America, An Empire on its Last Leg – To be Kicked Out from the Middle East?
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, Jan 8, 2020
From: Global Research News newsletter @ globalresearch.ca
“This article points out the consequences of tRump’s disregard for CIA and DoD detailed briefings … in his MAGA mentality, he is living in an immediate postWWII concept of Middle East power alliances and not considering the shifting global realities.” ~ Don Chapin
America’s hegemonic military agenda in the Middle East has reached a dangerous threshold.
The assassination of IRGC General Soleimani ordered by the President of the United States on January 3, 2020 is tantamount to an Act of War against Iran.
President Donald Trump accused Soleimani of “plotting imminent and sinister attacks”: “We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war…. we caught him in the act and terminated him.”
US Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper described it as a “decisive defensive action” while confirming that the operation ordered by POTUS had been carried out by the Pentagon. “The game has changed” said Esper.
What the media has failed to acknowledge is General Soleimani’s central role in countering ISIS-Daesh and Al Qaeda terrorists in both Iraq and Syria.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Quds Force (IRGC) under the helm of General Soleimani consisted in waging a real counter-terrorism campaign against ISIS-Daesh mercenaries, who from the outset were funded, trained and recruited by the US and its allies.
Trump’s action plan to “stop a war” consists in “protecting” America’s ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliated foot-soldiers.
US Extrajudicial Assassinations
While the assassination of General Soleimani constitutes a criminal act on the part of President Trump, the US practice of extrajudicial assassinations of foreign politicians has a long history.
What distinguishes the assassination of General Soleimani from previous extrajudicial killings, is that the president of the US has formally announced that he gave the order.
This sets a dangerous precedent. It was “overt” rather than “covert”, i.e. a covert operation by the CIA or by a US sponsored Al Qaeda affiliate acting on behalf of Washington.
It is important to note that it was not Trump but in fact Obama who formalized (“legalized”) the practice of extra-judicial assassination (ordered by the president):
And if the president [Obama] can kill anyone, including US citizens, without judicial review, what power does he not have? Any but the most formal distinction between democracy and presidential dictatorship is swept away. (Joseph Kishore, wsws.org, October 31, 2012)
Trump’s Response: More Troops to the Middle East
While the Pentagon announced that it is “sending thousands of additional troops to the Middle East”, a unanimous vote in Iraq’s parliament was reached demanding the immediate withdrawal of all US forces.
The legislation requires the Iraqi government to “end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil and prevent the use of Iraqi airspace, soil and water for any reason”.
Note: Death to America: refers to the US Government, Not the American People
Backflash: A Digression. The Obama Air Raids (2014-2017)
Concurrently the Iraqi parliament suspended the corrupt 2014 agreement with the Obama administration which invited the US to lead a fake counterterrorism operation directed against the Islamic State (ISIS-Daesh), made up of mercenaries who are funded, trained and recruited by US-NATO, with the support of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The decision of the Iraqi parliament is in this regard fundamental. This operation was used by the Obama administration as a pretext to justify a third phase of the Iraq War (1991, 2003, 2014). Initiated in June 2014 by Obama under the disguise of a counterterrorism operation, a new phase of killing and destruction was launched.
Why was the US Air Force unable to wipe out the Islamic State which at the outset was largely equipped with conventional small arms not to mention state of the art Toyota pickup trucks?
From the very outset, Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama’s air campaign was NOT directed at ISIS. The evidence confirms that the Islamic State was not the target. Quite the opposite. The air raids were intended to destroy the economic infrastructure of Iraq and Syria.
Look at the following image which describes the Islamic State convoy of pickup trucks entering Iraq fromn Syria and crossing a 200 km span of open desert which separates the two countries.
This convoy entered Iraq in June 2014.
What would have been required from a military standpoint to wipe out an ISIS convoy with no effective anti-aircraft capabilities?
Without an understanding of military issues, common sense prevails.
If they had wanted to eliminate the Islamic State brigades, they could have “carpet” bombed their convoys of Toyota pickup trucks when they crossed the desert from Syria into Iraq in June 2014.
