This Is A Dangerous Game

Yesterday American Military News posted an article (and pictures) about a group of Iranian warships playing ‘chicken’ with American warships in international waters of the North Arabian Gulf. That is a dangerous game.

The article reports:

The U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said late Wednesday that 11 Iranian ships harassed multiple U.S. warships in international waters today, and captured the dangerous encounter in photos and a video.

USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3), USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60), USS Firebolt (PC 10), USS Sirocco (PC 6), USCGC Wrangell (WPB 1332) and USCGC Maui (WPB 1304) were conducting joint operations along with U.S. Army AH-64E Apache helicopters when the encounter occurred.

The Iranian vessels came within 10 yards of USCGC Maui’s bow, and 50 yards from USS Lewis B. Puller. U.S. ships were forced to take action to avoid colliding with Iranian boats.

U.S. crews issued radio warnings, five blasts from ships’ horns, and sounded acoustic noise makers, but were ignored by Iranian crews.

After an hour, Iranian crews finally responded and turned away from the U.S. warships.

“The IRGCN’s dangerous and provocative actions increased the risk of miscalculation and collision, were not in accordance with the internationally recognized Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) ‘rules of the road’ or internationally recognized maritime customs, and were not in accordance with the obligation under international law to act with due regard for the safety of other vessels in the area,” U.S. Naval Forces Central Command said in a statement.

There are a number of possible motives for this harassment of American ships. If the Iranian government can focus its population on a common enemy, the Iranian people might overlook the severe economic problems the country is currently having. Also, if the Iranian government can drag America into a war in the Middle East, that will significantly drain America’s wealth and resources. We have seen that principle at work for the past twenty years. Either way, Iran is playing a dangerous game–they are not dealing with Barack Obama or Jimmy Carter–they are dealing with a President who believes in America and its right to defend itself. I expect there will be some reaction to this from the White House. We may not see it–it may happen behind closed doors, but I do believe President Trump will hold Iran accountable for their actions.

I Suppose This Is Good News

Fox News reported yesterday that ISIS is advising terrorists not to travel to Europe for jihad. It’s a little ironic to me that ISIS is protecting its members from the flu while instructing them to engage in suicide missions.

The article reports:

ISIS’ al-Naba newsletter contains “sharia directives” urging its healthy members not to enter “the land of the epidemic” to avoid becoming infected, the New York Post reported Sunday.

But any sick jihadists already in Europe should stay there — presumably, to sicken infidels, the paper reported. The Sunday Times of London first reported on the newsletter, according to the paper.

The “healthy should not enter the land of the epidemic and the afflicted should not exit from it,” the ISIS newsletter advises, according to the Post.

…Ten people have died from the coronavirus in Iraq, where 110 cases have been reported, according to John Hopkins University which is tracking the endemic. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Europe is now the virus’ epicenter.

Iran has also become an epicenter for the coronavirus.

On February 28, The New Yorker reported:

Iran, a country of eighty-three million people, has now become one of the global epicenters of the coronavirus—with the highest mortality rate in the world. Based on official numbers, the mortality rate in Iran has fluctuated daily, between eight and eighteen per cent, compared to three per cent in China and less everywhere else. Iran is also unique, because a disproportionate number of confirmed cases are senior government officials. On Thursday, the Vice-President, Masoumeh Ebtekar—who gained fame in 1979 as Sister Mary, the spokeswoman for the students who seized the U.S. Embassy and took fifty-two Americans hostage—announced that she, too, had contracted the coronavirus. The day before, she had attended a meeting with President Hassan Rouhani and his cabinet. Two members of parliament, including the chairman of the Committee on National Security and Foreign Policy, have also been infected, as has the mayor of a district in Tehran and a senior cleric who had served as Iran’s Ambassador to the Vatican. One of the lawmakers, Mahmoud Sadeghi, tweeted on Tuesday, “I send this message in a situation where I have little hope of surviving in this world.” The former Vatican Ambassador, who was eighty-one, died on Thursday.

The article in The New Yorker notes:

The first mention of the disease by the government was a report of two deaths in the city on February 19th. Initial reports indicate that the carrier of the virus may have been a merchant who travelled between Qom and Wuhan, in China, where COVID-19 is believed to have originated. The outbreak is estimated to have begun between three and six weeks ago, which would mean that the two Iranians who died could have been sick and infecting others for weeks.

The fact that the virus has impacted many high-level officials in Iran might be the result of the close relations between the Chinese government and the Iranian government. It seems that China’s failure to tell the truth about the virus has impacted both their friends and their enemies.

The Law Of Unintended Consequences At Work

Evidently the coronavirus has been around since December. China kept quiet about it, and when it spread to Iran in January, Iran kept quiet about it. One of the ‘advantages’ of a totalitarian regime is the ability to keep the public from knowing about a pending epidemic. Well, there seem to be some consequences of the fact that China and Iran chose to remain silent about the problem. As of now, Iran has the highest number of deaths outside of China.

The Gateway Pundit is reporting today that after the death of Commander Soleimani,  Democrat Senator Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif in a secret meeting in Munich. The meeting was in February.

The article includes a quote from the Israel National News:

This year’s Munich Security Conference may go down in history as the COVID-19 viral super-spreader “event of the century,” if not in all of recorded history. That’s because the Munich 2020 event took place from February Friday 14-Sunday 16, and Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif attended.

Unknown to apparently all the high security-minded attendees, FM Zarif was likely carrying much more than the dark secret that the COVID-19 virus had already begun rampaging through the highest echelons of the Iranian government and society. FM Zarif , or one of his minions, was likely carrying the actual COVID-19, and infected who knows how many of the world’s highest and most influential politicians at the Munich event.

