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

60% Uranium Is Used For Only One Purpose (Rev 15:2)

New Sanctions to Trigger Iran’s 60% Uranium Enrichment, MP Warns
Iranian centrifuges

Iranian centrifuges
January 25, 2015 – 23:45

Member of the parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Mohammad Hassan Asafari said in a radio interview on Sunday that the plan will take effect if the parties engaged in nuclear talks with Iran are perceived to be trying to impose fresh sanctions and be reluctant to lift the previous sanctions.
In similar comments on Saturday, Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani unveiled retaliatory plans should the US imposes fresh sanctions on the country over its peaceful nuclear program.
The legislature has “seriously considered scenarios” to make the US regret if the Congress decides to slap new sanctions on Iran, Larijani said.

He pledged that a “jump in Iran’s nuclear technology” will occur in case of fresh sanctions, saying Tehran is absolutely capable of doing that.

Iran and the Group 5+1 (Russia, China, the US, Britain, France and Germany) are in talks to hammer out a final agreement to end more than a decade of impasse over Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

It Matters Because The Final Horns Of Prophecy Are Forming (Daniel 8)

What’s happening in the Middle East and why it matters
By Greg Botelho, CNN
Updated 9:44 AM ET, Sat January 24, 2015
(CNN)The Middle East has never been a simple place.
Yet nowadays, this region is especially turbulent — with waves rocking several countries, so big that their effects are being felt worldwide, including the West.
It’s not like this uneasiness is concentrated only in one country, or all for a common reason. There’s Islamic extremism, political turnover, faltering oil prices and, let’s not forget, age-old sectarian tensions that are contributing in different ways in different places to the tumult.
Many countries in the region have issues, such as Egypt’s delicate political and human rights situation and Turkey’s dealing with the impact of the war raging right over its border in Syria. Still, a few stand out because of the unique — some might say intractable — challenges they face.
What’s going on
Chaos is one way to describe it.
The country’s government is in a shambles. Violence — some of it sectarian, some of it thanks to militancy from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) — has been raging nationwide for months, if not years. And it’s far and away the poorest nation in the region, with a per capita GDP of $1,473, according to the World Bank. (Compare that with Saudi Arabia’s $25,962.)
Let’s start with the still unfolding political crisis. Yemen’s President and Prime Minister abruptly resigned Thursday after Houthi rebels moved on the capital, Sana’a.
How Yemen’s new government will look is still unclear, if it’s going to have a functioning government at all. If the Houthis take the lead, that would mean Shiites ruling a country that’s mostly Sunni. While the Houthis and previous government both fought against al Qaeda, this instability can only help that terror group. And none of this is helping the average Yemeni stuck in poverty, with little time, money or effort seemingly focused on improving their straits or the economy as a whole.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
For the rest of the world, political stability is a good thing for any country in this region; on the flip side, instability is always a concern. There’s also the fact that Yemen has enough oil and natural gas for its people and export, though unrest makes it challenging to tap into these resources, the U.S. Energy Information Administration notes.
All those worries and impacts are real. But, for the West, it’s about AQAP.
Ever since Osama bin Laden was flushed out of Afghanistan, the terrorist organization he founded has spread out and evolved. Rather than one overarching entity, al Qaeda is now more of an association of groups — each with its own goals, even if they all share a philosophy of lashing out at the West and promoting their extreme brand of Islam.
And of those, AQAP is widely considered the most dangerous to the West.
It’s the only al Qaeda affiliate to send terrorists from Yemen to the United States. There was Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, better known as “the underwear bomber” for his attempt to blow up a commercial airliner on a Detroit-bound flight in December 2009. Then there are the suspects in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings and Nidal Hassan, who reportedly were inspired by American-born cleric and top AQAP figure Anwar al-Awlaki.
The United States isn’t the only place affected. AQAP has claimed to be behind the January 7 Charlie Hebdo massacre, and one of the brothers involved — Cherif Kouachi — told CNN affiliate BFM that he trained in Yemen on a trip financed by al-Awlaki.
Al-Awlaki is dead, but his organization is not. With both Yemen’s government and the Houthis focused on each other, AQAP has more space to recruit and train terrorists, as well as devise ways for them to strike.
