Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan
By Brooklyn Eagle
New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.
And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.
If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.
But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.
Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.
“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.
While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.
“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”
Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”
While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

The Saudi Horn Attacks the Iranian Horn (Daniel)

Iran’s Khamenei says the attackers were paid by Saudis…
Marta SubatSeptember 30, 2018
LONDON, Sept 24 – Iran´s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said on Monday that the attackers who killed 25 people at a military parade were paid by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, and Iran would “severely punish” those behind the attack.
“Based on reports, this cowardly act was done by people who the Americans come to help when they are trapped in Syria and Iraq, and are paid by Saudi Arabia and the UAE,” Khamenei was quoted as saying on his official website. (Reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Babylon the Great Threatens Iran

US secretary of state threatens retaliation against Iran for Iraq attacks
Mike Pompeo accuses Tehran’s forces of targeting American diplomatic facilities
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo directly threatened retaliation against Iran on Friday, after accusing Iranian forces of repeatedly directing attacks against US diplomatic facilities in Iraq.
“Iran should understand that the United States will respond promptly and appropriately to any such attacks,” Mr Pompeo said in a statement, adding both the US consulate general in Basrah and the US embassy in Baghdad had been targeted.
Tensions between the Washington and Tehran are rising ahead of a looming November 5 deadline for the reimposition of US nuclear sanctions on Iran’s oil exports following Donald Trump’s May withdrawal from a 2015 multi-country nuclear accord with the country.
Leaders of the two countries traded indirect barbs at the UN general assembly this week, with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani accusing Mr Trump of instigating an “economic war” against his country. Mr Trump told heads of state that Iran was sowing “chaos, death and disruption” across the region and called for new sanctions.
Mr Pompeo said there had been “repeated incidents of indirect fire” — usually mortar or other rocket attacks in which the launcher cannot see the ultimate target — against US facilities including within the past 24 hours. He blamed the government of Iran, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Quds Force, and militias “facilitated by and under the control and direction of the Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani” for the increasing threats against US personnel and facilities in Iraq over past weeks.
State department also ordered US government personnel to leave the US diplomatic facility in Basrah. “Given the increasing and specific threats and incitement to attack our personnel and facilities in Iraq, I have directed that an appropriate temporary relocation of diplomatic personnel in Iraq take place,” he added.

Why India is Not a Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7/8)

India’s challenge in asserting its stance on global nuclear disarmament requires a precise articulation of its goals and plans.
Photo: Peter Miller — © Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0
For India, non-proliferation challenges have warranted special attention both from regional and global contexts for several decades. India’s tumultuous relationship with its neighbours and its desire to be a regional and global power has continually shaped the tenets of its nuclear weapons programme and policy. India has also remained a steadfast champion of global nuclear disarmament, including through multilateral initiatives such as the 1988 “Action Plan for A Nuclear Weapon Free and Non-violent World Order.
Nevertheless, proliferation of nuclear weapons and the current international security environment has created a tense space for making global disarmament a reality. India’s nuclear weapons programme, therefore, is heavily predicated upon its ability to act as a deterrence mechanism to prevent a nuclear conflict. The discourse on the logistics of nuclear non-proliferation has remained focused on the need to maintain regional stability. Even as India’s dominant assumption of its nuclear weapons has been determined by the effectiveness as a deterrence mechanism, the international community, from time to time, finds discrepancies in India’s ideology and its ability to actively promote nuclear disarmament (even if it is not actively increasing it either).

India’s nuclear weapons programme is heavily predicated upon its ability to act as a deterrence mechanism to prevent a nuclear conflict. The discourse on the logistics of nuclear non-proliferation has remained focused on the need to maintain regional stability.

The non-proliferation challenges faced by the world today require focused engagement by major nuclear powers like India, France and the US, since the popular understanding is that Pakistan has plans to steadily increase its nuclear weapons arsenal (in the near future), despite India putting the advancement of its weapons programme on hold. India’s position on the non-proliferation challenges cannot be divorced from the intentions of nuclear states like Pakistan and China. In order to engage major nuclear powers in a productive dialogue, there has to be special effort from New Delhi to reify its position as a responsible partner in the nuclear stability dialogue.
Another potential aspect that affects India’s stance is Pakistan’s development of tactical nuclear weapons and the expectations that come with a significant response to these advances. Common perception of defence policymaking in India dictates that many policies in the advancement of weapons on either side of the border is a calculated response to the other’s moves. Pakistan’s close relationship with China (a nuclear and global superpower) has also been a cause of concern for Indian policymakers. However, in India’s quest for a Nuclear Weapon Free World (NWFW), the exaggeration of this relationship is potentially detrimental. India has managed to gradually define its parameters for nuclear weapons in a manner that reflects its resistance to increasing its arsenal. However, the role of Pakistan’s stance and its relationship with its neighbours cannot be downplayed in the context of regional stability.
Another challenge that India faces, within this conversation, is in terms of the ability of international organisations to advocate and ensure the possibility of a NWFW. With the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, there was a legally binding feature that was introduced on the global nuclear disarmament policy narrative, which did not exist previously in other UN mechanisms such as the NPT and the CTBT. Therefore, it is crucial to acknowledge that the UN’s ability to produce tangible results has been sub-par. As is the case with such endeavours, major state actors are not signatories to one or the other, and therefore the attainment of a NWFW remains unfinished.

Pakistan’s close relationship with China has also been a cause of concern for Indian policymakers. However, in India’s quest for a Nuclear Weapon Free World, the exaggeration of this relationship is potentially detrimental.

Public perception in India on nuclear weapons is shaped by the India-Pakistan conflict dynamics, based on nuclear capability, among other parameters. Nuclear policy aspects such as No First Use (NFU) and Negative Security Assurance (NSA) have garnered extensive attention which has perpetuated India’s status as a responsible Nuclear Weapons State (NWS) in a relatively volatile region. India attempts to assert its relevance in the nuclear dialogue in order to perpetuate its stand on the policy of global nuclear disarmament.
With India maintaining a prolonged overt nuclear programme, there has been concern surrounding the country’s stance on non-proliferation. However, it is important to note that India has not wavered from its push towards universal disarmament in a credible time frame. Nevertheless, the international community has expressed anxieties over India’s own lack of credibility, due to its refusal to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and concerns over the commitment to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. Within this context, it must be noted that India has agreed to partial safeguards, monitoring nuclear technology that has been acquired from outside sources. India has also categorically reassured the international community of its commitment to non-proliferation, but the sense of ambiguity around the commitment still plays out in the global nuclear debates.
India’s challenge in asserting its stance on global nuclear disarmament requires a precise articulation of the goals and plans to promote this agenda. Although India reinforces its commitment to the policy of nuclear disarmament, the complex security dynamics in the South Asian region has had a determining effect in its ability to pursue this agenda. Its pursuit of reduction is hampered by the qualitative and quantitative factors, demonstrated by the significant changes taking place in both China and Pakistan respectively. However, India holds the potential to provide the necessary push needed to create a space for accountability and action, in a situation that has previously remained relatively stagnant.
The non-proliferation and global disarmament discussions require a monumental shift towards more dialogue. The lack of concrete responses from the nuclear powers has perpetuated a gridlock situation. This provides New Delhi with an opportunity to articulate the pertinence of non-proliferation and disarmament dialogue, which can also strengthen the credibility of India as a responsible stakeholder in the regional and global nuclear context.

 The writer is a Research Intern at Observer Research Foundation, Delhi.

