For the first interview of 2020, Rania Khalek and Kevin Gosztola are joined by Mohammad Marandi, a Tehran University professor in Iran.
We start the interview with Mohammad sharing his thoughts about the Iranian response to the U.S. assassination of Iran General Qassim Soleimani.
Mohammad describes why Soleimani was and is so revered by Iranians. He talks about the critical role Soleimani played in ensuring the Islamic State did not seize control of Baghdad, Iraq, as well as Damascus, Syria.
Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, a commander of the Popular Mobilization Forces in Iraq, was assassinated in the same strike that killed Soleimani. His assassination received minimal attention in the press. Mohammad talks about Muhandis and what he did for the people of Iraq.
Later in the show, Mohammad recalls volunteering at the age of 16 to fight in the Iran-Iraq War. He also discusses the impact of economic sanctions, as well as how the “Resistance Axis” in the Middle East appears to grow stronger with each act of war launched by President Donald Trump’s administration.
To listen to the interview, click on the above player or go here.
Below is a full transcript of the interview with Mohammad Marandi with a few very minor edits.
MOHAMMAD MARANDI: What is clear to me in either case is the Americans are trying to cover what happened in Iraq perhaps to a degree by making this the number one news. First of all, it’s psychological warfare against Iran that’s being carried out. They’re trying to create a sense of fear that Iran is unsafe. But also I think the Iranian strikes on the American base[s] were very significant, even though they played it down in that every single Iranian missile passed through the U.S. air defense successfully. The Americans failed to down a single missile, and this was when they were prepared for some sort of Iranian strike so they were on alert.
Then from satellite photos we know that all the missiles struck their targets. None of them fell into fields. They all [hit] either hangars or buildings. They hit something and that was clear that was what they were supposed to hit. So the Iranians basically sent a message to the Americans that we can destroy your helicopters and your drones and your high-tech weapons with ease. You can’t stop us, and therefore all your military bases in the whole region are vulnerable. And also those countries who provide the United States with these bases, like the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia—the Iranians have told them if there is an escalation, you will be seen as adversaries because you’re helping the Americans.
If the Iranians with these capabilities, and Iran has many thousands of missiles and huge numbers of drones, if Iran goes after Emirati and Saudi targets, I think the Emirates would not last more than a couple of days. And Saudi Arabia would be completely devastated very quickly because it is completely dependent on oil, and all their key assets are right alongside the Persian Gulf, almost all their key assets. So I think that these countries felt very vulnerable. They felt that the Americans couldn’t protect them because the Americans couldn’t protect themselves.
And the Americans know that they can’t be protected because these missiles went through the defenses and hit their targets inside the American base when they were prepared for the attack. I think that’s the real story in all this. The U.S. military, despite all these expenditures, is incapable of bringing down incoming missiles, and these are not even Iran’s more advanced missiles.
RANIA KHALEK: I think that everything you just described—Iran played this all very wisely and was so restrained. But despite being restrained, it was really like a chess game. I hate using cliches like that, but it really was. The U.S. was like cornered. It was like you can’t play anything else. There is the fact that Trump is kind of crazy and kind of unpredictable, but the fact that the UAE and Saudi Arabia were like we have to de-escalate this just demonstrates how capable Iran is to fight a war.
When is the last time a country with a conventional military responded to American aggression and responded in a way that made it impossible for the U.S. to continue escalating?
MARANDI: That’s right, but that’s not something you’ll hear in the American media because it’s not in their interest.
KHALEK: It was really interesting to watch. The U.S. media really tried to spin it as Iran is too weak to hit back by killing Americans. They kept emphasizing Iran went out of their way not to kill Americans because they know that if they do they’ll be hit back harder. It’s like you’re totally missing the point.
MARANDI: Killing four or five American soldiers or 10 or 20 American soldiers is strategically speaking, humanitarian issues aside, is much less important than the fact that they destroyed what was in those buildings and what was in those hangars and the damage that they caused. But also what I think the Iranians did is like the nuclear deal, when Trump left the deal, Iranians remained in the deal in order to put the United States in a bad position. So the international community sees Trump as the person who is causing the trouble.
