US New Moves: War with Iran May Be Much Closer Than We Think

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US New Moves: War with Iran May Be Much Closer Than We Think

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) sails through the waters of the Persian Gulf with Alvaro de Bazan and USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) during a farewell at sea as Alvaro de Bazan leaves USS Theodore Roosevelt’s strike group. USN Photo by PH2 Matthew Bash

Written by Alex Gorka; Originally appeared at strategic-culture.org

The US does not intend to end or even curtail its military presence in Iraq (as well as Syria) after the defeat of the Islamic State. It is planning to turn Iraq into a major theater of confrontation with Iran. There are signs that a war with Iran may be much closer than we think.

CIA director Mike Pompeo, an official known for his staunch opposition to Iran, has warned Tehran that the United States would hold it accountable for any attacks it conducted on American interests. Addressing high-ranking US military and security officials on Saturday, Dec. 2, at a defence forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, Pompeo said that he had sent the letter to General Qassem Suleimani, a leader of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and elite Quds. “What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable… and we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership of Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear,” the CIA director explained.

According to Pompeo, the message was sent after the senior Iranian military commander had indicated that forces under his control might attack US forces in Iraq. He did not specify the date. “You need to only look to the past few weeks and the efforts of the Iranians to exert influence now in Northern Iraq in addition to other places in Iraq to see that Iranian efforts to be the hegemonic power throughout the Middle East continues to increase,” he noted. Pompeo also said that Saudi Arabia had grown more willing to share intelligence with other Middle Eastern nations regarding Iran and Islamist extremism.

According to Kurdish Basnews, large-scale US forces arrived at the Kaywan base-K1 west of Kirkuk on Nov.28 to split into two contingents. Several hundred servicemen stayed on base. Another contingent headed east on Dec. 1 towards Tuz Khumatu in eastern Iraq and took control of the Siddiq military airport 35 km to the west. Tuz Khumatu lies 100 km west of the Iraqi-Iranian border and 163 km north of Baghdad. US forces have never been deployed so close to the Iranian border since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq.

In mid-November, several hundred US Marines were reported to be building a new base in western Iraq, about 20 km from the strategic Anbar Province town of Al Qaim, which had been captured from Islamic State. Evidently, the move is part of US plan to prevent the creation of a Syrian-Iraqi corridor from Iran.

In mid-October, the Iraqi government allowed pro-Iranian Shia forces to capture Kirkuk and its oilfields from the Kurds. The US is not happy with the prospects of Iranian control established over Northern Iraq’s oil. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on October 22 said it was time for Iranian military advisers and fighters “to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control.” Tehran supports large parts of Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), composed mainly of Shiite militias, both militarily and financially. But they have gone through a process of state legitimization, becoming a part of Iraq’s security forces. Their status and activities are an internal Iraqi affair.

Tillerson’s statement was followed up by US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, who said in an interview on Oct.25 that it is possible to contain Iran’s influence in the Middle East, and that a strong Iraq would be part of that.

Coincidence or not, the American forces were deployed near the Iranian border at almost the same time Israel delivered an air strike (Dec.2) at the Syrian army’s 91st Brigade HQ, outside al-Kiswah – 14km southwest of Damascus where an alleged meeting of pro-Iranian Shia militia chiefs was taking place. On November 10, the BBC released a report that Iran was “building permanent military base in Syria.” Israeli leaders have sworn to prevent Iran from establishing permanent bases.

43 Congress members sent a letter dated Nov.14 to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson calling for a change of strategy in Syria. According to the lawmakers, “A strategy for Syria that includes how the United States plans to prevent Iran from gaining a permanent foothold on Israel and Jordan’s doorstep and to block Iranian arms exports to Hizbollah”.

Another essential component of the United States’ anti-Iran strategy is promoting Saudi-Iraqi ties. A meeting between Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud took place with US blessing when US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson attended the launching of Coordination Council. The abovementioned Tillerson’s statement (Oct.22) was made at his meeting with Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir. The US’ return to the centre stage in Iraq to challenge Iran’s regional influence will give much vigor to the US’ alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia is seeking alliances that can cement its presence in Iraq. The high-level Iraqi visits to Jeddah and Riyadh have increased lately on the diplomatic, economic and military levels. Riyadh has also increased its participation in international economic forums in Baghdad, counting 60 companies that partook in Baghdad’s International Fair. This summer, Moktada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement, which represents millions of poor Shia Muslims in Baghdad and throughout southern Iraq, paid a visit to Saudi Arabia. He also visited the United Arab Emirates, another Sunni state that opposes Iran.

