Thursday, January 31, 2013

Iran Moves Closer to "The Fire"

Iran insists its uranium enrichment program is just for peaceful purposes—and now it is poised to start making a lot more of it. Tehran plans on mounting as many as 3,132 new-generation, IR-2m centrifuges; the machines are capable of enriching uranium five times faster than its current equipment, reports the AP. Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its upgrade plans last week, and yesterday the IAEA informed its 35-nation board. Iran already has more than 10,000 centrifuges at its main enrichment plant in Natanz, 140 southeast of Tehran, but they are unable to enrich past 4%. Another facility in Fordo can enrich up to 20%; that material can be turned into weapons-grade uranium (levels of more than 90%) much more quickly.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Fire In Iran

(Reuters) - Iran has denied media reports of a major explosion at one of its most sensitive uranium enrichment sites, describing them as Western propaganda designed to influence upcoming nuclear negotiations.
Reuters has been unable to verify reports since Friday of an explosion early last week at the underground Fordow bunker, near the religious city of Qom, that some Israeli and Western media have said caused significant damage.
"The false news of an explosion at Fordow is Western propaganda ahead of nuclear negotiations to influence their process and outcome," state news agency IRNA quoted the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Saeed Shamseddin Bar Broudi, as saying late on Sunday.
Iran's ISNA news agency quoted military commander Massoud Jazayeri as saying: "I deny an explosion at the Fordow site."
In late 2011 the plant at Fordow began producing uranium enriched to 20 percent fissile purity, compared with the 3.5 percent level needed for nuclear energy plants. Several U.N. Security Council resolutions have ordered Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment.
Speculation of an explosion at Fordow followed an Iranian news agency report that global powers and Tehran could resume talks on Iran's disputed nuclear program on Monday and Tuesday. The European Union, the lead negotiator on the nuclear talks, said there was no such agreement.
Diplomats in Vienna, where the United Nations' nuclear agency is based, said on Monday they had no knowledge of any incident at Fordow but were looking into the reports. One Western diplomat said he did not believe them to be correct.
The U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites including Fordow, had no immediate comment.
Iran has accused Israel and the United States of trying to sabotage its nuclear program, which the West suspects hides an attempt to develop atom bomb capability. The Islamic republic says its atomic program is entirely peaceful.
Tehran has accused Israel and the United States of being behind cyber attacks on its nuclear program and the assassination of its nuclear scientists.
Washington has denied any role in the killings, while Israel has declined to comment. No government has taken responsibility for the Stuxnet computer virus that destroyed centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility in 2010, but it has been widely reported to have been a U.S.-Israeli project.
Israel, believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, has hinted at possible military action against Iran if sanctions and diplomacy fail to resolve the decade-old dispute.
Israeli Civil Defence Minister Avi Dichter told Israel's Army Radio he could not say anything about the reported Fordow blast "beyond what I heard in the media."
He added: "Any explosion in Iran which does not harm people but, rather, harms assets, is a blessing."
Western governments say the higher-grade enrichment at Fordow is a significant step towards weapons-grade material, even though it is below the 90 percent level required for nuclear bombs.
The Islamic state says it is producing 20 percent uranium to make fuel for a research reactor in Tehran that produces medical isotopes.
Wrangling over dates and location have delayed resumption of talks between global powers and Iran, but Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday both sides should "stop behaving like little children" and start work.
Three rounds of talks last year between Iran and the six powers - Russia, the United States, China, Britain, France and Germany - produced no breakthrough, increasing speculation Israel could attack Iranian nuclear installations.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Pakistan a Dysfunctional State With Nuclear Bombs

Distracted by the violence in Mali and Algeria, no one seems to be paying adequate attention to the tragicomedy under way in Pakistan.
Events of the last week demonstrate that Pakistan is a failed state — but one with nuclear weapons. Where else could a fundamentalist Muslim cleric who lives in Canada draw tens of thousands of fans to a rally calling for dissolution of the government while speaking from inside a shipping container with a bulletproof window?
That’s just one in a litany of absurdities.
At the same time comes the latest round of unresolvable acrimony between President Asif Ali Zardari and the supreme court, which has been trying to bring him down for years.
Two years ago, the court ordered the prime minister of the time, Yousuf Raza Gilani, to open a corruption investigation against Zardari, as if Pakistanis didn’t already know that Zardari, like most every government official, was thoroughly corrupt.
The court ordered Gilani to ask Swiss officials for documentation of Zardari’s in-absentia conviction on money-laundering charges 10 years ago. Gilani refused, noting that the president is supposed to be immune from prosecution.
The court scoffed. One justice spat: “Obedience to the command of a court” is “not a game of chess or a game of hide-and-seek.” And soon after, the court forced Gilani to resign. Raja Pervez Ashraf, the information technology minister, took his place. Right away the court landed on him with the same request: Help us file corruption charges against Zardari; get those Swiss documents.
The new prime minister also resisted, and wouldn’t you know it: Right now the court is trying to forcing him out of office — charging him with corruption. All of this seems to have paralyzed an already ineffective, incompetent government.
A few days ago, an officer in the state anti-corruption agency who was investigating the allegations against Ashraf was found hanged in his barracks. Police called it a suicide, but the timing is awfully convenient.
At the same time, in northwestern Pakistan thousands of protesters shouting anti-government slogans put the bodies of 15 villagers on display, charging that security forces shot them dead in their homes.
The chief security agency, the shadowy Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, did not comment but did respond to a court inquiry into the fate of seven men arrested in 2007. A court ordered them released. But all seven men disappeared.
Finally an ISI lawyer acknowledged the lack of evidence against the men, but he explained that they were arrested “on moral grounds.”
Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry shot back that the ISI simply cannot detain suspects on “moral grounds.”
“Morally, they can put anyone behind bars, even me,” Chaudhry charged. “According to them, all the people are guilty.” But despite years of heinous abuses, neither the court nor anyone else in government ever tries to reign in the renegade spy agency.
Why should we care about any of this? After all, Pakistan is hardly the only failed state in the world. Think about Somalia, Sudan, Haiti, Zimbabwe. But have any of these other states received more than $12 billion in aid from Washington over the last decade, with an additional $688 million payment now before Congress, awaiting almost certain approval?
And do any of the other failed states — Afghanistan, Chad, Nigeria, Uganda — possess nuclear weapons? No. Pakistan is the only state that has bombs, along with an Islamic insurgency intent on toppling the ineffectual government. And don’t forget that senior leaders of al-Qaida live there, too, most of them in Pakistan’s eastern borderlands.
If the Taliban ever succeed in toppling the government, they would almost certainly seize the nukes, a terrifying prospect.
Right now, though, Taliban militants, responsible for manifest mayhem and thousands of deaths in recent times, appear to be sitting back and watching. Their goal is to destabilize the state, but the sitting government is doing the job for them.
Joel Brinkley is a professor of journalism at Stanford University and a former New York Times correspondent.

