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Trump: Iran was planning to strike 4 US embassies before the killing of "Soleimani"

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REVEALED: Iraqi armed factions not ready to strike US forces, commanders say

 

A top Hashd al-Shaabi commander has threatened retaliation against the US, but leaders of armed factions tell MEE they are in a state of chaos after assassinations

 

hashdalshaabi.rally_.afp_.jpg?itok=ITXv6

Hashd al-Shaabi members chant anti-US slogans during a protest on Monday over the killings of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis (AFP)
 

By 

 in Baghdad

Published date: 8 January 2020 17:21 UTC Last update: 1 day 1 hour ago
 

The Iranian-backed Iraqi armed factions are lost, distracted and unable to effectively strike American forces in Iraq after the loss of two key leaders last week, Shia leaders have told Middle East Eye.


On Friday, the United States assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi Iraqi paramilitary grouping, when a drone fired three guided missiles at their convoy. Six other men were also killed.

 

'What happened was a surprise and a nightmare. To lose both men at the same time was a shock to all of us'

- Iraqi commander close to Soleimani and Muhandis

 

The bold killing ignited anger among Iraq’s armed factions, which considered the operation "a violation of the internationally recognised rules of engagement and an outright challenge to them in their own homes," some Shia commanders and leaders said in a private session

Most of the Iraqi armed factions, including those without links to Iran, have vowed to avenge the killings by targeting the US forces deployed in Iraq.

On Wednesday, following on the heels of a retaliatory Iranian missile strike on Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, a top Hashd al-Shaabi commander said it was time for an “Iraqi response”.

“That response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response,” Qais al-Khazali tweeted.

MEE also understands that as Iran was conducting its attack on Wednesday night, leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated Arab groups were in a four-hour meeting to consider next steps contingent on the US response.

But commanders of Iranian-backed armed factions in Iraq tell MEE that with the loss of the two leaders, they are now almost paralysed and would be unable to strike the Americans with real consequence. All spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

"What happened was a surprise and a nightmare. To lose both men at the same time was a shock to all of us,” a commander who was close to Soleimani and Muhandis told MEE.

“The way they were killed, place and timing - all were shocking and painful and terrifying.”

Compasses lost 

Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, was also the field commander for all the armed factions fighting on Tehran’s behalf in the Middle East and the “inspiring hero” for their fighters, while Muhandis was seen as the godfather of the Iraqi fighters and the founder of most of their armed factions.

The men acted as compasses, guiding the missions and strategies of the Iranian-backed factions in Iraq, and with their loss, the factions have lost their confidence and ability to work together, say multiple sources.

 

Iraqi mourners, including members of Hashed al-Shaabi, gather around the coffin of Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

Iraqi mourners, including members of Hashd al-Shaabi, gather around the coffin of Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

 

“The Iranian-backed armed factions are groups that implement orders without having an opinion, nor do they have a special project,” a prominent Shia politician told MEE.

'These factions lost their balance and the compass that determined their destination'

- Prominent Shia politician 

 

“The doctrinal project that they claim to adopt is an imaginary and unrealistic one that lacks geographical borders and timetables, and the borders of this project had always been outlined by al-Muhandas and Suleimani.  

“So these factions were centred on two axes: Abu Mahdi and Soliemani, as they were representing the Wali al-Faqih (Ali Khamaniei). Both men used to give the factions self-confidence and set goals and targets for them. 

“The problem now is that the relationship with both men was personal and direct," he said. "In the absence of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, these factions lost their balance and the compass that determined their destination,” he said. 

'The rhythm officer'

Muhandis, who since the 1980s has been one of America’s most wanted men over his involvement in the bombing of the US and French embassies in Kuwait, was seen by most Iraqis as Iran’s most influential man in the country.

He was known publicly as the deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi. But in reality, he had not held an official government position since September when Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi restructured the paramilitary group and cut the deputy head position.

 

Mourners attend the burial of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

Mourners attend the burial of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

 

Abdul Mahdi then offered Muhandis the position of Hashd al-Shaabi chief of staff, but the paramilitary leader rejected the offer, and refused to follow the prime minister’s orders, continuing in his role as if nothing had happened until he was killed.

Although formally stripped of his financial and administrative powers, Muhandis continued to enjoy great influence over most of the Hashd al-Shaabi’s armed factions, with the government unable to regain control over the paramilitary umbrella group or force Muhandis to implement orders for fear of retaliation.

Over the past four months, the government, represented by Hashd al-Shaabi head Falih al-Fayyad, was really only able to issue statements from time to time, denying positions Muhandis had taken publicly that embarrassed it with local or international allies.

While he frustrated the government, it was Muhandis’ strong personality, and his blatant challenge to it and the rest of his opponents, that so attracted the leaders and fighters of the armed factions and kept them revolving around him like moths to a flame, following wherever he went.

To maintain this influence, commanders say Muhandis refused to share power and was keen to remove anyone who might compete with him or oppose him within the Hashd al-Shaabi. One commander described him as a dictator.

“Muhandis was the rhythm officer for the armed factions. He knew how to deal with them, direct them to the destination he wanted and forced them to do what he wanted,” a prominent Hashd commander told MEE.

"He kept all the financial, administrative and military powers of the [Hashd al-Shaabi] in his hands to maintain his dominance over everyone around him.”

 As a result, commanders say, it is now extremely difficult to replace him.

Carrots and sticks

The Hashd al-Shaabi is a governmental body established in the summer of 2014 to oversee the armed factions and volunteers fighting the Islamic State group alongside regular Iraqi forces after the army collapsed and one-third of the country fell into the militants’ hands.

The Iranian-backed armed factions, including the Badr Organisation, Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, have been the backbone of the paramilitary umbrella group, which has more than 140,000 fighters and a $2bn annual budget.

Muhandis was in control of all of the Hashd factions, whether they were associated with Iran or not, and used the group’s resources to maintain his tight command.

 

Muhandis meets with Hashd al-Shabi officials during a visit to the southern city of Basra (AFP)

Muhandis meets with Hashd al-Shaabi officials during a visit to the southern city of Basra (AFP)

 

As he won the loyalty of some factions by giving them contracts or government jobs and turned a blind eye when fighters’ salaries were stolen, he also deprived factions of pay, equipment and weapons when they challenged his orders, commanders told MEE.

But Muhandis’ carrot-and-stick policy had increasing drawbacks, which were surfacing even before his death, and has left a legacy of mistrust between faction leaders that one said will be "almost impossible" to overcome right now if they plan to work together.

This is especially the case because many of the factions with the most fighters, field missions and achievements, and which therefore hold the strongest weight within the Hashd, believe their members were excluded by Muhandis from key administration and military positions. Instead, they were filled by commanders who were considered loyal to Muhandis, faction leaders told MEE.

The competition to gain back these positions, the leader said, will keep the faction heads quarrelling between themselves and, in turn, further complicate the process to replace Muhandis.

'If there will be no fighting, then there will be fierce conflict between the faction leaders'

- Iraqi armed faction commander

 

“For example, Muhandis had placed five [Hashd al-Shaabi] directorates under the administration of one of his sons-in-law, while a number of operations leaders and other directorates were handed over to those close to him, and these are all positions that will be the focus of the factions’ struggle,” a prominent commander told MEE.

