By Jim W. Dean
Old Intel hands are seeing a pattern emerging where, when one conflict is winding down, a new one is cranking up. It is almost like the thugs working on the last one have a guaranteed work contract with the Deep State to always have an available war to keep them employed.
Preliminary moves began prior to the Kurdish referendum voting with Iran closing its borders with Kurdistan and, at Baghdad’s request, ended all air traffic to Erbil, while Iranian guns roared along the border with military drills simulating combat with large terrorist formations, a message being sent out in open code.
Barzani responded with mixed messages to different media, one offering to be open to negotiation, and then telling a press conference that the “partnership is over”. The good news was that he had signaled being open to negotiation after the referendum, which had been my bet, that he thought going into new talks with a strong public vote count for independence would strengthen his negotiating position.
As I had expected, he is using his 90% yes vote for independence as some kind of magic wand that the people have waved, and it does not matter what anyone else thinks now. With only Israel supporting him diplomatically, he has led his people into a closet.
The odds of military action beginning seem unlikely, with the Peshmerga reaching a coordination agreement with Baghdad on what each side will do in clearing ISIS from Hawija, where the battle is rolling along well. Neither side wants to see a civil war. All eyes will now be on how tough the sanctions are, while we all hope both sides don’t stumble into war.
Erdogan has threatened to cut off oil exports via its pipeline and to block food imports. Iran has ended air travel, and Baghdad has demanded Kurdistan turn over its border posts and airports, which I do not see a snowball’s chance in hell of Barzani doing. Both sides will be tested now.
Big power intrigue continues in Syria
The Russian military command finally released long-awaited satellite photos, confirming what so many analysts have been reporting for a long time. The US is working with two ISIS factions, one that it fights and kills, and one that continues to serve as a US proxy force.
SDF forces and their US military advisers have been able to move through ISIS lines with impunity to go into blocking positions to have a strategic advantage in being able to take control of eastern Deir Ezzor, all the way to the Iraqi border. They have the SAA boxed into Deir-Ezzor, with only the south open to move on Daesh through tough fighting territory, while the SDF can just move along the SAA eastern flank and roll up all the oil wells.
The goal seems to be two-fold, to capture as many Syrian economic resources as possible to use them as bargaining cards for the Syrian Kurds’ bid for their own independence. The US fully supports this because, as an independent nation, the Syrian Kurds can invite their American military big brother to enjoy having permanent military bases in their new country.
The US moved into the Kurdish area quickly to counter the Russia entry into the Syria War. When Moscow got tired of being manipulate via phony use ceasefires it began a nonstop offensive that threatened an end to ISIA. The US then began a major investment of equipment and more troops to build the Kurds into a force that could replace ISIS and that is where we find ourselves today in Deir-Ezzor, doing exactly that.
Russia is not taking the targeted death of its Deir-Ezzor General lightly. A heavy bridge is now across the Euphrates; Tupelov bombers have launched Kaliber missile attacks in both Idlib and Deir-Ezzor; plus the Russians have announced the Deir-Ezzor airport is to become a major Russian base, which means Russian Marines and a multi-layered missile defense will be coming with it.
Kim Kong and Trump the Terror battle it out
Someone in Hollywood must be writing a comedy show pilot for this Korean fiasco. Trump plays the worst card in his marked deck at the UN. He had the perfect opportunity to do an about-face and act like a real statesman. This would have had him announcing that he would agree to the Russian-China plan to stop all US-South Korea joint military maneuvers, in return for Kim ending his nuclear weapons testing, and entering into talks with no other preconditions.
The world would have saluted him, and if Kim Kong had told him “hell no”, Trump could go back to playing Mr. Tough Guy, which he loves to do. But instead, he said he was ready to totally destroy North Korea. Now instead of Kim having his public 100% behind him, they are now at 200%.
Trump had just poured more gas on the fire, although to cover his behind, he said he was open to negotiations. But Kim Kong, with his hair on fire, sent his foreign minister out, after US bombers have made another show of force with another flyby off North Korea’s coast, to give Trump the bad news
FM Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho tells us that, due to Trump’s statement about totally destroying North Korea, the US mainland would be an “inevitable” target for NK’s rockets. Notice he said plural. That is to make the US defense people have to sweat handling multiple incomings.
Why? Well, that’s because the tests done for our ABMs are structured to be successful. They work best with an incoming missile following its true path from launch, and only in its descent stage.
What Kim is doing here is taking advantage of Trump’s aggressiveness to justify his need for a nuclear deterrent. US experts this week decimated the Pentagon’s ability to deal with a nuclear missile attack, stating that we have nothing that goes high enough to hit them during their mid-range height. Rumors of kinetic energy weapons in space that would fire down on ICBMs remain rumors.
These experts also said that a preemptive strike could not stop Kim from launching a damaging retaliation, including a possible nuclear one which does not need to hit the US, just the 40,000 troops based in Korea. And if the capital city of a US ally got nuked after a US first strike, the South Korean government would all be hanged from telephone poles by the survivors.
If Trump had agreed to talks a month or two ago, we would not have a North Korea more emboldened as it is now. So with this hindsight, was Trump’s tough guy stance a good move? Are the people on the Korean peninsula region more safe or less safe?
The World confronts Trump on JCPOA threat
Iran seems to be beating back Trump’s threat of de-certifying Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA. President Rouhani has lined up all other partners in agreement that Iran is in full compliance and that it remains an enhancement to international security. Rouhani has boxed Trump in even further by claiming that, if he breaks the agreement, Iran will not.
As to his threats of banking sanctions, EU countries are preempting him by coming out of the closet with their own formal banking arrangements to fund their national company projects with Iran. There are billions of dollars in trade on the line, as Iran is one of the biggest markets in the world now. The EU is standing with Iran.
For Trump to threaten to block these countries from the international banking system, when many are NATO allies, it would enshrine him as the clown of clowns. He would be famous forever, but for all the wrong reasons. We shall hope the grownups at the White House prevent him from doing what would surely be a grievous, self-inflicted wound on American international prestige.