British saber-rattling and Iranian oil

This video from the USA is called Occupy Los Angeles, Day #14 – STOP False War with IRAN.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Hammond’s war psychosis

Tuesday 24 January 2012

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond’s sabre-rattling threat to send military reinforcements to the Persian Gulf follows up William Hague’s earlier effort to crank up anti-Iranian sentiment.

Hammond said that the British government’s decision to send HMS Argyll as part of an international flotilla of warships through the Strait of Hormuz on Sunday had sent a “clear signal” to Tehran.

It sent the traditional British imperialist message of war psychosis, menace and destabilisation, laced with liberal dollops of hypocrisy.

The Foreign Secretary constantly referred to world opinion in his instruction to Tehran to “come to its senses” and resume negotiations on its nuclear programme.

He has no mandate to speak on behalf of anyone but the usual imperialist forces in the European Union and north America who cannot get over the fact that the world no longer dances to their tune.

Neither Russia nor China is likely to fall in line with the decision of this overbearing global minority to impose a total ban on imports of Iranian oil – an embargo that is academic for Britain, France, the Netherlands and Germany, which diverted their oil purchases away from the Middle East in recent years.

The major EU purchaser of Iranian oil is Greece – followed to a lesser degree by Spain and Italy – which, given its current financial stitch-up by the banks and the EU elite, is unlikely to find a partner willing to match the terms it enjoys with Tehran.

Iran‘s main export markets for oil are in the Asia-Pacific region – principally China, India, South Korea and Japan, which would think carefully before ditching this supplier to support the EU campaign.

Logic dictates that India, which flouted global opinion to develop its own nuclear arsenal, might be hard pressed to take a moral stand over unfounded claims that Iran is doing likewise.

But given the ease with which Britain, France, the US and Israel – all armed to the teeth with nuclear weapons – pontificate on the issue, it would pay to be cautious on this question.

Their priority is not opposition to the spread of nuclear weapons but regime change in Iran and its ally Syria.

The Morning Star has no illusions about the democratic deficit in both countries, but the Western allies have shown no discomfort in cosying up to the brutal dictatorships of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt and the corrupt cabal of hereditary sheikdoms in the gulf.

Western hostility arises from the refusal of Tehran and Damascus to accept US hegemony over the region, including its support for Israel’s ethnic-cleansing policies and its accelerated colonisation of the West Bank.

Ratcheting up tension in the gulf is not in the interests of Iran’s repressed democratic forces or the people of Britain. It could encourage Israel to launch a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s civil nuclear programme, setting off unfathomable consequences.

Iranian democrats, such as the Tudeh Party, oppose further sanctions on their country, noting the already worsening living standards of working people and the propaganda value gained by parasitic elements of the theocratic dictatorship as they pose as an “anti-imperialist” resistance.

Turmoil in the region has already forced up the price of crude oil, affecting the global economy that is already struggling to escape recession.

Our coalition government risks worsening the situation through involvement in another US-led military confrontation that could prove costly in so many ways.

This is no time for sabre-rattling. War with Iran could tip us into the bloodiest conflict since 1945: here.

US/Israel: Iran NOT Building Nukes. Ray McGovern, Consortium News: “A consensus seems to be emerging among the intelligence and military agencies of the United States – and Israel – that Iran has NOT made a decision to build a nuclear weapon…. You might think that you would have heard more about that, wouldn’t you? … However, this joint assessment that Iran has NOT decided to build a nuclear bomb apparently represented too big a change in the accepted narrative for the [New York] Times … to process”: here.

Bribing Israel. John Feffer, Foreign Policy in Focus: “[The] story of Obama the diplomat standing up to Netanyahu the bully omits some important information. During Netanyahu’s visit, the Obama administration reportedly offered Israel a package of advanced military technology, including bunker-busting bombs and long-range refueling planes, as long as it postponed any attacks on Iran until 2013. In other words, Obama wasn’t only buying time, he was bribing Israel to prevent the kind of October surprise … that might derail his reelection bid”: here.

