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"Cold War Shivers": War Preparations in the Middle East and Central Asia

Michel Chossudovsky | 07.10.2006 22:43 | Analysis | Anti-militarism | Sheffield | World

It is essential that people across America and around the World take cognizance of the dangers of a Middle East war directed against Iran and act decisively to challenge the US military agenda and reverse the tide of war.

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, "a long war", which threatens the future of humanity.

This article documents recent developments, focusing on military deployment and preparations in the event of a US led war on Iran. This text follows a number of earlier reports published by Global Research pertaining to the War on Iran (See Iran dossier, Nuclear War dossier, Lebanon dossier )

Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Observer States includin
Members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Observer States includin

Middle East theatre of war
Middle East theatre of war


The entire Middle East Central Asian region is on a war footing.

US-NATO naval deployment is taking place in two distinct theaters: the Persian Gulf and the Eastern Mediterranean. (See Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, October 2006).

The naval armada in the Persian Gulf is largely under US command, with the participation of Canada. Both the USS Enterprise and Eisenhower Strike groups have been dispatched to the Persian Gulf in a a massive display of US military might.

The militarization of the Eastern Mediterranean (on land and sea) is under the control of several NATO member countries including France, Germany and Turkey. This military build-up is conducted under the façade of a UN peace-keeping mission (UNIFIL) pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 1701.

In this context, the war on Lebanon must be viewed as a stage of the broader US sponsored military road-map, which targets Syria.

In September, Germany dispatched a fleet of eight ships including 2 frigates, with up to 2,400 personnel aboard. The German navy will be in charge of the multinational naval force, which has, under its official UNIFIL mandate "to prevent arms shipments to Hezbollah". The German naval force will operate out of the Cyprus port of Limassol, located within less than 100 km. from the Lebanon-Syria coastline. The Cyprus based multinational naval force could eventually be used to encroach on maritime trade with Syria.

In early October, Turkey dispatched several warships, which will join the multinational naval force under German command. While Turkey is formally part of the UN international force (UNIFIL), it is also a close military ally of Israel. Greek, Bulgarian and Italian warships have also been dispatched to the Lebanese coast.

France has dispatched armored vehicle and infantry units. (Chars Leclerc see below).

The nature of the military equiipment and weapons systems being deployed has little to do with "peace-keeping". Moreover, NATO established a close military partnership with Israel in 2005, which in practice binds NATO member countries involved in Lebanon to fully cooperate with Israel.

German Brandenburg Class Frigate dispatched to Lebanese Coast

The naval buildup has been coordinated with the planned air attacks on Iran. The latter were outlined in mid-2004, following the formulation of CONCEPT PLAN CONPLAN 8022 (early 2004). The air attacks on Iran would involve a "shock and awe" blitzkrieg on a scale similar to the 2003 air war on Iraq.

In November 2004, US Strategic Command conducted a major exercise of a "global strike plan" entitled "Global Lightening". The latter involved a simulated attack using both conventional and nuclear weapons against a "fictitious enemy" [Iran]. Following the "Global Lightening" exercise, US Strategic Command declared an advanced state of readiness.

CONPLAN is the operational plan pursuant to the Global Strike Plan. It is described as "an actual plan that the Navy and the Air Force translate into strike package for their submarines and bombers,'

CONPLAN 8022 is 'the overall umbrella plan for sort of the pre-planned strategic scenarios involving nuclear weapons.'

'It's specifically focused on these new types of threats -- Iran, North Korea -- proliferators and potentially terrorists too,' he said. 'There's nothing that says that they can't use CONPLAN 8022 in limited scenarios against Russian and Chinese targets.' (According to Hans Kristensen, of the Nuclear Information Project, quoted in Japanese economic News Wire, op cit)

The use of tactical nuclear weapons is contemplated under CONPLAN 8022 alongside conventional weapons, as part of the Bush administration's preemptive war doctrine. In May 2004, National Security Presidential Directive NSPD 35 entitled Nuclear Weapons Deployment Authorization was issued. While its contents remains classified, the presumption is that NSPD 35 pertains to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons in the Middle East war theater in compliance with CONPLAN 8022.

