NYT: Pentagon Readies Plan to Deploy 120,000 Troops as U.S.-Iran Tensions Mount

H1 pentagon troops iran middle east

As tensions continue to mount between the United States and Iran, the New York Times reports the Pentagon has drawn up a plan to send as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East if President Trump decides to take military action against Iran.

The U.S. recently deployed a carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the region claiming there was a “credible threat by Iranian regime forces.”

Meanwhile the European Union is urging the Trump administration to show “maximum restraint” following a meeting Monday between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and EU diplomats in Brussels. Iran has announced it will stop complying with parts of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal if others signatories of the deal do not take action to shield Iran’s oil and banking sectors from U.S. sanctions.

We’ll have more on Iran after headlines.

Pompeo to Discuss Iranian “Threats” in Europe as U.S. Ramps Up Military Presence

H2 pompeo on iran threats

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has canceled a visit to Moscow today and is instead heading to Brussels to meet with European leaders to discuss “recent threatening actions and statements” from Iran, according to the State Department. The nature of the threats has not been specified but the U.S. announced it is sending additional bombers and an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf to act as a “deterrent.” The European Union reiterated today its continued support for the Iran Nuclear Deal in the face of mounting tensions with the U.S.

Meanwhile, Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani is calling for internal unity as the nation faces sanctions that could have worse consequences than war with Iraq in the 1980s and that he said amount to “a war unprecedented in the history of our Islamic revolution.”

Trump Administration Says It May Go to War to Oust Venezuelan President

MAY 02, 2019
H2 pompeo military action us venezuelaFox Business Network

In Venezuela, government security forces clashed with anti-government protesters in the streets of Caracas Wednesday, one day after Venezuelan opposition leaders launched a failed bid to overthrow the government of President Nicolás Maduro. Speaking to a massive crowd of supporters outside the presidential palace of Miraflores, Maduro said Wednesday that President Trump—and his national security adviser John Bolton—were directly involved in the attempted coup d’état.

President Nicolás Maduro: “The coup that was attempted yesterday, this coup skirmish, was personally directed from the White House, from John Bolton. I denounce it.”

In Washington, the National Security Council held a principals’ meeting on Wednesday to discuss Venezuela. The Washington Post reports the staff of national security adviser John Bolton clashed with a top general during the meeting for not presenting sufficient military options on Venezuela. Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Fox Business channel the Trump administration is ready to go to war in Venezuela.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo: “The president has been crystal clear and incredibly consistent. Military action is possible. If that’s what’s required, that’s what the United States will do.”

After headlines, we’ll go to Caracas, Venezuela, for the latest.

US Attack on Venezuela Resistance – Jacqui Voltaire

Hi All, I have shared some of this with you, but the great work being done at the Venezuelan Embassy is amazing and I want you to have all of this to see, hear and share! I so wish I could go down there this week, but my body is still healing from my fall and I have no energy. But I will be fallowing and getting info out as much as I can. Please also share with any organizations you might be involved with to get them involved. We may be helpless in our corrupt electoral system to vote out the corproate 2 Party System that keeps these things going on, but we can do what Medea and others are doing here and those who can can answer the call to go join them this week.
Love,jacqui

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin was live — with Margaret Flowers.

Answer Coalition

Eyewitness Venezuela Livestream Webinar with Ajamu Baraka, Medea Benjamin, Max Blumenthal, Claudia De La Cruz, G…
You are likely aware of the attempted US-led coup in Venezuela that has failed. However, the US is ignoring that and turning over assets to the opposition. We, the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz), are staying in the Venezuelan embassy in Washington, DC to protect it from takeover by the opposition. We need your help.

The Venezuelan Embassy Protection Collective is approaching a crucial week. On or after April 25, we expect the illegitimate opposition to try take the embassy with the help of the Trump administration. We need a strong show of support to stop them. 

As a step toward showing that support, we will be publishing the Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz). A copy is below. We are seeking individuals and organizations to sign on to the Declaration. You or your organization can sign on here: http://bit.ly/EPCDeclaration.  

We will have important events coming up in the next few days. Saturday will be an ANSWER webinar on Venezuela at 3 pm followed by an art build at 5 pm. The evening art build will be accompanied by music. There will be events every night that will be live streamed. For details of events at the embassy see Acton: 24/7 Protection Of DC Venezuelan Embassy or visit our Facebook page.

