Pompeo/iran
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Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
Should we chalk it up to coincidence theory that just days after Trump gives John Bolton the boot as his National Security Adviser, Iran is blamed for an attack on a Saudi oil facility, forcing Washington to forego any hope of peace with Tehran?

One day before Bolton's abrupt departure from the White House, Trump had reportedly discussed with his security advisers the possibility of easing sanctions on Tehran in an effort to create the "right conditions" for a possible meeting with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations later this month.

"We'll see what happens," Trump told reporters last week. "I do believe they'd like to make a deal."

Now we may never know how things may have turned out because one week later that comment looks like a page torn from ancient history.

On Saturday, Yemen Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for sophisticated drone attacks on the Saudi Aramco oil factory, which is situated deep inside the country, more than 1,000 kilometers away from the Yemen border. If the claims are true, it would mark a serious turning point in the four-year military 'intervention', which has seen US- and British-backed Saudi forces take a heavy-handed approach to extricating the rebels from the capital, Sanaa.

Yemeni military spokesman Yahya Sari said the attack involved an "accurate intelligence operation" that was assisted by "honorable and free" men working inside of the Kingdom. That televised confession, however, wasn't going to stop the United States and its regional allies from believing what they wanted to believe, which was that Iran was solely responsible for the incident.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whose pugilistic presence in the Trump administration makes Bolton's absence seem almost imperceptible, proclaimed in a tweet that Iran is responsible for launching "an unprecedented attack on the world's energy supply."

Pompeo went on to say there was "no evidence the attacks came from Yemen," while never proving evidence the attack originated from Iran either. In other words, Trump is being pushed into a situation where he has no choice but to fight. Not the best situation for an incumbent president heading into the election season. And it certainly doesn't help his situation when members of his own party shake the pompoms for war, as Senator Lindsey Graham did when he called for attacks on Iran's oil refineries.

Thus, in a matter of hours, Trump has gone from being open to the idea of talking to Iran to saying the US is "locked and loaded" and just waiting to "hear from the Kingdom" before the White House takes some kind of action against the suspected perpetrator.

Incidentally, although that ominous tweet certainly got the attention of Iranian officials, it is worth noting that just over two years ago, as the war rhetoric between Pyongyang and Washington was hitting its crescendo, Trump used exactly the same threatening phrase "locked and loaded." Yet today relations between the two countries have calmed considerably and Trump even went on to become the first US leader to enter North Korea. Was Trump sending a message to Tehran? Will the maverick from Manhattan soon be strolling down the streets of Tehran, shaking hands with imams as he did Kim Jong-un? Nothing would enrage the US deep state more.

With regards to the idea that Iran was behind the attacks on the Saudi oil factory, that claim sounds highly dubious. Once again, we are expected to accept the narrative that sovereign states have some sort of suicide wish, and would happily submit to a mortal self-inflicted wound at the most incongruous time (as was the case with Syria, by the way, which, as the media desperately wanted everyone to believe, decided to carry out chemical attacks against the rebels, thereby risking a full-blown attack by the US military and half of NATO).

Indeed, why would Iran, even through the use of proxy forces, risk an attack on Saudi Arabia that could set the entire Middle East alight? The idea becomes all the more preposterous when we remember that just several weeks ago, Iran's foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, made a surprise visit to the G7 summit, hosted by France, where world leaders, including US President Donald Trump, were gathered. Trump, alongside French President Emmanuel Macron during a post-summit press conference, agreed to the possibility of meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Hassan Rouhani.

Trump even seemed open to the idea of backing away from current US policy of "maximum pressure" on Tehran, saying he would consider providing Iran with an emergency credit line backed by its oil production.

Why would Tehran risk igniting World War III when the prospect for peace - not to mention financial relief - seems to be near at hand?

The circumstantial evidence points to the fact that Iran, as it has vociferously declared, had nothing to do with the brazen assault on Saudi Arabia. Trump, I would imagine, is probably also very wary of the accusations, spouted by none other than his own Secretary of State, since he is very familiar with such underhanded tactics due to his experience in Syria.

Thus far in his presidency, Donald Trump has been able to avoid full-blown war despite serious efforts by a consortium of concerns to trigger such an event. Despite the hawks he gathers around himself, probably in an effort to "keep his enemies closer," as Sun Tsu recommended, Trump is clearly not enamored of the battlefield as are so many others in Washington. Trump is a businessman, and sees much more advantage in walking away from a hard-won contract than walking away from an obliterated landscape, the worst imaginable thing for a real estate developer. Nevertheless, it is a nerve-racking experience watching the author of the Art of the Deal bluster and bluff his way against rivals right up to precipice of disaster before retreating back again to stable ground.

This strategy keeps the Deep State constantly off guard as to his real intentions, which is not about triggering World War III. How long the Deep State will tolerate such a relative atmosphere of global peace is another question, but they will certainly be doing everything in their power to ensure he does not secure another four years in the White House. And that is the tragic reality of Donald Trump's real war.
About the author

Robert Bridge is an American writer and journalist. Former Editor-in-Chief of The Moscow News, he is author of the book, Midnight in the American Empire, released in 2013.