Read more here:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pakistan is the Third Horn Daniel 8

 Pakistan has world's fastest growing nuclear stockpile

Ashis Ray, TNN Jan 18, 2013, 05.46AM IST
LONDON: Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal with around 115 warheads, MIT-educated Pakistani scientist Pervez Hoodbhoy says in a book Confronting the Bomb published by Oxford University Press, which is to be launched in London next week.
Hoodbhoy also maintains Pakistan has made "phenomenal progress in missile making" and that over the next 5-10 years missiles will replace aircraft as far as its delivery of weapons infrastructure is concerned. Ghauri, of course, is virtually imported from North Korea with China's assistance.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

North Korea Prepares For "The Fire"

North Korea has announced it's about to carry out a third nuclear test and more long-range rocket launches, which it says are designed to target the United States.
­"We are not disguising the fact that the various satellites and long-range rockets that we will fire and the high-level nuclear test we will carry out are aimed at the United States," North Korea's National Defense Commission says.
Pyongyang now threatens to wage a “fully-fledged confrontation'' against the US for what they call continued hostility.
The declaration follows the UN Security Council's condemnation of North Korea on Tuesday and expanded sanctions against the regime for launching a rocket in December. North Korea has always claimed the launch was a peaceful satellite mission, but the US and others say it was actually a test of long-range missile technology.
In the face of what it considers to be a US threat, North Korea “will take steps for physical counteraction to bolster the military capabilities for self-defense, including the nuclear deterrence, both qualitatively and quantitatively,'' the country's Foreign Ministry warned in a statement.
Japan states North Korea does not yet have the technology to create compact nuclear warheads, but its missiles are already advanced enough to reach the US West Coast. The latest report published by Japanese observers, states the North Korean missile program has attained a new high and poses a grave threat.
The North was banned from developing missile and nuclear technology under sanctions dating from its 2006 and 2009 nuclear tests. First tests used plutonium, were detonated underground and had limited success. This time around, the international concern is that Pyongyang may use highly-enriched uranium and get better results.
North Korea does not give a time-frame of when they intend to undertake the threatened nuclear test.
The US has already called on the North to not carry out its third test.
"We hope they don't do it. We call on them not to do it," Glyn Davies, the top US envoy for North Korean diplomacy, said in the South Korean capital, Seoul.
There is no clear indication of an imminent nuclear test, observers say. However, satellite photos recently taken at North Korea's underground nuclear test site in the far northeast showed continued activity that suggested a state of readiness even in winter.
North Korea has enough weapons-grade plutonium for about four to eight bombs, according to nuclear scientist Siegfried Hecker, who visited North Korea's nuclear complex in 2010. In 2009, Pyongyang also declared that it would begin enriching uranium, which would give North Korea a second way to make atomic weapons.
The latest UN Security Council resolution demands North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible manner," as well as Pyongyang cease rocket launches. The North insists its rocket launches are purely peaceful.
The December 12 ‘satellite’ rocket launch has been celebrated as a great triumph in North Korea. The scientists involved have been treated like heroes ever since. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un mentioned the launch in his New Year's Day speech laying out the country's main policies and goals for the year. Banners hailing the event were posted on buildings across the capital.
The US, however, is not buying into the ‘satellite’ story, considering such launches covert tests of ballistic missile technology since satellite launches and long-range missile launches have similar firing mechanisms. As if to confirm that suspicion, North Korea showed off what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile at a military parade last April.
On Thursday the United States denounced Pyongyang’s threat to conduct a nuclear weapons test as “needlessly provocative,” warning it would lead to further isolation and sanctions.
"Further provocations would only increase Pyongyang's isolation and its continued focus on its nuclear and missile program is doing nothing to help the North Korean people," White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters.
Carney referenced a recently adopted UN Security Council resolution which expanded sanctions against North Korea and warned “significant action” would be taken in the event of a further launch or nuclear test.”
"These tightened sanctions will help impede the growth of weapons-of-mass-destruction programs in North Korean programs – in North Korea, rather – and the United States will be taking additional steps in that regard, but I have nothing more for you."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Iraqi Spring Is Coming

The leader of the Sadrist trend, Muqtada al-Sadr, warned that “the Iraqi Spring is coming” after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki threatened to use force to disperse a protest along the international road in Anbar province ten days ago. So is the Iraqi Spring really coming? The simple answer is that the Iraqi Spring will be the Iranian Autumn.
Al-Maliki has not overcome the storm he is facing; rather it has transformed into a hurricane, and those that will fall this time are the Iranians, not the Iraqis. Tehran certainly would not be able to bear the fall of the criminal al-Assad regime and the uprooting of its ally al-Maliki in Iraq, for this would be a tough Iranian Autumn, especially with the Iranian presidential elections around the corner, not to mention other issues soon to come to a head such as the Iranian nuclear program. All this could push Iran to accelerate the fall of al-Maliki, before the fall of al-Assad, by replacing al-Maliki as Iraq’s Prime Minister with another, more acceptable figure. This is what many in Iraq must be alert to, especially some of the Sunnis there. They must distance themselves from such sectarianism and not raise pictures of Saddam Hussein in their protests. Just as al-Sadr warned them himself, and he is right, it is possible to turn the Iraqi storm into a hurricane to uproot al-Maliki, even before he uses the force he is threatening.
Al-Sadr has entered into the anti-Maliki demonstrations, and certainly the Kurds will follow, especially with al-Maliki’s continual threats towards them. Of course the Sadrists and the Kurds understand - along with other Iraqi political forces - the seriousness of what al-Maliki is doing in Iraq. These factors could all force Iran to take a step, along the lines of “jumping before you are pushed”, to replace al-Maliki with another figure capable of achieving the minimum level of Iraqi consensus, especially as al-Maliki has burned his bridges with the bulk of the Iraqi political trends. Iran, which is doing all it can today to prevent the inevitable fall of al-Assad, cannot afford the fall of another strategic ally, Iraq. This would be a difficult blow to take for the mullah’s regime in Iran, which, as noted above, has other important and decisive concerns, whether externally or internally.
The fall of al-Maliki, as threatened by al-Sadr through his claim that “the Iraqi Spring is coming”, means that Iran’s hands in the region will be cut off, and the magic would turn against the magician. Just as Iran thought there would be no Syria without al-Assad, Tehran could soon find itself without any state-level allies in the region, including Iraq and Syria.
Thus, as long as the active Iraqi parties mobilize in a coordinated manner, and with al-Maliki countering the demonstrations with force, and some of the Sunnis in Iraq realizing that the time now requires intelligence not emotion, especially when it comes to raising pictures of Saddam Hussein and other divisive acts, then we should not rule out the possibility that al-Maliki could fall at the hands of Iran, before the fall of the tyrant al-Assad. This would be in order to preserve the minimum of Iran’s interests in the region. Yet the fall of al-Maliki at the hands of the Iraqis, through the so-called “Iraqi Spring” that al-Sadr has warned of, will likely represent the Iranian Autumn, and this is what wise minds everywhere must encourage!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

