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Thread: Pompeo says Saudi attack an 'act of war' as Trump sounds more cautious note

  1. #1

    Pompeo says Saudi attack an 'act of war' as Trump sounds more cautious note

    Wasn't Bolton supposed to be the aggressive one on foreign policy? "Bolton was holding me back!"- Donald Trump. Trump is calling for more sanctions though there isn't much more he can put sanctions on.

    Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the attack on Saudi oil facilities "an act of war" Wednesday, as President Donald Trump announced that he's ordered new sanctions on Tehran, the latest escalation in tensions between the two countries as US officials work to pin the blame on Iran.

    Pompeo, who is in Saudi Arabia to consult with the kingdom's rulers on next steps, said, "We were blessed that there were no Americans killed in this attack, but anytime you have an act of war of this nature, there's always risk that that could happen. ... This is an attack of a scale we've just not seen before."

    The top US diplomat said he is in the Middle East to build a coalition to deter Iran and signaled that the Trump administration will use the upcoming gathering of world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly to rally support for action against Tehran, which denies involvement in the Saudi attack.

    'It's very easy to start'

    "I'm confident that in New York we'll talk a lot about this and that the Saudis will too," Pompeo said. "It was on their soil. It was an act of war against them directly, and I'm confident that they will do that."

    Pompeo's combative characterization of the attack came as Saudi Arabia presented pieces of weaponry it said tied Iran to the attack. Vice President Mike Pence has suggested a military retaliation is possible and some Republican lawmakers have said Tehran should get an "unequivocal" response.

    But the President and US allies are sending conflicting signals.

    Trump, who campaigned on getting the US out of foreign fights and has been critical of American involvement in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, faces a battle for reelection that would be complicated by a new conflict. And Saudi officials have made clear to the White House that they do not want to be dragged into war either.

    The President's sanctions announcement may signal his desire to avoid military conflict, analysts said, and in remarks to reporters in Los Angeles on Wednesday the President observed that it is easy to slip into a war.

    "It's very easy to start," Trump said. "If we have to do something, we'll do it," adding that "we'll be adding some very significant sanctions against Iran."

    Substitute, not prelude

    Asked if he's looking at a military strike, the President said, "We'll see what happens." He noted that "there's the ultimate option and there are options less powerful than that ... the ultimate option meaning go in, war."

    The US has yet to offer definitive proof that Iran conducted the attack, which has been claimed by Houthi rebels in Yemen. US officials have denied that's possible. Pompeo has gone so far as to say "it doesn't matter" whether the Houthis had the capability.

    "As for how we know, the equipment used is unknown to be in the Houthi arsenal," Pompeo said, speaking to reporters off-camera before landing in Jeddah. "The intelligence community has high confidence that these were not weapons that would have been in the possession of the Houthis. That's probably the most important piece of information."

    But a United Nations report says otherwise. In a January report by Yemen experts, the UN wrote about new, powerful Houthi drones capable of targeting Saudi Arabia.

    "The most distinctive feature of the UAV-X is its significantly increased endurance and range," the report said, adding that it "may have a maximum range of between 1,200 km and 1,500 km, depending on wind conditions. It would give credence to the claims by the Houthis that they have the capability to hit targets such as Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Dubai."

    'It doesn't matter'

    Pompeo, asked Wednesday why the Houthis couldn't be responsible for the attack, made clear that regardless of who actually it carried out, the US will hold Iran responsible.

    "It doesn't matter," Pompeo answered. "This was an Iranian attack.
    It's not the case that you can subcontract out the devastation of five percent of the world's global energy supply and think that you can absolve yourself of responsibilities."

    If the Houthis' claim turns out to be true "it doesn't change the fingerprints of the Ayatollah as having put at risk the global energy supply," Pompeo said.

    Allies have taken a more cautious approach, with France and the United Nations sending investigators to the Kingdom and Japanese officials saying there is "a high possibility" the Houthis are indeed responsible.

    Even Saudi Arabia has been more careful, linking Tehran to the attack, but not calling it an act of war or saying, as unnamed US officials have claimed, that Iran itself launched the attack from within its territory.
    The US has ratcheted up pressure on Iran after withdrawing last year from a multi-nation nuclear deal that constrained Iran's nuclear activity in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

    The US "maximum pressure" policy has undermined the nuclear deal, creating tensions with European allies who are trying to keep the nuclear deal afloat. The Trump administration has sanctioned all key Iranian economic sectors, including aviation and shipping. And in May, it hit the lifeblood of Tehran's economy, sanctioning its energy exports.

    The Trump administration has ratcheted sanctions up to the point that, Rome said, "at this point the US is scraping the bottom of the barrel with sanctions. After the decision to sanction Iranian oil in May, everything else is fairly marginal. When you look at effectiveness or impact, you're really out of significant sanction tools at this point."

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  3. #2
    Can someone say good cop, bad cop? these people want war, they always do. They would sacrifice your children and tax dollars at the drop of a hat to appease their deep state overlords.

  4. #3
    Anyone remember when Pompeo accused the Maduro govt of burning the aide truck? and then the video came out. Liars all of em.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by juleswin View Post
    Can someone say good cop, bad cop? these people want war, they always do. They would sacrifice your children and tax dollars at the drop of a hat to appease their deep state overlords.
    There will not be a war, Trump doesn't want one.
    Never attempt to teach a pig to sing; it wastes your time and annoys the pig.

    Robert Heinlein

    Give a man an inch and right away he thinks he's a ruler

    Groucho Marx

    I love mankind…it’s people I can’t stand.