(For further details on the US nuclear option, see Michel Chossudovsky, Nuclear War against Iran, January 2006, The Dangers of a Middle East Nuclear War, February 2006, Is the Bush Administration Planning a Nuclear Holocaust , February 2006)

War Preparations

Iran is in an advanced stage of readiness in the eventuality of a US attack.

In response to the US-NATO sponsored military build-up, Iran has conducted extensive war games throughout its territory. (See Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, 21 August 2006)

Moreover, barely acknowledged by the Western media, both China and Russia have conducted war games in Central Asia, in collaboration with their coalition partners. In late September, Russia conducted air war exercises over a large part of its territory, extending from the Volga to the frontiers of Alaska and North America. These war games prompted the scrambling of NORAD fighter planes.

Military exercises involving the participation of Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, (CSTO) were launched in August. These war games, officially described as part of a " counter terrorism program", were held barely a week before those conducted by the Iranian military. (See Michel Chossudovsky, 24 August 2006)

Broadly coinciding with both the Iranian and CSTO military exercises, China and Kazakhstan also conducted military exercises in August under the auspices of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). Iran is an observer member in the SCO. (For Timeline of War Games see Table below)

In late September, China and Tajikistan held a joint military exercise, code-named "Cooperation-2006", according to a memorandum of understanding signed between the two governments. Tajikistan has a 500 km. border with Afghanistan. These war games directly address US-NATO military presence in neighboring Afghanistan.

In early October, in the latest round of Central Asian war games under CSTO auspices, joint Russian-Kyrgyz war exercises were held (starting on October 2nd) at Russia's Kant airbase located some 30 km. from the Kyrgyz capital. Officially described as an "anti-terror drill", these high profile exercises involved the deployment of Russian and Kyrgyz special forces units. Russia's top brass and defense minister Sergei Ivanov were in attendance for the launching of the event:

"About 350 servicemen from special forces units, combat vehicles, artillery, Su-25 Frogfoot ground support aircraft and Mi-8 Hip multipurpose helicopters are participating in the active phase of the maneuvers, which include the firing of live ammunition at the Osh practice range.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov, who is currently on a visit to the Central Asian state, Kyrgyzstan Prime Minister Felix Kulov and Defense Minister Ismail Isakov are attending the exercises.

Russia and Kyrgyzstan are both members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet security grouping that also includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan. They are also in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a regional security body in Central Asia that includes China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan." (Novosti 5 0ctober 2006)

Meanwhile, in late September, Russia also conducted military exercises in Dagestan, involving the 136th Brigade. The exercise held at the Buynakskiy training ground involved an unnamed "foreign State" which was attacking Russia. According to one Russian press report: "Given the scale [of the simulated enemy attack], this can be compared with WWII. The [unnamed] enemy is artful, well armed and well trained."

Also in early October, Belarus and Russia announced that they will be hold training sessions for the two countries' command and control bodies, with a view to coordinating their military activities. (Belarus TV, October 1, 2006)

Consistent Pattern

The overall significance of these military drills must be assessed in relation to the sequence of Russian, Chinese and Iran war exercises conducted since late August.

There is a consistent pattern. These war games are not isolated events. They are part of a carefully coordinated endeavor, in response to the US-NATO military build-up. They should also be considered as acts of deterrence, intended to display military capabilities to deter military action by US led coaltion.

The issue of war preparation has been carefully avoided by the Western media. The sequence and interrelationship between these war games is not mentioned.

While the war exercises are casually acknowledged in separate wire service reports, the Western media fails to address the broader implications of these military exercises.

Military Alliances

The SCO and CSTO war games must also be examined in relation to the structure of military alliances. Both China and Russia are allies of Iran, involved in extensive military cooperation agreements.

China and Russia are major actors in Central Asian oil. They have significant strategic and economic interests in the Central Asian region and the Caspian sea basin. They also have economic cooperation agreements with Iran's State oil company.

US Sponsored Military Build-Up

The Cold War although officially over has not quite reached its climax.

The US military agenda is not limited to gaining control over Iran's oil and gas reserves, (using the "campaign against international terrorism" as a pretext). Reminiscent of the Cold war era, the objective of US military intervention also consists in weakening and ultimately displacing China and Russia from playing a significant role in Central Asia.