US To Attack Iran Nuclear Facilities

Israel and Western powers are planning a covert operation to blow up Iranian nuclear facilities, an Iranian spy within Israel’s intelligence agency, Mossad, has told the Islamic regime, according to a WND source.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is to hold a high-level meeting Tuesday to discuss strategies to deal with the threat. The meeting will include Heidar Moslehi, the minister of intelligence; Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization; Ali Larijani, the head of parliament; and Sadegh Larijani, the head of the judiciary.
The source, who is in the office of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, also revealed that Iran will launch a propaganda initiative against the United States over American help during the era of the last shah to set up Iran’s nuclear facilities. The aim is to deflect attention from Tehran’s current illicit nuclear program.
With the failure of talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran last week in Tehran over the regime’s refusal to allow inspections of the Parchin military site and its insistence on the continuation of uranium enrichment, Iran has now decided to pressure the U.S. by revealing documents from the time of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
The source, who previously has provided valuable information about the regime, said documents of an accord between Iran and the U.S. will show that the shah paid Washington approximately $12 billion to help complete several projects, including eight nuclear power plants.
The agreement on the peaceful use of nuclear energy was engineered by Hushang Ansari, then Iran’s minister of economic affairs and finance, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
President Gerald Ford signed a directive in 1976 offering Iran technology for nuclear fuel as the shah then envisioned a time when oil reserves could dry up.
Read the inside story about Iran, in Reza Kahlili’s “A Time To Betray,” and also see the details about Iran, the nation that “bought the bomb,” in “Atomic Iran.
“Petroleum is a noble material, much too valuable to burn,” the shah said at the time. “We envision producing, as soon as possible, 23,000 megawatts of electricity using nuclear plants.”
According to the source, the regime, while claiming its nuclear program is peaceful, will argue that the only reason the U.S. is confronting Iran over its nuclear program now is because American companies are not involved today as they were before.
The propaganda initiative, which already has a thumbs-up from the Russians, is intended to change the subject from Iran’s covert activity in pursuit of  nuclear weapons to alleged American greed and financial profit, the source said.
Meanwhile, the regime’s Intelligence Ministry last Thursday received credible information from the spy in Mossad that Israel and certain Western countries have urgently drawn up plans for a covert operation to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations to avoid a large-scale war.
The spy provided information that a group of highly trained commandos, helped by opposition members inside Iran, will soon start their covert operation. The plan is to plant bombs to extensively damage the infrastructure of Iran’s installations, the source said.
Clare M. Lopez, a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy in Washington, D.C., said that despite frequent public reassurances from U.S. leadership and nuclear experts that Iran is one year away from the “red line” beyond which an Iranian nuclear program is unstoppable, “behind the scenes the IAEA and Western powers clearly are deeply concerned.”
Lopez noted IAEA reporting indicates the Iranian regime has accelerated its nuclear weapons program – including enrichment activities, levels of enrichment, warhead development and trigger testing – in response to punishing international sanctions.
For that reason, she said, “global concern about the actual status of Iran’s nuclear weapons must in fact be much more serious than such leadership statements are letting on.”
Last August, explosives were used to disrupt power lines to the Fordo nuclear site to slow down uranium enrichment.
Sources in the Islamic regime previously have revealed exclusively to WND the existence of a secret nuclear site in Najaf Abad, a list of Iranian scientists working on the nuclear bomb, a secret uranium enrichment site in Khondab where Russian and North Korean scientists are helping with Iran’s nuclear bomb program, and the secret bio-weapons site in Marzanabad where, with the help of Russia, Iran has mastered production of eight microbial agents, arming its missiles with biological warheads.
Another secret site that will be revealed within days, exclusively by WND, houses Iranian scientists who, with Russian help, are working on uranium enrichment using laser technology.
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).

Monday, January 21, 2013

US Opposes The Two Horns

As for who or what is behind the Shia genocide, the answer appears to be Saudi-backed, al-Qaeda-affiliated Wahhabi terrorist organizations, primarily the TTP, the SSP and the LeJ, whose activities are condoned by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and are sponsored by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as a counterforce against the increasing Iranian/ Shia influence in the region."   “Whoever helps in the killing of a believer even with a part of a word, he will meet Allah on the Day of Judgment with the following words written between his eyes: ‘Doomed from the mercy of Allah’,” said the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him).