Larry Derfner – The Nation – In his first public statement on the conflict with Iran, David Grossman, the leading Israeli novelist of the past generation and the strongest voice of his country’s moral conscience, told The Nation that he opposed an attack on the Islamic Republic by Israel or the United States, saying the likely consequences were more daunting even than those of Iran building nuclear weapons: here.

Haaretz reports that hundreds of Israeli peace activists marched in Tel Aviv on Saturday to protest all the talk of striking Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities. Their placards demanded “No to War with Iran,” and “Talks, not Bombs”: here.

Dahlia Scheindlin and Larry Derfner – +972 – A lively crowd of approximately 1000 people, according to estimates by the Israeli media, gathered at Habima Square in Tel Aviv to voice its opposition to a war between Israel and Iran. Although hoping to capitalize on the energy of a surprisingly successful grassroots internet campaign that seemed to sweep the whole country last week, the protesters had all the hallmark attributes of a left-wing demonstration: large red flags associated with Hadash, the far-left Jewish-Arab party, calls for the Netanyahu government to resign, and no Israeli flags: here.

Religious Zionism leader: `Netanyahu, Barak seek to boost ego with attack on Iran`. Kobi Nahshoni – Ynet – Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Har Bracha Yeshiva, said Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel and a military offense against it was unnecessary: here.

Iranians respond to Israeli Facebook initiative: Israel, we love you too. Oded Yaron – Haaretz: ““My Israeli friends, I do not hate you; I do not want war. love, Peace,” read many Iranian posters that were posted by Iranians to the new group page: here.

Israel Shields Public From Risks of War With Iran. Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: “The message that Iran is too weak to threaten an effective counterattack is contradicted by one of Israel’s leading experts on Iranian missiles and the head of its missile defence programme for nearly a decade, who says Iranian missiles are capable of doing significant damage to Israeli targets”: here.

Israeli Experts Mum on Iran Attack to Support Bibi’s Bluff. Gareth Porter, Inter Press Service: “The widespread impression among the Israeli national security elite and press corps that Netanyahu’s threat of war against Iran is a bluff does not guarantee that Netanyahu will not attack Iran. But it does help explain why there has not been a much bigger outcry against a war option that is widely regarded as irrational for Israel”: here.

USA: Scrutinizing the Threat from Iran. Lauren Feeney, Moyers & Co.: “In the lead up to war in Iraq, misinformation about weapons of mass destruction went virtually unchallenged by the mainstream media. But three reporters for Knight Ridder newspapers (now McClatchy) were skeptical, and their probing investigation of the Bush administration’s justifications for war eventually proved prescient. We caught up with one of them, Jonathan Landay, now a senior national security and intelligence correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, to get his thoughts on the current standoff with Iran”: here.

Iran sanctions bring unintended, unwanted results: here.

Russia Warns Against Training Syrian Rebels In Kosovo: here.

28 thoughts on “British saber-rattling and Iranian oil

  1. Ex-President: Saakashvili May Draw Georgia Into War With Iran

    January 24, 2012

    Georgian President Saakashvili ‘eyeing Iran war to hold power’

    To keep his post, Georgia’s President Mikhail Saakashvili may draw the country into a war against Iran, former Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze believes.

    “I don’t rule out that to retain the [presidential] chair Saakashvili may join a military campaign against Iran, which would become a catastrophe for our country,” Shevardnadze said, as cited by ‘Georgia on-line’ news portal.

    The issue may be discussed at the upcoming meeting between Saakashvili and US President Barack Obama in the White House on January 30, Shevardnadze noted.

    “Any anti-Iranian campaign on Georgian territory shouldn’t be accepted,” the former Georgian president stressed.

    Georgian expert on the Caucasus Mamuka Areshidze says that if a military operation against the Islamic Republic begins, Georgia would face extreme difficulties, Regnum agency reports.

    “According to some estimates, in this conflict Georgia would be responsible for providing combat service support with the use of its aerodromes and hospitals,” he said. The expert added that such a scenario would lead to certain threats for Georgia. “There would only be negative consequences. But all that is secondary compared to the measures that Russia might take,” Areshidze stated.

    For many analysts the beginning of a war against Iran is just a question of time, rather than a hypothetical possibility.

