PEPE ESCOBAR: US Kick Starts Raging ’20s Declaring War on Iran

Iraq is the preferred battleground of a proxy war against Iran that may now metastasize into hot war, with devastating consequences.    

By Pepe Escobar
in Palermo, Sicily

Special to Consortium News  

It does not matter where the green light for the U.Stargeted assassination in Baghdad of Quds Force commander Major General Qassem Soleimani and the Hashd al-Shaabi second-in-command Abu Madhi al-Muhandis came from.

This is an act of war. Unilateral, unprovoked and illegal.

President Donald Trump may have issued the order. The U.SDeep State may have ordered him to issue the order. Or the usual suspects may have ordered them all.

According to my best Southwest Asia intel sources, “Israel gave the U.Sthe coordinates for the assassination of Qassem Soleimani as they wanted to avoid the repercussions of taking the assassination upon themselves.”

It does not matter that Trump and the Deep State are at war.

One of the very few geopolitical obsessions that unite them is non-stop confrontation with Iran – qualified by the Pentagon as one of five top threats against the U.S., almost at the level of Russia and China.

And there cannot be a more startling provocation against Iran — in a long list of sanctions and provocations — than what just happened in Baghdad. Iraq is now the preferred battleground of a proxy war against Iran that may now metastasize into hot war, with devastating consequences.    

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We knew it was coming. There were plenty of rumbles in Israeli media by former military and Mossad officials. There were explicit threats by the Pentagon. I discussed it in detail in Umbria last week with sterling analyst Alastair Crooke – who was extremely worried. I received worried messages from Iran.

The inevitable escalation by Washington was being discussed until late Thursday night here in Palermo, actually a few hours before the strike. (Sicily, by the way, in the terminology of U.S. generals, is AMGOT: American Government Occupied Territory.)

Once again, the Exceptionalist hands at work show how predictable they are. Trump is cornered by impeachment. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been indicted. Nothing like an external “threat” to rally the internal troops.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei knows about these complex variables as much as he knows of his responsibility as the power who issued Iran’s own red lines. Not surprisingly he already announced, on the record, there will be blowback: “a forceful revenge awaits the criminals who have his blood and the blood of other martyrs last night on their hands.” Expect it to be very painful.

Qasem Soleimani (left) with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis (right) at a 2017 ceremony commemorating the father of Soleimani, in Mosalla, Tehran. (Fars News Agency, CC BY 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Blowback by a Thousand Cuts

I met al-Muhandis in Baghdad two years ago — as well as many Hashd al-Shaabi members. Here is my full report. The Deep State is absolutely terrified that Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Forces), a grassroots organization, are on the way to becoming a new Hezbollah, and as powerful as Hezbollah. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the supreme religious authority in Iraq, universally respected by Shia, fully supports them.

So, the American strike also targets Sistani — not to mention the fact that Hash al-Shaabi operates under guidelines issued by the Iraqi Prime Minister Abdel Mahdi. That’s a major strategic blunder that can only be pulled off by amateurs. 

Major General Soleimani, of course, humiliated the whole of the Deep State over and over again — and could eat all of them for breakfast, lunch and dinner as a military strategist. It was Soleimani who defeated ISIS/Daesh in Iraq — not the Americans bombing Raqqa to rubble. Soleimani is a super-hero of almost mythical status for legions of young Hezbollah supporters, Houthis in Yemen, all strands of resistance fighters in both Iraq and Syria, Islamic Jihad in Palestine, and all across Global South latitudes in Africa, Asia and Latin America.  

There’s absolutely no way the U.S. will be able to maintain troops in Iraq, unless the nation is re-occupied en masse via a bloodbath. And forget about “security”: no imperial official or imperial military force is now safe anywhere, from the Levant to Mesopotamia and the Persian Gulf.  

The only redeeming quality out of this major strategic blunder cum declaration of war may be the final nail in the coffin of the Southwest Asia chapter of the U.S. Empire of Bases. Iranian Prime Minister Javad Zarif came out with an appropriate metaphor:  the “tree of resistance” will continue to grow. The empire might as well say goodbye to Southwest Asia.  

