by Pepe Escobar (cross-posted with the Asia Times by special agreement with the author)
The Trump administration’s ultimate goal is regime change in Tehran, but was this just a distraction from the ‘treason’ in Helsinki as US Mid-Term elections loom? Or did he just want to destabilize the Eurasian giants and their New Silk Roads?
President Trump’s late-night, all-caps Tweet of Mass Destruction threatening Iran is bound to be enshrined in the Art of Diplomacy annals.
But let’s go back to how this all started. After unilaterally pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal, the Trump administration has issued what amounts to a declaration of economic war on Iran and will go no holds barred to squeeze the Islamic Republic out of the global oil market – complete with threatening allies in Europe with secondary sanctions, unless they cut all imports of Iranian oil by November 4.
This past weekend, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said he would support blocking all Middle East oil exports through the Strait of Hormuz if Iran’s European trade partners succumb to pressure from Washington and stop buying Iranian oil altogether.
Then President Hassan Rouhani followed Khamenei and warned the US about “playing with the lion’s tail.”
Rouhani, as his record attests, has always behaved as the epitome of cool diplomacy. Contrary to predictable US media spin, he never “threatened” to attack the US. His premise was that Tehran was pleased to offer Washington the “mother of all peace.” But if Trump instead decided to attack Iran, then (italics mine) that would open the way to the Mother of all Wars.
Ultimate goal: Regime change
The fact remains that the Trump administration ditched a UN-sponsored multilateral treaty and has now launched serious covert ops with the ultimate goal of regime change in Iran.
Trump’s explosion of rage, coupled with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s touting of the interests of “the long-ignored voice of the Iranian people” has been met with derision and scorn all across Iran.
Geopolitically, Russia-Iran relations remain extremely solid, as shown by the recent meeting between President Putin and Khamenei’s top foreign policy adviser Ali Akbar Velayati. As Professor Mohammad Marandi at the University of Tehran told me: “The Putin-Velayati meeting went very well. Velayati plans to go to Beijing in a few weeks. People in Iran hate Trump, and all political parties and factions have become much more united. Rouhani’s speech was widely watched and very well received.”
Khamenei and Rouhani are on the same page – and that’s very significant in itself. They now agree any negotiation with Washington is futile. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif provided the coup de grace, tweeting that Iran had lasted millennia and had seen many empires fall. He wrapped up with an all-caps Trumpism: “BE CAUTIOUS!”
The whole soap opera is ridden with pathetic overtones as US “experts” posing as extras digress that there are only two outcomes left for Iran: capitulation or implosion of the “regime”.
Anyone claiming Tehran will capitulate shows an utter ignorance of the overall mood of defiance and scorn among the Iranian people, even as they are faced with massive economic hardship. And anyone stating there will be regime change in Tehran basically parrots a US “policy” that is just wishful thinking.
The US neo-conservatives that brought the world the failed, multi-trillion-dollar Iraq war should have been buried not six feet, but six miles under. Yet, like the Walking Dead, they will never give up.
But, in the Middle East, at the moment there are three characters who are singin’ and dancin’ like everything is going according to plan: Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed Bin Salman (MBS), his mentor, the United Arab Emirates’ Mohamed bin Zayed, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Surely they are not heeding the expert advice of former Mossad head Meir Dagan, who stated that a military attack on Iran was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”
It’s always possible that Trump’s all-caps spectacular may be a ruse to distract Americans from the Helsinki “treason” scandal. That gets traction when associated to the looming mid-term elections and Trump’s absolute need to sound tough and keep the Republicans in line. Call it a brilliant Trump strategic maneuver. Or was it Putin’s?
Back to reality, the stark options would come down to either Iran becoming a US satellite or closing the Strait of Hormuz – something that for all practical purposes would collapse the global economy.
I have been assured that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has the technological means to block the Strait and would not flinch to go for it rather than yield, if the going gets tough. President Rouhani cannot resist the IRGC. The Trump administration has, in fact, forced Rouhani to show his cards. All branches of the Iranian government are now united.
War hysteria, already on, is extremely irresponsible. In the worst Strait of Hormuz scenario, the US Navy would be impotent, as Russian-made SS-N-22 Sunburn missiles could wreak havoc. Washington could only bomb from Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar or Incirlik in Turkey. Neither Qatar nor Turkey is inclined to antagonize Iran.
The Pentagon would have to bomb coastal missile sites on Iran’s Persian Gulf shoreline. But these are heavily camouflaged; missiles are portable, and there’s no reliable on the ground intel. Iran only needs to fire one missile at a time. No oil tanker would possibly try to get through.
Things don’t even need to degrade towards a shooting war. All Tehran needs to do is to make the threat credible. Insurance companies would stop insuring oil carriers. No oil carrier will navigate without insurance.