The crucial days for people to be at the embassy and spend the night will be April 24-25. This is when the opposition has openly said they will seek to take the embassy.

Please join us and show solidarity with Venezuela. Share this email widely and urge people and organizations to sign on to the Declaration: http://bit.ly/EPCDeclaration.
Declaration of the Embassy Protection Collective (Colectivos Por La Paz)
We have joined together as the Embassy Protection Collective to show solidarity with the people of Venezuela and their right to determine their elected government. We are staying in the Venezuelan embassy with the permission of the legitimate Venezuelan government under President Nicolas Maduro. We seek to provide a nonviolent barrier to the threatened opposition takeover of their embassy in Washington, DC by being a presence at the embassy every day of the week for 24 hours a day.
The Collective is working from the embassy, located in the heart of Georgetown in Washington, DC during the day and holding seminars and cultural events in the evenings, as well as sleeping in the embassy. Events include forums on Venezuela, its government, economy and the ongoing attempted coup. We are also holding seminars on US foreign policy toward Africa, Honduras and Iran, the prosecution of Julian Assange and other issues.
There is great cause for us to be concerned about a hostile takeover of the DC Embassy. On March 18, 2019, the Venezuelan opposition took over the military attaché building on 2409 California St in Washington DC, with the help of the DC Police and Secret Service. On that same day, the opposition also took over the Venezuelan Consulate in New York City. They have publicly threatened to take over the embassy itself.
International Law Protects Foreign Embassies Located In The United States
According to Article 22 of the 1961 Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic Relations, foreign embassies should be protected by the United States government and their space should not be violated by the US government. Specifically, international law requires:
  1. The premises of the mission shall be inviolable. The agents of the receiving State may not enter them, except with the consent of the head of the mission.
  2. The receiving State is under a special duty to take all appropriate steps to protect the premises of the mission against any intrusion or damage and to prevent any disturbance of the peace of the mission or impairment of its dignity.
  3. The premises of the mission, their furnishings and other property thereon and the means of transport of the mission shall be immune from search, requisition, attachment or execution.
The Trump Administration is violating the Vienna Convention by not only allowing the illegal seizure of diplomatic premises but by facilitating it. The Election Protection Collective is supporting the people of Venezuela by taking responsibility to ensure that Article 22 of the Vienna Convention is followed.
The Elected Government of President Maduro Remains In Power
The government of President Nicolás Maduro was re-elected on May 20, 2018 in response to the opposition demanding an early election. The election was held consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution, in consultation with opposition parties and as determined by the National Electoral Council, an independent branch of the Venezuelan government.
Sixteen parties participated in the election with six candidates competing for the presidency. President Maduro won by a wide margin, obtaining 6,248,864 votes, 67.84%; followed by Henri Falcón with 1,927,958, 20.93%; Javier Bertucci with 1,015,895, 10.82%; and Reinaldo Quijada, who obtained 36,246 votes, 0.39% of the total. A total of 9,389,056 people voted, 46% of eligible voters.
The electoral process was observed by more than 150 election observers. This included 14 electoral commissions from eight countries among them the Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America; two technical electoral missions; and 18 journalists from different parts of the world, among others. According to the international observers, “the elections were very transparent and complied with international parameters and national legislation.”
In a letter to the European Union correcting some of the false statements made about the election, election observers wrote: “We were unanimous in concluding that the elections were conducted fairly, that the election conditions were not biased, that genuine irregularities were exceptionally few and of a very minor nature.”
Voting machines were audited before and immediately after the election. Venezuela does something no other country in the world does, a public Citizen’s Audit of a random sample of 52 to 54% of voting machines. The Citizen’s Audit is observed by the media, the public, and all opposition parties, who sign the audits.
The Invalid Self-Appointment of Juan Guaidó Violated Venezuelan Law
Juan Guaidó’s self-appointment as interim president violated the Constitution of Venezuela. The language of the Venezuelan Constitution is clear regarding when the president of the National Assembly can become president and none of the conditions in the Constitution have been met.
The opposition relies on Article 233 of the Constitution, which allows the National Assembly president to serve as interim president only if the president-elect has not yet been inaugurated. Guaidó’s self-appointment occurred after President Maduro had been inaugurated.
Article 233 allows the president of the National Assembly to become president only if the president-elect:
“become[s] permanently unavailable to serve by reason of any of the following events: death; resignation; removal from office by decision of the Supreme Tribunal of Justice [equivalent of impeachment]; permanent physical or mental disability certified by a medical board designated by the Supreme Tribunal of Justice with the approval of the National Assembly; abandonment of his position, duly declared by the National Assembly; and recall by popular vote.”