    Elizbar Javelidze from the Georgian opposition movement Public Assembly says Washington is gearing up for attack. In Georgia, the US is sponsoring the construction of hospitals and other facilities that could be used, if war is launched.

    “A big war between the US and Iran is beginning in the Persian Gulf. $5 billion was allocated for the construction of these 20-bed military hospitals,” Javelidze said.


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  9. (US military trained Iranian dissidents)

    Listed by the State Department as a terrorist group, Iranian opposition group the Mujahedin-e Khalqisted was trained by Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) in Nevada, the New Yorker reveals in a report entitled “Our Men in Iran?” Another case of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend?”

    News Desk
    Notes on Washington and the world by the staff of The New Yorker.

    April 6, 2012
    Our Men in Iran?
    Posted by Seymour M. Hersh

    From the air, the terrain of the Department of Energy’s Nevada National Security Site, with its arid high plains and remote mountain peaks, has the look of northwest Iran. The site, some sixty-five miles northwest of Las Vegas, was once used for nuclear testing, and now includes a counterintelligence training facility and a private airport capable of handling Boeing 737 aircraft. It’s a restricted area, and inhospitable—in certain sections, the curious are warned that the site’s security personnel are authorized to use deadly force, if necessary, against intruders.

    It was here that the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) conducted training, beginning in 2005, for members of the Mujahideen-e-Khalq, a dissident Iranian opposition group known in the West as the M.E.K. The M.E.K. had its beginnings as a Marxist-Islamist student-led group and, in the nineteen-seventies, it was linked to the assassination of six American citizens. It was initially part of the broad-based revolution that led to the 1979 overthrow of the Shah of Iran. But, within a few years, the group was waging a bloody internal war with the ruling clerics, and, in 1997, it was listed as a foreign terrorist organization by the State Department. In 2002, the M.E.K. earned some international credibility by publicly revealing—accurately—that Iran had begun enriching uranium at a secret underground location. Mohamed ElBaradei, who at the time was the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations’ nuclear monitoring agency, told me later that he had been informed that the information was supplied by the Mossad. The M.E.K.’s ties with Western intelligence deepened after the fall of the Iraqi regime in 2003, and JSOC began operating inside Iran in an effort to substantiate the Bush Administration’s fears that Iran was building the bomb at one or more secret underground locations. Funds were covertly passed to a number of dissident organizations, for intelligence collection and, ultimately, for anti-regime terrorist activities. Directly, or indirectly, the M.E.K. ended up with resources like arms and intelligence. Some American-supported covert operations continue in Iran today, according to past and present intelligence officials and military consultants.

    Despite the growing ties, and a much-intensified lobbying effort organized by its advocates, M.E.K. has remained on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations—which meant that secrecy was essential in the Nevada training. “We did train them here, and washed them through the Energy Department because the D.O.E. owns all this land in southern Nevada,” a former senior American intelligence official told me. “We were deploying them over long distances in the desert and mountains, and building their capacity in communications—coördinating commo is a big deal.” (A spokesman for J.S.O.C. said that “U.S. Special Operations Forces were neither aware of nor involved in the training of M.E.K. members.”)

    The training ended sometime before President Obama took office, the former official said. In a separate interview, a retired four-star general, who has advised the Bush and Obama Administrations on national-security issues, said that he had been privately briefed in 2005 about the training of Iranians associated with the M.E.K. in Nevada by an American involved in the program. They got “the standard training,” he said, “in commo, crypto [cryptography], small-unit tactics, and weaponry—that went on for six months,” the retired general said. “They were kept in little pods.” He also was told, he said, that the men doing the training were from JSOC, which, by 2005, had become a major instrument in the Bush Administration’s global war on terror. “The JSOC trainers were not front-line guys who had been in the field, but second- and third-tier guys—trainers and the like—and they started going off the reservation. ‘If we’re going to teach you tactics, let me show you some really sexy stuff…’ ”

    It was the ad-hoc training that provoked the worried telephone calls to him, the former general said. “I told one of the guys who called me that they were all in over their heads, and all of them could end up trouble unless they got something in writing. The Iranians are very, very good at counterintelligence, and stuff like this is just too hard to contain.” The site in Nevada was being utilized at the same time, he said, for advanced training of élite Iraqi combat units. (The retired general said he only knew of the one M.E.K.-affiliated group that went though the training course; the former senior intelligence official said that he was aware of training that went on through 2007.)

