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“Billionaires,War Mongers and Climate Change Deniers: Donald Trump’s Emerging Middle East Foreign Policy: Interview with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. KGNU Boulder. “Hemispheres – Middle East Dialogues” November 29, 2016. Part Three

January 10, 2017
Fallujah, 2004. from Dahr Jamail concerning the role of General James Mattis:

Fallujah, Iraq. 2004. from Dahr Jamail concerning the role of General James Mattis: “Mattis was the head of Camp Pendleton’s 1st Marine Division in Iraq and played a lead role during both of the US sieges of Fallujah in 2004…During the April 2004 siege, more than 700 civilians were killed by the US military, according to Iraqi doctors in the city whom I interviewed in the aftermath of that attack…During the November siege of Fallujah later that same year, which I also covered first-hand, more than 5,000 Iraqi civilians were killed. Most were buried in mass graves in the aftermath of the siege. Mosques were deliberately targeted by the US military, hospitals bombed, medical workers detained, ambulances shot at, cease-fires violated, media repressed, and the use of depleted uranium was widespread. All of these are, again, war crimes”

Part One, Part Two

The KGNU interview is concluded here.

But because Trump does not intend to spend much time in Washington D.C. and these people (Flynn, Mattis, etc) will by default, run U.S. foreign policy, they will have to rely upon what are referred to as the “regional allies” which are the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks, giving them much more room to maneuver, a green light for military action

Rob Prince: There is another one, Ibrahim. The position for Secretary of Defense has not yet been decided but the man who has gotten the most publicity in the media is retired General James Mattis. His nickname is James “Mad Dog” Mattis. After 41 years of military service he retired; at least as the media puts it, he is loved by his troops. He’s a bit like Michael Flynn, quite quotable, although I can’t use his vivid descriptions on the air because KGNU would be fined. But I wanted to give you an idea of the quality of the man who is being seriously considered for Secretary of Defense.

This is a quote Mattis made from the San Diego Union Tribune:

“I come in peace. I didn’t bring artillery. I’m pleading with you with tears in my eyes. But if you f&*k with me I’ll kill you all.”

He’s made the statement on how he enjoys killing people. He’s stated that on a number of occasions.

Flynn, Mattis are people “beyond the pale,” “one toke or two tokes over the line” as they say, and they will be essentially running this country’s foreign policy. We use these examples of Flynn, Mattis, Giuliani, but really they are all cut out of the same mold. They are all from the ultra-right, their foreign policy is rather simplistic and militaristic in nature. There is the sense that these guys are going to run into a buzz saw – they can do great damage for sure – but it is the almost complete absence of political solutions and that it will be the military solutions that will carry the day.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: There is another problem here, Rob. It is not just a case of being mindful of those who are being presented or appointed, and it does not appear that Congress is going to challenge anyway. By all appearances they are going to get the jobs. But because Trump does not intend to spend much time in Washington D.C. and these people (Flynn, Mattis, etc) will by default, run U.S. foreign policy, they will have to rely upon what are referred to as the “regional allies” which are the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks, giving them much more room to maneuver, a green light for military action.

They will become a more integral part of what we discussed earlier, the Obama Doctrine of remote control, allowing the regional lap dogs to do the dirty jobs. They are going to do the same thing. So now we are going to have more room for the Saudis, Israelis and the Turks to come forward to play a more decisive role in the period ahead in shaping and forming regional policy.

We can already see this. Despite the fact that Trump said that he does not support regime change, with these appointees we can now see how Trump is being pushed to revise his opposition and to support overthrowing governments not in accord with Washington diktats, regime change, establishment of no-fly zones. When Tulsi Gabbard, the Democrat from Hawaii, saw Trump this past Monday, she tried to persuade him not to escalate the Syrian conflict and stay away from it.]

It is not just a case of being mindful of those who are being presented or appointed, and it does not appear that Congress is going to challenge anyway. By all appearances they are going to get the jobs. But because Trump does not intend to spend much time in Washington D.C. and these people (Flynn, Mattis, etc) will by default, run U.S. foreign policy, they will have to rely upon what are referred to as the “regional allies” which are the Saudis, the Israelis, the Turks, giving them much more room to maneuver, a green light for military action.

Jim Nelson: I’m wondering how Trump on the campaign trail said how he didn’t see a problem working with Russia in regards to Syria, should we take that seriously?

Rob Prince: No, we shouldn’t take it too seriously, but, Ibrahim, why don’t you elaborate upon this point because that was the little bone that Trump through out.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: If people jump immediately on that issue and they thought, that well, Hallelujah! We’ve finally got someone in the presidency who is gong to wrap up this crisis in Syria, – it’s a tactical move. I don’t believe Trump is in a position to make such changes in U.S. policy. The United States at this stage has no more option within the Middle East, apart from finally admitting that the Russians have become a factor, they are there, and that Washington has to cooperate with them to resolve the Syrian issue.