On Thursday 10 January 2013, a series of bomb blasts ripped through Quetta, Pakistan on Alamdar Road killing at least 105 persons and wounding hundreds more, most of them Shia Muslims. The al-Qaeda-linked extremist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, whose stated goal is to transform Pakistan into a Sunni state, has claimed responsibility for the barbaric bombings. The attack has highlighted the ongoing cold-blooded campaign of Shia ethnic cleansing taking place in Pakistan, which has received sparse coverage in the Middle East and has been largely ignored by the Western media.
A brief survey of recent news headlines from Pakistan emphasizes the gruesome reality of this intentional extermination of Shia Muslims that could justifiably be termed genocide:
¬ Shia Muslims protest after bombings kill 120 in Pakistan
¬ 502 Shias killed last year, says MWM report
¬ Pakistan militants kill 41 in mass execution, attack on Shias
¬ 14 martyred in 10 days in targeted killing by TTP, SSP and LeJ terrorists across Pakistan
¬ Shia genocide in Pakistan claims 12 more lives, martyr’s son martyred, father and 2 sons martyred, 3 Shia green grocers martyred In Karachi, Quetta and Mach
¬ A Shia scholar, 2 businessman, police officer, 4 young men, in all 19 Shia men martyred in 4 days by the terrorists of TTP, SSP and LeJ across Pakistan
These headlines paint a pessimistic picture of Pakistan as a country whose internal stability situation is headed downward in a bloody spiral to barbarism, and whose security forces are impotent against the sinister syndicates executing the systematic slaughter of its Shia Muslim citizens. A number of questions arise: Who or what is behind this campaign of carnage which has claimed the lives of an estimated 20,000 Shia Muslims over the past few decades? Who are the TTP, the SSP and the LeJ, and who is backing them? And what role does the United States play in this escalating violence?
As for who or what is behind the Shia genocide, the answer appears to be Saudi-backed, al-Qaeda-affiliated Wahhabi terrorist organizations, primarily the TTP, the SSP and the LeJ, whose activities are condoned by Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI), and are sponsored by the U.S. and Saudi Arabia as a counterforce against the increasing Iranian/ Shia influence in the region. The Economist reports, “The violence has been notable not just for its scale, but for what lies beneath it: a growing alliance between established anti-Shia militant groups and the Pakistani Taliban, Sunni extremists who have spun out of the army’s control, allied with Al-Qaeda, and are determined to attack the Pakistani state.”

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Iran and Pakistan Will Soon Unite

Iran has strongly condemned recent bomb attacks in Pakistan in which more than 100 people, including Shia Muslims, were killed.

On Friday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast also called for an international condemnation of the “criminal acts” and offered his sympathy to the families of the victims of the terrorist attacks.

He referred to the increased killing of Pakistani citizens in recent weeks as “targeted” attacks.

“Undoubtedly, the main objective of this organized and Zionist sedition is to fan the flames of sectarian strife among the Pakistani people, particularly between Shias and Sunnis in this country,” Mehmanparast said.

The Iranian official also urged all countries and international bodies to work towards the eradication of the “ominous phenomenon of terrorism.”

A total of 129 people were killed and 280 wounded in three bomb attacks across Pakistan on Thursday.

Ninety-two people were killed and 200 others wounded in a twin bombing that targeted Shia Muslims in a crowded billiards hall in the western city of Quetta. Earlier in the day, 12 security forces were also killed in a bomb explosion at a security check point in the city.

In another incident, a bomb detonated inside a mosque in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest of Islamabad, leaving 25 Sunni Muslims dead and 80 others wounded.

Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered an alliance with the US in the so-called war against terrorism.

Since late 2009, there has been a surge in militant attacks in Pakistan. Thousands have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping the country.

Hundreds of Shia Muslims were killed across Pakistan last year. The attacks targeted many doctors, engineers, high-ranking government officials, teachers, and politicians.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

No Deal To Stop "The Fire"

Two days of talks between Iran and UN nuclear inspectors have failed to find a way to let investigations of alleged nuclear weapon research move forward.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said new talks were set for Feb. 12, but that the latest round in Tehran did not yield permission by Iran to visit a military base at Parchin – a top priority declared by inspectors – nor a work plan to resolve other long-

standing issues.

"We had two days of intensive discussions," IAEA Deputy Director General Herman Nackaerts said upon return to Vienna on Friday. "Differences remain, so we could not finalize the structured approach to resolve the outstanding issues regarding possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear program."

The setback comes after a year of effort to reach a framework deal between Iran and the IAEA. That process, however, has been conducted in the shadow of strategic nuclear talks between Iran and world powers known as the P5+1 (the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany). Iranian diplomats have stated that they will resolve issues with the IAEA in the context of a broader Iran-P5+1 nuclear deal, which is meant to lay down parameters for Iran's nuclear work that ensure it can't push for an atomic bomb.

Three rounds of those P5+1 talks failed last spring. After a half-year lull, a fourth round had been expected by the end of this month.

Yet lack of agreement on a date and venue – and reports of only modest revision of the past P5+1 offer already rejected by Tehran, which required Iran to make several strategic moves first, before receiving any significant sanctions relief – have made that next round uncertain.
Uncharacteristically quiet

Iranian media have kept uncharacteristically quiet about the IAEA talks, with little reaction on Friday, the weekend in Iran. Earlier in the week Iran reiterated numerous previous statements by Iran's top religious authority, Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, which forbid the making, stockpiling or using of nuclear weapons as un-Islamic.

"There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwas," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said on the eve of the IAEA meeting. "This fatwa is our operational instruction."

Mr. Mehmanparast dismissed concerns about Parchin, saying activities at the military base "have nothing to do with nuclear activities." Inspectors have visited Parchin twice before, but now suspect that a different building in the sprawling complex may have been used in the past for implosion experiments that could apply to nuclear arms.

"Any issue that may exist can be overcome in meetings between representatives of Iran and the IAEA," Mehmanparast said, but after "Iran's nuclear rights are fully recognized and a specific agreement is reached."

After the previous visits to Parchin, Iran wants to work out an inspection arrangement that has a definite list of obligations by the Islamic Republic and an expected end date, so the process does not continue for years.

Iran also demands that it see evidence of past weapons-related work held by the IAEA, which Iran dismisses as forgeries from hostile intelligence agencies. Most of it has been provided by Israeli and US intelligence, but Iran has not been allowed to actually see it – a fact that has troubled IAEA relations with Iran for years, and which Mr. Nackaerts said before the Tehran meeting would be on the agenda.

Both Iran and the IAEA had noted progress at their last meeting in December, but the IAEA kept expectations low for the meeting this week.

"The outlook is not bright," IAEA chief Yukiya Amano said a week ago in Tokyo. "Talks with Iran don't proceed in a linear way. It's one step forward, two or three steps back.... So we can't say we have an optimistic outlook."

Friday, January 18, 2013

Who Needs a Missile For Delivery?