Most Western press reports have failed to acknowledge the seriousness of the US-NATO- Israeli military build-up. Underlying what is normally understood as a Middle East war, the conflict could evolve towards a clash between former competing super powers of the Cold War era.

Directed against Iran and Syria, the US sponsored military operation, if it were to be launched, could result in a broader conflict marked by the indirect involvement of Russia and China and their central Asian allies. In fact that indirect involvement is already established through Iran's observer status to the SCO, various bilateral military cooperation agreements as well as the sale of Chinese and Russian weapons systems to Iran.

The US is involved in covert operations throughout Central Asia with a view to essentially displacing Russia. The tensions in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia are the direct result of US geopolitical encroachments within what used to be within Moscow's traditional sphere of influence. Georgia and Azerbaijan have become de facto US protectorates.

In the recent showdown between Russia and Georgia, Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili "pledged to continue Georgia's efforts to join NATO as well as secure the speedy withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgian territory.

Moscow responded by putting Russian forces inside Georgia on high alert, following the accusation by Tbilisi that Russian military officers inside Georgia were involved in spying. The withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia opens the way for the stationing of NATO forces, which are already present in neighbouring Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, in relation to the issue of NATO enlargement, Moscow warned the Atlantic Alliance in early October that it would take "appropriate measures" if Poland were to deploy "elements of the missile defense systems of the United States or NATO on its territory", (Interfax News Agency, 4 Oct 2006)

"We continue to treat these plans critically. Our opinion is that [these plans] along with the possible deployment of NATO's European missile defense system can produce a negative effect on strategic stability, security in the region and relations between the states," Kamynin said. "A new situation like this one will objectively require us to take appropriate measures because we cannot rely in such matters solely on statements that the missile defense systems of the U.S. and NATO in Europe 'are not aimed' against Russia," the official added."(Ibid)

Known and documented, China is also supporting Iran in the development of its air defense system. Moreover, according to a report in the Daily Telegraph (5 October 2006), Washington has acknowledged that China has been involved in

"secretly fired powerful laser weapons designed to disable American spy satellites by "blinding" their sensitive surveillance devices, it was reported yesterday.

The hitherto unreported attacks have been kept secret by the Bush administration for fear that it would damage attempts to co-opt China in diplomatic offensives against North Korea and Iran.

Sources told the military affairs publication Defense News that there had been a fierce internal battle within Washington over whether to make the attacks public. In the end, the Pentagon's annual assessment of the growing Chinese military build-up barely mentioned the threat. (Daily Telegraph, 5 October 2006)

"Cold War Shivers"

In addition to the various CSTO and SCO war games carried out in Central Asia in the course of the last two months, Russia's air force also conducted a major military exercise in late September, which extended over a large part of its territory, from the Volga to the Alaskan border, extending from the Volga military District to the Far East Military District (see map below). The war drill involved the dropping of bombs as well as missile launches against an unnamed "notional enemy":

Long before dawn, more than ten Tu-160 and Tu-95 cruise missile carriers of the long-range aviation regiment based in [the town of] Engels set course for Russia's northern borders. The aircraft were on the mission to reach the Arctic Ocean and launch several practice cruise missiles at the Khalmer-Yu range near Vorkuta. This was the last training sortie from a military airfield near Saratov. Bombs were dropped and missiles fired throughout almost the entire Northern hemisphere.


[Correspondent] One of the most important and most difficult phases of the exercise involved bomb dropping at the Guryanovo training range in Saratov Region. Eight Tu-22 strategic bombers were tasked with destroying an airfield of the notional enemy. Even from the command centre 10 km away, the explosions made by 250-kg bombs appeared to be enormous. (Transcript of Russian TV Report, Channel One TV, Moscow, Russian 0600 GMT 30 September 2006)

In a scenario reminiscent of the Cold War era, US and Canadian fighter aircraft intercepted Russian Tu-160 planes off the Alaska coastline:

U.S. and Canadian fighter aircraft intercepted Russian planes off the Alaska coast, but it was not considered a hostile incident, the North American Aerospace Defense Command said on Friday.

