Thursday, February 23, 2017

The Next Big ONE: The Sixth Seal Of New York City

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

Ramapo Fault Line
Published: March 25, 2001
Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.
Q. What have you found?
A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.
Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?
A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.
Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?
A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.
Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.
A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.
Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?
A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.
Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?
A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.

The Islamic Korea Connection

Image result for pakistan korea nuclear
Posted : 2017-02-22 17:55
Updated : 2017-02-22 17:55
By Jack Burton
North Korea's launch of the Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile is another example of the steady advancement that Pyongyang has made in developing its nuclear and missile arsenal. But it also raises the question of how Pyongyang has been able to master such technology.
Pyongyang's propaganda proclaimed the test of the intermediate range missile as an example of "a new strategic weapon of our own style," implying that North Korean technicians had developed the missile from scratch. But most analysts believe that North Korea has always received help from other countries in developing its nuclear and missile program since the 1980s.
Western analysts are now debating who might have helped in developing Pukguksong-2. The missile does represent significant technical progress for North Korea. It is a solid fuel missile, similar to the submarine-launched one, the Pukguksong-1, that Pyongyang tested last year. Solid-fueled missiles allow for greater mobility and quicker launches than liquid-fueled missiles that make them easier to hide, but their technology is also more difficult to master.
Some analysts believe that both Pukguksong missiles bear a resemblance to China's submarine-launched JL-1 submarine-launched missile and land-based DF-21 version. North Korea has already used related Chinese-made mobile missile systems, including transporter-erector-launcher(TEL) vehicles, although apparently the TEL used in the Pukguksong-2 launch was of its own design.
But instead of acquiring the Pukguksong technology directly from China, North Korea could have also gotten it from Pakistan, which has developed its own arsenal of mobile, solid-fuel medium-range missiles with the help of China.
Pakistan, of course, has been implicated before in the North's nuclear program. Pyongyang is believed to have obtained centrifuge technology in the 1990s from the smuggling network of A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, to construct a large uranium enrichment facility for its nuclear program.
The fingerprints of foreign assistance have been evident throughout North Korea's missile development over the last 40 years. In the 1970s, China offered to transfer technology to Pyongyang to produce liquid-fueled tactical missiles and trained North Korean scientists in the design and production of missile airframes and engines.
A decade later, North Korea was collaborating with Egypt in reverse engineering the Soviet Scud-B missile, whose technology dated from the 1950s. Iran was also said to have become involved in this process as well. This led to the North Korea's deployment of the mobile, short-ranged Hwasong-5 missile.
Scud technology, including some possibly obtained from China, led to the development of the larger and longer-range mobile Nodong missile by 1990s. North Korea then sold the missiles to Iran, Pakistan and Syria as part of an exchange of technologies and test data.
There are suggestions that North Korea acquired obsolete missile production lines from Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This would have enabled it to begin developing multi-stage rockets, such as Taepodong missile, that represent a serious technical challenge to overcome.
When North Korea launched the Unha-2 rocket in 2009 in an unsuccessful attempt to place a satellite in orbit, analysts noticed that the third stage appear to match that of the last stage of Iran's Safir satellite launcher, which has been successfully tested by Tehran several months earlier.Analysts also believed that the second stage of the Unha-2 may have been based on a 1960s-era Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, increasing speculation that Pyongyang had acquired outdated production lines from Russia.
Given the history of the North Korean missile program and its apparent heavy reliance on foreign technology, it is clear that the most obvious way to stop Pyongyang's missile development would be to curb outside assistance instead of relying on economic sanctions alone.
In theory, international mechanisms, such as 35-nation Missile Technology Control Regime, are already in place to prevent the proliferation of missile technology. But among North Korea's four main missile "enablers," only Russia is a member of this organization.
It would appear then that the U.S. and the rest of the international community should apply increased pressure on China, Iran and Pakistan to stop supplying missile technology to North Korea instead of just focusing on punishing Pyongyang.
But the success of such effort will be difficult. Much of the equipment involved in missile production isconsidered "dual use" for civilian purposes as well and thus hard to regulate in terms of trade. This will continue to give North Korea many opportunities to acquire the needed technology and production hardware from complacent governments or rogue scientists and engineers.
John Burton, a former Korea correspondent for the Financial Times, is now a Washington,. D.C.-based journalist and consultant. He can be reached at