Yemen’s political upheaval is especially unsettling for countries like the United States, which had a strong, working alliance with now-departed President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and his government. As of Thursday, U.S. officials haven’t held any talks with the Houthis, nor did they know their intentions.
What’s going on
Since its founding in 1932, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been one of the most stable, not to mention richest, countries in not just the Middle East, but the world. It had a new new leader Friday, and let’s just say the timing could have been better.
Saudi Arabia has had political transition before, with six kings (from the same family) in its modern-day history — the latest being King Salman, who took power Friday following the death of his half-brother, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz. The new leader has already signaled that he won’t diverge much from his predecessor’s policies, saying “we will, with God’s will and power, adhere to the straight path this country has followed since its establishment.”
Still, change is change, and King Salman will be challenged from the get-go.
Riyadh has long played a part in stabilizing the region, a role that is needed as much as ever. Iraq is battling ISIS militants, who already control much of the country and are threatening to take the rest. The Sunni-led government in neighboring Yemen is out, with uncertainty of what comes next or whether some of its violence will spill over into Saudi. And there’s the threat from across the Persian Gulf in Iran.
On top of all this, the price of the Arab nation’s economic driver — oil — has plummeted over 50% since the summer to less than $50 a barrel. That’s key, because oil revenues are a bit part of Saudi government’s revenues, and a big reason it’s so important on the world stage.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
The Middle East is unstable enough, especially since the Arab Spring. The Saudi government was one a few regional governments to weather that storm smoothly. But now, there’s even more need for stability — something that having a new leader may not help with.
It is very possible that Saudi policy doesn’t change much under King Salman. Even if that’s true, it’s much too early to tell whether or not he can be a leader throughout the region. Can or will he try to help broker peace between Palestinians and Israel, as did King Abdullah (who was praised by past and present Israeli presidents after his death)? Can or will he be able to have any influence keeping Yemen under control?
Likewise, it’s not yet clear how the transition will affect the Saudi government’s relationship with the United States, whose leaders have long been able to count on Riyadh for counsel and support.
Another possible impact of King Salman’s ascension has nothing to do with geopolitics, but rather how much you pay at the gas pump. The new King could decrease the amount of oil pumped in Saudi Arabia, which would decrease supply and increase prices.
Even without any Saudi action, the price of oil has already started climbing after King Abdullah’s death.
What’s going on
Syria’s upheaval began in spring 2011, with protests in the nation’s streets. President Bashar al-Assad’s government responded with a deadly crackdown, an act that only seemed to fuel the unrest.
And it only got worse from there.
Eventually, the dissension and violence devolved into a full-fledged civil war. It’s been a bloody war, with the United Nations estimating nearly 200,000 killed as of last August. It’s been a disruptive war, with more than 3 million Syrians now refugees and at least 6.5 million more displaced inside the country. And it hasn’t been a simple war, given all the warring parties involved.
That’s because there isn’t just one united opposition group fighting against al-Assad, who is still in power and entrenched in Damascus. There are more moderate fighting groups, some of which have gotten support from Washington and beyond. And there are extremists who have been able to attract new recruits, gain more influence and take over territory amid the chaos.
One of them is al-Nusra Front, an al Qaeda affiliate the U.S. State Department has designated a terrorist organization that’s taken over territory in northwestern Syria.
Another is ISIS, which first emerged in Iraq but got a second life in Syria thanks to the ongoing war. It has terrorized many in both countries in recent months, a time in which its taken over vast swaths of territory, established a de facto capital in the Syrian city of Raqaa and rebranded itself the Islamic State in accordance with its quest to be a caliphate governed under its strict interpretation of Sharia law.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
Even before ISIS made daily headlines, the horrors of what’s been happening in Syria was enough to get the world’s attention. With large numbers of civilians dying, with the alleged use of chemical weapons, with neighboring countries like Turkey and Jordan finding themselves swarmed by refugees, it couldn’t be avoided from a practical and personal standpoint.
