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Putin Warns Attack On Iran Would Be “Catastrophic” As US Navy Deploys To Drone Crash Site

Putin Warns Attack On Iran Would Be “Catastrophic” As US Navy Deploys To Drone Crash Site

Following China’s warning this week that the United States is poised to open “Pandora’s Box” in the Middle East should it escalate military action against Iran, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has weighed in, on Thursday saying any American military strike would have “catastrophic” consequences.

Putin warned further that US attack “would trigger a surge in violence and a possible refugee exodus,” according to Reuters. During an annual televised question and answer session hosted by the Russian leader, he reiterated Moscow’s position that Tehran is in full compliance with its nuclear commitments under the 2015 JCPOA. He also slammed the US-imposed sanctions now choking the Iranian economy as “groundless”.

“I want to say at once that this would be a catastrophe for the region” — Putin said.

Meanwhile, President Trump has been briefed on Thursday morning’s dramatic escalation of an already tense stand-off in the Strait of Hormuz which involved Iran’s alleged shoot down of a US drone near entrance to Persian Gulf.

Reports say it was US Navy high-altitude drone taken out by an Iranian surface-to-air missile directly over Strait of Hormuz in what the US says was international airspace, but which Iran claimed was over its sovereign airspace. US Central Command (CENTCOM) identified the drone as one of its RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft, condemning it as an “unprovoked attack”.

“Iranian reports that the aircraft was over Iran are false. This was an unprovoked attack on a U.S. surveillance asset in international airspace,” CENTCOM spokesman Navy Capt. Bill Urban said following the confirmed drone downing.

And now, in a pattern suggesting significant US military build-up will continue in the Persian Gulf following last week’s tanker attack incident, also blamed on Iran, US naval assets have been dispatched to the “drone debris field in international waters” according to a breaking Reuters report.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Oil Prices Spike Most In 5 Months As US-Iran Tensions Soar

Oil Prices Spike Most In 5 Months As US-Iran Tensions Soar

WTI and Brent prices spiked overnight on the headlines about a US drone being shot down by Iran, and just legged higher once again following Trump’s tweet warning that “Iran made a very big mistake.”

“Geopolitics is helping oil bulls to make a spectacular come-back after a few days’ of directionless trading,” said Tamas Varga, an analyst at PVM Oil Associates Ltd. in London.

WTI now trades at its highest since May.

Not Enough Proof to Blame Iran for Oil Tanker Attack: Energy Aspects

Iran Shoots Down US Drone, Says “Ready For War”

Iran Shoots Down US Drone, Says “Ready For War” 

Tensions between the US and Iran flared on Thursday when the Iranian Revolutionary Guard shot down an American drone that was said to have flown into Iranian airspace (the US claims the drone flew over international territory). The drone was reportedly flying over the Strait of Hormuz – that critical chokepoint for the global oil trade – not far from where two oil tankerswere recently attacked.

drone

“We will defend Iran’s airspace and maritime boundaries with all our might,” Ali Shamkhani, secretary-general for the Supreme National Security Council was quoted as saying by state-run Islamic Students’ News Agency. “It doesn’t matter which country’s aircraft cross our airspace.

IRGC Commander Hossein Salami said shooting down the drone had sent a clear and strong message for the US: Iran’s borders are ‘red lines’ and though Iran doesn’t seek war, Iran is ready for war. The US, meanwhile, denies that the drone crossed into Iran’s airspace, and says it was in international airspace the whole time.

The drone reportedly was shot down over a village called Kuhmobarak in Iran’s Hormozgan province.

Map

The news sent oil prices surging, with Brent up as much as 3%. President Trump has been briefed on the incident and the White House is “monitoring the situation.” The US military has branded the shooting “an unprovoked attack.”

The shooting follows attacks on six tankers in the region, which Iran has denied responsibility for (including the two from last week). On Wednesday, a news agency operated by Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen said that the rebels had hit a power station in Jazan, Saudi Arabia, with a cruise missile, though these reports weren’t independently verified.

Numerous geopolitical experts warned that Thursday’s incident “significantly raises” the prospects for international conflict.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Pompeo To Present Military “Options” To Trump As Iran Threatens Carriers With “Precision” Ballistic Missiles

Pompeo To Present Military “Options” To Trump As Iran Threatens Carriers With “Precision” Ballistic Missiles

Echoing prior comments from Tehran’s leaders that a US aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf would set the stage fora “shooting gallery,” the commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warned Tuesday that its ballistic missiles are capable of hitting “carriers in the sea” with great precision

“These missiles can hit with great precision carriers in the sea… These missiles are domestically produced and are difficult to intercept and hit with other missiles,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said in a televised speech, per Reuters.A 2017 Iranian military drill involving missile test on a carrier mock-up in the Persian Gulf.

