PEPE ESCOBAR: Trump to De-Escalate: Intel Source

“It is most unlikely Trump will escalate at this point, and this could provide him with the opportunity to leave the Middle East except for the Gulf States. Trump wants to get out,” a U.S. intelligence source says.

By Pepe Escobar
Special to Consortium News  

President Donald Trump will de-escalate the crisis with Iran when he speaks to the nation at 11 a.m. Eastern time on Wednesday, a U.S. intelligence source has told me.

Last night Iran retaliated for the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani with missile strikes on two U.S. military bases in Iraq. So far there have been no casualties reported. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said that the ballistic missile strikes launched from Iran completed Tehran’s military action.

It is now up to Trump to determine whether the crisis will continue.

A top U.S. intel source sent me this analysis in response to a detailed question:

“It is most unlikely Trump will escalate at this point, and this could provide him with the opportunity to leave the Middle East except for the Gulf States. Trump wants to get out. The fact that Israel would be hit next by Iran [as promised, among others, by the IRGC as well as Hezbollah’s secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah] will probably cause them to pull back, and not order Trump to bomb Iran itself.  

“DEBKA-Mossad acknowledged that Iran’s offensive missiles cannot be defended against. Its secret is that it hugs the ground going underneath the radar screens.” [the source is referring to the Hoveizeh cruise missile, with a range of 1,350 km, already tested by Tehran.]

“What is amazing is that Iraq has allowed US troops into their country at all after seeing over a million of their people murdered by the US if we include the 500,000 dead children [during the 1990s, as acknowledged by Madeleine Albright]. The royals in the U. A. E. told me that this is because Iraq is more corrupt that Nigeria.

“The key question here is what happened to the Patriot Missile Defense for these bases who were on high alert assuming this is not similar to Trump’s missiles hitting empty buildings in Syria after the chemical false flag operation. I saw no report that any defense missile was working, which to me is very significant.”

Judd Deere, the deputy press secretary of the White House, confirmed on Tuesday night what I had learned earlier from another source. The White House said Trump, in a phone call, thanked Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani for “Qatar’s partnership with the United States”, and they discussed Iraq and Iran.

According to my source, who is very close to the Qatari royal family, Trump actually sent a message to Tehran via the emir. The message has two layers. Trump promised sanctions would be cancelled if there were no retaliation from Tehran (something that Trump simply wouldn’t have the means to assure, considering the opposition from Capitol Hill) ; and there would be de-escalation if Tehran came up with a “proportional” response.

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif described the Iranian missile strikes as a “proportional response”.

That may explain why Trump did not go on TV on Tuesday night in the U.S. to announce total war – as much as neocons may have been wanting it.

Details are still sparse, but there’s ultra-high level, back room diplomacy going on especially between Iran and Russia, with China discreet, but on full alert.

There’s consensus among the Axis of Resistance that China has a major role to play, especially in the Levant, where Beijing is seen in some quarters as a possible future partner ultimately replacing U.S. hegemony.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has just been to Syria and Turkey this week. And according to Russian sources, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is making clear to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Russia’s stance that there should be no escalation.

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: Trump to De-Escalate: Intel Source

  1. January 9, 2020 at 14:34

    The runes are cast
    The fates are sealed
    I see the stone
    in Potter’s Field
    that marks the place
    where we shall sleep
    forevermore in death we keep
    our vigilance we guard no more
    that which we held dear before
    was but a dream and now it’s dead
    murdered by our heavy tread
    We had our run
    and now it’s done
    The race has died
    The devil won

  2. Charlotte Russe
    January 9, 2020 at 10:13

    It was striking to see Trump flanked by generals and not sitting in the “civilian setting” of the Oval Office like all his previous predecessors announcing the onset of a fresh new military debacle. The Pentagon knew that serious authoritarian figures were needed to prop up the image of the Orange Idiot

    The assassination of General Qassem Suleimani and the subsequent limited retaliation achieved the objective of heightening the crisis between the US and Iran. Trump’s first bombastic remarks were threats about Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, yet nothing was said about initiating a new and revised Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to prevent it from happening. In fact, Trump seized the opportunity to once again mock the Iran Nuclear Deal as he’s done so many times during campaign rallies.

