UPDATE – 21 May 02:30
- Maduro escalates situation by threatening to send Venezuelan navy ships to escort Iranian tankers into port.
- Russia confirms the shipment was coordinated between Venezuela & Iran as a military sanction-busting operation.
- OSINT places two Russian submarines in the Eastern Caribbean, probably for observation and intelligence collection.
Intelligence professionals (such as I was for 35 years) and others who live by reason and logic are wary of coincidence. Though never discounted, belief in serendipity is usually a way out of having to reach an unwanted conclusion.
When we see breadcrumbs, our first thought is, “there’s a loaf somewhere.”
So it is with the disturbing developments in the Middle East and South America.
Our open source intelligence (OSINT) indicates an Iranian “POTUS Trap,” involving sanctions-busting shipments to Venezuela, Iranian naval and rocket movements, Russian missile deployments to South America. The timing of these activities is “too perfect” considering a global pandemic, the recent Trump impeachment (and ongoing vitriol from his political opponents) and only half a year before the U.S. presidential elections.
Animosity between Iran and the United States is epic. With forty years of hate and distrust fueled by radical Islamism, the Iranians have ratified as official state policy the removal of the “Great Satan” from the Middle East, and erasing Israel from the map. Pursuit of these goals has been emboldened by Obama-era acquiescence to Islamic regimes, Russian trade and military partnerships and nuclear weapons collaboration with North Korea.
The Obama administration was good for Iran, culminating in the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. The agreement between the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (United States, England, Russia, France, and China) plus Germany and the European Union and Iran agreed to allow Tehran to redesign, convert, and reduce its nuclear facilities. In exchange, all nuclear-related economic sanctions on Iran would be lifted, and tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue and frozen assets would be released to the Islamic Republic.
The JCPOA was pushed through Congress “at any cost” because it was to be Obama´s historic legacy. Emboldened by his victory, President Obama, on the same weekend the deal went into effect, sent $400 million to Iran in January, 2017. Although denied as a ransom, the timing coincided with the release of four Americans held captive by Tehran.
Within the following three weeks, the Obama administration secretly flew pallets of cash totaling $1.3 billion in various currencies to Iran.
Ultimately, part of those funds were used by Iran to pay North Korea to build nuclear warheads for them so Iran could claim that they did. Producing the weapons in North Korea also protected their development from prying Israeli eyes. Some of the $1.7 billion went to finance terrorist organizations including Hezbollah, Yemen, ISIS and Al Qaeda.
Iran also bought the loyalty of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Acting chief Cornel Feruta with support from Russia and China. It is, then, no surprise that Iran subsequently passed all IAEA inspections. Nor should one be shocked that Iran suffered no consequences when it repeatedly refused IAEA inspection teams access to some of its nuclear research sites.
President Donald Trump has taken a far more hard-line approach towards Tehran than his predecessor. In December 2017, he announced the United States would relocate its embassy to Jerusalem. Six months later, citing clear violations of the agreement by Iran as well as other aggressive acts by the regime, the President withdrew the United States from the JCPOA.
Iran hates America almost as much as it hates Israel. With the help of President Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry and complicit players in Russia, China and Germany providing time, money and freedom, the mad mullahs of Tehran have amassed an arsenal of mass destruction. And now they want war. Should there be military conflict, Iran understands it will have the support of other Arab states in the region as well as Russia that would limit the extent of an American military offensive. Further, Israel is within ballistic missile range of Iran’s growing arsenal and, no doubt, would be the first target of a counter-offensive.
In February of this year, the Senate passed a resolution to limit the President’s power to conduct military operations against Iran without first seeking Congressional approval. Obama loyalists led the charge.
Earlier this month, conversation began about relocating American nuclear weapons from an increasingly unfriendly Germany and unstable Turkey to Poland. That proposal was received very poorly in Moscow. Russian President Vladimir Putin needs a diversion from domestic problems. Even before the Coronavirus pandemic, his popularity was in trouble with growing poverty and class inequities creating increasing dissatisfaction among the populace. A convenient distraction – in classic Putin style – would be the annexation of Belarus and/or the Baltic States as a “counter” to U.S. plans to move nuclear warheads to Poland. He has already stated that Russia will transfer missiles and nukes to both Cuba and Venezuela if the U.S. makes those deployments. Add a little cigar smoke and you have a modern Cuban Missile Crisis.
