Nuclear Deterrence Is The Ultimate Fool’s Game (Romans 1)

Op-Ed: Nuclear Deterrence is a Deadly Game

Nuclear_War

Published: Sunday, February 22, 2015 9:43 AM

Traditionally, successful national strategies of deterrence require enemy rationality. In the absence of such rationality – that is, in those more-or-less residual circumstances where an enemy state would rank order certain values or preferences more highly than “staying alive” as a nation – deterrence is expected to fail. For those potentially more serious situations involving nuclear deterrence, the palpable consequences of any such failure could be starkly catastrophic, or even unprecedented.
Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly understands that Iran’s extant leadership, and possibly even another successor government in Tehran, could, at some point, value Israel’s physical destruction more highly than its own national survival.


It goes without saying that dealing with sub-state or terrorist adversaries presents a wholly different and potentially more hazardous set of nuclear deterrence problems. By definition, these kinds of adversaries don’t have any national territories to protect and secure. Moreover, their ultimate objectives are increasingly apt to include “martyrdom,” a faith-driven preference that does not bode well for subjecting these proliferating foes to orthodox threats of retaliation. Today, of course, we are already dealing with ISIS and other apocalyptic death cults that will never conform to ordinary notions of decisional rationality in world politics.

Nuclear deterrence should be properly examined vis-à-vis national or state adversaries, not Jihadist terrorists. Irrationality is not the same as “crazy,” or “mad,” and must be carefully differentiated from these more common terms. Significantly, an irrational enemy leadership could still maintain a distinct and identifiable hierarchy of preferences, albeit one in which national survival does not usually rank at the top. In narrowly technical terms, professional military analysts would emphasize that these irrational state actors still maintain an order of preferences that is “consistent,” “instrumental,” and “transitive.”

In principle, as we shall soon see, even these “irrational” states can be made subject to certain alternative forms of deterrent threat. For any state that relies more-or-less on deterrence, recognizing such forms is absolutely indispensable to national security or survival.

A “crazy” or “mad” leadership, on the other hand, would have no discernible order of preferences; its actions, for the most part, would be random and unpredictable. Facing a genuinely “mad” adversary in world politics, therefore, is substantially “worse” than facing an irrational adversary. In essence, although it might still be possible and purposeful to attempt to deter an irrational enemy, there would be little or no point to seeking deterrence against an expectedly “mad” one.

Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman,” asks Luigi Pirandello’s Henry IV.  “Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies like a feather.”

What is true for individuals is sometimes also true for states. In the often-unpredictable theatre of modern world politics, a drama that routinely bristles with myriad debilitating absurdities, decisions that rest upon normal logic can quickly crumble before madness. Naturally, dangers may reach the most singularly portentous or even existential level when madness and a nuclear weapons capability come together.

These issues are not purely theoretical. Rather, they are profoundly real and current, especially in the deeply adversarial matter of Israel and Iran.[1]  Because not a single member of the “international community” chose to demonstrate a willingness to undertake suitably preemptive action (“anticipatory self-defense,” in the formal language of law), Jerusalem may soon have to face an expressly genocidal Iranian nuclear adversary. A potentially “suicidal” enemy state in Iran, one animated by certain graphically precise visions of a Shiite apocalypse, cannot casually be wished away, or simply dismissed out of hand.

As Israel’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, clearly understands, Iran’s extant leadership, and possibly even another successor government in Tehran, could, at some point, value Israel’s physical destruction more highly than its own national survival. Should this happen, the “play” would almost certainly end very badly for all “actors.”

Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, Israel’s ultimate source of national security will have to lie in sustained nuclear deterrence. Although still implicit or ambiguous, and not yet open, or disclosed, this Israeli “bomb in the basement” could sometime “crumble before madness.” Here, in certain easily-imaginable instances involving enemy “madness,” the results of any failed Israeli retaliatory threats could conceivably include collective annihilation.

Though the logic of deterrence has always required an assumption of rationality, history reveals the persistent fragility of any such understanding. Indeed, we already know only too well that nations can sometimes behave in ways that are consciously, or even conspicuously, self-destructive.