    The situation throughout the Middle East will remain permanently on edge in a “Crisis foreign policy” mode. The most obvious contradiction is that loudmouth irrational Trump is the neocons “ticket” for dragging the US into an all-out war with Iran, but because Trump is so buffoonish he’s incapable of persuading the public to accept another misadventure–and that’s why things are in a stalemate.

    What’s next down the road –a series of additional concocted crises, more sophisticated propaganda, and of course the “imperialists desire” for a fresh new political voice appearing more genuine, rational, and convincing.

    The mobilization of antiwar protests are NOW imperative! Without a strong antiwar/working-class resistance we’ll all be dragged into a devastating world war annihilating billions.

  3. January 9, 2020 at 09:56

    “…Details are still sparse, but there’s ultra-high level, back room diplomacy going on especially between Iran and Russia, with China discreet, but on full alert…There’s consensus among the Axis of Resistance that China has a major role to play, especially in the Levant, where Beijing is seen in some quarters as a possible future partner ultimately replacing U.S. hegemony.”

    Are we in those early days before world war? The future will tell, but the past has warned us.

  4. elmerfudzie
    January 9, 2020 at 09:56

    I can’t help but come to the conclusion that an oil glut on the market is principally responsible for the latest escalation with Iran. The oil glut is compounded by the fact that prices per barrel are going down in relation to inflation. It is in the USA’s, Russia’s, Turkey’s, Saudi, some GCC not to mention, Italy’s economic interest(s) to minimize the output or cap the wells on both gas and oil in Iran. Only a total revolution that completely topples the government of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can achieve it.

  5. Deniz
    January 9, 2020 at 07:50

    Iraq was fabricated on a complete lie. This deescalation could be another ruse. I doubt they will give up their goal to destroy Iran and occupy the oil fields of Iraq over a few missles.

    Obama said during his 2008 campaign that Afghanistan was the good war, just as Trump has been saying Iran is all along. Perhaps this was Trumps purpose for being elected.

    One cannot underestimate the evil of those who destroyed Iraq, Libya, Syria, Aghanistan.

  6. michael
    January 9, 2020 at 05:58

    So far so good. The Iranians have proven to be a much more rational people than Americans. They understand that “might makes right” unfortunately. No doubt Iranian-aligned militias will pull off some surprises over the coming years.
    My guess is either Israel or our National Security Apparatus pulled a fast one and snookered Trump into giving an instant OK to the assassination demand.
    Trump made it clear that he wanted to re-negotiate ALL major deals when he ran for President. That may be partly why he was elected, along with non-intervention in war. As much as I hated the killing of a negotiator under a white flag of truce, which Soleimani was reported to be, it is likely that this event will force Iran back to the negotiating table. Also Trump WANTS to withdraw troops, but this is unlikely to be allowed by the Pentagon, Congress and CIA, (and Israel and Saudi Arabia).
    The shout out to NATO was a great sign as well. Trump can argue the US is doing all the work at great expense to provide oil to Europe. But I think he now realizes he is being played by Israel and Saudi Arabia and needs cover of other governments, particularly our NATO allies; hopefully they will engage but refuse to continue acting as the US’s poodles. Trump would be open to RUSSIA!!! and CHINA!!! involvement in peace deals in the MidEast, but the usual DC neolibs/neocons would freak out as that would make our Empire weak.

