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Humble Pie

Merely a few hours ago, Bloomberg gave us ‘Iran Is Ready to Discuss Yemen Conflict with European Nations‘ (at https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-28/iran-says-ready-to-discuss-yemen-conflict-with-european-nations). You might think that this is a good thing, but it is not. Iran is caught in a two side war, just like I predicted in the previous 3 weeks. Just like that, they are willing to talk. They have suddenly realised that time was up and now they are grasping at any side that will be willing to facilitate for them at a price. It is linked to a few escalations on more than one side. Even as we read here: “Iran will be holding a new round of talks with Europe on the Yemen conflict, negotiations that have taken on greater significance as the sides try to salvage a nuclear agreement“, the start gives the goods, Iran wants to protect the nuclear agreement at all cost. Their high farting like sounds of political boasting is coming to an end, there was never any option and now they must concede on several sides. Even as one side is taken from them, they are willing to concede on the Yemen side as it was never going to be a realistic option and as Hezbollah has failed again and again in their pursuit of successful strikes on Saudi Arabia, none happened and now they need to find the one war they might actually have a chance of winning, it is the Nuclear agreement and even that will backfire soon enough. So when we read: ““Iran, like the EU, is unlikely to want to mix fate of the nuclear deal with that of talks on other issues,” said Aniseh Bassiri Tabrizi, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “At the same time, it is important for them to keep a channel of communication open with the EU, whatever happens on the nuclear deal, and the best dossier to do so is Yemen for them.”“, I tend not to be in agreement. You might think that it is all the same, but it is not. It is not about ‘whatever happens on the nuclear deal‘, it is about making sure that this agreement is salvaged, Iran overplayed its hand and now that there will be hell to pay, they need to find a way out, if only they can find the right greed and ego driven Europeans to make a quick deal, at that point the media can reflect on some victory, whilst there is no actual victory. You see, there is a second side that is part of this. Iran has figured out that the only interests that Russia has in Syria are Russian ones and in that picture there is no space for Iran, Israel has made that abundantly clear and as such Iran stands alone and with the hits that Israel has been making in Syria on Iranian troops and the strike last Thursday as well as the silence (or better stated lack of loud boasting) by the Syrian governments indicates that the absence of Iran is well liked, even though they are not willing to state it out loud. Syria wants to get the most out of the Russians and Iranians as it can get, which is perfectly fine, yet Iran is too much of an issue for Israel, after years of boasting and threatening, Israel decided to act; the political field was ripe for that. With both America and Saudi Arabia opposing Iran and Russia not really caring about Iran, Iran is in an unwinnable situation, the Iranian coffers drained by enabling Hezbollah as well as the actions in Syria have drained a large chunk of their reserves, Iran need to cut its losses and it is doing so with the gesture we see in the Bloomberg article, one of many to follow I reckon. That truth becomes a lot harsher when we see: “Chagai Tzuriel, director general of the Israeli ministry of intelligence, said he believed that Moscow realised that fighting between Iran and Israel could undermine gains made by Russia during the Syrian civil war“, we know that there is no hiding for Iran, they played the game as far as they could, now that option after option falls away, they are determined to hold on to the Nuclear agreement. This also opens the second stage for Israel; they can now more effectively take care of Hezbollah, now that there is an open season on Iran, Hezbollah can (hopefully permanently) be dealt with. In that regard there is no lack of either Israel or Saudi Arabia to hunt them down and without Iran that might well happen. For Russia it is not over, you see, the Jerusalem Post gives us “Lavrov’s comments are part of an understanding reached between Israel and Russia to keep Iranian and Hezbollah forces away from Syria’s border with Israel on the Golan Heights“, that sounds nice in theory, yet over the years Hezbollah has shown never to keep any agreement (when they were not out of ammunition), so there is a setting where it is very realistic that Hezbollah will do whatever it wants and puts Russia in a pickle, as such both sides agreeing to get rid of Hezbollah makes perfect sense as such Iran is really not willing to stay there as a piggy in the middle. In addition Russia stands to make a lot of plus points in the Saudi Arabia side of things, not just by pushing Iran away from where they are, but to push Hezbollah away from Syrian and Jordanian borders which gets them nice points at the Jordanian royal court as well. In all this there is actually not one part of Hezbollah that has any redeeming value at all, and the worst part is that Hezbollah knows this too (yet they do not care).