But the double talk continues.

On the one hand they talk about a peaceful resolution as (U.S. Secretary of State, John) Kerry has done; on the other hand, Washington keeps on pouring weapons into the region. A few days ago, last week or the week before, the Emir of Qatar came to the United States. After meeting with Obama, when interviewed, he said he intends to continue the Islamic militant mercenaries with weapons and now, with even more sophisticated weapons. No one in the press core or Congress asked “On what basis? Why?” – because he already indirectly got “the green light” from the Obama Administration.

It’s yet another case of plausible deniability of the United States. Weapons are poured into these countries, given to the Islamic mercenaries, but through third parties, whether it is the Saudis, Qataris or others. And then Washington denies responsibility, saying “No we didn’t do it.; we still stand for peace!” Look at who Trump is proposing as the so-called U.S. representative – or at least his representative – to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue? Gerard Kushner, his son-in-law, who helped Trump write his speech before AIPAC.

One of the better “over all views of Trump.” Someone said we will get a golf course owner’s view of global warming, we will get a property owner’s view of urban planning and regulation and here in the Middle East, we’ll get a deal-maker’s view of Palestine. Aided and abetted by his counselor son-in-law, who else, Gerard Kushner. It really doesn’t say much about peaceful resolution or concrete change in American foreign policy

On the one hand they talk about a peaceful resolution as (U.S. Secretary of State, John) Kerry has done; on the other hand, Washington keeps on pouring weapons into the region. A few days ago, last week or the week before, the Emir of Qatar came to the United States. After meeting with Obama, when interviewed, he said he intends to continue the Islamic militant mercenaries with weapons and now, with even more sophisticated weapons. No one in the press core or Congress asked “On what basis? Why?” – because he already indirectly got “the green light” from the Obama Administration.

It’s yet another case of plausible deniability of the United States. Weapons are poured into these countries, given to the Islamic mercenaries, but through third parties, whether it is the Saudis, Qataris or others. And then Washington denies responsibility, saying “No we didn’t do it.; we still stand for peace!” Look at who Trump is proposing as the so-called U.S. representative – or at least his representative – to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli issue? Gerard Kushner, his son-in-law, who helped Trump write his speech before AIPAC

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, critic of U.S. Middle East wars, speaking in Denver in December, 2016

Medea Benjamin, co-founder of Code Pink, critic of U.S. Middle East wars, speaking in Denver in December, 2016

Jim Nelson: Well we may get someone coming back into the fold. The brother of the incoming Secretary of Education, Betsy Devos, is Erik Prince, founder and Executive Director of Blackwater. The company was renamed XE Services in 2009.

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, I have a question for you in terms of what we were just discussing, particular Washington’s use of allies, proxies. You were referring to it in terms of arming the mercenaries in Syria, but there is another concern: It’s possible now, one tactical shift might be that it won’t be the United States that would attack Iran but that Saudi Arabia, Israel, perhaps Turkey could be given the green light instead. I am concerned that the United States might try to push them towards greater confrontation with Iran. Is that a reasonable concern?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes, because you will see the hardening of the old venomous rhetoric again coming back to dominate. Netanyahu is beginning to return to the same old rhetoric of Iran being an existential threat. Saudi Arabia in particular, actually signed an agreement with the Omanis regarding Yemen (to move towards a negotiated settlement). But more recently they have walked away from it and started bombarding Yemen from the air once again.

Yesterday or the day before, one of the Saudi ministers in charge of the country’s secret service openly talked about their “close relationship” between the Saudi and Israeli governments as “friendly neighbors” to show that, together, the two have the ability to target Iran.

Jim Nelson: What about the fighting going on in Mosul to retake the city from ISIS and kick it out of Iraq. How do you that situation unfolding?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Well Jim, the plan was to take ISIS out of Iraq, to take them to Raqqa, in Syria. If you remember a number of months ago when we were discussing it, the eastern part of Syria was supposed to be left in the hands of these mercenaries as a part of the partition plan spelled out in the Doha Accords. The other parts of Syria would be divided. The plan was exposed by one of the spokespersons for the so-called moderate Syrian opposition who said that “We have been betrayed by the United States because it transpired that Washington’s goal in Syria wasn’t to help create a more democratic Syria, only to partition it, create “bantustans” in Syria, dividing it into enclaves.

But the Iraqi government quickly realized that if they wanted to stop, to terminate or weaken Daesh, or ISIS, once and for all they should encircle the area (the NW corner of Iraq where ISIS established itself) and not allow these people to go to Syria. As the Syrian army was moving towards Halab (Aleppo), and literally within the next few days they will finish the job – that will be a major victory for the Syrian government – at the same time the Iraqi military forces were able to encircle ISIS at Mosul (in Iraq), and at least cut the major highway between Mosul and eastern Syria stopping hundreds of trucks leaving Mosul and heading towards the Syrian border.

