WASHINGTON DC (Kurdistan 24) - US bombers have arrived in Qatar, CENTCOM announced on Friday, as it released pictures of the planes, as well as US naval forces headed toward Iran.
CENTCOM revealed that two B-52 H Stratofortress bombers landed Thursday night at Al-Udeid Air Force base in Qatar. Others arrived Wednesday in “southwest Asia,” the Air Force said. The US has previously described both Al-Udeid and Al Dhafra Air Base in the UAE as “southwest Asia” locations.
The US Navy similarly released photos of the USS Abraham Carrier Strike Group transiting the Suez Canal on Thursday.
On Sunday evening, the White House announced the dispatch of an aircraft carrier strike group and a bomber task force to the Middle East in response to threatening moves from Iran. It provided no details, but US media has reported that last Friday, the US acquired alarming intelligence that Iran had directed its proxies to attack US forces in Iraq or Syria, prompting the unusual White House announcement on a Sunday evening.
In addition, on Friday, the Pentagon announced it was sending more forces to the region, including an amphibious assault ship and a Patriot missile battery.
The assault ship, the USS Arlington, “transports US Marines, amphibious vehicles, conventional landing aircraft and rotary aircraft,” the Pentagon statement explained. It has “the capability to support amphibious assault, special operations, or expeditionary warfare missions.”
“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” the Pentagon affirmed, “but we are postured and ready to defend US forces and interests in the region.”
Tehran has dismissed the Trump administration’s claim that it was preparing an attack on US targets. Amb. Majid Takht Ravanchi, Iran’s UN representative, denounced it as “fake intelligence.”
"These are all allegations which are being produced by the same people who, in the run-up to the US invasion of Iraq, did the same,” Ravanchi told NBC News on Thursday.
Paul Davis, a former Pentagon analyst and now a Senior Fellow at Soran University, suggested to Kurdistan 24 that such remarks underscored the Bush administration’s foolishness in conduction Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), the 2003-2011 war in Iraq, without explaining why that war was necessary.
“The war was justified,” Davis said, “on national security grounds, but [President George W.] Bush and his senior advisers failed to make the effort to explain that, and it has done us serious and lasting harm.”
Indeed, in his 2010 memoirs, Karl Rove, Bush’s top political adviser, acknowledged that it had been a mistake. Rove had thought the “news cycle” would take care of the criticism of the war, he explained.
Read More: Operation Iraqi Freedom: 15 Years On
Iranian officials have also dismissed the significance of the US deployments. On Tuesday, a spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, Keyvan Khosravi, was quoted in the Iranian press, saying that the White House announcement two days before was just “psychological warfare.” A military adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehgan, likewise, asserted that the US was “neither willing nor capable” of attacking Iran.
Similarly, on Friday, before the additional deployments were announced, a senior official in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Brig. Gen. Yadollah Javani, affirmed, “Americans will not dare to take military action against us.”
Americans used to understand terrorism to be largely state-sponsored—a form of proxy war. However, that got lost in the 1990s, under Bill Clinton, who treated terrorism as a law enforcement issue.
The Trump administration is, thus, the first US administration in many years to take seriously the challenge of state-sponsored terrorism, particularly Iranian-backed terrorism.
The administration has released figures from OIF revealing that Iran, through the militias it supported in Iraq, was responsible for the deaths of 603 US soldiers, roughly one in every six US combat fatalities.
That not only underscores Tehran’s hostility, but raises the possibility that the Iranian leadership may have gained the impression from previous administrations that it could attack US forces with relative impunity—particularly if it did not carry out the attack directly, but did so indirectly, through proxy forces.