History may trump logic, and thus deserve pride of place. Mirroring the decisively unpredictable behavior of individual human beings, national leaders will sometimes choose to assign the very highest value to preferences other than collective self-preservation, a sort of Gotterdammerung  or “Twilight of the Gods” scenario. Fortunately, until now, we haven’t witnessed such a scenario involving nuclear weapons or doctrine.

Perhaps we ought to be reassured. For the moment, no single Iranian or Islamic national adversary of Israel would appear to be irrational or mad.  Harsh enemy rhetoric notwithstanding, no such adversary appears ready to launch a major first-strike against Israel using weapons of mass destruction. For now, at least, the plausible expectation that any such aggression would elicit a devastating reprisal is enough to prevent an attack.  To be sure, miscalculations or errors in information could still lead a perfectly rational enemy state to strike first, but this decision would not be the outcome of irrationality or madness. Always, in pertinent strategic thinking, judgments of rationality and irrationality must be rooted in prior intent.

In world politics, as everywhere else, all things move in the midst of death and in corollary hopes for immortality. Certain enemy states, most likely Iran, could one day decide that excising the “Jewish cancer” or, more generally, the “enemies of Allah,” would be worth even the most staggering costs. From a purely military standpoint, this unambiguously genocidal prospect could still be reduced or avoided should Israel be willing to undertake eleventh-hour “hard target” preemptions. All things considered, however, any such once-reasonable expressions of anticipatory self-defense are now very difficult or even impossible to imagine.[2]

Operationally, a meaningfully successful preemption is now almost assuredly beyond Israel’s cumulative capabilities.

Virtually all critical Iranian nuclear assets have already been deeply hardened, widely dispersed, and substantially multiplied. For Israel, there would also be considerable political costs to any preemption. A preemptive attack, even one that would become an operational failure, would still elicit utterly overwhelming howls of public and diplomatic condemnation. Such deafening howls of execration would, in fact, be inevitable.

It is plausible that certain alternative forms of preemption, including assassination of nuclear scientists, and/or cyber defense/cyber-warfare, could still be useful and necessary, but it is also unlikely that any such options could permanently obviate more traditionally expedient resorts to massive military force.

A “bolt-from-the-blue” CBN (chemical, biological or even nuclear) attack upon Israel that is launched with the expectation of city-busting reprisals might not exhibit irrationality or madness. Within such an attacking state’s particular ordering of preferences, any presumed religious obligation to annihilate the “Zionist Entity” could represent the overriding value.  From the standpoint of the prospective attacker’s decisional calculus, the expected benefits of producing such a blessedly apocalyptic annihilation would exceed the expected costs of any expected Israeli reprisal.
Judged from this critical analytic standpoint the standpoint of the would-be attacker – a seemingly “mad” attack decision could actually “make sense.”

An enemy state with such explicitly-exterminatory orientations could effectively represent the individual suicide bomber in macrocosm.  Whether we like it or not, it is a realistic and powerful image. Just as individual Jihadists (Shiite and Sunni) are now plainly willing to achieve personal “martyrdom,” so might certain Jihadist states become willing to “sacrifice themselves” collectively.
Any Iranian or Arab leaders making the fateful decision to strike massively at Israel could be willing to make “martyrs” of their own people, but not of themselves.  In this very “asymmetrical” scenario, it would be judged “acceptable” by these particular leaders to sacrifice more-or-less huge portions of their respective populations, but only while they, and presumably their own families, were able to flee expeditiously to a predetermined, albeit still earth-bound, safe haven. Again, these leaders would find justification and comfort in the “knowledge” that the Islamic victims were now destined for a far better place.

In all world politics, there is no greater form of power than power over death.

In the Middle East, the promise of immortality remains overarching and incomparable.

What is Israel to do?  It can no longer rely on even the most creative forms of preemption/anticipatory self-defense. It also can’t very well choose to live, indefinitely, with determined theological enemies who might not always be reliably deterred by the more usual threats of retaliation, and who would themselves already be armed with assorted weapons of mass destruction. Understandably, living under a nuclear sword of Damocles could be more than most Israelis would be willing to endure.