    Allan Gerson, a Washington attorney for the M.E.K., notes that the M.E.K. has publicly and repeatedly renounced terror. Gerson said he would not comment on the alleged training in Nevada. But such training, if true, he said, would be “especially incongruent with the State Department’s decision to continue to maintain the M.E.K. on the terrorist list. How can the U.S. train those on State’s foreign terrorist list, when others face criminal penalties for providing a nickel to the same organization?”

    Robert Baer, a retired C.I.A. agent who is fluent in Arabic and had worked under cover in Kurdistan and throughout the Middle East in his career, initially had told me in early 2004 of being recruited by a private American company—working, so he believed, on behalf of the Bush Administration—to return to Iraq. “They wanted me to help the M.E.K. collect intelligence on Iran’s nuclear program,” Baer recalled. “They thought I knew Farsi, which I did not. I said I’d get back to them, but never did.” Baer, now living in California, recalled that it was made clear to him at the time that the operation was “a long-term thing—not just a one-shot deal.”

    Massoud Khodabandeh, an I.T. expert now living in England who consults for the Iraqi government, was an official with the M.E.K. before defecting in 1996. In a telephone interview, he acknowledged that he is an avowed enemy of the M.E.K., and has advocated against the group. Khodabandeh said that he had been with the group since before the fall of the Shah and, as a computer expert, was deeply involved in intelligence activities as well as providing security for the M.E.K. leadership. For the past decade, he and his English wife have run a support program for other defectors. Khodabandeh told me that he had heard from more recent defectors about the training in Nevada. He was told that the communications training in Nevada involved more than teaching how to keep in contact during attacks—it also involved communication intercepts. The United States, he said, at one point found a way to penetrate some major Iranian communications systems. At the time, he said, the U.S. provided M.E.K. operatives with the ability to intercept telephone calls and text messages inside Iran—which M.E.K. operatives translated and shared with American signals intelligence experts. He does not know whether this activity is ongoing.

    Five Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated since 2007. M.E.K. spokesmen have denied any involvement in the killings, but early last month NBC News quoted two senior Obama Administration officials as confirming that the attacks were carried out by M.E.K. units that were financed and trained by Mossad, the Israeli secret service. NBC further quoted the Administration officials as denying any American involvement in the M.E.K. activities. The former senior intelligence official I spoke with seconded the NBC report that the Israelis were working with the M.E.K., adding that the operations benefitted from American intelligence. He said that the targets were not “Einsteins”; “The goal is to affect Iranian psychology and morale,” he said, and to “demoralize the whole system—nuclear delivery vehicles, nuclear enrichment facilities, power plants.” Attacks have also been carried out on pipelines. He added that the operations are “primarily being done by M.E.K. through liaison with the Israelis, but the United States is now providing the intelligence.” An adviser to the special-operations community told me that the links between the United States and M.E.K. activities inside Iran had been long-standing. “Everything being done inside Iran now is being done with surrogates,” he said.

    The sources I spoke to were unable to say whether the people trained in Nevada were now involved in operations in Iran or elsewhere. But they pointed to the general benefit of American support. “The M.E.K. was a total joke,” the senior Pentagon consultant said, “and now it’s a real network inside Iran. How did the M.E.K. get so much more efficient?” he asked rhetorically. “Part of it is the training in Nevada. Part of it is logistical support in Kurdistan, and part of it is inside Iran. M.E.K. now has a capacity for efficient operations that it never had before.”

    In mid-January, a few days after an assassination by car bomb of an Iranian nuclear scientist in Tehran, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, at a town-hall meeting of soldiers at Fort Bliss, Texas, acknowledged that the U.S. government has “some ideas as to who might be involved, but we don’t know exactly who was involved.” He added, “But I can tell you one thing: the United States was not involved in that kind of effort. That’s not what the United States does.”

    Read more


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