The only place left for ISIS as a safe haven, is towards the north from where they could find a way to get to Turkey. The problem for these mercenaries is that the Kurds are now controlling that area. So ISIS, Daesh are encircled which is why there is political pressure from the Americans to find a resolution and allowing these mercenaries to be flown out of Iraq.

the plan was to take ISIS out of Iraq, to take them to Raqqa, in Syria. If you remember a number of months ago when we were discussing it, the eastern part of Syria was supposed to be left in the hands of these mercenaries as a part of the partition plan spelled out in the Doha Accords. The other parts of Syria would be divided. The plan was exposed by one of the spokespersons for the so-called moderate Syrian opposition who said that “We have been betrayed by the United States because it transpired that Washington’s goal in Syria wasn’t to help create a more democratic Syria, only to partition it, create “bantustans” in Syria, dividing it into enclaves.

Jim Nelson: We have a caller in the remaining moments, Bruce, in Denver.

Caller Bruce (from Denver): Thank you, hi Rob. This discussion reminds me of the old Nixon-Kissinger Doctrine that led to placing the Shah, having him do the dirty work in Iran.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Exactly.

Caller Bruce (from Denver): The question I want to just suggest, I haven’t heard any discussion of it but with China now making moves to re-establish the old Silk Road, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the emergence of the various ethnic states that used to be in the Soviet Union, it seems that most of the discussion is Eurocentric focused in that the countries that used to be considered the Third World that have been achieving their independence are relatively stronger and countries like China asserting their influence more and more as well as the societies getting stronger and stronger themselves, do you see any of these forces emerging as countervailing forces to U.S. global influence?

Rob Prince: Yes, absolutely. It’s a very good point. I think it would have happened anyhow. There are new economic and political formations taking place. They include new levels of cooperation between Russia, China and Iran and probably including countries that are U.S. allies like Pakistan and India to a certain degree. What this negative focus on Iran has contributed to is…it pushes Iran to integrate more closely with Russia and China and visa versa.

Look at the commentary coming from Russia and China concerning U.S. geopolitical moves. On the one hand these commentaries are controlled and sober about the Trump presidency but on the other hand, the message is clear: they will tolerate any nonsense from the United States and will stand their ground.

That kind of integration has been accelerated by the U.S. bases surrounding Russia and China. The United States has a strategy of controlling the seas, the maritime routes. How have Russia and China responded geopolitically? They’re building overland communication and transportation systems and increasing their overall economic ties.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: In addition to that, we are beginning to see moves among the European countries to be included in this new Eurasian integration. In the past few days, both the Germans and the European Parliament expressed concerns over the absence of a direction from this new Trump Administration. It is destabilizing the world and they add that the peoples of Europe must get together in the same way that other parts of the world are organizing themselves, as a counter balance against American expansionism.

So it’s not just the Chinese and Russians but now also the Europeans are beginning to think about it too.

Rob Prince: That is part of the problem concerning this kind of aggressive policy Washington is following. Most Americans unfortunately don’t see it for what it is. There has been nothing in this presidential campaign about the burgeoning growth of U.S. military bases worldwide, the already heavy military budget. But U.S. policy is pushing new forms of economic and political integration, regional integration, something of a defensive responses on the part of the countries just discussed. Similar processes of regional integration are also happening in Latin America. What is regional integration about be it in Latin America or Eurasia as you were mentioning Bruce, it’s a form of defense, against U.S. corporate and military adventurism.

Jim Nelson: Thanks again for calling in Bruce. With the remaining two-three minutes maybe we should sum up what we have been discussing.

Rob Prince: I know we probably should sum up Jim, but one of the subjects that we have not gotten to and in these last moments perhaps we can briefly address, is the what is referred to as the Iran Nuclear Deal. It seems to me that is not so easily done. Ibrahim, can you comment upon this? Do you think a new Trump Administration will be able to get away with this?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Well I’ve seen a number of articles in Iranian newspapers discussing the incoming administration’s stand on this. Even Zarif ( Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister) made a comment a few days ago. First of all he reminded the Americans, whomever the new administration might be, that this is not a bilateral but an international agreement which has been sanctioned by the U.N. Security Council as well. It’s not just between the United States and Iran. That’s Number One.

Number Two: Within the year the Iranians have been shrewd enough to maximize their exposure with the rest of the world. It will be extremely difficult for the United States to unilaterally force everybody to renege on the agreement. They may start adding one restriction or another but for Washington to unilaterally force the other signers to back out of the agreement – I don’t think that’s possible.

Iran has left a few options for itself. The first time talk of possibly negating the agreement, dismantling of this agreement was floated in the United States, the Iranian government stopped importing any goods from the United States, its cars and the rest. At the same time, discussions began in the Iranian Parliament that if such provocative action takes place then Iran reserves the right, at least within the context of relations with the United States to feel free. Whether the incoming Trump Administration will be able to completely destroy and kill the agreement, I don’t know. I don’t think so.

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