Moshe Dayan once declared: “Israel must be seen as a mad dog; too dangerous to bother.” If Israel’s enemies could all still be presumed to be rational, in the ordinary sense of valuing their physical survival more highly than any other preference, or combination of preferences, Jerusalem could soon begin, among other things, to exploit the strategic benefits of pretended irrationality. Recognizing that in certain strategic situations, it can be rational to feign irrationality, Israel could then work systematically to create appropriately more cautionary behavior among its relevant adversaries. In such cases, the threat of an Israeli resort to a “Samson Option” might be enough to dissuade an enemy first-strike

Recalling Sun-Tzu, more explicit Israeli hints of “Samson” could indicate an impressively useful grasp of the ancient Chinese strategist’s advice to diminish reliance on defense, and, instead, to “seize the unorthodox.” In this connection, it should not be forgotten that even Israel’s highly-refined and interpenetrating systems of active defense could never achieve a 100% reliability of ballistic missile interception. Although not generally understood, the Arrow and related BMD systems are needed primarily to enhance Israeli nuclear deterrence (hard-point defense), and not for any large-scale soft-point defense of civilian populations.

What about Dayan’s earlier advice? If Israel’s relevant national adversaries, probably Iran, were presumptively irrational in the ordinary sense, there would likely be no real benefit to any assumed postures of pretended irrationality. This is the case because the more probable threat of any massive Israeli nuclear counterstrike linked in enemy calculations with irrationality would be no more compelling to Iran, or to any other enemy state, than if it were confronted by an expectedly rational State of Israel.

In other words, pretended irrationality can “work” only vis-à-vis fully rational adversaries. Israel could benefit from a greater understanding of the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” but only in particular reference to expectedly rational enemy states.  In those circumstances where such enemy states were presumed to be irrational, something else would be needed, something other than nuclear deterrence, preemption, and/or ballistic missile defense. Although many commentators and scholars still believe the answer to this quandary lies in certain diplomatic or political settlements, this time-dishonored belief is born largely of frustration.

Unquestionably, President Barack Obama’s plan for keeping Iran non-nuclear was naive at best. It has already failed.

No meaningful political settlements can ever be worked out with enemies who openly seek Israel’s “liquidation,”[3]  a word that is still used commonly in many Arab and Iranian newspapers, web sites, and texts. Israel’s enemies are not concerned about land – not at all. Their incessant and lascivious “war” with Israel is still about only one thing. It is about God. It is about immortality.

Going forward, Israel must understand that irrationality need not mean madness. Even an irrational state leadership may have an instrumental, consistent, and transitive hierarchy of wants. The first deterrent task for Israel must be to identify this hierarchy among its several state enemies. Although these states might not be deterred from aggression by even the plausibly persuasive threat of massive Israeli retaliations, they might still be dissuaded by certain threats aimed at what they do hold to be most important.

What might be most important to Israel’s prospectively irrational state enemies, potentially even more important than their own physical survival as a state?  One possible answer is the avoidance of certain forms of presumed apostasy, shame, and humiliation. This would include avoiding the potentially unendurable charge that they had somehow defiled their most sacred religious obligations. Another would be leaders’ strongly-preferred avoidance of their own violent deaths at the hand of Israel, deaths that could be attributable to Israeli strategies of “targeted killing,” and/or “regime-targeting.” In these cases, the particular Islamic leaders would not themselves have been persuaded by the usually compelling benefits of “martyrdom.”

This last suggestion could be problematic to the extent that, theologically, being killed by Jews for the sake of Allah ought doctrinally to be regarded as a distinct positive. Dying for the sake of Allah, we may recall, could be regarded in these leadership contexts as a clerically-blessed passport to immortality.

In the future, Israel will need to deal with both rational and irrational adversaries. These enemies, in turn, will be both state and sub-state actors. On occasion, Israel’s leaders will also have to deal with various complex and subtle combinations of rational and irrational enemies, sometimes even simultaneously.

Ultimately, Israel must also prepare to deal with “nuclear madmen,” both as terrorists, and as national leaders. But, first, it must fashion a suitable plan for dealing with nuclear adversaries who are neither mad, nor irrational. With such an imperative, Israel should now do everything possible to enhance its deterrence, preemption, defense, and war-fighting capabilities. This means, inter alia, enhanced and explicit preparations for certain “last resort,” or “Samson” operations.