In the case of this crisis, again, the Iranians did the same thing. The American military carried out an act of war against Iran and Iraq because they murdered a senior Iranian war hero as well as a senior Iraqi war hero at the Baghdad International Airport. Both are the key people responsible for defeating ISIS, and then in response, Iran destroyed American weaponry but didn’t kill American soldiers. So sort of like the nuclear deal, the Iranians showed the international community that Trump is immoral. He’s killing people. He’s creating a crisis, but the Iranians are much more measured in their counter-response.
Of course, this is something that doesn’t make sense in the United States or much of Europe because Iranians are crazy. They’re mullahs. They’re evil. They’re monsters. They’re corrupt. They want to rule the world. They want to kill everyone. They hate Jews. They hate Christians. They hate every—All that sort of nonsense we often hear. So when I say this to many, not everyone, to many Americans, they look at me as if I’m from Mars. But I think much of the rest of the world sees things very differently than in the United States.
KHALEK: I would even say that U.S. officials see things differently than the media, particularly those in the military. They can sometimes be a little less like deranged about what happens with other countries. I know a couple years ago, even Stanley McChrystal—There was a soundbite from him talking about Qassim Soleimani being just a military general, who really loves his country. That’s like something you would never hear from anyone in the media.
The way that he was talked about the last several weeks, obviously, you have a much better understanding than I do because you actually live in Iran and you’re Iranian. But I live in the Middle East so that definitely gives me a lot more understanding of how this man was viewed.
And just to see somebody who was on the front lines of fighting ISIS and who helped organize not just the Iranian fight against ISIS but the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. He played this role in helping to organize, which is why he was actually hated by the Americans, helping to organize local resistance organizations across the regions that challenge American, Saudi, and Israeli hegemony. But to see him discussed as this evil person made no sense to me at all. At all.
Some military people get it, but the American media and idiots like Mike Pompeo don’t.
MARANDI: Mike Pompeo knows exactly…
KHALEK: You think so? You think he doesn’t believe what he is saying?
MARANDI: I think he knows very well that the United States was deeply involved in the creation of ISIS. It’s impossible for them not to know about these things. Ordinary Americans don’t know. The media won’t say it, but those of us who are in the region we know what role the Americans, the Saudis had. Just like in Afghanistan, the role they had in Syria creating al Qaida and al Qaida affiliates and ISIS and creating these monsters. The Defense Intelligence Agency document of 2012, Hillary Clinton’s emails that WikiLeaks —probably one reason why Assange is in prison. Things like Biden’s speech at Harvard in 2014, where they all admit that U.S. allies helped create these monsters, and Americans allowed that to happen.
And according to Gen. Michael Flynn, the famous General Michael Flynn, the United States took a willful decision. He was the head of the U.S. intelligence agency at the time, and that agency said almost since the beginning it was the extremists who were the dominant fighting force in Syria and that U.S. allies wanted to create a Salafist principality between Syria and Iraq. General Flynn that the U.S. took a willful decision to support this, and of course, that principality turned out to be ISIS. So we in the region know how ISIS came about and how al Qaida about and who supported them and who supports them now.
KHALEK: And who fought them.
MARANDI: Exactly. If it wasn’t for General Soleimani, Syria would have fallen. If Syria would have fallen, Baghdad would have fallen. And Baghdad almost fell anyway, but he went to the rescue. In fact, Iran held back ISIS and started pushing them back, of course along the Syrian Arab Army, which they had the bulk of casualties. If it wasn’t for the Iranians coming to the aid and Hezbollah, they would have collapsed. They had brought in tens of thousands of fanatical foreign fighters.
But the irony is if it wasn’t for him, both Baghdad and Damascus would be flying black flags today…
KHALEK: [interrupting] Soleimani was also behind the strategy to arm the Peshmerga to a certain degree to fight ISIS. Like it wasn’t just Syria and Baghdad, it was also the autonomous Kurdistan zone of northern Iraq.
MARANDI: Yes, but that of course the reason why I didn’t mention it is because it is a part of Iraq. But Erbil was also on the verge of falling, which is a Kurdish area, and [President Masoud] Barzani called and said we need your help. And he said give me a couple days, and he said no, if you don’t come right now, the city is gone. So they flew in that very night.
Baghdad, Erbil, the Iranian armed forces played a key role. General Soleimani was the person in charge of the defense of Baghdad, literally. And Trump by the way admits this, he said that Obama created ISIS.