Last year, Turkey acquired Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile defense systems, prompting the United States to remove Turkey from its F-35 fighter jet program. Recently, our monitoring has revealed Russian logistic preparations to air transport S-400 units to an unknown destination, probably Venezuela.
Just this week, Caracas announced it had thwarted an “invasion” by Venezuelan “rebels” run by a former U.S. Green Beret. The bizarre raid appears to be more theater than rebellion and is likely a ruse by Maduro (with the help of Moscow script writers?) to scare the public and bolster his illegal regime. The rip-off of the Bay of Pigs is obvious.
In a gesture of faux solidarity between sanctioned countries, Iran has sent five gasoline-laden tankers to Venezuela in open defiance of U.S. sanctions on the Maduro government. According to our tracking, the ships are scheduled to start arriving within a few days, probably at Puerto Jose.
In an obvious response, a growing number of U.S. Navy ships and aircraft are now deploying to the Eastern Caribbean in yet another throwback to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis naval blockade. Meanwhile, Tehran has, through the Swiss embassy, officially warned that Iran will regard any attempt to stop the tankers as piracy on the high seas and a de facto act of war. The detected activities around Iranian missile and navy units suggest preparation for actions.
President Trump has been painted into a corner. If he allows the tankers through, he decimates American resolve in the Middle East, South American and Europe. His efforts to stand up to Nicolas Maduro, Vladimir Putin, Xi Jinping, Kim Jung Un, the Mullahs, the WHO, terrorists and the Mexican cartels will be shot to Hell. Domestically, he will be painted as weak, a “paper tiger” and a poor steward of American resolve on the world stage.
However, should the President blockade the convoy to validate U.S. political, military and diplomatic integrity and superiority and give credence to the sanctions, Iran will retaliate, no doubt with Russian urging, by launching military attacks against U.S. facilities, ships and aircraft in the Middle East. A regional war may very well be at hand.
Even more disturbing is that Tehran may be getting assistance from the United States.
Some of the initiators behind the resolution to prevent the President from defending American personnel and ships from the Iranians were also deeply involved in the Obama team JCPOA negotiations.
Using customized OSINT collection techniques and relationship software, we analyzed Obama administration players involved in the 2017 transfer of $1.7 billion to Iran. When these names, dates and affiliations were graphed, we noticed that many of the same persons involved 5-6 years ago are still involved with the Iranians today.
It does not take sophisticated software or information collection methods to conjure some of the more prominent names, particularly since there has been admission that meetings with Iranian leaders have, in fact, taken place. But there are others that may have retained contact with the Islamic Republic even though such interaction does not officially represent the United States and could be illegal. Might the loyal opposition be more loyal to opposition than to their country?
And there should be questions about the context of these communications and the timing of them. Just a few months after impeachment. During a pandemic. Six months before a presidential election. Repeated attempts to discredit the Commander-in-Chief with contrived scandals.
And, now, a very real potential for war. Coincidence?Don't forget to Like The Washington Sentinel on Facebook and Twitter, and visit our friends at The Republican Legion.
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Trump’s Foreign Policy: Beyond Imagination
Two days ago we started to receive some disturbing comments not only from enemies of the United States, but from allies. Not only from journalists, but from heads of state and the European Union leadership.
That the Trump Administration did not even try to enforce its own sanctions against Iran and Venezuela last weekend has had a very significant effect on world politics and the United States’ place in it.
Friendly leaders are talking about America’s loss of global leadership credibility, and how important that is to all of the free world.
“Unfriendlies” like Iran, Venezuela, Turkey, China, North Korea, Afgahnistan, Iraq, Russia and Syria are showing signs they feel “empowered” to ignore current and future U.S. warnings and expand their own areas of political and military influence without fear of American response. The Taliban is planning to retake Afghanistan and reintroducing Sharia Law while Iran accelerates plans to expel the U.S. from the Middle East and implement it’s stated policy of erasing Israel from the face of the Earth.
As the U.S. withdraws from international accords and treaties, the vaccuum will no doubt be filled by others – in particular China and Russia. Removed from the geopolitical stage, the U.S. loses influence within international organizations and on world policy.
