Construction of ‘Greater Middle East’ nears completion
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
The US-NATO-Israel war train is hurtling towards Iran at break-neck speed. If Iran actually is building a nuclear weapon, this would be perfectly rational. The North Korean government got one and they’re still in charge 60 years later. The same applies for China and Russia, both governments the US would rather be without. If Saddam really had possessed WMD, would the US have parked 150,000 volunteers around its borders in March 2003? No. That would have been suicide. Gaddafi made a fatal mistake in giving up his WMD. Tehran knows a nuclear deterrent is the only thing standing between independence, and being absorbed into George Bush’s ‘Greater Middle East’.
In spite of the supposed ineptitudes of the 43rd US President, it seems that, in the wake of the ‘Arab Spring’, his ‘Freedom Agenda’ is unfolding more or less as planned. We know this largely thanks to what the retired 4-star US General Wesley Clark has repeatedly told anyone who will listen. Ten days after 9/11, Clark said that an (unnamed) General described a memo that he had been handed after a meeting with then Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary Wolfowitz. Clark was told:
‘This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.’ (Interview with Democracy Now, 2nd March 2007)
He’s almost definitely telling the truth, because the order is pretty much accurate. And the strategy makes complete sense – to further US hegemony in Eurasia while the world’s other major powers are still too weak to stop them.
Missing from the memo were Afghanistan and Pakistan, known as the ‘AfPak’ theatre, which fit into this strategy by helping to encircle Iran, having the ability to cut-off much of China’s land oil and natural gas supplies in the event of war (the US Navy can blockade all of China’s sea-borne imports) and, most importantly, to secure the route for the Trans Afghanistan Pipeline which is to carry natural gas from the Caspian Sea through Turkmenistan, ‘Afpak’, to Fazilka in India. The drone strikes in Yemen are to protect the oil in Saudi, and the supply from Yemen itself (although production there is minimal). The role of the surrounding countries is to provide ‘stability’.
The ‘Arab Spring’ is tailor-made to fit this strategy. The State Department must be rubbing its hands with glee. The military is still in charge in Egypt, even more powerful than before. The de facto head of state is the head of the military, Mohamed Hussein Tantawi.
In Algeria and Tunisia, the two original ‘Arab Spring’ countries, the situation is almost identical. With Operation Enduring Freedom – Trans-Sahara (OEF-TS) on-going in these countries since February 2007, the situation was easy handled. In Algeria, President Bouteflika remains in charge, the repeal of the national State-of-Emergency the only concession. In Tunisia, Ben Ali has gone, ‘elections’ have been held, but the population has seen them for what they are. Such have been the scale of post-election demonstrations, that in Sidi Bouzid, the birthplace of the ‘Arab Spring’, a curfew was in force from 18:00 until 04:00 GMT.
In Libya there have now been 3 ‘Prime Ministers’:
Mahmoud Jibril (5th March – 23rd October) – University of Pittsburgh, MS (1980), PHD (1987). Joined Libyan government in 2007 as a Trojan horse.
Ali Tarhouni (23rd October – 31st October) – Michigan State University, MS (1975), PHD (1983), Uni. of Washington Michael J. Foster School of Business, Lecturer (1985 -2011). Flown in to Libya in March.
Abdurrahim El-Keib (31st October- present) – University of South Carolina, MS (1976). North Carolina State University, PHD (1984). University of Alabama, Professor (1986-1996), American University of Sharja, Professor (1999-2001).
It’s clear that Washington, in co-operation with NATO, carefully planned regime change in Libya. ‘Leading from behind’ was a great strategy by the Obama administration. Letting France lead was sensible, given their non-intervention in Iraq and apparent concern for the Palestinians. This ensured minimal (if not non-existent) reaction from the ‘Arab street’. Publicly ‘delaying’ the US role in the intervention under NATO effectively meant that the US public (and even Congress) was hardly aware of the intervention until it had already began. Using air power, in combination with the CIA, M16, DGSE*, Qatari, and UAE co-ordinated ‘rebels’ meant a US-NATO casualty total of zero. This helped to avoid the Anti-War marches seen at the Eden of the ‘Freedom Agenda’.