This is what I was going to say a couple minutes ago. General Soleimani went to, when they began push back ISIS, al Qaida, and other groups, he went to Moscow and convinced [President Vladimir] Putin to send in his air force, and he promised to commit more troops on the ground in order to turn the tide. And that’s basically what happened.
KHALEK: And especially the American journalists are so delusional about this. Their interpretation of all this is that Soleimani was responsible for killing this beautiful movement for freedom and should not have taken over the Middle East.
MARANDI: I was just going to say the Iranians and Hezbollah only came into the fray in 2013, two years after these battles and this conflict began in Syria. It was only after tens of thousands foreign fighters had already been brought into the country that Iran got involved militarily, or Hezbollah and allies [got involved].
But yes, exactly, it’s obvious. You know, they say the Iranians kept the monstrous regime [in Syria]. For me, the question is, A) Which is worse the current government in Syria or ISIS and al Qaida? I think there’s no argument, although the Americans would like to say in the beginning it was different. But that’s not true. The Defense Intelligence Agency document of 2012 says that from early on that that dominant force were these extremists. It’s the U.S. intelligence agency, which is [part of] the most important and biggest military organization in the world.
Who is the real monster in Syria? Those who supported these extremists, or those who supported the Syrian government. I mean, if one is to say Assad is a monster, then I think Obama is a much greater monster.
KHALEK: It was kind of sad because Soleimani was this bigger figure, but Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis was the commander of the PMF, who was also killed alongside him. He doesn’t seem to have been a target, but it was a plus for the Americans. They also wanted him dead. He was a big figure too, and of course, that’s one of the main reasons that the Americans dared to kill such a high-level and revered war hero in Iraq the way they killed him. It’s really striking because the PMF was the reason Iraq didn’t fall as well, and the U.S. has been killing them.
MARANDI: He’s the equivalent of General Soleimani in Iraq. Without him, Iraq would have fallen too. It’s these two men that led the fight against ISIS in Iraq.
KHALEK: I don’t know if this is true. You can confirm it. I’d heard that years ago Soleimani cried because he hadn’t been martyred yet. He didn’t want to die old and sick. Is that true?
MARANDI: Yes, he has said that in the past that he wanted to go and meet all his—Because the Iran-Iraq War, he was a war hero then. He survived eight years. He survived chemical weapons that had been provided to Saddam Hussein by the United States and the Europeans. In Syria, he lost comrades. In Iraq, he lost comrades, Iraqi comrades, Iranian, Lebanese, Afghani, Syrian. Yes, he did feel that way.
But the most important thing about him for Americans and the Europeans to recognize is if he had not succeeded Europe would not be safe today.
KHALEK: That’s a very good point. Europe would have been eventually flooded by ISIS. Had ISIS actually collapsed the region. The reason I brought up that comment by him is I wanted to make the point that this behavior, this action by the Americans, demonstrates how stupid they are. Because by killing him they actually didn’t accomplish anything at all. In fact, they turned him into the martyr that he deserves to be across the region. And you can disagree with me if you want, but it seems the Resistance Axis of the Middle East has never been more united.
MARANDI: Yes, exactly. The funeral ceremony in Tehran was between 5-7 million, which is unheard of. They united the Iranian population. They’ve created a contempt for the U.S. government in Iran that I haven’t seen for I don’t know whenever. Also, the same thing is true in Iraq. Americans for two, three, four months, along with the Saudis and Emiratis, were destabilizing Iraq.
They were claiming that Iraqis hate Iran, and they hate the Popular Mobilization Forces and they hate Qassim Soleimani and so on. But when he was murdered, we saw huge funeral processions in Karbala and Najaf, which compared to those anti-Iranian protests that Americans have been promoting day and night. Like 100 people, 200 people there. These were each in the hundreds of thousands at least. They were infinitely bigger so they showed that not only did these people not dislike him, but actually, they were carrying his body which was covered by an Iranian flag among a sea of mourners.
But also the contempt for the United States for what you were just earlier saying, the murder of Qassim Soleimani but also Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the Iraqi commander, and their people, their men, their soldiers, those who worked with them. Each of them had three or four people murdered alongside them.
So the Iraqis see this as an act of war against their country. The U.S. government kills with impunity. They’re judge, jury, executioner. When the Prime Minister of Iraq says don’t bomb my soldiers, they do. When he says provide me with intelligence showing that group killed the American contractor, they wouldn’t.