In the short term, Tehran will be extremely careful in their response. A hint of — harrowing — things to come: it will be blowback by a thousand cuts. As in hitting the Exceptionalist framework — and mindset — where it really hurts. This is the way the Roaring, Raging Twenties begin: not with a bang, but with the release of whimpering dogs of war.

Pepe Escobar, a veteran Brazilian journalist, is the correspondent-at-large for Hong Kong-based Asia Times.  His latest book is 2030.” Follow him on Facebook.

The views expressed are solely those of the author and may or may not reflect those of Consortium News.

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40 comments for “PEPE ESCOBAR: US Kick Starts Raging ’20s Declaring War on Iran

  1. casey
    January 6, 2020 at 15:28

    Can anyone elaborate on what the “Exceptionalist Framework” is? Does that mean the petro-dollar?

  2. jmg
    January 5, 2020 at 21:04

    According to the Prime Minister of Iraq, Soleimani was on a peace mission in Iraq.

    NPR’s Jane Arraf:

    > This is stunning – #Iraq prime minister tells parliament US troops should leave. Says @realDonaldTrump called him to ask him to mediate with #Iran and then ordered drone strike on Soleimani. Says Soleimani carrying response to Saudi initiative to defuse tension when he was hit.

    (Jane Arraf — @janearraf — Twitter — Jan 5, 2020)

    The Wall Street Journal:

    > In his address to parliament on Sunday, [Iraq’s Prime Minister] Mr. Abdul-Mahdi said he had been due to meet Gen. Soleimani at 8:30 a.m. on the morning he was killed as he left Baghdad International airport. Mr. Abdul-Mahdi said Gen. Soleimani was carrying Iran’s response to a message Iraq had conveyed on behalf of Saudi Arabia aimed at easing tensions between the two countries in the region.

    (Iraqi Parliament Votes in Favor of Expelling U.S. Troops — The Wall Street Journal — Jan. 5, 2020)

    (Iraq to Expel US Troops, Iran Cancels Nuclear Agreement — Money Maven — 2020-01-05)

    January 5, 2020 at 17:52

    The Gangster Trump Administration is continuing the Obama Drone Homicide Game— And what happens when other countries start playing the Game—–Adios Trump—while playing golf—

    • mariacosta
      January 6, 2020 at 23:05

      Totally different here the orders came directly from PENTAGON before knowing it Trump was silent & took a while before saying something to the public INSIDE OP!

  4. LJ
    January 5, 2020 at 16:56

    caseyf5 Independents, not core Republicans or Democrats elect the President. Core Republicans and Democrats are both less than 24% of the electorate. Look at 1992 election results. . Former Republican , self proclaimed Independent 3rd Party candidate Ross Perot took 17% of mostly Independent voters that otherwise would have tended towards G.H.W. Bush. Perot put fellow Arkansan Bill Clinton in the White House with 42% of the vote. Trump’s avid followers are probably in upper single didgits. Not enough. That doesn’t mean the majority of people like Democrats. It just means Trump will be judged. He’s guilty of stupid and being a LOSER.

  5. Defiance Demon
    January 5, 2020 at 09:29

    When enough countries finally free themselves once and for all from the tyranny of the amerikan dollar, the economic house of cards (already shaky and unsteady) will implode at long last. Let’s see what happens then.

  6. Robert
    January 5, 2020 at 09:28

    Sapiens. We are such a pathetic club dragging mindless species.

  7. S Cassidy
    January 5, 2020 at 02:03

    No matter who we get in the White House, they are always won over by the so-called “Intelligence” services and the Pentagon. A little bit of kow-towing to them by staff and others and they forget who they are and why they ran in the first place. In the case of Trump, Netanyahu is an old friend. So did we ever expect any thing else? The Israelis think they own us, and Netanyahu has aid so, so did Sharon. As for the end-of-timers, they think they will be gathered in a cloud and watch while we all suffer nuclear war. With people like this, who needs enemies?