He also asserted that Iran’s ballistic missile technology had tipped the balance of power in the Middle East in Tehran’s favor, even with an increasing build-up of American forces in the region, including the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group deployed last month. 

As we previously analyzed, it appears Tehran is now waging its own “maximum counter-pressure” campaign against the White House, given its been largely blocked from exporting its vitaltwo million barrels per day, and the US economic blockade sending its economy into a tailspin. Tehran could force Trump to choose among two bad options: see global oil squeezed with soaring prices due to a “tanker war” and military threats in the Strait of Hormuz, or commit US forces to yet another disastrous regime change war in the Middle East. 

Iran appears ready to match threat for threat, as we mentioned: a real war is fast unfolding in the Middle East today, a war where oil tankers and oil delivery to the world (30% of world oil supply goes through the Gulf) are the targetsBrigadier General Hossein Salami 

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Will A False Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Will A False Flag Iran War Cause A Financial Crisis?

Just a couple of weeks ago the financial world’s biggest worry was the plunging price of oil. Supply was up, stockpiles were building and speculation was pointing towards $40 a barrel, a price at which the fracking/shale oil “miracle” would evaporate. A trillion dollars of related junk debt would default, taking a big part of the leveraged speculating community along for the ride.

Then it all changed. Someone attacked some ships and oil infrastructure in the Middle East, the US and Saudi Arabia accused Iran, and now the fear is that a major regional war will interrupt the flow of oil, sending its price way up and causing a financial crisis at least as severe as a shale oil debt collapse.

This is a legitimate concern, for two reasons.

First, oil shocks have happened in the past, most notably during the Arab-Israeli war of the 1970s. So we know what they do, and it isn’t pretty. Gas prices jump, workers can’t afford their commute, the economy slows dramatically and pretty much everyone other than domestic energy companies suffers badly.

Second and potentially more serious, the pretext for this war is so blatantly false that it risks destroying what little creditability the US government has left. Think about it: With the US doing everything it can to delegitimize and destabilize Iran while positioning assets for an invasion, Iran’s leaders … start attacking oil tankers in its offshore waters.

Does that make sense? Of course not. Much more likely is that this is yet another false flag – that is, an incident faked to give a pretext for war – and a clumsy one at that.

For readers who aren’t clear on the false flag concept and its ubiquity in geopolitics, here are just a few of the dozens of documented examples:

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

“The Countdown Has Begun:” Iran Warns It Will Breach Uranium Stockpile Limits In 10 Days

“The Countdown Has Begun:” Iran Warns It Will Breach Uranium Stockpile Limits In 10 Days 

Iran certainly isn’t planning on backing down in the face of Washington’s accusations about the country’s role in last week’s tanker bombings, and as a result, the possibility of a boots-on-the-ground military conflict in the Islamic Republic cannot yet be ruled out. Making an already tense situation infinitely more precarious, Iran on Monday reminded the world that it’s preparing to violate the terms of the Iran deal during the next ten days.

Iran

By increasing its stockpiles of enriched uranium, Iran is bound to elicit accusations that it’s once again working on a nuclear bomb. Tehran has always maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but American neocons like John Bolton have warned that this was merely a ruse, and that Iran could target American allies like Israel with a missile.

The Iranian government announced on Monday that it was set to breach the cap on enriched uranium, unless Europe finds a way to trade with Iran, or otherwise fulfill its financial obligations made under the deal.

European officials have been somewhat more skeptical of Iran’s role in last week’s tanker attacks, though many have acknowledged that if this were to be true, it could seriously complicate efforts to preserve the nuclear deal. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who visited Tehran last week, said Germany is still looking at evidence on whether Iran was responsible for last week’s attacks. Meanwhile, the UK has decided to deploy 100 Elite Royal Marines to the region to serve as a “rapid reaction force” to protect British assets.

Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesperson for the Iranian atomic energy agency, said Iran has “already increased” uranium production at a nuclear research site in Natanz in the central Isfahan province, according to RT.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Did the B-Team Overplay its Hand Against Iran?

Did the B-Team Overplay its Hand Against Iran?

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has a term of endearment for Iran’s enemies, “The B-Team.”