    • Australian lady
      January 12, 2020 at 22:11

      Excellent summation Michael. Always hopeful though, I am wondering if K.S.A. is beginning to consider whether it also isn’t being “played” by the USA. Were the projected peace negotiations with Suleimani, cut short by his assassination, genuine or a dastardly lure by the Kingdom? Was this another ruse in the west’s determination to emasculate Islam by exacerbating the Sunni/Shia division?
      There is a tussle of pride twixt the leaders of USA and Iran, and in my humble opinion pride is the most dangerous of the seven deadly sins. Negotiating with “the great Satan”( the orange -haired one. Rouhani is quite particular about that!) would be a constructive act, but I suspect that personal pride prohibits Rouhani from engagement.

  7. MT
    January 8, 2020 at 19:17

    This is the only sensible reporting I’ve seen so far, and amounts to what I myself have been surmising. Everything hinges on Tehran’s willingness to accept the new deal. They’ve made a lot of money facilitating the NeoLib ratlines, while playing the NeoCon’s boogeyman. And this bad-guy “isolation” has helped them keep control at home. They finally got their sacred nuke deal as reward for their decades of dirty work, only to see it flushed. Can China now make them an offer they can’t refuse? Silk Road, 5G, alternate energy, etc.. It’s possible. Looks like Russia got Germany and Turkey on board, so who knows.

    If Iran does keep their part of the bargain (and that’s a big “if “) then I can see Trump demanding his Nobel Peace Prize by the summer, and strolling through the next election, without too much clandestine opposition. The Gulf States seem to be playing ball. Israel and the UK are in meltdown. It’s possible some Fed players could pull another fast one out of their grab bag (like they did with the repo market) but I think they’ve left it too late. Any further economic destabilization could actually work in Trump’s favor, because if he started throwing a few Jamie Dimons in Guantanamo, even I’d think about voting for him. Hey – it worked for Putin.

    • Charlene Richards
      January 8, 2020 at 21:50

      I find it odd that no one is discussing the secret “off the books” meeting Trump had at The White House a few days ago with Saudi Arabia’s Defense Minister and Jared Kushner. The press was not informed nor invited to ask questions.


  8. John Puma
    January 8, 2020 at 19:06

    Re: “the opportunity to leave the Middle East except for the Gulf States.”

    I wish this opportunity were credible but it’s not clear how the US actually “leaving”
    “the Middle East except for the Gulf States” would de-escalate anything beyond the
    necessarily emphemeral words of one of history’s truely depraved power mongers
    who can’t hold a policy position for more than 15-20 minutes, or the next tweet,
    whichever comes first.

    The URL below shows that there are still about 23
    US bases remaining in legitimate “Gulf (Persian & Oman) States” (i.e. including Pakistan
    but not Afghanistan) not counting the two Iran just attacked.

    Presumably any escalation would come from some, perhaps all these bases (and others outside
    the Middle East altogether that would be sending long-range, heavy-load aircraft.)

    The linked page is from the blog of antiwar dot com of o6Dec2011: “a map of U.S. military bases
    in the Middle East.” I suppose more up-to-date info can be obtained by visiting various US
    military sites.

    • Charlene Richards
      January 8, 2020 at 21:59

      This reminds me of the classic scene in the movie, “What About Bob?” with Richard Dreyfus and Bill Murray.

      At one point in the film, after the psychiatrist’s (Dreyfus) patient Bob (Murray) has followed the doctor and his family to Lake Winnepesoka on vacation, the doctor’s kids are worried about Bob and Dreyfus opens the front door without even looking and says, “What about Bob?! What about Bob?! See! There he is! He’ll NEVER leave!!!”

      And sure enough. There stands Bob.

