British commander in Iraq contradicts US assessment of increased Iranian threat

Christopher GhikaThe most senior British military officer in the war against the Islamic State contradicted American assessments of a heightened threat from Iran, prompting an unusually strong rebuke from Washington. Last week, the White House ordered the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier strike group to sail to Middle Eastern waters, following intelligence showing that “Iran or its proxies were planning attacks against US forces in Iraq, Syria and at sea”.

On Tuesday, however, this view appeared to be challenged by Major General Christopher Ghika, Britain’s most senior military official in the Middle East, who is deputy commander of Operation Inherent Resolve (OIR). The OIR umbrella brings together all pro-Western forces that are fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. General Ghika spoke to American reporters at the US Department of Defense via a live video-link from Baghdad, where he is currently stationed as OIR deputy commander. In responding to questions by reporters about alleged threats to Western forces from Iran or its proxies, General Ghika said that the OIR forces were “aware of that presence [or Iranian-led Shia militia groups in Iraq and Syria], clearly. And we monitor them along with a whole range of others because that’s the environment we are in”. However, added the general, “no, there has been no increased threat from Iranian-backed forces in Iraq and Syria”.

British newspaper The Guardian, which published General Ghika’s comments on Tuesday, noted that his statements appeared to directly contradict Washington’s claims of a heightened Iranian threat in the region. But in a statement released on Tuesday night local time, the US Central Command CENTCOM, whose responsibilities include the Middle East and Central Asia theaters, rejected General Ghika’s comments. “Recent comments from OIR’s Deputy Commander run counter to the identified credible threats available to intelligence from U.S. and allies regarding Iranian backed forces in the region”, said the statement. The Guardian described CENTCOM’s statement as “particularly striking” and “an extraordinary rebuke of an allied senior [military] officer”. The British Ministry of Defense had not responded to CENTCOM’s statement by Wednesday morning.

Author: Joseph Fitsanakis | Date: 15 May 2019 | Permalink

4 Responses to British commander in Iraq contradicts US assessment of increased Iranian threat

  1. Berlin Station 2 says:

    How typical – when it does not serve the American interests they are “alarmed”…The American way of thinking and behaving is WE KNOW ALL WE TAKE CONTROL YOU ARE NOTHING

  2. Pete says:

    Perhaps the Trump Administration is conjuring up an Iranian threat to rally voters around the Commander-in-Chief prior to the November 2020 Election?

    Also “preemptive” US airstrikes against Iran are sure to make violent Iranian regional reactions electorally useful.

  3. smoshter says:

    Qui bono?

  4. Pete says:

    Hi smoshter

    Re “Qui bono?” – who gains? Other entities that gain are the US military and defense industries.

    With the drop in US troop numbers in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan a new threat must be found to justify the US’s large military budget. The alleged Iran threat fits the bill.

    US defense industries in Federal Districts also cannot be allowed to slide in production and lay-off workers. Iran’s relatively high tech anti-aircraft defences form an appropriate proving ground to test and justify Lockheed Martin built F-35s. This is once the airstrikes against Iran commence, maybe soon, maybe in 2020 before November.

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