Iran Situation from Someone Who Knows Something
Author and Southwest Asia editor for Executive Intelligence Review magazine, Hussein Askary, lays out the critical context in which Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani was killed by U.S. forces. Askary reviews the public and internal overtures made by actors within the region, and others abroad, to reduce foreign military presence in the area and begin an international strategy for the reconstruction of Iraq and Syria, which has faced constant intervention and sabotage by forces local and abroad who wish to keep conflict flaring in the region for their own interests and control.
Askary reminds viewers that the assassination of Soleimani is not something to take sides on, or compare analysis of, it's a critical turning point for either war or peace and development. Now is not time to think like partisans or geopolitical hacks, but instead, consider what our best American leaders would do in this scenario.
Matthew OGDEN: Good morning, it’s January 6, 2020 and you’re watching LaRouche PAC television. I’m joined today by Hussein Askary from Sweden. … What has happened in the last few days? What’s the threat of an escalation, that this could lead to war? And what do we have to do to prevent it?
HUSSEIN ASKARY: This assassination attempt on Qasem Soleimani has brought the whole region and the world on the brink of a new, major disaster, or war; but at the same time, it has within it, the ingredients of comprehensive solution, if people keep their heads cool and a shift is induced to take place, most importantly with the way the Trump Administration is acting and how the U.S. Congress and the American population are acting at the moment. Because it’s a very, very dangerous situation. It’s very difficult to predict what will happen, it’s very difficult to predict the Iranian reaction, but so far we have had calm, in a certain way.
Most importantly is, these events took place in Iraq — it’s very important to remember that. And what we’re going to discuss a little bit today, this could also become the starting point for solving this whole situation. The reason we are here and talking today is not just to give people some interesting analysis: We are, in Lyndon LaRouche spirit, we are here to try to put the world on a better path towards peace, prosperity and progress for all nations. So it’s in that spirit, and it’s in this way, people have to see this discussion today.
Now, what happened, Qasem Soleimani, unlike what Secretary of State Mike Pompeo or others say, he’s not hated in Iran — he’s a national hero, even in Iraq, and in many countries in the region, he is seen as a person who played a key role in first of all, pushing back the Islamic State terrorists and other groups, and finally defeating them. He did not do that single handedly. We had the Iraqis, we had the United States was involved in that, you had the Russian and Syrian Army, and so on. But, Soleimani’s body is now back in Iran; he’s getting the full honors of a real hero and a martyr.
But at the same time, the Iraqi parliament managed to get a quorum to vote a resolution to disinvite foreign forces, which had been invited, like the United States, to help in defeating ISIS in 2014. Of course, the United States has permanent bases in Iraq since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and it has been playing a key role in all matters in Iraq, both positive and negative. Now, with this resolution, President Trump has a fantastic chance to disengage from Iraq, not as a defeated force, but as having accomplished the mission which President Trump identified, that defeating ISIS is the mission of the U.S. forces in Syria and in Iraq: That mission is accomplished, and now it’s time to disengage from Iraq, before worse things happen. This is what President Trump had promised the American people in the elections in 2016, and now there’s a window of opportunity, as he used in October by announcing the withdrawal from Syria. But these things were blocked, by both internal and external forces, most importantly the impeachment process inside the United States.
And as usual, when we look at these events, as Lyndon LaRouche has taught us to do, he himself said, you have to look at the general context of things; you cannot just look at the event in itself. That event is the result of many factors. But most importantly, that we have a world situation where the trans-Atlantic financial system is on the brink of collapse. We have a coup inside the United States against the President himself, and the people who are pretending to protect the President from the coup, like neoconservatives and other Republicans, hardliners, are pushing President Trump to escalate this war move. So it’s a very complex situation.
But at the same time, what we have had in the global situation, that we have had a new paradigm in international economic and political relations: First of all, the Russian intervention in Syria managed to shift the whole regime-change policies which destroyed Libya, Syria, and before that Iraq, and put the whole region on the path of settling all of these problems, getting rid of terrorism, and starting the reconstruction of these nations; the other important factor is that the Chinese-proposed Belt and Road Initiative has taken hold in Asia and globally, and it’s advancing. It’s a positive force for change, it’s a good vehicle for nations, both big powers and smaller nations to participate in a really economic and cultural Renaissance on a global scale. So this is the general context.