None of those concerns have gone away. Syria borders Turkey, a NATO member, as well as Jordan and Israel, two staunch U.S. allies. Besides the refugee issue, there is a constant threat that the violence will spill over the Syrian border. Even without that, a seemingly endless civil war in this part of the world is never good for most anyone, the West included.
It’s not just that there’s violence, it’s who is behind it and, in many ways, thriving because of it. ISIS wouldn’t be what it is without the Syrian civil war. That means it wouldn’t be a focal point for U.S. President Barack Obama and his government.
Already, ISIS has beheaded a number of U.S. and British hostages — all of them civilians — and threatened more. There’s also the real threat that the group may take its campaign out of the Middle East to strike in the West. That may have happened this month in France. One of the three terrorists there, Amedy Coulibaly, proclaimed his allegiance to ISIS in a video, and investigators discovered ISIS flags along with automatic weapons, detonators and cash in an apartment he rented, France’s RTL Radio reported Sunday, citing authorities.
The West and some of its Middle Eastern allies are striking back with targeted airstrikes not only in Iraq, where the coalition has a willing partner, but in Syria, where it is not working with al-Assad. (In fact, Obama and others have said they want the Syrian President out of power.)
U.S. diplomatic officials said Thursday that estimates are that this coalition has killed more than 6,000 ISIS fighters. Yet their work is far from done. The group boasts upwards of 31,000 fighters, not to mention fresh recruits seemingly coming in regularly.
What’s going on
Iraq is no stranger to war in recent decades, from its war with Iran in the 1980s, to the first Gulf War in the early 1990s, to a U.S.-led invasion in 2003. And it has seen plenty of bad actors in that stretch, like late leader Saddam Hussein — who used chemical weapons against his enemies, including the 1988 attack on the Kurdish town of Halabja.
Even then, ISIS stands out.
The group began in 2004 as al Qaeda in Iraq, a particularly destructive arm of bin Laden’s terror network with an affinity for attacking coalition forces as well as those (particularly Shiite) locals who didn’t accept this Sunni group’s extreme Islamic beliefs. International military efforts helped to beat back the group, but it never totally went away.
Rebranded as the Islamic State, the terror group came back stronger and seemingly more brazen than ever. It killed and kidnapped, including many civilians, using tactics so extreme that even al Qaeda disowned it. Members of the minority Yazidi group reported being “treated like cattle” as their men were slaughtered and their women and girls were raped and sold. It distributed a pamphlet in Mosul justifying its enslaving and having sex with “unbelieving” women and girls.
It’s not just that ISIS is despicable. It’s been successful. The terror group has taken over large tracts of territory in Iraq, including oil fields and the key city of Mosul, and even threatened its capital of Baghdad.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
Iraq matters because it has been a place where Islamist extremists can strike the West. For years, that meant attacking coalition military forces based there. Now that they are gone, the fear is that Iraq will become a training ground for ISIS militants to prepare for strikes outside the Middle East.
That’s why, in August, Obama authorized the first of what have come to be hundreds of “targeted airstrikes” — conducted with international allies — to counter militants in Iraq as well as Syria.
It appears to have made a difference, not only in killing the estimated 6,000 ISIS fighters but in helping Iraqi forces reclaim territory. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Thursday that Iraq has taken back more than 270 square miles (700 square kilometers). Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour this week he expects ISIS — even if it is not eliminated entirely — should be gone from his country within months, claiming the group’s “onslaught … has been reversed.”
“I think we have the capability now, with enough support from the international coalition,” al-Abadi said.
Any such predictions need to be taken with a grain of salt. That’s especially true in Iraq, where terrorists have been reportedly ousted before only to return.
Plus, it is not as though the end of ISIS necessarily will signal an end to Iraq’s problems. Like Saudi Arabia, this big-time oil producer has to cope with the impact of lower prices. And there was violence before ISIS’ surge — including a good number of terrorist attacks — so it seems unrealistic to expect that will go away.
What’s going on
The Islamic Revolution happened in 1979. There has been occasional protests since then, but none have amounted to anything. In some ways, politically, Iran has been the picture of stability with two overarching leaders in the past 36 years, with Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and his successor Ali Khamenei.