Babylon the Great Under Attack in Iraq

Demonstrators wave national flags and chant slogans during a demonstration demanding better public services and jobs in the southern city of Basra, Iraq, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Nabil al-Jurani) ** FILE ** more >
- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2018
A U.S. diplomatic outpost and major regional airport near the southwest Iraqi city of Basra was the target of a rocket attack early Friday morning, amid continuing violent civil unrest in the oil-rich city.
Eyewitnesses in the Abusheir district, north of of the city, told CNN that two rockets were fired toward the secure compound at Basra airport, where the U.S. consulate was located, in the early hours of Friday morning. Witnesses report the rockets fell outside the outer security perimeter of the compound, with no casualties coming from the attack.
A State Department spokesperson told CNN that no consulate staff were harmed during the incident and the consulate itself was not hit, adding that U.S. diplomats in Baghdad and Washington were continuing to monitor the situation.
Beginning in July, hundreds of protesters have descended on city of Basra, demanding much-needed government services and lambasting the rampant corruption they say plagues the regime of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Basra is one of the top two sources of petroleum revenues for Baghdad, second only to oil-rick Kirkuk in Northern
Iraq, with the port city reportedly shipping three million barrels of Iraqi oil to global markets on a daily basis.
In an attempt to quell the violence in Basra and the surrounding areas such as Amara, Nasiriya and Najaf, Mr. Abadi ordered units from the Iraqi Army Ninth Division and its vaunted counterterrorism forces into the region to restore order. The Iraqi leader also made the controversial decision to cut all Internet access in Baghdad, to keep protest organizers from rallying more followers to their cause, according to local reports.
Mr. Abadi’s seemingly heavy-handed tactics to put down the protests in Basra may further destabilize his fractious political coalition, given the Shia-majority areas affected by his crackdown. Iraqis in those cities, especially the holy Shia city of Najaf, will be critical to the emerging Shia political coalition, led by firebrand cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.
Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

History of Earthquakes before the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History of earthquakes in Lower Hudson Valley
Swapna Venugopal Ramaswamy
9:05 a.m. ET Feb. 7, 2018
At around 6:14 a.m. this morning, a 2.2-magnitude earthquake was reported about three miles northwest of Mohegan Lake in Yorktown, according to the United States Geological Survey. The epicenter of the quake was in Putnam Valley.
Social media was rife with posts on the quake with people from Chappaqua, Cortlandt, Lewisboro, Mahopac and Putnam Valley chiming in with their rattling experiences, though it wasn’t nearly as strong as the 5.0 earthquake our forefathers experienced here in 1783.
Lower Hudson Valley earthquakes through the years:
1783 — The epicenter of a magnitude 5.0 earthquake may have been the Westchester-Putnam county line and was felt as far south as Philadelphia.
1884 — A magnitude 5.2 earthquake was centered off Rockaway, Queens, causing property damage but no injuries to people. A dead dog was reported.
1970 to 1987 — Between these years, instruments at the Lamont-Doherty Observatory in Rockland County recorded 21 quakes in Westchester and two in Manhattan.
October 1985 — A magnitude 4.0 earthquake was centered in an unincorporated part of Greenburgh between Ardsley and Yonkers. Tremors shook the metropolitan area and were felt in Philadelphia, southern Canada and Long Island.
November 1988 — A quake 90 miles north of Quebec City in eastern Canada registered magnitude 6.0 with tremors felt in the Lower Hudson Valley and New York City.
June 1991 — A 4.4-magnitude quake struck west of Albany, rattling homes.
April 1991 — A quake registering between magnitude 2.0 and 2.6 struck Westchester and Fairfield, Conn. It lasted just five seconds and caused no damage.
January 2003 — Two small earthquakes struck the area surrounding Hastings-on-Hudson. One was a magnitude of 1.2, the other 1.4.
March 2006 — Two earthquakes struck Rockland. The first, at 1.1 magnitude, hit 3.3 miles southwest of Pearl River; the second, 1.3 magnitude, was centered in the West Nyack-Blauvelt-Pearl River area.
July 2014 — “Micro earthquake” struck, 3.1 miles beneath the Appalachian Trail in a heavily wooded area of Garrison.
January 2016 —  A 2.1 magnitude earthquake occurred at 12:58 a.m. northwest of Ringwood, N.J., and the earthquake was felt in the western parts of Ramapo, including the Hillburn and Sloatsburg areas.
April 2017 —  A 1.3 magnitude quake rumbled in Pawling on April 10. Putnam County residents in Brewster, Carmel, Patterson and Putnam Valley, as well as Dutchess County residents in Wingdale felt the earthquake.
Twitter: @SwapnaVenugopal

Iran Continues to Threaten the Nations (Daniel 8:4)

By INU Staff
INU - An Iranian media outlet associated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has published a video that threatens Saudi Arabia and the UAE with missile attacks.
The semi-official Fars news agency tweeted and then deleted the video on Tuesday, shortly after Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blamed Riyadh and Abu Dhabi for the attack on an IRGC military parade in the city of Ahvaz on Saturday.
The video, which has been described by eagle-eyed Iran watchers, shows file footage of previous ballistic missile attacks launched by the IRGC and then a graphic of a sniper riflescope homing in on Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates and Riyadh in Saudi Arabia. The video also threatened Israel.
Over these disturbing images, a clip from a Khamenei speech in April can be heard: "The era of the hit-and-run has expired. A heavy punishment is underway."
Iran has twice fired its ballistic missiles in anger in recent years, not counting the missiles that the Houthis have fired at Saudi Arabia. Once in 2017 at supposed ISIS militants in Syria and once earlier this month at a meeting of Iranian Kurdish separatists in northern Iraq.
The IRGC, a paramilitary force that only answers to Khamenei has sole control over Iran’s ballistic missile programme, which has a range of 2,000 kilometres. This means that they can strike Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE, as well as regional American military bases.
The Saturday attack in Iran was carried out by militants dressed in Iranian military uniform who opened fire on the rows of soldiers. At least 29 are reported dead and another 60 are injured.
Iranian State TV reported that 22 people have been arrested in connection with the attack, while the five who were shooting have been killed. Hossein Salami, the IRGC's acting commander, blamed the “triangle" of Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States and vowed to take revenge. He did not say that he believed the UAE were involved.
While Khamenei said also linked the attack to those three countries and said that the attack shows that Iran has "a lot of enemies". The latter part is at least true, Iran does have a lot of enemies and its all their own making.

The Truth About the Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Proverbs 10:11 (The Israel Bible™)
In his latest address to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed the existence of a hidden Iranian nuclear site – dealing yet another blow to Iran’s claims that it does not seek to clandestinely build atomic weapons.
The prime minister referenced Israel’s attempts to expose Iranian lies – including a daring raid in February earlier this year, in which it secured thousands of documents from Iran’s secret atomic archive. “We obtained over 100,000 documents and videos that had been stashed in vaults in an innocent looking building in the heart of Tehran.”
Netanyahu described how in May, he had come before the international media to present a short summary of Iran’s contravention of the Obama-era nuclear deal – which Israel vehemently opposed. Israel’s premier added that although he presented clear evidence to the P5+1 and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of Iranian mendacity nothing has been advanced. Netanyahu was critical of the IAEA, admonishing it the organization for having not demanded to inspect a single site – despite his revelations. Given the inaction, the prime minister decided to reveal Israel’s evidence of a second secret nuclear site.
“Today, I am disclosing for the first time that Iran has another secret facility in Tehran—a secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program.
In May, we exposed the site of Iran’s secret atomic archive, right here, in the Shor-abad District of Tehran. Today I’m revealing the site of a second facility— Iran’s secret atomic warehouse. It’s right here, in the Turquz-abad District of Tehran, just there miles away.”
Netanyahu accused the Iranians of attempting to clear up the site as quickly as possible, in advance of any potential inspections. He accused the Iranian regime of removing 15 kilograms of radioactive material and secreting it around the city of Tehran.
He also had a message for the “Tyrants of Tehran,” saying that Israel knows what the regime is up to and that it would never allow it to develop nuclear weapons.
And Israel will do whatever it must do to defend itself against Iran’s aggression. We will continue to act against you in Syria. We will act against you in Lebanon. We will act against you in Iraq. We will act against you whenever and wherever we must act to defend our state and defend our people.”
Israel’s prime minister also attacked the deal that allowed a relaxation of sanctions on Iran for greater transparency about its nuclear ambitions. In short, he said, it had not worked. Iran used the extra money that flooded its economy to fuel its vast war machine. He accused the mullahs in Iran of funding terrorism in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Gaza and Saudi Arabia.
He applauded America’s re-imposition of sanctions against Tehran and aimed a shot at European “appeasement,” as the European Union tries to circumvent them.