But, as I said, because these things are happening in Iraq, and we have to look at the situation: Because the real crime which was committed, from the beginning, at least since 2003, is that Tony Blair, then Prime Minister of Britain, had already declared that the system of sovereignty of nations, the system of the Peace of Westphalia from 1648 is “obsolete”; it’s null and void, and now it’s up to us — we, the British and our friends in the United States and whoever works with us, to define who should live and who should die, and how nations should function. And we are the ones who will decide these things. And that was the basis for the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Of course, Lyndon LaRouche and our movement, and myself were completely against that invasion, because we realized that the consequences of that will be disastrous for Iraq, and also for the world. Because when you take out the sovereignty and independence of a nation out of the international equation, then you have the law of jungle, where the powerful can dominate and destroy the weak, and then we have an escalation towards world war.
So that was the original crime. The Iraqi state was completely demolished; the armed forces, the security forces, the intelligence, and all other functions of government — it was not simply that they arrested and killed Saddam Hussein. That was not really the story. The story is that Iraq as a nation was cancelled. And therefore, you created a situation where we had all kinds of forces taking advantage and trying to gain a foothold. People, in the absence of a real government, they had to go back to their tribal, ethnic, and sectarian loyalties, to seek protection, and also trying to survive in these new circumstances where we had a sectarian war developing. So you had all these militias growing; we had other forces in the regions, not only Iran, besides the United States and Britain, you had Saudi Arabia, Turkey, other Arab countries, all intervening in Iraq, to destabilize or secure their positions and so on.
So that was when the Iranian role came into play in Iraq. Iran has many allies inside Iraq, especially in the Shi’a section of the population. So we have had a chaotic situation since the invasion of 2003, and the cancelling of the Iraqi state. That’s what has happened.
Now, after 15 years of U.S. occupation of Iraq, and all these disturbances, Iraq is not even restored to what it was before the invasion. All the infrastructure, all the services, agriculture, industry, it doesn’t exist in Iraq. The oil industry was developing, so Iraq was simply exporting oil, and importing everything it needs — food, medicine, everything else is imported. So, Iraq became a “cargo cult” rather than a real nation.
With this development, I was informed by Iraqi sources, which is really significant: Because there was a chance for Iraq and the Iraqi government to rebuild and to reestablish a real sovereign government in Iraq. And this is a really key element, and it also reflects what I mentioned about the new paradigm, and its impact in stabilizing and rebuilding the region with the Belt and Road initiative as a key component of that.
Now, we have to look at the context of how the escalation took place, and then I can come back to this story of Iraq and the Belt and Road.
If you remember, on Oct. 6, President Trump ordered the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Syria, and that was welcomed, actually, everywhere, except by the British and their friends in the United States. Immediately afterward, on Oct. 9, the Turkish President ordered his troops to launch an operation inside Syria, under the pretext of combatting Kurdish terrorists. I have been on this show, and we have discussed that Turkish incursion into Syria, and at the time, we said there is no need for alarm; this is coordinated, even if implicitly, between President Putin of Russia, the Turkish President, President Trump, the Syrians, the Iranians and the Kurds themselves. So there was no reason for alarm. That Turkish invasion that everybody was warning against, it was not really an invasion — the Turkish army merely is guarding the border between Turkey and Syria; the Russians have been patrolling the region together with the Syrian troops and Turkish troops. So the whole situation is stabilized.
But the problem was that in October-November — although into December you had the impeachment process going into high gear, and President Trump’s focus shifted, but also he was obviously blackmailed by people like Sen. Lindsey Graham who were against withdrawing from Syria — to keep some forces inside Syria, allegedly to keep control of the oil fields. So the process was not complete, and that became a bit of a problem for fulfilling President Trump’s policy to implement that promise.
At the same time, the Syrian Army, with support from Russia, started to regain control of that northeastern part of Syria, in the Raqqa and the Hasakah province, although not complete control. In the west of the Idlib province, in the northwest close to the Turkish border, you still have the last remaining obstacle, which is the control of the al-Qaeda types of this province, Idlib. And there was an agreement between Turkey, Syria and Russia to gradually manage the situation, but the Turkish side did not fulfill its obligations and now the Russians and Syrian Army decided it’s now time to clean up and retake Idlib province. So, that operation is going on, and people are screaming in the New York Times and Washington Post that there are hundreds of thousands of Syrians are fleeing that region, because the Syrian Army might kill them — that’s not completely true. So the final stronghold of the terrorists in Syria could be eliminated soon.
