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The March to War: Fighting ISIL is a Smokescreen for US Mobilization against Syria, Iran


This incisive article by Mahdi Nazemroaya was first published by GR in August 2014 at the outset of the US led bombing campaign

The ISIL or IS threat is a smokescreen. The strength of the ISIL has deliberately been inflated to get public support for the Pentagon and to justify the illegal bombing of Syria. It has also been used to justify the mobilization of what is looking more and more like a large-scale US-led military buildup in the Middle East. The firepower and military assets being committed go beyond what is needed for merely fighting the ISIL death squads.

While the US has assured its citizens and the world that troops will not be sent on the ground, this is very unlikely. In the first instance, it is unlikely because boots on the ground are needed to monitor and select targets. Moreover, Washington sees the campaign against the ISIL fighters as something that will take years. This is doublespeak. What is being described is a permanent military deployment or, in the case of Iraq, redeployment. This force could eventually morph into a broader assault force threatening Syria, Iran, and Lebanon.

US-Syrian and US-Iranian Security Dialogue?

Before the US-led bombings in Syria started there were unverified reports being circulated that Washington had started a dialogue with Damascus through Russian and Iraqi channels to discuss military coordination and the Pentagon bombing campaign in Syria. There was something very off though. Agents of confusion were at work in an attempt to legitimize the bombardment of the Syrian Arab Republic.

The claims of US-Syrian cooperation via Russian and Iraqi channels are part of a sinister series of misinformation and disinformation. Before the claims about US cooperation with Syria, similar claims were being made about US-Iranian cooperation in Iraq.

Earlier, Washington and the US media tried to give the impression that an agreement on military cooperation was made between itself and Tehran to fight ISIL and to cooperate inside Iraq. This was widely refuted in the harshest of words by numerous members of the Iranian political establishment and high-ranking Iranian military commanders as disinformation.

After the Iranians clearly indicated that Washington’s claims were fiction, the US claimed that it would not be appropriate for Iran to join its anti-ISIL coalition. Iran rebutted. Washington was dishonestly misrepresenting the facts, because US officials had asked Tehran to join the anti-ISIL coalition several times.

Before he was discharged from the hospital after a prostate surgery, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the highest ranking official in Iran, told Iranian television on September 9, 2014, that the US had requested that Tehran and Washington cooperate together inside Iraq on three different occasions. He explained that the US ambassador to Iraq had relayed a message to the Iranian ambassador to Iraq to join the US, then, in his own words, «the same [John Kerry] — who had said in front of the camera and in front of the eyes of all the world that they do not want Iran to cooperate with them — requested [from] Dr. Zarif that Iran cooperate with them on this issue, but Dr. Zarif turned this [request] down.» The third request was made by US Undersecretary Wendy Sherman to Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi.

Khamenei additionally made it clear that he categorically ruled out any cooperation with Washington on the issue. «On this issue, we will not cooperate with America particularly because their hands are dirty,» he publicly confirmed while explaining that Washington had ill intentions and nefarious designs in Iraq and Syria.

Like Russia, Iran has been supporting Syria and Iraq against ISIL. Also like Moscow, Tehran is committed to fighting it, but will not join Washington’s anti-ISIL coalition.

New Invasion(s) and Regime Change Project(s) in the Pipeline?

As was pointed out on June 20, 2014, in Washington’s eyes Nouri Al-Malaki’s federal government in Baghdad had to be removed for refusing to join the US siege against the Syrians, being aligned to Iran, selling oil to the Chinese, and buying weapons from the Russian Federation. Iraq’s decision to be part of an Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline also undermined the objectives of the US and its allies to control the flow of energy in the Middle East and to obstruct Eurasian integration. [1]

There were also two other unforgivable cardinal sins that Al-Malaki’s government in Baghdad committed in Washington’s eye. These offenses, however, should be put into geopolitical context first.

Remember the post-September 11, 2001 (post-9/11) catchphrase of the Bush II Administration during the start of its serial wars? It went like this: «Anyone can go to Baghdad, but real men go to Tehran!» The point of this warmongering catchphrase is that Baghdad and Damascus have been viewed as pathways for the Pentagon towards Tehran. [2]

Like Syria, Al-Malaki government’s cardinal sins were tied to blocking the pathway to Tehran. Firstly, the Iraqi government evicted the Pentagon from Iraq at the end of 2011, which removed US troops stationed directly on Iran’s western border. Secondly, the Iraqi federal government was working to expel anti-government Iranian militants from Iraq and to close Camp Ashraf, which could be used in a war or regime change operations against Iran.

Ashraf was a base for the military wing of the Iraqi-based Mujahidin-e-Khalq (MEK/MOK/MKO). The MEK is an anti-government Iranian organization that is bent on regime change in Tehran. It has even openly endorsed US-led attacks on Iran and Syria.

