Soleimani in Baghdad confers with Shiite proxies on strikes against US forces in Iraq, also Israel By DEBKA Files Israel

MESOPOTAMIA  NEWS : THE DEVILS MASTERMIND QASEM SOLEIMANI

18 Sept 2019 – MESOP – Exclusive: Al Qods chief Qassem Soleimani arrived in Baghdad on Monday, Sept. 16, two days after Iran’s cruise-missile drone attack on Saudi oil, DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources report. Accompanied by his operational staff, the IRGC general was quickly closeted with three heads of pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias and former Iraqi prime minister Nuri al-Maliki.
Our sources reveal their two subjects of discussion:

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS ANALYSIS : BY INSTITUTE FOR NATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES / ISRAEL

The Attack on the Saudi Oil Facilities: A New Level of Iranian Audacity

Yoel Guzansky, Eldad Shavit, Sima Shine – INSS Insight No. 1214, September 18, 2019

 The September 14 attack on the oil facilities in Saudi Arabia – including Abqaiq, which is considered the largest of its kind in the world – is the most serious kinetic attack on oil facilities in the Gulf since the 1991 Gulf War, in terms of damage and economic significance. This incident goes far beyond the bounds of the war in Yemen, particularly if it is proven beyond any doubt that the attack was launched from Iranian territory. Under these circumstances, it is evident that even if Iran is not interested in a broad deterioration vis-à-vis the United States, it is prepared to take new and more daring risks, based in part on the assessment that President Trump, as well as the Saudis and other Gulf states, is not interested in severe escalation.

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MESOPOTAMA NEWS TODAYS OPINION BY FOREIGN AFFAIRS  – What Would It Take for Iran’s President to Meet With Trump?

Tehran Needs to Know Washington’s Word Counts for Something  – By Trita Parsi September 18, 2019  – FOREIGN AFFAIRS

U.S. President Donald Trump has lost faith that his campaign of “maximum pressure” against Iran will bring that country to its knees. Trump’s firing last week of John Bolton, the latest of the administration’s national security advisers, signaled as much. And the recent attacks on Saudi oil sites suggest that Bolton’s approach, which was supposed to bring about Iranian capitulation, may instead have begotten Iranian counterescalation and a short brush with war.

By firing Bolton, Trump has telegraphed a possible willingness to ease his Iran sanctions, in order to secure at least one foreign policy success before his reelection campaign kicks into full gear. But the success of any U.S. outreach will depend on how it is received in Tehran, where an intense debate has raged for several months over whether to engage Trump directly or not.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : ‘ACT OF WEAKNESS’ / IRAN

Trump Feuds With Lindsey Graham Over ‘Weak’ Iran Policy – The senator’s calls for “decisive action” on Iran, not the “measured response” of the administration, prompted the president to lash out on Twitter.

Erin Banco   National Security Reporter +  Asawin Suebsaeng –  White House Reporter

Updated 09.18.19 10:58AM ET / Published 09.17.19 9:34PM ET  THE DAILY BEAST

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told The Daily Beast on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s campaign of “maximum pressure” on Iran isn’t achieving its purpose.

“Clearly what we’re doing isn’t working,” Graham said, adding that the goal of the administration’s Iran policy should be to deter Tehran from escalating tensions in the region.

Following his phone call with The Daily Beast, Graham, in a series of tweets, called on the Trump administration to do more, saying the “measured response” by President Trump is “seen by the Iranian regime as an act of weakness.” On the same night as a Tuesday fundraising event in Silicon Valley, Trump tweeted back at Graham: “No Lindsey, it was a sign of strength that some people just don’t understand!”

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : THE ‘REBUILD SYRIA’ EXHIBITION: IRANIAN INFLUENCE AND U.S. SANCTIONS

by Oula A. Alrifai – PolicyWatch 3181 – September 17, 2019

This year’s show provides a window into Tehran’s strategy for cementing its soft power, and may point to potential sanctions violations by companies from U.S. partner countries.

This week, the Assad regime is holding its fifth annual reconstruction exhibition under the title “Rebuild Syria 2019,” and as usual the event has been greatly facilitated and funded by Iran. At last year’s gathering, Iranian ambassador Javad Turkabadi participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony, where he emphasized the importance of Tehran’s role in rebuilding the war-torn country.

