enemies effortlessly eliminated. Had Soleimani been assassinated by Israeli forces, it would have been dangerous for Israel, with direct retaliation from Hezbollah likely to take place. While Israel, as an American ally, might theoretically be targeted by Iran in revenge, the risk involved is now much lower. 

Even though, Iran has “concluded” its retaliation, the airstrikes on American bases in Iraq hardly seem to be an adequate response. Regardless of which, it is still possible that elements in Iraq have not finished their retaliation for the killing of Mohandis. But any such retaliation will be directed against the USA and will not target Israel.

There are those in Hezbollah who  – given the current economic and political crisis in Lebanon – would like the distraction of being engaged in a conflict with Israel or even a full-scale war. After all, in 2008 after the punishingly harsh (for both countries) 2006 Israel / Lebanon war, Hezbollah had just 2,000 rockets left – whereas currently Hezbollah has amassed a stockpile of some 40,000 missiles. However the humiliation Iran suffered in the international arena after mistakenly downing a Ukrainian civilian airplane, means that de-escalation is more likely to follow. 

All the recent developments shift the focus in Israel away from the indictments filed against Netanyahu. The assassination of Soleimani seems to be a confirmation that the PM was effective in forming an even more robust alliance with the US. A growing military threat at the hands of Tehran only strengthens the position of Netanyahu before the upcoming election. 

Trump’s assassination of Soleimani did not make the Middle East a safer place, but at least it allowed Bibi to change the topic of the public debate from an unfortunate one – his corruption charges – to what the PM deals with best: a potential war. 

 

What’s the Endgame of Sanctions?

Stafford Clarry, Senior NCF Member in Northern Iraq, sends the following comment on moves to further increase US sanctions on Iran:

It’s hard to imagine the purpose of increasing sanctions being other than pure punitive. What exactly are they expected to achieve? 

If Iraq could survive thirteen years of UN-authorized international sanctions, Iran can likely survive, under its current leadership,  unilateral sanctions for at least a few more years.

Arguably, Iran has far more capacity than Iraq had to withstand economic sanctions that may only irritate the Iranian leadership but deeply hurt ordinary Iranians.

What is the endgame expected by increasing sanctions – chaos, anarchy, the implosion of Iran?

What are the criteria that must be met in order for sanctions to be lifted? What are the measurable behaviors to be observed?

It’s hard to imagine that whatever the criteria and observable behaviors may be, they cannot be attained without regime change. If that is the case, how will the regime change process play out and what and who will replace it?

Regime change in Iran could result in another deadly dystopian country like Iraq, which, nearly seventeen years after regime change, has yet to become a “normal” country peacefully pursuing a prosperous future for all its citizens.

The JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action)

The JCPOA (or Iran Nuclear Agreement) was negotiated to keep Iran from possessing nuclear weapons for at least 15 years, with some provisions being extended for longer periods. Monitoring centrifuge production would continue for 20 years, monitoring of uranium mines and mills for 25 years, and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) enhanced access indefinitely.

Other than Iran, the JCPOA was signed by China, France, Germany, Russia, UK, and US. These other signatories are known as the P5+1 (five permanent members of the UN Security Council + Germany), and EU+3 (EU members France, Germany, UK + China, Russia, US).

Unilateral withdrawal from the JCPOA and application of severe economic sanctions are unlikely to generate regime change in Iran as initially promoted and not (yet) taken off the table, despite words to the contrary. All other signatories to the JCPOA continue to support the agreement.

What would be gained if all six signatories withdrew from the JCPOA? The 2018 White House withdrawal from the JCPOA plus the other five signatories, if they withdraw, would cut short all provisions of the agreement from a minimum of 15 years to less than five years!

Michael R. Pompeo statement on 10 January

MICHAEL POMPEO: Today, the United States is taking a series of actions in response to Iran’s attacks against U.S. forces and interests, and to deprive the Iranian regime of revenue to conduct its violent foreign policy. We will continue to hold individuals and entities accountable for supporting the Iranian regime’s many fronts of terror.

We are sanctioning eight senior Iranian leaders, including Ali Shamkhani, the Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, Gholamreza Soleimani, the Commander of the Basij, and six other senior officials pursuant to Executive Order 13876 (E.O. 13876) for being appointed by, or acting for or on behalf of, the Supreme Leader.  These individuals have carried out Iran’s terror plots and campaigns of mayhem across the region and are complicit in the recent murders of around 1,500 Iranians protesting for freedom.

The Iranian regime exploits revenue from its metals industry to fund its destabilizing activities.  Accordingly, the Department of State is sanctioning Pamchel Trading (Beijing) Co., Ltd. pursuant to section 1245 the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act for transferring 29,000 metric tons of steel from an Iranian firm that is a Specially Designated Global Terrorist.  The Department of the Treasury is similarly sanctioning twenty-two entities and three vessels pursuant to E.O. 13871, for operating in the iron, steel, aluminum, or copper sectors of Iran, and related activities.

The President will also issue an Executive Order authorizing the imposition of sanctions with respect to additional sectors of the Iranian economy, including: construction, manufacturing, textiles, and mining.  This action will significantly expand the United States’ ability to target this regime’s various revenue streams.