  8. Kiwikris
    January 4, 2020 at 23:38

    Pepe, while I respect your work hugely I must disagree with your assertion that Trump is trapped by Impeachment. The “impeachment”, until it’s delivered to the Senate is a big fat nothing. Even if it ever does make it to the Senate, I doubt VERY much if it will come to anything & I believe Trump is not worried in the slightest. Donations to his re-election campaign have skyrocketed, Zogbys latest poll (for what they are worth) shows his support up across the board. And the Republicans control the Senate, not withstanding the potential turncoat RINOs

  9. Ron Johnson
    January 4, 2020 at 18:26

    Casey, swing voters will decide everything in 2020. Trump very well might keep his base, but he could also lose the swing voters who believed him when he said he wanted peace. They knew Hillary was a war monger, and they hoped for better with Trump. Now Trump has proven himself to be just as blood thirsty, so that opens the door to anyone who can convincingly argue that they are for peace, or at least for more restraint.

    • notlurking
      January 5, 2020 at 06:48

      Very,very few arguing for peace…Definitely Tulsi maybe Sanders and that’s all she wrote…

  10. Robert Emmett
    January 4, 2020 at 11:35

    A little doggerel for some of those sharp toothed cats out there.

    “Yeah, that was that cat alright.”

    ass faced men (pomp-a-don)

    ass ass i’ the-nation
    passpass yer quid-
    murderer had it comin’
    screw turns harder
    ain’t no time
    to bicker or to barter
    just out of sight
    in the dead of night
    another screw turns loose
    more money gets thrown
    off the back of the caboose
    run around town with open pockets
    while men in hoods pull eyes out they sockets
    best keep peepers & peeps at home
    seal their names in a golden tome
    help those in need act on yer own
    ass-faced men are on the loose

    • Michael
      January 4, 2020 at 20:58

      “This the way the Roaring, Raging Twenties begin: not with a bang, but with the release of whimpering dogs of war.”

      This is very poetic and deeply moving. I hope it will be remembered for the ages.

  11. John Drake
    January 4, 2020 at 11:05

    Probably not a good time to be an American in the Mideast. I remember during Vietnam when quite a few American tourists wore Canadian lapel pins abroad.
    Trump is so stupid. With over 700 military bases abroad and dependency on Mideast oil he doesn’t understand how incredibly vulnerable US assets are.
    This will probably further alienate US’ so called allies (vassal states); as their leaders will realize this is creating a lose-lose scenario. Except Britain which has almost equally, mentally challenged leadership.
    Looking on the bright side, another nail in the coffin of US hegemony is being forged.
    And when is Israel going to haul Bibi away in cuffs?

  12. paul
    January 4, 2020 at 10:40

    Let’s see how fond of these murderous antics the Exceptional and Indispensable Folk feel when the body bags start coming home and the $6 trillion already thrown down the rabbit hole starts looking like chump change.

    • robin
      January 6, 2020 at 12:41

      American people won’t be even informed when and how many body bags will come.

  13. Moi
    January 4, 2020 at 02:26

    What makes the US the enemy of mankind is that, in their foreign policy, they are never the architects of their own misfortune. Blowback on Americans is always someone else’s fault no matter how ham-fisted their machinations in the lead-up to an event.

    Until the exceptionalists can say “mea culpa” of themselves the innocents of this world will end up paying the price.

  14. Ben Novick
    January 4, 2020 at 00:29

    Don’t underestimate the US. We can annihilate half the world’s population in the next hour, if required.

    • Zhu
      January 4, 2020 at 07:12

      What good would that do?

    • Cornelius Pipe
      January 4, 2020 at 07:32

      Nope. All you can annihilate is yourselves. Should the US choose to use a nuclear bomb in a world where nuclear weapons proliferate the US will find out why people in glass houses should not throw stones. i.e. the US should think long and hard before it swaps Washington for Tehran.

    • caseyf5
      January 4, 2020 at 07:36

      Hello Ben Novick,
      And will in the future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Anthony Shaker
      January 4, 2020 at 09:51

      I don’t know what this inane comment is meant to convey, but perhaps you should ponder what you just wrote. What is your religion, exactly? There is an intolerable element of evil in your words. What you are saying also is that, in the end, the US, which is no longer an island in today’s world, is being led by a death wish. Is that the apocalypse that the howling lunatics of the pseudo-religious Church of Wealth presently unfurling itself on the Evangelical crowd in America (and now Latin America) are waiting for? Everything the US does another can do and do with growing efficiency.

