"Any Muslim who denies #JesusChrist's and #SaintMary's infallibility is rejected by #Islam. This is how Islam respects Jesus and Mary (pbut).The honor #Muslims attribute to #JesusChrist (pbuh) is no less than his position and merit in the eyes of the Christian believers in Christianity. Today, many who claim to follow Jesus Christ, take a different path than that of him. The guidance of #Jesus, the son of #Mary (peace be upon our Prophet and her) is guidance towards worshiping #God and confronting the Pharaohs and tyrants. Following #JesusChrist requires adherence to righteousness and abhorrence of anti-righteous powers, and it is hoped that #Christians and #Muslims in every part of the world will adhere to this great lesson from Jesus (pbuh) in their lives and deeds." Ayatollah Khamenei, Supreme Leader
Yes, boys and girls, he did say that and if you visit Khamenei's Twitter site you'll find him sitting next an an elderly woman and to the right of her a Christmas tree adorned with ornaments including one of Santa Claus. And did you know, kiddies, that Iran's Majles, the equivalent of the UK's House of Commons or the US House of Representatives (one hates to make that comparison to denigrate the Majles) has reserved, by constitutional decree/law-dating to 1906, five seats for the following minorities: two Christian Armenians, one Assyrian-Chaldean Christian, one Jew and one Zoroastrian. The Ayatollah Kohmenei preserved condition after the Iranian revolution of 1979. This according to the United States Institute for Peace (USIP-link above).
It is interesting to note what USIP has to say about the Majles/Parliament and its relations with the Iranian presidency, the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council. "The 290-member parliament is weak compared with the presidency, as well as with the non-elected institutions such as the 12-member Guardian Council and the supreme leader's office."
The US House of Representatives and the US Senate are, indeed, weak compared with the US presidency and let us substitute "non-elected institutions" with the Department of Defense, lobbyists, campaign financiers and the two-party corporate media monsters (reflecting Democrats and Republicans) run by Disney, Comcast, NewsCorp, and so on.
Supreme Leader's Veto = US President's Veto
And it turns out, according to the USIP, that the Majles has its own troubles with the Supreme Leaders use of a veto to thwart its legislative power. Though not arising out of the Iranian president's office, it is in effect veto of parliament's legislation or proposed legislation. "Parliament has faced other obstacles. The supreme leader's office has intervened in the legislative process through a mechanism called the "state order." The supreme leader's most controversial intervention was in mid-2000, when he ordered a bill proposing to reform Iran's repressive press laws be removed from the docket."
Oh, what a flimsy comparison! But wait. Trump's Guardian Council (Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, CIA Director Gina Haspel and Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley) recently told two US Republican senators that they should not debate legislation to limit President Donald Trump's power to go to war with Iran. The US officials were sent to the House and Senate on Wednesday to brief legislators on the rationale for killing Iranian General Soleimani.
"GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) ripped the administration over a closed-door briefing on Iran on Wednesday, announcing they will now support a resolution reining in President Trump's military powers. Lee, speaking to reporters after a roughly hourlong closed-door meeting with administration officials, characterized it as ' the worst briefing I've seen, at least on a military issue. Lee said the officials warned that Congress would embolden Iran if lawmakers debated Trump's war powers. 'I find this insulting and demeaning ... to the office that each of the 100 senators in this building happens to hold. I find it insulting and demeaning to the Constitution of the United States.' Lee did not say which briefer made the assertion but specified that no administration representative contradicted them."
On paper the United States Constitution, specifically the checks and balances system adopted by the framers (from Montesquieu) was intended to keep the three branches as co-equals. It seems that James Madison, at least, was wrong about controlling factionalism. Polarization/factionalism, in the form of the corrupted US two party system, has nearly destroyed the Republic. The executive branch is overpowering-no matter what party holds office (at least since George W. Bush)-the US Congress seems only as powerful as the party that holds the presidency and the judiciary is loaded up with whatever conservative or liberal ideologues the president sees fit to appoint. (For an interesting read on how the US political process should be changed see UK's need to be change, see A.C. Grayling: Democracy and Its Crisis.)