Concerning any prospective contributions to Israeli nuclear deterrence, recognizable preparations for a Samson Option could serve to convince certain would-be attackers that their anticipated aggression would not be gainful. This is especially true if such Israeli preparations were combined with certain levels of disclosure, that is, if Israel’s  “Samson” weapons were made to appear sufficiently invulnerable to enemy first-strikes, and if these weapons were identifiably “countervalue” (counter-city) in mission function.

The Samson Option, by definition, would be executed with countervalue-targeted nuclear weapons. It is likely that any such last-resort operations would come into play only after all Israeli counterforce options had already been exhausted.

Concerning the previously mentioned “rationality of pretended irrationality,” Samson could enhance Israeli nuclear deterrence by demonstrating a national willingness to take existential risks, but this would hold true only if Israeli last-resort options were directed toward rational adversaries.
Concerning prospective contributions to preemption options, preparations for a Samson Option could convince Israeli leaders that their own defensive first-strikes would be undertaken with diminished expectations of unacceptably destructive enemy retaliations. This sort of convincing would depend, at least in part, upon antecedent Israeli government decisions on disclosure (that is, an end to “nuclear ambiguity”); on Israeli perceptions of the effects of disclosure on enemy retaliatory prospects; on Israeli judgments about enemy perceptions of Samson weapons’ vulnerability; and on an enemy awareness of Samson’s countervalue force posture. In any event, the optimal time to end Israel’s bomb in the basement policy, and thereby replace “deliberate ambiguity” with appropriate forms of disclosure, will soon be at hand.

Similar to Samson’s plausible impact upon Israeli nuclear deterrence, recognizable last-resort preparations could enhance Israeli preemption options by displaying a clear and verifiable willingness to accept certain existential risks. In this scenario, however, Israeli leaders must always bear in mind that pretended irrationality could become a double-edged sword. Brandished too flagrantly, and without sufficient nuance, any Israeli preparations for a Samson Option could impair rather than reinforce Israel’s nuclear war-fighting options.

Concerning prospective contributions to Israel’s nuclear war fighting options, preparations for a Samson Option could convince enemy states that any clear victory over Israel would be impossible. With such reasoning, it would be important for Israel to communicate to potential aggressors the following very precise understanding: Israel’s counter value-targeted Samson weapons are additional to its counterforce-targeted war fighting weapons. Without such a communication, any preparations for a Samson Option could impair rather than reinforce Israel’s nuclear warfighting options.
Undoubtedly, as was concluded earlier by Project Daniel, [4]  nuclear war fighting, wherever possible, should be scrupulously avoided by Israel.

The purpose of Israel’s nuclear forces and doctrine must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.

But there still remain some readily identifiable circumstances in which nuclear exchanges could be unavoidable, whatever Israel might have done to prevent them. Here, some forms of nuclear warfighting could ensue, so long as: (a) enemy state first-strikes launched against Israel would not destroy Israel’s second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy state retaliations for an Israeli conventional preemption would not destroy Israel’s nuclear counter-retaliatory capability; (c) conventional Israeli preemptive strikes would not destroy enemy state second-strike nuclear capability; and (d) Israeli retaliations for enemy state conventional first strikes would not destroy enemy state nuclear counter-retaliatory capability.

From the standpoint of protecting its overall existential security, this means that Israel must take appropriate steps to ensure the plausibility of (a) and (b), above, and the implausibility of (c) and (d).
“Do you know what it means to find yourself face to face with a madman?” Repeating this pertinent question from Luigi Pirandello’s Henry IV does have immediate relevance to Israel’s existential dilemma. At the same time, the mounting strategic challenge to Israel will come primarily from enemy decision-makers who are not-at-all mad, and who are still more-or-less rational.

Promptly, Israel will need to fashion a comprehensive and suitably-calibrated strategic doctrine, one from which various specific policies and operations could readily be extrapolated. This focused framework would identify and correlate all available strategic options (deterrence, preemption, active defense, strategic targeting, nuclear war fighting) with core survival goals. It would also take close account of the possible interactions between these strategic options, and of  determinable “synergies” between all conceivable enemy actions directed against Israel. Actually calculating these particular interactions and synergies will present a computational task on the very highest order of intellectual difficulty.

