Tillerson Demands Iran “Militias” Leave Iraq As Fighting Against ISIS “Comes To A Close”

One week after we reported that the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard (which two weeks ago was designated by the US as a terrorist organization), Qassem Soleimani, was observed in Erbil last Sunday where he met with Kurdistan regional president Barzani to “discuss” the growing crisis – the latest indication of Iran’s surging influence in the region – and just days before Iraq sent in troops assisted by Iranian militia into Iraq’s Kurdish region, which promptly regained control over the oil-rich Kirkuk region, on Sunday Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that Iranian “militias” need to leave Iraq as the fight against Islamic State militants was coming to an end.
‘Certainly Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fighting against (the Islamic State group) is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,’ Tillerson said during a press conference in Riyadh, where the U. S. diplomat is holding talks with top Gulf officials. “All foreign fighters need to go home,’ he added hopefully, quoted by NRT.
Tillerson’s Gulf visit came as part of concerted efforts to curb Iran’s rapidly expanding influence in the region, including boosting the clout of Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia in Shiite-majority Iraq, where Iran backs Shia militias fighting in the north – part of a wider regional battle for influence that extends from Syria to Yemen – even as there was scant hope of a breakthrough in attempts to reconcile Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 22, 2017.

Merrill Lynch, Protection Rackets and the ‘P.R. Firm from Hell’

Last week Jim Rutenberg penned a column for the New York Times titled Facing Down the Network that Produced Harvey Weinstein. Rutenberg explored the reasons that Weinstein’s decades of sexually harassing women and charges of assaults had not made it to the front pages of newspapers sooner. Correctly calling it ‘something akin to a protection racket,’ Rutenberg defined it as a ‘network of aggressive public relations flacks and lawyers who guard the secrets of those who employ them and keep their misdeeds out of public view.’
That sentence brought to mind a 2009 Rachel Maddow program on MSNBC where she enumerated the ignominious historical milestones of the monster public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller, capping the history by calling it the ‘p.r. firm from hell.’ Among her litany of its p.r. projects, Maddow cited: ‘…when Blackwater killed those 17 Iraqi civilians in Baghdad, they called Burson-Marsteller. When there was a nuclear meltdown at Three Mile Island, Bobcock & Wilcox, who built that plant, called Burson-Marsteller… The government of Nigeria, accused of genocide in Biafra, Burson- Marsteller. Philip Morris, Burson-Marsteller. Silicone breast implants, Burson-Marsteller. The government of Columbia trying to make all those dead union organizers not getting in the way of the new trade deal, they called Burson-Marsteller.’
One of Burson-Marsteller’s oldest clients is, of course, Merrill Lynch, a company that has been repeatedly charged with tolerating sexual harassment of women over the same four decades that Burson-Marsteller has been shining up its image as bullish on America and vested in the human spirit.

This post was published at Wall Street On Parade on October 20, 2017.

Barzani’s Failed Kurdistan Project: A Deathblow To The Partition Of Iraq And Syria

Submitted by Elijah Magnier, Middle East based chief international war correspondent for Al Rai Media
The project to divide Iraq was dealt a deathblow by a decision of the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi to send the Army and the security forces to recover all Iraqi territories controlled by the Kurds of Massoud Barzani. The Kurdish leader was riding the horse of Iraqi partition (in fact, a lame horse) to establish a Kurdish state in the northern part of the country. Following the failure of Barzani’s project in taking advantage of the fight against ISIS and therefore declaring his ‘state’, every country in the Middle East is abandoning him because no one likes to be associated with failure.
Barzani sent envoys (I personally met some) around the globe who returned with apparently promising results: ‘over 80 countries promised to recognise the new State of Kurdistan’. These promises turned out to be false (‘no friends but the mountains’), other (existing) political alliances turned out to be stronger and Barzani was left alone with his empty promises and unreliable advisers.
Countries of the region – France, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates to start with – are now establishing a clear and unambiguous relationship with Baghdad’s government. Abadi, following an authorization of parliament, used a fist of iron to fragment the partition project – not only of Iraq – but of the entire region, that was supposed to be sparked off by the Kurds in Iraq and in Syria and via the regime change attempt in the Levant.
In less than 48 hours, the Iraqi army, with all its security services (army, popular mobilization units, Counter-Terrorism, Federal Police), extended its control over Kirkuk, Khanaqin (Diyala), Bashiqa, Makhmour (Nineveh) and Sinjar – the city that leads to the borders with Syria. All territories that were established for Baghdad’s control under the US administrator Paul Bremer in 2003-2004 (with the limits of Kurdistan) are back now in place.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 19, 2017.

