With Donald Trump remaining consistent in his rhetoric about his desire to have better and more cooperative relations with Russia whilst continuing his verbal attacks on Iran, many have suspected that Russia, a strategic Iranian ally, might adopt the role of mediator in the dispute.
Recently, Sergei Lavrov corrected Trump in stating that Iran cannot be honestly described as a primary exporter of terrorism and that furthermore, Iran has played a crucial role in Syria in fighting ISIS. This is of course, true.
Now, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin has echoed the words of Russia’s Foreign Minister in saying that there are substantial difference between the US and Russian view on Iran.
Speaking about the frivolous US claims that Iran’s recent test of a ballistic missile on its own territory violated a resolution passed by the UN Security Council, Churkin said,
“This outcry about Iran’s ballistic missile launches. I was surprised to hear even American experts speaking on CNN and calling it a violation of bans by the UN Security Council. Those bans were there before, all those bans were lifted”.
He also admonished the US to re-think its policies towards countries like Iran in the following way,
“In international life, you have to differentiate between your emotions, what you want to see and what you have the right to expect from another country”.
I have never felt and still do not feel that the Trump administration will launch away against Iran. Instead the conflict will manifest itself through a combination of renewed sanctions, heated words, a possible pulling out of Obama’s Iran Deal and the continued proxy war against pro-Iranian forces in Iraq.
But be that as it may, Russia is clearly displeased with America’s downright childish rhetoric about Iran and also about policing the South China Sea.
In this sense, America having good relations with Russia could not only avert a war between nuclear superpowers, it could also help to bring calm to the Middle Eat.
Trump Ready to Approve Blocked Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain
The administration of US President Donald Trump is poised to approve major weapons transfers to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, which were previously blocked over concerns about human rights, according to a report.
A package of precision-guided missile technology for Saudi Arabia, valued around $300 million, and a $4 billion deal to provide F-16 fighter jets to Bahrain are now ready for clearance from the White House, a US official involved in the transfers told The Washington Times.
During his final months in office, former president Barack Obama had blocked the transfer of precision munitions to Riyadh because of the outcry over large-scale civilian casualties resulting from Saudi airstrikes in Yemen.
The Pentagon has been providing logistics and surveillance support to Saudi Arabia in its military aggression against Yemen, the kingdom’s impoverished southern neighbor, which has killed at least 11,400 civilians since its onset in March 2015, according to a latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.
The Obama administration also notified Congress that it would not complete approval for Bahrain to buy as many as 19 F-16 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin Corp. until the kingdom could demonstrate progress on human rights.
The US already uses Bahrain as a base of operations for the US Navy in the Persian Gulf. Since 2011, the overwhelming majority of the people of Bahrain took to the streets to demand political reform. The regime, backed by Saudi Arabia, then launched a crackdown on the peaceful opposition that included conducting thousands of arrests and systematic torture.
The arms packages, if approved, would underscore the priorities of the new administration.
“These are significant sales for key allies in the [Persian] Gulf who are facing the threat from Iran and who can contribute to the fight against [Daesh],” the official who spoke with The Times said on condition of anonymity.
“Whereas the Obama administration held back on these, they’re now in the new administration’s court for a decision — and I would anticipate the decision will be to move forward.”
However, the White House will face opposition in Congress where Democrats and a number of Republicans have called for restrictions on sales of weapons to the two monarchies, in particular to Saudi Arabia which has been pounding Yemen since March 2015.
In August, 64 House members signed a letter calling on Obama to delay the sale of cluster munitions to the kingdom, and in September, a bipartisan group of US senators introduced a resolution to block a multi-billion dollar sale of battle tanks and other military equipment to the Saudi regime.
The Obama administration ultimately approved the deal on tanks transfer. However, the former president did not give the final go-ahead to the now-pending package of precision-guided weapons technology.
However, the US official told The Times that the Trump administration was now poised to embrace the deal. “If they’re going to drop stuff, it should be precision-guided rather than dumb.”
Saudi Arabia has purchased billions of dollars worth of American warplanes and other weaponry that it is using in its military campaign in Yemen.
The military aggression has destroyed much of Yemen’s infrastructure. It has also claimed the lives of over 11,400 Yemenis, including women and children, according to the latest tally by a Yemeni monitoring group.
*(President Donald Trump has lunch with troops while visiting U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command at MacDill, AFB, FL, Feb. 6, 2017. Image Credit: D. Myles Cullen/ flickr).