Imran Khan / Al Jazeera & AntiWar.com – 2018-07-23 22:43:21
The US, Electricity and Iran:
What’s Behind the Iraq Protests?
As protests continue across southern Iraq,
some are questioning the role of the US in the ongoing unrest
Imran Khan / Al Jazeera
BAGHDAD, Iraq (July 21, 2018) — Is the United States behind the protests in southern Iraq? Well, the answer to that question is both yes and no.
Yes, because the US led the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, which destroyed much of the infrastructure the country needed to remain a modern society.
No, because before the US, former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein punished the south’s residents by not building infrastructure after they rose up against him during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. But there was another game afoot here that did allegedly involve the US.
The protests in the south, which kicked off in Basra almost two weeks ago, were sparked when Iran stopped supplying electricity to that region after it said it was owed $1.5 billion in unpaid bills.
The protesters didn’t blame Iran but pointed to what they called an inept and corrupt Iraqi government. However, in recent days Al Jazeera has been told, off the record, that the US put pressure on Iraq not to pay the Iranians.
Following its withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known colloquially as the Iran nuclear deal, in May, the US is currently preparing new sanctions against Tehran — and it’s rallying support for those measures from allies.
Speaking to Al Jazeera, Iraqi politician Raheem al-Darajji said he thinks the US is using Iraq. “I personally believe that there is some sort of pressure being orchestrated by the US government on the authorities in Iraq not to pay Iran for electricity,” he said.
When pressed on why he thought the US may be doing this, he replied that “it seems there is an unannounced proxy war carried out by the US against Iran and the US administration clearly wants the Iraqi government to be part of it”.
Iraq, however, shares a huge border with Iran and has enjoyed close ties to it since the US-led invasion. Putting a strain on that relationship by withholding money for bills is seen as dangerous by political observers.
“From my conversations, I think the US has applied pressure on Iraq to withhold Iranian money, but there are other factors at play, including a weak government, unable to stand up to pressure,” political analyst Ahmed Rushdi told Al Jazeera.
For the residents of Basra, international political intrigue matters little. Through the time of Saddam, the US and now Iraqi democracy, they have seen little change in their lives over the decades and have now taken to the streets to express their anger.
US Launches Campaign to Undermine Support for Iran’s Leaders
Pompeo urges Iranians abroad to support protesters
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 22, 2018) — US officials say that the Trump Administration has formally launched an “offensive” campaign of speeches and online statements aimed to erode support for Iran’s government and to foment pressure against them.
The US pressure is being done primarily to try to force Iran to end its civilian nuclear program. Iran’s program operates under the P5+1 nuclear treaty, which the US recent withdrew from. US officials confirm upcoming statements against Iran will portray them in a harsh light, and may be “exaggerated” or even contradict previous statements.
Earlier this month, Israeli officials told reporters that the US and Israel had already formed a “joint working group” designed to plot against Iran, and that it’s focus was to fuel internal unrest against the government.
Officials at the time said that plot was not done with an eye toward regime change, but rather to try to fuel public protests among Iranians themselves. There have been Iranian protests against the government in recent months.
In comments doubtless unrelated, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Sunday issued a statement calling on overseas Iranians to do everything they can to support the protesters. Pompeo referred to Iran as a “kleptocratic regime” that had been stealing from the Iranian public for 40 years.
Furious Trump Threatens
Iranian President Will ‘Suffer Consequences’
Declares Rouhani’s warning against war
‘demented words of violence and death’
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com
(July 22, 2018) — His latest foray into Twitter diplomacy, President Trump on Friday night issued a statement in all capital letters declaring:
“To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
The comments were made after Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani made a statement earlier Sunday warning the US against pursuing a war with Iran, saying “America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.”
Rouhani’s comments came amid media reports quoting US officials confirming that the US is trying to undermine Iran’s leadership with diplomatic statements. Rouhani added that he didn’t feel the US was in a position to “incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests.”
Though Rouhani’s comments are relatively common for Iranian officials, portraying their nation as ready to defend themselves while also open to peace, President Trump’s response seems to be taking the bellicosity his own comments on Iran are known for to new extremes.
It is not unusual for President Trump to give the impression that he is somewhat unhinged, and liable to do anything at any time, a negotiating strategy that is likely deliberate. This is an odd time for it, however, as it both allows Iran to fairly portray itself as a victim being bullied by the US for virtually no reason, and also undercuts recent US attempts to convince EU nations to go along with their anti-Iran policies.
Question: Which Statement
Seems More Aligned with the Description:
“Demented words of violence and death”?
Gar Smith / EAW
“Mr. Trump, don’t play with the lion’s tail, this would only lead to regret . . . .
“America should know that peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars . . . .
“You are not in a position to incite the Iranian nation against Iran’s security and interests.”
— Iranian President Hassan Rouhani
“NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE. WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!”
— Donald Trump
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