By Finian Cunningham
December 10, 2019
Ratcheting economic sanctions, military force encirclement, inciting seditious violence and relentless war rhetoric. This all by the US and its allies over the past year towards Iran, yet it is Iran which is portrayed as posing “potential threats” to American interests.
The hastily arranged meeting last week between Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had the hallmarks of a war-plan summit amid a peak in renewed media provocation against Iran.
In the last weeks there has been a flurry of US media reports claiming that Iran is secretly moving ballistic missiles into Iraq and elsewhere across the region. As usual the media credulously cite anonymous intelligence and Pentagon officials on those claims.
Here’s CNN quoting one administration official: “There has been consistent intelligence in the last several weeks,” the official said, referring to “a potential Iranian threat against US forces and interests in the Middle East.”
Last month, the head of US CentCom made a similar dire forecast of Iranian intentions. General Kenneth McKenzie said: “I would expect that if we look at the past three or four months, it’s possible they [Iran] will do something that is irresponsible.”
Notice how General McKenzie tacitly acknowledges the background of the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign of economic sanctions and US military force buildup against Iran as if that is somehow normal international conduct. Then he turns all that US aggression on its head by accusing Iran of possibly doing “something that is irresponsible”.
There are worrying signs that the US and Israel are redoubling the pressure of war against Iran. This pressure has to be seen in the context of a formidable deployment of US military forces – troops, warplanes and warships in the region since May this year. The earlier buildup was announced on the basis of unfounded claims that Iran was preparing to launch offensive operations against American interests. Then came a series of mysterious attacks on oil tankers in the Persian Gulf over the summer which Washington blamed on Iran without evidence.
Street protests in Iran since mid-November over fuel-price increases appear to be hijacked by subversive elements. President Trump and other US officials have openly called for the protests to destabilize the Iranian government.
Fresh claims that Iran is sending ballistic missiles to neighboring countries appear to be setting the stage for justifying a pre-emptive US attack on Iran.
No doubt the Iranian government is under severe pressure from the economic hardship that the US has re-imposed unlawfully since Trump dumped the international nuclear accord in May 2018. No doubt too Iran is apprehensive about the relentless military threats against it from Washington and its Israeli ally. Almost certainly, Iran will have mobilized forces in the reasonable calculation that it may come under attack at any moment.
But, perversely, US intelligence and military officials are interpreting Iranian defensive moves as “indications of a potential threat” to American “interests”.
The meeting last week between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo signals a foreboding development. Recall that this is in the context of US media reports of Iranian ballistic missiles being deployed and of reports that the Trump administration is considering a doubling of troop levels in the Middle East to 28,000, as well as sending more missiles and warplanes.
Netanyahu met Pompeo in Lisbon, Portugal, on Wednesday, December 04. The meeting was called urgently and was unscheduled. Netanyahu – who is fighting for his political survival over corruption charges – tried to arrange discussions with Pompeo on the sidelines of the NATO summit near London, but according to Israeli media reports there was not enough time for security logistics to be put in place by the British. That indicates the Israeli leader was trying to meet Pompeo in a hurry.
When Netanyahu met with Pompeo in Lisbon, he said at the start of their discussions: “The first subject that I will raise is Iran. The second subject is Iran, and so is the third. And many more.
The Israeli premier added: “We have been fortunate as President Trump has led a consistent policy of exerting pressure on Iran. Iran is increasing its aggression in the region as we speak, even today, in the region. They are trying to have staging grounds against us and the region from Iran itself, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen and we are actively engaged in countering that aggression.”
Netanyahu also gloated that the “Iranian empire [sic] is tottering… let’s make it totter even more.”
For several months Iran has steadfastly refused to take the bait of war laid down by the Trump administration. But with pressures mounting both within the country and externally, it would be imperative for the Iranian authorities to marshall their defenses.
US intelligence and military officials are using contorted logic to accuse Iran of posing a threat, and the American corporate media are ably assisting in the propagation of this oxymoron.
Netanyahu’s hasty meeting with Pompeo last week suggests that the US and Israel are putting the final touches to their malignant masterpiece for provoking a war with Iran.