The geopolitical game is even more complex. Velayati was in Moscow only a few days before Helsinki. Diplomatic sources say Iran and Russia are in synch – and closely coordinating policy. If the current strategy of tension persists, it raises the price of oil, which is good for both Russia and Iran.
And then there’s China. A tsunami of sanctions or not, Beijing is more likely to increase oil imports from Iran. “Experts” who claim that Iran is becoming a pawn of Russia and China are hopelessly myopic. Russia, China and Iran are already firmly aligned.
Short of war, the Trump administration’s top priority is disruption of the New Silk Roads – the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) – between China and Europe. And the key economic connectivity corridor goes across Iran.
The fundamental “enemy” is China. But to make any divide-and-rule plan work, first, there’s got to be an attempt to lure Russia into some sort of entente cordiale. And in parallel, Persian destabilization is a must. After all, that’s what the Cheney regime used to describe as “the great prize”.
so I read that “Tweet of Mass Destruction” https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1021234525626609666
and I would like to point out 2 responses, one from Clinton supporter
and the other from a Trumptard
💙SunnySkol 💙”VetsResistSupportSquadron” @sunnyskol Jul 23
Replying to @realDonaldTrump
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Iran is a distraction from RUSSIA.
Linda Racey @LindaRacey 6h6 hours ago
Replying to @realDonaldTrump
There is never been a better president than Donald Trump he’s not afraid to speak what’s on his mind and all he wants is to make this country great again the Americans are like sheep they have no idea how lucky we are to have him
A country completely bonkers. There is no saving them. It’s impossible.
i am really beginnig to believe that you are right, i can not see any way that the USofA can survive as i have known it. one one hand that is extremely positive but then again we are talking about human lives.(sometimes im not sure if i should count progressives as human, but that is usually after i have listened to one of them talking a few minutes… or i have been so unlucky that i stumble across one of their marches with their dildo`s drawn half naked in sm gear dancing to some kind of noise they call music;)
Is it real people who need destracting from Helsinki? Or just the corporate mass media?
Admittedly, I’ve learned to avoid corporate mass media like the plague. And feel that social media is just as bad or far worse. But I haven’t heard any ‘normal’ people whom I interact with everyday even mention Helsinki.
By their second year, even the dumber Presidents have started to learn to manipulate the news cycle. So, perhaps this is Trump trying to get all the moronic, corporate talking-heads on the TV to change their topic. They’ve usually got the attention span of a racing grayhound, so about all a President needs to do is to wave a piece of felt at them and send it flying past while telling the dumb dogs that its a rabbit. Most Presidents have figured out that trick by year two, Even the really dumb ones who’ve fired all the campaign aides who fought those battles during the campaign.
Those two tweets capture the unhinged nature of America in general. They are actually mirror images of each other in reflecting Americans’ deranged mentality.
Didn’t John McCain one state that Russia was a gas station masquerading as a country?
Well America is not a country and it sure as hell ain’t a democracy.
America is a mental institution masquerading as a nation.
There’s the 4D chess on full display. Trump is a moron, way out of his depth. He is stumbling through his presidency like a drunk, blonde elephant, wrecking everything he bumps into. Most of what he crushes people like, NATO and TPP for example, which is where the 4D nonsense began.
If you want to see the real Donald, check out this video: https://youtu.be/QPjZLmmmHVw
Here’s the magic word to decode what Feinstein is saying: “security” = “wall”.
Trump, so hopelessly impressed by Diane Finesteins mention of her personal relationship to John F. Kennedy, one of the most famous people, not just presidents, in US history. A beloved figure, basically everything Trump wants to be and why he ran in the first place, to create an immortal legacy. This is why he likes Putin so much. Vladimir Putin already is one of the most important leaders in Russian history… and he is not only still alive, but still in power.
Trump looks up to him, he was able to achieve what Trump desperately wants, historical significance. He wanted to become the Putin of the US. Someone who made his country great again, who has an insane approval rating western leaders would not dare to dream of having, who is loved by his people and who will be remembered long after his passing.
This is why Trump is president, this is what he is trying to achieve day in, day out. There is no grand 4D chess plan, there is only his ego and his buddies, like the terrorist Netanyahu, who fill his head with delusional fantasies about Iran and Syria.
Not to mention the guy caved today, expressing his “concern” about Russia “meddling” in the midterms to help the Democrats, because he had been oh so tough on Russia. Pathetic.
He probably doesn’t get anything done because he can’t get his hands off himself, we all learned back during the campaign how he loves to grab p*ssy. There is currently none bigger.
I just got the image in my brain of a pigeon trying to play 4D chess.
And I get the impression of a guy who has been told that if he doesn’t play ball they will kill his children.
Those who still entertain hopes of something better from the Orange Baboon in the White House would do well to read just a few of his utterances about Iran/ Venezuela/ Jerusalem/ Syria. That should be enough to cure them of their delusions. If we manage to avoid a major war over the next 2 – 5 years, it will only be by the grace of God.