    • Truth first
      January 4, 2020 at 11:55


      Apparently Ben does not realize that the US CANNOT annihilate “half the world’s population” without annihilating half of the US population.

      Like a US patriot he is perfectly prepared to kill billions “if required”. Only a psychopath would ever consider killing billions of innocents “if required”

    • January 4, 2020 at 12:56

      E depois fariam o que ! virariam zumbis ‘sobre os escombros .como filmes de mad max.

    • kgw
      January 4, 2020 at 13:51

      We? Define “We,”, Mr. Novick. I am a native of the U.S., and the only “We” that would act in such a way are not aware of being human.

    • Mrs. Debra L. Carr de Legorreta
      January 4, 2020 at 14:07

      Ben Novick we cannot eliminate half the world’s population without eliminating all of it.
      That’s the problem. We have no sense of proportionality.
      They kill one “contractor” we kill 25 militia members.
      They trash one embassy, hurting no one; we murder their top general, murder several other top officials, and we drone the heck out of a new group of protesters getting on their way to the same embassy. Totally disproportionate.
      Like you, these neocons are overly impressed with their toys and their self-righteousness. They couldn’t stomach brown people desecrating their pretty billion-dollar embassy in Baghdad.
      YOUR way of thinking IS the problem.
      Your comments remind me of Hillary Clinton cackling on getting the news that Gaddafi had been sodomized and murdered.
      You proud? Is that what being a “patriot” means to you, that you can murder anyone you want?

    • LJ
      January 4, 2020 at 17:33

      Hey Ben, Learn something. Look up Bomb Carbon. It is going to disappear in a few years so government funded Scientists are doing a lot of testing and engaging in various kinds of research trying to make good use of it while the fun lasts. . Bomb Carbon is short for a radioactive by product of the nuclear explosions that were ended by the early 60’s after the ban on Testing of Nuclear weapons above ground like at Bikini Atoll, Area 51, etc. Now I guess you think there’s a good reason to create a whole lot more bomb carbon. It will be great . Good for research? We got to keep those guys gainfully employed? We’ve got to keep ahead of them damn Ruskies and the Chinese too , the ones that aren’t already employed at MIT, Lawrence Livermore Lab and elsewhere here in the Brigand Nation that assassinates with impunity without regard to International Law or Borders then lies about it on TV. Well, since we can’t do it to American Indians anymore we got to find new victims?
      This was a historic mistake. 650 million Shiites will not ever forget This. This man was a hero and definitely expected assasination and martyrdom. Read about Twelvers. The Shia Branch of Islam. Their religion is based on and centers around revering the 11 already martyred Imans that were assassinated/murdered by unjust powers. I don’t make this stuff up. This plays right into what they believe. No Shiite could side with the USA on this. Not possible . There are hundreds of millions of them.
      This was a stupid decision by stupid men and unless the Democrats are just as stupid they are going to resist this, come out against a Trump War and Trump is going to lose the election in a landslide. Americans want No More War despite what the News Media and the Pentagon and yes the Deep State say.
      Trump- LOSER.

    • Defiance Demon
      January 5, 2020 at 09:18

      The spoiled rich boy with the most bombs wins?

      Okay, I get it now.

    • January 6, 2020 at 12:15

      I don’t believe anyone underestimates the USA’s military power. It is American’s leaders and American people’s common sense that is always under question. All empires that pillaged, oppressed and conquered eventually met their demise (Roman, Macedonian, French, Spanish, British, etc) and the actions of the American people lead me to believe a similar fate awaits the US.

    • RedBaron 07
      January 7, 2020 at 09:32

      Russia has more nuclear warheads than the US, more Strategic Ballistic missiles….and more tactical nuclear weapons (for battlefield, airfields, Command & Control centers, Naval ports)…..and they are far more modern than the Americans too.

