In August, two months before the Tribe of Nova Music Festival massacre, the Pentagon awarded a $35.8 million contract to build U.S. troop facilities for a secret base it maintains deep within Israel’s Negev desert, just 20 miles from Gaza, code-named “Site 512.”
Procurement records describe the secret base, located off Mt. Qeren, as a “life support area,” typical of the kind of language the Pentagon uses for U.S. military sites that it wants to conceal.
According to The Intercept, Site 512 has been established to help Israel defend itself from Iranian long range missiles and may be used for secret operations in the Middle East, including Iran, which the neo-conservatives have long targeted for regime change.
The U.S. is already closely assisting Israeli military operations in Gaza, providing Israel with billions of dollars in weapons, including smart bombs, as U.S. Special Operations forces directly assist Israel’s military planning and intelligence, according to defensenews.com.
The Pentagon’s contract for building Site 512—which is supposed to be completed by 2026—went to Bryan Construction of Colorado and an Israeli firm, Y.D. Ashush, which previously built a Jewish settlement on stolen Palestinian land, according to The Intercept.
In 2020, members of the settlements were accused of deliberately dumping their sewage into the farmlands of nearby Deir Ballut, preventing its olive harvest and destroying trees, some of which date back to Roman times.
Expanding U.S. Military Presence in the Middle East
The building of Site 512 reflects an expanding U.S. military presence in the Middle East. Following the October 7 Tribe of Nova massacre, the U.S. doubled the number of fighter jets in the region, deployed two aircraft carriers off the coast of Israel, including the USS Eisenhower, and sent teams of U.S. Special Forces into Israel.
The New York Times reported on October 15 that “The Pentagon is rapidly doubling the amount of American firepower deployed in the Middle East in an effort to deter a wider regional war and to carry out possible airstrikes to defend American interests.” The Times noted that the U.S. Air Force is sending land-based attack planes to the Persian Gulf, in addition to the Fifth Fleet’s aircraft carriers already there. The Air Force is doubling the number of F-16, A-10, and F-15E squadrons on the ground, which, combined with the four squadrons of F/A-18 jets aboard each carrier, form “an aerial armada of more than 100 attack planes.”
In June, the White House had revealed that the U.S. maintains combat troops in Yemen that trained and advised Yemeni forces to counter the Houthi who fought against the Saudi-installed proxy regime in Yemen and were allied with Iran.
The largest U.S. military base in the Middle East—the Al Udeid Air Base—is west of Doha, the capital of Qatar. It hosts the U.S. Air Force Central Command, which coordinates U.S. bombing operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere, and some 11,000 U.S. military personnel.
Construction of the $60 million facility, which the Air Force says “resembles the set of a futuristic movie,” was completed in 2003.
At that time, the U.S. moved the Air Force Central Command from Saudi Arabia’s Prince Sultan Air Base where, since 1997, it had overseen operations during the war in Iraq.
The U.S. currently hosts at least 10 military bases in Saudi Arabia, according to a 2021 report by Al Jazeera. This is in addition to 10 bases in Kuwait, 12 bases in Bahrain, at least 12 bases in Iraq, 6 bases in Oman, 2 bases in Jordan, 4 bases in Syria, 2 bases in Turkey, one in Egypt, and three bases in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
According to the same report, the U.S. hosts 3,731 of its troops in Bahrain, 2,169 in Kuwait, 2,500 in Iraq, and 600 in Syria. Overall, the U.S. has 40,000 troops stationed across the Middle East, according to Axios, and on October 31, announced the deployment of an additional 900 troops to the region.
One reason why the U.S. is interested in building bases in Israel is that, if U.S. relations sour with countries like Saudi Arabia and Turkey, and if the U.S. military is kicked out of Syria, the bases in Israel will allow its military to maintain a foothold in the oil-rich Middle East.
Plans for Wider War on Iran
One country notably absent from those hosting U.S. military bases is Iran, which has forged an independent path since the 1979 Iranian Revolution.
A 2009 Brookings Institution report, Which Path to Persia?, written by such neo-conservative war hawks as Kenneth Pollack, CIA operative Bruce Reidel and Martin Indyk, a Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton and former U.S. ambassador to Israel, specified that Iran’s leaders had “worked assiduously to undermine American interests and influence throughout the Middle East” since the 1979 revolution and so were a menace to the U.S.
The authors in turn explored the potential for successful military invasion or regime change by attempting to trigger a popular revolution, supporting an insurgency (ethnic or political) against the regime and aiding a military coup.
One of the figures the report contemplated elevating to power was Reza Pahlavi, the son of Mohammad Shah Reza Pahlavi, who was installed following the 1953 CIA-backed coup against Mohammad Mossadegh, who had wanted to nationalize Iran’s oil industry.
Shah Pahlavi ruled brutally. The CIA helped him establish his secret police, SAVAK, which established a draconian surveillance apparatus and carried out sadistic tortures at the Evin Prison that is now a museum.
Which Path to Persia? was characteristically dishonest in accusing Iran of carrying out terrorist attacks—such as the 1996 attack on the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia that killed 19 U.S. soldiers—which independent investigators said they were not responsible for. The report also played up the threat of a non-existent nuclear weapons program.
More recent disinformation on Iran has centered on the alleged brutalization by morality police of a young woman, Mahsa Amini, who was featured on a video collapsing independently at a Tehran police station. Amini had had brain surgery as a youth and was judged by Iranian authorities to have died from cardiac arrest, according to a report in The Tehran Times.
While one cannot be one hundred percent certain about what happened to her since all governments lie, it is clear that the U.S. was intent on using her death to fulfill the strategy advanced in the Which Path to Persia report by triggering mass protests that it was hoped would lead to the Ayatollah‘s downfall.
Following the Tribe of Nova massacre, The Wall Street Journal claimed that Iran was involved in conspiratorial plotting with Hamas, though no evidence was provided and independent analysts find this claim to be implausible. Hamas para-gliders who infiltrated Israel by air were in the past trained in Malaysia, but not Iran.
The current conflict in Gaza can easily escalate into a wider war if Israel continues to bomb Lebanon and Syria, drawing the Iranians in. According to former Assistant treasury Secretary Paul Craig Roberts, U.S. strategic planners want to open up the Middle East for Greater Israel and affect regime change in Iran so Iran can be used as a base from which to destabilize Russia and challenge its power in Central Asia.
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi tweeted that Israel’s actions in Gaza have “crossed the red lines, and this may force everyone to take action,” adding that “Washington asks us to not do anything, but they keep giving widespread support to Israel.”
Washington upped the ante when it bombed military facilities linked to Iran-backed militias in eastern Syria. This could be the start of the war with Iran that has long been planned for and would be a catastrophe for all humanity.
Consortium News reported on how the National Security Agency’s Pine Gap facility in Australia is monitoring the Gaza Strip and surrounding areas with all its resources, and gathering intelligence assessed to be useful to Israel and providing that intelligence to the IDF. Pointing to the unpopularity of U.S. foreign policies, when conservative Kentucky Republican Thomas Massie polled 49,000 people from his impoverished state, they registered overwhelming opposition to sending these billions of dollars for Israel’s daily slaughter of the civilians in Gaza, nearly half of whom are children. ↑
Kenneth M. Pollack, et al., Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran, Analysis Paper No. 20, Saban Center for Middle East Policy, Brookings Institution, June 2009. ↑
See Jeremy Kuzmarov, Modernizing Repression: Police Training and Nation Building in the American Century (Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), ch. 8. ↑
For debunking of the disinformation, see D. Gareth Porter, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Charlottesville, VA: Just World Books, 2014); Gareth Porter, “Who Bombed Khobar’s Towers? Anatomy of a Crooked Terrorism Investigation,” Truthout, September 1, 2015, https://truthout.org/articles/who-bombed-khobar-towers-anatomy-of-a- crooked-terrorism-investigation/ Osama bin Laden publicly claimed responsibility for the Khobar attacks. Saudi secret police had tortured suspects to gain false confessions that would implicate the Iranians. ↑
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu threatened Lebanon with “devastation” if Israel is attacked from its territory. If Hezbollah is in danger of destruction, Iran could send in troops from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to fight alongside its ally. At that point, Israel might decide to strike the IRGC in Iran, as well as in Lebanon. ↑
- Roberts wrote on his blog that “the neoconservatives who control US foreign policy have had their sights on Syria, Iran, and Hezbollah before the US invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. These countries have been American targets since Norman Podhoretz wrote in Commentary that the US should overthrow the Middle Eastern governments. Prior to the George W. Bush regime’s invasion of Iraq, General Wesley Clark was shown a Pentagon memo that the US intended to overthrow 7 Middle Eastern countries in 5 years: https://www.salon.com/2007/10/12/wesley_clark/. The neoconservatives completely controlled US defense and foreign policy then, as they do today. This project is still the agenda, and it is unfolding before blind Russian and American eyes as I write.” In another column, Roberts suggested that the Tribe of Nova massacre was a staged event. He wrote that “what most likely happened is this: Israeli agents who have infiltrated Hamas were instructed to sell Hamas on the attack by promising the ability to disable the barrier and surprise the Israelis. Netanyahu and the neocons sacrificed Israeli lives for the outrage about Israeli deaths, rapes, and Israeli babies with cut off heads. This would gain Israel support for destroying the remnants of Palestine and incorporating all of Palestine into Israel, thus ending any prospect of a two-stare solution and simultaneously settling Netanyahu’s legal and political problems by making him a hero who consolidated Palestine under Israel. But the plot has wider aims, which were revealed by the almost instant appearance on the scene of US aircraft carrier task forces, the 101st Airborne Division followed by US Marines and Special Forces. Israel, of course, does not need these American forces in order to destroy Gaza. Pundits, reflecting either a lack of imagination or serving a disinformation function, have rationalized the presence of the US forces as a warning and protective buffer between Israel and Hezbollah/Iran.”
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About the Author
Jeremy Kuzmarov is Managing Editor of CovertAction Magazine.
He is the author of five books on U.S. foreign policy, including Obama’s Unending Wars (Clarity Press, 2019), The Russians Are Coming, Again, with John Marciano (Monthly Review Press, 2018), and Warmonger. How Clinton’s Malign Foreign Policy Launched the U.S. Trajectory From Bush II to Biden (Clarity Press, 2023).
He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.