The competition for control of these sites between Iranian-backed factions and those supported by Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali Sistani in Najaf is “huge”, he said, and physical fighting breaking out between the factions is not out of the realm of possibility.

“So, if there will be no fighting, then there will be fierce conflict between the faction leaders and, of course, this will weaken everyone.”

Hard to replace

Attempts to maintain Iranian influence within the Hashd al-Shaabi and fill the void left by Muhandis began very early.

Less than 24 hours after he was killed, several Iranian-backed Shia commanders and political leaders met in Baghdad and agreed to nominate Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of Badr Organisation, to replace Muhandis - but as the head of the body, not the deputy, commanders attended the meeting told MEE. 

 

Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organisation, in 2018 (AFP)

Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organisation, in 2018 (AFP)

 

“The armed factions need someone to be gathered around them, and currently there is no one but Amiri to do this job,” a commander with a pro-Iran armed faction who attended the meeting told MEE.

“Amiri’s personality is not as strong as Muhandis’, but we don’t have a replacement at this time, so we agreed to nominate him to take over as the [Hashd al Shaabi’s] chairman, as it’s not reasonable for Amiri to work under Fayyad’s supervision.”

Fayyad, the commander said, is considered to be weak. “He has to leave now and Abdul Mahdi will sign the decree in days,” he said.

Buying time 

It is not simply the loss of leadership that will challenge the Hashd’s factions in the wake of the assassinations.

The circumstances around their killings, including the accuracy of the attack and its reliance on intelligence, has left leaders of the Iraqi armed factions with a strong feeling that the US has penetrated their ranks and will now terminate them, one by one.

'We need time to mourn, gather ourselves, unite our forces and then decide our next step'

- Commander of Iranian-backed armed faction

 

In an attempt to buy time, calm their fighters and save face, the leaders of the factions and Shia political blocs over the weekend called on the Iraqi parliament to vote on a resolution which would require foreign forces to leave Iraq.

Despite Abdul Mahdi’s warnings about the repercussions of removing foreign forces from Iraq, particularly the Americans, the parliament went ahead and voted on Sunday to support the resolution, a decision that calmed the factions and has allowed critical time for them to regroup, their leaders told MEE.

“The purpose of this resolution is to defuse the crisis before any of the factions get involved in something that cannot be dealt with later,” a commander of an Iran-backed armed faction told MEE.

“The anger was great and the shock was harsh for everyone and painful, and this dispersed us and we lost focus. Also, the current situation and the repeated threats from the US have paralysed the movement of most leaders.

“So we need time to mourn, gather ourselves, unite our forces and then decide our next step ... The initiative is currently in our hands, we do not want to lose it in implementing emotional operations that are useless and limited in scale,” he said.

 
 
Edited by DinarThug
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Oh ok I am sure that others will wait for you to get your

crap together.  :lmao: :lmao: :lmao:  In the meantime Maliki  why so quiet?

 

Thank you Mr. Thugs   

 

 

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We work incredibly closely with the KRG;’ US State Department

An hour ago
 
 

https://www.kurdistan24.net/en/news/6ff33634-80c4-445d-ae16-733f2e8fb9e5

 

‘We work incredibly closely with the KRG;’ US State Department
State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus in an interview with Kurdistan 24, Jan. 8, 2019. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) 
 

WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) – “We work incredibly closely with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG),” State Department Spokesperson Morgan Ortagus affirmed on Wednesday, in an interview with Kurdistan 24. 

Ortagus explained that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo “has an incredibly close relationship” with KRG Prime Minister, Masrour Barzani. That relationship dates back to Pompeo’s term as CIA Director in the first years of the Trump administration—from January 2017 to April 2018—after which Pompeo assumed his current position as America’s top diplomat, replacing Rex Tillerson.

 

Indeed, Prime Minister Barzani was the one foreign leader whom Pompeo telephoned following Iran’s attack on Iraqi military bases Tuesday night, according to the State Department’s press releases. 

Read More: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo briefs Kurdistan PM Masrour Barzani on Iran strikes 

Ortagus also noted that Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, David Schenker, worked closely with the KRG. Indeed, he was in Erbil on Thursday, where he met with the KRG’s long-time former President, Masoud Barzani, as well as the Prime Minister. 

Read More: US State Dept. official meets with Kurdistan Region leaders in Erbil 

Among the points that the Kurdish leadership stressed to Schenker is the need for the US-led coalition to remain in Iraq and continue the fight against the so-called Islamic State, otherwise “the terrorist group might reorganize under different names and slogans.” 

US will continue anti-ISIS Campaign in Iraq, but Kurdish MPs should Speak Out 

The perspectives in Erbil and Washington appear to be very similar. As Ortagus told Kurdistan 24, the US intends to do just that.

“We have been able to assist the Iraqi security forces with the territorial defeat of the Islamic caliphate that ISIS represents,” Ortagus said, “but that fight remains ongoing.”

Ortagus noted that while Kurdish members of Iraq’s parliament did not join in Sunday’s vote calling for foreign forces to leave Iraq, she suggested it would have been more helpful, if they had actively opposed the measure.

“We believe it is important and crucial for Kurds in the Iraqi parliament for their voice to be heard,” she said. 

US holds Iran accountable for the Actions of its Proxies, Reviving Reagan-Era Policy 

Ortagus also stressed that the US would hold Tehran responsible for the actions of its proxies.

“We will hold the regime in Iran accountable” for attacks “directly from the regime or from its proxies,” she stated, naming several of them: the Houthis in Yemen; Kata’ib Hizbollah and Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq in Iraq; as well as Hizbollah in Lebanon.

Indeed, that is the policy that emerged during the Reagan years, after substantial debate in the 1980s. The US came to recognize that major acts of terrorism were, most often, state-sponsored, and the best way to prevent further attacks was to punish the state sponsor. However, that perspective was lost in the 1990s, after Bill Clinton became president.

Ortagus stressed that Tehran’s missile attacks were a reckless violation of Iraqi sovereignty. Iran had “not only risked American lives and Iraqi lives,” but “the lives of Coalition partners from around the world.”

Moreover, Iran’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty did not begin on Tuesday. It has been violating Iraqi sovereignty “for years,” she said. “That is why you saw Iraqis taking to the streets to protest their government” and “to protest the malign influence of the regime in Iran.”

Separately, the State Department reported that on Tuesday, clashes erupted in the southern Iraqi city of Nasiriyah, after protestors refused to allow Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hizbollah, and the Badr Organization to lead a funeral procession for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Popular Mobilization Forces and head of Kata’ib Hizbollah, who was killed, alongside Quds Force commander, Qasim Soleimani. Protestors reportedly torched the militia’s offices, after armed members of the militias fired on the demonstrators.

Ortagus concluded by reaffirming that the US would continue its maximum economic pressure campaign on Iran so that it will “behave like a normal nation.”

Editing by John J. Catherine

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09-01-2020 10:49 PM
image.php?token=a4b41a2529a2dd48651ab2ed852eaa25&c=5426501&size=
 

Baghdad - news

In the first American response, to the Iranian missile strikes at An-Assad's base in Anbar, President Donald Trump announced the entry into force of new economic sanctions against Iran.

"The imposition of sanctions has been done. We have tightened them ... and although they were very harsh before that, they have been significantly tightened," Trump said with statements from inside the White House.

