I have to wonder who Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is actually loyal to. Because, the U.S. strike of Kata’ib Hizbullah forces near the Al Qaim border crossing with Syria in Iraq is a dangerous escalation there.
And it’s completely at odds with Trump’s goals of wanting us out of the Middle East. The Al Qaim border crossing is a particular red line for Israel and their allies in the U.S. State and Defense Departments.
It represents the normalization of commerce between Syria, Iraq and Iran over time. This is the so-called Shia Crescent which is the stuff of nightmares for Benjamin Netanyahu.
And the U.S. has been hopping mad for months since now caretaker Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdel Mahdi opened the border because it undermines U.S. presence in Syria.
The entire point of U.S. occupation of the Al-Tanf border crossing into Jordan and the oil fields in Deir Ezzor province is about starving the Syrian government of any reliable energy and revenue.
When Al Qaim/Al Bukamai was opened it was only a matter of time before a major skirmish would occur over it. Israel staged a series of air attacks previously using U.S. assets and air bases to launch them back in September.
Now, we have the convenient excuse for attacking these forces which are part of the Popular Mobiliztion Units, PMU, which Pompeo despises by ‘retaliating’ for a rocket attack on the K1 base near Kirkuk where one U.S. mercenary was killed and a handful of others injured.
The response from the U.S. Air Force was completely out of line with the initial attack and occurred without any attempt by Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper to justify it.
They just invoked the phrase, “Iran-backed forces” and then bombed troops over 200 miles away where they wanted to strike anyway.
And what’s important is what both Elijah Magnier and Moon of Alabama pointed out immediately, the U.S. struck member of Shia militias who were made official part of the Iraqi defense forces.
In other words the U.S. just attacked and killed dozens of Iraqi military personnel.
32 killed and 45 wounded the count of #US violent aggression on #Iraq security forces brigades 45 and 46 last night on a military position established to counter-attack and raid #ISIS remnant at al-Qaem, the borders between Iraq and Syria.https://t.co/pmBZ3fJu9e
— Elijah J. Magnier (@ejmalrai) December 30, 2019
And the U.S. can get away with this because the Iraqi government is in a total state of flux, thanks to a President, Barham Salih, refusing to honor the constitution, obstructing the selection of a new Prime Minister.
His actions remind me of Italy’s Sergio Mattarella who inserts himself into the process of government formation there to suit his EU partners-in-crime.
In Iraq the U.S. has been officially silent on the government turmoil there but the circumstances are pretty clear that the chaos works as a cover for what was an egregious violation of Iraq’s sovereignty.
Remember, the U.S. forces there are at the invitation of the Iraqi government and with Salih keeping the Shia political forces from uniting to choose a Prime Minister, the likelihood of that invitation being rescinded now is remote.
Color me not shocked that this attack on PMU forces occurred. Pompeo has been itching for an excuse to attack them for months. He tried his version of diplomacy with Prime Minister Mahdi to rescind their official status and was unsuccessful.
Mahdi was livid after Israel’s air attack and made noises about rescinding the U.S. invitation. No shock then that protests against his government spun up quickly after that.
So at some point this attack was going to happen. Netanyahu in serious political trouble facing a third election in a year, unable to form a government.
Pompeo coming to his rescue to keep the dream of warring with Iran should be obvious to all.
The question is whether President Trump is engaged with this policy at all or did Pompeo and Defense Secretary Mark Esper go off on their own, pull this trigger and then inform Trump and get him to accept this post hoc?
Everywhere Pompeo goes one week winds up in flames the next anymore. When he visits a trouble spot which Israel and the neoconservatives he represents want destabilized, a miracle occurs the next week.
Before this it was Lebanon and Iraq. This week it’s Ukraine. There is the threat of peace breaking out there with Russia and Ukraine agreeing to terms on both a gas and oil transit contract into Europe which Pompeo is dead set against.
Will we see some attack on Ukrainian forces which break the peace and can be blamed on Russia?
Trump has to know that escalation from here ends with U.S. forces coming home in body bags as PMU forces themselves, go off the reservation during this power vacuum in Baghdad and attack U.S. troops directly.
But I think this is exactly what Bibi and Pompeo want. This attack was a clear provocation to escalate and give Israel and the neocons all the ammunition they need to force Trump into the wider conflict with Iran they’ve been angry about not getting for six months now.
They failed with the Global Hawk incident back in June. That operation got John Bolton fired as National Security Director. Now we have a clearly disproportionate strike designed to inflame passions of Iran-backed Shia forces.
The entirety of Iraq’s leadership seems to be of the same mind, and even rejected the US plan to strike when they were tipped off immediately before it happened, per NBC:
In a statement, [former PM] Abdul-Mahdi said Secretary of Defense Mark Esper had called him about a half-hour before the U.S. strikes Sunday to tell him of U.S. intentions to hit the bases of the militia suspected of being behind Friday’s rocket attack. Abdul-Mahdi said he asked Esper to call off the U.S. plan.
One byproduct of the major US strikes on Sunday is sure to be that more and more of the Iraqi population will view the Americans, and not the Iranians, as the foreign occupiers.
This dramatic escalation by Washington is only likely to push more popular support toward the Shia PMF, and strengthen the movement in parliament to have US forces legally expelled, especially with the demise of the ISIS threat.
Any strike by the PMU here on U.S. forces will be music to Pompeo’s and Netanyhahu’s ears. And it will put Trump in a real bind with his base during an election year and an impeachment process Speaker Nancy Pelosi is purposefully dragging out to build a stronger case.
What stronger case could there be at this point if Trump were to not declare war or fire back on our troops getting attacked in Iraq or Syria? He’s derelict as Commander-in-Chief. It’s part of their stupid Ukraine narrative that Trump withheld aid weakens our national security.
I speculated in the past that Trump was getting ready to fire Pompeo.
As Secretary of State Pompeo has been nothing short of a disaster, undermining President Trump’s strong instincts to get the U.S. out of the Middle East and solve the myriad of open geopolitical wounds around the world.
Unlike his former-partner-in-neoconservatism, John Bolton, Pompeo is more adept at playing at being loyal to Trump while always seeming to move U.S. diplomacy in a more belligerent direction in the wake of any of Trump’s ‘impulses’ to act on his conscience and/or instincts.
It doesn’t matter if we’re talking Iran (Pompeo’s demands of Iran are off-the-charts insane), Lebanon (outright blackmail of the Lebanese government) or North Korea (making demands in negotiations which overstep Trump’s promises to Kim Jong-un) Pompeo is always there doing his thinly-veiled Israeli loyalty dance with the subtlety of a freight-train but somehow always framing it as making it Trump’s policy.
This move by Pompeo looks like a classic pre-emptive move to bind Trump down force him into a war which will be unpopular back home. The only one who wins with this attack is Israel.
U.S. troops are now less safe, effective forces fighting ISIS have been neutered and the Iraqi government is in shambles. Good job Mike.
Mike wants his golden parachute back to the Senate where he can continue doing god’s work for the Israelis, one more voice in a U.S. Senate seemingly without a limit on its thirst for power and the blood of the world.
This won’t end well and Trump better get his Flying Monkeys under control quick or he won’t be President much longer. Because when the body bags start, he’ll be the one who gets blamed.
Reprinted with permission from Gold Goats ‘n Guns.