Obama Visit Isolates Pakistani Horn (Daniel 8:8)

India, U.S. Reach Nuclear Deal
By Jameel Khan, David Sterman
January 26, 2015

U.S. President Barack Obama and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday announced a landmark nuclear deal amid Obama’s historic three-day visit to New Delhi, where expectations have been high for a revival of bilateral relations between the world’s largest democracies (BBC, VOA News, White House, Times of India, Post). “Today we achieved a breakthrough understanding on two issues that were holding up our ability to advance our civil nuclear cooperation,” Obama said on Sunday at a joint conference with Modi in New Delhi. “And we are committed to moving towards full implementation,” he said (Post). Replying in English, Modi said, “I am pleased that six years after we signed our bilateral agreement, we are moving toward commercial cooperation consistent with our law, our international legal obligations, and technical and commercial viability.” The deal makes it easier for U.S. and foreign firms to invest in India’s nuclear industry (Post).

Other milestones include a renewal of the 10-year Defense Framework Agreement in which both countries will agree to joint development and production of defense systems; an expressed commitment to reducing carbon emissions and a “strong climate change agreement” in Paris later this year; and a host of other bilateral efforts which both countries detailed in a joint statement released on Sunday (DNA News, White House). On Monday, Obama will join Modi to attend India’s 66th Republic Day Parade, where he will become the first U.S. president to attend the occasion. Obama is also expected to join Modi for meetings on Monday at the U.S.-India CEO Forum, where they will discuss trade, investment, and visa issues with India’s leading business leaders (NDTV). Despite the trip’s grand nature, not all was smooth. Obama’s trip was cut short by the White House’s decision for him to travel on Tuesday to Saudi Arabia, where he will pay his condolences to the late King Abdullah and meet the new monarch (Guardian). On policy specifics, India and the United States fell short of a China-like climate change deal to specify goals on cutting carbon emissions (Times of India). And on stage presence, Obama was caught chewing gum during the Republic Day Parade according to media reports (Times of India). The recent revival of ties follows a year of strained relations after the 2013 arrest of senior Indian diplomat Devyani Khobragade in New York. Commenting on better relations today, Obama said, “the United States and India have declared a new declaration of friendship that elevates and formalizes our partnership” (Post). Deplaning Air Force One, Obama and Modi on Sunday greeted each other on the tarmac with hugs and handshakes.

China’s official state-run news agency Xinhua in a commentary report on Sunday said that U.S. President Barack Obama’s “shortened three-day [India] visit is more symbolic than pragmatic, given the long-standing division between the two giants, which may be as huge as the distance between them” (Hindustan Times, Xinhua). While acknowledging the apparent “closeness between the two countries,” the report pointed out past quarrels and a “superficial rapprochement” amid the warming ties, saying: “After all, only one year ago, U.S. diplomats were expelled from New Delhi amid widespread public outrage over the treatment of an Indian diplomat in New York and Narendra Modi, India’s Prime Minister and then chief minister of Gujarat, was still banned from entering the United States” (Xinhua). Liking Obama’s trip to a needed foreign policy win to report progress back to the U.S. Congress, the report also said the bilateral meetings would not see agreement on the pressing issue of climate change — a priority of the Obama administration — saying that “India is heavily dependent on coal-fueled plants” and that “economic growth and eradication of poverty is more urgent for Indian officials than cutting carbon emissions” (Xinhua).

Across India’s border, Pakistan on Sunday sent its Army Chief Raheel Sharif to Beijing on a two-day visit to meet senior Chinese military officials to discuss defense and security issues (India Today, Zee News). Sharif’s trip comes amid recent pressure from India and the United States to reign in extremism within its borders. Meeting with defense counterpart General Qi Jianguo and General Fan Changlong, vice chairman of China’s powerful Central Military Commission (CMC), the bilateral talks touched on a range of regional security issues including long-term defense collaboration, counterterrorism cooperation, intelligence sharing and training exchanges. Infiltration by Uygur militants in China’s restive Xinjiang region remains a shared security concern between the two countries. “China will, as always, give firm support to Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism,” General Fan was quoted saying in a Xinhua report (Zee News).