Nuclear deterrence is a “game” that certain sane national leaders must play, but to compete effectively, a would-be winner must always first assess (1) the expected rationality of each critical opponent; and (2) the probable costs and benefits of pretending irrationality oneself. These are undoubtedly complex, interactive, and glaringly imprecise forms of assessment, but, just as doubtlessly, they constitute an indispensable foundation for Israel’s long-term security. Doctrinally, it is already time for them to become part of Jerusalem’s codified and revitalized Order of Battle.[5]

Babylon the Great’s Hypocrisy (Ezekiel 17)

USA’s $1 billion gift to Pakistan: Indian govt mute on Obama’s double standard!
obama-sharif
Bibhuti Pati
22 February, 2015 

This Afghanistan centered US financial aid to Pakistan is a clear indication of Obama’s doubled standard two-faces. But it’s nothing new, almost every time US leaders or top officials have visited India and gone back through Pakistan, surprisingly their voices change in Pakistan and they satisfy Pakistan in many ways.

“Michelle and I returned from India- an incredible, beautiful country, full of magnificent diversity- but a place where, in past years, religious faiths of all types have, on occasion, been targeted by other people of faith, simply due to their heritage and their beliefs- acts of intolerance that would have shocked (Mahatama) Gandhiji, the person who helped to liberate the nation,” says US Prez Barack Obama after returning from his India visit. Why he had said this? Is this his diplomacy with India and Modi?Prez Obama advised India to be more religiously tolerant. But, a few recent incidents of attacks on Indians and US Muslims have proved that religious intolerance in the US is growing rapidly and the US government has failed to control it. Are you shocked now Mr. Prez?

But the real shock is, when Modi broke his silence, attacked hate mongers and said, “Center vows to act against religious violence,” but after that why did Modi go silent on Obama’s double standard of two-faces and did not reply to Obama even after a Hindu temple got vandalized with hate message and Indians attacked in the US?

The US department had said that the financial aid would help Pakistan in stopping reemergence of Taliban fighters in the strife-torn neighboring Afghanistan from the US and forces belonging to North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) will almost totally withdraw by the end of 2016. Since, the Obama administration like previous government continues to consider Pakistan as its strategic ally in the South Asian region; the state department said the financial aid would contribute in bringing stability on Pakistan’s western border.

Pakistan lies at the heart of the US counter-terrorism strategy, the peace process in Afghanistan, nuclear non-proliferation efforts, and economic integration in South and Central Asia, the State Department said. Naturally, India was surprised when the US President announced US$1 billion financial assistance to Pakistan few days after his visit to India. Though Indian foreign office treaded very cautiously and made a candid response saying how the US spends its tax payer’s money is “entirely its prerogative,” said Syed Akbaruddin, the spokesman of India’s Ministry of External Affairs.

What is surprising is the fact that even after fully aware that Pakistan has not shown any sustain commitment to dismantle terror infrastructure set up on its soil before and aftermath of 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, India’s commercial hub. It seems the US and its western allies are more interested in doing business with India than pressurizing Pakistan to put an end on importing terror activities to other countries particularly India. The recent financial aid to Pakistan by the US also confirms the general perception back home that the US plays a double standard as far as Indo-Pak relations are concerned.

India shares the US view behind the aid that it has been given to Pakistan keeping in view the situation in Afghanistan particularly after the US and NATO forces leaves that country. But, why without any condition that the money given for civilian and military use will not be siphoned off or used for strengthening terror infrastructure. There is not mention of such a condition in the announcement the US President Obama made while unveiling his budget for the year 2016. Does it not mean that the US still considers Pakistan as its important ally than India notwithstanding Indian Prime Minister rolling out all possible opportunities to the US?