    Linus, from the Peanuts comic

    You cannot have liberty without morality and morality without faith

    Alexis de Torqueville

    Those who fail to learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Those who learn from the past are condemned to watch everybody else repeat it

    A Zero Hedge comment

  6. #5
    The whole mess started when Trump walked away from the nuclear treaty with Iran. That and the US joining the war in Yemen alongside Saudi Arabia. Now, other than sanctions, he does not seem to know what to do.

    It may seem odd, at first glance, that Iran would take such a risk. First, a U.S. retaliatory attack on Iran—which the Saudis have been trying to whip up for years—could be devastating. Second, Trump’s sanctions—not only against Iran but also against any entity that trades with Iran—have left Tehran’s rulers with very little bargaining room; they truly are in a desperate situation. Escalating the conflict is likely to make it more desperate still.

    Then again, these factors might also explain why Iran would make this move. First, as an old adage has it, a wounded creature is most dangerous when it’s cornered, and Iran is wounded but still quite well-armed. Second, it’s possible that, given his recent behavior, the Iranians think Trump won’t strike back. Finally, whatever the Iranians’ calculations, striking out—while an enormous risk—may be their only way to gain an upper hand. The Saudis and Americans must also know that if they do retaliate, that probably would not be the conflict’s final blow. Iran would retain plenty of options to strike back once more, including the shutdown of the Strait of Hormuz, the narrow waterway through which one-fifth of the world’s oil flows.
    There are ways out of this spiral trap, but both Trump and Iran’s rulers seem unwilling or ill-equipped to take them. The roots of this crisis are, first, Saudi Arabia’s intervention against the Houthis in Yemen, which has metastasized into a proxy war with Iran, and, second, Trump’s senseless withdrawal from the 2014 Iran nuclear deal.

    The war in Yemen sports no good guys, but Trump could put an end to it quickly by halting the sale of munitions to the Saudis—and prodding other regional powers or the U.N. to take an active peacekeeping role. But he has no interest in doing anything to offend the Saudi royal family, seeing it as a “great ally.” Previous administrations have kowtowed to the Saudis because of their status as a friendly supplier of oil. This role is of diminishing importance, given the United States’ growing, near-total independence in energy supplies. Trump himself has noted this fact (and, inaccurately, taken credit for it). However, he has a new rationale for maintaining the special relationship: The Saudis buy a lot of American weapons, and as he put it, they “pay cash.”

    So this is the first obstacle to a way out of this crisis: Trump’s tendency to view all foreign policy in narrowly transactional terms—with favors granted or withheld according to how much a nation’s leader pays in hard currency or in gushing fealty (real or feigned) to Trump personally.

    The second obstacle is Trump’s unwillingness to reverse his withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal—even though, if he did that, he would go far toward ending the crisis, possibly very quickly. A few things are worth keeping in mind. First, until recently, the international inspectors attested several times that Iran was abiding by the terms of the deal. Second, Iran agreed to this deal in order to get economic sanctions lifted. Third, once Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed sanctions (not only against Iran but against any entity doing business with Iran), the Iranians had no reason to stay in the deal; in fact, they had every incentive to broach it, as leverage—their only leverage—to bring the United States back in.

    But here’s where things get irrational. The main reason Trump pulled out of the deal is that Barack Obama signed it. Many hailed it as Obama’s signal diplomatic triumph, and so Trump had to condemn it as “the worst deal ever made.” For Trump to rejoin the deal and relift the sanctions would be to admit that he was wrong and Obama was right—and that is about as unlikely as any event that might be imagined.

    Meanwhile, Iran’s leaders have ruled out sitting down with the United States unless and until Trump returns to the nuclear deal and revokes all the sanctions that he reimposed—and, from their point of view, this is perfectly reasonable. The United States and five other countries negotiated and signed the deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action; the deal was then consecrated as a U.N. Security Council resolution; the International Atomic Energy Agency certified, repeatedly, that Iran was abiding by the deal—and yet, Trump withdrew, for no reason other than he didn’t like it. Iran is hardly an honorable international actor, but why should the Iranians trust anything Trump says—unless he returns to the way things were before the withdrawal: before his rejection of multilateral diplomacy and international law?

    Earlier this month, French President Emmanuel Macron, seeking the role of peacemaker, proposed giving Iran $15 billion—as compensation for its lost oil revenue—if it returned to compliance with the nuclear deal. Trump briefly mulled endorsing the plan. But even if he did, it would be a short-term stratagem; the underlying problems would remain.

    So, here is where we are. All the players—the Trump administration, the Saudis, and the Iranians—are running in traffic with bombs strapped on their backs, and no one has the strength or the gumption to yell “Stop!” and make it stick. That is the tragedy of an anarchic world in which the most powerful nation is led by a man who has no idea how to think about its interests or how to use that power for good.
    Last edited by Zippyjuan; 09-18-2019 at 04:46 PM.

  7. #6
    Two weeks ago:

    President Trump on Thursday spoke with French President Emmanuel Macron and reiterated to him that the United States would not relieve Iran of economic sanctions.

    The two leaders also agreed it was imperative to “curb Iran's actions threatening freedom of navigation and commerce in the Persian Gulf,” the White House said late Thursday.

    “President Trump reiterated that dropping sanctions against Iran is not going to happen at this time,” the White House said.
    One week ago:

    Oil prices tumbled more than 2% on Wednesday after a report that U.S. President Donald Trump weighed easing sanctions on Iran, which could boost global crude supply at a time of lingering worries about global energy demand.

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