He added: He agreed a short time ago to impose new restrictions on Iran by the US Treasury, but he refused to disclose the nature of these measures, saying: "You will see that."

Trump added that the United States is ready to lift the sanctions on Iran if it complies with the American demands, saying: "The sanctions inflict heavy losses on them. And it can all end in a very short time. But the matter is in their hands, whether they like it or not, they can fix the situation." In their country, Iran today is chaotic. They can assess the economic situation in their country very quickly. ” However, Trump refused to predict the possibility of negotiations between Iran and the United States beginning at this point.

 
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War or no war ... the 3-hour story that preceded the "Iranian response"

 
Friday - 15 Jumada I 1441 AH - January 10, 2020 AD No. No. [15018]
 
 
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Washington: Moaz Al-Omari
It was two o'clock in the evening, Washington time, and the scene in the White House seemed to be arranged regularly and regularly. President Donald Trump was sitting in the Oval Office receiving the Prime Minister of Greece, last Tuesday, and suddenly important information comes that changes the scene to the exact opposite, as details of the New York Times report published Thursday morning indicate. After receiving that intelligence information, US Vice President Mike Pence quickly heads to the basement at the White House on the West Wing, with Robert O'Brien, the President's National Security Adviser, and Mike Pompeo, the Secretary of Defense, and Mark Esper, the Secretary of Defense and a number of military leaders from the Pentagon, join them. Video: Jenna Hasbel, Director of Central Intelligence CIA, joins her office in McLean, North Virginia (south of the capital). The team is complete in the emergency room except for the president at the top.

During a meeting with Greece’s Prime Minister, Kriakos Mitsotakis, a person whispers in President Trump's ear to tell him to go immediately to the emergency room below and meet with his team, so Trump would only end the meeting with the European guest and go to the emergency room to find out what is happening.

"The warning came ..." With this phrase, Mike Pence received President Trump in the room. The information that was received by the American intelligence is the Iranian intention to hit American military sites in Iraq. This is what made the American leadership take the position of complete preparation in the emergency room, and to determine those sites Targets before the strikes occurred, which helped Americans evacuate those sites and avoid deaths because of this.

After three hours, that is, at 5:30 p.m. Washington time, the barrage of Iranian strikes on the expected American sites comes, but thanks to the information and advance warning, Washington was able to avoid any deaths or injuries among its forces, after Iran launched ballistic missiles on two American bases in Iraq.

It seemed that a dangerous military escalation might lead to a wider war, but the American and Iranian sides tended not to escalate, and the newspaper says that the early warnings obtained by American intelligence were the main reason for avoiding a war raging. For its part, the American "Time" magazine reported, through the sources and officials of the American administration, that Iran and the United States of America exchanged messages between them through a European mediator (believed to be Switzerland), and those messages contributed to calming the mutual escalation between the two parties, and Iran has informed Iran in its messages To the Americans that it stressed its Iraqi militias not to escalate and attack the American forces.
 
 
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After the Iranian bombing and threats of armed factions

131276-1249591748.png?itok=wUF3j7DF 

 

Thursday 9 January 2020 22:58
 

145101-1879925483.jpg?itok=a5L6Rem4Talk of Partition Potential Returns After US Forces Refuse To Leave (Getty Images)

There is increasing talk about the fate of the American forces and the rest of the international coalition forces, after a parliamentary decision was issued stipulating their exit from Iraq, as well as the recent Iranian bombing of the Ain al-Assad and Erbil bases in which American forces are located, and the threats by armed factions in Iraq to complete what they called "revenge" for the killing of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. .

In the meantime, the United States is stressing that it does not intend to leave Iraq at the current stage, despite the decision of the Iraqi parliament, where Trump has hinted to impose sanctions on Iraq if he insists on getting his forces out, indicating that Washington wants to leave "at some point, But not now".

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif announced that his country's response to the assassination of Qassem Soleimani had ended, but that the response of armed factions loyal to Iran in Iraq had not yet come, with the escalation of threats from the leaders of those factions in response.

And the Shiite political forces continue to demand American forces to abide by the decisions of the Iraqi parliament, led by the "Al-Fatah" coalition led by Hadi al-Amiri, who is close to Tehran, and the "Saeroon" alliance of Moqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement.

Al-Sadr calls for slowdown

In the same context, after calling the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, to form "regiments of international resistance" to respond to the United States, he called on the Iraqi factions to be careful and not to start military action, and at the same time affirmed the necessity to end the file of the prime minister within 15 days, calling for "submission" Five candidates with integrity and experience to become the next Prime Minister. "

Al-Sadr demanded, through a tweet, on the "Twitter" Iraqi factions "to be careful and patient and not to start military action and silence the voice of militancy from some of the disciplines until all political, parliamentary and international methods are exhausted."

 

He added, "I recommend closing all headquarters so that they are not a target of global arrogance, especially if our decision becomes military resistance with the occupier in the event he refuses to go out and exhaust all political methods."
He stressed "the need to strive to end the presence of the occupier, to rein in its control, increasing influence and interference in Iraqi affairs ... Our patience is almost exhausted due to the large number of external interventions that do not take into account the interests of Iraq."

US-Iranian settlements

On the other hand, leaks indicate that Iran is pressing the armed factions loyal to it not to target the American forces in Iraq at the present time, and the leaks are likely to make political settlements between Iran and America to calm in Iraq.

Political sources say that the political settlement began after the Iranian bombing of the base of Ain al-Assad, which these sources are likely to be agreed upon, indicating that the deal that was made between the Iranian and American sides has not yet clarified its political features. 

Observers believe that the threat of the armed factions to respond is nothing more than a media threat, and while they indicated that the parliament’s decision to leave the American forces is not binding because the international coalition came with a UN resolution from the Security Council, they pointed out that America can justify the presence of its forces under the pretext of fighting terrorism as it is in Syria.

Kurdish and Sunni concerns

After the American forces refuse to leave formally, the conversation will once again talk about the possibility of partition or the formation of a Sunni region along the lines of the Kurdistan region, while keeping the American forces in the Sunni and Kurdish areas, as the Sunni and Kurdish political forces reject the Iraqi parliament’s decision, and demand that the forces remain under pretexts. several.

Some Sunni political forces justify their support for the survival of the American forces by not having a force capable of deterring the possibility of the resurgence of ISIS, and the support they provide in the fight against terrorism in general, as well as other concerns related to the tightening of armed factions loyal to Tehran to control these cities, which Tehran prepares Of major strategic importance, as well as linking Iran to Syria, Lebanon and the rest of the Iranian sphere of influence.

As for the Kurdish political forces, they see that several problems may affect the Kurdistan region, if American forces withdraw, most notably the possibility of an escalation by Turkey similar to what happened in Syria, as well as the protection of Kurdish cities bordering Iran, which were subjected in previous years to Iranian bombing on the borders, and protection One of the possibilities of imposing the control of the central authority in Baghdad over the region.

Asaib vows to respond

The leader of the Asa’ib al-Haq movement, which owns one of the most prominent armed factions, renewed his threat to the American forces in Iraq, while he denied the armed factions ’relationship with the process of targeting the American embassy yesterday, stressing that“ the zero hour in the process of revenge for the assassination of the deputy head of the PMF, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, did not take off. distance".

