The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): Eurasia Review: Europe’s Dilemma As US Increases Pressure On Iran – OpEd

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By Cornelia Meyer*

The Europeans were caught in the middle when the US last year
unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA), which had been signed in 2015 between the permanent five
representatives of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Iran. Their
stance was that Tehran had complied with the letter of the agreement,
which had been attested by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy
Federica Mogherini even tried to devise an alternate non-dollar
denominated payment system to enable European companies to circumvent
the US sanctions and continue trading with Iran. The plan was a flop.
European companies were afraid that, even if they circumvented the
dollar, trading with Iran might shut them out of the US banking system.
The US is still the world’s largest economy and Iran, with its 80
million people and roughly $440 billion of gross domestic product, can’t
stack up to that. However, Switzerland has devised a smaller non-dollar
denominated payment channel for humanitarian goods like medicines,
which are exempt from US sanctions, and that mechanism seems to be
working.

One year on, US President Donald Trump and National Security Adviser
John Bolton want to apply maximum pressure on Iran. On May 2, they
cancelled the exemptions from oil sanctions they had granted to eight
nations and, since then, the rhetoric has ratcheted up considerably.

Iran’s reaction was to give the remaining JCPOA countries an ultimatum
of two months or it would resume activities regulated under articles 26
and 36 of the agreement. This means they would no longer sell heavy
water and enriched uranium to Russia and Oman, but store them in the
country. This did not go down well in Europe.

Unlike the US, Europe is the Middle East’s near neighbor, and the
Europeans are concerned about the lack of stability in their vicinity.
Failed states like Libya and Syria and the tenuous situation in Iraq
have resulted in streams of refugees that European governments find
difficult to deal with. It has also given rise to alt-right movements
and parties, who have written xenophobic and Islamophobic slogans on
their banners.

Europe, then, is looking on with bated breath at recent developments, as
the US is sending an aircraft carrier and airborne squadrons to the
Gulf. Trump has also warned that he could send 100,000 soldiers to the
Middle East. On Wednesday, the US ordered all non-essential personnel in
its diplomatic missions in Iraq to return for fear that they might be
attacked — only to be contradicted by Maj. Gen. Chris Ghika, the British
deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR), the US-led
coalition against Daesh, that there was no increased danger from
Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria.

Also, this week, two Saudi oil tankers and one each from the UAE and
Norway were sabotaged off the shores of the port of Fujairah, and two
drones damaged the east-west oil pipeline in Saudi Arabia. Houthi rebels
assumed responsibility for the drone attacks. The pipeline is
important. It was built in the 1980s during the Iran-Iraq War precisely
to circumvent the Arabian Gulf and the Strait of Hurmuz. Twenty percent
of global crude oil trade has to pass through the Strait of Hormuz to
reach global markets, making it a potential choke point for worldwide
oil supplies.

Against that backdrop, Europe and, for that matter, the world fear that
any spark might ignite a situation so laden with tension, although all
parties assure that they do not want war. The Middle East is a
geopolitical powder keg, which could hardly take yet another armed
conflict.

Europe is concerned. Everybody prefers to live in a peaceful
neighborhood. This brings us to what the Europeans can do. Norbert
Roettgen, a Member of the German Bundestag and head of its foreign
affairs select committee, proposed that Germany, France and the UK (the
Europeans signatories to the JCPOA) should take a leadership role in
trying to mediate in the matter. He admitted that the JCPOA had some
faults, especially in as much as it did not include Iran’s military
involvement and influence in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Yemen. He is
of the opinion that these issues need to be addressed, but he felt that
the JCPOA was a good starting point. He reinforced that Iran had
adhered to the letter of the agreement but opined that the two-month
ultimatum was singularly unhelpful.

Roettgen had a point. Alas, it will be difficult to get the Europeans to
act as one at this point. Brexit makes the British position difficult,
while France and Germany are currently at loggerheads on many issues. It
would also be important to engage in a meaningful way with the US
administration in order for any efforts to mediate to be effective.

