All Paths Lead To War (Revelation 16)

Obama’s Iran deal is a path to war
obama-defiant-glare
By Fred Fleitz
March 1, 2015 | 7:20pm

The Obama administration and its supporters insist that, although the agreement on Iran’s nuclear program now taking shape may not be perfect, the only alternative is war with Iran. A failure of the nuclear talks, they also contend, would sacrifice important temporary agreements that now restrict Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

Both arguments are false. Worse, the nuclear deal that the administration is pursuing may make war with Iran more likely.

The world would be safer if the nuclear talks with Iran were stopped now.

The agreement being negotiated reportedly would last only 10 years and would leave Iran able to build multiple nuclear bombs in about three months. Administration leaks describe a deal that lets Iran keep on enriching uranium with as many as 6,500 centrifuges and continuing to work on the Arak heavy-water reactor that will be a source of plutonium.

Such an agreement would destabilize the Middle East — launching a regional nuclear-arms race as Iran’s Muslim rivals seek to match its capabilities, and perhaps prompting an Israeli airstrike on Iranian nuclear facilities.

Nor have the talks significantly reduced Iran’s nuclear program. Despite President Obama’s claims to the contrary, Iran has enriched uranium at the same rate since the nuclear talks began early last year and increased its stockpile of enriched uranium.

STOPPING THE TALKS MIGHT ACTUALLY LOWER REGIONAL TENSIONS BY EASING THE FEARS OF ISRAEL, SAUDI ARABIA AND OTHER STATES THAT A WEAK, SHORT-LIVED NUCLEAR AGREEMENT IS COMING SOON.

It would take Iran about three months to produce fuel for its first nuclear weapon by refining its low-enriched uranium to weapons-grade material. At the end of 2013, it had on hand enough low-grade uranium for at least seven bombs; by the end of 2014, enough for at least eight.

In answer to criticism that a potential nuclear deal won’t be strong enough, Obama officials have claimed it will be subject to stringent inspections by International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
This argument is hard to take seriously: Iran has never fully cooperated with the IAEA. During the talks, it has specifically refused to cooperate with IAEA inspectors — one of its several violations of the interim agreement that set up the talks.

The alternative to a deeply flawed nuclear deal is not war, it is continued stalemate — more of the slow development of the Iranian nuclear program that has persisted despite 13 months of nuclear talks.

Stopping the talks might actually lower regional tensions by easing the fears of Israel, Saudi Arabia and other states that a weak, short-lived nuclear agreement is coming soon — one that will end sanctions on Tehran and all restrictions on its future nuclear activities.

Congress should not be fooled by the Obama team’s false claim that it’s either their way on the Iranian nuclear program or war with Iran.

The truth is that the flawed agreement being negotiated will make a war more likely and kicks hard-to-solve elements of Iran’s nuclear program down the road for a future president to deal with.

Far better to halt the nuclear talks and return to the pre-2012 Western approach that required Iran to end uranium enrichment, disable its centrifuges, send its enriched-uranium stockpile out of the country and disassemble the Arak reactor.

Charles Krauthammer had it right last week on Fox News: The Iranian nuclear talks are “simply catastrophic.” The real catastrophe will be if this foolish agreement sparks a regional war in the Middle East.

Can We Really Trust The White House? (Ezekiel 17)

Kerry asks for benefit of doubt on Iran

kerry-iran
The US President Barrack Obama administration is trying to ease tensions with Israel before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks to US Congress on Tuesday.
Secretary of State John Kerry was heading to Switzerland for more meetings with Iran’s foreign minister. Netanyahu arrived later Sunday in Washington — and the two men talked by telephone on Saturday.
Kerry tells ABC’s “This Week” that Netanyahu was welcome to speak in the US and that the administration didn’t want the event “turned into some great political football.” That’s a step back from some of the sharp rhetoric between the allies in recent , 

It’s All About The Shia Horn (Daniel 8)