The recent financial assistance to Pakistan also demonstrates the certification given to Islamabad by Washington that it has prevented Al Qaeda, Taliban and their offshoots like Lashkar-e-Toiaba and Jaish-e-Mohammed from operating on its territory. India attempted to play it down as the current government at helm of the affairs is a corporate friendly and is more interested in foreign direct investment than the security of the country and its people. Besides, the US has not yet taken any notice of continued firing at western border between the two arch South Asian rivals. Interestingly, the skirmishes at the border in Jammu and Kashmir were only halted after the US asked Pakistan not to do so at least during Obama’s visit to India.

Indeed, trust between the US and Pakistan hit a low after Mumbai attack and killing of world’s most wanted terrorist Osama-bin-Laden as Washington realized that Islamabad has been using its financial aid for purposes other than military and counter terrorism. That was also the time when India pursued a pro-active role vis-a-vis Pakistan mounting pressure on its western neighbor to bring perpetrators of 26/11 to book; New Delhi came closer to Washington on strategic point issues.

However, the US failed to rise to the occasion and took little notice of India’s concerns even as New Delhi reached out to global community headed by Washington to prevail upon Islamabad to act on the dossier provided by India and arrest all those culprits whose names and other details were given to the neighboring authorities. This attitude was another example of the US double speaks towards India.

When America and its allies began launching massive military operations in Afghanistan to flush out Taliban and Al Qaeda fighters and sought infrastructure assistance from Pakistan, the then Pakistan authorities demanded huge financial grant in lieu of the help arguing that it is America’s fight not a global fight against terror and if the US wants to engage Pakistan in this fight it will have bear all the expenses as military fight has become very costly. The US readily agreed to Pakistan’s condition. However, In case of India’s fight against terror, the US most of the time either opted to remain as a spectator or paid lip service.

Another instance of double standard by the US towards India could be judged from a development when some miscreants misbehaved with Hindu Indians and attempted to disfigure temples in the US, the Obama administration remained moot and instead issued sermons to India that it must adhere to secularism. The sermon issued on the part of the US was certainly not unwanted or unwelcome one, however, the natural law of justice demands and equal treatment by both sides.

It would be much better and in the interests of Pakistan and its neighboring countries if the US instead of arming Pakistan with military equipment in the name of fighting against terror, help establish democracy and bring a stable government which would be friendly to all peace loving countries in the neighborhood in particular and in the world in general. The US has never attempted to take that risk because a democratic and stable Pakistan would help strengthen peace and tranquility in the South Asian region that could be detrimental to the US strategic interests in the region.

There is no harm in providing financial assistance to Pakistan for humanitarian and economic development and for fighting counter terrorism, but there has to be a check balance apparatus put in place as Pakistani administration which mainly controlled by military has a track record of diverting the assistance meant for development and other peaceful purposes to upgrading military forces and promoting terror activities at the western border.

The relations of the US with Pakistan and India have never been on the same footing and seem unlikely as the priorities of the US concerning two South Asian nuclear armed nations wary. The US sees more business related opportunities in India to beat economic recession back home with the help of second largest growing economy in the world whereas Pakistan is a strategic partner for its close proximity and influence among militants both in Afghanistan and bordering areas of Pakistan particularly its terror-hit North West Frontier Province that has been a hotbed of terrorism and a strong hold of Haqqani network. The US marines despite making all out attempts have not been able to detect and dismantle Haqqani network, which keeps various terror organizations very well connected with each other.

Of late, the civil administration including those political parties, which owe allegiances to a liberal and democratic system of governance, have started raising their voices against country’s dependency on the foreign financial assistance arguing that a little of such foreign aid is channel to civil administration to invest into developmental works and major part goes to military, which uses it for other purposes.

(The writer is senior associate editor HotnHit news and Investigative editor of Naxtra news channel)

– See more at: http://www.merinews.com/article/usas-1-billion-gift-to-pakistan-indian-govt-mute-on-obamas-double-standard/15904479.shtml#sthash.qLPrJfCI.dpuf

Iran Could Destroy Israel But Won’t, God Will (Rev 11:13)

Iran Responds to Liberman: We’ll Destroy Tel Aviv in 10 Minutes
 

Iran's Revolutionary Guards fire a Saegheh missile (illustration)

A senior figure in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Mujtabi Du Al-Nour, threatened on Saturday that Iran will destroy Tel Aviv in ten minutes if Israel “makes a mistake” and strikes the Islamic regime’s nuclear facilities.