Al-Khazali said in a statement that "the response will not be less than the Iranian response to the assassination of Soleimani. As for the launch of two missiles that missed their target, it means nothing."

He added, "We do not target diplomatic missions at all, and currently we do not target the American embassy, despite the military presence primarily."

And he stated, "We were hoping the American people to press their government to withdraw their soldiers, return them to their homelands and spare them blood, and we were hoping the US Congress would be at the level of the Iraqi parliament’s courage in taking the appropriate decision, but this unfortunately has not happened until now." .

Unfulfilled conviction

On the other hand, experts believe that all political forces realize that the escalation in the current period will have major repercussions on the political and security situation of the country, while they indicated that the conviction in the departure of American forces from Iraq is not achieved by the religious authority in Najaf as well as public opinion.

Ahmed Al-Sharifi, a researcher in strategic affairs, says that "the threat of armed factions is exaggerated, and some of them are nothing more than a media threat only," noting that "the actual threat of the American presence does not exist."

He revealed to "The Independent Arabia" about those close to the source of the political decision that "it is not directed by armed factions or external parties to attack the American presence in Iraq at present", pointing out that "all political forces realize that the options for military escalation confuse the political and security atmosphere."

He explained that "the conviction of the departure of the American forces is unfulfilled even among many Shiite forces, as well as the unwillingness of the Marjaiya and the Iraqi public opinion to leave them at the present time."

Non-binding decision

On the famous decision of the Iraqi parliament, Al-Sharifi stated that "the decision is not binding, because the international coalition came with an UN resolution from the Security Council / and does not come out except by an international decision and according to an assessment and appreciation of the position of the United Nations and the Security Council that Iraq is no longer a focus of threat to international peace and security." To that "international law has superiority over domestic law."

He pointed out that "there are fears of leaving these forces, as there are no guarantees for the Sunnis and the Kurds in their self-deterrence capabilities to bridge the gaps that this withdrawal may leave."

He continued, "Sunni concerns revolve around the control of their areas by armed factions, some of whom are already looking for expansion in vital areas in Sunni cities."

Syria-style presence

Academic and researcher on political affairs, Basil Hussein, said that "America is present in Iraq for several reasons, the most important of which is the fight against terrorism," noting that "withdrawal is unlikely."

He explained to "Independent Arabia" that "despite the decision of the Iraqi parliament, America can justify its presence under the pretext of fighting terrorism as it is in Syria without the consent of the Syrian side."

Hussein revealed that "political sources say that Iran is pressuring the militias loyal to it in Iraq to not respond and calm."

He stressed that "the possibilities of American forces staying in Sunni areas frighten Iran from the possibilities of losing those areas of strategic importance that find great influence in it," noting that "the presence of some militias in Sunni cities is greater than in Shiite cities."

He added that "the American forces will remain within the expected settlements between Iran and the United States," stressing that "Iraq is not a party to those settlements that are taking place on its soil."

The Iraqi parliament had voted on a resolution committing the government to work to end the presence of foreign forces, after the raid that killed the leader of the Iranian Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, and the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, at Baghdad Airport.

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Source:
 
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The Independent Arab newspaper revealed "arrangements" that preceded the Iranian response to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad, stressing the existence of "coordination" between Tehran and Washington before the response to ensure that the attack did not lead to foreign casualties.


Fear of the region prevailed in the past few days, in anticipation of what will be the type of Iranian military response to the assassination of General Qassem Soleimani , as a number of countries in the region took precautionary security measures, including NATO.
 


The Iranian response came by bombing a number of American military bases in Iraq , without the American side telling what its material and human losses were, but the Independent Arab newspaper revealed an agreement between Washington and Tehran , to ensure that the Iranian response does not lead to foreign victims.

The Independent reported that Iraqi diplomatic sources said that the Iranian response to the killing of Soleimani was coordinated with the United States through the mediation of a Gulf country, and that military arrangements were made by the two sides during the past two days to ensure that this response does not lead to foreign casualties.



According to the newspaper, the agreement includes, that Iran implements a limited missile attack on a number of sites that include American forces inside Iraq , ensuring that no deaths from the United States Army are killed, while the newspaper said, citing its sources, that most of the rockets that fell on empty areas of sites Iraqi military.

The Iranian strike followed the rushing of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to regard his country's missile attack as the "final response" to Soleimani's killing, and this was interpreted by specialists as an attempt to contain the situation and avoid further escalation between Tehran and Washington .

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ARAB WORLD
03:58 10.01.2020(Updated 04:09 10.01.2020)
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Britain said on Friday it was advising against traveling to Iran as information indicates that the Ukrainian plane that crashed on Wednesday may have been shot down by Iran.

"Given the block of information indicating that the flight of Ukrainian International Airlines No. 752 fell by an Iranian ground / air missile, and given the heightened tension, we now advise all British citizens not to travel to Iran," said Foreign Minister Dominic Rap.

 

"We also advise against the use of flights to, from or within Iran," he added in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry.

 

"There is an urgent need for a full and transparent investigation so that we can find out the cause of the accident," he added.

Earlier, the Iranian government denied that the Ukrainian plane that crashed near Tehran was hit by a missile .

"All these reports are psychological warfare against Iran ... All those countries that had citizens on the plane can send representatives and we invite Boeing to send its representative to join the process of examining the black box," Iranian government spokesman Ali Rabei said in a statement released by state television.

It is noteworthy that  the Boeing 737-800  of Ukraine International Airlines flying to Kiev, crashed shortly after take off from Tehran airport on Wednesday morning. All 176 passengers were killed - 167 passengers came from Iran, Ukraine, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Afghanistan and nine crew members. 

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Iranian Major General Qassem Soleimani arrived at Damascus Airport in a car with dark glass, and was accompanied by four soldiers of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

The car was stopped near a stairway leading to the Airbus A320 plane belonging to the Cham Wings Airlines, flying to Baghdad.

Neither Soleimani nor his soldiers were on the passenger lists, according to an airline employee who described to Reuters the scene of their departure from the Syrian capital.

On the other hand, an Iraqi security source familiar with Suleimani's security arrangements confirmed that the Iranian military commander avoided using his private plane due to increasing concerns about his personal security.

It was the last flight of Soleimani, as he was killed by missiles fired by an American plane while he was leaving Baghdad airport in a convoy of two armored cars.

Network of spies
Two Iraqi security officials said that the investigation into the strikes that killed Soleimani on January 3 began minutes after the US strike.

The investigations focused on how collaborators suspected to be informants inside the Damascus and Baghdad airports cooperated with the US military to help it track and locate Soleimani.
 

The investigation is led by Faleh Al-Fayyad, Iraqi National Security Adviser and head of the Popular Mobilization Organization, which has Iranian support and has close ties to Soleimani.

One official confirmed that National Security Agency investigators have strong indications that a network of spies inside Baghdad airport was involved in leaking critical security details to the United States about Soleimani's arrival.

He said that the suspects - including two security officials at Baghdad Airport and two employees in the wings of the Levant - are "a spy at Damascus Airport and another working on the plane."

The official added that National Security Agency investigators believe that the four suspects who were not arrested, worked within a wider group of people to provide the US military with information.

The official continued, saying that the preliminary results of the Baghdad investigation team indicate that the first information about Soleimani was received from Damascus Airport, while the function of the airport cell was to confirm the arrival of the target and the details of his convoy.

