The US does not intend to end or even curtail its military presence in Iraq (as well as Syria) after the defeat of the Islamic State. It is planning to turn Iraq into a major theater of confrontation with Iran. There are signs that a war with Iran may be much closer than we think.
CIA director Mike Pompeo, an official known for his staunch opposition to Iran, has warned Tehran that the United States would hold it accountable for any attacks it conducted on American interests.
Addressing high-ranking US military and security officials on Saturday, Dec. 2, at a defence forum at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute in Simi Valley, California, Pompeo said that he had sent the letter to General Qassem Suleimani, a leader of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and elite Quds. “What we were communicating to him in that letter was that we will hold him and Iran accountable… and we wanted to make sure that he and the leadership of Iran understood that in a way that was crystal clear,” the CIA director explained.
Another essential component of the United States’ anti-Iran strategy is promoting Saudi-Iraqi ties.
The US’ return to the centre stage in Iraq to challenge Iran’s regional influence will give much vigor to the US’ alliance with Saudi Arabia.
The US military presence in Iran allows it to prevent the establishment by Iran of a land link to the Mediterranean via Iraq, Syria and Lebanon, boost its role in Syrian settlement, conduct covert cross-border operations to destabilize the government in Tehran and maintain staging areas to deploy reinforcements in case of war. There are signs that a coordinated campaign to roll back Iran is underway. The possibility of war against Iran has grown immensely in the recent days.
Chinese military experts believe the US is using North Korea as a cover to deploy more ships to curb Beijing’s military aspirations in the Pacific.
The US likely plans to deploy some four to six aircraft combat groups to the Pacific region under the pretext of countering the growing North Korean threat following the recent nuclear test, the South China Morning Post reported.
"We will continue to assure that we meet all of our missions here in the Asia-Pacific area. It could be something coming forward from Third Fleet or something like that to meet those requirements," said Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson on Tuesday.
However, as the Chinese news outlet points out, Chinese military experts have a different point of view on the Pentagon's incentive.
According to Song Zhongping, a military commentator for Hong Kong's Phoenix Television, the move might target Chinese military presence in the region instead.
Song's views are also shared by Beijing-based naval expert Li Jie, who agrees that the US might actually be targeting China, as the recently published US national security strategy singles out Russia and China as "revisionist powers."
North Korea has begun tests to load anthrax onto intercontinental ballistic missiles, Japan’s Asahi newspaper reported Tuesday, citing an unidentified person connected to South Korea’s intelligence services.
The report said the testing involves ensuring the anthrax survives the immense temperatures generated during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. North Korea has a stockpile of between 2,500 tons to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, and is capable of producing biological agents such as anthrax and smallpox, South Korea has previously said.
The Asahi report comes a day after the White House published its National Security Strategy, a document that said Pyongyang is "pursuing chemical and biological weapons which could also be delivered by missile."
"North Korea -- a country that starves its own people -- has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that could threaten our homeland," the report said.
North Korea claimed it had completed its nuclear force after it fired a new Hwasong-15 ICBM in late November. South Korea assessed the missile -- North Korea’s largest yet -- could potentially fly 13,000 kilometers (about 8,000 miles) and reach Washington, though additional analysis was needed to determine whether it was capable of re-entry.
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