NORAD said the aircraft never violated U.S. or Canadian airspace... But fighters were launched because the Russians had entered a zone around North America in which NORAD considers uninvited aircraft to be potential threatening.

The Tu-95 Bear heavy bombers had been participating in an annual Russian air force exercise near the coast of Alaska and Canada, NORAD said. It did not specify how many Russian planes were involved. (Reuters, 2 October 2006)

Both Russian and Western press reports dismissed these major air exercises as routine, without examining the broader framework and sequence of Russian sponsored war games

A NORAD spokesperson stated that while they did not consider the Russian war games as "hostile", they, nonetheless wanted the Russians to know that "NORAD is alive and well":

"This wasn't treated as a hostile. It was just being vigilant and letting them know that NORAD is alive and well," said Canadian Air Force Capt. Jennifer Faubert, a spokeswoman for NORAD's Canadian Region. (Reuters, 2 October 2006)

Beyond the scope of a Middle East war, the broader US military agenda, which includes the strategic defense initiative, threatens global security. The various war games conducted by Iran, Russia and China are not only intended to prepare for war, they are also a demonstration of military capabilities to a potential aggressor. They are also intended to act as a deterrent.

Reversing the Tide of War

The World is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. The US has embarked on a military adventure, "a long war", which threatens the future of humanity.

This article has attempted to document the various preparations for war.

While there a number of factors which may prevent this war from occurring, including divisions within the US adminstration and military, behind the scenes negotiations with China, Russia, Iran, etc., the risk of an extended Middle East -Central Asian war must be forcefully addressed.

The devastation and loss of life which could result from this proposed military agenda would be incalculable, particularly if the conflict escalates to the broader region.

The possible use of tactical nuclear weapons by the US, ironically in retalation for Iran's non-compliance to suspend uranium enrichment (in its civilian nuclear energy program) raises the specter of a a nuclear nightmare.

The economic disruptions resulting from a broader Middle East war would not be limited to spiraling oil prices, following a blockade of the Straits of Hormuz.

The energy crisis would immediately backlash on freight prices and costs of production in virtually all sectors of economic activity. It would also contribute to disrupting financial markets Worldwide.

Moreover, if China were to become involved in the conflict, the large scale commodity trade in manufactured products out of China, which supplies Western markets with vast array of consumer goods, would be disrupted.

The issue is not whether the war will or will not take place but what are the instruments at our disposal which will enable us to shunt and ultimately disarm this global military agenda.

In the weeks and months ahead, it is essential that citizens' movements around the world act consistently to confront their respective governments and reverse and dismantle this military agenda.

Dismantling the network of war propaganda is essential. This war can not conducted without the support of the corporate media, which ultimately upholds the US led war against Iran.

What is needed is to break the conspiracy of silence, expose the media lies and distortions, confront the criminal nature of the US Administration and of those governments which support it, its war agenda as well as its so-called "Homeland Security agenda" which has already defined the contours of a police State.

It is essential to bring the US war project to the forefront of political debate, particularly in North America and Western Europe. Political and military leaders who are opposed to the war must take a firm stance, from within their respective institutions. Citizens must take a stance individually and collectively against war.

War criminals occupy positions of authority. The citizenry is galvanized into supporting the rulers, who are "committed to their safety and well-being". Through media disinformation, war is given a humanitarian mandate.

The legitimacy of the war must be addressed. Antiwar sentiment alone does not disarm a military agenda. High ranking officials of the Bush administration, members of the military and the US Congress have been granted the authority to uphold an illegal war.

The corporate backers and sponsors of war and war crimes must also be targeted including the oil companies, the defense contractors, the financial institutions and the corporate media, which has become an integral part of the war propaganda machine.

1. The role of media disinformation in sustaining the military agenda is crucial.

We will not succeed in our endeavors unless the propaganda apparatus is weakened and eventually dismantled. It is essential to inform our fellow citizens on the causes and consequences of the US-led war, not to mention the extensive war crimes and atrocities which are routinely obfuscated by the media. This is no easy task. It requires an effective counter-propaganda program which refutes mainstream media assertions.

It is essential that the relevant information and analysis reaches the broader public. The Western media is controlled by a handful of powerful business syndicates. The media conglomerates which control network TV and the printed press must be challenged through cohesive actions which reveal the lies and falsehoods.