Great March of Return Outside the Temple Walls (Rev 11:2)

They started on March 30, the commemoration of Land Day, which marks the events of March 30, 1976, when Israeli police shot and killed six Palestinian citizens of Israel as they protested against the Israeli government's expropriation of land.
The Great March of Return protests call for the right of return of Palestinian refugees, a right enshrined in international law, and the end of the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip by Israel and Egypt for over a decade, which has caused suffering to the Palestinians living there.
Around two-thirds of the Palestinians living in the Strip are refugees, more than 80 percent of the population relies on humanitarian aid.
According to the UN, the Gaza Strip will be unlivable by 2020.
According to Al Mezan Center for Human Rights, 194 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip since March 30.
Of them, 141 were killed during demonstrations, including 28 children, one woman, two journalists, three paramedics and three differently abled people.
Another 9,970 were injured, including 1,815 children, 419 women, 114 paramedics, and 105 journalists. Of those injured, 5,645 were hit by live fire, including 919 children and 113 women.
One Israeli soldier has died after being shot on July 20, 2018, during the protests.
Mohammed Zaanoun, a photographer and videographer, has been documenting the protests since the first day.
He was himself injured during a protest when shrapnel penetrated his hands.
His brother, who is a cameraman, was also injured by a live bullet while covering the protests.
But for him, the most difficult thing to witness is "when the sniper shoots at unarmed children for no reason, and then to see the mothers saying farewell to them".
Occupying forces also deliberately target journalists, Zaanoun says.
"There is always a danger, so every Friday I feel that I will not return home. I always think of going for a trip outside the country but this is difficult because of the siege and the closure of the crossings. I feel very sad and I go every day to the sea to lessen the frustration.
"With my photos, I hope that the world will see the truth about what is happening in Gaza."

Antichrist Allies with the Turkmen

The Iraqi Turkmen Front has declared that it has joined the Reform and Reconstruction Coalition, supported by Shiite leader Muqtada Al-Sadr. The Front said in a statement on Thursday: “We announce that we have officially joined the Reform and Reconstruction bloc.”
It explained that “the General Assembly of the bloc of Reform and Reconstruction will support the Turkmen as a key component, and they will have a prominent role in the next government, in addition to getting their full rights in it.”
The Turkmen Front entered the parliamentary elections which took place last May, within the Iraqi Turkmen Front in Kirkuk Coalition, which won three parliamentary seats out of 329 seats.
Two major movements are competing to form the largest parliamentary bloc that will be charged with forming the new government. The first movement is The Reform and Reconstruction Coalition, led by the Saeroon bloc supported by the leader of the Sadrist Movement, Muqtada Al-Sadr (ranked first in the elections with 54 seats out of 329), and Victory Alliance led by Al-Abadi (third place with 42 seats).
The second movement is the Construction coalition, led by two prominent blocs, which are Fatah coalition led by Hadi Al-Amiri (second place, 48 seats), and the State of Law Coalition, led by Nouri Al-Maliki (fourth place, 26 seats).

Friday, September 28, 2018

The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Updated | An earthquake is long overdue to hit New York and America isn’t prepared, author and environmental theorist Kathryn Miles told Trevor Noah on Tuesday’s Daily Show.
Miles is the author of a new book, Quakeland, which investigates how imminently an earthquake is expected in the U.S. and how well-prepared the country is to handle it. The answer to those questions: Very soon and not very well.
“We know it will, that’s inevitable, but we don’t know when,” said Miles when asked when to expect another earthquake in the U.S.
She warned that New York is in serious danger of being the site of the next one, surprising considering that the West Coast sits along the San Andreas fault line.
“New York is 40 years overdue for a significant earthquake...Memphis, Seattle, Washington D.C.—it’s a national problem,” said Miles.
Miles told Noah that though the U.S. is “really good at responding to natural disasters,” like the rapid response to the hurricanes in Texas and Florida, the country and its government is, in fact, lagging behind in its ability to safeguard citizens before an earthquake hits.
“We’re really bad at the preparedness side,” Miles responded when Noah asked how the infrastructure in the U.S. compares to Mexico’s national warning system, for example.
“Whether it’s the literal infrastructure, like our roads and bridges, or the metaphoric infrastructure, like forecasting, prediction, early warning systems. Historically, we’ve underfunded those and as a result we’re way behind even developing nations on those fronts.”
Part of the problem, Miles says, is that President Donald Trump and his White House are not concerned with warning systems that could prevent the devastation of natural disasters.
“We can invest in an early warning system. That’s one thing we can definitely do. We can invest in better infrastructures, so that when the quake happens, the damage is less,” said the author.
“The scientists, the emergency managers, they have great plans in place. We have the technology for an early warning system, we have the technology for tsunami monitoring. But we don’t have a president that is currently interested in funding that, and that’s a problem.”
This article has been updated to reflect that Miles said New York is the possible site of an upcoming earthquake, and not the likeliest place to be next hit by one.

The Rise of the Antichrist (Revelation 13)

Muqtada al-Sadr: Iraq's militia leader turned champion of poor
Shia leader's appeal to the disenfranchised and the low voter turnout factored into his alliance's surprise victory.
by Arwa Ibrahim
17 May 2018
Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr surprised the world when his Sairoon Alliance captured more parliamentary seats than any other party or alliance in Iraq's parliamentary elections, in a remarkable comeback after being sidelined for years by Iranian-backed rivals.
Once known as a staunch anti-American militia leader, al-Sadr has rebranded himself in recent years as a patriotic champion of the poor and an anti-corruption firebrand.
This rebranding, along with the low voter turnout of only 44.52 percent, were, according to analysts, the main factors that enabled Sairoon - an alliance between the Sadrist Movement and Iraq's Communist Party - to win six of Iraq's 18 provinces, including Baghdad.
Although final results are yet to be released, most of the country's politicians have accepted the tally so far, which has seen Sairoon win more than 1.3 million votes, winning 54 out of 329 parliament seats. Without an outright majority, al-Sadr will still need to build an alliance with other blocs to form the new government.
Unlike Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi - an ally of both the United States and Iran - al-Sadr's positioning against dominant pro-Iran Shia blocs and away from the US is likely to rock established interests in Iraq.
'Man of the poor'
By projecting himself as an Iraqi nationalist and mixing his resistance to US presence in the early 2000s with Shia religiosity - as the son of the late Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, a highly regarded scholar throughout the Shia Muslim world - al-Sadr became a figurehead for many of Iraq's poor Shia Muslims.
Since 2003, his followers have provided healthcare services, food and clean water across many parts of Iraq's poor suburbs and especially in Sadr City, a district of Baghdad named after his father. Al-Sadr's militia has since acted in Sadr City almost unhindered by US and Iraqi forces to influence local councils and government. This established his zealous following among the young, poor and dispossessed.
Similarly, Sairoon's 2018 election campaign used anti-corruption rhetoric and focused on cutting across sectarian platforms, appealing to frustrated Iraqis who complained about their political elite's systematic patronage, bad governance and corruption.
Iraq has been ranked among the world's most corrupt countries, with high unemployment, poverty and weak public institutions.
"For a couple of years, Sadr has been arguing against the level of corruption in the government," which, according to Talha Abdulrazaq, an Iraq expert at the University of Exeter's Strategy and Security Institute, attracted "the predominant demographic of Shia, working-class neighbourhoods" in the six provinces that voted for Sairoon.
While top politicians in suits voted in Baghdad's Green Zone on May 12, al-Sadr cast his ballot at a school in a poor district of Najaf, a hub for Iraq's Shia communities. Footage of him dressed in his trademark turban and robe reinforced his image as a maverick who appeals to the disenfranchised.
According to Abdulrazaq, al-Sadr's alliance with Iraq's Communist Party also worked in his favour.
"The communists are well organised on a grassroots level which allowed the bloc to mobilise," said Abdulrazaq, highlighting the long history of partnership between Iraq's Shia and communist groups. According to him, many of the communist movements' recruits have been Shia Arabs.
Fanar al-Haddad, a senior research fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore, agreed: "Sadr has always appealed to the Shia working class and his alliance with the communists chimed into the image of a reformer and someone who wants to bring in new blood."
Voters in Baghdad complained that most candidates running were part of the same elite. They told Al Jazeera that they were in search for "new faces and wanted change".
In contrast to other blocs, Sairoon Alliance offered the voters new candidates, including the likes of Muntadhar al-Zaidi - a journalist famed for hurling a shoe at former US President George W Bush during his visit to Baghdad in 2008.

Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr cast his vote for the parliamentary election at a polling station in Najaf [Reuters]
Low voter turnout
In addition to his grassroots appeal, the low voter turnout, which was 15 percent less than in 2014, worked in al-Sadr's favour, according to analysts.
"While Sadr has a support base that is fairly solid and inelastic - unlike other party leaders, the result is equally a function of the low turnout for his rivals," said al-Hadad.
The majority of Iraqis did not vote, partly due to an online boycott campaign spearheaded by activists.
Meanwhile, with millions of predominantly Sunni internally displaced persons (IDPs) unable or uninterested to vote, "the results were skewed in Sadr's favour", said Abudlrazaq, who explained that the millions of IDPs in urgent need of basic assistance "have had more important things to think about than voting".
With Iraq having more than 2 million people displaced since 2014 and living in IDP camps, Sunni leaders demanded that the elections be postponed until these communities could return to their homes. Their appeals were not addressed.
Although the government set up 166 polling stations in 70 camps for internally displaced persons, IDP voters reported facing difficulties, which left few able to cast their ballots.
Shifting alliances
Al-Sadr did not stand as a candidate himself, so he will not head the new government, although his alliance will have a big say in the composition of the as-yet unclear future government
Domestically, al-Sadr's eyes seem to be set on forging alliances with a variety of blocs to fight corruption and allow for an independent, non-sectarian government of technocrats, according to a Tuesday address made by his spokesman, Saleh al-Obeidi.
But he appears to wish to stay away from two groups heavily aligned with Iran, the former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's State of Law Coalition and Hadi al-Ameri's Fateh Coalition.
Al-Sadr posted a tweet on Monday expressing a willingness to work with a number of parties - among those he named were the Shia-aligned al-Hikma bloc, the Sunni al-Wataniya bloc, and newly established Kurdish parties.
For its part, Iran publicly stated it would not allow his bloc to govern, which has led many observers to believe that Tehran is likely to try and isolate or fragment al-Sadr's power.
"Iran will try to work on the fact that Sadr's coalition includes communists which is a weakness if Iran tempts them away from the alliance, reducing his [al-Sadr's alliance] majority," said Abdulrazaq.
For other analysts, however, al-Sadr's victory may not upset Iranian influence over Baghdad as much as it will the US' influence.

Unlike Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, an ally of Washington and Tehran, Muqtada al-Sadr is an opponent of both countries. [AFP]
According to Mahan Abedin, an expert on Iranian politics: "On balance, Tehran is not displeased [with the results]. It wanted Abadi - who Iran perceives as America's man - weakened, and they got that."
Unlike al-Abadi, an ally of Washington and Tehran, al-Sadr is an opponent of both countries, which have wielded influence in Iraq since a US-led invasion toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003 and thrust the Shia majority into power.
"Also, a corollary is the relative rehabilitation of [former Prime Minister] Nouri al-Maliki who is now back in the fold," added Abedin.
Al-Maliki, who led Iraq between 2006 and 2014 and headed the State of Law Coalition for the 2018 election, was a staunch ally of Iran. For years, the Iraqi army and police under al-Maliki acted as a sectarian militia against the country's Sunni minority.
"Another key Iranian objective is to defeat or undermine US plans. Both Sadr and Fateh [a pro-Iran coalition led by Hadi al-Ameri and which came in second in the election] are useful for that.
"These elections have [therefore] reinforced the dominion of the Shia state in Iraq, [so] in terms of influence and operations, Iran, as always, is the key power broker," explained Abedin
But for the US, which sent US presidential envoy Brett McGurk to Erbil following the vote, the situation might be a little more tricky.
Al-Sadr has been a staunch opponent of the US. He spearheaded a number of political movements in Iraq that directed attacks on US troops in the wake of the 2003 Iraq invasion.
He set up the Mahdi Army, which posed such a threat to US forces that they were instructed to kill or capture him.
Although US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in an interview on Tuesday that the US would respect and "stand with the Iraqi people's decisions", the US had hoped al-Abadi would win another term in office.
US acceptance of the results, according to al-Haddad, therefore depends on the kind of government that will be formed.
"It [al-Sadr's victory] is not the best scenario for the US. The US will push for Abadi's premiership, and if Sairoon form a coalition with Abadi's Nasr Coalition and Abadi heads the next government, that would work well for the US."

Preparing Futilely for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

Studying the evacuation zone map around the reactors
Indian Point drill conducted
CARMEL – It was only a drill, but for eight hours Tuesday more than 100 volunteers and employees of Putnam County participated in a disaster exercise relating to an emergency response at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan.
Putnam joined its neighbors in Westchester, Orange and Rockland counties for the drill that was monitored by both officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the State Office of Emergency Management.
The scenario centered on an explosion at the plant and release of radiation that headed north towards Putnam.
At the county's Emergency Operations Center in Carmel, representatives of law enforcement, education, public health, utilities, Office for Senior Resources, fire and EMS charted an evacuation plan for the Philipstown-Putnam Valley area with residents of the 10-mile radius of Indian Point affected. While no real evacuations occurred, on paper residents living in sections of southern Philipstown, Continental Village, lower Garrison and Putnam Valley were “safely removed.”
The exercise also practiced for the safe evacuations of children attending schools in the affected areas.
Putnam County Commissioner of Emergency Services Ken Clair, Acting County Executive Paul Eldridge and Putnam's Director of Informational Technology and Geographical Information Systems Thomas Lannon were in command of the drill in Putnam County.
Clair said the county was looking forward to receiving the evaluations from both federal and state monitors: "It's important that we plan and practice just in case the unthinkable ever occurs. In Putnam County, we are prepared."