There is one additional side that Iran needs to worry about. As Saudi Arabia has given to Germany to be the aggrieved party in Germany’s support in favour of the nuclear deal for Iran is already costing Germany a lot, the German giants who were tenders on several projects for the Saudi government are seeing them being cut from consideration, with Neom and Vision 2030, both projects totaling in value at well over 800 billion, the German economy will take larger hits, other EU nations might find themselves in a setting where they have to choose to go for a really bad nuclear deal, whilst there is no evidence that it will result in a better position and good economic settings in the longer run (more then 3-5 years) whilst Saudi Arabia is growing a setting that is getting closer to a trillion dollars over 12 years, there is no way that Iran can rely on any level of serious support, not after all the stunts they played. Their actions made it impossible and their boasting made it close to intolerable. In addition with Iran cut in every way, Turkey will now need to realise that they played the game wrong in other ways as well. Even as some might cry over the Russians not getting the F-35 due to getting culled from the program, Russia sees a second option to not just sell Turkey missiles, they could optionally sell them the SU-57 as well, which will get Turkey a new loan agreement for a few billions and let’s face it America needs to test the F-35 anyway, whether they test their F-35 against a Sukhoi, does it matter whether a Russian or a Turk is flying it? (Howls of deriving laughter in the background)

You see, they are doing this whilst their currency is at an all-time low, some might think that it is a great time to buy, yet with their economy in shambles and there should be no chance of them ascending into the EU in the next few years, the setting of spending billions on a new Sukhoi squadron (perhaps even two) seems to be folly to me. Even as there is some good news (read: numbers) coming from Turkey, its unemployment rate is still a little over 10.5% and seems to be rising over the next quarter, surpassing Italy in unemployment statistics. It is there where we see another issue. This matters as there has been a link between Iran and Turkey, so as the pressure on several sides is on Turkey, the economic pressures might force Turkey to make any deal they can, even if they have to break connections to Iran, which would for the most isolate Iran at that point, an option that both Israel and Saudi Arabia would enjoy. Israel especially as Turkey was threatening Israel with all kinds of sanctions (source: Haaretz).

So as Turkey is imposing sanctions on those deciding to recognise the Armenian Holocaust, we see the active economic impact that Turkey faces by being in denial, not the worst day in many lives.

In this there is a reflection that must be noticed, In Al Arabiya, there was an article (at http://english.alarabiya.net/en/views/news/middle-east/2018/05/25/Bitterness-confusion-among-Saudi-Arabia-s-foes.html), an opinion piece that matters. You see, the writer Abdullah bin Bijad Al-Otaibi (Twitter: @abdullahbjad) gives us “Enemies are upset and confused and the world is recalibrating its power equations so that each knows its place and capabilities. Also, so that each country can reflect on its policies and alliances through the power of politics, diplomacy, boycott and sanctions, as well as with the power of armies and weapons“, he is correct, President Donald Trump might have kicked it off with “America First“, it is a truth we have been forced to face for well over 5 years. It does not matter whether you are in the US, UK, Saudi Arabia, Sweden, Australia, Canada or New Zealand. As citizens and politicians we have a duty to protect our national interests and set that as a first essential need. When we look from that angle we get to reflect on how bad Iran is, we cannot fault Turkey for taking its national interests first, yet they did it by not honouring the allies they had for decades and that sets the sliding acceptance (towards rejection) of Turkey in all this when you consider the events from 2001 onwards.