The “B-Team” consists of U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton, Israeli Prime Minister (nee Dictator) Benjamin Netanyahu, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the UAE’s Mohammed bin Zayed. 

When we look seriously at the attacks on the oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman this week the basic question that comes to mind is, Cui bono? Who benefits?

And it’s easy to see how the B-Team benefits from this attack and subsequent blaming Iran for it. With Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tehran opening up a dialogue on behalf of U.S. President Donald Trump the threat of peace was in the air.

And none of the men on the B-Team profit from peace in the Middle East with respect to Iran. Getting Trump to stop hurling lightning bolts from the mountain top the B-Team guided him up would do nothing to help oil prices, which the Saudis and UAE need/want to remain high.

Bin Salman, in particular, cannot afford to see oil prices drop back into the $40’s per barrel. With the world awash in oil and supply tight, even with OPEC production cuts, Bin Salman is currently on very thin ice because of the Saudi Riyal’s peg to the U.S. dollar, which he can’t abandon or the U.S. will abandon them.

Falling oil prices and a rising dollar are a recipe for the death of the Saudi government, folks. Iran knows this. 

Netanyahu and Bolton don’t want peace because the U.S. fighting a war with Iran serves the cause of Greater Israel and opens up the conflict in the hopes of regime change and elimination of Iran.

Bolton, as well, is finally feeling the heat of his incompetence and disloyalty to Trump, according to John Kirakau at Consortium News

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Think US Media Won’t Help Lead Nation Into War With Iran Based on Flimsy or False Intelligence? Looks Like They Already Are

Think US Media Won’t Help Lead Nation Into War With Iran Based on Flimsy or False Intelligence? Looks Like They Already Are

“Do U.S. reporters, anchors, and editors really want more Middle Eastern blood on their hands? If not, they need to fix their rather credulous and increasingly hawkish coverage of Iran—and fix it fast.”

CNN’s presentation of video footage released by the U.S. military. (Photo: CNN/Screengrab)

If there were any lingering hopes that the corporate media learned from its role in perpetuating the lies that led to the 2003 invasion of Iraq and would never again help start a Middle East war on the basis of false or flimsy evidence, the headlines that blared across the front pages of major U.S. news websites Thursday night indicated that such hopes were badly misplaced.

The U.S. military late Thursday released blurry, black-and-white video footage that it claimed—without any underlying analysis or further details—showed an Iranian patrol boat removing an unexploded limpet mine from the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, one of the oil tankers damaged in attacks in the Gulf of Oman.

Here’s how CNN presented the U.S. military’s video:

Iran has denied any involvement in the attacks, and Yutaka Katada—the owner of the Kokuka Courageous—contradicted the Trump administration’s account during a press conference on Friday.

“Our crew said that the ship was attacked by a flying object,” Katada said. “I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship.”

Independent critics were quick to call for extreme skepticism in the face of U.S. government claims, given the quality of the “evidence” and the warmongering track records of those presenting it.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Waiting For The Black Swan

Waiting For The Black Swan

War with Iran would be the beginning of the end

Two more tankers were attacked near the Strait of Hormuz on Thursday morning  (6/13/19) in the Gulf of Oman, and if hostilities advance we could be facing a ‘black swan’ event. One that changes everything, and divides the world into ‘before’ and ‘after’ periods.

A lot of us are waiting for ‘something’ to happen. We know that there are too many unsustainable trends and practices running and we fall into the “let’s just rip the Band-Aid off” camp.   Some, like myself, have lost faith in the political leadership and institutions and doubt they retain any capacity to attend to anything more than their own selfish interests, let alone manage the difficult tasks ahead rooted as they are in systems theory and managing complexity.

So, let’s get on with it already.  Bring it on.  Black swans are welcome to those who feel a swift kick to the behind is sometimes needed to begin setting things straight.

Like many, I am also conflicted because I also know that getting onto a new path will be disruptive and probably quite economically and financially painful for everyone, myself included.  Hoping for ‘something to break’ and hoping nothing breaks hang in an uneasy balance.