Khamenei Denies Israel's Existence

Iran's supreme leader used the podium of a pro-Palestinian gathering in Tehran to lash out at Israel, calling the Jewish state a "fake" nation in a "dirty chapter" of history.
The remarks by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday (Wednesday NZ Time) were some of his most vitriolic against Israel, Iran's archenemy. Every four years since the early 1990s, Tehran has hosted a similar conference in support of the Palestinian cause, assembling foreign guests and those who oppose Israel.
Speaking to the gathering, Khamenei said Israel was created by bringing Jews from other parts of the world to the Mideast region to settle in the land of the Palestinians to replace its "true entity."
The creation of Israel is "one of the dirty chapters of history that will be closed, with the grace of God," he added. Khamenei's speech lasted 33 minutes.
The supreme leader, who has final say on all state matters in Iran, also urged all Muslims to support the Palestinians and "resistance" movements - a reference to anti-Israeli militant groups such as Palestinian Hamas and Lebanon's Shite Hezbollah militants. Iran has always been their staunch ally.
The "resistance movements should have all necessary instruments," Khamenei added and praised those who are part of it in allegedly succeeding in "preventing the domination of the Zionist regime in the entire region."
But he did not appear to endorse an all-our war on Israel, saying instead that it's a "cancerous tumour" that requires a "step by step" treatment. In 2015, Khamenei predicted that Israel would not exist after 25 years.
Some 80 delegations, mainly from Islamic countries as well as pro-Palestinian activists, attended the two-day meeting. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and several government officials also attended the conference.
The venue was decorated with a large map of Israel and the Palestinian territories covered in the colours of the Palestinian flag.
Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, which ousted the pro-western Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and brought the Islamists to power, Iran has not recognised Israel and has supported anti-Israeli groups.
Israel, which seas a nuclear-armed Iran as an existential threat, has opposed the 2015 landmark deal between Iran and world powers that capped Iran's nuclear activities in return for lifting sanctions.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Who Is The Antichrist? (Revelation 13)