First Lady Michelle Obama is expected to receive a gift of 100 hand-woven banarasi saris — a traditional Indian silk garment worn by women — from the holy city of Varanasi, according to several news outlets and local businessman Pervez Matin (Al Arabiya, Economic Times, Deccan Chronicle, Indian Express, NDTV). “We have used pure gold and silver threads for the sari that we have prepared for Michelle,” said Pervez Matin, whose family has been in the weaving business for three generations (Deccan Chronicle). Months of painstaking preparations have gone into the saris, which normally cost around 150,000 Indian rupees ($2,400). Some reports suggest that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made the request to gift the saris.

Banarasi saris are those specifically made in Varanasi, where the city has earned a reputation for weaving India’s finest garments with the staple embroidery of gold and silver. Varanasi’s 40,000 weavers are mostly Muslim and have been in the craft for generations (NDTV). Despite its fame, India’s centuries-old sari industry is facing competition from countries like China, where garments are increasingly made with cheaper costs. Ahead of the Obama’s visit, an excited Indian media doled out fashion pleas for the First Lady to sport a sari during her trip (Hindustan Times). While the verdict is still out on the First Lady’s remaining outfits, one saving grace was Michelle Obama’s choice to wear a tailored dress and matching jacket made by Indian-American designer Bibhu Mohapatra as she stepped off Air Force One with husband and U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday in New Delhi (Economic Times).

— Jameel Khan

Even The IAEA Warns Of Nuclear Attacks (Revelation 15:2)

IAEA chief warns of nuclear terror attacks
Published: 7:46 pm, Monday, 26 January 2015

The head of the UN's atomic watchdog has said that 'terrorists' could attack countries weak in security.

The head of the UN’s atomic watchdog has warned that ‘terrorists’ could attack or sabotage nuclear facilities in countries where security is weak, and urged governments not to let their guard down.
‘This is a very serious issue for the international community now,’ Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said on Monday in a lecture in Singapore.

‘In this area, international cooperation is extremely important because terrorists always target the weak link,’ he said.

‘The country which does not recognise the threat of terrorist sabotage or attacks on nuclear power plants or facilities is the most dangerous country,’ he added, without referring to any specific threats or countries.

Media reports in July last year cited Iraq’s United Nations ambassador Mohamed Ali Alhakim writing to UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon about insurgents seizing nearly 40 kilograms of uranium compounds kept at Mosul University.

The Islamic State group has overrun parts of Syria and Iraq since last June and declared a Muslim caliphate in those areas.

Speaking to reporters later, Amano declined comment on the prospect of global powers and Iran reaching an agreement by the end of June on Tehran’s nuclear program.

‘The IAEA has long been insisting that the solution needs to be found through dialogue. We welcome if and when the agreement is reached,’ Amano said.

‘We have communications with them, we provide assistance as necessary and as appropriate, but we are not a party to this negotiation.’

Iran and the so-called P5+1 group – the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia – have been seeking a comprehensive accord that would prevent it from developing a nuclear bomb in return for an easing of economic sanctions.

Iran says its nuclear program only has civilian aims.

– See more at: http://www.skynews.com.au/news/world/asiapacific/2015/01/26/iaea-chief-warns-of-nuclear-terror-attacks.html#sthash.LXYLoMA8.dpuf

Israel And Iran Sharing Love Letters (Daniel 8:4)

Iran: “Killing of Senior Hizbullah and IRGC Officials Will Hasten Israel’s Destruction”

By Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall


web posted January 26, 2015
A Generational Embrace 

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei posted on the main page of his personal site and tweeted on his Twitter account (in Persian, English and Arabic) rare “unseen” pictures of him hugging and kissing Jihad Mughniyeh and his father, Imad. These testify to the profound tie Khamenei maintained with Imad Mughniyeh, a favorite of his from the start of Mughniyeh’s activity in Lebanon until his February 2008 assassination in Damascus, and with his son. It also illustrates the depth of Iran’s involvement in Lebanon including its special and strategic ties with its “favorite son,” Hizbullah.
The Iranian media and social networks also highlighted Jihad Mughniyeh’s special tie with the commander of the Revolutionary Guard Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, who reportedly was seriously injured in a recent ISIS suicide bombing in Iraq. The Twitter account that may belong to Soleimani tweeted: “RIP Jihad Mughniye followed the steps of his father.” Moreover, Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allahdadi, a senior IRGC official who was killed in the attack, was very close to Soleimani and also served under his command, as various publications in the Iranian media have made clear since his death.

The Iranian news agency Tabnak, which is associated with former IRGC commander Mohsen Rezaei, reported shortly after the attack that several IRGC members including Allahdadi were also killed. The report was removed from the site soon after it was posted. It was also reported that Allahdadi had been in Syria to advise the regime on the war against the Salafi-Takfiri [apostate] terrorists.
An extensive background report on Allahdadi’s military career and close ties with Soleimani was posted on the Mashregh News site. It related that when the IRGC’s 41st Sarallah Division was established in the Karaman Province under Soleimani’s command, AllahDadi joined it and fought alongside him until the end of the Iran-Iraq War in 1988. After holding a number of other posts in the IRGC, the most recent of which was commander of the Al Ghadir division in the Yazd Province (until June 2011), he was invited by Soleimani to join the Quds Force and fight the “Zionist regime” in Syria and Lebanon. The article sheds light on the methods of the Quds Force and its commander and on the veterans of the war in Iraq who are loyal to him and who Solomeini recruits for the most consequential Iranian security roles in Syria and Lebanon. AllahDadi’s funeral was held January 21 with the IRGC Commander attending.

A lone report by a Fars News journalist in Syria indicates that a senior IRGC official named Asadi was also killed in the attack, saying that he was a commander of the IRGC advisers in Syria. The names of the other IRGC fatalities have not yet been published.

Devastating Thunderbolt 

In a special and stern message after the attack, IRGC commander Mohammad Ali Jafari reaffirmed the organization’s commitment to continuing the struggle against Israel until its destruction. Jafari said:

As the recent rounds of fighting in Lebanon and in Palestine have already demonstrated, the IRGC will continue to stand firm [beside Hizbullah and the Palestinian organizations] until the destruction of the Zionist regime and its removal from the geostrategic equation in the region…. The martyrdom of the members of the Ummah constitutes a further springboard for the destruction of the oppressive, satanic, and terrorist political system of the Zionist regime…. The martyrdom again proved that we must not distance ourselves from the jihad and that the Zionists must prepare themselves for the “devastating thunderbolt” of Iran.

The Iranian defense minister, Hussein Dehqan, who has played a central role in the IRGC’s activity in Syria and Lebanon and also was involved in the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut, stated that the Israeli operation in Syria was a continuation of its “crimes” in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon and that “its support for the radical, heretical (or Takfiri, the Iranian term for the extreme Sunni organizations operating against the Assad regime) Islamists also highlights Israel’s shameful nature.”
The Arming of the West Bank 

Ali Larijani, chairman of the [legislative] Majlis, sent condolences to Hizbullah and said,The Zionist regime’s role in the terrorist attacks in the region is well evident, especially in the terrorist operations in Syria and Iraq, and a global unity is needed to annihilate the [Zionist] regime.” Mohammad Reza Mohseni-Sanihead of the Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy Committee said that the “killing of the resistance (Hizbullah) commanders would not go unanswered” and that in his opinion “the response would defeat the Zionist regime for the fourth time and bring about its destruction.” The committee’s spokesman Hussein Naqavi-Husseini threatened:
Lebanese Hizbullah is capable of raining an ongoing missile offensive onto the occupied territories [Israel] and retains the right to respond militarily to the killing of its people…. Hizbullah has long-range missiles that can hit military bases [in Israel]…. It is easy for Hizbullah to respond militarily.