It’s just total arrogance, and it’s obvious they don’t have the intelligence. That’s why they won’t give it. The arrogance of the U.S. government is one major reason why they’re so despised. And I think that the Americans simply will not be able to stay in Iraq because the Iraqi resistance today is much stronger than it was during the time when the United States had almost 200,000 troops there, where there were people with guns fighting back.
Now, you have ten, fifteen thousand Americans, and you have 300,000 Iraqis who are battle-hardened, who are organized. There’s no way that the Americans can forcefully stay in Iraq.
GOSZTOLA: There’s so much propaganda out there in our U.S. media, and Rania and I have talked about it. I want to go back to Syria because we have people like Bill Rivers, who was a speechwriter for [former Defense Secretary] James Mattis. He had a column that NBCNews.com ran. One of the things that he says about Soleimani is he was involved in “planning the infamous campaign to retake the city of Aleppo from Syrian rebels in 2016. That siege redefined carnage in the modern era, while the civil war overall sent thousands of refugees fleeing to Europe.”
And I just find it so insane to describe it that way, and I was hoping you could provide some context for that particular event in 2016.
MARANDI: I was in Aleppo when east Aleppo was finally liberated from these extremists. First of all, Aleppo was never in their hands. West Aleppo was in the hands of the Syrian Arab Army, and eastern Aleppo was in the hands of al Qaida and other affiliates, takfiri extremists, Wahhabi groups.
On the day it was liberated, yes, the Russians were bombing it because the militants were in the city. When they took the city, I saw, I went to the camps where people were being taken care of. The Iranian armed forces, they had kitchens there providing—I don’t remember now exactly—something like 60,000 meals three times a day for the refugees for those who were streaming out of the areas controlled by ISIS. And the people that I spoke to, maybe a couple of dozen, were all terrified of these extremists. They did not see them as freedom fighters.
When I went into the city, part of the city that was held by them, you saw the bases controlled by al Qaida, the Nusra Front, and others, the black flags and so on. And one of the buildings that was right beside a Nusra Front building, the al Qaida building, was the White Helmets building.
But what I want to say is also that right when the Iraqi city was liberated—Because after east Aleppo was taken, in Iraq, you had the fight to push ISIS out of the north. And the key city in the north was Mosul. So I was taken to Mosul when it was liberated too. I went on RT that same day, and I also went on RT ironically right after going to Aleppo.
When I went to Mosul in Iraq, the damage done by American bombing was almost identical to what I saw in east Aleppo. So when the Americans bomb for whatever reason, it’s benign. But if the Russians do the same thing, it’s monstrous. And the worst city of them all is the one the Americans brought to the ground. [searching for city name]
KHALEK: Wasn’t Raqqa the worst?
MARANDI: Yeah, it was Raqqa. I was at a conference in Seoul and a woman officer from the U.S. Army, she was there as well. She said in one part of her speech she’d just come from Raqqa. Then later on she spoke about how the Russians destroyed Aleppo. I probably have her name because it was a conference. Her name was on the list. And then after she finished speaking, I said look you’re saying the Russians did this and that. But which is worse, Raqqa or Aleppo? Raqqa was leveled to the ground. And she said I accept that.
KHALEK: [laugh] But when they accept that—I’ve had those conversations too. But they’ll always make the point, but it was ISIS that was there, not revolutionaries. And you’re like that’s insane. It’s delusional.
MARANDI: First of all, obviously, in Raqqa there was ISIS. In Aleppo, it’s al Qaida. But al Qaida is the root of ISIS.
KHALEK: They’re the same. [laughter]
MARANDI: ISIS was Islamic State in Iraq first. They created al Qaida in Syria called the Nusra Front to do the fight in Syria. And then at one point Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared, the [head of] Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, declared that the Nusra Front is now a part of us. But the Nusra Front did not want to be a part of them.
That’s where their division began. Al Qaida central command in Afghanistan said you’re both fighters for the cause, but Islamic State of Iraq, you take care of Iraq, and Nusra, you take care of Syria. ISIS didn’t accept that, and they broke away from al Qaida and said you’ve been corrupted and the two sides began killing each other. But ideologically they have the same roots. There’s no difference between the two.
