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Iranian Oil Tankers Make It To Iran: Iran and Venezuela Blow A Hole In U.S. Sanctions: Transcript of Radio Interview, Part One.

May 28, 2020

Venezuelans Take “Selfies” with Docked Iranian Oil Tanker in the Background

“Trump’s Ostrich Approach To Syria and Iran: The Coronavirus Pandemic and The Shifting Balance of Power in the Middle East.”KGNU 1390 AM, 88.5 FM – Hemispheres, Middle East Dialogues with Ibrahim Kazerooni and Rob Prince. Tuesday, May 26, 2020. 6-7 pm Mountain Time. Hosted by Jim Nelson.

Hemispheres_2020-05-26

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My personal opinion is that it would have been much better for the United States to have gone ahead and lifted the sanctions against Venezuela rather than having allowed Iran to have busted the sanctions the way that it did. It simply ignored the sanctions and let the chips fall where they may.

Ibrahim Kazerooni

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Rob Prince: Good to be here (on the air), hope everyone is safe and weathering this Coronavirus storm. We’ve got a long way to go here.

Just want to remind people that a part of the reason for this program that the crisis that we are facing – the Coronavirus, the economic crisis – it’s not just a national crisis; it’s global. The area of the world that we want to probe – the convergence, if you like – of two crises: the economic crisis on the one hand and the pandemic, the Coronavirus on the other.

I’m going to start off by mentioning a few of the most recent events and then we’re going to try to put them together into some kind of order. Is there some theme, some underlying theme to all this because the events themselves they look so different and disconnected, and yet they are all, we will argue, are a part of a pattern.

  • So concerning the Coronavirus, it continues to hit the region (Middle East) in different intensities
  • Iran – 800 infected health workers, more than 100 of which have died; 129,000 confirmed cases, with 7250 fatalities…
  • Yemen – the world’s worst humanitarian crisis exacerbated by Coronavirus…
  •  Gaza – 35 new cases in three days… its healthcare system has been severely degraded by the Israeli-Egyptian blockade since Hamas         won power in an election in 2007. The territory has 60 ventilators for a population of two million…
  •  Syria – Although the numbers of infected remain low, they are starting to climb…
  • Now a new crisis – Iranian oil tankers headed for Venezuela risk interception by five ships of the U.S. Navy. Washington backs down. No confrontation… Major change in “the rules of engagement” between U.S. and Iran…
  • Nine days ago – On the order of President Trump, a U.S. Apache heliocopter dropped thermal balloons – fire bombs – over agricultural lands in Syria’s northeastern province of Hasakah setting fire to 200 hectares (nearly 500 acres) of wheat crops, and as such, attacking Damascus’ food supply.
  • With full support from the Trump Administration, Israel is about to annex 30% of the West Bank…

In Washington, a Senate Committee slips through a $38 billion package to Israel – some of those voting for it had no idea what the bill           was about. The bill was passed in a meeting closed to Senate-live streaming in a voice vote on a group of 15 items. There was no                     discussion or debate – the largest such package in US history – and its title was never announce to those voting on it.

Ibrahim – So many different events, seemingly pulling in different directions? Is there some overarching theme? What connects these seemingly disconnected events?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Thank you Rob.

For the untrained observer it might appear these might appear to be some kind of random events, until we find some kind of a thread that brings them all together. We have talked about this on a number of occasions.

The United States Middle Eastern policy is in crisis. It really doesn’t have a “Plan B” or an alternative. It just moves on a day by day basis. The thread that goes through all of these events, whether it is Syria, the $38 billion for the Israelis, whether it’s Venezuela, – all of them make quite clear that the United States, on the one hand doesn’t have a policy, a clear cut policy, and on the other hand is not prepared to accept defeat.

If somehow Washington came to the conclusion that they cannot win, they have moved to a posture where their only policy is to prevent others, the Russians, the Axis of Resistance in the region, from doing so.

This is, I believe, Rob, the thread that unites these events.

Naturally given that the United States doesn’t have a plan how to extricate itself from the region, nor does it have a plan to win anything politically from the region the resulting chaos is not going to produce anything. As a matter of fact it could lead to a disaster.

As an example, let’s start with the crisis with Venezuela.

Since 1979 The United States has always targeted Iran and worked for regime change there. First there was the eight year war with Iraq (1980-89 – in which the U.S. supported Iraq) and then followed various other plots to undermine the Iranian regime.

Then in 2006, Washington thought that by giving Israel a green light to start a war with Hezbollah in Lebanon that through this they would somehow neutralize Iran. It didn’t work.

In 2011 the focus shifted to Syria; Again it backfired and somehow blew up in their face. So what they are they doing now? They went to Venezuela thinking that if the Iranians could be drawn into the United States’ backyard it will be easier to deliver an attack.