Al-Nour, who is a representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a talk with journalists responded to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman’s (Yisrael Beytenu) comments from Friday, when he said Israel should stop talking and start acting by striking the facilities said to be developing nuclear weapons.

“If the Zionists were sure that they would win in war they would already have initiated it, but they don’t have the strength to do that – so they just threatened,” blustered Al-Nour.

According to the Revolutionary Guards leader, Iran has rockets that can reach the heart of Tel Aviv within six or seven minutes, “even before the rockets of the Zionists reach us.”

The threat, coming as it does during Iran’s efforts to increase its nuclear output capability by 19-fold and feasibly obtain the ability to equip nuclear warheads on the rockets Al-Nour claims the country possesses, gives extra urgency to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s warnings against a bad nuclear deal.

Netanyahu is posed to address the US Congress on March 3 about the Iranian nuclear problem in a speech that has raised uproar among the left in Israel and the US, given its proximity to March 17 Knesset elections.

The speech is meant to warn against leaving Iran with nuclear capabilities as talks between world powers and Iran approach a March 31 deadline, with Netanyahu warning the deal in its current formation would leave Iran a nuclear threshold state, and a state which has threatened to destroy Israel as Al-Nour reiterated on Saturday.

Antichrist Forms New Iraqi Government (Daniel 8:5)

Iraq: Allawi, Sadr to form “non-sectarian” parliamentary bloc
Allawi speaks during a joint news conference with anti-U.S. Shi'ite cleric Sadr in Najaf
Iyad Allawi (L), Iraq’s vice president and head of the secular Iraqiya coalition, speaks during a joint news conference with Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr in Najaf, Iraq, on March 3, 2011. (Reuters/Ali Abu Shish)

Baghdad, Asharq Al-Awsat—Iraqi Vice-President Iyad Allawi has unveiled a deal with senior Shi’ite leader Moqtada Al-Sadr to form a “supra-sectarian and ethnic” bloc in the Iraqi parliament, one week after the killing of a prominent Sunni sheikh threatened to exacerbate sectarian tensions in Iraq.

In an exclusive interview with Asharq Al-Awsat, Allawi, who is also leader of the Al-Wataniya bloc in the Iraqi parliament, said: “A delegation from the Sadrist Al-Ahrar bloc visited me in my office where we discussed and agreed to form the Wataniya Front which will begin work in the Iraqi parliament and government in the next few days . . . to rescue Iraq from factional and political conflicts.”

The new bloc will not operate along sectarian or ethnic lines but rather “according to the honor code called for by Moqtada Al-Sadr,” the official added.

In a gesture of goodwill the prominent Shi’ite cleric earlier this week said he would freeze militias affiliated with the Sadrist Movement after a prominent Sunni tribal leader, Sheikh Qassem Al-Janabi, and his son were abducted and killed by suspected members of Shi’ite volunteer militias.

Two main Iraqi parliamentary blocs suspended their activities in parliament last week in protest against what they described as Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi’s failure to disarm such militias.

Sadr has also called on the Al-Ahrar bloc to sign with other parliamentary blocs an honor code aimed at stemming the bloodletting in Iraq.

Allawi praised the moves by Sadr to freeze the activities of a number of armed groups affiliated with the Sadrist movement, saying it was a sign of Sadr’s patriotism and “positive efforts to safeguard the social unity of Iraq.”

“We have expressed our support to this trend which is aimed at distancing Iraqis from sectarian politics and achieving true national unity,” he added.

In comments to Asharq Al-Awsat Al-Ahrar MP Dhia Al-Assadi said the new Wataniya Front would help “bring together political leaders and influential figures from the Iraqi parliament on the basis of national commonalities.”

“The bloc will be supra-sectarian, ethnic and work according to a purely national agenda,” Assadi said.

He added: “The idea for the Front began almost two months ago and it was being circulated between the Al-Ahrar bloc and some parliamentary figures, including Iyad Allawi. Everyone was aware of the significance of forming the Front on national principles removed from narrow partisan agendas.”