Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton have vowed to strangle Iran and cut off all oil exports. They claim it’s because of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and missiles and its support for terrorism. In a recent speech at Texas A&M University he finally told the truth about the CIA and the neocons – they lie and cheat and steal. So should we believe him now? Tune in to today’s Liberty Report:
President Donald Trump’s recent veto of a bipartisan resolution to force an end to American military involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen reminds me of some words by V.S. Naipaul, the Trinidadian author. In his book “A Bend in the River,” Naipaul says, “The world is what it is; men who are nothing, who allow themselves to become nothing, have no place in it.”
The war in Yemen has reached a level of barbarism as few wars in recent history. It has become a humanitarian nightmare that only a cessation of hostilities by Saudi Arabia and the provision of immediate assistance to the people in Yemen can help solve. The Trump administration, however, has chosen to continue supporting the Saudi regime.
U.S. military assistance takes several forms. It goes from refueling Saudi and Emirati jets leading the bombing campaign in Yemen, to providing targeting and military advice to the Saudi forces, and providing fuel and armaments, including precision-guided missiles for use against the Yemeni Houthis.
The policy reversal came as a surprise in part because Mr. Hifter’s forces also appear to be losing ground. His promises of a quick victory have proved false, and his forces appear outmaneuvered by those aligned against them. Most analysts say that he has little hope of exerting his authority over all of Libya any time soon, so his continued campaign may only prolong the country’s instability.
In the meantime, the battle for Tripoli has now diverted the attention of most of the Libyan militias that had been engaged in combating the fighters of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, said Frederic Wehrey, an expert on Libya at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
“It is nuts,” Mr. Wehrey said of Mr. Trump’s statement. “Even judging by the hard-nosed American goals of stabilizing the flow of oil and combating terrorism, this is completely shocking.”
The last time Trump endorsed a policy shift in the region as reckless and arbitrary as this one was probably when he decided to back the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar, and my guess is that this shift has been made for many of the same bad reasons. Much like the start of the Qatar crisis, Trump appears to be doing whatever the Saudis and UAE want him to do, and he apparently thinks that it has something to do with combating terrorism (probably because that is what the Saudis and UAE have told him). The absurdity of Trump’s position is that the escalation of civil war in Libya relieves pressure on the local ISIS affiliate and undermines current U.S. policy, and Trump’s backing of Haftar contradicts the position that his own officials took less than three weeks ago. The Washington Post also reported on the reversal:
Rohollah Faghihi reports on the damage that Trump administration decisions have done to the political fortunes of Iranian moderates and reformists and their agenda. One of the practical effects of designating the IRGC as terrorists has been to reduce the chances that Iran will adopt international standards on money laundering and terrorism financing:
Another impact of the IRGC’s designation as a foreign terrorist organization is the deterioration of prospects for the passage of bills designed to counter money laundering and terrorism financing. This legislation was submitted by the government to parliament in order to permanently exit the blacklist of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental organization created in 1989 that combats money laundering and terrorism financing. Accession to the UN Palermo Convention against transnational organized crime as well as becoming part of what is termed Combating the Financing of Terrorism has been stalled for months, with the bills stuck in the Expediency Council, which mediates disputes between parliament and the Guardian Council. The dispute has pitted the Rouhani administration against mainly hard-liners.
“The US action will enhance and strengthen the position of Expediency Council members regarding the FATF [bills] and the likelihood of rejecting them has increased,” said Gholam-Reza Mesbahi Moghaddam, a member of the Expediency Council, on April 8.
Applying an overly broad and inappropriate designation to the IRGC has just made it more difficult for supporters of the anti-money laundering legislation to get their bills passed. The administration’s heavy-handed misuse of the foreign terrorist organization (FTO) list is actually harming efforts to combat the financing of terrorism. Instead of encouraging Iran to crack down on money laundering and terrorism financing, the Trump administration just handed the opponents of these measures a propaganda coup and most likely torpedoed the legislation by once again undermining its advocates.