I’ve been reading about the opioid drug catastrophe underway in America, and I am afraid we already are in a major war– right here at “home”. Mr. Trump needs to focus on home. There are some other events we need to keep a close eye on- -the super fires burning in the Arctic are just one — are the methane pockets being deliberately lit up? Pray often, we are definitely in need of divine grace Now.
Weak Presidents who can not successfully solve problems at home always use foreign policy and wars to distract the country.
Trump can’t put together a majority to do anything at home. His only ‘successes’ were agreements to spend a lot of money the country can’t afford on his opponents programs in order to get an agreement to spend even more money the country can’t afford on his programs. But that’s the general shape of the only deals Trump and his minority faction in Congress can pass.
That can’t continue. Sane people already look at the deals for last years budget and the tax cuts and realize they’ve added massively to the yearly deficit the government is running up. They know that’s already too big. They also know the Fed is desperately trying to back-peddle out of its low or even negative interest rate policies to stop the distortions of bankers being able to have risk-free money. And that’s only going to make interest rates rise. Given the US governments constant need to sell bonds to both cover the maturing bonds in a pyramid scheme as well as to cover the billions of new deficit spending, those rising interest rates spell the end of the game. The most important tweet that Trump sent out recently was him trying to bully the bankers at the Fed into not raising rates …. and they laughed at Trump.
Imagine yourself as a smart president of a country run by bankers, the military-industrial complex, and informed by monolithic commercial media. The office is a precarious figurehead with little actual control of the county. There is a significant chance of being deposed. Having at least a glimmer of what the country should be, how does one remain in office while pushing as many desired changes as possible? One device is to appear inept and insane so it isn’t clear what you are actually doing. To keep support of those who wish to rule the world, one might impose sanctions and covert activities on China, Russia, Iran and North Korea which likely will withstand such efforts; the concept is to try to restrict activities to those which will fail, while still seeming to support popular demands. With at least some support of those controlling the country, there is at least a chance of slipping in a few key changes.
I think a fellow who managed to set up and successfully run as many businesses as he has could put a few past these running the place. And the best way to do it would be to drive those in charge to attack him constantly, people sour on bullies after a while. He knew what he was getting into and he went for it anyway. Is that stupidity, maybe but I doubt it. Let’s see how it plays out.
Chad, I was just reading about USofA trying to make a pact with Taliban (which destroyed all poppy production in Afganistan, while in power) to preserve and protect same in order to keep the flow of illegal money to USofA.
Do not mind God with problems of sinners in this hell. God is true and love as received by Christ. Where was his mercy in Jasenovac? Good and bad, “both” of them are in the head of man. If he has a conscience that slams him after a bad deal, then it comes back to him. This is a acquired by parents, society, church fathers. If there is no one (like Westerners mostly dont have), nothing happen. Do you see that after so many millions of slaves and dead in the last 500 years, they have lost something. That they live worse than before. Tartars, Huns, Sarmats were not Christians, but pagans. Christians Russians do not wont to harm westerners. Putin and his compadroes are taking care after communist idoltary to sell false Christos “turn around cheak” idoltary to naive people. They are paid to block any kind of dangeur to arise against Westerners. Sleep well till Khan stand up.
The US has launched a Hybrid War on Iran. It is for keeps. They intend to force regime change at all costs (to the Iranian society).
This hybrid war will be ongoing for as long as required. Expect it to last at least a decade. Why that long? Because damaging Iran’s economy and launching insurgencies in various provinces will take time.
But the US and its Arab-Israeli coalition is hell-bent on destroying Iranian power. They will force a civil war like they did in Syria.
It’s on. We’ll be talking about it for many years to come.
There are tens of thousands of ISIS, AQ and other mercs who will spearhead the insurgencies.
Many are already in Afghanistan and will be moved into Iran shortly.
is Iran sitting idly, watching and waiting helplessly as it is being infiltrated by civil war?
where is that war now you say..Afghanistan?
any other location?
and if you know this, where the destruction of Iran is lurking, do the Iranians know? they should know should’nt they!? how come Iran does not know?
I say this only because were I Iran I would know, and I would be there, where the war is now before it infiltrates, fighting it in it’s cradle so to speak, killing it right there. what the hell do I see here..only the Zionists Americans can do clandestine? is it impossible to turn this game back on them?
and how many stupid, lunatic, nutsy Muslims are there in the world, who by now are not thoroughly educated by their experience of the empire by now, to know that regardless there is no future for them with the empire, that if there is anything at all for them it is to make peace in their Muslim and try to work out something for themselves there.
are Muslim fighters, Jihadi so stupid and crazed they cant see what the west is by now, the HELL it already is, and further degrading, for the western people. why do these Jihadi do not see what the west has already done to them? why would these fight for the west, turn their own space into the same hell developing in the west?