None of these conditions were met.
If Guaidó had met the above conditions, Article 233 allows him to serve for only 30 consecutive days pending election and inauguration of the new President. Guaidó’s self-appointment and fraudulent inauguration occurred more than 30 days ago and no election has been scheduled.
In a press briefing, Elliot Abrams, the US Special Representative for Venezuela, could not explain these violations of law by Guaidó and admitted that Guaidó is not “able to exercise the powers of the office because Maduro still is there.” Even Abrams admits that Guaidó is not the president. Therefore, he has no authority over the Venezuelan embassy.
The Role of the Embassy Protection Collective
The Embassy Protection Collective is in the embassy with the permission of the Venezuelan government. We are upholding international law and the Venezuelan Constitution and opposing a coup attempt against the legitimate government of Venezuela on behalf of the people of Venezuela who elected their government.
The Embassy Protection Collective is made up of civilians, United States citizens, who are peacefully defending the embassy. If the opposition enters, they will be trespassing. We call on the DC police, Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security and any other law enforcement agency to uphold the law and prevent the opposition from trespassing.
The Collective feels a responsibility to hold our government to a standard of respecting the rule of law as well as a responsibility to stand in solidarity with the people of Venezuela.

Report: U.S.-Based Plane Caught Bringing Arms into Venezuela

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McClatchy is reporting Venezuelan authorities have uncovered 19 assault weapons, 118 ammunition cartridges and 90 military-grade radio antennas on board a U.S.-owned plane that had flown from Miami into Valencia, Venezuela’s third-largest city. The Boeing 767 is owned by a company called 21 Air based in Greensboro, North Carolina. The plane has made nearly 40 round-trip flights between Miami and spots in Venezuela and Colombia since January 11, the day after Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro was sworn in to a second term.

Bolivarian National Guard General Endes Palencia Ortiz said, “This materiel was destined for criminal groups and terrorist actions in the country, financed by the fascist extreme right and the government of the United States.”

This comes as the United States is openly pushing for the toppling of Maduro’s government.

US military sparks outrage by tweeting about dropping bombs

STRATCOM apologises for ‘bad taste’ joke after tweeting it’s ready to drop something ‘much bigger’ than NY crystal ball.The clip showed a B-2 bomber dropping bombs, followed by explosions on the ground [File: Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press]
The clip showed a B-2 bomber dropping bombs, followed by explosions on the ground [File: Ahn Young-joon/The Associated Press]

The US military force that oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal has sparked outrage when it tweeted it was ready to drop something “much, much bigger” than the traditional New Year’s Eve crystal ball in New York and showing a video of an aircraft releasing bombs.

“#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball … if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger,” US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said in a later-deleted message on Twitter, hours before the midnight descent of the illuminated ball in Times Square marking the arrival of the new year.

The post encouraged viewers to watch the video to the end, including footage of bombs and missiles being dropped from a B-2 bomber followed by explosions on the ground.

The tweet prompted criticism by many social media users.

View image on Twitter

Derek Johnson

@derekjGZ

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you @US_Stratcom, the stoic guardians of several thousand nuclear missiles who definitely don’t think raining death and destruction from above is some kind of joke.

ohprogressive@ohprogressive

Unacceptable. war mongers threatening the rest of humanity.

Bryant Watson@bryantwatson

It clearly reflects your values.

War isn’t something to take lightly, in respect to the many vets and civilians murdered because those in command felt something was much bigger than their lives.

Amid the outcry that followed, STRATCOM – whose slogan is “peace is our profession” – then deleted the post and tweeted an apology.

US Strategic Command

@US_Stratcom

Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologize. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies.

“Our previous NYE tweet was in poor taste & does not reflect our values. We apologise. We are dedicated to the security of America & allies,” it said.

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[The United States remains the only country to ever use nuclear weapons against another nation.  Should other nations be afraid?]

 

SOURCE: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES