How Iran, the Mideast’s new superpower, is expanding its footprint across the region – and what it means

raqi Shiites of the Mahdi Army militia vow to fight ISIS in a show of strength in a 2014 military parade in Baghdad. (Scott Peterson/Getty Images/The Christian Science Monitor)

 

Iran has achieved milestones of leverage and influence that rival any regional power in the past half-century. While there are limits to how far it can extend its authority, Tehran’s rapid rise poses new challenges to the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia as it undermines their previous dominance. How far can Tehran extend its reach?

With opulent furnishings and the finest cut-crystal water glasses in Baghdad, the new offices of the Iranian-backed Shiite militia exude money and power – exactly as they are meant to. At one end of the meeting room is a set built for TV interviews, with gilded chairs and an official-looking backdrop of Iraqi and militia flags, lit by an ornate glass chandelier. Continue reading

Retired CIA Agent Working With Blackwater Founder Claims H.R. McMaster Approved NSA Spy Job On Trump Family

 

A retired CIA officer reportedly working with Blackwater founder Erik Prince to pitch the White House on a global, private spy networkwhich as we reported yesterday would allow the White House to circumvent and counter “deep state enemies” within U.S. intelligence agencies, is said to have made the stunning claim that National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster worked with the NSA to perform surveillance on Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump, Steve Bannon and others, according to a report in The Intercept. Continue reading

Saudi vows new Islamic alliance ‘will wipe terrorists from the earth’

Lowe and behold the ‘islamic NATO’ discussed in the previous posts:

Is Saudi Arabia building an ‘islamic NATO?’

Trump to unveil plans for an ‘Arab NATO’ in Saudi Arabia

 

A member of the Saudi Royal Guard stands on duty inside the hall where the first meeting of the defence ministers of the 41-member Saudi-led Muslim counter-terrorism alliance is taking place in the capital Riyadh on November 26, 2017 (AFP Photo/Fayez Nureldine)

 

Riyadh (AFP) – Saudi Arabia’s crown prince vowed to “pursue terrorists until they are wiped from the face of the earth” as officials from 40 Muslim countries gathered Sunday in the first meeting of an Islamic counter-terrorism alliance.

“In past years, terrorism has been functioning in all of our countries… with no coordination” among national authorities, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is also Saudi defence minister, said in his keynote address to the gathering in Riyadh.

“This ends today, with this alliance.” Continue reading

The Militarization of the Sahel (II)

 

BERLIN/PARIS/BAMAKO(Own report) – Nearly five years after the European military mission was launched in Mali, experts are describing the country’s situation as a disaster and warning against Berlin and Paris’ further militarization of the Sahel. Mali “has never” seen “such a level of violence” as “currently,” says a former French diplomat. The regional conflicts cannot be solved militarily, explained the International Crisis Group, a pro-western think tank, using the example of a Burkinabe province at the border with Mali, where, even though it was possible to suppress jihadi unrest, for the time being, the conflict can again flare up at any time, because the reasons for the unrest have not been dealt with. Nevertheless, the German government supports the creation of an intervention force of the “G5 Sahel” group of countries, which launched its first military operation yesterday. Despite the disastrous consequences of militarization, the Bundeswehr is using the Mali mission as the focus of its PR campaign.

Continue reading

Report: Russia Funding the Taliban

Russia has been given oil to the Taliban that it can then sell to fund its “anti-NATO” activities in Afghanistan.

 

According to a new report, the Russian government is providing $2.5 million a month to the Taliban to fund “anti-NATO” operations in Afghanistan. Continue reading

Now Erdogan Says Turkey Doesn’t Need U.S.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a group of regional governors that Turkey no longer needs the U.S. as diplomatic tensions with the NATO ally grow more intense.

 

The divorce is nearly over—Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday his country no longer needs the U.S. Continue reading

How to Destroy a Nation

 

In The Possessed, Dostoyevsky has his character Shatov exclaim:

If a great people does not believe that the truth is only to be found in itself alone (in itself alone and exclusively); if it does not believe that it alone is fit and destined to raise up and save all the rest by its truth, it would at once sink into being ethnographical material, and not a great people…

Put another way, if a nation has confidence in itself, it continues as a viable political entity. Once it loses that, it lacks cohesion and becomes only a collection of random people living together. Continue reading

BREAKING: Up to 30 ROCKETS hit airport as US and NATO leaders land

James Mattis

Explosions were heard at an airport after James Mattis arrived in Afghanistan [Getty]

 

DOZENS of rockets have been fired at Kabul Airport, Afghanistan as US Defence Secretary James Mattis and NATO General Jens Stoltenberg arrived.

Explosions were reported at Kabul Airport as NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg and US General James Mattis landed in Afghanistan.

There have been reports of upto 30 rockets hitting the airport this morning.  Continue reading

Russia: Who Stole What For North Korea

Over the weekend Russia made a point of revealing another of their post-Cold War EW (electronic warfare) aircraft. This one is called the Il-22PP and described as an airborne electronic jammer that can block all manner of signals but particularly the digital ones (like Link 16) favored by Western warplanes. The Il-22PP was also described as being able to protect itself from anti-radiation missiles, like the American AGM-88. Since late 2015 Russia has revealed (to the public) the existence of other post-Cold War electronic warfare aircraft by using them in Syria or over Ukraine. Not so the Il-22PP, at least not yet. Continue reading

The average age of an empire? A mere 250 years

WASHINGTON >> As the Fourth of July approaches, the idea that democracy is the highest political calling of mankind once again hangs poignantly in the philosophical air.

We fret over problems here at home. We shake our heads over warring political parties, our vulgarized public culture and a billionaire class that thinks it should inherit the country all by its rich little 1 percent self.

But when we look at America’s foreign policy since World War II we should be most soberly gripped by a contradiction in thinking that could be leading us disastrously into the last hours of empire.

Continue reading

Congress considering restart of F-22 program

Lockheed debuts C-130J variant for special operations forces

 

The House Armed Services Committee is currently reviewing a classified report it ordered last year on restarting production of the F-22 Raptor, according to a spokesperson for the committee.

“I can confirm that we received the report and are reviewing it,” HASC spokesman Barron Youngsmith told UPI, declining to comment further due to the classified nature of the review. Continue reading

Leading the Multipolar Revolution: How Russia and China Are Creating a New World Order

The replacement for the American global hegemony is all there. The alternative global infrastructure is built and only a switch needs to be flipped on. The only questions remaining are when and how America will be replaced as a global leader.

 

Leading the Multipolar Revolution: How Russia and China Are Creating a New World Order

 

The last thirty days have shown another kind of world that is engaging in cooperation, dialogue and diplomatic efforts to resolve important issues. The meeting of the members of the Belt and Road Initiative laid the foundations for a physical and electronic connectivity among Eurasian countries, making it the backbone of sustainable and renewable trade development based on mutual cooperation. A few weeks later, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization meeting in Astana outlined the necessary conditions for the success of the Chinese project, such as securing large areas of the Eurasian block and improving dialogue and trust among member states. The following AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) meeting in ROK will layout the economical necessities to finance and sustain the BRI projects.

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have many common features, and in many ways seem complementary. The SCO is an organization that focuses heavily on economic, political and security issues in the region, while the BRI is a collection of infrastructure projects that incorporates three-fifths of the globe and is driven by Beijing’s economic might. In this context, the Eurasian block continues to develop the following initiatives to support both the BRI and SCO mega-projects. The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CTSO) is a Moscow-based organization focusing mainly on the fight against terrorism, while the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is a Beijing-based investment bank that is responsible for generating important funding for Beijing’s long-term initiatives along its maritime routes (ports and canals) and overland routes (road, bridges, railways, pipelines, industries, airports). The synergies between these initiatives find yet another point of convergence in the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU). Together, the SCO, BRI, CTSO, AIIB, and EEU provide a compelling indication of the direction in which humanity is headed, which is to say towards integration, cooperation and peaceful development through diplomacy. Continue reading

The Years of Terror (II)

BERLIN (Own report) – Following the recent terror attacks, international pressure has been mounting on a major supporter of global jihadism – Saudi Arabia, a close German ally. In London, leading politicians from the opposition are calling on the British government to finally publish an investigation of the – presumably Saudi – financiers of British jihadis. Protest against the western powers’ pact with the Saudi ruling clan is being raised also beyond Europe’s borders. The youth league of the world’s largest Islamic organization, the Indonesian Nahdlatul Ulama, for example, has published a declaration accusing the West of ignoring the direct correlation between the Saudi Salafist crusade “and the spread of terrorism worldwide.” For decades, Saudi Arabia has been promoting Salafi jihadi milieux throughout the world – partly in alliance with Germany, partly with Berlin’s de facto approval – significantly strengthening them in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sahel, North Africa, the Middle East and the European countries with Muslim populations, such as Kosovo, as well as in Southeast Asia – in Indonesia and in the Philippines. While milieux supported by Saudi Arabia have increased their terror also in Western Europe, Berlin is continuing its cooperation with Riyadh.

Continue reading

Iran shrugs off Trump threats, missile tests to carry on

Iran’s newly re-elected President Hassan Rouhani ridiculed US strategy in the Middle East, dismissing Donald Trump’s summit with Arab leaders as “just a show” and insisting that missile tests will continue.

“Our missiles are for our defence and for peace, they are not offensive. Know that while there is a technical need to conduct missile tests, we will do so and we will ask the permission of no one,” Rouhani told reporters in Tehran.

His comments followed fierce critism from the US president during visits to Saudi Arabia and Israel. Continue reading

Mexico was second deadliest country in 2016

 

(CNN) It was the second deadliest conflict in the world last year, but it hardly registered in the international headlines.

As Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan dominated the news agenda, Mexico’s drug wars claimed 23,000 lives during 2016 — second only to Syria, where 50,000 people died as a result of the civil war.

“This is all the more surprising, considering that the conflict deaths [in Mexico] are nearly all attributable to small arms,” said John Chipman, chief executive and director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), which issued its annual survey of armed conflict on Tuesday. Continue reading