By Jon Lee Anderson
Beyond the gruesome military showdown with ISIS, politics in Iraq, such as it exists, revolves around a small cabal of former insurgents. All of them were political players long before the U.S. invasion of 2003, and they variously endured imprisonment, torture, exile, assassination attempts, and all-out warfare for their opposition to Saddam Hussein, and then survived to compete for the spoils of power. Some gained control of vast resources through their authority over lucrative government ministries. Some command their own militias as well as portions of the country’s security forces. The original list of players included the Kurdish leaders Jalal Talabani and Mustafa Barzani, the secular Shiite politicians Iyad Allawi and the late Ahmad Chalabi, the Shiite Islamists Ibrahim al-Jaafari and Nuri al-Maliki, and the late clerical Shiite brothers Muhammad Bakr and Abdulaziz al-Hakim. One of the most intriguing additions to this group is the radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, an arriviste of forty-two who has never held elected office but who now commands thousands and has established himself as a key power broker in the country.
A chunky, black-garbed, bearded man with a perpetually baleful countenance, “Moqtada,” as his followers call him, is a remarkable character. The son of a revered cleric who was murdered on Saddam’s orders, in 1999, Sadr forced his way into the political scene, when he was still in his twenties, with a calculated act of violence. On April 10, 2003, three weeks into the U.S. invasion, Abdel Majid al-Khoei, a moderate Shiite cleric, whom the Americans had brought into the holy city of Najaf, crucial to the country’s majority Shiites, in the hopes that he would somehow help manage the city’s influential religious community, was stabbed to death. The word went out quickly that the assassination, which occurred in broad daylight in front of numerous witnesses, had been carried out by one of Sadr’s lieutenants, on his orders. The murder coincided with the appearance, on the streets of Najaf and Baghdad, of an armed rabble who called Sadr their leader and themselves his Mahdi Army. Within days, they had taken over the vast Shiite slum of Saddam City, which was renamed Sadr City.
As the blundering American occupation got under way, in the spring and summer of 2003, Sadr built up his power base. Then, in April 2004, coinciding with the Sunni rebellion that began in Fallujah, Sadr’s Mahdi Army rose up and attacked coalition soldiers in Najaf, Baghdad, and across southern and central Iraq and inside Baghdad, as well. The uprising had been sparked by the American arrest of one of Sadr’s aides, who was accused of Khoei’s assassination. As coalition troops and Sadr’s followers clashed, the Americans said that Sadr himself was wanted for the murder, and sent a large number of troops to surround Najaf. Sadr threatened to launch a full-fledged jihad if they entered the city. A standoff ensued. In the face of spreading violence, the Americans eventually backed off.
Coalition forces fought the Mahdi Army several more times, always without resolution. Sadr’s soldiers were heavily implicated in the brutal sectarian violence of 2006 to 2008, but he has since renamed his army the Saraya al-Salam—the Peace Brigades—and now controls a big bloc in parliament as well as his own political party. When two of his government ministers were accused of corruption, he ordered them to resign from their offices and to present themselves to the Iraqi courts. He is Shiite but has taken pains to show himself to be non-sectarian, embracing the Sunni-led “Arab Spring” demonstrations of several years ago, and more recently forming a committee, made up of secular Shiite, Sunni, and Kurdish intellectuals, to come up with a “national plan” for Iraq.
Sadr knows how to choose his moments, and earlier this year he was back in the news, after a long and unexplained hiatus. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s failure to go through with promised reforms, including an overhaul of the government and new approach to tackling rampant official corruption, had been the focus of growing public discontent for some time when, in late February, Sadr resurfaced to demand action, and a hundred thousand of his followers joined him in one of Iraq’s biggest public demonstrations ever.
Sadr gave the government forty-five days to come clean, and as the clock ticked down thousands of Sadrists, a boisterous crew made up mainly of Shiites, camped noisily outside the Green Zone. Sadr threatened to storm the enclave with his followers if their demands were not met, but, in the end, he and the government agreed on a Solomonic denouement: Sadr alone stormed the Green Zone, allowed in by guards, who greeted him affectionately. Last Thursday, the Abadi government came up with an eleventh-hour planned government proposal, and the crisis ended. Sadr and his retinue departed, crowing victory, in a long convoy of S.U.V.s, which headed back to his stronghold in Najaf. Iraq’s parliament must vote on the proposal before next week. Depending on the outcome, Sadr, clearly, will keep his own counsel or hit the streets again.
Abadi, who acquiesced to Sadr’s latest show of force, is a more inclusive figure than his predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki, who was hated by Sunnis and forced out in 2014, after the ISIS takeover of most of Sunni Iraq. How long Abadi survives, however, remains to be seen. At the least, he knows he will have to contend with Sadr in order to retain stability on Iraq’s streets, and power for himself. In the rumbustious mosh pit of Iraqi politics, knowing how to survive is everything. At the rate he is going, Moqtada al-Sadr could well end up as the last man standing.