  9. LJ
    January 8, 2020 at 17:38

    My suspicion is that the IPSOS polling that indicated 53% of Americans were dissatisfied with Trump’s decision to murder the Iranian General ( which is a tough way to launch into a War) led to this about face. Surely Republicans, even his allies, must have told Trump that this move towards war and body bags would be suicide for the Party in this election year. This temporary respite doesn’t change the fact that a great individual, a hero of historical note, a man who was much admired by all Shiite Muslims, was assassinated in a cowardly manner by Drone alone with 27 other people in an obvious violation of the US Treaty with Iraq and International Law. Murder is a Capital Crime and there is no statute of limitations. If this had been done by an enemy of the USA the best he could hope for is a life sentence in the Hague. No doubt allies like Germany and France which stuck to their servile duty of public support for the USA were very unhappy. Japan , Korea, Spain , Italy likewise. As Trump might say, A lot of them. VP Pence trying to make the connection between this assassination and 9-11 shows it was a BS move and the impulsive Trump ruined his Presidency by making a Trump decision and refusing to back down. He did not think this was a mistake and his “Brain dead Trust and the military Brass went along with it. Now they are in shock. The NeoCons always regroup after a short period of blame laying and finger pointing. It would be interesting to know who most influenced this decision. I’m guessing Netanyahu simply by his running away from just what he has been asking for these many years running. Also , it was interesting that the Saudi Viceroy [Khalid bin Salman–CN] was in the Oval Office the next morning getting a briefing in an unannounced and unscheduled meeting. No minutes released. Apparently the Saudis were out also of the loop.

    • John Puma
      January 8, 2020 at 19:13

      If Iran had assassinated the US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Quebec airport,
      and its president arrogantly took credit for it, the best that Iran could hope for was that
      the US would drop significantly less than 50% of it’s nuclear arsenal on Tehran the next

  10. Seamus Padraig
    January 8, 2020 at 16:35

    This sounds a lot like when Trump ineffectually lobbed a couple of missiles at a deserted base in Syria, after the alleged gas-attack: a face-saving exit. Good!

  11. Whomp Walrus
    January 8, 2020 at 15:52

    Imposing more sanctions is escalation.

    The point about missile defense is good. A big risk of military escalation by the US is that their tech may be exposed for what it is–garbage. And this risk isn’t just concerning military–its a risk to the US arms-export business. If missile defense is shown to be worthless; if F35s scramble for an attack then half of them spontaneously combust, sales would suffer. And obviously the US’ prime priority isn’t democracy or such, it’s profit.

    There was one theory that Turkey saw how crappy the F35 was, so they bought the Russian anti-air stuff in order to get the US to cancel that deal, which they didn’t want.

    Obviously btw this isn’t the whole Iranian response–it’s the public one. They’ll eventually kill one or more very high profile US general or politician, maybe years from now but it’ll happen. And maybe a whole lot more if they can have enough deniability

    • steve b
      January 8, 2020 at 21:41

      just the threat of that possibility will do a lot of damage, visible and invisible, for decades to come. like OBL, Soleimani has triggered another chain of events that will ensure the demise of the empire. how quick is the question.

    • T
      January 9, 2020 at 16:57

      > Obviously btw this isn’t the whole Iranian response–it’s the public one. They’ll eventually kill one or more very high profile US general or politician

      It is the immediate response, at any rate. (After all, the Iranian government had to do something to satisfy an enraged people.)
      But I suspect, like you, that the real retaliation will come later. Let’s see now:
      — Will Pompeo be attending the Munich Security Conference in mid-February? The Hotel Bayrischer Hof will be a very tempting target, since you could take out a number of other top enemies of Iran at the same time.
      — Or Gen. McKenzie, the new commander of Central Command. Tampa, Florida might be a little difficult, but CentCom’s forward headquarters at an air base near Doha, Qatar is conveniently located just across the Persian Gulf…

  12. casey
    January 8, 2020 at 15:51

    I too am glad that back-channel work appears to have defused the situation. I suspect Putin had a big hand in that. But what US high-level espionage person admits to both the false-flag gas attacks in Syria and the million plus dead Iraqis thanks to the Empire? What’s next, admitting that Brit and Ukie espionage took down MH-17 in yet another false-flag op? Anyway, nice work.