Yet Iran’s relations with the rest of the world haven’t been so calm.
Part of it has to do with Iranian leaders’ hard-line stance against Israel, as illustrated in Ayatollah Khamenei’s nine-point explanation last November for why Israel should be “annihilated.” The Ayatollah and his supporters haven’t been much kinder to the United States, with spirited anti-American rallies and harsh criticisms of Washington common.
Then there’s Iran’s nuclear program, one that since 2003 has fueled concern worldwide that Tehran’s plans are not simply energy development, as Iranian officials have said, but may be to develop nuclear warheads that could strike Israel and beyond.
This dispute has led to major sanctions on Iran, hurting that nation’s economy and isolating it from much of the world.
But there’s been some signs of hope since the 2013 election of President Hassan Rouhani. Since then, the rhetoric has notably calmed. And while there’s been no conclusive deal, at least Iran has engaged in “constructive” talks with Western officials on the nuclear issue.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
Think of it this way: Would you want leaders of a country known for “Death to America” chants to have a nuclear weapon?
The United States sure does not. Nor do its European allies. And certainly, neither does Israel.
One concern is that all of these recent negotiations are simply smokescreens. Iran, some skeptics say, may be inching closer to producing nuclear weapons behind everyone’s backs while they talk peace.
And it’s not as though every leader in Iran is embracing peaceful rhetoric. Nuclear weapons or not, seemingly anything could tip the scales toward war. The latest point of contention relates to an Israeli attack in Syria’s Golan Heights that killed a senior Iranian commander and six Hezbollah members.
Speaking about that incident Thursday, according to state-run Press TV, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said: “(Israel) should be waiting for crushing responses.”
What’s going on
Israel is one of most modern, progressive, prosperous countries. But ever since its founding in 1948 it has also been one of the most challenged when it comes to security — and that hasn’t changed.
Hamas and Israeli forces fought for seven weeks this summer in Gaza, a conflict that killed more than 2,130 Palestinians, most of them civilians, according to the United Nations. Sixty-seven Israelis — 64 of them soldiers — have been killed, the U.N. reported. A foreign worker in Israel was killed as well.
The violence has died down since then, but it hasn’t gone away. There was a November attack at a Jerusalem synagogue that killed four worshipers and a police officer. An Israeli soldier was stabbed to death on a Tel Aviv street, with another killed at a West Bank hitchhiking post. Many Palestinians have been caught up in everything as well, like a senior Palestinian Authority official who died after a confrontation with Israeli troops.
No 3rd intifada yet — but few signs of hope, either
Meanwhile, there’s an election coming up in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is contending to stay in the office he’s held since 2009, hoping to convince voters that he’s the right person to address a faltering economy, recent attacks against Israelis in Jerusalem and this summer’s inconclusive war against Hamas.
In fact, he’s taking his appeal on the road to the United States. House Speaker John Boehner has invited Netanyahu to speak to Congress on March 3.
But he won’t be meeting with Obama then, a fact that some see as the latest evidence of the reportedly frosty relationship between the two leaders.
Why it matters to the West and beyond
Israel is important to the United States for a few reasons.
Some of that has to do with the countries’ common democratic ideals. There is also the shared strategic and security interests, as it is no coincidence that many of Israel’s foes (like ISIS or Iran) are also U.S. enemies. And there’s a political component as well, with many in the United States valuing the country’s relationship with Israel — and sometimes poking their political opponents claiming they’re not sufficiently supportive.
If the leaders of these two longtime allies aren’t on the same page, that could be a problem.
Obama won’t personally meet with Netanyahu during his next visit, because, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “we want to avoid even the appearance of any kind of interference with a democratic election” on March 17.
Then there’s the prospect that Netanyahu will press for stronger sanctions on Iran. This thrusts him into the U.S. political fray, since the Iran talks have pitted Obama against Republicans and Democrats alike.
This visit certainly won’t help mend what Aaron David Miller, a former U.S.-Middle East peace negotiator, has described as “a dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama.”
As a senior official with a prominent pro-Israel policy organization in Washington said last fall: “These guys don’t like each other. They don’t pretend to like each other.”