Also addressing the issue of the West Bank and Khamenei’s call to arm the Palestinians there, Naqavi-Husseini said that Israel’s actions would not succeed to stop the arming of the West Bank and that the Palestinians there would undoubtedly be armed for the anti-Israeli struggle.

The Border Guard of the Islamic World

Hesam al-Din Ashena, head of the Center for Strategic Studies of the Iranian presidency and adviser to Rouhani for cultural affairs, said that the events in Syria in recent years are meant to prevent it from becoming the front line of the battle against Israel and therefore “it is only natural that Hizbullah, as the border guard of the Islamic world, will be present at the border of Syria [with Israel] and will continue to maintain this presence so that the confrontation will continue.”

The Iranian Foreign Ministry condemned the killing of the Hizbullah and IRGC commanders in Syria, which foreign media attributed to Israel. Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said, “We condemn all actions of the Zionist regime as well as all acts of terror.”

Revenge…Not Long in Coming

The conservative Iranian media hastened to draw a connection between the Israeli operation and “a few Arab regimes,” headed by Saudi Arabia. An editorial in the newspaper Kayhan, Khamenei’s mouthpiece, stated that the “destructive process” in Syria (which had almost led to Assad’s fall) had played into the hands of Israel and Saudi Arabia until the Iranian and Hizbullah advisers began to change the equation in Syria. The paper further wrote that if Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad had managed to fire rockets at Israel for 51 days, Hizbullah could similarly fire rockets at Haifa and Tel Aviv whenever it wanted to. The revenge against Israel, Kayhan promises, will not be long in coming. On January 21, its lead headline was “Harsh Revenge, Hizbullah the Nightmare of the Zionists.” A day earlier the paper’s lead headline quoted Nasrallah, who had called on Israel’s residents to get their bomb shelters ready.

Syria: The First Line of Defense against Israel

The killing of the senior Hizbullah and IRGC officials finds Iran in the midst of debilitating warfare in Syria and Iraq against ISIS and the other organizations opposing Assad’s regime. Iran and Hizbullah have been incurring heavy losses, including senior IRGC commanders. One of these, General Hamid Taghavi, was one of Soleimani’s senior aides and was killed in Iraq at the end of 2014 while advising the Iraqi army in its war against ISIS. Recently the death of another senior IRGC official in the Mosul area was reported.

Syria constitutes a central axis of these two campaigns. At the same time it is, as attested by the Iranian political and military leadership, a crucial element in Iran’s overall strategy of struggle and containment of Israel. Hence in recent years, since the outbreak of the so-called Arab Spring, Iran has devoted abundant resources of skilled manpower, advisers, money (despite the drastic decline in oil revenues), arms shipments and logistics to preserving Assad’s regime.

Iran has injected Lebanese Hizbullah into the campaign in Syria and Iraq while creating cells of “Hizbullah Syria,” which Hizbullah Lebanon has been tutoring. The timing of the attack a few days after Nasrallah’s boastful speech about Hizbullah’s offensive capabilities, with threats against Israel, puts the organization and its patron in a difficult dilemma concerning the nature and characteristics of the response, which could spark an escalation and an expansion of the fronts they have to deal with despite limited resources.

Not only has Iran intensified its activity in Syria and assumed control of the operational issues affecting the Assad regime’s survival in its battle with the opposition organizations, Iran has also gradually begun to turn the Golan Heights into an active theater of combat with Israel. Thus the younger Mughniyeh, who was the symbol of his mythological father and enjoyed open and intimate channels of communication with Supreme Leader Khamenei, was appointed to the sensitive task of establishing and activating the terrorist infrastructure on the Golan.

These groups carried out attacks in the Har Dov area (October 7, 2014) and were preparing for further attacks of new kinds, as Nasrallah implied in his latest speech — including the conquest of Israeli settlements and “other surprises” involving missiles and rockets. At the beginning of next week, Nasrallah is expected to deliver an additional speech in which he will probably hint at how Hizbullah will respond.