  13. Stephen P
    January 8, 2020 at 15:33

    Wouldn’t it be funny if Trump was advised to stand down because if we got into a real shooting war with the Iranians it would be revealed that our missile defense systems as well as a lot of our other military hardware are a load of junk? I’m about to purchase a book called The (Real) Revolution in Military Affairs by Andrei Martyanov. Reviews of the book contend that Martyanov explains why that is true.

    • steve b
      January 8, 2020 at 21:44

      probably, few in the NSC wanted to find out..

  14. January 8, 2020 at 14:48

    Thanks Pepe. Trump is not sounding cocky, after his backdown from threats to attack Iran’s cultural sites and now he’s seen what Iran can do and how much more it could do, and given little ability to defend against Iran’s missiles. It’s been reported that a US diplomat, and President of the Council of Foreign Relations, Richard N. Haass called on the President to lift sanctions on Iran. He wrote in his twitter account “Iran’s FM @JZarif says his country seeks neither escalation nor war.” Haass recommends Trump to echo that, saying “US not seeking regime change, US prepared to ease sanctions as there is real restraint in Iran’s nuclear, missile and regional activities.” This seems a very good idea to take up and promote.

    • January 8, 2020 at 17:04

      Trump disse anteontem que se o IRÃ retaliasse iria ser aniquilado, ou coisa assim. Afirmou também que se o IRÃ tinha 35 alvos ao seu alcance, ele teria 52 alvos para atacar, equiparando-se a bárbaros destruidores de sítios arqueológicos milenares, como o ISIS ao destruir quase Palmira inteira e varrer do mapa a cultura Assíria. Portanto, diante dessas ameaças, afirmar em seu pronunciamento oficial que os EUA irão apenas aumentar as sanções já em vigor contra a república iraniana, concordo que houve sim De-escalation. Parabéns por seu artigo esclarecedor e afiado.

    • steve b
      January 8, 2020 at 21:48

      even without a hot war, the muslim world is united against the US of Israhell, who do not want to be shot or bombed at any more while packing to evacuate middle east altogether. they want some time and some face saving bullshit.

    • evelync
      January 9, 2020 at 14:26

      “sanctions” sound bizarrely absurd to me….
      as an economics major back in college, I don’t understand the concept.
      and who gave us and our banks the authority to punish others as though we are the fount of justice and wisdom?

      And why has there been no accountability for those at the top who took us to war based on lies?
      our soldiers deserve some answers….

      where is the punishment or even sanctions against those who allowed Halliburton to sell such shoddy equipment for our troops in Iraq that people were eletrocuted in showers and the meat for meals was left on the kitchen floors to rot.

  15. Jeannie
    January 8, 2020 at 14:29

    I’ll see it when I believe it. So believe. The world does not want this war, t-rump is a con-dick who needs approval to carry out his various cons, he’s never followed thru on any of his threats yet, we finally have an awake anti-war Left, and organized in the street actions we can go join, so believe. And act.

    • steve b
      January 8, 2020 at 21:51

      with the neolib war mongers strangling him, he can’t afford to lose his anti-war base. withdrawal will not only guarantee his re-election but also afford him upperhand over the Deep State zionist neolibs and make him a powerful president in the second term.

    • Charlene Richards
      January 8, 2020 at 22:15

      Demonstrations can be ignored and are (as we all found out in 2002/2003 when we were in the streets of the world in the MILLIONS against the U.S. war against Iraq).

      The only “demonstration” they will pay attention to is our votes in November.

      Right now Trump has just lost significant support with his ruthless and bloody order of assassination against Suleimani.

      He is CLEARLY NOT the anti-war Christian candidate he professed to be in November 2016. And neither was Hillary Clinton. “Methodist or not”.

  16. V
    January 8, 2020 at 13:46

    The “proportional response” by Iran looks fake to me. Apparently no interceptors fired by US, nobody killed. It reminds me of Trumps “proportional response” to faked Syrian gas attack in ’17. All well and good as war should be averted, but it leaves me wondering if there will be a real retaliatory strike sometime in the future – a targeted assassination would be proportional (carried out by some 3rd party of course). And as far as potential “targets”, it’s a very “rich environment” as the saying goes – so many to choose from.