Kirkuk: Asking the Next Big Questions

Will the Kurdish Government Join Forces With the Central Iraqi Government in Baghdad to Govern Kirkuk?
Before the ISF staged its operation, there had been rumors that the faction of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) party led by the Talabani family proposed jointly governing Kirkuk province with Baghdad. In seeming support of the rumors, the Talabani faction ordered Kurdish peshmerga fighters to withdraw and to allow ISF to retake some of the energy installations in the city. It’s still uncertain, however, if there’s a deal in place between the PUK and Baghdad to jointly manage the province’s government or its oil and natural gas resources. That a deal would exist makes sense given the longstanding divisions between the PUK and rival Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls much of the economy in Iraqi Kurdistan.
Will Baghdad Maintain Control of Kirkuk’s Oil Exports?
It almost certainly will, at least in some capacity. For the last three years the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has been able to export oil produced at the Bai Hassan oil field and the Avanah and Baba Gurgur formations of the Kirkuk oil field, given it had effectively appropriated and incorporated the fields into its own energy sector. The federal government is now in control of those fields and could use them in negotiations with the KRG. But, though Baghdad plans to rebuild its own pipeline to export oil from Kirkuk, right now all export infrastructure from the city goes through the Kurdish-controlled territory, which could complicate Baghdad’s ability to sell the oil Kirkuk produces. Baghdad, recognizing its constraints, could offer the KRG joint administration of the oil resources or continue transit contracts with it to distribute Iraq’s oil wealth. Alternatively, it could shut off production in Kirkuk to increase financial pressure on the Kurdish government. Thus, there’s the chance that Iraq’s northern oil exports – which amount to around 550,000 barrels per day – could decline by as much as 300,000 bpd. In the long run, Baghdad hopes to boost Kirkuk’s production to above 1 million bpd.

This post was published at FinancialSense on 10/18/2017.

PRESIDENT TRUMP BEATS WAR DRUMS FOR IRAN

President Trump has been notoriously inconsistent in his foreign policy. He campaigned on and won the presidency with promises to repair relations with Russia, pull out of no-win wars like Afghanistan, and end the failed US policy of nation-building overseas. Once in office he pursued policies exactly the opposite of what he campaigned on. Unfortunately Iran is one of the few areas where the president has been very consistent. And consistently wrong.
In the president’s speech last week he expressed his view that Iran was not ‘living up to the spirit’ of the 2015 nuclear agreement and that he would turn to Congress to apply new sanctions to Iran and to, he hopes, take the US out of the deal entirely.
Nearly every assertion in the president’s speech was embarrassingly incorrect. Iran is not allied with al-Qaeda, as the president stated. The money President Obama sent to Iran was their own money. Much of it was a down-payment made to the US for fighter planes that were never delivered when Iran changed from being friend to foe in 1979. The president also falsely claims that Iran targets the United States with terrorism. He claims that Iran has ‘fueled sectarian violence in Iraq,’ when it was Iranian militias who prevented Baghdad from being overtaken by ISIS in 2014. There are too many other false statements in the president’s speech to mention.

This post was published at The Daily Sheeple on OCTOBER 17, 2017.

Iraqi Kurd Army Agrees To Return To 2003 Border, Oil Slides

Coalition: Aside from one incident "miscommunication" no further reports of armed conflict between ISF-Kurdish Peshmerga. #Kirkuk @CJTFOIR pic.twitter.com/fZnBn5UmA5
— Rudaw English (@RudawEnglish) October 17, 2017

In a dramatic de-escalation of recent hostilities in Iraqi Kurdistan, where in a blitz campaign the Iraqi army was able to recapture Kirkuk , effectively regaining control of the oil-rich region, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, i.e. the army of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan told Sky News Arabia that it has agreed to return to the 2003 Iraq border, which if confirmed would be a major concession to Iraq which has been pushing for just this conclusion for the past month.
The opportunistic Kurdistan Regional Government increased its territory by at least 40% during the war with Islamic State, bringing many of these disputed areas under its control after the Iraqi army withdrew in the face of advancing ISIS militants. However, as Iraqi forces and pro-govt militias have already regained control of many of these areas, including Kirkuk, over the past 48 hours, the Iraqi Kurdistan region had no other choice. According to the Kurdish news service Rudaw, the pre-2003 borders “exclude disputed areas such as Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Tuz Khurmatu, Makhmour, and Zumar from the Kurdistan Region.”