The U.S. and Gulf are confused over Yemen and Iraq

The Great Islamic Schism

The Great Shia Horn

Raghida Dergham
Sunday, 1 March 2015

The return of former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh to bloodily shaping the country’s history has not come overnight, on the eve of the house arrest imposed by the Houthis on current President Abd Rabbo Mansour Hadi before they allowed him to flee to Aden – the capital of South Yemen before reunification. Ali Abdullah Saleh, since he agreed to step down three years ago, has been planning to return to power either on the Houthi bandwagon or through elements in the military establishment, not to mention deploying his huge influence and financial assets to buy loyalty and empower his party, family, and son to retake power at any cost.
Another man in the Arab region preparing behind the scenes and plotting in secret to return to his devastating role in Iraq’s history is former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The common denominator between Yemen’s strongman and Iraq’s strongman is that they both left power as a result of regional and international pressures and bargains in which the United States and the GCC countries, as well as Iran, played important roles. The difference is that the Iraqi event attested that Tehran had to sacrifice Nouri al-Maliki in what appeared as signs of strategic accords between Iran and key Gulf powers, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States. By contrast, the event in Yemen is a clear indication of the absence of accords and reconciliatory strategies.

Parallels

The Iranian role backing the Houthis in Yemen emerged in parallel with the Iraqi event, in tandem with the determination of Ali Abdullah Saleh to enter into an alliance with the Houthis and Iran to settle scores with Saudi Arabia and other GCC countries, which had helped remove him from power. The two men have an ugly agenda for Iraq and Yemen. If the Gulf leaders are serious and vigilant, they must develop a comprehensive strategy for both Iraq and Yemen, two majorly important countries for the Arabian Peninsula and the Gulf. Otherwise, the GCC countries will pay a heavy price, and not just Iraq and Yemen.
This week, a U.N. Security Council expert team said in a report that Saleh had amassed close to $60 billion in 30 years as Yemen’s president, through corruption, embezzlement, and commissions imposed on oil companies. According to the experts, he has stashed away these funds across 20 countries using other figures and companies as fronts.
The experts who report to the U.N. Yemen sanctions panel told the Security Council that Saleh facilitated it for the Houthis and al-Qaeda to expand their control in northern and southern Yemen, and that he continues to run a broad network of financial, security, military, and political interests in Yemen that allowed him effectively to avoid the effects of the sanctions imposed on him under U.N. Security Council resolution 2140. The panel’s report said, “It is also alleged that Ali Abdullah Saleh, his friends, his family and his associates stole money from the fuel subsidy program, which uses up to 10 per cent of Yemen’s gross domestic product, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement.” “The result of these illegal activities for private gain is estimated to have amounted to nearly $2 billion a year over the last three decades,” it adds.

Changing loyalties

These funds were instrumental in changing the partisan loyalties to the extent of forming “unexpected alliances between former enemies, such as the Houthis and former President Saleh; the weakening of dominant political parties like the Islah party; the departure of leading political and influential figures like Hamid al-Ahmar and Ali Mohsen al-Ahmar from Yemen; an increase in al-Qaeda activities in the south and Hadramaut; and an increased call for separation by the south,” the report argues.
So how did a panel of experts with a specific mission manage to understand the equations and developments in Yemen, while Gulf countries including Saudi Arabia were not able to ascertain and prepare for what was obvious in Yemen?
The question is important to identify whether the flaw is fundamental, or whether it was an exception, and – as it is being said – was possibly related to the health of the late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz and the transition in the kingdom.
Either way, what happened is extremely dangerous, not only for Yemen, but also for Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. However, if the events in Yemen are the result of a deliberate policy based on mutual attrition, then this is an unwise policy similar to the unwise policy on Syria. Its risks would be twofold for Yemen and the Gulf region, led by the Saudi kingdom.