    • Charlene Richards
      January 8, 2020 at 22:16

      We are all being played.

  17. Michael
    January 8, 2020 at 12:35

    Can we talk about this quote from your source’s email?
    >will probably cause them to pull back, and not order Trump to bomb Iran itself

    Is your source confirming that Trump is taking orders from Israel? I mean we all suspect it but, wow.

    • Tennegon
      January 8, 2020 at 20:02

      Thank you for highlighting the major elephant in the Middle East room, Michael. I was stunned by this myself.

    • Michael
      January 10, 2020 at 22:46

      I guess it is just the two of us Tennegon.

  18. Eni
    January 8, 2020 at 12:17

    Saludos Don Pepe, denos mas noticias y sobre todo analis del conflicto. Los medios tradicionales no nos sirven para eso.

  19. Drew Hunkins
    January 8, 2020 at 11:47

    Trump’s going to stand down. But let’s not forget that the crushing unilateral sanctions — which are illegal according to international law — which he’s probably going to ramp up once again, are acts of war in and of themselves. They’ve devastated the common Iranian working folks, over 90% of the population.

  20. Sanity Required
    January 8, 2020 at 11:17

    Me too, and I expect billions world wide.

    • Relieved
      January 8, 2020 at 11:46

      Trump speech just finished. You were spot on, Pepe.

    • January 12, 2020 at 20:49

      to relieved;

      if it wasn’t a hollow joke Escobar would be the top candidate for peace prize, a shoo in. The man works his ass off, flies about 5000 miles a day, never stops caring about everything but himself.

  21. Jill
    January 8, 2020 at 10:34

    US “allies” need to come out strong and clear, speaking with one voice, that the US needs to get out of Iraq now, stop sanctions on Iran as well as stop murdering their top officials. Coddling US war crimes will get all of us killed. This is the time for unequivocal public statements that the US may not commit war crimes, must stop being a rogue nation and should work together to solve this situation by acting in a responsible and legal manner.

    I am sick of the western powers in general because they all participate in war crimes and crimes against their own people who do not want their evil and destructive neo-liberal economic policies. The UK is right in there with the US trying to kill Assange. Macron never met a citizen who disagreed with him whom he wouldn’t send disproportionate troop powers to counter their cries for relief from his policies. So these people are just as corrupt as anyone in Nigeria or Iran.

    However, even very corrupt people can have a sense of self interest and the time for that is NOW. If the USGinc. is not stopped, this planet will be devastated with blood and fire. I hope they will stop the oligarchs. I hope the war contractors faction of the oligarchy has decided that the religious lunatics part of the oligarchy will eat into their profits and make them back off .

    I truly hope this is correct info. Things are so far out of control that maybe it has reached a breaking point. For the sake of this earth and its creatures, I pray this is correct.

    • Charlene Richards
      January 8, 2020 at 22:29

      Odd isn’t it how so many of the elite can commit so many crimes and remain “untouchable”?

      Most recently, Hillary Clinton, Prince Andrew, Ghislaine Maxwell, Jeffrey Epstein, Bill Clinton, John Brennan, James Comey, Peter Strozk, Lisa Page, Bruce and Nellie Ohr and now Trump with his special brand of war crimes.

      The list is much longer, but ya’ll get the gist of it: They are ALL untouchable for their crimes. Even the degenerate rapist Weinstein might get off, especially now that he is hobbling in and out of court with a walker. I am surprised he isn’t wearing his robe and slippers too and drooling all over himself just like previous Mafia dons did to avoid prison.

      What a sickening display of American justice! And to think, we want to export all of this “American Jurisprudence” to the rest of the world at gunpoint??!!

      Truly incredible.

  22. Jeff Harrison
    January 8, 2020 at 10:26

    I pray to god (and I’m an atheist) that you’re right, Pepe.

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