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 17, 2017.

After Lightning Offensive, Kirkuk Is Now Fully Under Iraqi Military Control

Photo-posted by local reporters- of a mass exodus from Kirkuk to Erbil as pro Iranian militias are advancing on the city. To be confirmed pic.twitter.com/x94bYbKDhT
— Walid Phares (@WalidPhares) October 16, 2017

Iraq’s military has effectively gained control of major assets and government buildings in Kirkuk city, and is now set to fully pacify it after overnight clashes at a moment when oil prices rose toward a six month high as the conflict now threatens output.
Iraq’s elite U. S.-trained Counter-Terrorism Force has taken over the provincial government headquarters in the center of Kirkuk after operations to seize the city from Kurdish forces began overnight – the contested city is now reportedly under the control of Iraqi national forces. Some of the first footage Western audiences woke up to Monday morning were of (ironically enough) US supplied equipment – including tanks, being used to bulldoze images of Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani. Iraqi forces have further pulled down Kurdish flags flying over government buildings throughout the city, while leaving the Iraqi flag flying.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 16, 2017.

Assange Thanks US Govt For His 50,000% Gain On Bitcoin As Russia Unveils ‘CryptoRuble’

My deepest thanks to the US government, Senator McCain and Senator Lieberman for pushing Visa, MasterCard, Payal, AmEx, Mooneybookers, et al, into erecting an illegal banking blockade against @WikiLeaks starting in 2010. It caused us to invest in Bitcoin — with > 50000% return. pic.twitter.com/9i8D69yxLC
— Julian Assange (@JulianAssange) October 14, 2017

Once again the unintended consequences of government intervention are exposed…
In 2010 – following the release of sensitive government documents related to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – John McCain and Joe Lieberman led a bipartisan attempt to cut off WikiLeaks funding by forcing ‘traditional’ payment systems to block them.
7 years later and the price of Bitcoin has… risen…50,000%!
And Julian Assange chose yesterday to thank the US government and its corporatocracy for his forced investment…

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.

Iran’s Top General Meets With Kurdish President Barzani As U.S. Neocons Push For War

In an unexpected diplomatic turn of events which underscores the seriousness of escalating tensions between the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the head of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard (which last week were designated by the US as a terrorist organization), General Qassem Soleimani, arrived in Erbil on Sunday and met with Kurdistan regional president Masoud Barzani to discuss the growing crisis at a moment when Kurdish Peshmerga forces are blocking Iraqi Army access to Kirkuk oil fields and military installations.
Major General Qassem Soleimani reports directly to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and his elite force provides training and weapons to Iraqi paramilitary groups (PMU or Popular Mobilization Units) backing the Baghdad government. The meeting comes just after President Trump announced his new policy against Iran on Friday that includes designating the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a foreign terrorist organization.
Though the Unites States officially backs the Iran-aligned Baghdad government in the Kurdistan crisis, Trump’s speech could signal a monumental shift in policy for Iraq. This as Kurdistan officials and media are highlighting Iran’s role in attempting to stamp out the Kurdish move for independence.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.

Russia Unveils ‘CryptoRuble’ As Assange Thanks US Govt For His 50,000% Gain On Bitcoin

Once again the unintended consequences of government intervention are exposed…
In 2010 – following the release of sensitive government documents related to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – John McCain and Joe Lieberman led a bipartisan attempt to cut off WikiLeaks funding by forcing ‘traditional’ payment systems to block them.
***
7 years later and the price of Bitcoin has… risen…50,000%!

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 15, 2017.

