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On the night between 7th and 8th Jan 2019 , Iran retaliated by launching five missiles on two American/NATO bases in Iran. There are conflicting reports about casualties. The US denied any casualty of US or NATO troops but the British foreign secretary admits that there are “reports of casualties‘.
Following this, both the US and Iran have indicated that they want to de-escalate tensions. However, considering the history of conflict in both nations, I think this is a temporary phase.
Turkey holds the wild card in the present crisis in MENA. Turkish President Erdogan’s meeting with Russian President Putin on January 8th 2020) will determine how Turkey will act. If Turkey decides to side with Putin , I think Iran is safe and US influence will limit but if they don’t have agreement on Syria and Libya than the prospect of war is likely.
I think compromised can be reached. In Libya, Turkey will get a concession in return for giving concessions to Russians in Syria.
Was the US drone attack which killed General Qasim Solemani an effort to divert attention from the impeachment of president Trump in US congress , or it was an action taken due to some threat perception or an effort to gain Israeli or proto Zionist sympathy and support for coming US elections…. only time will tell. But one thing is clear that it has sparked dangerous tensions in the region.
In killing General Soleimani, the US also killed someone who was in Iraq without the consent of the Iraqi government.
The U.S invaded Iraq on pretext of WMD’s and then they admitted that there was no evidence which means Saddam was ousted illegally and Iraq was invaded unlawfully.
The Iraqi parliament has passed a resolution demanding the US to vacate Iraq. In response Trump said US has invested billions on making those US bases. If Iraq want US to vacate the bases then it should pay the spent sum. On other side U.S. Sec Defence Mark Esper has said that US has no plan to leave Iraq.
I think US actions and President Trump’s undemanding statements will help Iran and anti US forces in Middle East. I think during anti-corruption protests we saw Iraqi Shia and Sunni both protesting united against govt. the era of sectarianism has passed and if US with its acts and statement give impression that it is occupation force it will be resisted by all Iraqis.Murder of Gen Solemani has united Iranians and also brought anti Iran Iraqis on same page with Iran against U.S.
If sense doesn’t prevail I think we will be witnessing a new era of violence in Middle East. Oil prices going sky high because strait of Hurmaz and red sea are both in reach of anti US forces.
There are many small conflicts which are related to this wider conflict in middle east. Starting from Israeli Palestinian conflict where Muslim masses are sympathetic to Palestinian cause. Iran is one of the country which is supporting Hamas the main anti occupation group against Israeli apartheid. It also supports Lebanese Hizbollah which has fought wars with Zionist state of Israel.
There is a civil war going on in Yemen, then there is Syria. Where Pro Iran forces and anti-Iran forces are at war and there is also low intensity sort of faceoff between US and Russia.
US and Israel started supporting Kurds after Adana agreement of 1998 between Syria and Turkey. Kurds were also used by Americans during Iraq Invasion of 2003. Few months back US ditched its ally YPG/SDF forces. At present Turkish troops in Syria fighting against these Kurds with US approval.
Turkey has also troop presence in Idlib where its forces are facing SAA supported by Russians.
Turkey is part of NATO and hosts NATO’s most important air base known as Incirlik airbase. US Turkey relations have never been ideal. US opposed and sanctioned Turkey when it had to intervine on behalf of Turk Cypriots. Then US -Turkish relations started on decline when in 2003 US forces blind folded and hand cuffed Turkish Special forces in Iraqi north and kept them there prisoner for days.
Turkey with strong history pursue independent policy which US don’t like that’s why when Turkey asked US air defence system it refused so it went to Russia which obliged by selling state of the Art S-400 . this deal offended US and they excluded Turkey from F 35 program. After that US ignored Turkish legitimate interests in Syria which forced Turkey to threatened NATO with taking back its strategic Incirlik Air Base.
Turkey is balancing its relations with both US and Russia and have interests from both countries. Turkey is part of NATO but also operating S 400 air Defence system. Turkey want to create a safe zone in Idlib region where Russia is helping Assad forces against pro Turkish forces.
Turkey is friend and competitor of both US and Russia.
Then there is Mediterranean gas dispute where Turkish Cyprus allowed exploitation rights to Turkey in 90’s and now after Libya Turkey agreement US sponsored EASTMED 1,900-kilometer (1,180-mile) pipeline has become under threat. US Govt is backing this pipeline which is being constructed by U.S Company. Egypt, Israel and Greece is part of this pipeline. The aim of this pipeline to give alternate/ replace Europe’s dependency on Russian gas.
Then there is Libyan civil war connected to all this dispute , In Libya Haftar, a CIA asset in past is being supported by Egypt, UAE , KSA and Russia and GNA Govt is Supported by Turkey. Recently Turkish forces have landed in Libya . This is second place where Turkey and Russia are facing each other indirectly.
When we look at Iran we see thousand year old Iranian civilization is standing in front of KSA, UAE, Bahrain, Israel and US where as Russia and China plus Qatar are backing Iran.
Qatar, a friend of Iran host US base and Centcom was stationed on it. Qatar was cornered by GCC and it was Turkey and Iran which helped it to survive blockade.
Iran is part of BRI and China buy its oil from Iran but it will be unrealistic to think at present in case of war China will come out to help Iran openly, though in past weak Russia and China conducted Naval exercise in Arabian sea. Iran is also constructing rail link with Iraq under BRI.
Russia has unique relations with Iran. It was in cold war with Iran in Syria where Russia tried to limit Iranian influence and in words of many Russian S-300’s failed to shoot Israeli missiles and jets which targeted Iranian forces. Many think Russian failure was due to Russian expectation to reap maximum benefits from future reconstruction of Syria. Russia bought Iranian oil at very cheap prices. It also refused S-400 sale to Iran in past. Russia never called Iran its ally but yes treated Iran as tactical necessity.
If US and Iran go to war Putin will be needing replacement to Iranian boots in Syria and Turkey can provide those boots if there is a compromise with Turkey. Turkey on board is also needed to control any aggression from US camp against Iran, Iran which have strong and useful influence on Hizbollah of Lebanon.
Iran has its sympathizers and forces throughout Middle East from Lebanon to Yemen. If Iran is attacked, it may retaliate anywhere from Afghanistan to Lebanon. If so, the war will become a global war which will engulf MENA region to Afghanistan because of clash of interests between major powers. Its heat will be felt in throughout the globe conflict will get out of hand and will become clash of civilisation.
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