As President Trump said yesterday, our sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior. The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Iran’s campaign of terror, murder, and mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.  The United States calls on all nations to stand against the Iranian regime’s ideology of terror and to hold Iran accountable for its violence.

Remarks by President Trump on 8 January

THE PRESIDENT:  As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.

Good morning.  I’m pleased to inform you: The American people should be extremely grateful and happy no Americans were harmed in last night’s attack by the Iranian regime.  We suffered no casualties, all of our soldiers are safe, and only minimal damage was sustained at our military bases.

Our great American forces are prepared for anything.  Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world.

No American or Iraqi lives were lost because of the precautions taken, the dispersal of forces, and an early warning system that worked very well.  I salute the incredible skill and courage of America’s men and women in uniform.

For far too long — all the way back to 1979, to be exact — nations have tolerated Iran’s destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond.  Those days are over.  Iran has been the leading sponsor of terrorism, and their pursuit of nuclear weapons threatens the civilized world.  We will never let that happen.

Last week, we took decisive action to stop a ruthless terrorist from threatening American lives.  At my direction, the United States military eliminated the world’s top terrorist, Qasem Soleimani.  As the head of the Quds Force, Soleimani was personally responsible for some of the absolutely worst atrocities.

He trained terrorist armies, including Hezbollah, launching terrorist strikes against civilian targets.  He fueled bloody civil wars all across the region.  He viciously wounded and murdered thousands of U.S. troops, including the planting of roadside bombs that maim and dismember their victims.

Soleimani directed the recent attacks on U.S. personnel in Iraq that badly wounded four service members and killed one American, and he orchestrated the violent assault on the U.S. embassy in Baghdad.  In recent days, he was planning new attacks on American targets, but we stopped him.

Soleimani’s hands were drenched in both American and Iranian blood.  He should have been terminated long ago.  By removing Soleimani, we have sent a powerful message to terrorists: If you value your own life, you will not threaten the lives of our people.

As we continue to evaluate options in response to Iranian aggression, the United States will immediately impose additional punishing economic sanctions on the Iranian regime.  These powerful sanctions will remain until Iran changes its behavior.

In recent months alone, Iran has seized ships in international waters, fired an unprovoked strike on Saudi Arabia, and shot down two U.S. drones.

Iran’s hostilities substantially increased after the foolish Iran nuclear deal was signed in 2013, and they were given $150 billion, not to mention $1.8 billion in cash.  Instead of saying “thank you” to the United States, they chanted “death to America.”  In fact, they chanted “death to America” the day the agreement was signed.

Then, Iran went on a terror spree, funded by the money from the deal, and created hell in Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  The missiles fired last night at us and our allies were paid for with the funds made available by the last administration.  The regime also greatly tightened the reins on their own country, even recently killing 1,500 people at the many protests that are taking place all throughout Iran.

The very defective JCPOA expires shortly anyway, and gives Iran a clear and quick path to nuclear breakout.  Iran must abandon its nuclear ambitions and end its support for terrorism.  The time has come for the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China to recognize this reality.

They must now break away from the remnants of the Iran deal -– or JCPOA –- and we must all work together toward making a deal with Iran that makes the world a safer and more peaceful place.  We must also make a deal that allows Iran to thrive and prosper, and take advantage of its enormous untapped potential.  Iran can be a great country.

Peace and stability cannot prevail in the Middle East as long as Iran continues to foment violence, unrest, hatred, and war.  The civilized world must send a clear and unified message to the Iranian regime: Your campaign of terror, murder, mayhem will not be tolerated any longer.  It will not be allowed to go forward.

Today, I am going to ask NATO to become much more involved in the Middle East process.  Over the last three years, under my leadership, our economy is stronger than ever before and America has achieved energy independence.  These historic accomplishments changed our strategic priorities.  These are accomplishments that nobody thought were possible.  And options in the Middle East became available.  We are now the number-one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world.  We are independent, and we do not need Middle East oil.

The American military has been completely rebuilt under my administration, at a cost of $2.5 trillion.  U.S. Armed Forces are stronger than ever before.  Our missiles are big, powerful, accurate, lethal, and fast. Under construction are many hypersonic missiles.

The fact that we have this great military and equipment, however, does not mean we have to use it.  We do not want to use it.  American strength, both military and economic, is the best deterrent.

Three months ago, after destroying 100 percent of ISIS and its territorial caliphate, we killed the savage leader of ISIS, al-Baghdadi, who was responsible for so much death, including the mass beheadings of Christians, Muslims, and all who stood in his way.  He was a monster.  Al-Baghdadi was trying again to rebuild the ISIS caliphate, and failed.

Tens of thousands of ISIS fighters have been killed or captured during my administration.  ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran.  The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.

Finally, to the people and leaders of Iran: We want you to have a future and a great future — one that you deserve, one of prosperity at home, and harmony with the nations of the world.  The United States is ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.

I want to thank you, and God bless America.  Thank you very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.

So who was it?

The word is quietly awash with conspiracy theories.

