Just A Regional Conflict Would Kill A Third Of Mankind (Rev 9:18)

Nuclear War
“The world as we know it could end any day as a result of an accidental nuclear war between the United States and Russia,” a prominent environmental scientist warns.

“With temperatures plunging below freezing (as a result), crops would die and massive starvation would kill most of humanity,” asserts Alan Robock, Distinguished Professor of the Department of Environmental Sciences at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., and a leading authority on nuclear winter, with its catastrophic effects on the global food supply.

Robock will present his new information in a speech to be delivered at a conference on “The Dynamics of Possible Nuclear Extinction” Feb. 28-March 1st at the New York Academy of Medicine, 1216 Fifth Ave., sponsored by the Helen Caldicott Foundation For a Nuclear Free Future of Asheville, N.C.  (Press invited to cover.)

(Nuclear Weapons) “would never be used on purpose by the major powers, but could be used by accident. Some countries might use them in a moment of panic, or in response to imagined threats and insult, or in a fit of religious hysteria,” Robock asserts. “The arsenals of nuclear weapons states set a bad example for the world, encouraging proliferation, and they could kill us all.”
He goes on to say that a nuclear war with each of two adversaries using 50 Hiroshima-sized atom bobs as airbursts over urban areas “would inject so much smoke from the resulting fires into the stratosphere that the climate change would be unprecedented in recorded human history.”

Robock says climate model simulations find that the smoke would absorb sunlight, making it dark, cold, and dry at Earth’s surface and produce global-scale ozone depletion with enhanced ultraviolet(UV) radiation. “Crop models show that it would reduce agricultural production by 10-40% for a decade. The impact of the nuclear war simulated here, using much less than 1% of the global nuclear arsenal, could sentence a billion people now living marginal existences to starvation,” he asserts.

That could come about, say, from the cooling after a nuclear war between India and Pakistan, Robock explains. Calling on the United States and Russia to “set an example for other current and potential nuclear states,” Robock says the only way to avoid a global climatic catastrophe would be to reduce each of their arsenals well below new START levels.

(START is an acronym for the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty signed by America and Russia on February 5, 2011, that reduces the number of nuclear weapons and launchers that the U.S. and Russia deploy.) “The time is now to quickly reduce our nuclear arsenals,” Robock states. “Their costs are enormous to any nation building them. They cannot be used, and their continued existence makes the world a much more dangerous place.”

He cites President Obama’s statement in Prague five years ago to the effect that “The existence of thousands of nuclear weapons is the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War…In a strange turn of history, the threat of global nuclear war has gone down, but the risk of a nuclear attack has gone up. More nations have acquired these weapons… As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.”

– See more at: http://mwcnews.net/focus/politics/49838-nuclear-war.html#sthash.lNN1oJf7.dpuf

Shiite Forces Actually Under Antichrist’s Control (Rev 13:16)

Concern in Iraq grows over unregulated Shiite forces
Shi'ite fighters participate in an intensive security deployment against Islamic State militants in Jurf al-Sakhar
Author Ali Mamouri Posted February 17, 2015 
The popular mobilization forces have been widely controversial in Iraq since their inception in June 2014. Public opinion has focused on the legitimacy of these irregular forces, their activities and the possible illegal killings committed by them in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). In light of the dire need for these forces in the ongoing conflict on the one hand, and lapses in disciplined behavior among their ranks on the other, Iraqis remain conflicted about them.

Reports occasionally appear about violations and abuses by the mobilization forces on the battlefield and off it. At the same time, however, one cannot deny their contribution to hindering IS’ progress toward the central and southern areas of the country. In addition, the forces have also recently made offensive advances against IS, improving their reputation in the public’s eye and in the Iraqi political arena.

The popular mobilization forces were formed after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling on all those able to take up arms and volunteer in the security forces in the fight against IS. The forces were to fall under the umbrella of the state’s security services and within its legal frameworks and practices. In the course of events, however, some of these groups embarked on a different path, operating independently, outside judicial and governmental monitoring and supervision, somewhat along the lines of Iran’s Basij, which were founded in 1979 at the directive of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

One thing that distinguishes Iraq’s popular mobilization forces from its army units is their deep willingness to fight and to sacrifice to achieve military objectives against the enemy. They do not, however, have the professional and military training of the official forces and are not being held accountable in instances of violations.

The popular mobilization forces are in part reconstitutions of the militias formed after the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq that fought against US troops and were often supported by Iran. Some of the groups formed independently and later gained Iranian backing, such as the Mahdi Army, which is affiliated with Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Other groups were initially formed under Iranian supervision, such as the Badr Organization, Hezbollah in Iraq and Jaysh al-Mukhtar.

These forces expanded with the enrollment of large numbers of volunteers, especially following the fall of Mosul in June 2014. Their relations with Iran grew stronger as they began to operate under Iranian military guidance. Their close ties to Iran stem in part from an ideological kinship, but also from the militias’ lack of trust in the fighting skills of the Iraqi army, which failed to protect Mosul and has suffered significant subsequent defeats.