Luckily, my hopes and wishes have nothing to do with what’s going to happen, or when.  I might as well be performing a secret hand ritual before the TV in my living room to ensure that my team’s basketball free-throw goes in.  The dry tinder of the next bonfire was laid down over many years and decades and it will catch fire when it does, no matter how much denial or how many superstitious practices we employ.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump Says Tanker Attack Has “Iran Written All Over It” As Tehran Slams US “False Flag”

Trump Says Tanker Attack Has “Iran Written All Over It” As Tehran Slams US “False Flag”

Iran has slammed what it’s mission to the United Nations said are “unfounded and reckless” claims put forth yesterday by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo accusing Iran of conducting the “blatant” attack on two international oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday. Meanwhile President Trump on Friday morning told Fox & Friends that the tanker attacks had “Iran written all over it” and dismissed Iran as “a nation of terror.”

Notably, Iranian officials have accused the US or one of its allies of conducing a false flag operation as part of the “disinformation campaign” to continue its “maximum pressure” which aims at bringing Tehran into the cross hairs of a US-led war.

“The US and its regional allies must stop warmongering and put an end to mischievous plots and false flag operations in the region,” Iran’s mission to the United Nations said.

Issued late Thursday, the statement said further: “Warning, once again, about all of the US coercion, intimidation and malign behavior, Iran expresses concern over suspicious incidents for the oil tankers that occurred today.”

“The US economic war and terrorism against the Iranian people as well as the massive military presence in the region have been and continue to be the main sources of insecurity and instability in the wider Persian Gulf region and the most significant threat to its peace and security,” the statement continued.

Iran’s foreign minister also later described the US accusations as “sabotage diplomacy” following his previous comments posted to Twitter saying “Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired” — especially given Iran’s president and the Ayatollah were hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe to mediate nuclear deal matters and sanctions relief at the very moment the attack took place

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dire Straits Of Hormuz

Dire Straits Of Hormuz

Well, we didn’t have to wait long for ’John Wick: Chapter Portobello’ to begin, did we? Brent crude spiked 4.5% before giving up around half of those gains as a further two oil tankers–one Norwegian, one Japanese–were attacked in the Straits of Hormuz, forcing the evacuation of both vessels; that as Japanese PM Abe sat down with the Iranian government to try to dial down tensions with the US – and as the leadership refused to accept any message from President Trump. The US have now accused Iran of attacking the two ships, which follows on from two other recent tanker attacks, drones hitting Saudi oil pumps, and a missile hitting a Saudi airport this week. The easy market response was long oil, obviously, as well as a ‘Risk Off’ further leg down in bond yields. But who did this and why? And what does that say will happen next? Logically, it was either Iran, or the US, or a third party:

Iran is suffocating under US sanctions, a known instigator of such actions via proxies, and threatening the EU with walking away from the nuclear deal if they won’t help it out. An attack like this would be incredibly reckless…unless they are desperate enough to up the ante to see if a war-averse White House will press ahead with another ruinous Middle East conflict ahead of the 2020 elections and in the face of a Cold War with China. If that is the case then expect more provocations and more Risk Off even as Iran calls this all “beyond suspicious”, “economic terrorism”, and “sabotage diplomacy”.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Iran FM: “Suspicious Doesn’t Begin To Describe” Attack On Japanese Tanker During Abe’s State Visit

Iran FM: “Suspicious Doesn’t Begin To Describe” Attack On Japanese Tanker During Abe’s State Visit

With the words “Gulf of Tonkin” trending on Twitter this morning at a moment that a senior American defense official told CBS News that “it’s highly likely Iran caused these attacks,” it appears the general public is not even close to buying the claim that Iran attacked two tankers near the strategic Straits of Hormuz this morning. 

Iranian Foreign Minister Javid Zarif pointed out a crucial obvious factor not likely to make it across the US mainstream airwaves or headlines: 

“Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning,” he said. 

This especially crucial — according to his comments — given that one of the vessels is a Japanese tanker supposedly “attacked” by Iran in the middle of a visit to Tehran by Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Japan’s Trade Ministry later confirmed that one of the ships hit Thursday morning was carrying “Japan-related cargo.”Via The Japan News/The Yomiuri Shimbun: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a joint press conference with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani following their summit meeting in Tehran on Wednesday.

The details of the Japanese tanker are described by the AP as follows:

The Japanese operator of a tanker that was damaged in a suspected attack in the Strait of Hormuz says all of its crewmembers are now safe onboard a U.S. Navy warship.

The chemical tanker Kokuka Courageous, operated by Kokuka Sangyo Co., was apparently attacked as it was passing through the Strait of Hormuz toward Singapore and Thailand destinations to deliver methanol.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

False Flag? Iran Has Little To Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks

False Flag? Iran Has Little To Gain From Oman Tanker Attacks

Gulf of Tonkin 2.0? Regardless of whether Iran is responsible for damage to vessels in the Sea of Oman, Bloomberg’s Julian Lee explainsit will still get the blame – and suffer the fallout.