Now, the Turkish army and the President of Turkey did not really react to that, as some people expected that he would try to stop it. Instead, he has created a completely new maneuver, by saying that Turkey is going to support the Muslim Brotherhood government in Libya, and that Turkish troops could be sent to Libya, to keep that Muslim Brotherhood government alive. President Erdogan has changed the subject of discussion, from supporting the so-called “rebels” in Syria, to supporting the government in Libya.
We expect that the Idlib province could be also brought back into the control of the Syrian state.
And then we had also on Oct. 26, U.S. special troops went into Idlib province, and killed the leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and then President Trump could show that as a trophy to convince people that his policy to withdraw from Syria is viable because the goal has been accomplish, the Islamic State and its chief have been eliminated. As I said, it was an interesting move, but it was blocked by the impeachment process, and keeping U.S. troops still inside Syria. So, the sovereignty of Syria is not really restored: The United States still has some boots on the ground there.
When everybody was watching this situation in Syria, something was going on in Iraq. Iraq had been relatively calm; ISIS was defeated already in 2017. There were new elections, a new government came in in 2018, but the formation of government, because of the parliamentary system we got in Iraq — which is another problem that Lyndon LaRouche warned against in 2003 — is that changing the Iraqi Constitution from a President system to a parliamentary system would be a big problem. Because the head of state is incapable of implementing any policies: He has to go to a parliament which is highly split among ethnic, sectarian, and even tribal groups, and militias, so how can you get a parliament like this to agree on any policy? Even the formation of the government took about a year to complete!
In any case, the new government, under Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi tried to form a new policy, to regain some of the credibility of the Iraqi government — which everybody knows there is massive corruption and total failure for 15 years — to restore electricity, water, agriculture and other things. But nobody believes in the Iraqi government. This government nonetheless tried to get something going.
I had a direct experience with that, which I will go into, soon, but Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi tried to restore some of the credibility of the government by coming with a completely new economic plan for the reconstruction of Iraq, and how to use the Iraqi oil resources to rebuild the economy. And I think we should give the government a chance to do that, and the people of Iraq should support the government to see how serious it is about that plan.
Now, how serious the Iraq government is about rebuilding the country was shown when Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi headed the largest delegation of ministers ever, visited Beijing from Sept. 19-23, 2019. As I said, the situation was still calm in Iraq, and what happen in Beijing is really, really interesting: A memorandum of understanding was signed between China and Iraq, right there, under Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi and President Xi Jinping, and then under the sponsorship of China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The details of that agreement were available, but it was completely covered; it was never discussed generally, and it was actually ridiculed inside Iraq. But, the agreement is a real breakthrough, both for Iraq, but also for how to do things — if you remember, Mr. Lyndon LaRouche since the 1970s has been calling for a policy for the Southwest Asia region, called “oil for technology”: In which the countries of the region should use their oil resources to acquire to high technology in order to become agro-industrial nations, and not simply rely on the export of oil to buy their goods as in the past.
Under that agreement, the details of which I was informed of recently, but it’s also available, but it still needs to be investigated whether all these items which I will mention are correct or not — but we got a confirmation of that from the [aide] to the Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi in a TV interview, in October already. But the agreement is that Iraq and China will establish an Iraq reconstruction fund; it will be an Iraqi fund, where the government will deposit every month the equivalent in worth of 3 million barrels of oil, exported to China, which is one of the big importers of Iraqi oil. Part of the revenues from that oil will be deposited in the reconstruction fund. When the Iraqi government establishes the fund and deposits the first installment, which was supposed to happen in October-November, the Chinese SinoSure (China Export and Credit Insurance Corp.) will issue insurance for the Chinese Export and Import Bank and other banks to issue credits to the Iraqi government, worth up to $10 billion to start with, for Chinese companies to start working on rebuilding and developing Iraq’s railways, roadways, power plants and distribution, building ports, airports, and restoring and cleaning the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, and rebuilding the canal system, water desalination plants; and to rebuild and create new Iraqi industrial zones, and to re-energize the Iraqi agricultural sector which had been destroyed. So this is an extremely massive reconstruction plan, which is supported by the most powerful infrastructure in the world: China. The Iraqi prime minister, at the same time, pledged to actively promote the Belt and Road Initiative in the region, and said that Iraq will play a role in that process.
