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    Middle East
     Feb 3, 2012

Fear and loathing in the American Gulf
By Pepe Escobar

Persian Gulf? Khaleej-e-Fars? Forget it; time to call it the American Gulf - to the delight of the vultures, jackals and hyenas of war, Israeli and Anglo-American. The House of Saud wouldn't be too displeased either.

So much for the Pentagon's "pivoting" strategy from the Middle East to East Asia - recently announced by United States President Barack Obama. The confrontation against China starts in Southwest Asia - in the American Gulf; and goes way beyond Washington cheerleading the hardcore Sunni sectarian killers of Jundallah in Iran's Sistan-Balochistan province, Israeli Mossad agents posing as US Central Intelligence Agency operatives, serial assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, computer


viruses, and ludicrous accusations of Tehran helping al-Qaeda and vice-versa.

MOP it all up
Time to review the evidence. In roughly one month, no less than three US aircraft carriers and their strike groups will be sloshing around the American Gulf, the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea; the USS Abraham Lincoln, USS Carl Vinson and USS Enterprise, plus good ol' French nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. And yet one more Pacific-based US aircraft carrier can be swiftly dispatched.

Apart from this naval hajj of US aircraft carrier groups, the 40-year-old USS Ponce is being retrofitted into a special ops amphibious hub - to be dispatched to the American Gulf.

The Pentagon's CENTCOM is fast upgrading the 14,000-kilogram Orwellian bunker-buster monster known as Massive Ordinance Penetrator (MOP), theoretically capable of taking out Iran's underground nuclear installations.

A certain Bipartisan Policy Center's National Security Project - one of those myriad revolving doors in Washington mixing politicians and military-complex types - wants to give Israel some 200 additional MOPs and three KC-135 aerial refueling tankers to "increase the credibility of a military strike" against Iran.

DEBKA-Net is a digital front for Israeli propaganda/disinformation - so it's essentially untrustworthy. But its latest bombast deserves scrutiny. DEBKA is peddling that the Pentagon is in fast and furious mode in two strategic islands; the paradisiacal Socotra, 380 kilometers southeast of Yemen (where the Pentagon has been building a giant base since 2010); and Camp Justice in Masirah, 70 km south of the Strait of Hormuz, in Oman.

Socotra thus joins key American Gulf nodes of the US Empire of Bases such as Jebel Ali and al-Dahfra in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), al-Udeid in Qatar and Arifjan in Kuwait. It's crucial to keep in mind the extra 15,000 US troops deployed to Kuwait only a few weeks ago. The Pentagon, predictably, is thunderously mum about the build up in both Socotra and Masirah, and Yemeni and Omani officials are not talking.

DEBKA claims that in two weeks, around 50,000 US troops, flown in from Diego Garcia, 3,000 km away, will be massed in both islands - plus the 50,000 troops already based in the American Gulf. Add to this air, naval and special forces from Britain and France constantly pouring into Saudi Arabia and the UAE. Not enough to launch a ground invasion of Iran - but more than enough for major logistical support in a "no options off the table" (copyright Obama) scenario.

Build up, and pray for war
DEBKA predictably spins all these developments - not independently confirmed - into Obama's "resolve to attack Iran's nuclear facilities in the course of 2012", which is absolute nonsense. This may mirror (hysterical) wishful thinking by the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel, but has nothing to do with the Obama administration's strategy, which essentially is to impose a "roll over and die" form of "diplomacy" on Iran (sanctions/oil embargo + Pentagon build up in the American Gulf) as a means of extracting an Iranian capitulation in the nuclear dossier.

Wishful thinking is also the weapon du jour for The New York Times, which now seems to be subcontracting the Iran dossier to Israeli writers, as in getting rid of the US middleman.

One Ronen Bergman writes that "after speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012". Gary Sick conclusively debunked this nonsense [1] stressing how "his conclusion is at odds with virtually everything he produces as evidence".

The only good thing among all this weaponized orgy is that Tehran and Washington are still talking - sort of - using the proverbial back channels; in Baghdad (via both ambassadors); via Turkey (with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as middleman); and in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency (via diplomats). There's a five-month window for good sense to prevail until July 1 - when the US/European Union oil embargo on Iran kicks in.

And then there's the resurfacing of "Austere Challenge 12" - the massive joint Israel-US war games involving thousands of US soldiers and testing of a number of Israeli and US missile defense systems.

"Austere Challenge" is now rescheduled for October, less than a month before the US presidential election, when Mitt Romney, the neo-con gang and deranged evangelicals will be bombing Iran non-stop on cable TV. Until then, it's up to world public opinion, to quote Percy Bysshe Shelley in The Mask of Anarchy, to "rise like lions, after slumber, in unvanquishable number", and drive fear and loathing away from the American Gulf.

1. See here.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His most recent book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2012 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

No exit in the Persian Gulf
(Feb 2, '12)

US hypes Iran terror threat again
(Feb 2, '12)

US hypes Iran terror threat again

2. A dragon dance in the Negev

3. No exit in the Persian Gulf

4. Iran well prepared for the worst

5. How America made its children crazy

6. Fighting over Syria at the UN

7. Pakistani intelligence agencies in the dock

8. When rogues drift apart

9. China's resources policy attracts attention of congress

10. Healing Southeast Asia's 'comfort women'

(24 hours to 11:59pm ET, Feb 1, 2012)


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