100-Megaton Nuclear Monster Is Not Part of Prophecy

100-Megaton Nuclear Monster: How to Stop Russia's City-Killer Torpedo
Russia's Status-6 "Poseidon" torpedo has excited the fears -- or the overactive imaginations -- of Russia's enemies.
How do you stop a nuclear-powered torpedo designed to bury enemy cities under a tsunami?
Russia's Status-6 "Poseidon" torpedo has excited the fears -- or the overactive imaginations -- of Russia's enemies. Calling it is a torpedo is a misnomer. While the precise capabilities of the weapon are mysterious, it appears to be about 80 feet long -- which makes it more like a mini-submarine or an underwater ballistic missile. Poseidon is propelled by a nuclear reactor to a speed of 115 miles per hour and operates at deep depths up to 3,300 feet. It is armed with a massive 100-megaton warhead powerful enough to generate a giant tidal wave to destroy coastal cities.
How useful such a weapon would be is debatable. Poseidon is too slow, compared to ICBMs and bombers, to be useful in a first strike or an immediate retaliatory strike. Moving at high speeds may make it so noisy that anti-submarine can detect it, and its autonomous nature brings up all the questions about armed robots (especially ones carrying mega-bombs).
Nonetheless, as a psychological weapon, it's brilliant. There is something frightening, like a Hollywood monster movie, about the thought of a robot tsunami-bomb creeping along the sea floor.
But for every vampire, there is a stake waiting to slay it through the heart. H I Sutton, a naval analyst who runs the Covert Shores blog on naval affairs, offers some ideas on technology that NATO can employ to halt Poseidon.
Sutton assumes that Poseidon's "operating modes and route planning will likely be simple (read reliable) and relatively direct, relying on speed and depth for survival." That being the case, one countermeasure would be to seed the seabed with networks of sensor-mines to detect and destroy Poseidons. "Ideally the sensor networks would include their own effectors (e.g. torpedo armed mines) to minimize the delay from detection to neutralization, since the targets will be moving much faster than traditional submarine targets," Sutton writes.
Sutton also wonders whether Poseidons could be killed by long-range hypersonic glide vehicles launched by U.S. Navy submarines. "The payload could be next-generation lightweight torpedo or nuclear depth charge similar to the retired Subroc [rocket-launched anti-submarine torpedo] weapon," he writes. "The short flight time and long range of this type of system would allow kills far outside realistic ranges for torpedoes and allow submarines operating in the North Atlantic to react to Poseidon launches detected in the Arctic region, hitting the target while it is still reasonably near to the sensor which detected it."
Stopping weapons like Poseidon will likely require Western navies to develop a new generation of torpedoes. "The current families of US Navy and Royal Navy torpedoes were developed to counter fast deep-diving Russian submarines," writes Sutton. "While they are highly capable, the even greater combination of speed and depth of Poseidon means that new weapons will need to be developed. These are likely to be characterized by increases in range and autonomy, blurring the distinction with Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs)."
Michael Peck is a contributing writer for the National Interest. He can be found on Twitter and Facebook .

The Iran Deal Is Finally Dead

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks next to European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini during a plenary session at the United Nations building in Vienna, Austria on July 14, 2015. (Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images)
Is the Iran Deal Finally Dead?
Europe’s frantic efforts to save the nuclear pact at the U.N. probably won’t work.
Could there be a starker test of global power balances than what is occurring at the United Nations over Iran this week?
On Monday, a grinning Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran’s foreign minister, stood next to Federica Mogherini, the European Union foreign affairs chief, as she announced elaborate plans in New York to undercut U.S. President Donald Trump and save the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, including a “special vehicle” designed to bypass U.S. financial sanctions. In a rare joint statement, France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China all declared themselves behind the plan.
The next day, Trump, wearing his now-familiar grimace of cold command, informed a silent General Assembly hall that he was doing more than just killing the “horrible” Iran nuclear deal. He was also imposing major new unilateral sanctions that appear designed to promote regime collapse. In his speech at the annual U.N. General Assembly gathering Tuesday morning, Trump all but called Iran’s leaders illegitimate, saying they only “sow chaos, death, and destruction.”
“We ask all nations to isolate Iran’s regime” and to deny it “the funds it needs to advance its bloody agenda,” Trump added.
But Trump plainly wasn’t asking. Rather, the U.S. leader appeared to be delivering yet another fiat to the world—and, as he made clear, not only for Iran’s economic isolation. Trump’s policy amounts to virtual asphyxiation, including a cutoff of Iran’s financial lifeblood, oil sales.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who spoke after Trump on Tuesday, accused Washington of “economic terrorism” and pursuing regime change, even as the U.S. president offered to talk bilaterally with Tehran (a move Iran has rejected). “It is ironic that the U.S. government does not even conceal its plans for overthrowing the same government it invites to talks,” Rouhani said.
What this adds up to is a rare if not unprecedented standoff on the world stage. The United States is now aligning itself against almost the entire globe over Iran, and especially against an unusually united Europe. And yet, strikingly, the odds are that Trump will win the contest of wills. Despite the efforts of Mogherini and the major European powers to preserve Iranian’s ability to sell oil, many analysts are skeptical that the U.N. Security Council-approved nuclear pact can survive U.S. recalcitrance beyond the end of the year.
The question of European willpower will grow more acute in coming months, as Trump appears ready to impose a “with us or against us” ultimatum as he moves to the next round of sanctions in early November.
Many major European businesses, including Deutsche Telekom, Airbus, the French energy giant Total, carmakers Peugeot and Renault, and Germany’s Siemens and Daimler have already ended operations in Iran. Denmark’s A.P. Moller-Maersk is among the many big companies that plan to stop shipping Iranian oil.
U.S. sanctions threaten to cut off any business that facilitates an oil transaction with Iran from the U.S. financial system. For most major international businesses, banishment from U.S. markets and, more importantly, the American-dominated global financial system would be a death sentence. And for both European governments and companies, that factor has outweighed any thought of invoking the EU “blocking statute” that theoretically allows firms to defy U.S. sanctions.
“With the return of U.S. secondary sanctions, every business in the world faces a choice between doing business with the United States or doing business with Iran. For almost all, that is no choice at all,” said Matthew Kroenig, a Georgetown University expert in sanctions and nonproliferation and a former Defense Department official who has often taken a hard line against Iran. “The Iran nuclear deal was dead as soon as the United States announced it was withdrawing. The Europeans were delusional to think they could save it.”
Even so, European governments might just be able to keep the Iran deal, which the United States left more than four months ago, on life support for a time. They plan to do this both through the SWIFT international banking system—which Iran remains part of since the 2015 nuclear pact was signed—and a new “special purpose vehicle” that would amount to a kind of barter system.
Under the new vehicle, Iranian oil could be exchanged for European goods without money changing hands.
SWIFT stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, and as long as Iran stays in the system, which connects more than 11,000 financial institutions around the world, it can also find ways to move money across its borders. But Belgium-based SWIFT has buckled to U.S. pressure in the past, locking Iran out of the financial system as part the Obama administration’s sanctions campaign in 2012. Losing access to SWIFT again would severely hamstring Iran’s ability to trade.
But it’s not clear such ad hoc creations can keep Iran’s economy alive.
“The companies that have already left Iran or are planning to leave will not come back because of this,” said Nicolas Véron, a French economist at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “But it could help in terms of Iran’s ability to sell oil for money. The simple principle is this creates a screen, because none of the people who buy oil from the [special purpose vehicle] would transact with any entity under U.S. sanctions.”
To stop the new system, the Trump administration would have to effectively sanction the EU—and despite the president’s caustic rhetoric toward Europe, it’s not clear he’s willing to go that far. Still, says Richard Nephew, a former State Department official who helped negotiate the nuclear deal, for Europe creating the vehicle “is only half the battle. We haven’t really seen any indication that there’s a concerted effort by the Europeans to do the other half, which is, how do you get a Siemens to be comfortable sending goods to Iran?”
It didn’t help that Trump administration officials on Tuesday castigated the Europeans over their plan, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying that the special purpose vehicle only helps Iran support terrorism. In a hard-hitting speech in New York, Pompeo denounced Iran’s government as an “outlaw” regime that “brazenly defies the vision of the United Nations” and has continued a four-decade-old policy of using its oil wealth not for its own people but to finance terrorist “operatives” from Europe to Africa to Asia and South America.
Pompeo also appeared to call for regime change in Iran, telling the Iranian people: “You deserve better than the fruitless revolution, a revolution that has been imposed on you by corrupt leaders.”
For now, Iran maintains a tentative embrace of the nuclear deal and appears to be observing most of its major requirements for a nuclear stand-down, experts say. Complying with the accord is the only way Iran can get any economic benefits of the sort it was promised with sanctions relief in 2016. And Rouhani knows that if Iran renounces the agreement, the EU will also reinstate sanctions.
Even so, the Iranian leader can stay in the damaged deal for only so long, some analysts believe. Rouhani, in his U.N. speech, made a new plea to Trump to return to the pact (even as he accused him of displaying a “Nazi disposition”), but Rouhani is in serious political trouble at home. After running on a platform of opening Iran to the world, he faces outrage both from regime hard-liners and a restive population that thought they’d be better off by now, three years after the nuclear agreement was negotiated. In late August, the Iranian parliament voted for only the second time in its history to reject a presidential agenda, repudiating Rouhani’s economic plans to mitigate reinstated U.S. sanctions. “Certainly, we made—and we have made—mistakes,” a humiliated Rouhani said at the time.
By threatening Iran with a recession, the renewed sanctions have slammed its currency, the rial, which has lost about two-thirds of its value this year and plunged to a new low against the U.S. dollar this week.
China, Turkey, and a few other countries have continued to defy Trump by buying Iranian oil, raising the prospect that a few holdouts from U.S. pressure could keep Iran’s main industry afloat.
But one by one, nations are dropping out of trade with Tehran, fearful of U.S. retaliation; the latest appears to be India, which after early defiance of Washington now seems set to cut its Iranian oil purchases to zero. Thus, the survival of the nuclear deal will almost certainly come down to the stare-off between the United States and Europe. And as the months go by, Iran will likely succumb to temptation to covertly resume its nuclear program.
“My understanding is that the [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspectors are already not getting to places they need to go,” said David Albright, a nuclear expert who runs the Institute for Science and International Security. “The worry is that the Europeans by themselves are not in a position to press Iran to comply. They’re probably cheating at the margins more and more. So the Europeans are in a bind. They do want to save the agreement, but they’ve told Iran, ‘If you violate the agreement, EU sanctions will come back.’”
And Donald Trump will have won—or will seem to have. Because the likeliest outcome of the pact’s demise would probably be an even more hard-line Iran, one that is presently stronger in the region than it was in 2013 as nuclear deal negotiations got underway—and as desirous as ever to acquire the bomb.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Antichrist Meets With The Kurds (Revelation 13)