Now, just to go through why that is so important — first of all, my personal experience, as I said, as you know, I was in Iraq in December 2018, together with the scientific adviser of the largest Chinese desert control company, [s/l Eliat 23:43]. Because in my capacity as the CEO of the company Suedehydro [ph], I presented the plan for building the Iraqi Green Belt to control the desert of Iraq. I sent you the map of that, to protect Iraq from sand and dust storms, but also to rebuild the Iraqi agricultural sector. We met with the Minister of Water Resources of Iraq; we met with the Deputy Agriculture Minister and his team, and they loved the idea, and they also loved the idea that the Chinese would be involved in this.
The problem was that there was no financial nor political framework to implement such a major project. That’s why none of the major projects which were proposed, not only by me, but by many other people were never implemented, because you had no political and financial framework; the Iraqi government has no resources. The people we met in these ministries, many of them hadn’t gotten their salaries for months!
So with China proposing this reconstruction fund, now, the financial framework would be available to start implementing these kinds of projects. But of course, there are many priority projects which the Iraqi government has to identify.
So, this is a breakthrough for Iraq. It’s a breakthrough for the whole region — how a region which is just coming out of a war, can be rebuilt, even though you don’t have financial resources, even if you have a complicated political system.
Then, we also had, interestingly, at the same time, at the end of September when Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi and his delegation were in China, we had the opening of the Abu Kamal border crossing between Iraq and Syria, which is in second map there. And that border crossing had been closed for about five years, during the Syrian war and the control of that region by ISIS. When both the Iraqi and Syrian forces managed to liberate Abu Kamal on both the Syrian and Iraqi sides, then on Sept. 30, we had this border crossing open. Many people in the West were upset about that, because the propaganda was that this will open the road from Iran into Iraq to Syria and Lebanon to take weapons to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is the only thing they were thinking about.
The reality is, we have, as we discussed in the Project Phoenix for the reconstruction of Syria, this crossing is very important, as we show in Map 3, which is an image of the Syrian reconstruction connection to the New Silk Road: The Abu Kamal crossing is very important to connect West Asia to the Mediterranean.
The economic aspect of Abu Kamal crossing is very important. The problem is that everybody else was fixating on the military and geopolitical implications of that. That crossing also became a big problem, which we’ll come back to later, and also the escalation which took place in the last month or so.
But if we go back to the whole idea of the World Land-Bridge, Lyndon LaRouche’s plan for rebuilding the world economy by connecting the continents, when you look at where Iraq is located, in the so-called “Middle East,” that’s where what Lyndon LaRouche called crossroads of the continents. This is the pivotal point of all the oceans, all the trade routes, whether maritime or land trade routes between east and west. And this region has massive wealth, both natural, human, financial and so on, so when you have this region under the thumb of all these wars, these sectarian wars and terrorism, it’s impossible to get anything done, either for these nations as such, but also on an international basis. We have the situation in Yemen, which is right in the crossroads between Asia and Africa — so this has been a chokepoint. It’s what the British have managed to create, to block cooperation between nations and continents, to get big powers enmired in conflicts in this region, and that can potentially lead to big wars.
If we go back to this Abu Kamal crossing being opened, and the visit of Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi to China what happens immediately after that? As soon as Abdul-Mahdi is back in Iraq, you suddenly have massive, so-called “spontaneous” demonstrations against the government, by frustrated youth — I know many of them have legitimate reasons to be upset with the government; the lack of all basic services, the massive unemployment, especially among educated youth; many of the people I know personally were out demonstrating. The problem is the demands these youth people were making were exactly the issues that Adil Abdul-Mahdi were discussing in Beijing, how to solve all these problems. Of course, these do not happen in one day, these projects take time, but this is exactly what the Iraqi government was trying to do! We should give them the benefit of the doubt so they can implement these ideas, and we do trust the Chinese government to do these kinds of projects, they have great experience with these. So there is no reason to ridicule, as happened with Iraq, in the media, or have suspicions against the intentions of the Iraqi government and Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi.
When Adil Abdul-Mahdi was oil minister under Prime Minister al-Abbadi from 2014-18, he actually had proposed this same plan, to exchange Iraqi oil for reconstruction. But you remember what happened in 2014: ISIS came into the picture, after many years of support from the Obama administration in Syria, and then they invaded Iraq in June-July 2014. And from that moment on, all these plans were put on ice. So the Iraqi government was actually prevented from implementing policies which were to the benefit of the very young people who were demonstrating against them, as of Oct. 1, 2019.