It is noteworthy that the assassination of Soleimani sparked widespread anger and pledges for revenge in Iran, which yesterday responded by a missile attack on two Iraqi military bases hosting American forces.
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Source: Reuters

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Vice President Mike Pence: Iran Was Trying ‘To Kill Americans’ In Iraq | TODAY
7,315 views•Jan 9, 2020

 

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The Kuwaiti army raises the alert level to the third level

The Kuwaiti army raises the alert level to the third level

 Friday, January 10, 2020 - 1:19 GMT

 

The Kuwaiti army raised its state of alert among its ranks to level (3), against the backdrop of escalating tension between Iran and the United States, following the martyrdom of the commander of the Quds Force in the Guards of the Islamic Revolution, "Qasim Soleimani."

 

The World - Kuwait

And the third level means mobilization and integrated preparedness of the forces.

Under this step, the army forces will deploy in all vital sites and important installations in Kuwait, in order to maintain the security, safety and stability of the country, according to Kuwaiti newspapers.

Well-informed sources said that there is a process of monitoring and control by the security and military sectors around the clock, noting the tightening of control on the land, sea and air borders.

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Interior also instructed all security sectors to raise the security preparedness situation in border security, coasts, and the competent authorities.

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The discovery of a spy network involved in the assassination of Soleimani and the engineer

 

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22:39 - 09/01/2020
 
 

Reuters revealed, Thursday, the existence of a spy network at Baghdad airport that was the reason behind the assassination of the two leaders, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis and Qasim Soleimani.

Reuters reported that an Iraqi security official, and her follow-up / information, said, "A preliminary investigation referring to a spy network inside Baghdad airport was involved in the assassination of Soleimani and the engineer."

She added that "the four suspects passed on information to the US military as part of a wider spying network."

And indicated that "the four suspects are a security employee at Baghdad Airport and two others are an airline at Damascus Airport."

 

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Headed by Al-Fayyad .. Iraq begins investigations to follow a "spy network" that leaked Soleimani's moves to America


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10th January, 2020


The Iraqi authorities began this week an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the American strike, which killed the commander of the Iranian Quds Force Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy chief of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization, last week.

CNN quoted two sources as saying, "The investigators are following what is suspected of being a "spy network" that is believed to have leaked information and details about Soleimani's moves to America." Iraqi investigators believe that the leaked information was essential to the United States operation, which killed Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The investigation, headed by Faleh al-Fayyad, the Iraqi National Security Adviser, focused on interrogating security personnel at Baghdad International Airport, where the attack took place near him, last Wednesday. One of the sources said: "Yesterday, the investigation committee questioned several security personnel, most of whom were monitoring the security cameras of closed circuit television on the day of Soleimani's assassination." The sources said, "No one has been arrested yet, but the investigation is continuing."

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21 hours ago, DinarThug said:

REVEALED: Iraqi armed factions not ready to strike US forces, commanders say

 

A top Hashd al-Shaabi commander has threatened retaliation against the US, but leaders of armed factions tell MEE they are in a state of chaos after assassinations

 

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Hashd al-Shaabi members chant anti-US slogans during a protest on Monday over the killings of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani and Iraqi paramilitary commander Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis (AFP)
 

By 

 in Baghdad

Published date: 8 January 2020 17:21 UTC Last update: 1 day 1 hour ago
 

The Iranian-backed Iraqi armed factions are lost, distracted and unable to effectively strike American forces in Iraq after the loss of two key leaders last week, Shia leaders have told Middle East Eye.


On Friday, the United States assassinated top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi Iraqi paramilitary grouping, when a drone fired three guided missiles at their convoy. Six other men were also killed.

 

'What happened was a surprise and a nightmare. To lose both men at the same time was a shock to all of us'

- Iraqi commander close to Soleimani and Muhandis

 

The bold killing ignited anger among Iraq’s armed factions, which considered the operation "a violation of the internationally recognised rules of engagement and an outright challenge to them in their own homes," some Shia commanders and leaders said in a private session

Most of the Iraqi armed factions, including those without links to Iran, have vowed to avenge the killings by targeting the US forces deployed in Iraq.

On Wednesday, following on the heels of a retaliatory Iranian missile strike on Iraqi military bases hosting US troops, a top Hashd al-Shaabi commander said it was time for an “Iraqi response”.

“That response will be no less than the size of the Iranian response,” Qais al-Khazali tweeted.

MEE also understands that as Iran was conducting its attack on Wednesday night, leaders of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and affiliated Arab groups were in a four-hour meeting to consider next steps contingent on the US response.

But commanders of Iranian-backed armed factions in Iraq tell MEE that with the loss of the two leaders, they are now almost paralysed and would be unable to strike the Americans with real consequence. All spoke to MEE on condition of anonymity.

"What happened was a surprise and a nightmare. To lose both men at the same time was a shock to all of us,” a commander who was close to Soleimani and Muhandis told MEE.

“The way they were killed, place and timing - all were shocking and painful and terrifying.”

Compasses lost 

Soleimani, who led Iran’s elite Quds Force, was also the field commander for all the armed factions fighting on Tehran’s behalf in the Middle East and the “inspiring hero” for their fighters, while Muhandis was seen as the godfather of the Iraqi fighters and the founder of most of their armed factions.

The men acted as compasses, guiding the missions and strategies of the Iranian-backed factions in Iraq, and with their loss, the factions have lost their confidence and ability to work together, say multiple sources.

 

Iraqi mourners, including members of Hashed al-Shaabi, gather around the coffin of Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

Iraqi mourners, including members of Hashd al-Shaabi, gather around the coffin of Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

 

“The Iranian-backed armed factions are groups that implement orders without having an opinion, nor do they have a special project,” a prominent Shia politician told MEE.

'These factions lost their balance and the compass that determined their destination'

- Prominent Shia politician 

 

“The doctrinal project that they claim to adopt is an imaginary and unrealistic one that lacks geographical borders and timetables, and the borders of this project had always been outlined by al-Muhandas and Suleimani.  

“So these factions were centred on two axes: Abu Mahdi and Soliemani, as they were representing the Wali al-Faqih (Ali Khamaniei). Both men used to give the factions self-confidence and set goals and targets for them. 

“The problem now is that the relationship with both men was personal and direct," he said. "In the absence of Soleimani and al-Muhandis, these factions lost their balance and the compass that determined their destination,” he said. 

'The rhythm officer'

Muhandis, who since the 1980s has been one of America’s most wanted men over his involvement in the bombing of the US and French embassies in Kuwait, was seen by most Iraqis as Iran’s most influential man in the country.

He was known publicly as the deputy head of the Hashd al-Shaabi. But in reality, he had not held an official government position since September when Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi restructured the paramilitary group and cut the deputy head position.

 

Mourners attend the burial of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

Mourners attend the burial of Iraqi militia commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis in Najaf on Wednesday (AFP)

 

Abdul Mahdi then offered Muhandis the position of Hashd al-Shaabi chief of staff, but the paramilitary leader rejected the offer, and refused to follow the prime minister’s orders, continuing in his role as if nothing had happened until he was killed.

Although formally stripped of his financial and administrative powers, Muhandis continued to enjoy great influence over most of the Hashd al-Shaabi’s armed factions, with the government unable to regain control over the paramilitary umbrella group or force Muhandis to implement orders for fear of retaliation.