SYRIA: The Courage of the Syrian Arab Army and Allies against US Backed Terrorism

Dr Bouthaina Shaaban, Political and Media Advisor to Syrian President, Bashar Al Assad.
The announcement by the Russian Ministry of Defence that US support for terrorists is a major obstacle to the elimination of the terrorist organisation in Syria is not a simple or transitory declaration. It is an important and dangerous declaration that must be carefully looked at.
‘The successes of the Syrian army with the support of the Russian space air force in the rapid liberation of the Euphrates valley seem to contradict the plans of American colleagues,’ Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashinkov said, noting that US forces did not allow the Syrian army to pursue terrorists in the al-Tanf area.
It is understood, of course, that Russia does not want to initiate a conflict with the United States and to start a third world war, but such declarations and statements by the Russian Ministry of Defence, even if they are uttered in such de-escalatory terms such as ‘American colleagues,’ represent a clear and explicit link between ISIS and US plans in both Syria and Iraq. This at the international level undermines the credibility of the United States, and undermines the impact of any American statements bragging about the fight against terrorism. Especially as Russian forces announced that the ISIS offensive relied on aerial reconnaissance that cannot be attained by the group unless provided by American reconnaissance planes.

This post was published at 21st Century Wire on OCTOBER 15, 2017.

Trump Invites “Crushing” Response After Designating Iran’s Revolutionary Guard As Terrorist Organization

While Trump’s just announced decision to decertify the Iranian nuclear deal, giving Congress 60 days to decide whether to unwind Obama’s landmark deal, was widely leaked previously even though few can point to what terms of the agreement Iran has violated, one aspect of Trump’s Iran statement was unclear: whether he would designate Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp, or IRGC, the elite wing of Iran’s army, a terrorist organization – a move which Iran vowed would prompt “decisive , crushing” retaliation.
Trump did just that, and the new, sweeping sanctions on the IRGC could affect conflicts in Iraq and Syria, where Tehran and Washington both support warring parties that oppose the Islamic State militant group.
This is what the Treasury’s OFAC unit posted on its sanctions website moments ago:
Treasury Designates the IRGC under Terrorism Authority and Targets IRGC and Military Supporters under Counter-Proliferation Authority WASHINGTON – Today, the U. S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) pursuant to the global terrorism Executive Order (E. O.) 13224 and consistent with the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. OFAC designated the IRGC today for its activities in support of the IRGC-Qods Force (IRGC-QF), which was designated pursuant to E. O. 13224 on October 25, 2007, for providing support to a number of terrorist groups, including Hizballah and Hamas, as well as to the Taliban. The IRGC has provided material support to the IRGC-QF, including by providing training, personnel, and military equipment.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 13, 2017.

“This Is A Racket” Kucinich Warns “We Must Challenge The ‘Two-Party Duopoly’ Committed To War

Authored by Adam Dick via The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity,
In a new interview with host Jesse Ventura at RT, former United States presidential candidate and House of Representatives Member Dennis Kucinich stressed the importance of the American people challenging the ‘two-party duopoly that’s committed to war.’
In the interview, Kucinich discusses his work to expose the misinformation used to argue for US government interventions overseas before and during the Iraq War and, later, concerning the US effort to assist in the overthrow of the Syria government.
Regarding the Iraq War, Kucinich, who is an Advisory Board member for the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity, explains that his research showed that
‘Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, nothing to do with al-Qaeda’s role in 9/11, didn’t have any connection to the anthrax attack, didn’t have the intention or the capability of attacking the United States, and didn’t have the weapons of mass destruction that were being claimed.’

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.

Russia Accuses U.S. Of “Pretending To Fight ISIS”

Russia has once again accused the US-led coalition in Iraq and Syria of facilitating the entry of Islamic State terrorists into Syria in order to hinder the advance of the Syrian Army and its allies. On Tuesday Russia’s defense ministry accused the US of merely “pretending” to fight ISIS in a way designed to put maximum pressure on Syrian and Russian front line defenses in Syria’s east. Russian military spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov said, ‘Everyone sees that the U. S.-led coalition is pretending to fight Islamic State, above all inIraq, but continuing to allegedly fight Islamic State in Syria actively for some reason.”
The accusation comes a little over two weeks after Russia released aerial images allegedly showing ISIS, the SDF (US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces”), and US special forces working side-by-side on the battlefield against Syrian and Russian forces in Deir Ezzor, Syria. While the previous charges implied some level of close coordination between US-backed forces and ISIS in the region, the new claims point to coalition air power intentionally facilitating and utilizing ISIS movements to its advantage: ‘The actions of the Pentagon and the coalition demand an explanation. Is their change of tack a desire to complicate as much as they can the Syrian army’s operation, backed by the Russian air force, to take back Syrian territory to the east of the Euphrates?’ asked Konashenkov. He continued with, ‘Or is it an artful moveto drive Islamic State terrorists out of Iraq by forcing them into Syria and into the path of the Russian air force’s pinpoint bombing?’