      Maybe you have missed speeches made by both Obama and now Trump explaining that U.S DoD needs to spend about $1 trillion over next 20+ years in modernizing their entire nuclear stockpile. The only “modern” nuclear missiles the Americans have are the latest version of the B-61 MOD 11 ….a primary thermonuclear gravity bomb which is for their Air-force. (Initially designed in 1963, It is a low to intermediate-yield strategic and tactical nuclear weapon featuring a two-stage radiation implosion design)

      The moment the U.S psychopaths launch a nuke against China or Russia….we can forget about North America ever being habitable again


  15. geeyp
    January 3, 2020 at 23:27

    At least where Pepe reports from, he has access to great food for our Last Supper, as some portray this stupid action from President Trump and the all too eager Pentagon, who is the only group to generously gain from this. Netanyahu may now think he does and we wouldn’t want him or expect him to think any other way.

  16. Mark Stanley
    January 3, 2020 at 19:35

    Excellent Pepe, but disturbing
    The whole thing makes me sick to my stomach. Happy New Year? Will Americans really swallow this treble hook whole…again?
    I keep wondering how much insider or opportunistic trading goes on. Any one who knew about this 10 minutes beforehand could simply go long oil, or gold. Quite predictable. The markets are so volatile nowadays, over reacting to news events. Much of this is due to AI trading systems that are programmed to react to news, and they get the feeds before anyone else and react instantly–buy/sell. Deep state creeps certainly made a killing in the markets today. No brainer there. It would be interesting to check out the volume on various options and commodities contracts prior to the assassination. The term “elephant tracks” has been used to identify massive buy/sell orders by unidentified players.
    As an old hippy guy, I really thought our world would be a better place by now. Au contrere. No matter what political system, the sociopaths continue to rise to the top like toxic scum.

    • Miguel
      January 5, 2020 at 20:36

      Good point, Mark. This same thing happened the week before 9/11 “attack”. It was publicized by the Canadian stock mkt authority, but the news, the investigation, went cold. Hmm

    • LJ
      January 7, 2020 at 15:00

      Interesting comment Mark Stanley. I don’t play the market myself. My loss I guess. You are certainly correct about the programs that do most of the trading now. They aren’t AI yet. There should be an investigation into investments on the exchanges directly prior to this particular incident but we couldn’t get results from push trades before 9-11 when there was an actual investigation and there was evidence was in hand, what is different now? It is extremely unlikely that your suspicions could ever be validated. I remember a cliche, Cream and Scum rise to the top. BUT THEY didn’t take the cliche to it’s next logical step > And when Cream stays on top a while it turns into scum too. Maybe it’s something about being on top?

  17. Jeff Harrison
    January 3, 2020 at 18:12

    I imagine that the Iranians will be able to demonstrate that the the US isn’t the only nation that can assassinate at a distance and I also suspect that Israel will discover a few dead bodies of their own. I expect that the Iraqis will kick the US out of their country. They certainly don’t want to be the battle field for an Iran/US war either. The real question will be – what will Russia’s and China’s response to this be?

    • Clark M Shanahan
      January 3, 2020 at 22:13

      I wish that calm heads shall prevail.
      BTW: the Saudi’s can expect payback, too.

    • rosemerry
      January 4, 2020 at 13:17

      There is an agreement between the USA and Iraq about US troops inside Iraq,and this act has clearly broken it, and if the Iraqis do not kick all the US troops out they will get no support from anyone. There is NO excuse to treat the government of an “allied, sovereign” country in such a way, involving Iraqi government forces and militias as well, of course, as Gen. Suleimani.

  18. karlof1
    January 3, 2020 at 17:54

    Wonder what the odds are on Pompeo, Trump, or Esper dying non-violently at some point in the near future? IMO, Trump also killed his reelection. My other initial and subsequent comments were made at Moon of Alabama and don’t need repeating here. I will post this there along with a few quotes from Pepe, whose Facebook is also jammed.

    • caseyf5
      January 4, 2020 at 07:41

      Hello karlof1,
      I vehemently disagree in your belief that the tRump will lose the 2020 election. His cult followers think that war with Iran is a great thing!

  19. Tom Kath
    January 3, 2020 at 17:53

    There can be no clearer DECLARATION OF WAR. Choose your sides and prepare to die regardless which side you choose.

Comments are closed.