Columbia University Warns Of Sixth Seal (Rev 6:12)

  • Earthquakes May Endanger New York More Than Thought, Says Study
A study by a group of prominent seismologists suggests that a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed. Among other things, they say that the controversial Indian Point nuclear power plants, 24 miles north of the city, sit astride the previously unidentified intersection of two active seismic zones. The paper appears in the current issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
Many faults and a few mostly modest quakes have long been known around New York City, but the research casts them in a new light. The scientists say the insight comes from sophisticated analysis of past quakes, plus 34 years of new data on tremors, most of them perceptible only by modern seismic instruments. The evidence charts unseen but potentially powerful structures whose layout and dynamics are only now coming clearer, say the scientists. All are based at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, which runs the network of seismometers that monitors most of the northeastern United States.
Lead author Lynn R. Sykes said the data show that large quakes are infrequent around New York compared to more active areas like California and Japan, but that the risk is high, because of the overwhelming concentration of people and infrastructure. “The research raises the perception both of how common these events are, and, specifically, where they may occur,” he said. “It’s an extremely populated area with very large assets.” Sykes, who has studied the region for four decades, is known for his early role in establishing the global theory of plate tectonics.
The authors compiled a catalog of all 383 known earthquakes from 1677 to 2007 in a 15,000-square-mile area around New York City. Coauthor John Armbruster estimated sizes and locations of dozens of events before 1930 by combing newspaper accounts and other records. The researchers say magnitude 5 quakes—strong enough to cause damage–occurred in 1737, 1783 and 1884. There was little settlement around to be hurt by the first two quakes, whose locations are vague due to a lack of good accounts; but the last, thought to be centered under the seabed somewhere between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook, toppled chimneys across the city and New Jersey, and panicked bathers at Coney Island. Based on this, the researchers say such quakes should be routinely expected, on average, about every 100 years. “Today, with so many more buildings and people, a magnitude 5 centered below the city would be extremely attention-getting,” said Armbruster. “We’d see billions in damage, with some brick buildings falling. People would probably be killed.”
Starting in the early 1970s Lamont began collecting data on quakes from dozens of newly deployed seismometers; these have revealed further potential, including distinct zones where earthquakes concentrate, and where larger ones could come. The Lamont network, now led by coauthor Won-Young Kim, has located hundreds of small events, including a magnitude 3 every few years, which can be felt by people at the surface, but is unlikely to cause damage. These small quakes tend to cluster along a series of small, old faults in harder rocks across the region. Many of the faults were discovered decades ago when subways, water tunnels and other excavations intersected them, but conventional wisdom said they were inactive remnants of continental collisions and rifting hundreds of millions of years ago. The results clearly show that they are active, and quite capable of generating damaging quakes, said Sykes.
One major previously known feature, the Ramapo Seismic Zone, runs from eastern Pennsylvania to the mid-Hudson Valley, passing within a mile or two northwest of Indian Point. The researchers found that this system is not so much a single fracture as a braid of smaller ones, where quakes emanate from a set of still ill-defined faults. East and south of the Ramapo zone—and possibly more significant in terms of hazard–is a set of nearly parallel northwest-southeast faults. These include Manhattan’s 125th Street fault, which seems to have generated two small 1981 quakes, and could have been the source of the big 1737 quake; the Dyckman Street fault, which carried a magnitude 2 in 1989; the Mosholu Parkway fault; and the Dobbs Ferry fault in suburban Westchester, which generated the largest recent shock, a surprising magnitude 4.1, in 1985. Fortunately, it did no damage. Given the pattern, Sykes says the big 1884 quake may have hit on a yet-undetected member of this parallel family further south.