Trump's Response to Iran's Missiles Hitting US Bases in Iraq
Looking at a still photo of Trump giving his "morning after speech" on the Iranian missile strike I wasn't sure if I was hallucinating or not. There was Trump behind the podium dressed up like Mussolini. On one side of Trump was Vice President Mike Pence dressed in a Nazi uniform. The stone faced members of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, proving that the United States is way ahead in the development of Artificial Intelligence appeared to me as Terminators. I had wondered if someone stuck a pin into Secretary of State Mike Pompeo that he would deflate like a balloon.
Well, the World Socialists hit the nail on the head in describing the troublesome scene and the content, or lack thereof, in his remarks.
"Much of what Trump had to say was recycled from previous speeches and tweets denouncing and slandering both Iran and General Qassem Suleimani. But more important than anything that Trump said was the way in which his speech was staged. In an unprecedented violation of constitutional protocol, Trump addressed the nation flanked by the entire uniformed Joint Chiefs of Staff as well as Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Secretary of Defense Mark Esper. On all previous occasions, the announcement of a major crisis or a military engagement has been made by a president, seated at his desk in the Oval Office. This image was intended to present Trump as the leader of a military junta...
Why did Trump fail to act on his threats? It is more than likely that the Joint Chiefs of Staff warned Trump that precipitous action could result in a military disaster.
The Pentagon needs time to prepare the defense of some 70,000 US troops deployed on Iran's borders from Afghanistan to Turkey, along with tens of thousands more military contractors and naval personnel stationed in the region. The military knows that the next round of US attacks will probably be answered with a rain of Iranian missiles on US bases, airfields, battleships and aircraft carriers. In the run-up to the US wars against Iraq in 1990 and 2003, Washington needed several months to prepare against a far less potent enemy.
There are also political considerations by Washington's war planners. More time is needed to develop pro-war propaganda and psychologically condition the population for levels of violence unknown since the end of World War II. This propaganda will include efforts to condition the American people to accept the use of nuclear weapons by the United States, with the assistance of the pliant corporate media. The mass protests in Iran and throughout the Middle East, provoked by Suleimani's killing, provided an indication of the upheavals that will be unleashed by an all-out US war..."
In looking at the video as Trump walked down a corridor to deliver his remarks was that the two US generals nearest to the door were facing each other. As soon as Trump walked by they turned and faced the camera's. Perhaps military protocol, but in these dangerous times with a demagogue in the Oval Office, it was nonetheless unsettling.
OK Boys and Girls: Why the US Can't Win a Conventional War with Iran
Let us dispense immediately with who has more blood on their hands, The United States or Iran. Well, there the Iran-Iraq War during which the US supported Iraq even as it used chemical weapons on Iranians. There is the Saudi campaign in Yemen, which the US supports, which has caused one of the worst humanitarian disasters of the last decade. Then there is that little piece of history from 1953 during which the United States and the UK overthrew the Iranian government. And remember this: No matter what the circumstance, United States is the victim, it's always the victim; in fact, it is exceptional in its victimhood having never been the transgressor or having caused any group or nation to seek reprisal or recompense.
The first matter to note is that Iran has observer status in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) which is an alliance between China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. As the Wiki entry noted, "In 2017, SCO's eight full members account for approximately half of the world's population, a quarter of the world's GDP, and about 80% of Eurasia's landmass." As Iran remains under US sanctions, it is prohibited from becoming a full member adds another minor reason why Iran is under perpetual economic sanctions by the USA.
Iran is directly bordered by Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Iran has maritime borders with Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
The distance between the capitals of Iran and Saudi Arabia, separated by the Persian Gulf, by air, is roughly 788 miles, well within reach of each other's ballistic missiles. Iran is twice the size of Texas with more mountainous terrain.
Relations between Iran and its neighbors are up and down. According to the CIA Factbook (which correctly notes Iran's non-compliance with human trafficking standards), "Iran protests Afghanistan's limiting flow of dammed Helmand River tributaries during drought; Iraq's lack of a maritime boundary with Iran prompts jurisdiction disputes beyond the mouth of the Shatt al Arab in the Persian Gulf; Iran and UAE dispute Tunb Islands and Abu Musa Island, which are occupied by Iran; Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Russia ratified Caspian seabed delimitation treaties based on equidistance, while Iran continues to insist on a one-fifth slice of the sea; Afghan and Iranian commissioners have discussed boundary monument densification and resurvey."