The US military presence in Iran allows it to prevent the establishment by Iran of a land link to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, boost its role in Syrian settlement, conduct covert cross-border operations to destabilize the government in Tehran and maintain staging areas to deploy reinforcements in case of war. There are signs that a coordinated campaign to roll back Iran is underway. The possibility of war against Iran has grown immensely in the recent days.

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  • Aurelio Ferdinand

    America is being set up for a most humiliating defeat in the not so near/distant future, when will all this lie about US military presence being necessary for the protection of US interest in the Middle East be abandon.

  • goingbrokes

    Rex Tillerson “time [for Iran] to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control.” Same to you US.

    Saudi seeking alliance with Iraq – strange way to conduct diplomacy, first send salafist insurgents to ransack the country and then try to be a friend. Saudi crimes against humanity will not be forgotten.

    If US goes to war with Iran [for whatever reason] it will economically ruin most European countries within weeks. Oil price will go through the roof (which will also economically benefit Iran, Russia and even Venezuela) and economies will start crashing. I guess US won’t mind that because crashed countries will be useful as slave-vassal states. But any sovereign nation should be very worried now. UK would be one of the first to crash as international trade will be in tatters.

  • MH370

    US control Iraq and niow admit they loose Iraq to Iran?

    • Leon De Elias

      They never fully controlled it..and they had to pull out as the resistance against the warlike yanks and their blackwater mercs jumped high as f**k,and they lost thousands of their own..If they stayed in there now they are having probably the same shit as in Vietnam..

  • Pave Way IV

    Iraq had planned to export some of its oil to Iran. The oil would go from Kirkuk to Iran’s Kermanshah Refinery. Reuters reported today that Iraqi oil officials said the transfer would occur “in the near future” and would amount to 30,000 bbls/day by truck.

    Iraq must have forgotten that the Kurds already claimed the Kirkuk oil for themselves and intend to sell much of it to Israel. The Iraqis also must have forgotten that Israel and their little bitch – the US – don’t like Iran. Iraqis must have forgot they are not allowed to sell their oil to Iran

    US troops have been deployed at K1 next to Kirkuk and about half-way down the route between Kirkuk and Kermanshah at Tuz Khumatu. They’re there to remind the Iraqis of the US/Israeli rules they must obey. This will prevent Iraqis from mistakenly violating US/Israeli rules and accidentally selling oil to Iran.

    The Iraqis will be delighted that the US is taking the time and effort to correct the Iraqi state oil company’s insane, dis-allowed thinking and behavior.

  • chris chuba

    A war could always break out because of missteps but I don’t see this isn’t a planned effort, realpolitik that could spin out of control.

    The Shiite militias have pledged loyalty to the Iraqi govt and are recognized as a lawful part of their military. The U.S. was invited in to help fight ISIS. So now you have a wrestling match between Iran and the U.S. each trying to influence the Iraqi govt to tell the other side to leave the country and making threats at each other. The U.S. can throw money at the Iraqi govt and try to find local Iraqi groups to bolster their case, ditto Iran.

    Is the situation dangerous? yes, is it a premeditated attempt to find a Casus Belli? no.
    We have our hands full w/N. Korea. IMO this is foolish, we have nothing to gain by trying to contain Iran and risk a conflict but foolish is our core competency.

  • Leon De Elias

    Haha they could not win in Iraq..And now this Iraq is more powerful than it was then..If the US invades again and as they said fight Iran..Which is 100 times more powerful than Iraq ever was..Well it wouldn’t go down well for the fascist Yankee warmachine ..

    • legato

      It is not going to end well for the US. Imagine, all the war games of Iran, in the case of a US attack? I bet you they are prepared. Look at how long, Israel been claiming about Iran nuclear weapon possibility. The time frame of Iran being prepared for being attacked. Is much longer of Iran’s preparation, due to in the past being allies with the US. To sum it up, Iran will not be like a NFL football coach drawing plays to stop a successful attack. It’s all planned already.

    • legato

      Trump is going to be Carterized. In reference, to the failed US troop rescue of American hostages. When Jimmy Carter was POTUS.