In this his view: “Big European companies are fleeing Iran at a fast pace and everyone who has dealt with Iran, whether banks or companies, are looking for a safe way out of any ties they have with Iran, its parties, militias and ideology. Everyone now accepts the facts about Iran’s crimes such as its sponsoring of terrorism, drug dealing and money laundering in the region and the world” is not incorrect, yet the issue is that this sets the stage on greed influencing the national interest in the stage of big business versus government, a setting that Europe, the US and the Commonwealth have had for the longest time. In addition there is now a small opposition from my side. I agree with part of his statement “They have done so through the Palestinian cause which they have, from Iran, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, managed to exploit to serve their interests and fulfil their ambitions“, there is a side I cannot completely agree with (actually there is more than one side here). Not because I think he is wrong, but because there is data missing, data I never had access to, or was given by a reputable media source to the degree that there is enough shown to see it as an actual issue.

This is seen in the parties Iran and Qatar. Now, we accept the puppet game that Iran has played, we do not deny that in any way, but in the end Iran was merely playing the hand it had to show Iranian interest. We can agree that it was done badly, yet they did do this for mere national interest (or so they say). In the second part there is Qatar. I agree that there are questions, yet overall, I have not seen the evidence, the allegations going back to 2014 have been loud, yet the media and others have not given a clear path of evidence that gives light to the wrongful opposition by the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, we can agree that there are some terrorist financiers, that was never in question, yet Qatar seems to have tried all legal ways and did not get anywhere, in addition the US state document (at https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/258249.pdf) does not give the goods either, we are confronted with “Qatar is a partner in the Global Coalition to Counter the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and has provided significant support in facilitating critical U.S. military operations in the region. Terrorist activity historically has been low in Qatar“, this does not make Qatar innocent; it merely shows that without better and more data, they remain ‘not guilty‘, which is not the same. The document is 3 years old, yet there is no new information that truly sets Qatar in a bad light (for now). In addition we see that Qatar State Security is aggressive when it comes to monitoring internal extremist or terrorism-related activities. Interestingly enough, the players from ‘team’ Qatar State Security seem to have a much better handle on internal extremism and terrorism-related activities than most European countries, so there is that to consider as well. The second issue I had with the statement by Abdullah bin Bijad al-Otaibi is the reference to ‘the Palestinian cause‘, which is not wrong to make, yet for many of us, especially those outside of Saudi Arabia, Palestine or the Middle East, we no longer know what ‘the Palestinian cause‘ actually is. You see in its origin it is directly linked to the 1948 Palestinian exodus, yet the entire Palestinian cause seemed to have been presented, projected and covered by the media in almost any setting that covered news in Lebanon, Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza strip. The entire definition has shown to have shifted over the decades and I still believe that it is shifting, even today. In addition the fact that western media over the years seemed to have made ‘the Palestinian cause‘ and ‘hatred of Jews and the State of Israel‘ close to interchangeable does not help matters either.

All these issues matter as they are connected. that connection is also part of the problem and reason why I am partially in opposition, now, I am fully aware that my opposition is wrong, or better stated incorrect, yet I am like most sensible people, I rely on data, and data is either reliable or not and I tend to regard shifted data as not that reliable, which is why I had the cause for opposition.

So as we see that Iran is facing humble pie on several fronts, we need to realise that our views and more important the views we get from information we accept as reliable is also filtering the view we have, it might be correct, or wrong. In the end we do not know and restoring our filters by attending our national interests first is not the worst place to start, as a citizen we need to do that, because when we look to our nation, our national needs and attend to that, we ground ourselves and perhaps as the economic settings have shifted, so will the national need and that is OK, as long as we do not tend towards corporate greed and consider the needs of our neighbours, we might get through the bad times in a much better way than we thought. In the end it is not about serving Iran Humble Pie, which would be the right thing to do, we need to consider when we are rightfully served Humble Pie, will we eat it when we realise that we were wrong?

