Monday, July 26, 2021

US at Odds with UK, France over Iranian Threat in the Middle East

The command of Operation Inherent Resolve, OIR demonstrates the military-political differences have arisen between the US and European allies (mainly the UK and France) in the Middle East. The Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR) is the U.S. military’s operational name for the military intervention against the ISIS in Iraq and Syria. 

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Recently, the Deputy Commander of the Operation Inherent Resolve Joint Task Force, Major General of the British Army Christopher Ghika, asserted that there is no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq or Syria, directly contradicting US assertions used to justify a military buildup in the region.

General Ghika, during a conference call from Baghdad, told reporters that the combined forces “clearly know about this [Iranian] presence. “No – there’s been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria,” Ghika said in a videolink briefing from Baghdad to the Pentagon.

“We’re aware of that presence, clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we’re in. We are monitoring the Shia militia groups. I think you’re referring to carefully and if the threat level seems to go up then we’ll raise our force protection measures accordingly.”

The events that followed showed that the statement of the British military was not a spontaneous step or his personal initiative. A few hours later, the US Central Command, which is responsible for US military operations in the Middle East, took an unusual step by publicly refuting the statement of the British military.

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A representative of CENTCOM US captain Bill Urban, said: “The recent comments of the deputy commander of the OIR contradict the identified credible threats against the United States and its allies in the region.”

The next day, Wednesday, the Pentagon was followed by an explanation that Major General GHika spoke only as a military man focused on fighting ISIS and that Ghika, it’s still clear that the threats to the United States and allied forces from Iran do exist.

But this version of the US military has not received confirmation. On the same day, differences between the United States and its closest allies intensified, since neither the United Kingdom nor other European governments supported American official statements that Iran plans to intensify attacks against the United States and its “allied assets” in Syria and Iraq.

The US State Department announced that it was withdrawing all its non-emergency personnel from diplomatic missions in Iraq after warnings from the Donald Trump government about the threat from Iran-supported militias.

But the British Foreign Office, the Foreign Office, said in growing disagreement that it did not plan to follow the lead of Americans. The British Department of Defense defended its general, who was the first to question the claims of the Trump administration about security threats from Iran and its affiliated forces in Iraq. France also said they did not plan to evacuate their diplomats or suspend their own military training programs.

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And although Germany and the Netherlands declared that they would stop their military training programs in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq for security reasons, German Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff also said that “no specific threat” exists and that training can resume in a few days.

Thus, the differences between the United States and its European allies regarding Iran, following the economic sphere, were publicly indicated in the military-political field.

Meanwhile, US National Security Advisor John Bolton continues to insist that Iran plans to attack US and US-related forces in the Middle East. Last week, Bolton announced that the US was sending another carrier group to the waters of the Persian Gulf, as well as the B-52 bombers and one missile battery to the Middle East due to a sudden escalation.

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As reported then, the Pentagon developed contingency plans, including the deployment of a 120,000-strong US military force. The concentration of such a large number of US military forces means a direct military threat to Iran.

Characteristically, scepticism of US international allies about the Iranian threat is also supported in American democratic circles. So, Senator from New York and the leader of the Democrats Chuck Schumer said that the evidence of flaws by Trump administration seems to be appearing which was uncovered in an article in “The New York Times”, which reported on the Pentagon’s plans to send 120 000 men to the Middle East if hostilities begin against Iran. “Have we learned the lessons of the last decade? – asked Schumer from the rostrum of the Senate. – Here there is an alarming vagueness, there is a lack of strategy, lack of consultation. The president must propose a strategy and clearly tell the Congress about it.

”In turn, Democratic Senator from the state of New Jersey, Robert Menendez formerly chairing the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, now the most senior member of the Democratic Party in this committee, noted that the tightening of the US administration’s position on Iran is “difficult to justify,” since Trump and his advisers did not provide Congress with “any details about what exactly these heightened threats represent.”

Democrats fear that the war with Iran has become an end in itself for the Trump administration, and precisely for provoking its made-up pretences to raise threats from the Iranian side for the American forces stationed in the region.

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