2. There is opposition within the political establishment in the US as well as within the ranks of the Armed Forces.

While this opposition does not necessarily question to overall direction of US foreign policy, it is firmly opposed to military adventurism, including the use of nuclear weapons. These voices within the institutions of the State, the Military and the business establishment are important because they can be usefully channeled to discredit and ultimately dismantle the "war on terrorism" consensus. The broadest possible alliance of political and social forces is, therefore, required to prevent a military adventure which in a very real sense threatens the future of humanity.

3. The structure of military alliances must be addressed. A timely shift in military alliances could potentially reverse the course of history.

Whereas France and Germany are broadly supportive of the US led war, there are strong voices in both countries as well as within the European Union, which firmly oppose the US led military agenda, both at the grassroots level as well within the political system itself.

It is essential that the commitments made by European heads of government and heads of State to Washington be cancelled or nullified, through pressure exerted at the appropriate political levels. This applies, in particular, to the unbending support of the Bush administration, expressed by President Jacques Chirac and Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The weakening of the system of alliances which commits Western Europe to supporting the Anglo-American military axis, could indeed contribute to reversing the tide. Washington would hesitate to wage a war on Iran without the support of France and Germany.

4. The holding of large antiwar rallies is important and essential. But in will not in itself reverse the tide of war unless it is accompanied by the development of a cohesive antiwar network.

What is required is a grass roots antiwar network, a mass movement at national and international levels, which challenges the legitimacy of the main military and political actors,
as well as their corporate sponsors, and which would ultimately be instrumental in unseating those who rule in our name. The construction of this type of network will take time to develop. Initially, it should focus on developing an antiwar stance within existing citizens' organizations (e.g. trade unions, community organizations, professional regroupings, student federations, municipal councils, etc.).

5. 9/11 plays a crucial and central role in the propaganda campaign.

The threat of an Al Qaeda "Attack on America" is being used profusely by the Bush administration and its indefectible British ally to galvanize public opinion in support of a global military agenda.

Known and documented, the "Islamic terror network" is a creation of the US intelligence apparatus. Several of the terror alerts were based on fake intelligence as revealed in the recent foiled "liquid bomb attack". There is evidence that the several of the terrorist "mass casualty events" which have resulted in civilian casualties were triggered by the military and/or intelligence services. (e.g Bali 2002).

The "war on terrorism" is bogus. The 911 narrative as conveyed by the 911 Commission report is fabricated. The Bush administration is involved in acts of cover-up and complicity at the highest levels of government.

Revealing the lies behind 911 would serve to undermine the legitimacy of the "war on terrorism" which constitutes the main justification for waging war in the Middle East.

Without 911, the war criminals in high office do not have a leg to stand on. The entire national security construct collapses like a deck of cards.



19 August 2006-- Iran: Zarbat-e Zolfaqar military exercises, in major regions of the country. These war games were slated to continue until late September.

24- 29 August: Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Uzbekistan (observer status) under the Collective Security Treaty Organization, (CSTO) The Rubezh-2006 exercise at the Kazak port city of Aktau .

24 August: China and Kazakhstan held under SCO auspices. Held simultaneously and in liaison with the CSTO war exercise in Kazakhstan.

22- 24 September: China and Tajikistan: first joint military exercise, code-named "Cooperation-2006".

27 September: Iran. Amphibious war game named Payambar-e A'zam [Great Prophet] staged in Esfahan. A number of battalions belonging to Brigade 1 of Imam Husayn Division 14 staged the Payambar-e A'zam war game in the Zayandeh River.

30 September: Russian Long Range Air War Games out of the Saratov Air Base, extending to the Far East, the Artic and the Russia-Alaska border. These war games prompted the scrambling of NORAD fighter planes.

30 September: Russia, Dagestan war games involving the 136th brigade, held at the Buynakskiy training ground

2 October Kyrgyz war games, Russian and Kyrgyz Special Forces.

4 October Russian Navy Exercises in the Black Sea near Georgia's coastline, in response to recent events in Georgia and following an economic embargo on Georgia imposed by Russia.

Sources: Press reports and wire services.

Michel Chossudovsky


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