KHALEK: And it’s so interesting to go back and talk about all this recent history because it’s all been scrubbed, like it’s all been scrubbed. When we talk about who the U.S. has killed, what they did in the fight against the Middle East equivalent of Nazis, it’s all washed out of the entire picture. It’s really disgusting because it’s not something that happened 20 years ago. It’s something that happened three years ago, four years ago. And it wasn’t that long ago.
One thing I found interesting was this talking point—since we’re on the subject of propaganda_is this fabricated number of Soleimani’s responsible for the death of 600 American soldiers. Aside from the fact that it’s soldiers who were occupying and invading Iraq, this is actually a number that was fabricated and made up by Dick Cheney during the Bush administration in an effort to build the case for a future war on Iran. And now, it’s being repeated by Democrats and without question.
MARANDI: It’s denying Iraqis agency. American occupied Iraq. The Iraqis fought against Americans to get them kicked out, and it’s as simple as that.
KHALEK: That’s war.
MARANDI: If the Americans are that weak, that they occupied a country and the people love them there. And this neighboring country is causing trouble, and because of that neighboring country that the people in Iraq hate too, that the Americans have to leave, then that shows the Americans are not a superpower.
It’s the Iraqi people that wanted the American armed forces to leave. It’s obvious. They’re scapegoating.
KHALEK: Well, they continue to do this now as they consistently refer to anything the PMF does as an Iranian maneuver, as if — They do it with all these groups, like Hezbollah has no agency.
MARANDI: They’re all proxies.
MARANDI: But these so-called proxies, they’re the ones who gave up their lives in this war against ISIS. They’re the ones who saved this country, these so-called proxies. Yet, the Americans are saying they are not patriotic or they have no feelings for their own country. They’re the ones that did the fighting, and they’re the ones that defeated ISIS.
KHALEK: Exactly, but in this whole conversation that was happening in the American media, I was surprised to learn—Not surprised, but I hadn’t known this before. I didn’t realize that Qassim Soleimani after 9/11 initially had cooperated with the Americans to help them locate the Taliban. I didn’t know that, and that for some reason was allowed into the media here. That up until Iran started being called part of the “Axis of Evil” by the Bush administration. So it’s like an interesting history.
It’s this pattern of the U.S. supporting what goes by the definition of terrorism, the U.S. actually supporting terrorists, these Sunni extremists basically, whether it’s al Qaida, whether it’s mujahideen in Afghanistan, and then it comes back to bite them in the ass. Then they have to turn and prioritize the extremists that they formerly helped, but then whenever they are done with that campaign, they go back to their priority, which is being anti-Iran, every single time.
MARANDI: We always have to remember that the Sunnis are the biggest victim of ISIS. That the Americans, Saudis, and others created in the first place. But actually you’re right with regard to the Taliban. The Iranians wanted to get rid of them, and one of the people who actually negotiated with the Iranians was Hillary Mann Leverett. She worked in the National Security Council. She was the head of the Persian Gulf region.
And she wrote a book with her husband Flynt Leverett called Going To [Tehran]. And she’s a good person to invite on your show at some point because she negotiated with the Iranians over Afghanistan and what to do and how to defeat the Taliban.
Again, when the Americans went into Afghanistan, they became an occupier instead of a liberator as usual. Then they got over-ambitious, went into Iraq, and then everyone knows what happened next. [sarcasm] But it’s Iran’s fault. Everything is Iran’s fault.
KHALEK: I’m glad you said that because it let’s us segue into something I do want to talk about, which is the actual history of U.S. aggression against Iran. When we hear about Iran-U.S. relations, it always starts in 1979 and never before that. But even then, we still don’t hear about the things that the U.S. did, whether it’s helping Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, whether it’s downing an Iranian airliner, having these crippling sanctions on Iran for decades…
…Giving Saddam nuclear weapons, killing Iranian nuclear scientists, funding groups in the region…
Give us a brief timeline and then also I’d like to hear about your personal experience with this sort of aggression that Iran had to deal with because you were personally impacted by it, and it helped shape your life.
MARANDI: Very, very briefly. First, the 1953 coup, where they overthrew the Iranian national government then they supported the Shah, helped create the secret police, which killed thousands of people over the years. Then during the revolution, when the Shah was gunning people down in the streets in the many thousands with Army soldiers using heavy weaponry, Jimmy Carter, who is the most benign of U.S. presidents, called the Shah and said we support you completely. Especially after Black Friday, which was perhaps the worst day of all the massacres. And then after all the revolution, the Americans gave the Shah refuge. He went to the United States.