Mutual attrition

Indeed, mutual attrition or destruction has failed in Syria, and has helped destroy the present, future, and even past of the nation – if we consider the archaeological and cultural heritage of the country now in ruins – at the hands of the regime and the terrorists like the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and al-Nusra Front, with local, regional, and international enablement from which no-one emerges innocent. Attrition is a foolish policy because it helped terrorism grow, and created an opportunity for ISIS to proliferate until it drew attention away from what is happening in Syria.
If an international team was able to obtain detailed information and produce a logical and realistic analysis of the Yemeni situation, while the Gulf countries – as it is claimed – were taken by surprise by the events in Yemen and are still unable to develop a strategy to deal with them, then this is a frightening testimony of the utter lack of intelligence and analysis capabilities in the Gulf region.
The international report to the U.N. Security Council stated that according to a confidential source, al-Qaeda is taking advantage of such sensitivities and is recruiting Sunni tribesmen to fight on its side against the Houthis. The report also states, “The geographical proximity of Eritrea to Yemen lends itself to licit and illicit activities, and several trusted interlocutors mentioned confidentially the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) training of Houthi forces on a small island off the Eritrean coast.”

Close ties

According to the same report as well, there is a close relationship between Saleh, his family and al-Qaeda. The report quotes sources as saying that Mohammad Nasser Ahmed, the former Minister of Defense, saw al-Qaeda leader Sami Dayan in the-then President Saleh’s office with the president, in 2012. This is in addition to the quasi-alliance between Saleh and the Houthis.
That’s right. The paragraph may need to be read two or three times to comprehend the strange alliances in Yemen today, with a central role played by a former president who wants to return to power. He is completely disregarding the sanctions imposed on him under a U.N. Security Council resolution, moving ahead with a clear strategy and goals, with a calculated cost.
If the Gulf countries have a deliberate strategy to address the agendas of Saleh, the Houthis, and al-Qaeda – the three are enemies and not allies – then this strategy requires elucidation. The GCC countries appear today in a state of loss, denial, and dithering. This carries a bad message on multiple levels.
Today, Saleh in Yemen, and tomorrow Maliki in Iraq both intend to return to power. Both have partners or allies in Iran. In Yemen, there is a transitional alliance between the Revolutionary Guard in Iran, Saleh, and al-Qaeda for transient mutual interests, and a structural alliance between Tehran and the Houthis. The Houthis can claim to be the party that defeated a major regional power like Saudi Arabia, and that it can threaten it at its border. The Houthis are the group that toppled a legitimate government and put Yemen on the road to secession and fragmentation. Yet this is not the sin of the Houthis alone, because of the failure of the Gulf and the U.S. in Yemen contributed greatly in stoking its internal tragedies and exacerbating geopolitical risks beyond its borders.

Faltering policies

The pace of the coming shifts in the balance of achievements vs. implication will be dictated to some degree by the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 countries (the U.S., Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China).
No one knows accurately if these negotiations are on the brink of collapse or are on the eve of making history. If they produce an agreement, this would be the first time both the West and the East agree to give a non-nuclear state the right to possess military nuclear capabilities in return for postponing the manufacturing date of said capabilities. In turn, this will give Iran the euphoria of belonging to the nuclear club, which will most likely increase its confidence in fulfilling its regional ambitions, however, there is a small possibility that reining in regional ambitions would be part of the nuclear accords.
However, if the nuclear deal fails, the United States will lay trap after trap to implicate Iran in regional quagmires, to create Iran’s own version of Vietnam in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.The region is entering a critical phase soon, during which men addicted to power are aligning with tribes taking advantage of alliance in the regional absence of strategies.
This article was first published in al-Hayat on Feb. 27, 2015 and was translated by Karim Traboulsi.

How Many Centrifuges Does Iran Really Have? (Daniel 8:3)