The problem is that all the pundits, those who live in the area (the Middle East), they said that the only scenario under which the United States might be able to attack Iranian ships in the Caribbean or elsewhere in South America is when it removes all of its forces and military bases from the region.

The U.S. military bases that were originally built as noose around the Iranian neck, unfortunately for the United States, have become soft targets for Iran. Since (Qassem) Suleimani’s assassination an Iranian attack on U.S. bases in Iraq proved two things:

1. That Iran has the resources to attack U.S. interests
2. Once it comes to defending their interests the Iranians have the will power to do so.

I believe that the failure of the United States to attack the Iranian oil tankers heading for Venezuela is due to the realization that if they did so, Iran would respond by attacking U.S. interests closer to home in the Middle East.

If the United State has attacked any Iranian tanker, Iran would have immediately responded by attacking either a U.S. ship or a number of facilities in the region which would have been hugely costly for the United States.

What is the consequence for the Venezuelan – what shall we call it? – disaster for the United States?

Venezuela is an example of where sovereignty meets fighting for defiance – fighting for sovereignty for Venezuela, fighting for defiance for Iran.

These two approaches have met, converged and it has given the Axis of Resistance (1) a huge boost in the region, in the Middle East. Just listen Nasrallah’s speech of a couple of days ago on the “Day of Quds” that was declared by Khomeini. The Venezuelan incident has boosted the prestige of the Resistance to a considerable degree and demeans the United States.

My personal opinion is that it would have been much better for the United States to have gone ahead and lifted the sanctions against Venezuela rather than having allowed Iran to have busted the sanctions the way that it did. It simply ignored the sanctions and let the chips fall where they may.

There are five tankers, two of which have already docked with another three on their way.

From my conversations with Iranians who understand what is going on, this (Iranian shipments of oil and oil products to Iran) is not going to end with these five shipments. There will be a continuous shipment of Iranian tankers to Venezuela. Another ten shipments are already in the works and possibly following that, more shipments.

This development has boosted Iran’s image in the Middle East. Venezuela, similar to Saudi Arabia has huge oil reserves and its exports are based upon this one product. If the United States hopes to strangle Venezuela using sanctions against its oil industry they better think again. Iran’s defying the U.S. sanctions (both where it concerns Venezuela and Iran) has huge ramifications for the United States.

Threatening to attack the tankers and then for geo-political reasons – failing to was one of the worse political decisions that the United States has made in some time. It is an indication of what I discussed in the beginning of the program: that the United States has no plan.

Rob Prince: Ibrahim, why did Washington “blink?” What is the card that the Iranians have that prevented Washington from going on the offensive militarily?

Ibrahim Kazerooni: That’s a good question. Briefly, I alluded to it in the beginning. The presence of so many United States bases and other soft targets in the region (Middle East) – including their navy – makes them vulnerable should the United States attack the Iranian oil convoy. Iranian Supreme Leader, Sayyid Housseni Khamenei made a statement – I think it was early last week – that any ship, any vessel that has an Iranian flag on top of it that is attacked requires an immediate response. He emphasized that his permission was not needed.

Rob Prince: And we can add to this that Iran has proven that it is willing to strike American targets given the way that its missile struck the Al Asad Military Base – a U.S. military base – in western Iraq after the Suliemani assassination.

Ibrahim Kazerooni: Ibrahim Kazerooni: Yes, immediately after Qassim Suleimani’s assassination Iran proved that it has the military capability to hit anywhere within the region (Middle East) and that it has the willingness, the will power to do so.

I remember at the time of the Al Asad Military Base missile strike, even the Israelis expressed surprise. Other than the time that the Israeli’s bombed an American ship, The Liberty in 1967, an event which Washington covered up,this is the first time in the history of the region that for decades that the Iranians – attacked a U.S. base and they get away with it.

Quite clearly, the United States understood that if they were to attack Iranian tankers in South America that they ran the risk of U.S. assets in the Middle East – military bases, naval vessels or other soft targets – being attacked.

Rob Prince: The world’s attention was on South America, whatever was going to happen would transpire off the coast of Venezuela, but our argument is Iran would have responded to any U.S. attack in the Middle East. What we are looking at now is a global extension of this struggle that has tumbled outside of the region of the Middle East. The wrestling match between Washington and Teheran is becoming more globalized.

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  1. Alliance between Iran, Syrian government, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, the Houthis in Yemen and growing elements in Iraq)

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. William Conklin permalink
    May 28, 2020 8:25 pm

    It is great to read something positive in such a screwed up world. Imagine, Iran and Venezuela flip the bird to Uncle Sam and the old boy lets them do it. I wonder if the Zionists surrounded by a half billion Arabs in the Middle East might wonder if the good old Uncle will come to their aid.

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  1. Iranian Oil Tankers Make It To Iran: Iran and Venezuela Blow A Hole In U.S. Sanctions: Transcript of Radio Interview, Part Two | View from the Left Bank: Rob Prince's Blog

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