But what is the truth? Hard to know but this is a series of Hala London Radio broadcasts from NCF Secretary General William Morris on some of the issues. The conclusions reached do not represent the view of the Next Century Foundation or its trustees. If you do not wish to listen to the background the third in the series stands alone adequately and covers the main points:

On Kuwait

https://www.buzzsprout.com/529801/1735933-untitled-episode

 

Background

https://www.buzzsprout.com/529801/1736191-untitled-episode

 

So who did it?

https://www.buzzsprout.com/529801/1736134-untitled-episode

The USA throws Tehran into the arms of China – Big Big Big Time

This excellent, indeed earth-shattering (if you care about Chinese moves to world hegemony) article is sent us by the author, Najam Abbas, PhD, Non-resident Senior Research Fellow EastWest Institute, (Eurasia Energy Affairs): 

Failed by USA and left aside by Europe, Tehran has eagerly embraced China’s ‘One-Belt-One Road’ plan which will connect Asia to Europe with new sea and road and rail and pipeline infrastructure. China will be obliging very generously. “This plan is one of the great turning points in modern geopolitics”, predicts Juan Cole, adding “it is the first such highly significant development since WW II to leave the United States completely on the sidelines”.

According to the details, the plan for the reinvigorated partnership envisages China investing $400bn of investment unfolding over a 25-year period. The deal a material shift in the global balance of both oil and gas sector noted Petroleum Economist reported that $280bn will be allocated to Iran’s oil, gas and petrochemicals sectors and $120bn invested in upgrading Iran’s transport and manufacturing infrastructure.

The plans were firmed up in late August when Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s Foreign Minister, visited Beijing for presenting to his Chinese counterpart Wang Li an updated roadmap for the strategic comprehensive partnership agreement with China which was concluded in 2016.

“This is a major shift not only in terms of economic support for Iran but also in challenging the present global balance of power and the geopolitics of the Middle East”says Iranian expert, Dr. Massoumeh Tourfeh, who lists the advantages this plan could bring to Iran .

Although Iran will need to sell its oil to China at a discounted rate, it will still brings several benefits to Iran:

  1. Allowing Iran to expedite increases in oil and gas production from three of its key fields, notably the giant South Pars gas field;
  2. China will continue to import Iran’s oil in exchange of “soft” currencies, including those of African and Central Asian countries to avoid dollars;
  3. The deal will help Iran’s economic and diplomatic standing, allowing it to benefit from the backing of Russia and China, two permanent members of the UN Security Council.

The huge infrastructure and energy projects will be guarded through the deployment of up to 5,000 Chinese security officers in Iranian territories. Deploying such security in Iran “will be as big as the US military footprint in today’s Iraq or what the Pentagon plans for Afghanistan in 2020. It is likely meant as a deterrent to US adventurism (visible in Iraq and Afghanistan), inasmuch as any major US military strike on or action against Iran, Cole noted.

OPTIONS FOR GCC STATES:

  1. This may well provide opportunity for both China and also for GCC States to explore a range of options which may serve to protect their shipping interests through the Hormuz Strait in a much safer way far from uncertainty.
  2. GCC States may plan media, diplomatic and academic meetings to welcome China’s forays into Iran which will serve as a pacifying factor towards cooling the current tensions down.
  3. In the long run, the plan will contribute towards improved connectivity and bigger trade relations, all cooperation priorities promoted under BRI. It will help create a multifaceted role for both Iran and GCC States based on economic and strategic interests. Offering trade and development opportunities will make Beijing an especially reliable partner vis-a-vis India. In the West Asian context the initiative will indicate a sophisticated long-term approach to Sino-Iranian ties.
  4. Such initiative can bring new opportunities for GCC States to seek a new alignment as streams of Chinese investment will create a multiplier effect for both recipient countries and a calming and reassuring factor for other neighbouring countries in the region.

 

 

What is American policy toward Iran right now? Strategic belligerence?

Above is the latest take on Iran as broadcast on Hala London Radio by the Next Century Foundation’s Secretary General, William Morris. Meanwhile, Stafford Clarry, our senior member in Iraq, highlights a response by Wendy R. Sherman, the lead American negotiator on the nuclear agreement, and a former State Department ambassador to Isaac Chotiner’s question in the New Yorker when asked:  “What is your sense of American policy toward Iran right now? Do you see any rhyme or reason, or anything that could even be called strategic belligerence?”

I do not think there is a coherent policy or strategy regarding Iran. I think President Trump made a commitment during the campaign to withdraw from the deal. His then [team] all believed he should not. When they all departed, his new team supported his withdrawing from the deal. Within that new team, I would say we have the never-saw-a-war-he-didn’t-want-to wage national-security adviser, John Bolton. We have a chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney, who pretty much endorses everything the President says. We have an acting Secretary of Defense [Patrick Shanahan, who withdrew from the confirmation process on Tuesday] who clearly doesn’t have a voice in this Administration, it appears. And we have a Secretary of State [Mike Pompeo] who may think he is trying to bring nuance to this policy, but seems to be pursuing a path which, either intentionally or by accident, may take us to war.