Iran offer to cut centrifuges by a third led to progress in nuclear talks

Iranian centrifuges

Iranian centrifuges

By Barak Ravid

An Iranian proposal to close down a third of its centrifuges and relinquish most of its low-enriched uranium has led to progress in talks with the six world powers in Geneva, according to Western diplomats. However, many issues remain unresolved and the chances of reaching an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program by March 30 are low, they add.
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled to leave on Sunday morning for Washington, ahead of his controversial speech to Congress on Tuesday, senior Israeli officials appraised of developments in the talks expressed concerns to representatives of the world powers.
The two previous rounds of talks between Iran and the six powers (the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany), in Munich and Geneva, focused on finding a formula that would keep Iran a year from obtaining enough high-level enriched uranium to manufacture one bomb
The two major components of the formula are the number of centrifuges Iran will be allowed to keep and the size of the stockpile of low-enriched uranium that it could retain.
The Western diplomats said that in the Munich talks early last month, the powers made a new offer to the Iranians, in which for the first six years of the agreement Iran could keep operating some 5,000 out of 9,400 old-model centrifuges, while 4,400 would go off-line in such a way that it would take a long time to reconnect them.
In the four following years, according to the Munich proposal, Iran would be able to increase its centrifuges to 7,800, and over the five ensuing years to 9,400, the number it currently operates. The proposal also called for most of the low-enriched uranium Iran currently has (about 6 tons) to be sent to Russia, where it would be converted into nuclear fuel for the reactor at Bushehr, Iran, leaving a symbolic 300-350 kilograms in Iran.
The diplomats said that, according to the proposal, the centrifuges Iran would keep would be reconfigured so they could only enrich a smaller amount of uranium. The deal also included an extensive reconfiguration plan of the enrichment facility at Natanz, proposed by the United States.
At the end of the Munich talks, the Iranians said they would give their answer at the following round of talks, which took place in Geneva last week. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif came to those talks, together with the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, a close associate of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
The Western diplomats noted Salehi had said Iranian nuclear scientists had examined the proposal and decided it was too complex to implement, especially because of the reconfiguring plan for Natanz.
The Iranians proposed they keep 6,000 centrifuges out of the 9,400 for the first 10 years of the agreement, and keep 500 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, or, alternatively, to operate 6,500 centrifuges and only retain 300 kilograms of their low-enriched uranium, the diplomats said. After 10 years, with only five years left on the agreement, the Iranian proposal would gradually increase the number of centrifuges to the number they have today, the diplomats added.
Another stumbling block is Iran’s continuing refusal of the world powers’ demand to fully open all aspects of its military nuclear program to inspection by the International Atomic Energy Commission.
The diplomats say that, considering the issues still in dispute, it is difficult to imagine the parties coming to an agreement by March 30. If such an agreement does emerge, because of an Iranian and American need to show progress, it will be a general document of principles only and will not include details on the outstanding bones of contention.
Another round of talks is scheduled for this Thursday in Switzerland. These meetings are to be preceded tomorrow by a meeting in Switzerland between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and his counterpart, Zarif. Salehi will also be present at that meeting.
At a press conference over the weekend, senior U.S. officials said “significant progress” had been made in the talks, but there were still many obstacles and they did not expect an agreement to emerge from this week’s talks.
Israel has been updated on the Iranian proposal in Geneva, which has given rise to greater concern in Jerusalem. Since the first round of talks in Geneva, National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen and Strategic and Intelligence Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz have expressed their concerns to representatives of the powers.
A senior Israeli official said the two Israelis warned that the proposal leaves too many centrifuges in Iranian hands, does not include total dismantling of the off-line centrifuges, and does not address issues such as Iranian research and development of advanced centrifuges during the period of the agreement. Steinitz and Cohen also said they did not believe Iran would send its low-enriched uranium abroad.
Netanyahu will address Congress on Tuesday evening (Israel time). He is also due to speak to the pro-Israel lobby, AIPAC, tomorrow. In both speeches, Netanyahu will argue that the agreement with Tehran is “bad and dangerous,” and call for additional sanctions on Iran.
“I respect President Barack Obama and believe in the power of the ties between Israel and the United States, and their power to overcome differences,” Netanyahu said on Saturday, during a visit to the Western Wall. “As prime minister, it is my duty to ensure the security of Israel, and therefore we strongly oppose the agreement developing with Iran. We must explain the dangers stemming from this agreement to Israel, the region and the whole world,” Netanyahu added.
The White House plans to deal with Netanyahu’s speech by presenting counterarguments in a series of public appearances with Israeli officials. White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice is expected to address the AIPAC conference, to try and persuade the audience that the emerging agreement is the best option. “The challenge is for those who oppose the agreement like Netanyahu. They must present an alternative that will produce better results,” a senior U.S. official said over the weekend.