Two ships with one stone:
Saudis get i) higher oil price ii) US to attack Iran

Two oil tankers have been damaged in a suspected attack in the waters between the United Arab Emirates and Iran as they were leaving the Persian Gulf. This is the second incident in four weeks, and raises the question of who gains what from them.

Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences.

The first tanker to report a problem was the Front Altair. It was reported to be carrying 75,000 tons of naphtha, loaded in Abu Dhabi, to Japan, although it was signaling a destination of Kaosiung in Taiwan when it was damaged. The second vessel was the Japanese-owned Kokuka Courageous, which was sailing from Saudi Arabia to Singapore with a cargo of methanol.

A person who’s heard local radio transmissions between ships in the region told Bloomberg that a torpedo attack is suspected to have caused an explosion and fire on the Front Altair. The managers of the Kokuka Courageous said in a statement that “the 21 crew of the vessel abandoned ship after the incident on board which resulted in damage to the ship’s hull starboard side.”

Choke Point

The Strait of Hormuz is the world’s most important oil choke point, with about 40% of seaborne trade passing through it.

Source: bne IntelliNews

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

2 Tankers Damaged After Torpedo Attack Near Strait Of Hormuz; Oil Soars

2 Tankers Damaged After Torpedo Attack Near Strait Of Hormuz; Oil Soars

Update 3: Managers at the companies that own the tankers have weighed in on Thursday’s attacks. The manager of the Kokuka Courageous described the incident as a “hostile attack,” and DHT Holdings and Heidmar, the owners of the two tankers, have suspended new bookings to the Gulf.

* * *

Update 2: It appears earlier reports that the Front Altair had sunk were, in fact, incorrect. The ship’s captain has said that it is still afloat. VHF radio traffic confirmed that it is damaged but still afloat.

Hours have passed since the suspected attacks, and still nobody has claimed responsibility. Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has noted how suspicious it is that a Japanese owned vessel would be attacked while Iranian leaders were meeting with the Japanese prime minister in Tehran.

Reported attacks on Japan-related tankers occurred while PM @AbeShinzo was meeting with Ayatollah @khamenei_ir for extensive and friendly talks.

Suspicious doesn’t begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.

Iran’s proposed Regional Dialogue Forum is imperative.

And as one BBG analyst pointed out: “Fingers will certainly be pointed at Iran as the mastermind behind these events. But the potential benefits to the Persian Gulf nation are outweighed by the risks. And even if Tehran isn’t responsible, it will still suffer the consequences.”

Several American warships were nearby when the attack unfolded, per radio traffic, which also showed some signs of tensions with Iranian vessels: “American warship identifying itself as ‘Coalition Warship’ stating they have multiple vessels and aircraft in the vicinity. Iranian Navy calling vessels asking their intention in the area.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Energy Dominance or Flatulence? Shale Drillers Bleed Cash

Energy Dominance or Flatulence? Shale Drillers Bleed Cash

All of President Trump’s foreign policy can be summed up by two themes, making the world safe for Israel and controlling the price of energy.

He calls the latter “Energy Dominance.” And to those who still believe Trump has a plan, these two things are the only ones consistently in evidence.

His reactions to things contrary to his plan, however, are purely limbic.

These two themes converge completely with Iran. Trump wants Iran neutered to force Jared Kushner’s now-delayed again, “Deal of the Century” onto the Palestinians while also taking Iran’s oil off the market to support surging U.S. domestic production in the hopes of taking market share permanently.

Everything Trump does is in support of these two themes while throwing some red meat at his base over China, Mexico and the border. 

It was never his intention to leave Syria back in December, really. Look how easy was it for John Bolton and the Joint Chiefs to convince him to stay because how else would we cut Iran’s exports to zero if we didn’t stop the land route through Iraq?

This is why we’re still harboring ISIS cells in the desert crossing around Al-Tanf at the Jordan/Iraq/Syria border, to stop Iranian oil from coming into the country. 

This feeds right into hurting all of Syria’s allies to strengthen Israel’s position. 

To paraphrase the song from Aladdin, “It’s stupid, but hey, it’s home.”

If the average Trump voter truly understood the lengths we are going to starve the Syrian army from having enough energy to finish wiping out the Al-Qaeda-linked groups in Idlib and Homs provinces they would burn their MAGA hats and stay home next November.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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