The joint patrol of Hizbullah and IRGC officials that was struck may have been part of Hizbullah’s preparations, under Iranian tutelage, to intensify attacks against Israel along the Golan border using improvised explosive devices (IED), antitank weapons, and other means of asymmetrical warfare, with the aim of forcing Israel to expand its activity in Syria.  Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television station confirmed that the fighters were killed in Quneitra “during a field reconnaissance mission.”

Difficult Decisions

The decision on the timing, location, and nature of the possible response to the killing of the IRGC and Hizbullah officials will be made in Tehran according to its strategic interests beyond the Syrian-Lebanese theater. The new midyear target date for reaching a nuclear agreement with the West, increasingly a subject of controversy within Iran, could figure in Iran’s considerations regarding Hizbullah’s response. Iran is now in domestic distress because of the drastic decline in oil prices, making it difficult to continue its assistance to Hizbullah and the Palestinian organizations. Although no significant decline in this assistance is evident, and recently there were even reports of improved relations with Hamas, the issue of sustaining the assistance continues to foment within a difficult internal dispute between the IRGC on one side and Rouhani and his government on the other.

In any case, the last word on the nature and timing of the response is reserved for Khamenei, who holds a special place in his heart for his favorite Imad Mughniyeh, whose death has not yet been avenged. Now he is joined by his son.  Soleimani’s longstanding ties with Allahdadi could also be a factor leading to “personal” and painful revenge. For Iran and Hizbullah the series of assassinations that have not been avenged (Imad Mughniyeh in 2008, Hassan al-Laqis in 2013), which have damaged Hizbullah’s prestige, tip the scales toward those who favor a painful and imminent response. This could lead the IRGC, which sets the tone in Iran, to decide to allow Hizbullah to respond in an irregular fashion that carries the risk of an escalation. ESR

IDF Lt.-Col. (ret.) Michael (Mickey) Segall, an expert on strategic issues with a focus on Iran, terrorism, and the Middle East, is a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs and at Foresight Prudence.

Pakistani Horn Now In Army’s Hands (Daniel 8:8)

Pakistan’s Ongoing Existential Crisis – Analysis
January 24, 2015
By Dr Subhash Kapila*

Pakistan’s existential crises generated by Pakistan Army’s repetitive onslaughts on Pakistan’s democratic fabric are widely recognised. Constitutional abdication once again stands forced by the Pakistan Army on PM Nawaz.

In wake of TTP suicide attack on Peshawar Army Public School, the Pakistan Army instead of shouldering responsibility for its institutional inadequacies deflected Pakistani public reaction and outcry by demanding a Constitutional Amendment for setting-up Special Military Courts for trial of terrorists.

Pakistan Army’s not so subtle manoeuvre in this direction is nothing but a “Back-Door Coup” in which Constitutional organs of the Pakistan nation-state like the Prime Minister, the Government and the Pakistan Supreme Court stand short-circuited and by-passed. Implicitly and effectively, the Pakistan Army Chief and his generals have taken over the administration of Pakistan.

Regular readers would recall that at the height of Imran Khan and Qadri’s protest movement besieging the government of incumbent PM Nawaz Sharif I had pointed out that this prolonged besieging of Pakistan Parliament and government offices in Islamabad was a Pakistan Army facilitation as a prelude to a possible coup or a soft coup. What has occurred in the wake of Peshawar suicide bombings was a subtle operation by the Pakistan Army without sending soldiers on the streets forcing PM Nawaz Sharif to virtually hand over effective reins of government to Pakistan Army Chief.

To give respectability to this insidious manoeuvre Pakistan’s polity was scared by the Pakistan Army General into passing the 21st Constitutional Amendment approving the setting-up of Special Military Courts for trial of all terrorism-related crimes. The Pakistan Army Act was also suitably modified.

Preposterous is the reality that with PM Nawaz Sharif having been returned to power on a solid majority and with the Pakistan Supreme Court in recent times asserting with judicial activism, the Pakistan Army had no faith in these Constitutional organs of the Pakistan State and goaded the political establishment for setting-up Special Military Courts. The Pakistan Army Sharif has done-in the Political Sharif.