Over the past four months, the government, represented by Hashd al-Shaabi head Falih al-Fayyad, was really only able to issue statements from time to time, denying positions Muhandis had taken publicly that embarrassed it with local or international allies.

While he frustrated the government, it was Muhandis’ strong personality, and his blatant challenge to it and the rest of his opponents, that so attracted the leaders and fighters of the armed factions and kept them revolving around him like moths to a flame, following wherever he went.

To maintain this influence, commanders say Muhandis refused to share power and was keen to remove anyone who might compete with him or oppose him within the Hashd al-Shaabi. One commander described him as a dictator.

“Muhandis was the rhythm officer for the armed factions. He knew how to deal with them, direct them to the destination he wanted and forced them to do what he wanted,” a prominent Hashd commander told MEE.

"He kept all the financial, administrative and military powers of the [Hashd al-Shaabi] in his hands to maintain his dominance over everyone around him.”

 As a result, commanders say, it is now extremely difficult to replace him.

Carrots and sticks

The Hashd al-Shaabi is a governmental body established in the summer of 2014 to oversee the armed factions and volunteers fighting the Islamic State group alongside regular Iraqi forces after the army collapsed and one-third of the country fell into the militants’ hands.

The Iranian-backed armed factions, including the Badr Organisation, Kataeb Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq, have been the backbone of the paramilitary umbrella group, which has more than 140,000 fighters and a $2bn annual budget.

Muhandis was in control of all of the Hashd factions, whether they were associated with Iran or not, and used the group’s resources to maintain his tight command.

 

Muhandis meets with Hashd al-Shabi officials during a visit to the southern city of Basra (AFP)

Muhandis meets with Hashd al-Shaabi officials during a visit to the southern city of Basra (AFP)

 

As he won the loyalty of some factions by giving them contracts or government jobs and turned a blind eye when fighters’ salaries were stolen, he also deprived factions of pay, equipment and weapons when they challenged his orders, commanders told MEE.

But Muhandis’ carrot-and-stick policy had increasing drawbacks, which were surfacing even before his death, and has left a legacy of mistrust between faction leaders that one said will be "almost impossible" to overcome right now if they plan to work together.

This is especially the case because many of the factions with the most fighters, field missions and achievements, and which therefore hold the strongest weight within the Hashd, believe their members were excluded by Muhandis from key administration and military positions. Instead, they were filled by commanders who were considered loyal to Muhandis, faction leaders told MEE.

The competition to gain back these positions, the leader said, will keep the faction heads quarrelling between themselves and, in turn, further complicate the process to replace Muhandis.

'If there will be no fighting, then there will be fierce conflict between the faction leaders'

- Iraqi armed faction commander

 

“For example, Muhandis had placed five [Hashd al-Shaabi] directorates under the administration of one of his sons-in-law, while a number of operations leaders and other directorates were handed over to those close to him, and these are all positions that will be the focus of the factions’ struggle,” a prominent commander told MEE.

The competition for control of these sites between Iranian-backed factions and those supported by Iraq's top Shia cleric Ali Sistani in Najaf is “huge”, he said, and physical fighting breaking out between the factions is not out of the realm of possibility.

“So, if there will be no fighting, then there will be fierce conflict between the faction leaders and, of course, this will weaken everyone.”

Hard to replace

Attempts to maintain Iranian influence within the Hashd al-Shaabi and fill the void left by Muhandis began very early.

Less than 24 hours after he was killed, several Iranian-backed Shia commanders and political leaders met in Baghdad and agreed to nominate Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of Badr Organisation, to replace Muhandis - but as the head of the body, not the deputy, commanders attended the meeting told MEE. 

 

Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organisation, in 2018 (AFP)

Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organisation, in 2018 (AFP)

 

“The armed factions need someone to be gathered around them, and currently there is no one but Amiri to do this job,” a commander with a pro-Iran armed faction who attended the meeting told MEE.

“Amiri’s personality is not as strong as Muhandis’, but we don’t have a replacement at this time, so we agreed to nominate him to take over as the [Hashd al Shaabi’s] chairman, as it’s not reasonable for Amiri to work under Fayyad’s supervision.”

Fayyad, the commander said, is considered to be weak. “He has to leave now and Abdul Mahdi will sign the decree in days,” he said.

Buying time 

It is not simply the loss of leadership that will challenge the Hashd’s factions in the wake of the assassinations.

The circumstances around their killings, including the accuracy of the attack and its reliance on intelligence, has left leaders of the Iraqi armed factions with a strong feeling that the US has penetrated their ranks and will now terminate them, one by one.

'We need time to mourn, gather ourselves, unite our forces and then decide our next step'

- Commander of Iranian-backed armed faction

 

In an attempt to buy time, calm their fighters and save face, the leaders of the factions and Shia political blocs over the weekend called on the Iraqi parliament to vote on a resolution which would require foreign forces to leave Iraq.

Despite Abdul Mahdi’s warnings about the repercussions of removing foreign forces from Iraq, particularly the Americans, the parliament went ahead and voted on Sunday to support system" rel="">support the resolution, a decision that calmed the factions and has allowed critical time for them to regroup, their leaders told MEE.

“The purpose of this resolution is to defuse the crisis before any of the factions get involved in something that cannot be dealt with later,” a commander of an Iran-backed armed faction told MEE.

“The anger was great and the shock was harsh for everyone and painful, and this dispersed us and we lost focus. Also, the current situation and the repeated threats from the US have paralysed the movement of most leaders.

“So we need time to mourn, gather ourselves, unite our forces and then decide our next step ... The initiative is currently in our hands, we do not want to lose it in implementing emotional operations that are useless and limited in scale,” he said.

 
 


Fyi, If U Quickly Skimmed Past This Long Article Above At The Top Of The Page - At Least Read Thru The Large Font Highlights And What’s In The Quotation Boxes ! ;) 
 

:D  :D  :D 

 

 

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Paris: Iran may acquire a nuclear bomb within one or two years

 

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10th January, 2020


French Foreign Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian, said on Friday that if Iran continues to violate the 2015 nuclear agreement, it may be able to obtain a nuclear bomb within a year or two.

Le Drian added that "the Iranians today are not in a position to obtain a nuclear bomb, but if they continue to violate the Vienna agreement, then they will be able, within a somewhat short period of time, between one and two years, to gain access to a nuclear weapon."

The confrontation between Iran and the United States has escalated since US President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew in May 2018 from the 2015 agreement, which gradually lifted the sanctions imposed on Iran in exchange for restrictions on its nuclear program.

On January 5, Iran announced that it would abandon all restrictions on its nuclear activities under the nuclear agreement concluded between Iran and the six-party international. This came, after the assassination of the commander of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, by a US air raid at Baghdad airport.

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The US State Department: Any American delegation visiting Iraq will not discuss the troop withdrawal

 

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18:25 - 10/01/2020
 
 

The US State Department announced today, Friday, that any delegation from Washington will visit Iraq will discuss there a re-commitment to the strategic partnership between the two countries, not the withdrawal of American forces from the country.

The ministry's spokesperson, Morgan Ortagos, in a statement, expressed Washington's conviction that the American security presence in Iraq was "appropriate".