Although the US government itself considers the MEK a terrorist organization, Washington began to deepen its ties with the MEK when it and its staunch British allies invaded Iraq. Disingenuously and ironically, the US and Britain used Saddam Hussein’s support for the MEK to justify labeling Iraq as a state-sponsor of terrorism and to also justify the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Since then the US has been nurturing the MEK.

Since 2003, the US has been funding the MEK. Washington has been protecting the MEK, because it wants to keep them on a leash as either leverage against Tehran or to have the option of one day installing the MEK into power in Tehran as part of a regime change operation against Iran. The MEK has literally become incorporated into the Pentagon and CIA toolboxes against Tehran. Even when the US transferred control of Camp Ashraf to Baghdad, the Pentagon kept forces inside the MEK camp.

Eventually the MEK forces would mostly be relocated in 2012 to the former US base known as Camp Liberty. Camp Liberty is now called by an Arabic name, Camp Hurriya.

The Istanbul bureau chief of the Christian Science Monitor, Scott Peterson described how US officials began to really put their weight behind the MEK during the start of the Arab Spring in 2011. This is tied to Washington’s regime change dreams. Peterson wrote that US officials «rarely mention the MEK’s violent and anti-American past, and portray the group not as terrorists but as freedom fighters with ‘values just like us,’ as democrats-in-waiting ready to serve as a vanguard of regime change in Iran.» [3]

Washington Has Not Abandoned Dreams of Regime Change in Tehran

Washington has not abandoned its dreams for regime change in Tehran. Is it a coincidence that the US and EU support for the MEK is increasing, especially when the ISIL threat in Iraq began to be noticed publicly?

Six hundred parliamentarians and politicians from mostly NATO countries were flown in for a large MEK gathering in the Parisian northeastern suburb of Villepinte that called for regime change in Iran on June 27, 2014. Warmongers and morally bankrupt figures like former US senator Joseph Lieberman, Israeli mouthpiece and apologist Alan Dershowhitz, former Bush II official and Fox News pundit John Bolton, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and French former minister and United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNIMIK) chief Bernard Kouchner all met the MEK to promote regime change and war. According to the MEK, over 80, 000 people attended the regime change rally. Supporters of the insurgencies in Iraq and Syria were also present at the Villepinte gathering calling for regime change in Iraq, Syria, and Iran.

The irony is that the money for the event most probably came from the US government itself. US allies probably contributed too. This money has gone to the MEK’s lobbying initiatives with the US Congress and US Department of State, which in effect is recycling US funding. People like Rudy Giuliani — probably one of the most hated mayors in the history of New York City until he took advantage of the tragic events of 9/11 — are now effectively lobbyists for the MEK. «Many of these former high-ranking US officials — who represent the full political spectrum — have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK,» according to the Christian Science Monitor. [4]

Giuliani has been speaking at MEK events at least as far back as 2010. In 2011, he publicly pushed for regime change in Tehran and Damascus at a MEK gathering. «How about we follow an Arab Spring with a Persian Summer?» he rhetorically declared. [5] Giuliani’s next sentence revealed just how much of a scion of US foreign policy the initiative to support the MEK truly is: «We need regime change in Iran, more than we do in Egypt or Libya, and just as we need it in Syria.» [6]

Joseph Lieberman’s friend and fellow war advocate Senator John McCain was unable to make the trip to the Parisian suburb in Seine-Saint-Denis, but addressed the regime change gathering via video. Congressman Edward Royce, the chair of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee, also showed his support for regime change in Iran through a video message. So did Senator Carl Levin and Senator Robert Menendez.


Large delegations from the US, France, Spain, Canada, and Albania were present. Aside from the aforementioned individuals, other notable American attendees to the June 27, 2014 event included the following:

  1. Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the lower chamber (House of Representatives) in the bicameral US Congress;
  2. John Dennis Hastert; another former speaker of the House of Representatives;
  3. George William Casey Jr., who commanded the multinational military force that invaded and occupied Iraq;
  4. Hugh Shelton, a computer software executive and former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff;
  5. James Conway, the former chief of the US Marine Corps
  6. Louis Freeh, the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI);
  7. Lloyd Poe, the US Representative who sits on (1) the US House Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats and chairs (2) the US House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Non‐proliferation and Trade;
  8. Daniel Davis, a US Representative from Illinois;
  9. Loretta Sánchez, a US Representative from California;
  10. Michael B. Mukasey, a former attorney-general of the US;
  11. Howard Dean, the former governor of Vermont;
  12. William Richardson, the former secretary of the US Department of Energy;


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