Do Suitcase Nukes Exist?
The answer to the existence question is certainly yes, at least for "trunk size" devices. Unclassified sources have reported that small nuclear devices were developed by both the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, a direct result of the work on tactical nuclear weapons. These would not fit in a briefcase, but are portable by one or two people.
SADM packing case small atomic munition
The U.S. developed a class of devices called "Atomic Demolition Munitions" (ADM), intended for use as atomic land mines. ADMs were in the U.S. inventory from the late 1950's until such weapons were phased out by arms-control agreements in the 1980's. A version of the ADM for use by Special Forces, the "Special Atomic Demolition Munitions" (SADM), was suitcase or duffle bag size, weighing less than 100 pounds (photo, left, is SADM packing case). The top photo on this page is from a declassified film showing a demonstration of the SADM in the late 1960s. The exact status of these weapons today is unclear.
The Soviet Union's small nuclear devices were developed for nuclear mines and possibly for Spetsnaz attacks (Special Forces). In 1997, General Aleksandr Lebed claimed that the Soviet Union created one hundred and fifteen atomic demolition munitions (ADMs), low-yield, one kiloton devices that were small, portable, and without safety devices to prevent unauthorized detonation. Lebed further raised the issue of whether the ADMs were all in proper custody and accounted for. Others have contradicted Lebed -- the issue is unsettled, but it is most likely that the Soviets did produce small atomic munitions, similar to the U.S. SADM.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Sixth Seal Will Come

VERMONTVILLE, N.Y. —A minor earthquake has rattled the northern Adirondacks.

The 2.4-magnitude temblor struck at 8:46 a.m. Wednesday and was centered 11 miles northeast of Saranac Lake.

Sue Capone of Vermontville told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that the quake shook her house and came with a big boom that sounded like thunder.

The temblor followed other small quakes near Val-des-Bois, Quebec, and near Wiscasset, Maine.

Read more:

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Iran Claims Region Uranium

As war continues to rage in Syria, regional and international governments are growing increasingly concerned with the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons. The concern is that the deadly weapons will find their way into the hands of terrorists or terrorist-
sponsoring nations, particularly Iran. But it is not only chemical weapons that could fall into terrorist hands. The Financial Times reports that Syria may hold a large stockpile of unenriched uranium.

Syria’s uranium stockpile first became an issue in 2007. Israeli satellite photos had revealed a facility on Syrian soil capable of producing weapons-grade nuclear material. Upon reviewing the reactor design, Israeli intelligence officials determined that the reactor was similar in design to those made by North Korea. Israeli intelligence determined that with the amount of uranium already obtained, Syria could potentially build five nuclear bombs. In September 2007, an Israeli airstrike destroyed the suspected nuclear facility in the northern Syrian town of Musalmiya. Israel claimed the facility was being used for nuclear purposes, despite Syria signing the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

In 2008, the International Atomic Energy Agency visited the site, but only found trace amounts of uranium—no stockpiles. Where did the rest of the uranium go?

This is a question that haunts many in Israel and the West. With no reactor to use the uranium, Syria can continue to hide it until it has a new reactor, or it can sell it. With the country engulfed in political and social upheaval, the option of selling the stockpile would look ever more appealing to a weakening, cash-starved government.

During the August 1990 Gulf War, many analysts worried about what Saddam Hussein would do with his biological and chemical weapons. Stockpiles were eventually found in Iraq, but not to the extent that Western intelligence agencies expected. At the time, analysts puzzled over where the stockpiles disappeared to. As it turned out, they went to Syria.

This time it may be Syria doing the selling. But who would be interested in such a vast stockpile?

Enter Iran. Iran would clearly jump at the chance to obtain Syria’s stockpile. Iran already struggles to find the uranium needed for its supposedly peaceful purposes.

Iran is a close ally to the current Syrian government. Should Iran purchase the uranium, it could easily be transported to Iran by air—or, since Iraq is already acting as a conduit for Iranian arms transfers to Syria, the uranium could even be transported via the overland route through Iraq.

The amount of potentially deadly weaponry in Syria is a great cause for concern.

If Iran gained control of the uranium stockpile, it would further crush any hopes the Obama administration holds for curbing Iran’s nuclear program. The Trumpet has long forecast that Iran would continue its ongoing quest for nuclear arms, despite international pressure. As Brad Macdonald wrote back in the December 2004 print edition of the Trumpet magazine, “Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons is essentially a push to establish itself as the preeminent nation in the Islamic world .… Its drive for nukes is simply a drive to become the dominant Islamic nation.” Should Iran get its hands on Syria’s uranium, it would signify another step forward on Iran’s path to fulfilling its ambition as the king of the south.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

What Happened To All That Yellow Cake in Libya?

CNN’s Ben Wedeman reported Thursday that his team had found two warehouses full of what appeared to be radioactive material on a military base near the Libya town of Sabha.
“We’ve come across two warehouses full of thousands of blue barrels — some of them marked radioactive — on the ground,” Wedeman told CNN’s Kyra Phillips. “In one of the warehouses, we found several large plastic bags full of what appears to be yellow powder, which had been closed also with this radioactive tape.”
The team also found dosimeters and film that can be used to detect radiation.
“It was lightly guarded — I stress the lightly — by about three to four guys in their late teens, early 20s,” he reported.
In a subsequent report, Wedeman described the materials as uranium yellow cake, a concentrated powder used in an intermediate step of manufacturing fuel for nuclear reactors and weapons-grade uranium.
“What it appears to be is yellow cake which is sort of one of the rudimentary — is a uranium oxide compound that is one of the precursors which after a lot of refining can become radioactive material or nuclear material for a weapon,” he explained.
“According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), they are aware or were aware of this site, that it contained nuclear material or atomic material. In fact, we did find one piece of hand-written paper that said, ’350,000 tons declared,’ which would indicate that this is somehow what Libya’s government in 2004 when it decided to come clean on its nuclear weapons program, declared that they possessed this material, this yellow cake.”
Prior to the invasion of Iraq in 2002, President George W. Bush bolstered his case for war by making the false claim that then-Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had sought significant quantities of yellow cake from Africa.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Pakistan (the Third Horn) Controls Nukes

In the prologue to the book, John Polyani, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1986, delivers the unequivocal message in his preface that nuclear bombs are a man-made plague on the earth; while Hoodbhoy in his introduction describes how Pakistan acquired the bomb for deterrence but continues to milk it like a cash cow, threatening Western countries that if they don’t continue to bail Pakistan out financially, our weapons could “go missing” and that would be a much higher price to pay.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Antichrist Tries To Unify Iraq

Iraq's prominent radical Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr has called for the fair implementation of national security laws that have drawn weeks of protests from minority Sunnis who see them as biased against their community.

In an interview with VOA's sister television network, Alhurra, al-Sadr said he agreed with Sunni protesters that the government of Iraq's Shi'ite prime minister has been acting in a biased way.  "We believe the problem is in the implementation of the [security] laws, and not the laws themselves," al-Sadr said.