She added, “There is an urgent need for discussion between the US and Iraqi governments not only regarding security, but also about our financial, economic and diplomatic partnership.” 

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1 hour ago, DinarThug said:

The US State Department: Any American delegation visiting Iraq will not discuss the troop withdrawal

 

Republicans in power headline.

 

Quote

Barack Obama Denies Saying He Would Pull Troops Out Of Iraq

Quote

Obama pledges to pull troops out of Iraq

Quote

Obama Brags About Getting Troops Out Of Iraq, Then Denies It

 

Democratic  in power headlines.

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Trump: Iran was planning to strike 4 US embassies before the killing of "Soleimani"

Trump: Iran was planning to strike 4 US embassies before the killing of "Soleimani"

 January 10, 2020 11:56 PM
Direct : US President Donald Trump said that the imminent threat from Iran that prompted the United States to kill Iranian General Qassem Soleimani was a planned attack on four US embassies.

Last week, the United States carried out an air strike on Baghdad airport that targeted "Soleimani", the head of the Revolutionary Guards Corps, at the order of Trump.

Trump said in an interview with "Fox News" today, Friday, that the US embassy in Baghdad was among the 4 embassies that Iran had planned to target before the killing of "Soleimani."

The US President confirmed on several occasions this week that "Soleimani" was planning to kill many US forces.

The killing of "Soleimani" contributed to the severe tensions in the Middle East this week, as Iran responded with a missile attack on two US military bases in Iraq without resulting in casualties.

The United States decided to impose new economic sanctions on mining companies and senior officials in Iran after the latest attack.

 
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Eight reasons why the United States and Iraq still need each other

 

- Two Hours Ago
 
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The assassination of Qassem Soleimani has fueled tensions between Iraq and the United States to the point of boiling, as well as the use of coercion and force by militia factions to pass a law in the Iraqi parliament that stipulates the withdrawal of American forces, and the thinking of various European allies to leave Iraq. But before signing divorce papers, officials in Baghdad and Washington should consider the many reasons that confirm that staying together is best for both of them and the Middle East.

Saving victory over the "Islamic State"

It is necessary for the United States to maintain a military presence in Iraq, however modest it is, to ensure that the Islamic State is permanently defeated. On the other hand, if the killing of Soleimani leads to the withdrawal of the American forces involved in the local operations against the organization, this would constitute a major blow to the war on terror. Even after the Islamic State lost its last stronghold of succession in March 2019, it was still able to carry out 867 terrorist operations inside Iraq alone during the remainder of the year. There is no doubt that the number and intensity of these attacks will increase in the absence of the military pressure exerted by the American and allied forces. The ongoing operations against the strongholds where the organization is just as active in Syria will also be mortally undermined.

It is precisely because of all these reasons that the ministers who participated in the meeting of the “International Coalition to Defeat ISIS” on November 14 pledged to continue supporting the Iraqi government in order to “ensure the permanent defeat of the terrorist organization”. To fulfill this pledge, the United States must remain in Iraq. Otherwise, it risks repeating the mistakes of 2011, when the early withdrawal of its forces led to the rise of the "Islamic State" in the first place.

Soleimani deprived victory after his death

There is a direct link between Soleimani's death and the established priority of his policy of forcing the United States out of Iraq. And if Washington withdrew now, Soleimani would have accomplished by his death what he unsuccessfully tried in his life, and this will be much more than a symbolic and moral failure, but rather a great political defeat for Washington and a victory for Iran. But if American leaders maintain their stability in Iraq, they will confirm the failure of the Soleimani saga, which would erode Iran's international standing and strengthen Washington's standing at the same time.

Maintaining a friendly Iraq and achieving Iran's balance

It is no secret that Iraq suffers a lot because of Iranian interference, but relations between the United States and Iraq have proven to be not a hopeless issue. There was ample evidence of that in the past few days alone: Iraqi President Barham Salih, Speaker of Parliament Muhammad Al-Halbousi, and the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs publicly denounced the Iranian ballistic missile attack on bases where US forces are present; and half of the entire Iraqi parliament boycotted the voting session That was held on January 5 to remove the American forces. In addition, President Saleh issued a statement in which he indicated that "the United States is our ally and Iran is our neighbor." The leaders of the "Iraqi Kurdistan government" pledged again - publicly and privately - to cooperate with the states United states.

And if American forces remain in Iraq, it will greatly enhance the position of the United States in those countries and contribute to countering the harmful influence of Iran throughout the region. But its exit means that Iraq will be exposed to an imminent danger of slipping back into the devastating isolation of Saddam Hussein's days, knowing that at that time he will be less able to resist the fierce Iranian policies. In fact, most Iraqis are wary of this idea, and rightly, and the best evidence for this is the hundreds of thousands of anti-Iranian demonstrators who have taken to the Iraqi streets in recent months, especially in the Shiite areas. They greatly prefer a sovereign, peaceful, pluralistic, and fully integrated Iraq to the international community. A continued American diplomatic and military presence would help advance those hopes. As such, it is reasonable for Washington to expect the Iraqi government to put forward conditions to make this presence beneficial to both parties.

Preventing Iran from exploiting Iraqi oil

In addition to Iraq’s geostrategic and political value, this country is today considered one of the largest oil exporters in the world, with huge reserves in the long run. And if the US presence remains the same, the economies of the United States, Iraq, and the global economy will reap these benefits together. But if it leaves the United States, it will actually increase Iran's control of energy and huge financial resources, and prevent it from being used in Iraqi development projects in order to avoid sanctions and largely support its ambitions of hegemony.

Help ensure Jordan's security and stability

Leaving the United States in Iraq will force Jordan to face a new set of security challenges. The Kingdom's military and intelligence resources are already exhausting due to its heavy use on the Syrian border, and the kingdom will be under an additional burden to protect its borders with Iraq which are much longer and far from its borders with Syria. Jordanian officials have long expressed grave concern about the presence of Iran and its proxies in both neighboring countries. Unlike Israel, Amman's ability to counter this presence is very limited.

More broadly, a US withdrawal would reinforce Jordan's concerns about the United States' credibility and resilience, knowing that these concerns first appeared sharply during the Obama administration. Security relations with the United States and Israel may continue because there are no better options, but political ties may falter. In addition to Jordan's difficult economic prospects, these developments threaten the stability and friendship of a long-standing key ally of the United States, located directly between Israel and Iraq, with negative repercussions on all parties concerned.

Empowering burden sharing with allies in the Gulf

Almost all the countries of the "Gulf Cooperation Council" consider that the American forces in Iraq are the basis for the American military units hosting them on their soil, and a vital factor in defending themselves against Iran. As it transcends the framework of governments or elites only, recent opinion polls in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other "Gulf Cooperation Council" countries have demonstrated that a feeling of resentment from Iran and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Tehran-backed parties such as Hezbollah and the Houthis is common throughout the Gulf. In recent years, Gulf support for Iraq has been hesitant and extremely scarce, despite American pressure. But after the latest decisive US action against Iran in Iraq, the possibilities of generous aid and the establishment of more solid diplomatic ties improved.