In fact, US Senator Chris Murphy, Democrat from Connecticut, not only met FM Zarif, but met him in Zarif’s hotel suite where there was likely a rat’s nest of COVID-19. Unless drastic steps are taken, Sen. Murphy may become the Typhoid Mary of COVID-19, and infect the entire US Senate and House of Representatives.

As of February 28, 2020 there were officially 210 actual deaths in Iran. Unofficially, there have been over 500 reliably reported Iranian deaths. But, what is very unusual about the Iranian deaths is that a large number of extremely high ranking government officials in Tehran, the capital, have actually caught the disease and have died. The officially “First reported” Iranian case was on February 19. Working backward from the 19th, that means COVID-19 was likely already circulating in Iran from middle-to-late January when FM Zarif, or one of his staff, could have caught the disease.

I don’t wish anyone ill, but it seems like violating the Logan Act might be the least of Chris Murphy’s problems.

Can I Help You Pack?

Yesterday Fox News reported the following:

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said Thursday that his country’s delegation would vote for the United Nations headquarters to be moved out of New York if given the chance, in the latest sign of escalating tensions with the United States on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly.

“If we’re ever asked, we will, of course, vote for it, for the United Nations headquarters to be transferred to a more secure and better country that does not have the narrow viewpoints that we have been witnessing,” he said in response to a question at a press conference. There appears to be no significant movement to move the U.N.

This is probably the first and last time I will agree with President Rouhani.

The article continues:

He mentioned a number of instances of Iranians being barred from entering the U.S. The Trump administration this week restricted senior Iranian government officials and their family members from entering the U.S.

“For years, Iranian officials and their family members have quietly taken advantage of America’s freedom and prosperity, including excellent educational, employment, entertainment, and cultural opportunities in the United States,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement Thursday.

“Under this proclamation, designated senior regime officials and their families will no longer be allowed entry into the United States. No longer will elites reap the benefits of a free society while the Iranian people suffer under the regime’s corruption and mismanagement.”

Rouhani accused the U.S. of capitalizing on its position as host nation for the U.N.

“This is the house of peace and house of communications with one another and America must not take advantage of its position as a host and only grant visas to whom America likes,” he said.

Rouhani spoke at a lengthy press conference in which he blamed the U.S. for the collapse of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and called on the U.S. to remove sanctions before talks can occur between the two countries. President Trump had opened the door to talks with the Iranian regime, but has also kept up his “maximum pressure” campaign of sanctions against Tehran.

“If these preconditions are taken off the table and then of course the possibility exists to talk with America,” Rouhani said.

Would the UN just leave if all the delegates were asked to pay their parking tickets?

A Letter From Iran

Michael Yon is one of my favorite reporters. His website is MichaelYon-online.

This is a brief summary of some of his work:

I first traveled to Iraq in December 2004, but the prime impetus to go occurred almost nine months earlier, after two friends were killed in two days in Iraq–one in Falluja, the other in Samara. In April, 2004, I attended both their funerals, also days apart, one in Colorado, the other in Florida. I met many veterans of the war on terror, some of whom encouraged me to go to Iraq or Afghanistan, and write the truth.

One childhood friend in particular—Rodney Morris—regularly called and emailed me, asking me to come over to Iraq, where he was then known as Lieutenant Colonel Morris. My initial reaction was, “Are you crazy!? I am a writer, not a war correspondent.” I thought there was nothing I could offer, and being intimately familiar with the effects of bombs and bullets, and having no wish to be burned alive or shot down, I repeatedly declined. But those two funerals, coming so close upon each other, got me thinking.

In a decision that entailed shelving serious investments in labor and time, I put current projects on hold and packed off for Iraq. When 2004 turned into 2005, I was in Baquba, near Baghdad. At that time, heading into Iraq’s historical first elections, there was daily fighting in Baquba. It was definitely newsworthy, but I was not sponsored by or affiliated with any media organizations. In fact, I had barely heard of the word “Blog,” when about three weeks into January 2005, I blogged my own first dispatch from Baquba.

Today Michael posted the following letter from a young woman in Iran. This is his dispatch:

A young Iranian woman has written to me off and on for a couple of years.  Yesterday she sent a note.

I responded in part with a few questions:

What do young Iranians think about our government and about the Iranian government?  Also, do you think there will be war?

She replied immediately.  I corrected some minor grammar:

“To make the long story short people in Iran, not just youth, hate the government and want to move out of the country as soon as they can.  My sister [deleted] is moving to [deleted] with her husband this July and then when my mother gets retired, me, my younger sister [deleted] and my parents will sell our house and move to live with them.  My father isn’t convinced yet but all he needs is time, I’m sure he will choose to come with us.

“I am a patriot and I will remain one no matter where I am, but lets face it. Things are bad and getting worse as every day goes by. I have plans for my future and do not want to stay in a country where my skills and capabilities are most likely going to waste.

“The Iranians do not hate you nor do they hate ur government.  This is all the media.  The people have nothing to do with the media Michael.  No one is against you here except for those on the government’s side.  Unfortunately they’re not few, they’re actually many, but they won’t last forever. Someday this is all gonna turn upside down.  Sometimes I ask myself do I wanna be here for the next revolution?  I dunno …

We need to remember that although Iran is currently ruled by evil people, the people of the country are not all evil. My heart goes out to this lady and my sympathy goes out to her for what she has been through. The best answer for Iran would be for the people of overthrow the current government, but I suspect the government has done away with anyone with the potential to lead such a revolution. The country is not evil–the government of the country is.

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