This was, of course, helped by the complete subordination of the corporate mass media, which remarkably failed to catch all but a handful of the 26,000 NATO ‘sorties’ on camera. They also didn’t think it newsworthy to report that ‘General’ Khalifa Belqasim Haftar had lived 5 miles from Langley, Virginia for 15 years without a job title, before being flown in to Libya in March to coordinate the coup.
Regime change in Libya was flawlessly conducted. Unless one of the ‘rebel’ Generals, perhaps Mustafa Abdul Jalil, decides on a counter-revolution, it won’t happen since the ‘rebels’,whether they know it or not, were led by Western Intelligence agencies. Libya’s borders are with Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Niger, Chad and Sudan. Only the border with Sudan is a worry. Drone strikes, from the Camp Lemmonier base in Dijibouti, keep the situation under control.
That leaves Syria and Iran. Regime change in these countries has proven more difficult since both have stronger relations with Russia and China, than with the pre-regime change governments in Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, or of the ‘AfPak’ theatre.
That’s why UN sanctions have been much more difficult to pass, and China and Russia will veto ‘No-fly zones’ or anything similar. In this sense, they are both much more like Saddam’s Iraq in 2003, than the ‘Arab Spring’ countries.
The tactics in Iran and Syria seem to be similar to Libya so far as a ‘rebel’ uprising is concerned.
In Syria the ‘rebel’ uprising has been very successful in stirring unrest with 3,500 dead so far, 1,000 of them security forces according to the Syrian government. As with Libya, Arab League condemnation has been achieved. The vast border with NATO ally, Turkey, allows the ‘rebels’ to be easily armed. However, without a ‘No-fly zone’ it will take a dramatic increase in arms for Assad to be overthrown. If Turkey grants NATO permission to use its Incirlik air base, a repeat of the Libyan coup would be straightforward, although Syria’s border with Iran poses significant problems, as witnessed in the on-going occupation of Iraq.
This brings us to Iran, the jewel in the crown of the ‘Greater Middle East’. Regime change here is much more problematic. Since the first ‘Green’ version of Lebanon’s ‘Cedar’ revolution following the elections of June 2009 failed, it has become clear that more direct action will be needed. Obama’s assassination program has claimed three Iranian nuclear scientists, and one academic, so far. Cyber warfare attacked Iran’s Natanz facility with the Staxnet worm last year. But the acceleration of Israeli sabre-rattling and anti-Iranian propaganda in recent weeks suggests Washington’s patience is running out.
Regardless of the catastrophic short-medium term consequences for the global economy, US policy is apparently set on regime change, whatever the cost.
There are several options. All would incorporate a third attempt at a ‘Green’ Revolution (the second was attempted on 14th February this year). The most dramatic would be a set of US, UK and Israeli missile strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities, followed by an invasion force of approximately 150,000 troops from Afghanistan in the East and Iraq in the West. The death toll would be high however, and anti-war protests would likely exceed those of 15th February 2003. A safer option may be to let Israel take the lead under the pretext of ‘self-defence’, allow Tehran to respond in kind, and then push for a UN resolution enabling for regime change.
The most nuanced option would be one involving the Peninsula Shield Force of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), consisting of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, which so effectively halted the uprising in Bahrain in March this year, and cooperated in the overthrow of Gaddafi. Following these successes, the New York Times (NYT) reported that Washington is looking to ‘foster a new ‘security architecture’ for the Persian Gulf that would integrate air and naval patrols and missile defense.’ An anonymous US senior official told the NYT: ‘It’s not going to be a NATO tomorrow, but the idea is to move to a more integrated effort.’
This would be the political preferable option, enraging public opinion somewhat less than the aforementioned tactics. The Peninsula Shield Force is not near ready for a confrontation with Tehran, but given that military action is unlikely before the US elections of November next year, they have time to prepare.
The timetable may not be known. But the train is nearing its final destination. The creation of the ‘Greater Middle East’ is almost complete.
*DGSE – Direction Générale de la Sécurité Extérieure, France’s external intelligence agency
Views expressed in articles are the author’s and do not represent Comment Middle East
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