In this context, it did not help that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
cancelled a scheduled visit with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at
short notice in order to go to Iraq. Pompeo was also not able to
convince the EU foreign ministers when he met them in Brussels on
Monday. Mogherini was very clear in as much as she wanted to see
tensions cooled. Pompeo’s talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin
and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov did not go any further.

In the meantime, the saber-rattling continues and tensions are on the
rise. While both Trump and Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei say that
they do not want war, things could unintentionally get out of hand.
Roettgen’s notion that there might be a role for the Europeans to
mediate may have some validity. However, they would need to have a very
clear game plan in order to stand a chance of succeeding — however slim
that chance might be.

• Cornelia Meyer is a business consultant, macro-economist and energy expert. Twitter: @MeyerResources

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)

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The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): Eurasia Review: Drone Technology Driving Iran’s Asymmetric Warfare – Analysis

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The Iranian-supplied drone attacks carried out by the Houthis on Saudi
energy infrastructure on Tuesday are an immediate concern for all
supporters. Here, the Houthis, who the same day had finished observing
the Stockholm process for clearing out the port of Hodeidah, launched
Tehran’s drones into Saudi Arabia. For some, that is a direct attack by
the Islamic Republic of Iran. There is a much bigger picture to
understand when it comes to Iranian-backed attacks on energy
infrastructure, and Tehran’s dangerous games in the face of mounting
economic pressure and international isolation are a warning of what is
to come.

Iran’s drone doctrine is based on asymmetric warfare. Most people focus
on governments deploying drones, but terrorists, insurgents and other
non-state actors are using them as well. Hezbollah has been operating
Iranian-built drones against Israel for years, but these have been
predominantly military-grade models and thus fairly sophisticated. To be
clear, Hezbollah acquires advanced models from Iran and is one of only
10 entities that have fired missiles from a drone at targets on the
ground. The other nine are all countries, not violent non-state actors.

Iran uses its drones in what should now be seen as a very threatening
manner. In March, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) held a
drill codenamed “Towards Jerusalem 1” near the strategic Strait of
Hormuz. It flew about 50 “offensive and combat” drones to the Arabian
Gulf, including “Saegheh” unmanned combat aerial vehicles, which are
based on the American RQ-170 that Tehran captured a few years ago and
that it was able to duplicate to use against the US’ Arab partners. The
drones took off from bases up to about 1,000 kilometers from the targets
on Bani Farur island and successfully bombed them. It was the first
time such a high number of offensive drones had participated in a drill.

In Yemen, the story is a continuation of the Iranian model. The Houthis
have made effective use of drones in their fight against government
forces and the Saudi-led coalition. They have struck targets inside and
outside Yemen with ballistic missiles, with US-supplied Patriot missile
batteries being the primary defense against these attacks. But drones
have not only appeared in the air — Houthi forces have also conducted
attacks on coastal shipping using remotely controlled explosive “drone
boats.” The most significant example was an attack on a Saudi frigate in
January 2017.

Now the threat against energy assets from Iran and its proxies in terms of asymmetric warfare through the use of drones is only growing. Culture seems to be a driver in Iran’s use of drones. The 1990 movie “Mohajer,” based on a true story, depicted the start of drone operations in Iran during the closing years of the Iraqi-imposed war of the 1980s. The Qods Mohajer drone first flew in 1985, so Iranian experience with drones is neither unknown nor new.

The Iranian armed forces actually started using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), including drones, at around that time, mostly for intelligence gathering, including imaging, and bombing operations.