That includes us all and it includes me, I have never shied away from optionally being wrong. I merely reacted to the verifiable data that I was served and I made the best of it and tried to remain true to the data based views offered and I reflected on those insights, it is the best we can do in this modern world.

 

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Iranian decisions

At 00:10 Tel Aviv Time, roughly 07:10 here, the time of waiting was over, Iran has fired its missiles on Israel making the outstanding option of an impending war a lot more realistic. In this the Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/09/iran-fires-20-rockets-syria-golan-heights-israel) “Iranian forces stationed in Syria fired approximately 20 projectiles at Israeli military positions in the Golan Heights just after midnight on Thursday, Israel’s defence forces (IDF) said“, in addition we see “Several but not all rockets were intercepted by Israeli air defences, an IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, told reporters“, whatever happens, will happen soon, because if sch a barrage cannot completely be stopped, we can deduce that it will not take long for Iran to take a more targeted notion, yes, my version is speculative, yet the warmongering words from the last weeks gives rise to take it all a lot more serious than it has been taken in the past. So when we see ““The IDF views this Iranian attack very severely,” Conricus said. “This event is not over”“, we better believe that more is to come. There is an additional setting, this attack could only have been done with the approval of President Bashar al-Assad, so he is feeling secure enough with Iran and Russia backing him, so the picture changes on a few fronts, this is no longer merely settling whatever Iran thought it was settling, this could have much larger repercussions. Turkey is already voicing support for Iran and siding with Russia (they are playing their hand cautiously, yet Turkey is all in with their anti-Israel views. It gets to be worse, because as the US pulled out of the nuclear Iran accord, we now see ‘EU rushes to arrange crisis meeting with Iran over nuclear deal‘ (at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/may/09/eu-moves-to-protect-european-firms-from-us-sanctions-on-iran), so even as we know that there are several things wrong, even as Iran meddled in other business and now is responsible for direct missile attacks on Israel, we see that Europe is still trying to make some level of a deal with Iran. It goes even further when we see “Work on the package being coordinated by the European Union is at an early stage, but the EU is being urged to warn the US it will impose countersanctions if the US attempts unjustifiably to cripple EU firms trading with Iran“, yet the foundation is that there has been more and more overwhelming evidence that Iran has not been dealing in good faith. When we consider the earlier settings that I mentioned 3 days ago in ‘Stopping Slumber, Halting Hesitation‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2018/05/07/stopping-slumber-halting-hesitation/), we can just quickly decide that they were prepping for all this, which would be incorrect, yet the fact that 20 missiles got there so quickly to be fired on the Golan heights also indicates that there was Iranian willingness to go that distance in several political branches and on pretty much all military levels, which is equally unsettling. The issue is that the EU remains a lot quieter when it comes to the involvement of Turkey. It is a personal view of mine, yet I believe that there will be diminished needs soon enough and there is a Turkey EU membership play coming. The beginning of ‘compliance delay messages‘ is merely an indicator, I believe that the fear mongering will get worse and too many parties are playing that game, that whilst the denial of Turkey into the EU should have been clearly made well over a year ago.  So when we are treated to “The European Union is scrambling to arrange a crisis meeting with Iran after Donald Trump pulled out of the nuclear agreement, as the Iranian president Hassan Rouhani said Europe had a “very limited opportunity” to save the deal“, we also need to keep in mind that terms like ‘could’ connected to ‘shut down UK’ on EU laws, this level of fear mongering is just beyond acceptable and we might all be better off in a direct war and whomever survives will suddenly demand near draconian treatment of the media, even as Leveson 2 is (for now) off the rails, the next crises will not go that smooth for whomever is demanding greater accountability of the media. That is not the only part, the entire Turkish economy and the S&P decision to regard Turkey. As it junkified its currency rating from ‘BB/B’ to ‘BB-/B’, we see a larger impact and when we consider that the Turkish lira (TRY) has fallen 7.4% this year and in that setting, including the corporate debt problems that Turkey is facing, the entire blow hard whilst they are not producing any music is more than merely wind in the air, as Turkish economic growth has been fueled by cheap international credit, we still see the need to pay for all that and now as we see (actually it was last month) with “Yildiz Holding—owner of the brands Godiva chocolate and McVitie’s biscuits requires a complete restructure of $6.5bn of its total $8.5bn of debt by the end of this week“, a cookie factory having an eight billion dollar debt? What else is in such disrepair? That shows just how desperate Turkey is at present to get into bed with almost anyone, that is what we are allowing in our midst and there is no level of fear that seems to be reflecting off the sides of EU Brussels and Strasbourg, which is also unsettling, now as they are optional diplomats in a really bad case of reconsideration by merely the EU to get the nuclear deal going, now we see the rise of mentions and soft press tapping on Turkish doors.