He said his Shi'ite political movement wants Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fairly apply the laws, which enable the detention of suspected terrorists and the removal of officials linked to the Baath party of Iraq's former Sunni dictator, Saddam Hussein.  Al-Sadr's party, the Sadrist Trend, is a member of Maliki's ruling coalition and has 40 seats in the 325-member parliament.

Sunni complaints

Thousands of Iraqi Sunnis have been staging weeks of anti-government protests across the country, denouncing what they see as Maliki's use of the security laws to target and marginalize the Sunni minority.  The protests erupted last month in response to security forces detaining the bodyguards of Iraq's Sunni finance minister - one of the few Sunni members of Maliki's Cabinet.

Many Sunni demonstrators also accuse the prime minister of acting like a dictator and want him to resign.  In the largest protest, Sunnis have blocked a key highway for three weeks in the western province of Anbar.

In the interview, al-Sadr expressed sympathy for the protests, saying he does not differentiate between fellow Shi'ites and Sunnis.  "What is happening in Anbar province is not a crisis, but a healthy phenomenon that reflects a popular and democratic movement," al-Sadr said.

Calls for reform

He also said most Sunni demonstrators want the controversial security laws to be reformed rather than eliminated.  "They are only against the way [the laws] are being implemented.  They are for de-Baathification [of the government], but without discrimination."

Al-Sadr suggested Maliki should resign over the crisis. "The prime minister should act as a father figure to all Iraqis.  If the father does not play a just and fair role between his children, he does not deserve the title of father figure."

But the Shi'ite cleric declined to join the protesters' demand for an amnesty to be granted to Sunni women detained under the anti-terrorism law.  When asked about the demand, al-Sadr said he believes the law has been implemented "badly," but he also added that "all of us want to fight terrorism."

Saturday, January 12, 2013

More Fuel For The Fire

(Reuters) - Western and Israeli security experts suspect Syria may have tons of unenriched uranium in storage and that any such stockpile could potentially be of interest to its ally Iran for use in Tehran's own disputed nuclear program.

They say natural uranium could have been acquired by the Arab state years ago to fuel a suspected nuclear reactor under construction that was bombed by Israel in 2007.

S. intelligence reports at the time said the site in Syria's desert Deir al-Zor region was a nascent, North Korean-designed reactor designed to produce plutonium for atomic arms.

Syria, ravaged by a war the United Nations says has killed 60,000 people, has denied accusations of a clandestine nuclear program. Its envoy in Vienna, where the U.N. nuclear watchdog is based, was not available for comment on Friday.

"Someplace there has got to be an inventory of fuel for the reactor. It doesn't make sense to have a nuclear installation, a nuclear reactor, without any fuel," proliferation expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment think tank said.

But, he added, "to my knowledge there hasn't been any substantiated accounts identifying where that material may be located." It would likely have come from North Korea, he said.

Even if Syria did have such a stockpile, it would not be usable for nuclear weapons in its present form, a fact that makes it less of a pressing concern for the West than fears that government forces may use chemical arms against their foes.

The Financial Times newspaper said this week Syria may hold up to 50 metric tons of unenriched, or natural, uranium - material which can fuel atomic power plants and also provide the explosive core of nuclear bombs, but only if refined to a high degree.

Some government officials have raised concerns that Iran might try to seize it, the FT said, without identifying them.

Though such a quantity in theory could yield material for several atom bombs, it would first have to be enriched much further, from 0.7 percent of the fissile isotope in natural uranium to 90 percent, in a technically complicated process.

Iran, which denies Western accusations of atomic bomb ambitions, has said its mines can supply the raw uranium needed for its nuclear program and that it has no shortage problems.

The U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which for several years has been seeking access to the destroyed Deir al-Zor site as well as three other locations that may be linked to it, declined to comment on the FT report.

A recently retired Israeli security official said he believed Syria was keeping uranium at a site near Damascus, one of the places the IAEA wants to inspect, but he did not say what he based this on.


The former Israeli official said rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who now control a crescent of suburbs on the outskirts of the capital, may get hold of the stockpile and make its existence public.

"Then it would put paid to the Syrians' claims that they never had a reactor in the first place," he said.

Another possibility was that Syria, "knowing the material is no longer secured, could ship it out to Iran, which is certainly in need of more uranium for its own nuclear plans," the former Israeli official, who declined to be named, added.

But a veteran Israeli intelligence analyst who now works as a government adviser said the figure of 50 metric tons of uranium cited by the Financial Times was "not at all familiar to me".

A Western diplomat said there had been speculation about possible uranium - perhaps in the form of natural uranium metal to fuel a reactor - in Syria because of the destroyed Deir al-Zor site but that he knew of no specific details.

"It is plausible. But as far as I know no one has ever had any idea where the material is," he said, adding it would not be easy to ship large quantities to Iran without detection.

Syria says Deir al-Zor was a conventional military facility but the IAEA concluded in May 2011 that it was "very likely" to have been a reactor that should have been declared to its anti-proliferation inspectors.

If there is a stockpile of uranium in Syria, it would be of use for Iran as it faces a potential shortage, said Mark Fitzpatrick, a proliferation expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) think-tank.

"Syria has been getting quite a bit of help from Iran. This would have been one means of repaying them," he said. "There is evidence that Iran is looking around the world for uranium."

Israel, which is widely believed to have the Middle East's only nuclear arsenal, and Western powers accuse Iran of seeking to develop a capability to make atomic bombs.

The Islamic state says its program to refine uranium is solely intended for peaceful energy and medical purposes.

Some Western analysts have said Iran may be close to exhausting its supply of raw uranium, known as "yellow cake", although IAEA reports suggest it still has plenty of natural uranium gas to use for its enrichment work.