What happens next, of course, there are clashes with the security forces, but the government tried to calm the situation by asking the security forces not to intervene. But then, you had militias going there and shooting the demonstrators, as a third force, which plunged the whole thing into violence, with about 470 young people being killed — mostly in Shi’a areas. This enraged people even more, and because these Shi’a militias are connected to Iran in a certain way, then the demonstrators also turned their anger against Iran, and the Iranian consulate in Najaf, which is a Shi’a stronghold, was actually stormed and burned, and the Iranian diplomats fled the building.
So, suddenly you have a situation, where instead of the government having a rational discussion about how to rebuild the country, now you have a conflict, between militias, peaceful demonstrators, and then the Iraqi government was forced to resign — this was the demand of the demonstrators. The problem is that the demonstrators — and in my discussions with people who called it a “revolution,” it’s not a revolution, because you don’t have an alternative available to replace this government. It will be exactly like 2003: You take out the government and then you have no alternative. You have worse options to deal with.
This government should have been allowed to implement the good job as it was on paper, and let it carry out these policies. We know these things work when they’re implemented. Instead, we have an Iraqi caretaker government, because the parliament failed to form a new government. And the Prime Minister and his government who signed the memorandum of understanding are unable to implement that agreement now. They don’t have the legal authority to do it now.
In the meantime, what’s interesting is that Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi in July 2019 gave an order to actually abolish the so-called “Shi’a militias,” especially the Popular Mobilization Forces, which had become the name in the news, because its commander Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was killed along with Soleimani in that drone attack. Prime Minister Abdul-Mahdi in July ordered the demobilization of these Shi’a militias, which were then to be incorporated into the Iraqi Army, instead. So that the government and Iraqi Army would regain control over the military forces of the country, which is an excellent point.
But that did not really happen, because these militias have enormous power, and there are forces in the region that are not interested in taking the power away from these militias and handing it back to the Iraqi government. But what happened, in August, the Israeli air force, for the first time since 1984, bombed positions of these militias in Iraq. What message does that send? The message is, we want those guys to be our rivals, our counterparts, so to speak, inside Iraq. And we want to continue this war, and we don’t want the militias to lose their base, their capabilities.
So the Prime Minister of Iraq was made to look like he is allied with Israel against militias, which gave the militias even more power, and more support to continue. In that sense, the Israelis and the United States forces which are continuously attacking the militias, are actually empowering them, rather than weakening them. They’re weakening the Iraqi government and Army, by saying, “you don’t have control over your territory,” so we can continue playing this cat-and-dog game inside Iraq. Whereas the Iranians themselves and of course the Revolutionary Guard can also continue to be active in Iraq. This is the kind of situation.
So, with the bombing — if you go back to the map that shows the Abu Kamal border crossing, you have three spots on the Iraqi-Syrian border: In the south, there’s al-Tanf controlled by the United States forces; in the north, it’s controlled by the Kurdish militias, and partly the United States; but then you have only Abu Kamal area, which was guarded by Iraqi forces but also by these so-called Hezbollah militias, which were attacked in late December. They had units guarding the border and also chasing remnants of ISIS in the desert area there; but inside both Iraq and Syria. So the United States bombed a number of these units, killed 19 people, in retaliation, said the Defense Department, for an attack on an American base by these forces, which is not confirmed. The problem is the attack took place in Kirkuk — there’s an arrow pointing to it — which is far, far to the east of Abu Kamal. So it was a whole setup to create a situation where you have a new confrontation between the United States forces and the militias.
What happens next is those who were killed by the United States were taken to Baghdad and after the funerals, you had the attack on the American Embassy — which was more or less symbolic, but for Americans, this is a big attack on the United States itself. Then three days afterward you have the assassination of Soleimani in Baghdad, on the way from the airport.
Now, Prime Minister Abdul-Mahi said yesterday, and we have good reason to believe him, is that the reason he was going to meet with Soleimani is to take a message from the Saudis to the Iranians. If you remember there was very high tension in the Gulf, throughout the spring and summer last year, with oil tankers being attacked, American drones shot down by Iran, and the Yemeni group in Sana’a attacking a major Saudi oil installation in Saudi Arabia, which cut its oil production massively; under these circumstances, there was a heightened level of tension, and some people, like Oman and also, now we realize, that Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Iraq was trying to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran to ease the tension, and leave no pretext for the United States or Israel, or anyone else, to start a new war, with Iran this time. Because everybody knows, if you start war with Iran, the whole region is going to be set on fire.