Meanwnile, by controlling a major portion of the World´s rare earth metal deposits, China is positioning itself as the controller of much of the raw materials needed for advanced electronics, including lasers and weapons systems. Expanding it’s military bases and forces in the South China Sea, allows Beijing to control major Asian maritime trade routes and spread its military presence. And it continues to plan for the full reintegration of both Hong Kong and Taiwan into the mainland nation.
For over a century, the U.S. has been the stabilzing factor guaranteeing freedom and democracies in the World. For the last 70 years. America has been a significant deterrent for Soviet/Russian expansion, primarily through it’s leadership in NATO. But, since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Moscow has engaged in a massive and successful resurgence. What was not long ago a disseminated military and near collapsed economy is, again, a dangerous competitor and adversary.
Now, far too many political observers no longer believe that President Trump will be reelected in the Fall.
This not only because of the Administrations handling of the CoVid-19 pandemic, the failure to enforce U.S. sanctions, military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the Middle East and decoupling from international treaties and agencies. They also cite political and personal obsessions with conspiracy theories instead of cooperation and management as unproductive.
The United States is a seriously split and painfully divided nation. The fractures are not just celebrated by our nemeses, but they’re partially created by Russian troll factories, Chinese money and cowardly and forgetful “allies.”
Yet, the Trump Administration expends far excessive energy and resources fighting the media and conspiracies instead of managing America’s geopolitical interests.
Even should the President be reelected and his America First policies continue to become de facto isolationism, the United States may cease to be the superpower that has been a trademark for more than half of its existence.
One of America’s greatest allies and beneficiaries, an acclaimed freedom fighter and hero in his own country, Charles DeGaulle, said;
“You have to be sure that the Americans will commit all the stupidities they can think of, plus some that are beyond imagination.”
For more about Open Source Intelligence: http://ia1.info/
Rumors of Kim Jong Un’s Death Have US Authorities Reviewing Contingency Plans
Has Kim kicked the bucket?
Among the seven deadly sins, pride has never been considered an especially deadly one. It just takes a little imagination to understand how pride kills, sometimes. The situation in North Korea this week may lend a fairly spot-in example for us, however.
As coronavirus raged in the Far East, North Korea stood defiant. They insisted that there were zero cases of COVID-19 in the country – something that couldn’t possibly be true, especially given just how poor the North Korean medical infrastructure is known to be.
Now, as the DPRK’s dainty despot has gone MIA, the United States is revisiting a contingency plan for the possibility that Kim Jong Un is D.O.A.
The U.S. government has extensive contingency plans in place for an eventual death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that factor in expectations of a mass-scale humanitarian crisis inside the country, Fox News has learned.
Sources discussed those plans amid conflicting reports about the reclusive North Korean leader’s health. Those same sources urge caution about these reports, which have claimed he’s facing serious health issues after a cardiovascular procedure.
While his condition is unclear, a well-placed defense intelligence source told Fox News on Tuesday that the U.S. government has extensive plans in place for when Kim is gone, taking into account all the complications that could arise from his eventual death.
The official described the likelihood of a huge humanitarian crisis within North Korea that could include millions of people facing starvation and a mass exodus of North Korean refugees into China. Intelligence sources told Fox News that part of the plan would be to rely heavily on China to step in and help manage the situation on the ground inside North Korea, partly due to China’s proximity and partly due to logistical challenges of the U.S. providing humanitarian assistance.
The Daily NK, an online news periodical based in Seoul, which is run mostly by North Korean defectors, has reported that Kim, 36, was recovering from his April 12 surgery at a resort county villa on the east coast. The report said Kim has been in bad health because of heavy smoking, obesity and overwork.
But specifics on Kim’s condition remain unclear, as North Korea has been notorious for withholding and distorting news inside its borders.
Rumors of Kim’s possible death have been floating around the internet for days, after reports seemed to indicate that he was in “grave danger” after heart surgery.
Here’s Trump’s Historic Middle East Peace Plan
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu unveiled the Middle East peace plan with a two-state solution, a tunnel connecting West Bank and Gaza.
“Complex problems require nuanced remedies. My vision presents a win-win opportunity for both sides. Today Israel has taken a giant step toward peace.”
President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a long-awaited Middle East peace plan meant to bring to an end the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.