The researchers say that frequent small quakes occur in predictable ratios to larger ones, and so can be used to project a rough time scale for damaging events. Based on the lengths of the faults, the detected tremors, and calculations of how stresses build in the crust, the researchers say that magnitude 6 quakes, or even 7—respectively 10 and 100 times bigger than magnitude 5–are quite possible on the active faults they describe. They calculate that magnitude 6 quakes take place in the area about every 670 years, and sevens, every 3,400 years. The corresponding probabilities of occurrence in any 50-year period would be 7% and 1.5%. After less specific hints of these possibilities appeared in previous research, a 2003 analysis by The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation put the cost of quakes this size in the metro New York area at $39 billion to $197 billion. A separate 2001 analysis for northern New Jersey’s Bergen County estimates that a magnitude 7 would destroy 14,000 buildings and damage 180,000 in that area alone. The researchers point out that no one knows when the last such events occurred, and say no one can predict when they next might come.
“We need to step backward from the simple old model, where you worry about one large, obvious fault, like they do in California,” said coauthor Leonardo Seeber. “The problem here comes from many subtle faults. We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought. We need to take a very close look.” Seeber says that because the faults are mostly invisible at the surface and move infrequently, a big quake could easily hit one not yet identified. “The probability is not zero, and the damage could be great,” he said. “It could be like something out of a Greek myth.”
The researchers found concrete evidence for one significant previously unknown structure: an active seismic zone running at least 25 miles from Stamford, Conn., to the Hudson Valley town of Peekskill, N.Y., where it passes less than a mile north of the Indian Point nuclear power plant. The Stamford-Peekskill line stands out sharply on the researchers’ earthquake map, with small events clustered along its length, and to its immediate southwest. Just to the north, there are no quakes, indicating that it represents some kind of underground boundary. It is parallel to the other faults beginning at 125th Street, so the researchers believe it is a fault in the same family. Like the others, they say it is probably capable of producing at least a magnitude 6 quake. Furthermore, a mile or so on, it intersects the Ramapo seismic zone.
Sykes said the existence of the Stamford-Peekskill line had been suggested before, because the Hudson takes a sudden unexplained bend just ot the north of Indian Point, and definite traces of an old fault can be along the north side of the bend. The seismic evidence confirms it, he said. “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident,” says the paper. “This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
The findings comes at a time when Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, is trying to relicense the two operating plants for an additional 20 years—a move being fought by surrounding communities and the New York State Attorney General. Last fall the attorney general, alerted to the then-unpublished Lamont data, told a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel in a filing: “New data developed in the last 20 years disclose a substantially higher likelihood of significant earthquake activity in the vicinity of [Indian Point] that could exceed the earthquake design for the facility.” The state alleges that Entergy has not presented new data on earthquakes past 1979. However, in a little-noticed decision this July 31, the panel rejected the argument on procedural grounds. A source at the attorney general’s office said the state is considering its options.