That alone should scare us beyond measure!

There is no case against it all and whilst Turkey is at a stage what some call ‘Hostage Diplomacy‘ whilst they are now upgrading their arsenal with the Russian S-400, the game switches and none of this will end up having a happy ending. For now we can leave Russia out of this as its focus is merely the US, or intermittent board hugging to make the US look bad via the EU, yet overall the setting here is not too negative (for now), the issue merely becomes hoe friendly it needs to remain with Iran in the mix, because there is the game on a different level. From my point of view there is a certain level of polarisation, even as Europe should stand next to Israel, it seems intent on standing ‘diplomatically‘ alone so that they need not stand opposing Turkey, that is merely one view, yet in light of its financial hardships and Turkish needs to be seen positive towards becoming an EU nation is not a good combination. So when we see the EU with “As long as Iran continues to implement its nuclear related commitments, as it has been doing so far and has been confirmed by the International Atomic Energy Agency in 10 consecutive reports, the EU will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the nuclear deal“, which all might be very true, yet Iran has shown different colours in Syria and against Israel, so that stance is not merely wrong it promotes polarisation. On the one hand, the EU is not doing anything wrong from that one treaty point of view, yet in light of what we have seen in Syria, there are a lot more issues in play, not all are on Iran, some are allegedly issues for Iran to answer, but I wish to not use that in the examples, merely because they are allegedly part of anything, meaning they are part of nothing until confirmed and when we consider the utter uselessness on the last chemical attack reports, certain Syrian issues cannot be labelled to anyone but Syria itself. So as things in Syria escalates and as Iran is escalating them, or at least actively part of the escalation, the EU will need to take a stance sooner rather than later, they prefer later, yet when they are forced onto a corner and they select Turkey and Iran over Israel, the game will quickly change and not only is Europe feeling that drain, the impact that will happen in the middle East, is one that Europe will suffer for a much longer time than they bargained for and there is no quick solution for the wrong decision. That will be evident pretty soon at this stage.

