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Iran Gas Tanker Expected Sunday at Venezuela; VIPS Writes to Trump To ‘Avoid Hostilities’

May 23, 2020 (EIRNS)—On Sunday, the first of five Iranian tankers heading towards Venezuela loaded with gasoline will arrive in that country’s waters, according to most news media. There are grounds for concern over what the U.S. reaction will be, given that the Pompeo/British war-hawk crowd is under full sail. Pentagon spokesman Jonathan Hoffman told reporters at the Pentagon on May 21 that he was not aware of any operations related to the Iranian cargoes. “We have continued to say that Iran and Venezuela—both two outliers in the international order—[are] clearly violating international sanctions on both nations with this transaction,” he said.

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) has sent a memo to President Donald Trump, titled “To the President—Avoid Hostilities over Iranian Fuel Shipment to Venezuela.” Posted by Consortium News yesterday, the memo warns that “Recent U.S. rhetoric and actions against Venezuela—most immediately regarding Iran’s shipping of gasoline desperately needed during the pandemic—put the U.S. at risk of an outbreak of dangerous and almost certainly counterproductive hostilities, not only in the Caribbean, but also in waters closer to Iran.” They state that, should the U.S. military be deployed to stop the transit of the tankers into Venezuelan waters, Iran may retaliate elsewhere than in the Caribbean. “We believe there is a good chance Iran will pick the Gulf as the place to retaliate for any quarantine or more warlike actions off Venezuela,” the VIPS memo states, because the U.S. has much less of a tactical advantage in the Persian Gulf than in the Caribbean.

The signers of the memo stress that their purpose is not to defend Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro, who, they believe, is guilty of serious mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy. “Rather, we wish to ensure that you are aware of the possible pitfalls of the general threatening to use maximum pressure and all means necessary to effect regime change in Venezuela,” they write. “In our view, any U.S. attempt to interdict access of the Iranian ships to Venezuela will be widely seen as an act of war. It could conceivably lead to unprecedented retaliation in places as far away as the Persian Gulf events that the U.S. will not be able to fully control.”

The memorandum is signed by 13 retired intelligence professionals, among them: Philip Giraldi, CIA, Operations Officer; former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel; John Kiriakou, former CIA Counterterrorism Officer; Elizabeth Murray, former Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East and CIA political analyst; and retired Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff for Secretary of State Colin Powell.

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