So Adil Abdu-Mahdi was actually sending a message through Soleimani, to the Saudis, or receiving a message from the Saudis to give to the Iranians via Soleimani. But Soleimani was killed in that operation.
So somebody is trying, the whole time, undermine the sovereignty of Iraq, undermining the possibility for having a peaceful solution for the whole region, and also starting reconstruction — remember, a few days before the assassination of Soleimani, China, Russia, and Iran had held naval exercises in the Gulf of Oman, in the northwest of the Indian Ocean. That was a signal that to have security in the region, you have to involve everybody. The Russian President Putin, in the summer, at the height of this tension in the Gulf and the Foreign Ministry of Russia issued a statement saying we need a new security regime in the Persian Gulf and the whole West Asia region, which involves all parties. Not only the United States and allies are guarding the area and trying to maintain security — that’s not going to work; they said we have to involve everybody: Iran, the Saudis, and other Gulf countries. In that context, also it’s possible to solve the problem in Yemen.
So, you had all these developments, since the summer of 2019 into the visit by Iraq’s prime minister to China and signing this agreement. In October, the President of the United States ordered the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria. The Syrians, in coordination with Russia getting back their territories and their sovereignty. The terrorists are being eliminated.
But in the middle of all that, some people decided — also the coup going on in the United States against the President, with impeachment; Israeli elements not happy with the situation in Syria and Iraq; and even Lebanon, which had gotten a similar offer from China. The head of Hezbollah revealed that. He said the Chinese came and offered to help build our infrastructure, but the government of Rafic Hariri, who’s a French-Saudi-American asset, rejected the Chinese offer. But the whole region was oriented towards reconstruction, working with China on the Belt and Road, working with Russia. And, it was a fantastic chance for the United States to become involved in this reconstruction situation.
Instead, what we have now is the threat of a new war.
The reason I’m mentioning these things, is not it’s just an interesting analysis, and that people know why this happened. The issue is, now we have a golden opportunity, actually, in the middle of this crisis, to turn the whole issue around and start working for peace. Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche issued a statement, the founder and chairwoman of the Schiller Institute, on Jan. 3, urging for an emergency summit between President Putin, President Xi Jinping and President Trump. And of course, you can include others that might be interested, like India, Japan, Germany, France. Now we have reactions from many parts of the world, trying to calm things down. But we need an emergency summit to discuss how to calm this situation, bringing all parties to the table, and also discussing the reconstruction of the region. We have very good reasons to believe that it’s going to happen quickly, with the reconstruction: The plans, the projects are there; China is willing to participate; Russia is willing to participate. We need to get the Europe and the United States onboard. This is the way we can have peace and security — not by assassinations, and bombings and sanctions.
Now we have this opportunity, and that’s the reason we’re having this discussion, Matt.
OGDEN: That entire context is crucial because it represents the dynamic which has to be understood. The fact that China is so involved in the region right now, the fact that obviously Russia is very closely allied to Iran, is what is sparking the fears that this direct military operation against the second leading military figure in Iran could have very dire consequences, and could very quickly escalate not just into a very disastrous regional war, between the United States and Iran and its proxies in that region; but even towards a world war. This is the fear, this is what people in the United States, rightly, woke up on Friday morning being very frightened of. It was reminiscent of the announcement by the Bush Administration that we were going into Iraq in 2003, on the false intelligence that there were weapons of mass destruction, but even greater. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democratic candidate for President, she has said, a war with Iran would far, far outstrip what we’ve had with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which is very true, because of the involvement of these other nations, directly, Russia.
There was a statement published by Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) in Consortium News: This is a collection of former intelligence officials in the United States who originally had warned Colin Powell and George Bush, this lie about the weapons of mass destruction is going to be a disaster, and is going to lead to very dire consequences. They were right about that in Iraq. Now, they’ve published a statement saying that the drone assassination of Soleimani evokes the memory of the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in 1914, which led to World War I.
Larry Johnson, who is a former CIA analyst, said that you have to understand that from the perspective of the Iranians, Soleimani is a national hero, as you said, whether we in the West like him or not, from their perspective, this is the equivalent of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.
