14 May 2019   Leave a comment

Two Saudi Arabian oil tankers were damaged by sabotage. The US believes that Iran was behind the acts, while the Iranians claim that the acts of sabotage were false flags designed to justify a US attack on Iran. Since the tankers were Saudi, it is unlikely that we will have the opportunity for an unbiased analysis of the attack. In addition, Saudi Arabia is reporting that two oil pumping stations in Saudi Arabia were attacked by armed drones sent from Yemen. The US and Iran exchanged barbs after the incidents as described by the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn:

“But Trump vowed that Tehran would ‘suffer greatly’ were it to ‘do anything’ to threaten US interests.

“‘If they do anything, it would be a very bad mistake,’ Trump warned at the White House. ‘If they do anything they will suffer greatly.’

“Iranian President Hassan Rouhani hit back, saying the Islamic republic was ‘too great to be intimidated by anyone’.

“‘God willing we will pass this difficult period with glory and our heads held high, and defeat the enemy,’ Rouhani said at a late night meeting with clerics.”

The ramping up of tensions comes as there are press reports that the US has developed plans that would send about 120,000 additional troops to the region in case of a conflict. That number of troops is roughly the same number that were sent to Iraq prior to the US invasion of that country in 2003. There is concern that Iranian militias in Iraq could be involved in a conflict with US soldiers in Iraq. Writing in the Atlantic, Mike Giglio states that US and Iranian troops have already exchanged fire in Iraq:

“Another recently retired officer noted an instance in which he suspected that U.S. troops already had been targeted by militias: A roadside bomb killed a U.S. service member in October 2017, an incident for which the U.S. military has not assigned blame. Last year, the State Department evacuated the U.S. consulate in the Iraqi city of Basra, citing attacks by Iran-backed militias. ‘That’s always been there,’ he said. ‘When I hear [U.S. claims of new threats], I’m like, ‘Really, there’s a new threat from Iran-backed militia?’ I remember back in 2004 when we were fighting Iran-backed militias in Iraq. It’s an existing threat that’s been there for years, but it’s up to Iran to dial it up or dial it down depending on the political end state they want to achieve.’”

There are also concerns that Iran could station missiles in Iraq that could threaten US troops in the region. It does not appear as if the Trump Administration has a clear plan of action, but his foreign policy is undermined by his impatience and his desire for a decisive foreign policy coup.

US President Trump hosted Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán at the White House yesterday. Hungary is a member of NATO, but Orbán has presided over the systematic dismantling of democratic institutions while Prime Minister. He has limited the powers of the court, restricted the freedoms of the press, and has descried the immigration of non-Christians and non-whites into Europe. Orban is a pariah in many countries in the world and Axios lists the measures taken against him:

  • The European Parliament voted in September to trigger potentially punitive proceedings against Hungary, in response to policies of Orbán’s seen as contrary to EU values.
  • Orbán’s political party, Fidesz, was suspended in March by the European People’s Party (EPP) for being undemocratic and undercutting the rule of law, in addition to having mounted an anti–EU campaign that targeted EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a senior member of the EPP and George Soros.
  • U.S. lawmakers introduced a resolution in January condemning Orbán for “efforts to undermine democracy and violate human rights” that has support in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Orban is hardly representative of the historic values the US has tried to embrace, and is not someone who should have received such a warm welcome in the White House.

Posted May 14, 2019 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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