The plan, which has been opposed by the Palestinians, was touted by Trump as the “most detailed proposal ever put forward” toward a lasting peace in the region.
Here is a look at some of the key features of the Middle East Peace plan:
Two-State Solution: Long-billed as the only way for the Palestinians and Israelis to actually come to terms, Trump’s plan calls for a two-state solution – with the creation of a future “state” of Palestine.
The plan would require the Palestinians to meet certain benchmarks — rooting out terrorism, stopping “pay to slay,” implementing steps toward free speech and political reforms – to become a state, but Trump promised that they would have U.S. backing if they did. It also calls for the creation of a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem and for more than doubling the amount of territory the Palestinians control.
Land Swaps: There will also be a number of land swaps including one south of the Gaza strip to give the Palestinians more territory and one near the Egyptian border that will remain Israeli territory and will be subject to Israeli security control. The plans also calls for the construction of a tunnel connecting the West Bank and Gaza strip. More
This is what a future State of Palestine can look like, with a capital in parts of East Jerusalem. pic.twitter.com/39vw3pPrAL
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2020
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas today said “a thousand noes” to the long-awaited Middle East peace plan unveiled by President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“After the nonsense that we heard today, we say a thousand noes to the Deal of The Century. We will not kneel and we will not surrender.”
They have zero interest in peace. They will never agree to anything. Of course, they are saying no, they say no to everything except having the whole country or death to Israel. That’s no surprise. They’ve always been this way.
Russia Accused of ‘Bugging’ Davos Summit with Campy Plumber Ruse
Putin is again pushing the envelope, this time as world leaders gather in Switzerland.
There are few things that put a bigger smile on the face of Vladimir Putin than chaos. The Russian President-turned-dictator revels in the idea that the world around Moscow could crumble, paving the way to Superpower status on the backs of the international community.
Lately, Putin’s focus has been on sowing the seeds of distrust among the American people with repeated attempts to infiltrate the very democratic process that We The People hold dear.
This week, however, the Kremlin is being accused of taking aim at the Davos summit in Switzerland using a campy ruse straight out of Hollywood.
Swiss police reportedly believe they uncovered two Russian spies who had posed as plumbers in order to bug world leaders at Davos this week.
According to the Financial Times, Swiss police picked up two men at the high-end resort in August after the pair had aroused suspicion by staying for an unusually long time.
Zürich’s Tages-Anzeiger newspaper reported that Swiss officials and police concluded that the pair were Russian spies employed by the Kremlin to record and tap into the conversations of important figures at the World Economic Forum.
Police told the Financial Times that the men claimed they had diplomatic protection, although they had not registered this with official Swiss authorities. The newspaper added that Swiss police found no indications of criminal acts.
The Kremlin was predictably defiant.
A representative for the Russian embassy in Switzerland, Stanislav Smirnov, told CNBC via phone Tuesday that there had been no contact from Swiss authorities on the matter and that the story was “one more attempt to undermine Swiss-Russian relations.”
Russia and Switzerland have been in heated conversations regarding espionage since 2018, after the latter accused the former of attempting to hack into a Swiss laboratory.
Canada’s Leftist Prime Minister Blames Downed Ukraine Plane on Donald Trump
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, is blaming the U.S.A. for the Iranian missiles that took out a Ukrainian passenger jet.
Left-wing Canadian Prime Minister and serial black-face wearer, Justin Trudeau, is now blaming the U.S.A. for the Iranian missiles that took out a Ukrainian passenger jet.
The liberal PM said that the only reason Iran shot down the Ukrainian plane was because the U.S. killed Iran’s top terror general, Qassem Soleimani.
A short time after Iran launched its weak and ineffective reply to the U.S. missile strike, the country’s missile forces “accidentally” shot down the passenger jet that didn’t even have any American passengers aboard.
Trudeau made his accusation in comments made to Global News television.
“I think if there were no tensions, if there was no escalation recently in the region, those Canadians would be right now home with their families,” Trudeau exclaimed.
All 176 people — including 57 Canadians — were killed when Iran’s Revolutionary Guard struck the the plane.
“This is something that happens when you have conflict and war. Innocents bear the brunt of it and it is a reminder why all of us need to work so hard on de-escalation, moving forward to reduce tensions and find a pathway that doesn’t involve further conflict and killing,” Trudeau added.
