Friday 30 August 2019

Macron tempts Rouhani to meet President Trump (Pakistan Observer)

THOSE in the US who argued for the toppling of Saddam Hussein were correct that the Iraq strongman had been an adversary of several US allies in the Middle East. The time for such an operation was during Desert Storm in 1990, when President George H W Bush pounded the Uraqi army to dust in his throwing out of Saddam’s men from Kuwait. Instead of taking matters to a stable conclusion, Bush halted operations against the Iraq military once Kuwait was cleared of them, he refused to allow the US military to march into Baghdad and capture Saddam. Worse, Bush not only allowed the dictator of Iraq to continue in office, he effectively gave him freedom to bomb and strafe the only ethnic group in Iraq that was overwhelmingly pro-US, the Kurds. In a short while, we will find out if President Donald J Trump will repeat the betrayal of the Kurds first carried out by George H W Bush.
Given that the Kurds have provided most of the muscle for the overthrow of much of the Daesh “caliphate” in Syria, such a betrayal would be on an even bigger scale than that of the 1991 green light given to Saddam Hussein by President Bush to kill as many Kurds in their enclaves as he was able to. President Erdogan has repeatedly made his views clear about the Kurdish enclaves in Syria, and his intention to take them over and establish Turkish military control over the population. In an illustration of the Bourbon tendency to continually repeat past mistakes, President George W Bush (the son of George H W Bush) switched his attention from Afghanistan to Iraq before the US military was able to eliminate those forces they were at war with since 9/11.
This enabled these fighters to recuperate, regroup and re-establish control over much of the country. It is estimated that the numerous groups that go by the label of the Taliban controls over 70% of Afghanistan. It is for this reason that the leaders of that heterogeneous but motivated group consider the Ashraf Ghani government to be the “Government of Kabul” and not the Government of Afghanistan. Presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is in a hurry to sign an agreement with select Taliban leaders that would provide an excuse for the 17,000 US forces still in Afghanistan to leave the country, and those aware of his work claim that such an agreement would be ready by the first week of next month. It would be a repeat of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988, the event that more than anything else made international opinion regard Moscow under Gorbachev as a toothless tiger.
Returning to Saddam Hussein, getting rid of him after the Iraqi dictator had surrendered his WMD and almost the whole of his offensive armed capability was a warning to others in the region not to trust in Washington’s assurances of safe conduct. Muammar Kaddafy of Libya panicked after seeing what had happened in Iraq, and surrendered his own WMD stockpile nine months after Saddam was defeated by President George W Bush on the conventional battlefield. So long as Kaddafy had some kind of nuclear device in his possession, even a “dirty” bomb, he would have been safe from attack. No NATO force would dare to expose thousands of its men and women in uniform to the risks involved in the use of WMD by an opposing army. However, once it became clear that Kaddafy was as helpless as Saddam Hussein became after the WMD and most of the conventional military capability in his possession got removed, France and Britain led the charge in 2011 to remove a man from power whose only threat to them was to their clearly fragile egos.
All that Kaddafy had left was verbiage and he continued with his volleys of verbal invective against the NATO member States instead of being meek and respectful as they expected. In particular, he launched into a long speech against the US and its allies at the UN, thereby sealing his future death warrant. Any world leader who abused the then Sole Superpower ( now joined in the title by China) needed to be eliminated, lest others get encouraged to follow Kaddafy’s example, and the Arab Spring gave an excuse for NATO leaders to eliminate Kaddafy. In the process, they destroyed Libya and took away vast amounts of property owned by Libyan nationals in Europe (especially Paris and London) and huge reserves of cash that belonged to the Libyan state. This money has been swallowed up since Kaddafy was ruthlessly killed with the help of the French, who revealed his location to gangs backed by them that were hunting down Kaddafy’s men. The media seems to be not at all interested in who has stolen the cash and property of Libyan citizens and the state.
The UK, France, the US and Germany were planning the same fate for Bashar al-Assad, but China and Russia have ensured not just his survival but the victory of his armed forces over those funded by NATO (especially Turkey) and the GCC. So the attention has now moved to Iran, where the focus is to ensure that not just nuclear capability but missile capacity and other offensive weapons get removed. Once this happens, the calculation is that Iran can be attacked in conventional war and defeated. The problem for NATO is that Iran is not Iraq, Libya or Syria. Should Teheran come under attack, proxies across the region will leap into action, creating chaos and confusion across the region, especially in Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
President Macron invited the Foreign Minister of Iran, who had accepted the promises made by the countries that he negotiated the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) with. Of course, eager to show that there was still hope for a deal that is effectively dead, Jawad Sharif came to Biarritz for meaningless discussions with French officials. President Macron was hoping to host a surprise meeting of Presidents Rouhani and Trump, but the Iranian leader refused to take the bait. He demanded the end of sanctions before he met Trump, a condition impossible for the US President to give effect to. At the same time, so long as Iran retains its WMD, the US will not attack the country. So far, both the Europeans as well as India are too respectful of President Trump’s commands to buy Iranian oil. However, the sooner they do this, the better for global stability. The JCPOA was the best deal NATO could get, as the military option in the case of that country is not feasible, given the cost to the attacking armies. President Trump tore up the Iran deal without a Plan B. The world is now paying a heavy price for that decision, in terms of higher oil prices and instability in the Middle East.

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