"If there is an undeclared inventory of 50 tonnes of uranium then, if I were Assad, I would want to spirit it out of there and the most likely place would be Iran," Hibbs said.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Horns of Iraq and Iran Strengthen Alliances

BAGHDAD, Jan. 4 (UPI) -- An emerging alliance between former foes Iran and Iraq in OPEC is expected to undermine Saudi Arabia, long the oil cartel's dominant force, and other moderate Arab states which could threaten the 12-member oil producers' group and push up oil prices sharply.
This also underlines Iran's ceaseless efforts to dominate its western neighbor politically and economically that began the moment the Americans toppled Saddam Hussein in April 2003 and has accelerated since the U.S. military withdrawal in December 2011.
Iran and Iraq are two of the top producers in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and between them of nearly 300 billion barrels of oil. Oil industry insiders say Iraq also sits on as much as 150 billion barrels in unexplored reservoirs.
An agreement by these two countries that dominate the northern Persian Gulf, a strategic zone that currently produces at least one third of the world's oil supplies, could have immense geopolitical consequences, despite an expected U.S. shale oil boom.
Iran has always been a price hawk, seeking to keep prices as high as the market will entertain, while the Saudis and the other Arab monarchies in the gulf have generally sought to moderate prices to support the industrialized powers that are their main customers.
The recovery of Iraq's badly rundown oil industry since Saddam's downfall has thrust it back into the major producers' league and it needs high prices to generate the funds for its post-Saddam reconstruction.
So it has moved from its alignment with Saudi Arabia to stand alongside Iran within OPEC, adding significant weight to the price hawks and increasingly politicizing the cartel's decision-making.
The Shiite-dominated government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who like other senior Shiite politicians has close links to Iran where he found sanctuary during Saddam's brutal rule in the 1970s and '80s, is also seeking to lessen its dependence on the United States since U.S. forces pulled out.
Indeed, Maliki owes his premiership in large part to Tehran and is kept in power by the backing of a powerful Iran-run Shiite alliance.
This trend, and Iran's determination to dominate its most inveterate opponent with whom it fought a terrible war in 1980-88, is likely to alter the geopolitical landscape in the strategic gulf region.
Before the Americans left Iraq, Iran had been waging a clandestine war against them in Iraq and poured billions of dollars into building up a vast patronage and intelligence network in the country so its political influence is immense.
"Over time, the likelihood of Iraq needing to accommodate Iranian strategic interests is most likely," observed George Friedman, chief executive officer of the U.S. global security consultancy Stratfor.
"The possibility of Iraq becoming a puppet of Iran cannot be ruled out, and this has especially wide regional consequences."
Now Algeria's military-backed government, in sore need of copious oil revenue to buy itself out of the pro-democracy current surging through the Arab world, has became what the Financial Times calls "the uber hawk" in OPEC.
"Algeria's growing hawkish voice is important because it is giving firepower to the other countries calling for higher oil prices in OPEC," Javier Blas, the Financial Times' commodities editor, observed recently.
Tehran's alliance with Iraq is vitally important for Iran, whose oil production and exports are steadily shrinking because of ever-tightening economic sanctions by the United States and the European Union imposed to force it to abandon its contentious nuclear program.
Bereft of badly need foreign investment to recharge its ailing hydrocarbons industry, Tehran needs Iraq's increasing clout within OPEC as its output steadily grows, eclipsing the Islamic Republic as a production power.
"Riyadh is determined to prevent the group being dragged into Iran's nuclear standoff with the West" and, until recently, "member states had done a good job of papering over their differences on the issue," the Financial Times observed.
Oil prices are running at around $100-$110 a barrel. Iraq, for example, would like to see that go up to $120 as it shoots for a production level of around 10 million bpd over the next 5-6 years.
Amid growing global economic uncertainty, soaring oil prices are a significant threat that could plunge the world back into recession. The general consensus among analysts is that prices have to come down.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nouri al-Maliki, Iraq's prime minister, has warned largely Sunni demonstrators to stop their protests against the Shia-led government which they say discriminates against them.

The move comes as powerful Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr voiced his support for the Sunni protests.

Maliki has ordered the release of more than 700 female prisoners, a key demand of the demonstrators, but he also issued a warning to the protesters to end their rallies.

Al Jazeera's Omar Al Saleh reports from Baghdad.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Iran Already Nuclear Ready

Iran successfully has built a nuclear bomb with the help of Russia and North Korea and has enough weapons-grade uranium and plutonium for more, according to a source in the Revolutionary Guards intelligence unit.

The source, who has access to Iran’s nuclear program, said the Islamic regime is working out of seven nuclear sites, most unknown to the IAEA, and that its nuclear bomb program is complete.
North Korea has provided the regime with plutonium for nuclear warheads, the source verified, and the last obstacle to overcome is arming missiles with those warheads.
The source, who revealed the existence of the regime’s microbial plant and its effort on biological weapons as published on Jan. 1 by WND exclusively, now has provided information on two of the seven secret sites.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

New York At Risk For Major Quake


Cities at Risk for Earthquakes: New York City

Manhattan Island is crisscrossed by earthquake faults, and twice in its history — 1737 and 1884 the nation's biggest city has been jolted by relatively mild quakes in the 5.0 range. Whenever the next one strikes, scientists worry that it could be far bigger. Much of Manhattan sits on a deep layer of soft, post-Ice Age sediment over extremely hard rock, a juxtaposition of geological extremes that bodes ominously. A 6.0 quake could shake the city's buildings with nearly the intensity of the 6.8 quake in Kobe. Inexplicably, the city dragged its feet about adding earthquake-mitigating requirements to its building codes until the mid-1990s. The generally well-designed towers in the Manhattan's skyline most likely would survive a 6.0, but the unreinforced masonry townhouses where most residents live might not fare so well. A 1989 study estimated that a quake would cause more than 130 simultaneous blazes, which could put the fire department under severe strain.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Antichrist Back At Iraq Centerstage

Al-Monitor this week launched the Iraq Pulse, featuring original reporting and commentary from prominent reporters and analysts inside Iraq.

About This Article

Summary :
Al-Monitor this week launched the Iraq Pulse, featuring original reporting and commentary from prominent reporters and analysts inside Iraq.
Author: Week in Review
posted on: Sun, Jan 6, 2013
Categories : Originals Iraq  
Iraqi politics, and the regional context in which they happen, are increasingly contentious, factionalized, and volatile, even by Iraq’s standards.
Relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region have deteriorated even further since Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki deployed the Tigris Operational Command in disputed areas near Kirkuk in late 2012.  In addition to the ongoing dispute over a hydrocarbons law and revenue sharing, the military edge to the conflict is an ominous sign, reminiscent of the crisis in Khanaqin in 2008, when US intervention prevented a military confrontation.   As Ryan Crocker, former US ambassador to Iraq, told Al-Monitor recently, “The Kurdish region exists inextricably as part of a region that has never been more volatile than it is right now.”