Iran and Azerbaijan have a testy relationship with one another. Armenian analyst Tevan Poghosyan said recently that that,"Against the backdrop of US-Iran conflict, Azerbaijan has become a platform for pressure on Iran from the US and Israel, from which unmanned aerial vehicles are being launched toward the Islamic Republic."
Armenia and Iran appear to have cordial bilateral relations and profitable tourism and trade between each other. Armenia has said it will remain neutral in the Iran-US conflict. The same appears true of Turkmenistan and Iran. It is no surprise that Iran and Afghanistan have closer relations than one would normally associate with a US puppet regime. But Afghanistan and Teheran are strong trading partners despite the influx of Afghani immigrants and refugees into Iran due to the ongoing US-Iraqi military operations against the Taliban and Islamic State. This haas caused friction between the Iranian and Afghanistan governments.
Iran and Turkey's relations are determined largely by the United States. Though trade and tourism continue, Turkey no longer purchases oil/gas from Iran due to economic sanctions.
Iran and Pakistan relations are beset with problems. According to TRTWorld's Tom Hussein, "For Afghanistan and Pakistan, the alarming escalation of tensions between their common neighbour Iran and the US, their shared geopolitical overlord, could not have come at a worse time.Since the Islamic revolution, however, Pakistan has aligned itself with Saudi Arabia, while at the same time pleading neutrality in the hostility between Riyadh and Tehran. Unsurprisingly, this approach has backfired repeatedly, with terrible consequences...Pakistan flatly refused to join the Saudi-led military coalition that invaded Yemen in 2015, after Iranian-backed Houthi rebels seized most of the country. This infuriated Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, but the benefits to Islamabad's relationship with Tehran were short-lived. Shortly after Imran Khan took power as prime minister in August 2018, Pakistan sought to repair the damage to its relations with the Gulf Arabs and invited the Saudis to set up an oil refinery complex at the Chinese-operated port of Gwadar, located close to the Iranian border. Since then, cross border attacks by militant separatists on both sides have been on the rise. Fear of a serious escalation prompted talks between Iran's political leaders and Pakistan's powerful military in November."
Stir it all Up and What Do You Get?
There are simply too many military fronts for the US/NATO to handle simultaneously, particularly on the ground. Even with the Saudi's and Kuwaiti's as allies, one has to doubt those two nation's fighting capabilities in any ground conflict. US military units can't count on the Saudi's or Kuwait's turning against them during combat.
The US Army and Marines would face ground attacks from within Syria and Iraq and, of course, upon entering Iran they'd find it's not Iraq circa 2003. US troops in Afghanistan would also find themselves, if not in retreat, then under constant attack. Who knows what new "terrorist" alliances would be made. A neo-Islamic State perhaps, joining up with other anti-US forces.
Refugee camps along the Pakistan-Afghnistan-Iran borders would be a hotbed for militias recruiting for the campaign agains the Great Satan. The Iranian's have learned well that the United States and its military are very predictable in order of attack: massive, world wide propaganda campaigns to include trumped up cyberattacks on US commercial interests; air-land-sea-space assets redeployed; cruise missile strikes, followed by aircraft bombing runs. US Combat Controllers will have already Halo Jumped into remote portions of Iran to setup staging areas before any invasion starts.
The Navy and Air Force must make quick work of their Iranian equivalents because airpower will be needed to protect US ground troops in multi-theaters of operation from getting overrun from many directions by militias (Pakistan, Afghanistan) or Iranian troops allied with those who will come to its defense. The SCO will have something to say about the matter too. Will Russia and China provide support to the Iranians? Will Russia and China figure that they might as well go toe-to-toe with the US now before it completes nuclear modernization (and in light of the new military strategy of Great Power Competition).
The US Marines and Army will have it the toughest. They may try a WWII style-beach landing onto Iranian shores from the Persian Gulf using US Marines and US Army paratroopers may attempt to come from the sky into Iranian territory. As with any war between the US and North Korea, tactical nukes will have to be considered by the United States. Sides will be chosen and it will be a bloodbath, just as overtaking North Korea would.
Time to call Pope Francis. Given how crazy the times are, it's a good idea. Read this at CRUX.
The continued irresolution of the W.Sahara conflict: The right to self-determination vs. Realpolitik by Dr. Sidi Omar, Frente Polisario representative at the UN