Now we live in a more combative time, as Iran shows off its networks and
ability to spread technology in response to increasing sanctions
affecting the country’s economic sectors. Iranian forces are using
drones for every possible mission, from logistics to surveillance, and
probably soon airstrikes with payload. Iran deploys surveillance and
armed drones in its border areas, including for reconnaissance and
target identification, as well as in the neighboring countries in which
it is militarily involved, like Iraq and Syria. Moreover, with Houthi
successes, strikes on energy infrastructure by Iran and its proxies
appear to be a well-structured model for targeting such assets in the
immediate future. That Iran and its proxies can use such asymmetric
tactics, which cover land and sea, brings into focus the threat from
such technology in Tehran’s hands.

Geographically, the reach of such Iranian-based asymmetric tools is
problematic because of the way Iran is teaching its proxies, or how its
proxies modify and adapt, to use drones and other technology against
energy infrastructure or transport. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are primary
asymmetric targets because of Iran and its proxies’ modus operandiand
their proximity.

Unfortunately, the spread of such technology, which can strike other
energy infrastructure, is likely because of the ease of transportation,
assembly, launching and striking of energy-related targets. Iran’s
global network, supported by Hezbollah, is a primary threat and allies
of both exist in West Africa and Latin America. The ideal targets for
Iran and its proxies remain oil pipelines, certain oil export
infrastructure and oil industry personnel that are close to any
locations from where drones can be launched. Other target sites include
utilities and electric power plants. Wellheads will still be a target
but, thanks to drone technology, bigger targets with higher
psychological impacts loom. The US’ designation of the IRGC as a Foreign
Terrorist Organization is part of the attempts to try to mitigate the
spread of such technology. Indeed, Iran is playing a dangerous game as
President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign continues.

Eurasia Review

1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites)

The Global Security News


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The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (25 sites): FOX News: Trump’s ‘merit-based’ immigration reform plan ‘makes sense’ for America, Laura Ingraham says

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President Trump’s new immigration reform plan, including its shift toward a “merit-based” system is the right way to “tackle the big issue” before America.

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The Global Security News: 1. US Security from Michael_Novakhov (88 sites): GlobalSecurity.org: Eight killed in fierce gunbattle in Indian-controlled Kashmir

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Eight people, including six Kashmiri fighters, an Indian soldier and a local civilian, have been killed during a gunbattle between militants and government forces in the Indian-administered Kashmir.

GlobalSecurity.org

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Blogs from Michael_Novakhov (21 sites): The FBI News Review: “Christopher Wray” – Google News: Are the U.S. and China heading for a deal — or a divorce? – The Washington Post

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May 16, 2019
“Christopher Wray” – Google News: Are the U.S. and China heading for a deal — or a divorce? – The Washington Post
Crime and Criminology from Michael_Novakhov (10 sites): “political crimes” – Google News: Jonah Goldberg: Holding Barr in contempt is a case of dirty politics – NewsOK.com
FBI Officials Who Worked On Clinton Email Case Never Suspected Strzok-Page Affair Under Their Noses – The Daily Caller
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President Trump’s latest swipe at China suggests that more than a year of negotiations aimed at a sweeping trade deal with Beijing may instead produce agreement only on the terms of an economic divorce.
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FBI Officials Who Worked On Clinton Email Case Never Suspected Strzok-Page Affair Under Their Noses – The Daily Caller

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Two FBI officials who worked in counterintelligence and described themselves as friends with either Peter Strzok or Lisa Page said they did not pick up that their colleagues were having an extramarital affair, according to transcripts of testimony obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.
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“mueller” – Google News: Mueller probe lawyer does jury duty stint in NYC – Minneapolis Star Tribune

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NEW YORK — One of Robert Mueller’s top lieutenants has returned to private life only to get another legal assignment as a juror in a slip-and-fall case. Andrew Weissman was picked for a New York City jury at a civil trial involving a woman’s claim against a food market where she fell.
Read More
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The Global Security News: 1. World from Michael_Novakhov (25 sites): World: Man arrested during Nicaraguan protest killed in prison

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A 57-year-old man arrested for taking part in protests against Nicaragua’s government had been killed by a bullet in a prison north of the capital amid disturbances that left six prison officials injured

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