January 15, 2012. Jerusalem. Is the world on the verge of the long-feared final conflict in the Middle East? Tensions and rhetoric have become increasingly heated over the past few weeks. With the US and Iran refusing to blink, and Israel in the middle screaming for blood, each side is on a collision course. But nothing up to this point compares to the unprecedented events of the past 48 hours. If headlines and media coverage are any indication, one headline after another these coming weeks will be from the war-torn Middle East.
Typical Iranian Naval speed boats. Image courtesy of SeaNews.com.
Official government statements, activities on the ground and military movements have created a number of unprecedented events. Whiteout Press touched on the breaking news two weeks ago. Apparently, we were one of, if not thee, first news outlet in the United States to break the story of thousands of US troops going to Israel in the coming weeks. Thanks to you our incredible readers, the Whiteout Press article, ‘US Troops going to Israel’ was so popular and so recommended and redistributed, the traffic crashed our website numerous times. We were able to keep it up for most of the following days, slow as it was at some points. That article alone garnered more than 40,000 hits per day for almost a week. Thank you.
Here are the current crisis one by one:
Reuters reports that Israeli officials are angry with President Obama for his hesitant and light-handed tactics with Iran. According to Reuters earlier today, Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israeli Radio, “In the United States, the Senate passed a resolution, by a majority of 100-to-one, to impose these sanctions, and in the U.S. administration there is hesitation for fear of oil prices rising this year, out of election-year considerations."
Israel has been publicly pushing for harsher actions by the US against Iran’s slowly mounting nuclear threat. When the UN watchdog IAEA confirmed last month that Iran was not being forthcoming with its nuclear information and appeared to be working toward weapons-grade nuclear capabilities, Israeli leaders pounced on the news, urging US President Obama to act.
According to Associated Press, on Thursday, the number one military commander in the US armed forces will be in Israel. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General Martin Dempsey, will be making his first visit to Israel in his current position. Dempsey assumed the command on September 30. Adding fuel to speculation that his visit is meant to anchor US forces on the ground in case hostilities erupt, US officials have refused to release any information regarding the General’s visit.
Associated Press reports that Iran warned its Arab neighbors today, insisting that they not increase oil production if world sanctions stop the flow of crude from Iran. Such a move would cause global oil prices to skyrocket. Iran currently has the capability to produce 4 million barrels per day. The largest oil producer in the region, Saudi Arabia, only has enough spare capacity to produce an extra 2 million barrels. That means a number of Gulf nations would be needed to increase production to keep gas from spiking in the US and Europe.
“These acts will not be considered friendly," AP reported Mohammad Ali Khatibi, Iran's OPEC governor saying, adding that if the Arab producers "apply prudence and announce that they will not participate in replacing oil, then adventurist countries will not show interest." Hinting at the building military tensions, the Iranian OPEC representative warned his fellow members that assisting the west would make them an, “accomplice in further events."
Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, which runs past its territorial waters and carries one-fifth of the world's oil, if the US and Europe go-ahead and place an embargo on Iranian oil and banking. This past week, the Iranian Navy tried to show it was serious. While traveling through the Strait, the USS New Orleans transport ship was harassed by three Iranian Naval speed boats. The Iranian high-speed vessels came within 300 yards of the US ship. The same day, similar Iranian Naval speed-boats harassed the US Coast Guard ship Adak off the coast of Kuwait. Both incidents were videotaped by the US Navy.
United States, no wait, Israel again
An article appeared this weekend in the US media with the title False Flag that has since become very difficult to find. The article coincided with the release of a formal “letter of condemnation” from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to the United States and Great Britain. Iranian officials claim they have evidence that the US, British and Israeli agents are responsible for the string of assassinations of Iranian scientists. The fifth assassination in two years occurred Wednesday in Iran when a 32 year-old Iranian scientist and another occupant in his car were blown up by terrorists.
Iranian Joint Armed Forces, Massoud Jazayeri, responded to the most recent assassination on Iranian soil saying, "Our enemies, especially America , Britain and the Zionist regime have to be held responsible for their actions."
While the mysterious “False Flag” weekend article is difficult to find now, two other sources pick up the accusation. Both ForeignAffairs.com and VeteransToday.com published an article detailing how the Israeli Mossad has been posing as US CIA agents while working in Iran, and elsewhere. One veteran of the US spy agency laughed, saying that was always how the Israelis operated. In one operation, they posed as KGB. In another, they posed as CIA, etc.