This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 10, 2017.

WHY SPAIN AND EUROPE MUST FACE DOWN CATALONIA…

Since the ballot in Catalonia over a week ago, which the Spanish authorities, contrary to the spirit of democracy, did their best to disrupt by the use of brute force, as any good old fashioned fascist State would, by sending in the “Brownshirts”, the mainstream media have gone to work in an effort to present the pro-independence Catalans as a bunch of fringe wing nutters trying to turn the clock back to the Middle Ages. The pro-Spain demonstrations at the weekend were given big media coverage and made to look like an overwhelming endorsement of the Spanish State, rather like the “huge crowds” when Saddam Hussein’s statue was pulled down in Iraq after the invasion, which turned out to be just a few hundred people herded into a square and then orchestrated and made to look like a large crowd by the careful use of camera angles. Of course, the pro-Spain crowds were big – what do you expect in a city the size of Barcelona even if only 30% of population are in favor of continued union with Spain? Having sent in the police with orders to act as thugs to disrupt the vote, the Spanish parliament than arbitrarily dismissed the vote as invalid because “only” 45% or so of the population voted, which was of course the result of their interference, and you don’t have to be a genius to extrapolate that if about 90% of those who did vote were in favor of Catalonia becoming a separate State, if even 80% of citizens had voted, there would still be an overwhelming majority in favor of separation.
***
The Spanish parliament invoked the constitution in an attempt to deprive Catalonians of their democratic rights, and have used it as justification for violent suppression with the thinly veiled threat of the further use of force if the Catalonians persist, such as the arrest of their leader, cutting off of banks etc. The Spanish King and the European Union weighed in on the side of the Spanish government, as one would expect.

This post was published at Clive Maund on Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

South Korea’s New “Blackout Bomb” Can Paralyze The North’s Power Grid

US and South Korean officials are nervously watching to see if North Korea follows through with its threats to carry out another nuclear test – or to fire a rumored long-range missile capable of accurately striking the west coast of the US into the Pacific – in celebration of the Oct. 10 anniversary of the Communist Party’s creation. Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that South Korea has developed a new weapon to hobble the North’s infrastructure should an armed conflict erupt on the peninsula. Given that it’s almost daybreak in North Korea, such a test could happen as soon as Monday night, Eastern Time.
The weapon is a graphite bomb – otherwise known as a ‘blackout bomb’ – which South Korean officials say will be capable of shutting down North Korea’s entire power grid. Blackout bombs were first used by the US in Iraq in the 1990 Gulf War and work by releasing a cloud of extremely fine, chemically treated carbon filaments over electrical components. The filaments are so fine that they act like a cloud, but cause short circuits in electrical equipment.
As News.com.au points out, North Korea tends to celebrate the Oct. 10 holiday with military parades and aggressive rhetoric. But this year’s festivities could include new provocative weapons tests.
‘The Kim regime usually uses these sorts of occasions to demonstrate some show of strength – in this current climate a missile test is a likely result,’ says Dr Genevieve Hohnen, lecturer in politics and international relations at Edith Cowan University.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.

A Mysterious Virus Has Infiltrated America’s Drone Program

There’s something deeply wrong at Creech Air Force Base, the notorious home of America’s drone program, where pilots remotely order US Reaper and Predator drones to unleash destructive missile strikes on unsuspecting villagers in Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other war zones.
Less than a week after the Department of Homeland Security advised all federal agencies using anti-virus software created by Kaspersky Labs to remove the programs from their systems immediately, Ars Technica reports that two weeks ago the Defense Information Systems Agency detected mysterious spyware embedded in the drone ‘cockpits’ – the control stations that pilots use to control the deadly machines.

This post was published at Zero Hedge on Oct 9, 2017.