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Mysteriously sabotaged Norwegian and Saudi tankers in the Persian Gulf; U.S. State Department order for all non-essential embassy personnel to leave Iraq post-haste; an American carrier group becomes a message — or makes a statement; sanctions — and induced hardships felt in Iran — make statements too; and Iran engages in nuclear blackmail to shore up its damaged economy: while the prospects for conventional war between the Iran and the United States appear “iffy” — not likely — to some experts, the broad spectrum of war x deceit x disinformation x proxy would seem undeniably dangerous and ongoing.

While states of affairs involving Ukraine, Russia, Syria, and Turkey appear same-old same old — at least as settled as yesterday and the day before as well as week, month, and year past — events involving the U.S. relationship with Iran appear “forward” or moving toward some change in what has festered for years with Tehran’s bankrolling and arming of Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and its bellicose and continuous threatening of Israel and the west. While “east-west” parties deny the wanting of war, conditions appear moved toward error (by way of accident, itch, or misperception) in that regard.

BackChannels compiled and read through the following this morning (retention: minimal; impression, however: pretty good) and most highly recommends for those seeking insight in background the two articles bolded), one by former FBI agent and terrorism expert Ali Soufan, the other by veteran journalist Ariana Tabatabai.

Also, at the bottom of his post is a video posted yesterday by Sky News featuring an interview with Iranian ambassador Hamid Baeidinejad. In it, the diplomat notes that while Washington has abandoned the “nuclear deal”, Iran has kept up its part in light of European adhesion and may expect from the same the benefits promised for its good behavior on that issue.

Arango, Tim. “Iran Dominates in Iraq After U.S. ‘Handed the Country Over’. The New York Times, July 15, 2017.

Bergman, Ronen and Raz Zimmt. “Israel’s most dangerous enemy: Who are you, Hamm Qasem Soleimani?” YNet, April 7, 2018.

Frantzman, Seth. “Mystery Deepens in ‘Sabotage’ of Oil Tankers in Persian Gulf.” The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2019.

Gambrell, Jon. “Analysis: Persian Gulf tensions, unclear threats raise risks.” AP, May 14, 2019.

Knights, Michael. “The Evolution of Iran’s Special Groups in Iraq.” CTC Sentinel, 3:11, November 2010.

McChrystal, Stanley. “Iran’s Deadly Puppet Master: Gen. Stanley McChrystal explains exactly why Qasem Soleimani is so dangerous.” Foreign Policy, Winter 2019.

Mikelionis, Lukas. “Iranian presidential aide says Trump will ‘get a war’ for listening to ‘the mustache’ John Bolton.” Fox News, May 14, 2019.

Nahmias, Omri. “War with Iran Forthcoming? Most Experts Say They Don’t Think So.” The Jerusalem Post, May 13, 2019.

Ryan, Missy, John Hudson, and Carol Morella. “Trump administration considers responses to potential Iranian attacks, including troop increase.” The Washington Post, May 14, 2019.

Schmitt, Eric and Julian E. Barnes. “White House Reviews Military Plans Against Iran, in Echoes of Iraq War.” The New York Times, May 13, 2019.

Soufan, Ali. “Qassem Soleimani and Iran’s Unique Regional Strategy.” CTC Sentinel, 11:10, November 2018:

Despite its ongoing economic woes, today’s Iran has fashioned itself into one of the premier military and diplomatic powers in the Middle East—and Saudi Arabia’s principal rival for hegemony over the entire region. It has achieved this with a mix of policies—among them, deft diplomatic maneuvering; a tactical alliance with Vladimir Putin’s Russia; and the provision of arms, advice, and cash to Shi`a militias across a variety of countries. In the latter case, Iran has pioneered a seemingly unique strategy that combines insurgent and state power in a potent admixture—a strategy that is evident today in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

Tabatabai, Ariane. “Iran and Its Iraqi Shi’a Allies.” Lawfare, November 6, 2016.

Wikipedia: “Iranian Intervention in Iraq”.

Listen for the blackmailing of the European Union in relation to the “Nuclear Deal” (JCPOA) and Iran’s need for economic amelioration in response to western sanctions about 1:32 into the interview).