Later this year, Gulf Cooperation Council states are expected to start supplying Iraq with electricity to reduce its dependence on Iranian supplies. And at the appropriate time, if the United States remains involved in the events, Iraq may turn from a threat into a partner with other Arab allies in the region. But if America withdraws, some governments and their people may view Iraq as a state affiliated with Iran even to a greater degree, whether because of its Shiite majority or because the main budget force has left. And the willingness of these governments to rely on US guarantees - already doubtful - will further decline. All of this would increase the pressures felt by the countries of the "Gulf Cooperation Council" to satisfy Iran, which effectively means extracting an American defeat from the fountains of victory.

Reducing Israeli engagement

Unlike the countries bordering Iraq, Israel has no direct relationship with the recent events in Iraq. However, the American withdrawal may lead to additional threats to Israeli security. As it would give Iran and the Islamic State more freedom to move inside Iraq, and it is likely that it will spread across the many borders that cross into Syria, all the way to the borders of Israel. American credibility will also cause a new setback.

As a result, Israel may find itself compelled to intensify its invasions against terrorists and Iranian proxies inside Iraq, which could overpower its capabilities, increase the fragility of the situation in Iraq, and risk further retaliation. The aggravating threat to Jordan, which it shares with Israel, has long borders and a peace treaty, may also be a source of grave concern.

Get more support from European allies

A US withdrawal would radically limit the ability of European forces to continue to train Iraqi counter-terrorism forces. For example, Germany and Canada have already announced that they intend to take out a portion of their smaller units due to the current insecurity, although France plans to stay in Iraq.

Conversely, if the United States improves its performance in Iraq - not only militarily but also politically and economically - the burden will likely be shared better with the allies. In addition to this, the greatest objective of the western military presence in Iraq is to address some of the issues that paved the emergence of the “Islamic State”, namely insecurity, marginalization of the Sunnis, and the absence of economic development. This helps to understand why the European capitals responded with great caution to the assassination of Soleimani, by indicating his primary responsibility for the escalation and calling on all parties also to de-escalate in the next stage.

David Block

The Washington Institute

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Ukraine: If our plane is shot down, we will be required to prosecute those responsible

 

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Arab and International 01/11/2020 00:32 404 Editor: as  
 

 Baghdad today - follow up 

 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Vadim Prestiko, announced that his country will demand the prosecution of officials and the payment of financial compensation if it becomes apparent that the cause of the disaster of the Ukrainian "Boeing 737" plane over Iran was to bring it down. 

In a press briefing in Kiev, Priestiko said on Friday: "There is no doubt that if we prove that this plane was shot down, we will demand not only the prosecution of those responsible, but also compensation."

Priestiko added that his country wanted to obtain the "black boxes" of the stricken plane in order to disclose their data. 

The Ukrainian Minister pointed out that there is no basis to talk about the crash of the plane as a result of a terrorist attack, saying: "Up until now, we do not have sufficient evidence to talk about the wreckage of the plane carrying material indicating a terrorist act or the occurrence of what may be called abnormal events and abnormal injuries to the plane. ".

He added that experts are analyzing the nature of the injuries of the two engines of the plane, adding that there are parts of the plane that have not been found yet and it is of great importance to the Ukrainian side.

In this regard, Priestiko indicated that it is the Iranian authorities that are currently working to collect all the debris.

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A list of Iranian officials targeted by the new US sanctions 

 

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Politics 01/20 2020 21:09 2133     
 

Baghdad today - follow up 

 

The United States imposed, on Friday, a new sanctions package against Iran targeting 8 senior officials in the security services of the Islamic Republic, in response to its recent missile strikes. 

And the US Treasury Department has published on its website a list of punishing Iranian officials: 

Secretary of the Iranian Supreme National Security Council, Ali Shamkhani; 

Commander of the "Basij" forces of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, Brigadier General Ghulam Reza Soleimani 

Secretary of the Expediency Council, Mohsen Rezai; 

The Assistant Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards for Coordination Affairs, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Naqdi; 

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces, Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani; 

Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces for Coordination Affairs, Brigadier Ali Abdullahi; 

Adviser to the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Revolution for Security Affairs, Ali Asghar Hijazi;

Deputy Adviser to the Supreme Leader of the Iranian Revolution on International Affairs, Mohsen Qumi.

US Treasury Secretary Stephen Mnuchin told a news conference announcing the new sanctions that these Iranian officials "participated in the instability in the region and were involved in the ballistic missile attack on Tuesday." 

For his part, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during the conference itself that the new sanctions by the United States are aimed at "overthrowing the Iranian security services."

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a. Dr. Maitham Al-Ayibi *: The possible repercussions of the (Post-Sulaymani crisis) on the Iraqi dinar exchange rate

 

01/09/2020


Maythem-Laiebi-image.jpg


The Iraqi economy in general will face more pressure in the year 2020, due to the political tensions witnessed by the country and represented by the popular protests in late 2019, which culminated in the killing of (Soleimani and the engineer) by the Baghdad airport operation at the hands of the American forces early this year 2020, which portends a lot of pressure on the economy Iraqi, mainly burdened by problems of mismanagement, corruption and over-dependence on one resource.

 

It is expected that the Central Bank of Iraq will face significant daily operational pressures in its management of the currency auction in order to continue to maintain the stability of the exchange rate as much as possible and prevent significant fluctuations in it that could lead to instability of the economy and affect the purchasing power of individuals.

To continue reading please download the pdf file. Click on the following link

Maytham Al-Ayibi-Post-Sulaymani Crisis - Liberated

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Iran backs down and admits to shoot down the Ukrainian plane "without deliberate"

Iran backs down and admits to shoot down the Ukrainian plane "without deliberate"
 
 January 11, 2020 7:16 AM

Direct: Iran has admitted responsibility for the crash of the Ukrainian plane over its territory, after a continuous denial of days for Western accusations in this regard.

And Iranian state television quoted military officials today, Saturday, as saying that an Iranian missile caused the downing of the Ukrainian plane and killed all its passengers "without intending it."

On Tuesday, 176 people were killed in the crash of a "Boeing 737" aircraft after taking off from Khomeini airport in Iran.

Officials from the United States, Canada and Britain have announced that an Iranian missile was behind the plane crash, which Tehran officials have repeatedly denied in the past hours.

The Iranian television statement indicated that the accident was due to an "unintended human error."

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  •  Time: 1/1/2020 3:55 PM
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Ukrainian security: the missile that brought down the plane was fired manually
  
{International: Al Furat News} The Ukrainian security service announced, on Saturday, that the missile that brought down the ill-fated plane, which killed 176 passengers on Wednesday morning, was fired manually.

This came, after Iranian television announced earlier Saturday that the Ukrainian plane had been inadvertently shot down due to a human error. He broadcast a statement issued by the General Staff of the Armed Forces in Iran confirming that the stricken plane flew near a sensitive military site of the Revolutionary Guards and was inadvertently shot down as a result of a human error.
The Iranian army also clarified in its statement that the concerned forces thought that the Ukrainian boeing was an "enemy aircraft", stressing that the parties responsible for this would be held accountable.
On the other hand, several US officials confirmed earlier Thursday to Reuters that the Ukrainian plane was shot down "probably by two Iranian missiles." They believe that Iran accidentally shot down the Ukrainian passenger plane.
The Ukrainian Airlines plane crashed two minutes after take off at dawn Wednesday from Tehran towards Kiev, and the 176 passengers on board, mostly Iranians and Canadians, died, but there are 11 Ukraine among them nine of them representing the plane team.

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