The two articles go on, explaining:
“Buried deep in the archives of America’s intelligence services are a series of memos, written during the last years of President George W. Bush’s administration, that describe how Israeli Mossad officers recruited operatives belonging to the terrorist group Jundallah by passing themselves off as American agents. According to two U.S. intelligence officials, the Israelis, flush with American dollars and toting U.S. passports, posed as CIA officers in recruiting Jundallah operatives — what is commonly referred to as a ‘false flag’ operation.”
While all past reports insist then President Bush was furious to find out Israeli Mossad agents were posing as US agents, even carrying out political assassinations as such, there is nothing to show the Bush administration did anything to stop it. As far as it seems, the same can be said of the current Obama administration. While Iran and the international community may be pointing the finger at the US for the assassinations recently in Iran, one anonymous US official denies the claims saying, “We don’t do bang and boom. And we don’t do political assassinations.”
Other US personnel are quoted in the above articles explaining further, ‘Israel regularly proposes conducting covert operations targeting Iranians, but is just as regularly shut down’. “They come into the room and spread out their plans, and we just shake our heads and we say to them — ‘Don’t even go there. The answer is no.’”
Yesterday, the San Francisco Chronicle broke the story that the US has been quietly building up troops in Kuwait in preparation for a possible war with Iran. They report, ‘Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis, who heads U.S. Central Command, won White House approval for the deployments late last year. Officials said the deployments are not meant to suggest a buildup to war, but rather are intended as a quick-reaction and contingency force in case a military crisis erupts in the standoff with Tehran over its suspected nuclear weapons program.’
When Iraq refused to let the US use its territory for a “temporary” military base and staging ground, American forces were forced to pack into tiny Kuwait. Added to the military personnel already there, the report says 15,000 additional troops have been massing there. Witnesses on the ground point to the most obvious change. Unlike the supply, fuel and transportation equipment that Kuwait has hosted for the US in its previous three wars in the area, this contingent is overwhelmingly offensive. Among the troops deployed to Kuwait are two Army infantry brigades and a helicopter detachment.
As reported in the previous Whiteout Press article, ‘US Troops going to Israel’, the US and Israel have confirmed they are staging the largest ever joint missile exercise between the two countries sometime soon. Neither side has released the timing of the missile defense exercise, but Israeli media outlets insist it will occur this spring. Both sides have also announced that Israeli military officials will be incorporated into US European Command while US authorities will be brought into the fold of the Israeli Defense Forces. Neither side confirmed whether that was a temporary or permanent move.
Three US Aircraft Carrier strike groups will be in the Persian Gulf at the same time. US officials insist the overlap is a “coincidence”. It was only last week that Iranian authorities threatened the US that its carriers better not return to the Persian Gulf. The USS John C. Stennis was leaving the area at the time, returning to port in San Diego.
Now, the Stennis is holed up in the Arabian Sea awaiting further orders. The US Navy hasn’t announced when the battle group will return to the US. Joining them last week was the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier battle group. There, the two fleets await the arrival of a third aircraft carrier group, the USS Abraham Lincoln. The Lincoln and its group are speeding through the Indian Ocean right now, headed toward the other two fleets.
In an insightful article from Business Insider, they report the fact that while the US is paying to patrol the Strait of Hormuz and global oil prices climb over the fear of war, China is making backroom deals with Iran to buy oil at a very discounted price. The article brings us other information as well. Not only does it detail how the US is currently operating 24-hour drone missions over the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, as well as 12-hour shifts of P-3 surveillance planes.
In addition, they give a detail of what an aircraft carrier battle group consists of. Each US carrier in the Arabian Sea will have its own small fleet. Each group contains:
In one often forgotten page of patriotism, The Atlantic Wire reminds us of the US Navy’s teams of mine-sweeping dolphins. Actually, the Navy insists the dolphins only locate the mines and drop beacons for the Navy to find and destroy later. They don’t release statistics however detailing how many of the mammals are killed in action. US officials will only say that in a situation like the Strait of Hormuz where the waters may be mined, dolphins are very effective. The article points out that the last time mine-sweeping dolphins were thrust into the spotlight was in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq.
With all the activity and rhetoric occurring in the Middle East between the United States, Iran and Israel, one doesn’t know what’s more peculiar – the incredible military build-up or the emphatic denial by US officials that it is all an innocent coincidence.
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