The characteristics of New York’s geology and human footprint may increase the problem. Unlike in California, many New York quakes occur near the surface—in the upper mile or so—and they occur not in the broken-up, more malleable formations common where quakes are frequent, but rather in the extremely hard, rigid rocks underlying Manhattan and much of the lower Hudson Valley. Such rocks can build large stresses, then suddenly and efficiently transmit energy over long distances. “It’s like putting a hard rock in a vise,” said Seeber. “Nothing happens for a while. Then it goes with a bang.” Earthquake-resistant building codes were not introduced to New York City until 1995, and are not in effect at all in many other communities. Sinuous skyscrapers and bridges might get by with minimal damage, said Sykes, but many older, unreinforced three- to six-story brick buildings could crumble.
Art Lerner-Lam, associate director of Lamont for seismology, geology and tectonophysics, pointed out that the region’s major highways including the New York State Thruway, commuter and long-distance rail lines, and the main gas, oil and power transmission lines all cross the parallel active faults, making them particularly vulnerable to being cut. Lerner-Lam, who was not involved in the research, said that the identification of the seismic line near Indian Point “is a major substantiation of a feature that bears on the long-term earthquake risk of the northeastern United States.” He called for policymakers to develop more information on the region’s vulnerability, to take a closer look at land use and development, and to make investments to strengthen critical infrastructure.
“This is a landmark study in many ways,” said Lerner-Lam. “It gives us the best possible evidence that we have an earthquake hazard here that should be a factor in any planning decision. It crystallizes the argument that this hazard is not random. There is a structure to the location and timing of the earthquakes. This enables us to contemplate risk in an entirely different way. And since we are able to do that, we should be required to do that.”
New York Earthquake Briefs and Quotes:
Existing U.S. Geological Survey seismic hazard maps show New York City as facing more hazard than many other eastern U.S. areas. Three areas are somewhat more active—northernmost New York State, New Hampshire and South Carolina—but they have much lower populations and fewer structures. The wider forces at work include pressure exerted from continuing expansion of the mid-Atlantic Ridge thousands of miles to the east; slow westward migration of the North American continent; and the area’s intricate labyrinth of old faults, sutures and zones of weakness caused by past collisions and rifting.
Due to New York’s past history, population density and fragile, interdependent infrastructure, a 2001 analysis by the Federal Emergency Management Agency ranks it the 11th most at-risk U.S. city for earthquake damage. Among those ahead: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle and Portland. Behind: Salt Lake City, Sacramento, Anchorage.
New York’s first seismic station was set up at Fordham University in the 1920s. Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, in Palisades, N.Y., has operated stations since 1949, and now coordinates a network of about 40.
Dozens of small quakes have been felt in the New York area. A Jan. 17, 2001 magnitude 2.4, centered in the Upper East Side—the first ever detected in Manhattan itself–may have originated on the 125th Street fault. Some people thought it was an explosion, but no one was harmed.
The most recent felt quake, a magnitude 2.1 on July 28, 2008, was centered near Milford, N.J. Houses shook and a woman at St. Edward’s Church said she felt the building rise up under her feet—but no damage was done.
Questions about the seismic safety of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, which lies amid a metropolitan area of more than 20 million people, were raised in previous scientific papers in 1978 and 1985.
Because the hard rocks under much of New York can build up a lot strain before breaking, researchers believe that modest faults as short as 1 to 10 kilometers can cause magnitude 5 or 6 quakes.
In general, magnitude 3 quakes occur about 10 times more often than magnitude fours; 100 times more than magnitude fives; and so on. This principle is called the Gutenberg-Richter relationship.