The Syro-Arabian Desert is open territory (see map right). With state of the art jet fighter aircraft (F15, F22 Raptor, F16) it would have been –from a military standpoint– “a piece of cake”, a rapid and expedient surgical operation, which would have decimated the Islamic State convoys in a matter of hours.
But if that had happened, they would not have been able to implement their “Responsibility to Protect” (P2R) bombing campaign over a three year period (2014-2017).
Instead what we witnessed were drawn out relentless air raids and bombings which culminated with the so-called liberation of Mosul (February 2017) and Raqqa (October 2017) by the US led coalition.
And we were led to believe that the Islamic State had the upper hand and could not be defeated by a powerful US led military coalition of 19 countries.
The people of Iraq and Syria were the targets. Obama’s bombing raids were intent upon destroying the civilian infrastructure of Iraq and Syria.
ISIS-Daesh were never the target of US aggression. Quite the opposite. They were protected by the Western military alliance.
US Troop Withdrawal: Yankee Go Home (2020)
While a major US troop withdrawal is unlikely in the foreseeable future, “America’s War on Terrorism” is in jeopardy. Nobody believes that America is going after the terrorists.
In Iraq and Syria, everybody knows that all Al Qaeda, ISIS- Daesh affiliated entities are supported by US-NATO.
The “Yankee Go Home” process has commenced. The US is not only being ousted from Iraq and Syria, its strategic presence in the broader Middle East is also threatened. And these two processes are intimately related.
In turn, several of America’s former allies including Turkey, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Egypt have normalized their relations with Iran.
Trump’s Punitive Bombings. Will They be Carried Out?
In recent developments, Trump has warned that if Tehran responds to the assassination of General Soleimani, he will “target 52 Iranian sites” intimating that they would be “HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”
Donald Trump wants to hit back. But he has a serious logistical problem on his hands of which he may not even be aware of.
Normally a punitive operation of this nature directed against Iran would be entrusted to USCENTCOM’s forward headquarters in the Middle East located at the Al Udeid Air Force base in Qatar.
“CENTCOM controls US forces based across the Middle East and some of Central Asia – in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq. It’s main headquarters are located in Tampa, Florida but it runs its daily combat operations from Al-Udeid air base“
With 11,000 US military personnel, the al-Udeid Air Force base close to Doha is “one of the U.S. military’s most enduring and most strategically positioned operations on the planet” (Washington Times). It has led and coordinated several major Middle East war theaters including Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003). It was also involved in Syria.
But there is a problem: The forward base of USCENTCOM at the al-Udeid Air Force base is in Qatar. And since June 2017 Qatar has been “sleeping with the enemy”. Qatar has become a staunch ally of Iran.
What both the media, as well as foreign policy and military analysts fail to acknowledge is that US CENTCOM’s Forward Base headquarters at the al-Udeid military base de facto “lies in enemy territory”. And it would seem that POTUS is totally unaware of this situation.
Barely a few months ago, (October 2019), The Pentagon took the decision NOT to move USCENTCOM’s forward base at Al Udeid to another location in the Middle East.
“Qatar has always been an exceptional partner, and this base from which we are operating is a great base, and CENTCOM has no intention of moving anywhere,” said CENTCOM’s deputy commander, Chance Saltzman.
Sloppy intelligence, flawed military planning? Qatar is not an “exceptional partner”. Since June 2017 Qatar has become a de facto ally of Iran.
More recently, they have been discussing the establishment of Iran-Qatar bilateral military ties.
Having decided that Al Udeid (located in enemy territory) could not be moved to another location in the Middle East, the Pentagon then envisaged a scenario of moving Al Udeid air and space operations to South Carolina: “to 7,000 miles away in South Carolina”. It was a simulation. “The temporary switch” lasted only 24 hours.
Lessons Learnt: You cannot effectively “wage war” in the Middle East without a “Forward Base” in the Middle East. This “South Carolina Test” borders on ridicule.
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