The Pakistan Army would have gone in for a regular military coup and declaration of Martial Law except for the fear of international backlash and withholding of billions of dollars of US and Western aid.

The Pakistan Army Generals were smarting under the perceived insult of General Musharraf’s trials in civil courts and PM Nawaz Sharif’s conciliatory gestures towards India and hence all these contrivations. Further, the solid image of the Pakistan Army was being dented in public perceptions beginning with US liquidation of Osama bin Laden deep in the midst of Pakistan’s major military garrison and thereafter continuing terrorism attacks.

The question that arises is as to why the Pakistan Army never made demands for Constitutional Amendment and setting-up of Special Military Courts earlier when right from Karachi to Lahore similar suicide bombings had taken place?

The second question is more major and profound. Is Pakistan condemned to alternate currents of Pakistan Army’s political interventions and control and aborting democracy taking roots in Pakistan which recently showed promise when governance passed from one political regime to another through the ballot box rather than bullets?

Does this plague of Pakistan Army military interventions and short-circuiting of democratic transformation not represent that the Pakistan nation-state is in an existential crisis? Would then not the question be ceaselessly asked regionally and globally that how long Pakistan can survive as a nation state with such debilities?

Pakistan’s existential crisis has been the subject of incessant debates in the strategic community and strategic analyses. Moreso, concerns arise because Pakistan is a rogue nuclear weapons state with the nuclear triggers in the hands of an adventurist Pakistan Army. They can be expected to act impulsively and brashly without caring for the consequences.

Reflective of the above was an interesting scenario of “Pakistan 2018” included in an article in the British newspaper ‘The Telegraph ‘of September2010 which spelt out that in 2018 as Pakistan returned to civilian rule after five years of military dictatorship, the Pakistan Army refused to hand over the codes and keys for the nuclear arsenal. The ousted Pakistan Army also seized missiles silos with the Pakistan Army splintering into those supporting the civilian regime and those unwilling to take orders from the civilian Government. The latter join the Taliban in Afghanistan and resort to cutting off of supply routes to US Forces remaining in Afghanistan

In response a UN Coalition led by US Task Forces with support from Chinese Task Force attack Pakistani missile silos. But the Pakistani Army rebels manage to launch two nuclear warheads towards Mumbai which are intercepted and destroyed by US Forces. The UN Coalition Forces eventually defang Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal

The above is not a far-fetched alarmist scenario and requires serious consideration by United States, Russia and China as major powers as to how Pakistan Army’s nuclear arsenal is de-fanged to prevent doomsday scenarios. How can China guarantee that a 9/11is not repeated on China by Pakistan based radicals supporting their co-religionists in Xinjiang?

Even ardent supporters of Pakistan within the US strategic community now express doubts over the survival of the Pakistan nation-state. Their logic is that if Pakistan stood partitioned by emergence of Bangladesh within 24 years of the first partition what guarantee is there that with the uninterrupted crumbling of Pakistani governing institutions currently underway that Pakistan could survive as a nation-state in the coming 36 years.

It needs to be highlighted that Pakistan’s existential crisis underway is not the handiwork of any Indian diabolical plot but the havoc wreaked by the Pakistan Army on the survival of democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan. This author has been propagating that ‘Pakistan’s Democracy is a National Security Imperative for India” in his SAAG Papers so entitled.

Concluding it needs to be stressed that Pakistan’s long entrenched strategic patrons like the United States, UK and China would have to re-write their strategic narratives on the Pakistan Army if Pakistan has to be retrieved from its ongoing existential crisis before it irretrievably stumbles into an abyss with dangerous implications for the region.

*Dr Subhash Kapila is a graduate of the Royal British Army Staff College, Camberley and combines a rich experience of Indian Army, Cabinet Secretariat, and diplomatic assignments in Bhutan, Japan, South Korea and USA. Currently, Consultant International Relations & Strategic Affairs with South Asia Analysis Group. He can be reached at drsubhashkapila.007@gmail.com