I always admire your analysis especially on Russia, but it appears you are Russocentric in your perspectives which informs your analysis on other countries. If you as an individual is aware of this information I expect you to give Iran the benefit of doubt that they are already aware of this and with Iran’s antecedent in Syria, they have already device a solution for it.
I believe through Southfront you must have read about the “Fatimeyoun Brigade” which consisted of Hazara shiites from Afghanistan, and remember Iran host the largest Afghan refugees in the world, share a long and porous border with Afghanistan and have influence in that country through the Hazara Shia community. Am sure you are getting the gist now, start imagining Iraqi insurgency between 2003-2011 and the cost to America.
You are a good analyst but please in the future always try to move beyond narrow perspective, if for 40years Iran succeeded in keeping America at bay and pay such a huge price in Syria to protect her strategic depth, only either bias analysis or ignorance will make a person conclude Iran is about to be successfully infiltrated.
Agree, and want to add…10yrs insurgency??? In 10 years the US itself is a far different place. Will it still have the capital (financial and political) to conduct this operation? As well, it’s (the US’) Israeli-Arab allies will also not be what they are now. For one, numerous analyses (including CIA report) speak of Israel not being sustainable for more than a few years due to its own internal contradictions. I would think that the US/Israeli/”Arab” cabal will shortly have their hands too full to worry about Iran.
Maybe all tbose missing pentagon billions and other covert money “systems” have been deliberately put aside for their big investment against Iran ready to be let loose….
I see kind of adult dimplomacy [Russia, China, Iran] playing US into corner, not a pinch of trust for Donald Edmundowitsch wirh his cowboy diplomacy.
There is some disturbance with Russia-Israel, after Lavrov visit, Bibi is playing full risk, no good ending.
In general, do not trust US political class, Helsinky here or there.
… capitulation or implosion of the “regime”… more likely the US of A than Iran.
Ah, as usual Pepe shows the point that so many others miss.
Its not Iran that will shut down oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuze. Its the Insurance Companies.
All Iran needs to do is to launch one missile. Then the insurance companies point out to all of their customers that their ships are not covered if they go into a war zone. And that the insurance companies have just declared the whole Persian Gulf and the Straits of Hormuze to be a war zone due Iran firing off that one missile. Or, as Pepe says, maybe just the threat would be enough. I don’t know how much an oil tanker costs, but I’ve dealt with insurance companies all of my life and I can guarantee that they don’t want to shell out enough money to buy a tanker.
Its not Iran that will shut down oil tanker traffic through the Straits of Hormuz. Its the Insurance Companies. All Iran needs to do is to launch one missile
Its not a iranian missile,but a lonely unknown mine close to UAE or Oman shores,exploding nearby a chinese oil tanker.
Is Trump sober when he tweets? What sort of prescription pills does he take, remembering that Presidents can always get White House doctors to prescribe whatever they want?
If Americans have to take a pee-test to collect government benefits, shouldn’t the guy with the finger on the nuclear button have to prove he’s clean and sober while conducting the vital diplomacy of the nation?
Seems like the scene from Dr. Strangelove is reversed. The Russians calling to try to avert a world catastrophe and reaching an American president who is a bit tipsy.
Hello, Donald. I can’t hear too well. Do you think you could turn the music down?
great article – thanks Pepe –
I’ve been cursing the yanks for quite some time now. Not only they are racists deep down to subconscious level, they are also double-standard hypocrite, sore losers and mean spirited.
Since they cannot dominate the rest of the world anymore, they would rather see the world burns – If we cannot have it then nobody else is allowed to.
Since they will never have any competent leaders, there is no way that any of the other leaders in the world is competent and truly wishing for his country well.
The best outcome for the rest of the world is when u-s-a is irreparably and perpetually balkanized into small states at conflict with each other so that u-s-a will never be able to threaten and meddle with the world anymore.
Needless to say, the rest of the western countries and their lackeys are also not much different.
USA is following lusts of it’s Talmudic masters. One cannot reason with them any more than various USA reporters who have “interviewed” President Putin. All they do is accuse. They have no capacity to hear, see or reason except to attack.
Most Christians in USA want Iran destroyed and many other nations too, because they falsely believe that war, torture, mayhem, slaughter and destruction are necessary to bring Jesus. These self professed Christians are blind, deluded, insane, and have chosen leaven of the Pharisee as their god, thus making themselves fit for nothing but to be cast out and trodden under feet of men. Matthew 5:13
Most people in the US are too busy working trying to pay off crushing debt. The rest of the time they are on their phones or watching TV. The American people are sick of war but they are absolutely powerless. It is the MIC, Wall Street, and the major corporations driving the chaos in the world. It can’t continue much longer because the US has run out of money, brains, bombs and military personnel.
Neo cohens will be neo cohens.