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Obama Advisor: Beware Bolton’s ‘Manufactured Crisis’ With Iran

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Although President Donald Trump has often advocated an isolationist “America first” brand of conservatism and received his share of favorable coverage from paleoconservatives like columnist Patrick Buchanan and the editorial team of Antiwar.com, his national security advisor, neocon megahawk John Bolton, appears to be pushing for a war against Iran. And paleoconservatives aren’t the only ones who believe that going to war with Iran would be a terrible idea.

Ben Rhodes, who served as a deputy national security advisor under President Barack Obama, is warning that the Trump Administration’s Iran policy is sounding more and more like the George W. Bush Administration pushing for an Iraq invasion in 2002 and 2003.

In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Rhodes recalls that President George W. Bush “made the case that the United States had to attack” Iraq before dictator Saddam Hussein “could use weapons of mass destruction that Iraq didn’t really have.” And similarly, Rhodes warns, “Trump’s administration has made every effort to manufacture a crisis with Iran.”

“This month,” Rhodes writes, “the manufactured crisis was escalated. Bolton announced the deployment of a U.S. aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region.” Rhodes notes that Bolton has long advocated for “regime change” in Iran, asserting, “It’s hard not to conclude that Trump’s administration has pursued a clear strategy: provoke Iran into doing something that gives a pretext for war. And as with Iraq, the administration has used exaggerations and unspecified intelligence reports to lay the predicate that an offensive war against Iran will be defensive.”

Rhodes notes that a British military ally of the U.S., Major Gen. Chris Ghika—who has been a key figure in anti-ISIS and anti-terrorist efforts in the Middle East—recently asserted that there has been “no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.” And Rhodes concludes his op-ed on an ominous note, warning, “If we slide into another war based on a fundamentally dishonest premise, Trump’s lies could wind up producing painful and far-reaching consequences.”

 

 

Ex-CIA Officer: ‘Insane’ Syria Pullout Aids Putin And Assad

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

The fallout from President Donald Trump’s decision to pull US troops from the northern border of Syria continued Wednesday. Even stalwart Trump supporters like Rick Santorum slammed the President for the withdrawal. So far, two top advisors have quit, noting that the President’s seemingly abrupt decision signaled that the US was willing to abandon allies and cede strategic gains.

Former CIA operative Bob Baer appeared on CNN Wednesday to break down the ramifications of President Donald Trump’s decision.

“This is foreign policy malpractice,” Baer said. “Clearly the Russians are delighted that we are giving them all of Syria, that we are giving up our Kurdish allies and not only to Russia, the Iranians will fill the vacuum.”

“The other day somebody called me and said ‘are you guys serious? pulling out of Syria and leaving it to us?’” Baer claimed.

He pointed out that the US alliance with the Kurds has yielded successful results in the region and that abandoning them now doesn’t make much sense.

“This is insane. This is the most successful counter insurgence we have conducted in living memory, getting rid of the Islamic state using Kurdish forces. To just give this up gratuitously is crazy,” he said.

Watch:

On The Brink Of A Dangerous Crisis, Iraqis Line Up To Attack Kurds

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

Iraqi security forces and Iranian-backed militias are preparing to attack Kirkuk in a bid to punish Iraqi Kurds who support independence. The United States must not allow Iraqi Kurds to be slaughtered, nor can it allow a war between anti-ISIS coalition members. The Trump administration should immediately propose a 10-kilometer buffer zone between the sides and dispatch a high-powered envoy to help mediate differences.

The situation is urgent.

Iranian-backed forces deployed to the Kirkuk front-line overnight. Militias include the Badr Brigade, Khorasan and Tafoof units, as well the notorious Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, wearing police uniforms. They have been joined by members of the Iraqi Federal Police, Anti-Terror troops, and members of the 9th Division’s Armor Brigade.

Today, Prime Minister Heider al-Abadi delivered an ultimatum to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. The ultimatum demands that the Kurds:

  • Hand-over control of the Kirkuk airport.
  • Relinquish the K-1 air base, also known as Kaywan.
  • Surrender all oil fields in Kirkuk province.
  • Allow the return of the Iraqi army to all places where they were stationed before ISIS invaded in 2014.
  • Remove Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim from his position.

The six-point ultimatum includes a deadline of early Sunday morning. Abadi threatens to attack if the Kurds do not comply.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has called for calm. “All standing issues should be dealt with through negotiations and peaceful means,” said Barzani. “Our calls for dialogue and negotiations must not be answered with threats, amassing forces and preparations for war.”

But Kurds are preparing for the worst. About 6,000 peshmerga – “those who stand before death” – are being rushed to the front-line, strengthening the line of defense should fighting erupt by design or by accident.

The situation is extremely volatile. Abadi does not control the myriad of militias deploying to Kirkuk. Their backers in Iran could try to provoke hostilities. An incident could cause a spiral of deadly violence, leading to full-bore war.

 

David L. Phillips is director of the Program on Peace-building and Rights at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights. He served as senior adviser to the U.S. Department of State during the administration of President Barack Obama. His most recent book is “The Kurdish Spring: A New Map for the Middle East.”