So this action is explosive, and what our responsibility here, as you’ve said, is to prevent Trump from getting caught into this cycle of escalation the implications of which are dire, because of the involvement of Russia and China directly in that region. But the irony is also what you just said: because of the role that Russia and China play in this region, there is a very clear opportunity for peace, if we take the call that Helga Zepp-LaRouche put out on Friday, saying that there needs to be an immediate summit among Trump, Xi Jinping, and Putin, in the spirit of the “Meeting at the Elbe,” she said — where the American and Soviet Allies that defeated fascism 75 years ago. met on the Elbe River in Torgau, Germany.
It’s very important that you evoked the method of Lyndon LaRouche at the beginning of your presentation. You have to understand that history, as he always emphasized, history is not a series of kinetic events, one thing that leads to another. Even that analogy of the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand leading to World War I, is actually a fallacy of composition. Lyndon LaRouche always discussed that history is a dynamic process, and that there are certain axioms which are inexorably leading to a disastrous outcome which can only be prevented if you change the axioms of that system. And that’s the intervention which we’re discussing. This kind of meeting to bring the Belt and Road Initiative into that region, to say the only true pathway to durable peace is not some sort of arrangement of forces in Southwest Asia: It can only be done by changing the global context through a Treaty of Westphalia approach. That’s the idea of changing the dynamic.
That perspective, what you’re presenting, the role of Russia and China in the region as what is leading to the danger that this could very, very quickly escalate into a World War III type scenario; but also, the role of Russia and China in the region as a sign of opportunity that you actually, if the United States were involved in this kind of emergency summit that Helga Zepp-LaRouche is calling for, you could bring that Belt and Road Initiative to bear, and actually create a new Treaty of Westphalia.
ASKARY: That’s completely correct, Matt. We have to, as Lyndon LaRouche says, “History is shaped by the voluntarists,” people who intervene at crucial points in history with ideas, and with mobilizing forces around them, locally and internationally. And that’s the role that LaRouche personally played, and this is what our movement or our association is playing right now. People are listening to us. People think that we are small forces — it’s not true. We are a very big force, I mean, Mrs. Helga Zepp-LaRouche is considered as a major Western personality inside China.
In this crisis, I was contacted by one of a major Iranian news agency, Tasnim, for an interview, and they asked me “what do you think about this situation? What do you think about Iran’s reaction? What do you think about why Trump did that?” And the answers I gave, I thought they would not publish them, because they would be too controversial inside Iran. Because, I said, look, somebody sucked President Trump into this — this is dangerous. Then, I said, the Iranian leadership has shown a lot of restraint in recent months in the face of provocations, harsh sanctions, there should be restraint practiced now. And then that there should be an intervention by the “adults” in the world, like Russia, China, India — and the United States, I said — that President Trump should be involved. I thought, they will not publish that, because that would be very controversial inside Iran, and instead, it was published two days ago.
Because people inside Iran, they really are also looking for a solution. The Iranian people, and the Iranian leadership — you might have some people who we call the “permanent revolutionaries,” they want revolution to continue; there are people in Syria — not the President — but there are other people, and in Lebanon, and Iraq, they want these wars and fighting and what they call “resistance to the Zionists in the world” should continue. That’s terrible!
But there are people in these countries who actually say, look, we should end this era of wars and regime change and Islamic jihadism and that stuff. We need to become nation-builders. So the nation-builders in these countries — I mentioned Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi, he’s an Islamist! I mean, he was educated as an economist in France, but he’s a member of an Islamist Shi’a movement. But! He is realizing now that that era is over. Now, he’s responsible for the Iraqi nation. He and his cabinet have to come up with ideas, with mechanisms to reestablish Iraq as a sovereign nation, rebuild the Iraqi economy. And give back the Iraqis the respect and the high spirit they used to usually enjoy.
So this is the situation. We actually have people listening, but they’re waiting for a signal that there’s sanity in Washington. President Trump promised to drain the swamp, to clean up. The problem is that he is falling in the same traps his opponents created in the first place. So the mistrust against the United States is so high, it’s very difficult, like the Chinese, they are not coming up with any initiatives concerning the United States, because the level of trust has sunk so much. And therefore, it’s actually the responsibility of the American people, the American organizations, individuals, to make sure that the United States is on the path towards establishing peace in the world.
The era of using military force is over, it’s obsolete. You cannot achieve your goals by military force. It failed: Look at Afghanistan. How many years, 18 years, 19 years, and trillions of dollars used, thousands and thousands killed. Did the United States achieve victory there? No! Nobody can achieve victory there. The era of using military force is over. Asymmetric warfare can just make your life a hell — it doesn’t work. The only thing which works is a nuclear war, which would mean the end of human civilization, and the human species.