That’s why the Iranian students took the Embassy because the Shah was like our Osama bin Laden. He was like our monster, and the Americans gave him refuge. So Iranian students took the Embassy. But also they were afraid that this was going to be a repeat of history because before the Americans installed the Shah in 1953 and the Iranians thought they were going to give him refuge then carry out another coup in Iran. And the Americans were working to carry out a coup because when they took the Embassy they took out documents. Back then it wasn’t as well protected as U.S. embassies are today. They found documents, where the Americans were plotting against the government.
Then, of course, it was supporting Saddam Hussein and his invasion, giving him chemical weapons. And this story goes on supporting Saudi Arabia and creating extremist groups like the Taliban, which was a threat to Iran. So American antagonism just goes on and on until today when they’re waging economic warfare.
I think you’re probably alluding to my own personal experience. I was a volunteer in the war when Saddam invaded Iran. I was 16 when I first went as a volunteer. I survived two chemical weapons attacks during that war. I was injured. I was shot. I have shrapnel wounds, but the main issue was I survived two chemical weapons attacks. And those chemical weapons were provided by the so-called civilized world.
The irony of course is the Americans and the Europeans are outraged, and they keep bombing Syria every time there is a chemical attack or an alleged chemical attack in Syria. And they call the Syrians monsters. But A) They gave huge amounts of chemical weapons to Iraq, incomparable to what was used in Syria, and B) as we all are now discovering, the chemical attacks in Syria, as we knew all along, were false flag operations by the extremists in order to have the Americans carry out these air strikes or missile strikes.
And we were saying weeks before the last two chemical attacks in particular that these attacks are going to take place. We were warning everyone that these attacks were going to take place, and then they would and then the Western media would say, oh, it’s outrageous. Then the Americans would bomb, and the media would be proud with Trump, even though they hate him. But that’s how the world works today.
GOSZTOLA: Mohammad, before we wrap, would you be able to talk about the impact of the sanctions on Iran? I think it’s crucial for us to hit this point before concluding the interview. We heard in Trump’s speech that he’s going to have “additional punishing economic sanctions” for Iran. This is economic warfare, but all too often in the Western world, it’s not taken to be an act of war. I think it’s important to have you speak to what’s potentially going to happen as they escalate against Iran.
MARANDI: The problem really in Western countries is because they see themselves as exceptional, these regimes and the media—When they carry out war crimes, these are not crimes. These are mistakes. So, if they destroy Libya, yes, it was a mistake. Or if they invade Iraq, they say, yes, it was a mistake. But if any other country did something much smaller than that, there would be outrage across the board. Look how evil they are. Look how evil this regime is or look how evil that regime is.
Getting back to the point you were making, the Americans are trying to make Iranians collectively suffer as much as possible. They’re trying to prevent Iran from importing medicine. They try to force countries that export foodstuffs, like grains and other things, not to allow the ships to leave port. They do the most outrageous things, and they gloat about it when they succeed.
So cancer patients have died. Many young children who have very complex medical complications, they die. And the U.S. government is very proud of itself. What can I say, it’s as ugly as it gets.
KHALEK: It’s almost like a big joke cause it is so dark.
MARANDI: It’s monstrous.
KHALEK: You mentioned earlier that you haven’t seen the Iranians as angry at the U.S. as they are now, maybe ever. What is the atmosphere there right now? Is everybody constantly talking about this or are people just kind of moving on with their lives? How do you think this is going to shape everything going forward?
MARANDI: Well, people do go on with their lives, but there’s a lot of talk about General Soleimani. He is very popular. Even the Western media that always downplays anything that’s positive about Iran or anything that goes against their narrative, even they were saying millions—I was on the BBC, and before I went on air, they were saying millions took part in the commemoration in Tehran. So they couldn’t hide it.
But the Iranians want the Americans out of Iraq, and they want the Americans out of the region, and I think that the Iraqis will ultimately force the Americans to leave. And the Americans are increasingly depending on two very vulnerable dictatorships—the Saudi regime and the Emirati regime—that are spending huge amounts of money in a failed war in Yemen. And these two regimes are very vulnerable. If there’s any conflict with Iran, these two regimes will not survive.