So as we see one side evolve, we see in similar news from the Wall Street Journal (at https://www.wsj.com/articles/missiles-fired-at-saudi-arabia-signal-support-for-iran-by-its-proxies-1525886469) the mention “Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen fired a barrage of missiles into Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, an early indication that Iran’s allies in the Middle East are likely to flex their muscles in a show of support for their patron—risking a wider conflict“, I think that these events which were apart by merely a few hours had some levels of coordination. So when we see “Yemeni army forces, supported by allied fighters from Popular Committees, have fired a salvo of domestically-designed and -developed ballistic missiles at “economic targets” in the Saudi capital city of Riyadh in retaliation to the Al Saud’s devastating military aggression against their impoverished country“, we need to keep a clear mind. The missiles are said to be Yemeni (Borkan H-2 missiles), yet the information on the H2 is that it is said to be a short range ballistic missile with normally a range of about 1,000 kilometres (620 mi) or less. Even as we see it is almost capable of making the 1,036 km to Riyadh, the setting that we see with ‘economic targets‘, whilst at the maximum distance, the chance of actually hitting what is aimed for at the maximum range is a lot less likely or possible, not without and ace rocket and ballistic expert at the missile site; the Houthi’s are a little short on both, so we have, in my personal opinion, either Houthi’s that want to hit any part (mainly civilian parts) of Riyadh and they merely claim to be aiming for a bank, or the optional more likely setting is that Iran has been directly involved in training the Houthi’s or firing the missiles themselves. Now, we can opt for option one, yet the training curve would be a little devastating on all minds involved (even if you use targeting computers and software, yet they have had the time to train the Houthi’s for months, so it is possible, yet I personally see it as less likely (again merely speculation from my side), so when we consider that Iran is waging war on two fronts, so far (as far as I can recall) only Napoleon and Adolf Hitler were that stupid and how did it end for them? There is an optional thought that Iran will be hiding behind European coat tails in the end, but that is still speculation without evidence (at present), perhaps that is why Turkey is in a desperate state to become part of the EU?

I am merely asking, because the Iranian decisions we are seeing over the last 24 hours give rise not to the US, but to other players hoping to wage ‘extreme’ solutions to make things go forward for them, whilst the opposing player has no intention of playing nice, the US can’t start another war and Iran might be hoping that the EU is too unwilling to see its economic setting dissolved through armed conflict. It would be a decent tactic to play, but for now it merely remains a setting of speculation. Yet, in all this, there is more than just saber rattling. When we look at Reuters we see “Turkey will continue its trade with Iran as much as possible and will not be answerable to anyone else, Economy Minister Nihat Zeybekci said on Tuesday, as U.S. President Donald Trump said the United States was withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal“, so we see Turkey with an utter lack of accepting accountability for the economic paths that they are trying to get on (aka the EU gravy train). How can anyone expect Turkey to have any level of civility in the setting of economic partnerships? Because in the EU setting, we have seen more than one play where such acts would not have been allowed, yet Turkey is setting the pace to do just that. It is an important setting as it gives Iran a green light they should not have had, it is merely the outspoken voice to set the colour of options, and that colour is the one of explosive red. That is shown by others as the setting that is not to be allowed. Even as we understand that there is a setting that Italy, Germany and France do not want these sanctions to happen, we see that their voice gives “Patrick Pouyanné, the chief executive of the French energy firm Total, has already called for the EU to pass a blocking statute“, which makes perfect sense, and it is likely to happen, yet when we see the Turkish response with “Turkey will continue its trade with Iran as much as possible and will not be answerable to anyone else“, it merely shows that they are nowhere near ready to be allowed into the EU as a member state, because when they do something like this after they are admitted, the game changes by a lot and from that moment onward Turkey becomes merely the liability of the EU, not a member of the EU and there is a large distinct difference, even as we see them in the current setting for now, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will not continue on the undermining path that they are on, we have seen too many instances of Turkey acting that way that way in the last few years.

When we return to Iran we seem to be in deep water, not healthy waters by the way, the Riyadh/Golan actions are debatable at the very least and the fact that they are being mixed gives light to the dangers that are upcoming. Can they be avoided is the larger question, I am unsure of an answer, the fact that Yemen and Syria happened at almost the same time is a larger issue to contemplate and I have no factual useful response. Waiting for now is pretty much all we can do. I don’t think that we have to wait for too long as Israel has already announced retaliatory strikes a mere 15 minutes ago (source: Haaretz). So this cookie will not merely escalate, it is certainly the setting where other cookies get crumbled as well, the mere question is: “What are our options as per tomorrow, or the day after?

I do not know, when it comes to Yemen, we all (mainly the EU, NATO and USA) sat on our hands for far too long and they have made it part of the package deal. So the first act (at present) might just depend on how much Saudi Arabia feels threatened.

 

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