Sectarianism in Iraq has fueled resentment toward the popular forces. While some violations against civilians have been attributed to IS, others have accused the popular mobilization forces of committing them. The most prominent such incident was the August 2104 attack on the Musab bin Umair Mosque in Diyala that left nearly 70 Sunni civilians dead.

Also in Diyala province in the last week of January, an assault was reported to have resulted in more than 70 civilians being killed, including women and children. Dozens of people have also been kidnapped. The media office of the popular mobilization forces in Diyala has issued official denials of responsibility for these killings, instead blaming IS and calling for a comprehensive judicial investigation into the matter.

Sistani’s spokesman Ahmed al-Safi has also called for investigations and for firm measures to be taken against the perpetrators to deter similar incidents in the future. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the formation of a committee to investigate the matter, charging that the perpetrators of such crimes are “outlaws serving specific agendas” seeking to divide Iraq.

Areas of Baghdad have not been immune to the alleged transgressions of the popular mobilization forces. Clashes erupted Jan. 31 in the Karrada district between Hezbollah brigades and fighters affiliated with other popular forces after disagreements following the kidnapping of the brigades’ secretary-general, Abbas al-Mohammedawi, by unknown parties.

That same day, Abadi declared five regions in Baghdad — Adhamiya, Karrada, Khadimiya, Mansour and Saydiya — demilitarized zones in an attempt to reduce violence in the capital. He also lifted the nighttime curfew that had been imposed for years on different areas of Baghdad.

Another measure that should be taken is bringing the popular mobilization forces under government control alongside the Iraqi army. This would help prevent illegal and irresponsible behavior and allow direct judicial action against violators, eliminating the need to form investigative committees after every alleged crime or incident. In light of the struggle with IS, Iraqis are not yet willing to dissolve the irregular forces, but further indiscriminate acts of violence could further deepen the sectarian divide and strengthen IS, which feeds and thrives on such divisions.

Ali Mamouri
Ali Mamouri is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Iraq Pulse.  He is a researcher and writer who specializes in religion. He is a former teacher in Iranian universities and seminaries in Iran and Iraq. He has published several articles related to religious affairs in the two countries and societal transformations and sectarianism in the Middle East.

Antichrist Orders Men To Save The Oil (Rev 6:6)

Iraq Shiite militias rush to defend oil-rich Kirkuk from Islamic State
By Vivian Salama and Bram Janssen – Associated Press – Tuesday, February 17, 2015

KIRKUK, Iraq (AP) — Shiite prayers billow from a mosque loudspeaker at a sprawling Iraqi military base on the fringes of the northern oil-rich city of Kirkuk as Shiite militiamen, most of them in mismatched military fatigues, shuttle back and forth to nearby front-lines, eager for a taste of victory against the Islamic State group.

When the IS militants blitzed across northern and western Iraq last year, tens of thousands of Shiite men answered a call-to-arms by the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, to defend the nation against the Sunni extremists.

Now the Shiite militiamen have arrived in Kirkuk, long one of Iraq’s most hotly disputed territories, and have made a string of bases just 10 kilometers (six miles) from the city their home. A marriage of convenience has since emerged with Iraq’s strained Kurdish forces, which had been exclusively in charge of the city since last year when they repelled IS advances.

As they face a common enemy, the unexpected and often uncomfortable alliance between the Kurdish and Shiite rivals is on display. The friction is feeding the combustible inter-ethnic competition over who will ultimately get control of the city.

The Shiite fighters, officially known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, were instrumental in helping the Iraqi military — which dissolved in the face of the militants’ initial onslaught in northern Iraq — stall the IS push outside Baghdad. They have also teamed up with Kurdish peshmerga fighters in a number of battles, breaking the siege of the northern Shiite-majority town of Amirli in August, and recently, driving Islamic State militants out of a string of towns in Diyala province, northeast of the Iraqi capital.

But their arrival in Kirkuk, 290 kilometers (180 miles) north of Baghdad, has provoked deep-rooted sensitivities. Kurdish forces claimed control of Kirkuk just days after the Islamic State group swept across northern Iraq, seizing major cities, including Mosul and Tikrit. Kirkuk, located along the fluid line that separates Kurdish northern Iraq from the rest of the country, is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, and all have competing claims to the area. The Kurds have long wanted to incorporate the city into their semi-autonomous region, but Arabs and Turkmen oppose this.

The Kurdish troops held their ground, but the IS attempted a comeback. With what the Kurds say was assistance from a Sunni sleeper cell in the city, Islamic State extremists stormed an abandoned Kirkuk hotel last month, then staged a surprise attack on a Kurdish peshmerga outpost, killing a top commander and several of his troops.

The apparently coordinated attack was a blow to the Kurds and underscored their tenuous hold on the city, while the semi-autonomous Kurdish government appealed for more weapons and training from the U.S.-led coalition forces.