Iranian Horn Hegemony In Yemen (Daniel 8:4)


خبار ايران
Home News Terrorism & Fundamentalism Khamenei’s rep. in Qods Force: Yemeni rebels fight ‘enemies of Islam’
Iran in Yemen
Khamenei’s rep. in Qods Force: Yemeni rebels fight ‘enemies of Islam’

NCRI – Yemeni rebels are “similar to the Lebanese Hezbollah” and “will come into action against the enemies of Islam,” representative of the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader in terrorist Qods Force of the Revolutionary Guards has declared.

The high ranking cleric representing Ali Khamenei was quoted by an IRGC affiliated website: “Many years ago Hezbollah was established in Lebanon, and the same was done in Iraq and Syria.”

Ali Shirazi added: “Today we are witnessing the formation of Ansar Allah in Yemen. And in the future all these groups will enter the field of fighting all enemies of Islam and Muslims.”

Ansar Allah is often is referred to as the military wing of the Houthi rebels.

This is not the first time that an official of the Iranian regime acknowledges the Iranian regime’s meddling in the affairs of the countries of the region including Yemen through creating proxy forces.

IRGC Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, Deputy Commander of the Revolutionary Guards, stated in December that groups like Hezbollah are no longer only in Lebanon but today such forces have been formed in Syria and Yemen.

“Until the last few years, we have witnessed only the forces of Hezbollah in Lebanon who could stand up against the West’s bullying; but today, a major force has been formed in Syria and Iraq, as well as the forces of Ansar Allah in Yemen; this shows the potential the Islamic Revolution has to re-take Muslim lands from Western powers,” Hossein Salami said, speaking at a gathering in the city of Ardebil on December 6.

Meanwhile thousands of Yemenis took to the streets of Sanaa on Saturday in the largest demonstration against the Houthi since the Shiite rebels overran the capital in September.

“Down, down with the Houthi rule,” chanted the protesters who rallied following a call by the Rejection Movement – a group recently formed in provincial areas to challenge the Houthis.

Dozens of Houthi supporters tried to stop the demonstration, triggering a brief scuffle, before they left as the numbers of protesters kept increasing, an AFP correspondent reported.

In Sanaa, which Houthis seized during their offensive in September, supporters converged on the capital’s airport road. They raised green flags and banners proclaiming their slogan proclaiming their slogan — “Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam” — a variation of a slogan often chanted by Iraqi and Lebanese Hezbollah and other groups affiliated to the Iranian regime.

The Judgment: The Nuclear Holocaust Is Very Near (Rev 15:2)

Nuclear scientists: The end is near for humanity

US group founded by creators of atomic bomb move ‘Doomsday Clock’ ahead two minutes; not so fast, other scientists say

By Seth Borenstein January 25, 2015

A US nuclear bomb test at the Marshall Islands, 1954 (photo credit: Wikicommons/United States Department of Energy)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists says Earth is now closer to human-caused doomsday than it has been in more than 30 years because of global warming and nuclear weaponry. But other experts say that’s much too gloomy.

The US advocacy group founded by the creators of the atomic bomb moved their famed “Doomsday Clock” ahead two minutes on Thursday. It said the world is now three minutes from a catastrophic midnight, instead of five minutes.

This is about doomsday; this is about the end of civilization as we know it,” bulletin executive director Kennette Benedict said at a news conference in Washington.

She called both climate change and modernization of nuclear weaponry equal but undeniable threats to humanity’s continued existence that triggered the 20 scientists on the board to decide to move the clock closer to midnight.

The probability of global catastrophe is very high, and the actions needed to reduce the risks of disaster must be taken very soon,” Benedict said.

But other scientists aren’t quite so pessimistic.

Michael Oppenheimer, a professor of both geosciences and international affairs at Princeton University, said in an email: “I suspect that humans will ‘muddle through’ the climate situation much as we have muddled through the nuclear weapons situation — limiting the risk with cooperative international action and parallel domestic policies.”

The bulletin has included climate change in its doomsday clock since 2007.