The exhibition is scheduled to run through September 21 near the Damascus satellite town of Sayyeda Zainab, home to a Shia shrine that has played a crucial role in helping Iran mobilize its foreign proxy network. Details are scarce on the specific reconstruction initiatives and locations that will be discussed during the event, and some projects will no doubt be highlighted for their publicity value rather than their actual benefits to the Syrian people. Yet it is still important to scrutinize who attends these events and why—especially when the exhibitors include businesses from countries that are allied with the United States and part of the ongoing international debate about Iran sanctions.

RELIGIOUS, STRATEGIC, AND ECONOMIC VALUE

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : „THE MASTERMIND BEHIND IT“ : QASEM SOLEIMANI / VIDEO

18 Sept 2019 – IRGC Quds Force Commander General Qasem Soleimani Posts Video after Attacks in Abqaiq and Khurais: We Are the Nation of Martyrdom; Iraqi PMU, Yemeni Ansar Allah Are Following Imam Hussein’s Path / MEMRI CLIP

 

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : A DIRECT ATTACK FROM IRAN ! WITH CRUISE MISSILES

US official claims cruise missiles were used during attack on Saudi Aramco sites

By News Desk ALMASDAR NEWS  2019-09-17 – Cruise missiles were used in Saturday’s attacks on Saudi oil facilities, and the attack came from Iran, a US official cited by AFP has claimed.The official, who declined to be named, told the news agency that the US was now gathering evidence about the attack to present at the UN General Assembly next week.Asked if the US was certain that the cruise missiles was launched from Iranian soil, the official curtly answered “Yes.”

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Pentagon urges restraint as administration blames Iran for Saudi strikes

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : STARS & STRIPES

By MISSY RYAN AND DAN LAMOTHE | The Washington Post | Published: September 16, 2019

WASHINGTON — Pentagon officials on Monday pressed for a restrained response to the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities, arguing against a potentially costly conflict with Iran, which the administration has blamed for the strike on a key American ally, according to officials familiar with Defense Department deliberations.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper met with President Donald Trump and key national security officials at the White House on Monday, two days after a series of explosions crippled two oil facilities in Saudi Arabia, disrupting more than half the Sunni kingdom’s oil supply and dramatically escalating tensions with its chief rival, Shiite power Iran.

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Trump must react to the attacks on Saudi Arabia. But a quick fix won’t be enough.

MESOPOTAMIA NEWS TODAYS OPINION BY FORMER AMBASSADOR DENNIS ROSS

By Dennis Ross THE WASHINGTON POST – September 16 at 3:50 PM

Saturday’s attack on Abqaiq, home to one of the most important petroleum processing facilities in Saudi Arabia, threatens to dramatically escalate tensions in the Persian Gulf. While the Saudis have not yet attributed blame, they are likely to do so soon — and to react accordingly. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has declared what most observers suspect: The Iranians might not have directly orchestrated the attacks but are almost certainly behind them.

If true, Iran is continuing its response to the administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign with its own version of maximum pressure. The Iranians have long declared that if they cannot export their oil, others won’t be able to do so either. In May, just weeks after President Trump decided to add to existing sanctions with the aim of reducing Tehran’s oil exports to zero, the Iranians began their “deniable” assault on oil supplies out of the area, twice attacking oil tankers and using proxies in Yemen and Iraq to attack Saudi oil facilities.

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MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : Read The Drone Attack on Oil and the Larger Iran Problem – Read also the Risk of Rising Aggression and Declining Action from former Acting CIA Director and Cipher Brief Expert, John McLaughlin

Cipher Brief Highlights and Exclusives
TODAY’S OPEN SOURCE COLLECTION BRIEF —   It’s looking more and more like Iran was behind the weekend drone attack on a Saudi oil facility according to U.S. Intelligence officials; Canada is working to contain the damage after charging a top intelligence official with leaking secret information; Your full Open Source Collection Brief is below.

RESPONDING TO THE DRONE ATTACK – President Donald Trump says Iran appears to be responsible for the weekend drone attack on Saudi Arabian oil facilities, but he also says he would “like to avoid” military conflict, leaving an open question as to how the U.S. might respond if it concludes that Tehran is responsible.

Global oil prices spiked after the attack that was believed to impact more than half of Saudi Arabia’s daily exports.

We asked Cipher Brief expert and former National Intelligence Manager for Iran at ODNI, Norm Roule to share his insights on what key responsibilities U.S. leadership – to include Congress and the Administration – has in addressing increasing aggressive actions by Iran and what the longer-term impact on global markets might be if there is no change in the status quo.

Read The Drone Attack on Oil and the Larger Iran Problem

Read also the Risk of Rising Aggression and Declining Action from former Acting CIA Director and Cipher Brief Expert, John McLaughlin

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