Sadr meets Kurdish presidential nominee on govt formation, president election
by Mohammed Ebraheem
Sep 26, 2018, 2:04 pm
Baghdad ( – Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr met on Wednesday with Kurdish politician and presidential nominee Barham Saleh in Najaf city.
“Saleh, who was chosen by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan to run for president, discussed with Sadr the latest political developments in Iraq as well as the formation of the new government,” a political source told the privately-owned Alsumaria News TV channel.
“The talks focused on the parliament’s preparations for electing a new president for the country in early October,” the source added.
Parliament speaker Mohamed al-Halbousi said on Tuesday that the parliament’s election of the new president will be held on October 2.
Halbousi’s remarks came a day after he announced that 30 candidates have applied for the largely ceremonial presidential post.
Last week, Saleh obtained approval from the head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), Masud Barzani, to be the Kurdistan Region’s nominee for the presidency of Iraq.
Based on a political agreement adopted since the ouster of late leader Saddam Hussein, Kurds assume Iraq’s presidency, Sunnis are entitled to parliament speaker, and Shias hold the prime minister’s office.
Iraq parliament elections, the first since the defeat of Islamic State militants, were held last May amid judicial challenges that prompted a recount of votes. The parliament elected Mohamed al-Halbousi, a former governor of Anbar, as its new speaker earlier this week.

A Nuclear Disaster Awaits Indian Point Plant at the Sixth Seal

PIPELINEAIM gas pipeline opponents lose legal challenge, may appeal

Thomas C. Zambito, Rockland/Westchester Journal News
Gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon spoke to students about their proximity to the Algonquin natural gas pipeline. She then shared her thoughts. Seth Harrison,

Opponents of the AIM pipeline expansion say they may refocus their legal challenges on the next phase of the project

While a federal appeals court has rejected a pivotal challenge to the expansion of a natural gas pipeline near the Indian Point nuclear power plant, opponents say they’re not done trying to get the courts to block the project.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, in a July 27 decision, sided with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in turning back a legal challenge to the Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion.
The Hudson Valley environmental group Riverkeeper claimed the installation of 2,159 feet of natural gas pipeline across from Indian Point posed a serious threat to public safety, particularly if the pipeline ruptured.
Riverkeeper spokesman Cliff Weathers said a decision to appeal has not been made yet.
But Courtney Williams, who heads the grassroots group SAPE (Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion), said the opposition may focus its future legal challenges on the next phase of the expansion, known as the Atlantic Bridge Project.
“We’re still in discussions with Riverkeeper to determine whether we will appeal this portion of the decision,” Williams said. “But the legal challenge to Atlantic Bridge is already underway.”
Another challenge coming
SAPE joined Riverkeeper, the City of Boston and others in challenging FERC’s decision-making process.
Opponents argued that FERC should have considered the environmental impacts of all three phases of the expansion, including the Atlantic Bridge Project, as one. But the appeals court sided with FERC. “We find no basis to set aside the Commission’s order on those grounds,” the appeals court wrote.
The Atlantic Bridge Project is an extension of the Algonquin pipeline that runs through Yorktown and Somers in northern Westchester before heading into Putnam County and Connecticut.
It is part of a $972 million expansion that will make it possible for the pipeline’s current owner, Enbridge Energy Partners, to deliver natural gas to New England from Pennsylvania, by way of a pipeline that cuts through New Jersey and New York.
The project has impacted several Hudson Valley towns in Putnam, Rockland and Westchester counties and touched off a number of public demonstrations. In 2016, several protesters were arrested after locking themselves inside a section of pipeline in Verplanck while it was being readied to be installed under the Hudson River.
SAPE has staged protests outside Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s New Castle home, urging the governor to shut down the pipeline. And last month at a rally in Peekskill, Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s opponent in the September Democratic primary, accused the governor of moving too slowly to address the opposition's concerns.

In June, state officials sent a letter to FERC, urging the commission to re-evaluate its decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point.
NRC signs off on plan
The appeals court ruling said FERC’s decision allowing the pipeline near Indian Point was supported by an analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which the commission found "persuasive."
NRC’s review determined that Indian Point’s two reactors could safely operate or temporarily shut down if a gas line ruptured near the plant.
FERC’s 2015 ruling credited NRC’s expertise in assessing safety threats to nuclear facilities.
“We see no basis to reject the Commission’s to do so,” the appeals court wrote.
The NRC said it could re-evaluate its decision after Indian Point’s owner, Louisiana-based Entergy, submits a plan for how the plant will be dismantled. Entergy has plans to shut down the Buchanan plant by 2021.
Read or Share this story:


Getting Closer to the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

India, Pakistan in war of words as tensions escalate
By Islamuddin Sajid and Shuriah Niazi
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan / New Delhi, INDIA
A new war of words has erupted between arch-rivals India and Pakistan, after New Delhi rejected an offer to initiate peace talks by Islamabad.
Indian army chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has threatened to launch attacks across the Line of Control, the border which bifurcates Indian- and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir, a disputed territory which remains at the heart of the conflict between the two nuclear powers.
In a Monday interview to news channel India Today, Rawat said: "I believe there is a need for one more action [surgical strike]. But I would not want to disclose how we want to do it.
“As long as the Pakistan government can't control its Army and the ISI [spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence], the situation at the border won't improve."
Responding to the statement the Pakistan army on Tuesday said they were open to peace talks, but will not hesitate to thwart any attack from the Indian side.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Maj. Gen. Asif Ghafoor, spokesman of the Pakistan army, said: “We are on a positive trajectory of peace and stability after having gone through efforts over the last two decades. We understand value of peace and shall not allow it to be reversed.
“We believe in coexistence and peace, however any misadventure shall be effectively and befittingly responded.
“War is never a solution to any problem. Pakistan has always positively responded to all peace initiatives. It’s India who backs out from dialogue."
He blamed the Indian government of war mongering to divert attention from internal criticism on "various corruption scams and failure of economic agenda".
Bitter relations
Relations between the two neighbors hit a fresh low after India last week suddenly called off a scheduled meeting between foreign ministers of both countries in New York later this month.
The move drew strong criticism from Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, who tweeted: “Disappointed at the arrogant and negative response by India to my call for resumption of the peace dialogue. However, all my life I have come across small men occupying big offices who do not have the vision to see the larger picture.”
Earlier this year, Pakistan issued a postage stamp of Burhan Wani, a Kashmiri militant leader, who was killed by Indian troops in July 2016, drawing ire from India.
Analysts in both countries maintain both sides have to take confidence-building measures before any formal peace talks take place.
Condemning the Indian army chief's statement, Pakistani analyst retired Brig. Said Nazir said: "Surgical strike means to carry out any attack inside Pakistan using air force or special commandos near any border area which is very difficult because Pakistan reaction would be unexpected."
Pakistan and India both are nuclear powers and this time war would not be a conventional war, Nazir added, urging the international community to take measures to avoid such a confrontation.
Indian defense analyst retired Air Commodore Rashid Zafar told Anadolu Agency: “Pakistan has to show their intent that they want peace talks with India. They wanted India to talk peace with them, however, their intention seems totally different. In my opinion, in present condition, it is really difficult for the Indian government to sit with them."
Kashmir, a Muslim-majority Himalayan region, is held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars -- in 1948, 1965 and 1971 -- two of them over Kashmir.
Also, in Siachen glacier in northern Kashmir, Indian and Pakistani troops have fought intermittently since 1984. A cease-fire came into effect in 2003.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence, or for unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form.

Iran Won’t Negotiate with Babylon the Great Again

Top aide to Khamenei rejects U.S. offer to meet Iranian leaders: IRNA
LONDON (Reuters) - The top adviser to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that an offer by Washington to meet with Iranian leaders including Khamenei would never be accepted.
FILE PHOTO: Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during Friday prayers in Tehran, September 14, 2007. REUTERS/Morteza Nikoubazl/File Photo
Asked about an offers made by U.S. President Donald Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to meet Iranian leaders, Ali Akbar Velayati was quoted as saying by news agency IRNA: “Trump’s and Pompeo’s dream would never come to reality.”
Pompeo made his offer on Fox News on Sunday.

US Hegemony in Iraq AGAIN

Pompeo: US seeking 'Iraqi national government' to counter Iran's influence
US Secretary Of State Mike Pompeo (center), National Security Adviser John Bolton and United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley brief the media during the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2018 in New York City. Photo: Stephanie Keith | AFP
UNITED NATIONS, New York — US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo underscored that Washington is working to ensure the voice of the Iraqi electorate is reflected in the next government in Baghdad outside of Iranian influence and is a "national government."
"This administration took over at a time when Qassem Soleimani and the Ayatollah were running rampant through five capitals in the Middle East," said Pompeo on Monday, labelling Iran the "largest state sponsor of terror."
US diplomats including Special Presidential Envoy Brett McGurk — a rare holdover from President Barack Obama's administration — have actively been meeting with political forces in Iraq.
The US has blamed Iranian proxies in Iraq for targetting diplomatic missions in Basra and the capital.
"We will not continue to accept Iran's bad behavior in Iraq," said Pompeo.
Two distinct blocs emerged after the election: one that includes incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and winning list leader Muqtada al-Sadr, while another that includes Hadi al-Amiri and former PM Nouri al-Maliki is seen as under Tehran's thumb.
"We have been working to achieve a government that is an 'Iraqi national government,' " said Pompeo.
On Monday, the Abadi-led Coalition for Reform and Development (CRD) formed, encouraging "Kurdish partners" to unify.
The largest Kurdistani parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), are yet to support Abadi or Maliki's camps.
"And we are hoping that the leaders... The people of Iraq have spoken, they had their chance to vote and now they are in the process of forming a new government and we are working diligently to make sure Iraq's people — the voice that they gave during their election is who ends up in leadership there," added Pompeo.
Pompeo was speaking at a press conference ahead of the UN General Assembly in New York with National Security Advisor John Bolton and Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley.
Under Trump, Washington has pulled out of the Iran nuclear deal, imposed trade sanctions, and announced energy sanctions which will go into effect in November. However, Bolton claimed the goal is not to topple the Islamic Republic.
"Regime change in Iran is not the administration's policy," said Bolton pointing to sanctions against Iran. "More are coming."
The Trump administration hopes mounting economic pressure will counter Iran's growing regional influence and force Tehran to reform.
"What we expect from Iran are massive changes in their behavior," Bolton said. "And until that happens we will continue to exert what the president called 'maximum pressure.' That's what we intend to do."
The new Iraqi parliament will convene on October 2 to select a new president. The presidency has traditionally gone to the PUK and they have appointed Barham Salih as their candidate. The KDP argues because of their seven-seat advantage, Fuad Hussein should get the post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Iran Nuclear Crisis (Daniel 8)