Muslim Unity Against Israel

Baku, Azerbaijan, Feb. 21
By Fatih Karimov – Trend:
Despite differences among Islamic countries, Palestine issue can and should be a pivot of unity for all Islamic countries, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said.
Khamenei made the remarks while addressing the 6th International Conference in Support of the Palestinian uprising, opened in Tehran Feb. 21, the state-run IRINN TV reported.
Around 700 foreign guests and representatives of pro-Palestinian organizations took part in the event.
Khamenei said that the various crises in several Islamic countries in the region has led to less support of Palestine.
Khamenei further claimed that those who established Israel are behind the destabilizing of the region. He also said that the global atmosphere is moving toward countering actions by Israeli government.
“The depth of our relationship with groups involved in the Islamic Resistance is only dependent on the level of their commitment to the principle of the resistance,” Khamenei added.

Violence Against the Antichrist

Al Monitor 
The use of violence against those who took part in the demonstrations that started Feb. 11 upon the request of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to demand that the electoral commission accused of corruption be overhauled might lead Iraq to a crossroads and a political crisis with dire consequences.
Sadrists believe the government instructed riot police to use violence against the demonstrators, leading to the killing of five protesters and two security officials and the wounding of more than 320 people.
While Sadr's followers fired mortar shells at the Green Zone, Sadr condemned the violence perpetrated against the demonstrators as well as the launch of missiles. Sadr warned that if the violence continues against the protesters, Iraq will suffer.
On Feb. 17, Sadr called for a mass demonstration in Baghdad's Liberation Square, asking the protesters to organize a silent demonstration and to not violate the law. He asked the security forces to protect the protesters.
The escalation of differences and mutual accusations between the Sadrists and the Iraqi government and the widening gap between the two sides led Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri to call Feb. 13 for the formation of an investigative parliamentary committee to look into the targeting of protesters. Jabouri stressed the need to protect “demonstrators and refrain from using violence while dealing with peaceful demonstrations.”
Those opposing the reform protests accused the Sadrist leadership of mobilizing the Iraqi street against state institutions through reform slogans. Meanwhile, the Sadrists accused the security members who attacked the demonstrators of being loyal to “political parties that are hostile to both the Sadrists and the Iraqi people.” They also accused leader of the State of Law Coalition Nouri al-Maliki of pushing certain security apparatuses to suppress the demonstrations.
Faiq al-Sheikh, a parliament member for the Civil Democratic Alliance, accused Maliki and several Dawa Party leaders of taking advantage of the Election Commission and hindering its overhaul process because the Dawa Party is widely represented in the current commission.
Nahla al-Hababi, a member of parliament for the State of Law Coalition, told Al-Monitor she was strongly against these accusations. “What happened is a violation on the part of some agitators in the security forces who were trying to protect themselves in any way possible,” she said. “Maliki has nothing to do with the demonstrations, as some people are saying. The demonstrations were chaotic and almost spun out of control, and the security services maintained security and order, which is their main duty.”
Asked about the legitimacy of Sadr’s call on July 2, 2016, to change the Election Commission by mobilizing the street, political analyst Abdul Qadir al-Arsan said, “This conflict has nothing to do with any reform process because Sadrists are essential partners in the political process, and they have representatives in the Election Commission, so how can they call for institutional reform in an institution they are represented in?”
On Feb. 14, the complexities plaguing the security and political landscape in Iraq as well as the easily penetrable demonstrations led Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to acknowledge the existence of troublemakers who pushed some demonstrators to cause friction with the security forces.
During his weekly press conference, Abadi asked which side benefits when the youth are engaged in political quarrels. He called for “respecting the right to peacefully demonstrate and identifying those who were behind the mischief that affected innocent citizens.”
Iraq's current political and security situation is reminiscent of 2006, when political differences and regional interventions produced a sectarian conflict in the country.
Member of parliament for the Liberal bloc Abdul Aziz Dalimy told Al-Monitor, “The continuation of the reform protests threatens some powerful political forces and prevents them from achieving political ends.” He described what happened to the demonstrators as “a crime of unspeakable cruelty and a violation of the constitution, which guarantees the right to demonstrate and the freedom of expression.”
Shorouk al-Abeiji, a parliament member for the Civil Democratic Alliance, expressed to Al-Monitor over the phone her concern over the government’s failure to take a firm position on the suppression of protesters. She said, “There are armed groups affiliated with known political parties or registered with the Popular Mobilization Units that may be accused of repressing demonstrators.”
One PMU leader, however, immediately denied these accusations. Rayan al-Kaldani told Al-Monitor that the PMU are a security force that does not get involved in political differences. Kaldani denied “the existence of PMU factions inside the capital Baghdad," saying, "All of the PMU factions are fighting in the battlefields and defending important areas in the Baghdad belts.”
The political dispute between the Sadrists and the government could play a significant role in shaping new alliances prior to the parliamentary elections scheduled to be held in September this year.
Amir al-Kanani , an adviser to the president for legal affairs, acknowledged that “differences could play a major role in shaping new political relationships among the curent allies within the Shiite groups,” and wondered "what led the government to use excessive force against demonstrators.”
Kanani, a former parliamentarian for the Liberal bloc, called on the government and the House of Representatives to “conduct an honest and transparent investigation to identify those who gave the orders to kill protesters and submit the findings of this investigation to the presidency of the republic and human rights organizations."
Legal adviser to President Fuad Massum criticized what he called “the phenomenon of multiple decision-making sources in the security services and their lack of a true identity.” He called on the prime minister to “hand over the security dossier in the capital to the Interior Ministry alone and to hold accountable those who violated the law and fired live bullets to avoid the recurrence of such cases.”
If the political partners fail to reach an agreement on how to manage the state affairs and build state institutions, another round of violence and verbal and media escalation is bound to take place in the next stage, especially considering that all the partners possess armed units that can collide with each other at any time.