“I think full admission, acknowledgment of responsibility and some form of compensation is going to have to come,” Trudeau exclaimed.
“I am hurt like all Canadians. I am angry like all Canadians. But unlike many people I have a job to do that will be able to help these families directly. Getting answers for them is my entire focus right now,” he said.
But Trudeau also attacked President Trump for not giving him a heads up before the U.S. took out Iran’s terror general.
As if filling in a liberal Canadian was the first thing the U.S. should do before fulfilling its national interests.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.
Trump Approval Rating Soars After Missile Strike on Iran Terror General Soleimani
President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have risen since he ordered the missile strike that took out Iran’s top terror general, Qassem Soleimani.
President Donald Trump’s approval ratings have risen since he ordered the missile strike that took out Iran’s top terror general, Qassem Soleimani.
Trump’s approval rating rose to 45.3% approval mark, according to RealClearPolitics. His disapproval rating is down to 52.3% from a high of 58.1% on Dec. 16, 2017.
Indeed, Trump’s January approval rating is not much different from President Barack Obama’s (46.8%) at the same time in his own presidency.
Trump’s numbers have stayed stubbornly higher than Democrats have been able to believe despite their daily drumbeat of their impeachment obsession.
As Breitbart News recently reported:
President Donald Trump’s job approval rating is up six percentage points since the House Democrats launched their impeachment inquiry, according to a Gallup poll released early Wednesday.
The survey found the president’s approval rating climbed to 45 percent from 39 percent, from when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) formally launched the probe to remove him in late September. The findings mark the third consecutive rise in his approval rating and the fifth time his approval has hit 45 percent in his presidency, according to Gallup.
Impeachment does not seem to be bringing many supporters:
The survey found a majority of respondents — 51 percent — are against the impeachment and removal of the president, an uptick of five percent since the inquiry was launched. Conversely, 46 percent of respondents stated they approve of impeachment and his removal, a drop of six points. A mere five percent of Republican respondents said they support impeachment and removal. Eighty-five percent of Democrat respondents said they supported the two actions. Further, Gallup found impeachment support has dropped with independents to 48 percent, down from 55 in October.
Trump has proven to be an amazingly resilient politician, much to the left’s disgust.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.
Michigan Muslim Cleric Calls U.S. Strike on Iranian Terror General a ‘Cowardly Act’
A Michigan Muslim cleric called the U.S. strike against Iranian terror General Qassem Soleimani a “cowardly and heinous act.”
A Michigan Muslim cleric took to his podium last week to call the U.S. strike against Iranian terror General Qassem Soleimani a “cowardly and heinous act.”
Iraqi-American Sheikh Ibrahim Kazerooni of the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan slammed the Trump administration’s actions after the strike that kill Soleimani and another high-ranking terror chief who were both in Iraq illegally to plan further terror attacks on U.S. troops there, according to watchdog group MEMRI.
Again, this is a Muslim leader inside the U.S.A. who is openly siding with terrorists.
Kazerooni led a prayer for the souls of the two terror chiefs and told his congregation that Soleimani had “brought hope to the marginalized [and] hatred and fear to the enemies of Islam, particularly the United States.”
The Michigan cleric added that Soleimani had been instrumental in keeping the Syrian regime in power, despite “American and Zionist” attempts to take out the Assad regime.
Kazerooni defended Soleimani as a hero “protecting” Muslims and even claimed the terror general was a key figure in defeating ISIS, which Kazerooni described as the “extended arm of American foreign policy.”
The cleric the droned on about Koranic exhortations about martyrdom as a virtuous act.
Kazerooni ended telling his audience that Iran would prevail in the attacks against the U.S.A.
Indeed only a few days later Iraq did, indeed, launch a missile attack on U.S. positions inside Iraq.
However, the Iranian strikes did little damage. In fact, many of Iran’s missiles did not even reach any targets and failed in flight.
Worse, the hapless Iranian military accidentally shot down a Ukrainian jet airliner.
“Unnamed officials told US media that Iran fired two surface-to-air missiles at the aircraft as it took off on Wednesday morning, bringing it down in a blaze of flames before it exploded on the ground,” AFP reported.
Follow Warner Todd Huston on facebook.com/Warner.Todd.Huston.
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