So people have to realize that this is what is at stake now. It’s a very dangerous situation: Anything can happen at any moment. I hope the Iranian leadership will be calm, but assertive and wait for the good initiatives to take hold, because any military reaction, targeting U.S. troops or targeting U.S. allies, it will just make the war-mongers in the United States, Britain and Israel very happy: Because that’s the water they love to swim in. That’s the environment they can survive in. They cannot survive in an environment of peace and calm, and cooperation among nations. So this is what’s at stake now. And everybody has to act in a way, not just to “we have to analyze this thing,” — there’s a lot of information and news and analysis about Soleimani, about who did what, and so on.
We have to get away from being spectators and analysts, and become activists, and work with everybody. I’m trying to contact people in the Iraqi government, in Iran, in Syria, everywhere. Because I’m sure that a solution is possible. Of course, I don’t have the means of contacting the President of the United States, but our movement in the United States can do that. We have access to possibilities with China, Russia, many European countries. So everybody has to move, now, to first, stop this escalation, and to simultaneously present the solution. The solution is the new paradigm for economic cooperation along the Belt and Road: That’s the issue. And every nation is invited. This is not a Chinese project. It’s now a global project for all nations. And that’s the situation we have now.
OGDEN: We have a statement, which you referenced from Helga Zepp-LaRouche, which is posted on the LaRouche PAC website. We encourage people to read that statement carefully, circulate that: As you said, Helga LaRouche’s voice is a very well-respected one in many sectors of the world. This statement also includes some background material from Lyndon LaRouche, a video that he made in 1999, which was called “Storm Over Asia,” in which he laid out what the entire strategy for the destabilization of the entire region from the Chinese border, the Indian border, Afghanistan, all the way into Southwest Asia, naming Iran, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, by name, that this was a strategy of destabilization.
Also, we will be re-featuring, and there will be a link available for a speech that Lyndon LaRouche made in 2009 at Central Connecticut State University, which was policy speech in which he discusses exactly what has to be done to bring peace to this region, that nothing can be done as a regional solution, but it all has to be done within a global context.
We encourage people to study this material: Because as Hussein has just demonstrated, what’s necessary right now is sobriety and an insight — cooler heads must be prevail — to be able to think in the terms that Lyndon LaRouche was capable of. That’s what you’ve just heard from Hussein, and understanding what all of the dynamics which are going into this region are, and not just being stuck in an old paradigm of thinking that there’s just perpetual warfare, but being able to escape that prison, and being able to say: there’s a new way of thinking, there’s a new paradigm.
Hussein, do you have a final statement for the American audience? What do people have to be thinking about?
ASKARY: I think the United States population has been put in a very strange situation, where everything is so polarized that you have to always choose sides. I think people have to choose the side of sanity and morality, rather than choosing sides on Republican or Democratic, which Mr. LaRouche already said was a complete failure.
The American people, the American elites, organizations, they should be focused on getting the situation under control and joining hands with other nations. The idea that the United States should determine everything in the world, that “we are the best guys, we are the most powerful,” that world doesn’t exist; that’s not reality. Reality is that there are many nations in the world, many of them are equally powerful, equally dangerous, and the only way that humankind can survive is by getting all these forces and all these nations together. There, the United States can play a leading role, but the United States cannot decide everything, and should not decide everything.
Americans should have a better image of themselves, an image which Lyndon LaRouche represented, which President Franklin Roosevelt represented, President John Kennedy, President Abraham Lincoln: Go back and study your history. Look at how your leaders were thinking about your nation and the world, and how to deal with the world. You need to learn the history of your country. And that’s the way we can solve things.
But people have to move now, and I see many people, like the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity and other people are moving very swiftly now, and trying to organize the situation, to prevent it from going into a disaster. That’s great. But simultaneously, people have to understand that there’s a new world emerging, a world which can lead to peace, prosperity for all nations, elimination of poverty, elimination of hunger, elimination of wars, all kinds of problems. So people have to think in terms of what is sane, what is moral, not in terms of choosing sides, which I see most Americans doing today — and that’s very, very, dangerous. That will allow the people on the top to take wrong decisions, not in the interest of the American people, not in the interest of the United States of America, and not in the interest of the world as a whole.
OGDEN: Thank you very much Hussein. We find this opportunity indispensable, and we will definitely keep in touch with you. So our viewers can expect that we will be following up with this discussion.