Since then, thousands of fighters from a handful of militias such as the powerful Iran-backed Badr Brigades, have flooded into Kirkuk and the surrounding Tamim province.

Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim welcomed the Shiite forces but Massoud Barzani , the president of the Kurdish regional government, insisted that the Shiite militiamen would be “prohibited under any circumstances” from entering the city.

“We are already in Kirkuk,” Mullah Mohammed Yousseff, a Badr Brigades spokesman, roared with laughter as he sat behind his desk inside a trailer at the Taza Batallion base during a recent visit by The Associated Press.

“We have to fight,” Yousseff added. “Our religion legitimizes it.”

The Badr Brigades commander, Hadi al-Amiri, came to Kirkuk last week to deliver truckloads of weapons to Shiite fighters and vowed during a meeting with senior Kurdish officials to send thousands more from his militia to reinforce the area — much to the Kurds’ consternation. At least 2,000 fighters have arrived at the Taza base alone since al-Amiri’s visit. Several militia commanders in Kirkuk estimate that as many as 5,000 Shiite fighters arrived in the region this month alone.

“I’m here because … al-Sistani called on us to protect our country,” said 24-year-old Shiite fighter Amir al-Qassim, who came to Kirkuk from his native Baghdad in January.

A former minister in the Kurdish regional government, Jafar Moustafa, insisted that the reports of Shiite militia presence in Kirkuk are “far from reality,” and that the governorate is firmly in the hands of the Kurdish peshmerga forces.

But only a few kilometers (miles) away from where Moustafa spoke to the AP, religious Shiite flags mark the battlefield, while billboards with al-Amiri’s picture and that of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are hoisted alongside Shiite outposts just south of the city.

“Run Daesh, run, by the orders of al-Sistani,” chanted a group of Shiite fighters after a recent clash, firing their Kalashnikov rifles into the air in celebration. Daesh is an Arabic acronym for the Islamic State group.

Less than 50 meters (yards) away, Kurdish fighters stood guard along the same front line. They did not engage with the Shiite militiamen and refused to be interviewed.

Sunnis living in Kirkuk also have much at stake, and many are viewed with suspicion, deemed guilty by association — simply for being Sunni like the IS militants. The Shiite militias have been repeatedly accused of severe brutality against Sunni communities as they push IS back.

A report released Sunday by Human Rights Watch accuses the Shiite fighters of forcing Sunni residents from their homes, kidnappings, and in some cases, executions.

Such sectarian fears hang over the streets of Kirkuk, and at the outdoor bazaar in the heart of the city, many echoed concerns over the Shiite militias’ brutal record.

“They act like gangsters and we are afraid of that,” said Yassin Ahmed, 24, a Sunni resident of Kirkuk. “But the most important thing is that they have to take care of the people and provide us with security.”

For many of the city’s Kurds, Kirkuk can only be Kurdish.

“Kirkuk is a Kurdish area,” said 48-year-old Ali Karim. “Only the peshmerga must be in control.”

Read more: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/feb/17/iraq-shiite-militias-rush-defend-oil-rich-kirkuk-i/#ixzz3SAHQ5A8o
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Antichrist Suspends Militia Activities (Rev 13:16)

Iraqi cleric suspends militia activities

Moqtada al-Sadr, Getty Images via CNN
(Cihan) Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr  suspended activities of his militias indefinitely on Tuesday. 
The move came as a gesture for other parties to follow suit and suspend their armed forces after the assassination of a Sunni cleric and ten of his tribesmen by unidentified militiamen, Sadr said in a statement.

Late Friday, unknown gunmen attacked a two-car convoy carrying Sheikh Qassem al-Janabi and his nephew, lawmaker Zaid al-Janabi, according to security sources, adding that Zaid was later released after being beaten hard.

The victims were intercepted by a fake checkpoint in the Shiite district of Abu-Dsher in southern Baghdad, and then taken to an unknown place. Their bodies were found in another Shiite district in northeastern Baghdad later.

On Saturday, Iraq’s Sunni lawmakers decided to boycott parliament sessions to protest the killing of the Sunni tribal leader.

They accused Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the ministers of interior and defense of being responsible for the attack. The Sunni lawmakers were implying that one of the Shiite militias were behind the attack.

In a statement, Sadr called on the Sunni political blocs “to show self-restraint, not to withdraw from the political process, and pledge to cooperate with the concerned authorities to reveal those who are behind such heinous crime.”

The militias, suspended by Sadr, are also involved in the battles against the Islamic State (IS) militants in the predominantly Sunni provinces of Salahudin, Diyala nd Anbar.

However, the statement did not say whether the two militias will suspend their engagement in the fight against the IS.

Sadr’s statement also came as the three top Iraqi officials; President Fuad Masoum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliament Speaker Salim al-Jabouri are preparing to hold a meeting to discuss a controversial move to disarm all illegal militias that are under the control of some leading political parties.

But such decision has been strongly rejected by some Shiite parties who argue that the presence of their militias is necessary as long as the Iraqi security forces still needed the militias’ support to stop the advance of the IS militants.