“The fact that the Doomsday clock-setters changed their definition of ‘doomsday’ shows how profoundly the world has changed — they have to find a new source of doom because global thermonuclear war is now so unlikely,” Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker wrote in an email. Pinker in his book “The Better Angels of our Nature” uses statistics to argue that the world has become less war-like, less violent and more tolerant in recent decades and centuries.

Richard Somerville, a member of the Bulletin’s board who is a climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, said the trend in heat-trapping emissions from the burning of fossil fuels will “lead to major climatic disruption globally. The urgency has nothing to do with politics or ideology. It arises from the laws of physics and biology and chemistry. These laws are non-negotiable.”

But Somerville agreed that the threat from climate change isn’t quite as all-or-nothing as it is with nuclear war.

Even with the end of the cold war, the lack of progress in the dismantling of nuclear weapons and countries like the United States and Russia spending hundreds of billions of dollars on modernizing nuclear weaponry makes an atomic bomb explosion — either accidental or on purpose — a continuing and more urgent threat, Benedict said.

But Benedict did acknowledge the group has been warning of imminent nuclear disaster with its clock since 1947 and it hasn’t happened yet.

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press.
Read more: Nuclear scientists: The end is near for humanity | The Times of Israel http://www.timesofisrael.com/nuclear-scientists-the-end-is-near-for-humanity/#ixzz3PnmYqaPT
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Babylon The Great’s Uranium Continues To Kill (Ezekiel 17)

Forum: Depleted uranium continues to kill

Posted Jan. 23, 2015 @ 8:00 pm
Journal Star

Ten years ago, on Jan. 19, 2005, my son left for boot camp at Fort Sill, Okla. Eight months later, he was deployed on his first tour to Iraq.
He served two tours. Every night that he was there, I had to take medication in order to sleep. If I didn’t, I would lie awake worried and imagining that Aaron would be shot, hit by an IED, or be involved in a Humvee accident.
My son should have been 30 on Feb. 9. Happy Birthday, Aaron. Love, Mom
Kimberley J. Schisler

Iranian Horn Plans On Enriching More Uranium (Daniel 8:4)

Iran lawmakers drafting law on nuclear enrichment hike

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Iran’s parliament has started to draft a law that would allow the country’s nuclear scientists to intensify their uranium enrichment, a step that could complicate ongoing talks with world powers.

The move, announced Saturday by the Iranian parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, comes after US lawmakers said they were planning legislation that could place new sanctions on Iran.

The negotiations between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council — Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States — plus Germany, face a June 30 deadline for a final deal.
But with two deadlines already missed last year both sides have admitted big differences remain on the hard detail of what a comprehensive agreement would look like.
Hossein Naghavi Hosseini, committee spokesperson in Tehran, told the ISNA news agency that draft legislation was underway.

“This bill will allow the government to continue enrichment, using new generation centrifuges,” he said, referring to more modern machines that would speed up production.

“The parliament’s nuclear committee is working on the technical issues and details of this draft,” he added.

A key stumbling block in any final deal is thought to be the amount of uranium Iran would be allowed to enrich and the number and type of centrifuges Tehran can retain.

Under an interim deal, Iran’s stock of fissile material has been diluted from 20% enriched uranium to five per cent in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Experts say such measures pushed back the “breakout capacity” to make an atomic weapon, which Iran denies pursuing.

Tehran insists its nuclear programme is for domestic energy production and that more modern centrifuges are necessary to make fuel for a fleet of power reactors that it is yet to build.

World powers, however, are sceptical about why Iran needs such a large enrichment capability, and UN atomic inspectors say Tehran has not yet fully addressed questions about past nuclear activities.

With the talks seemingly deadlocked, the new Republican-controlled US Congress is considering fresh legislation that could level new sanctions on Iran if talks fail.

US President Barack Obama has said he will veto any move to adopt new sanctions but a White House spokesperson said Friday the “likelihood of success” in the nuclear talks is “at best 50/50.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, leader of Tehran’s nuclear negotiators, has warned that his president, Hassan Rouhani, unlike Obama, does not have veto powers over parliament.

Zarif, speaking to political and business leaders in Davos Friday, added: “Now is the time for the international community to stand firm against (the threat of new sanctions) that will unravel an extremely important achievement.”