FEATURE ARTICLE

Pentagon Puts Forces in Iraq on High Alert Over a Nonexistent Iranian Threat

Pentagon Puts Forces in Iraq on High Alert Over a Nonexistent Iranian Threat
 
Stephen Lendman 
Date: 05-16-2019
Subject: Iran

Pentagon Puts Forces in Iraq on High Alert Over a Nonexistent Iranian Threat

by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)

Last week, Mike Pompeo falsely claimed Iranian forces are "escalating their activity," citing nonexistent "very specific" threats to the US in Iraq.

John Bolton threatened "unrelenting force" against Iran in response to any attack by the country against US forces or its regional allies — knowing no Iranian threat exists.

Separately, a Pentagon statement falsely claimed it deployed a carrier strike group and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to the region in  response to "recent and clear indications that Iranian and Iranian proxy forces were making preparations to possibly attack US forces."

The only threats faced by US military, diplomatic, and other personnel are invented. No real ones exist, regionally or elsewhere, accept in active war zones, conflicts the US began.

Yet on Monday, US Central Command placed its forces in Iraq on "a high level of alert" over a nonexistent threat from Iran and its regional allies.

In response, the State Department ordered all non-emergency personnel to depart Iraq — from its Baghdad embassy and Erbil consulate, adding:

"Normal visa services at both posts will be temporarily suspended. The US government has limited ability to provide emergency services to US citizens in Iraq."

Iraqi officials said they're unaware of any threat to US or other foreign personnel from Iran. UK General Chris Ghika expressed a similar view, saying:

"There's been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces" in Iraq or regionally. "We monitor them along with a whole range of others because that's the environment we're in. If the threat level…go(es) up then we'll raise our force protection measures accordingly."

As of now, "coalition forces observed no change in (the posture of Iran and its allies) since the recent exchange between the US and (Tehran), and we hope and expect (this) will continue…We don't see an increased threat from them at this stage" because there is none.

Following Ghika's remarks, a CENTCOM statement falsely claimed the following, saying: 

"Recent comments from OIR's (Operation Inherent Resolve) Deputy Commander (Ghika) run counter to the identified credible threats (sic) available to intelligence from US and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region (sic)." 

"US Central Command, in coordination with Operation Inherent Resolve, has increased the force posture level for all service members assigned to OIR in Iraq and Syria" — despite no credible threat from Iran justifying it, adding: 

"As a result, OIR is now at a high level of alert as we continue to closely monitor credible and possibly imminent threats to US forces in Iraq" — even though none exist.

Ghika is Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve deputy commander, clearly aware of what's going on regionally, including full knowledge of available OIR intelligence.

If a legitimate threat existed to US forces from Iran, its allies, or another source, UK and Iraqi officials would have confirmed it.

Germany's Defense Ministry spokesman Jens Flosdorff agreed with Ghika, saying "there is no concrete threat" from Iran or its regional allies.

Trump regime hardliners want Iran falsely blamed for regional incidents it had nothing to do with, including reported sabotage to Saudi and UAE tankers days earlier.

On Wednesday, a State Department travel advisory said the following:

"Do not travel to Iraq due to terrorism, kidnapping, and armed conflict." 

"US citizens in Iraq are at high risk for violence and kidnapping. Numerous terrorist and insurgent groups are active in Iraq and regularly attack both Iraqi security forces and civilians." 

"Anti-US sectarian militias may also threaten US citizens and Western companies throughout Iraq. Attacks by improvised explosive devices (IEDs) occur in many areas of the country, including Baghdad."

"The US government's ability to provide routine and emergency services to US citizens in Iraq is extremely limited."

Regional threats, real and invented, are unrelated to Iran — directly related to US regional aggression, along with its support for ISIS and other terrorist groups.

Separately, Iraqi envoy to Moscow Haidar Mansour Hadi said the following:

"Iraq is a sovereign nation. We will not let (the US) use our territory" for war on Iran. Baghdad "does not want a new devastating war in the region," adding:

His nation made it clear (to the US) that (it) want(s) to be part of a solution and not part of the problem."

Is US war on Iran likely? Despite heated rhetoric in Washington, it's unlikely in my judgment.

It would be catastrophic if launched — for Iran, regional countries, US regional forces and Israel.

At the same time, wars happen by accident or design, increasing the possibility of what's crucial to avoid.

US media hostility toward Iran, their support for war, along with no strong congressional opposition is also worrisome. 

What's unlikely in my judgment is possible because of longstanding bipartisan support in Washington for returning Iran to US client state status, along with eliminating Israel's key regional rival.

As long as Pompeo and Bolton are around, anything is possible.

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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

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