Provincial elections, scheduled for this Spring, may be catalyst for score-settling among Iraq’s political parties, as Saleem Al-Hasani wrote this week for Al-Monitor.  Maliki is facing an uprising by Sunni groups in Ramadi and elsewhere. Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr is seeking to exploit the Sunni challenge to Maliki, as Ali Abdel Sadah reported for Al-Monitor.
The politics surrounding investigations into allegations of corruption in a Russian arms deal to Iraq and at Iraq’s Central Bank, both covered by Al-Monitor, have heightened the sense of crisis and instability in Iraq.
Iraqi politics cannot be detached from the machinations and intrigues of its neighbors and the broader regional context.  As this column has previously noted, Iraq is a fault line in the sectarian war between Turkey and Iran, which is playing out in Syria and throughout the Middle East.  The Turkey-Iran contest for influence in Syria and Iraq, and the broader sectarian conflict, are all of a piece.
The evolution of Turkey’s sectarian agenda, including in Iraq, as Semih Idiz wrote this week in Al-Monitor, has puzzled many observers. The basic understanding of Turkish interests in Iraq has historically been to support a unified, though not necessarily strong country while containing the aspirations of Iraq’s Kurds, given Turkey’s own Kurdish issue.  That Prime Minister Erdogan has thrown his lot completely with Kurdistan Region President Massoud Barzani has worsened relations with Baghdad, and by extension Iran.
Barzani may be boxed in by his worsening relations with Maliki and an overdependence on Ankara, as Denise Natali has written.  The Kurdistan Region’s progress in signing production sharing agreements with international oil companies is noteworthy, but long term prosperity depends on a deal with Baghdad, and there is no sign of progress there.
As Erdogan pursues a sectarian program for Iraq, Iran will check Turkey’s ambitions.  Tehran will make clear to Barzani, Erdogan, Maliki, Sadr, and everyone else that Iran alone will be the arbiter of war or peace, instability or stability, in Iraq, as well as in Syria, Lebanon, and Gaza.
Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse will cover Iraq with the same diversity, originality, depth, and attention to trends which characterize our Israel, Lebanon, Palestine and Turley Pulses.  Given that Iraq remains central to the political, economic, and strategic landscape of the region, the Iraq Pulse furthers Al-Monitor’s mission to uncover the trends while covering the news in the Middle East.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Antichrist Moqtada al-Sadr Unifies Iraq

No one in Iraq had ever imagined that a popular and political alliance would one day bring together Muqtada al-Sadr and the Sunni Arabs. The two parties participated in an excruciating civil war (2006-2008) that resulted in thousands of casualties on both sides.

Sunni Arabs have always viewed Sadr as the commander of an armed militia. However, they are now strongly calling on him to join them in their protests against Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Sadr, in turn, has always viewed the Sunnis as terrorists that threaten the Shiites. However, he supported them in the media, lashed out at his Shiite ally and is currently preparing to launch protests in Shiite cities to oust Maliki.

The Anbar demonstrations (in west Baghdad), which were launched more than 10 days ago, began to reveal a troubled relationship between the two parties. In fact, a senior tribal leader told a group of Sadr's aids, "If Sadr does not join, there will be voices calling once again for secession (the Sunni secession or the formation of independent provinces), and we will not be able to mute these voices this time.

Prime Minister Maliki faced major political confrontations with Sunni political representatives in the months that followed the US withdrawal from Iraq. In fact, one of their senior commanders accused Tariq al-Hashemi of being involved in acts of violence. During the same period, Maliki fought an open conflict with the Kurds over power in the disputed areas in northern Iraq, as well as an equally important struggle with his Shiite allies (in southern Iraq) to prove that he is the most representative of this community and that he deserves a third term, which was strongly rejected by Sadr.

With the failure of efforts aimed at dismissing Maliki through a former political alliance between Kurdistan regional leader Massoud Barzani, Sunni-backed Iraqiya List leader Iyad Allawi and Sadr, the demonstrations that recently started in Anbar reshuffled the cards through an alliance that is in the offing between Sadr and influential Sunni clerics led by Sheikh Abdul-Malik al-Saadi.

A couple of hours were enough for the septuagenarian Sheikh Saadi to completely change the tone of the Anbar demonstrations. He returned on a wheelchair from his residence in Amman, Jordan, and directly headed to the square of demonstrations. He changed the gathering from a rally of Saddam Hussein's fans — who held up photos of the dictator and flags from his reign — into a demonstration characterized by Shiite slogans. Participants raised post-American occupation flags and adopted realistic goals, which did not mention the restoration of the previous rule and criticized terrorism.

Over the past two days, Sadr and Saadi made phone calls and had their delegations hold talks in preparation for a direct meeting between the two in order for Shiite cities to begin demonstrations against Maliki, if not to oust him. Based on Sadr’s demands, these demonstrations will force him to give up on running for a third term in the 2014 elections.

Ironically enough, when Maliki launched a war on Sadr's militia in 2008 and 2009, the Sunnis described him as a "national hero." Maliki remained a hero to them until the 2010 elections, when he failed to win the Sunni votes in the elections as he had expected, and then fought a year-long struggle with their political representatives to win a second term.

Today, the Sunnis share just as many differences as they do common goals with Sadr. The two parties have detainees in prison and they both hope that they will be released by a general amnesty. They both believe that Maliki monopolizes power in a bid to serve the interests of his party and his close associates. Moreover, they both have a close relationship with Turkey, a strategic ally of Barzani.

However, there are major differences between the two parties, including deep ideological differences in doctrine and in their interpretations of religious history. These differences also include the fact that Sadr presents himself as a political cleric, or as his supporters put it: a "leader" who combines religious authority with political power, just like the Iranian regime that the Sunnis oppose.

But when Sadr went to Iran after 2008 to study, his personality significantly changed. His close associates say that this resulted from his experience with the mistakes of Iran's ruling theory. In fact, when he returned to Iraq he adopted a different viewpoint regarding the relationship between the Shiite majority and the Sunni minority and described it as a "tolerant relationship," rather than a "hostile" one. Moreover, he started saying that "Maliki's entire policy is offensive to the Shiites because it portrays them as a tyrannical majority in the eyes of the Kurds and the Sunnis." Sadr concluded a press conference by saying that "Iraq is not only composed of Shiites, but of Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians, Mandaeans and Jews as well.

The Sunnis got that message, embraced it and translated it into demonstrations. Thus, they turned the former militia leader into a new Shiite hero who perceives them as partners, not followers.