Safeguard inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (middle left and far right) with their Iranian counterparts at the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant in 2014. Photo courtesy of V. Fournier/IAEA.
Iran nuclear crisis II
By Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, September 26, 2018
Editor’s note: It has been a year since the US president, Donald Trump, gave a fire-and-brimstone speech at his first appearance before the United Nations—and a little over four months since he pulled the United States out of the Iran deal. There was harsh rhetoric from Trump about Iran on Tuesday at the opening of the 2018 UN General Assembly and the meeting still has eight working days to go. So, it is fair to wonder about worst-case scenarios regarding Iran. Here to give an Iranian viewpoint is a former political science professor from Tehran University, who specializes in the country’s nuclear affairs—and who was also a former adviser to Iran’s nuclear negotiation team.
Increasingly, Iran faces an existential threat from a wealth of adversaries led by the United States, Israel, and Saudi Arabia, that could push the country’s decision-makers in the direction of nuclearization.
Although officially, US officials deny that their aim is “regime change” in Iran and that they merely seek a “change of behavior” on the part of the Islamic Republic, these declarations are belied by their other incendiary statements that boast of “suffocating” Iran, “crippling” Iran’s economy, and promising to “overthrow them.” Some of the most bellicose of these statements were made by Rudy Giuliani, President Trump’s own personal attorney, at a recent gathering of the Iran opposition group known as MEK in New York City, on the eve of the UN General Assembly summit; Giuliani’s timing was sure to enflame the situation, because his words were uttered the day after a terrorist attack occurred in the southern Iranian city of Ahvaz.The attack happened on the anniversary of the bloody Iran-Iraq war, and was attributed to a Saudi-backed Arab separatist group operating in Iran’s oil province of Khuzestan; the incident escalated tensions in the Persian Gulf, with Iran threatening to retaliate against the “real perpetrators” who aim to bring instability to Iran and undermine its territorial integrity.
Hammered by US punitive sanctions—which have triggered a wholesale exodus of foreign companies from Iran since Trump’s withdrawal of the United States from the Iran nuclear deal in early May—Iran’s options are limited. One of Tehran’s few ways of retaliating is to close the Strait of Hormuz (making it nearly impossible for some US allies in the Middle East to ship their oil); consequently, there is a real danger of war. Much depends on the present efforts of the other signatories to the Iran deal—France, the United Kingdom, Germany, China, Russia, and the European Union—to preserve the Iran agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.
One possibility is for these signatories to forge ahead without the United States. To be successful, a ‘JCPOA minus US’ hinges first and foremost on Europe’s ability to produce the necessary deliverables that would simultaneously (a) protect their firms doing business in Iran, (b) guarantee Iran’s access to European banks and financial system, and (c) sustain Iran’s oil exports to Europe. So far, the verdict is uncertain and it remains to be seen if the European governments can muster the political will necessary to stand up to the United States with respect to Iran.
Equally important, from Iran’s point of view, is the new syndrome of insecurity triggered by the US’s overt hostility. This problem affects the country’s national security calculus, irrespective of whether or not other JCPOA parties uphold their obligations.
Indeed, there is a lively debate in Iran today on how best to respond to the bellicose US policy, which some Tehran pundits describe as the “Iraq war in slow motion.” Refusing to capitulate to US pressure and rejecting US “bullying” to renegotiate the JCPOA would in effect consign Iran to the rank of a second-class NPT member, permanently deprived of the right to enrich uranium (as per the 12 demands of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo).
With this in mind, Iran is mulling its options. These include relying on its arsenal of “asymmetrical warfare,” lodging a complaint to the International Court of Justice, and threatening to resume full-scale nuclear work.
Concerning the latter, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Syed Ali Khamenei, has reacted to Trump’s JCPOA exit by ordering the country’s atomic energy organization to prepare for enhanced enrichment (through more advanced centrifuges). And the head of that organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, has assured the country that Western reports of the destruction of the reactor core at the Arak heavy water plant have been exaggerated, stating unequivocally that all Iran has done is to put “cement in some external pipelines” that can be easily replaced by new ones. Even before Trump took office, Tehran was unhappy with certain “unfriendly” aspects of US policy, such as the 10-year renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act under Obama’s watch, which prompted Tehran to order the design of nuclear-powered vessels for marine transportation.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to edge closer to Russia—its sole nuclear partner—with Russia constructing two new power plants in Iran, as well as joint projects between the two countries into stable isotopes and nuclear fuel.
Back to the past. Lest we forget, the JCPOA was a landmark achievement of multilateral diplomacy that was widely hailed as a “net nonproliferation plus.” Under the terms of the JCPOA, which blocked Iran’s uranium and plutonium paths to bombs by restricting and dismantling aspects of Iran’s nuclear program and imposing an unprecedented inspection regime, Iran was nonetheless able to maintain its basic nuclear infrastructure. From the US point of view, the goal of the JCPOA was to delay or extend Iran’s “breakout time” from a precious few months to over a year, while Iran was allowed to retain its mastery of the nuclear fuel cycle. Salehi and other Iranian officials have recently gone on record claiming that Iran can return quickly to its pre-JCPOA nuclear level if need be; in essence, that would mean scrapping the agreed-upon ceiling on the number of centrifuges and going beyond the previous 20 percent level of enrichment.
Not only is the physical infrastructure in place, there is growing pressure by Iran’s hard-liners on moderate President Rouhani to withdraw Iran from the JCPOA as well as from the IAEA and even the NPT. From the hard-liner’s point of view, these actions would be a justifiable response to the perceived US “betrayal” of the agreement, in which Iran’s faithful implementation of its onerous obligations under the JCPOA were met with with “maximum sanctions”—to paraphrase hawkish US National Security Adviser John Bolton, whose earlier blueprint for “How to get out of the Iran Nuclear Deal” has been seemingly put into practice by the Trump administration.
In addition, there is also a growing Iranian disquiet about Saudi Arabia’s nascent nuclear program, which in a few years will grow radically in dimension and confront Iran with the kind of national insecurity it faced with neighboring Iraq before Iraq was invaded in 2003. (Iran actually considered the development and use of nuclear weapons during the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, a former president of Iran said in 2011.) Without doubt, Iran’s nuclear program followed to some extent the classic action-reaction dynamic in typical proliferation scenarios, turned dormant by the neutralization of Iraq’s nuclear threat and, yet somehow, capable of being reintroduced by the Saudi nuclear program; this is not to mention Israel’s nuclear arsenal and Israel’s thinly-veiled nuclear threats, despite Iran’s distance from Israel and the prevailing perception in Iran that Israel is “out of area.”
As a result, in terms of both near-term and long-term Iranian defense strategy, the present multiplication of national security threats may soon warrant a fresh re-thinking of the Supreme Leader’s famous edict, or fatwa, which banned the manufacturing and stockpiling of nuclear weapons on moral and religious grounds. The latter are now trumped by purely national security concerns, raising the specter of a nuclear deterrent shield for a country under siege. Inevitably, this would mean an Iran nuclear crisis II—though it may not be identical in all respects with the initial nuclear crisis that ran from 2003 to 2015, which saw overt military threats, sabotage through cyberwarfare, assassinations of Iranian nuclear scientists, and punitive sanctions.
Needless to say, should Iran opt for a new march toward nuclear weapons, there are formidable technical, security-related, and military challenges to overcome. To solve these problems, it is possible that Tehran may be forced into closer cooperation with another pariah state: North Korea. There could be, for example, an oil for nuclear assistance deal between Iran and North Korea—whose foreign minister was in Tehran recently. Given Iran’s proud self-perception as a regional fulcrum and its perception of mounting foreign threats to its very existence, the country’s leadership is now on the cusp of making a historic decision: Should it forego any hesitation and pay the likely exorbitant short-term price, in order to have a long-term national security insurance policy in the form of a deterrent nuclear capability?
In this ongoing internal debate, the chips are increasingly piling in favor of those who draw comparisons between North Korea (i.e., successful nuclearization) on the one hand and, on the other Iraq and Libya (disarmament). Concerned that the Rouhani administration may have been excessively compromising Iran’s national security interests, Iran’s hard-liners have been pressing to dispossess the Rouhani administration of control of the nuclear file; they are elated that the Supreme Leader himself has admitted to “mistakes” in negotiating for the JCPOA.
There is a real prospect of a probable—though by no means imminent—”North-Koreaizing” of Iran. It is to some extent dependent on the success of any JCPOA-minus-US salvage operation. With the United States and its regional allies in the Middle East locking horns with Iran, however, the dark clouds of close combat are thickening in the Persian Gulf. Unless there is real progress in conflict-prevention, chances are that the moderates in Iran will lose the nuclear national security debate in Iran to their hard-line opponents.
Therefore, so far as the outside world is concerned, saving and preserving the JCPOA is only half the battle. The other half is addressing Iran’s growing national security paranoia, which could easily translate into clandestine nuclear activities if these (by and large legitimate) worries are not quieted somehow—perhaps through a US turnaround from its present confrontational approach toward Iran.
Many pundits inside Iran view the current US approach as part of a broader Trump administration attempt to upend the post-World War II international order, thus adding to the rather anarchic state of international affairs that is conducive to realpolitik—and detrimental to weaker powers such as Iran.
Iran today faces a predicament much like that of the city-state of Melos in the Peloponnesian War, recalling Thucydides’ famous dictum: “The strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.”
The big difference, however, is Iran’s potential nuclear card. This card will become much more tempting to play in the future, if the United States continues with its efforts to inflict pain on Iran.