The Saudi Arabian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Saudi Arabia prepares for Iran nuclear deal

Saudi Nuclear Missiles

Saudi Nuclear Missiles

Al-Monitor

Author Bruce Riedel Posted March 8, 2015
Saudi Arabia has been pulling out the diplomatic stops in an effort to contain Iran in anticipation of what it sees as an unfavorable nuclear deal between the West and the Islamic republic.

The Saudis publicly welcomed Secretary of State John Kerry’s assurances in Riyadh last week that Washington will not accept a bad nuclear deal with Iran and that a deal will not inaugurate a grand rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. They remain deeply skeptical about the negotiations, however, and are preparing for any outcome in the P5+1 process.

The Saudis recognize that a successful deal between Iran, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany will enjoy broad international backing and United Nations endorsement. Riyadh has no interest in being isolated in a dissenting minority with Netanyahu against a deal backed by a global majority. The royal family despises Israel, and Netanyahu is regarded as a war criminal by most Saudis. Any hint of mutual interest with Israel is unpalatable in the kingdom.

So the Saudi approach is to strengthen its regional alliances for long-term confrontation with Tehran. Most immediately, this means strengthening the unity of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). It has strong allies in Abu Dhabi and Manama. In Riyadh’s eyes, there are two weak links in GCC collusion against Iran: Oman and Qatar. Neither is likely to give up their bilateral lucrative ties to Iran, but Salman is pressing both to adhere to GCC unity and not facilitate Iranian subversion.

Yemen is the key GCC battlefield. The victory of the Iranian backed Zaydi Shiite Houthis in seizing control of most of north Yemen, including Sanaa, has led the Saudis and the GCC to move their embassies to Aden, where they are trying to back the tattered remnant of the Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi regime in south Yemen. The inauguration of Sanaa-Tehran air flights last month, a first, only underscores the extent of Iran’s success in achieving a key goal in the kingdom’s backyard and in its historically weak underbelly. The Saudis are on the defense in Yemen.

Egypt is Riyadh’s key Arab partner. The kingdom played an important role in bringing Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to power, and Salman met him a week ago to coordinate closely on regional issues, especially Iran. Cairo is too preoccupied with its own domestic terror threat from the Islamic State and spillover from Libya’s disintegration to be very helpful against Iranian machinations elsewhere, however, and is more of a liability (especially financially) than an asset, albeit one Saudi Arabia is determined to keep afloat.

The Shiite government in Baghdad is regarded as a long-lost Arab partner. The Saudis expect Iran to emerge as the big winner in the war with the Islamic State, no matter how long it takes and how bloody it is. The Saudis know history, geography, demography and sectarian affiliation favor Iran in Iraq. They believe that President George W. Bush made a colossal error in 2003 and that President Barack Obama has made an “unholy alliance” today with Iran in Iraq. The only option now is to contain the Shiite breakthrough here as well.

Syria has been lost to Iran as well, but Riyadh still hopes to oust President Bashar al-Assad. The Saudis are pouring money into the Lebanese army, as a potential brake on Hezbollah, along with the French. Salman also recently met with Jordan’s King Abdullah II to coordinate with Amman on Syria and with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan as well.

Riyadh’s most crucial ally is Pakistan, the only Muslim nuclear weapons state. Last year, for the first time, the Saudis publicly displayed their vintage Chinese-made intermediate ballistic range missiles — the only ones they have that can reach Tehran — at a military parade. In the reviewing stands was Pakistani Chief of Army Staff Gen. Rahul Sharif, the man who controls Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. It is the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world, and the Saudis have been helping to pay for its development since the 1970s. It was a very calculated signal.

Salman, in late February, summoned the Pakistani prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, to Riyadh. The highly unusual and urgent public invitation was linked in the Pakistani press to “strategic cooperation” against Iran. Salman visited Islamabad a year ago as crown prince and gave Sharif a $1.5 billion grant to reaffirm the Saudi-Pakistani strategic accord. Sharif spent three days in the kingdom last week in response to the king’s invitation. He received a royal reception.

One immediate result of the talks is a plan for Pakistan to move its embassy in Yemen to Aden.
The speculation in Islamabad is that the king sought assurances from Sharif that, if the Iran negotiations produce either a bad deal or no deal, Pakistan will live up to its longstanding commitment to Saudi security. That is understood in Riyadh and Islamabad to include a nuclear dimension.

Sharif also visited the kingdom in January of this year. He was apparently told that then-King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud was at death’s door, and Sharif came to pay his respects and meet with Salman before the king died. No other leader was given this advance notice — another sign of the critical importance of the Saudi-Pakistani axis.

​The exact details of what the Pakistani nuclear commitment to the kingdom includes is, of course, among the most closely held secrets of our world. Both Riyadh and Islamabad prefer to maintain ambiguity and deniability.

The Saudis have not given up on Obama; the US is still their oldest ally. Washington is too important to irritate with speeches. The Saudis prefer a more subtle approach.

The Korean Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

North Korea’s nuclear ambitions
North Korea Nuclear Missiles
By Editorial Board March 7

THE CARICATURE of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un as a clownish figure and his nation as reckless, backwards and isolated is unhelpful in trying discern the reality of the Pyongyang regime and judge the dangers both to its own population and to those beyond its borders. The Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea, as it is formally named, is most certainly a modern human rights disaster, as the United Nations Commission of Inquiry has exposed. And there can be no question that North Korea remains cut off from the powerful currents of economic and information globalization that have swept the globe.

But no one should ignore North Korea’s ability to make trouble. How else to explain that it was capable — if U.S. officials are correct — of executing a covert, sophisticated cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment in the United States that stole truckloads of internal information and then destroyed Sony’s computers? This singular act should give pause to the rest of the world when thinking about North Korea’s quest to build ever-better nuclear weapons and missile programs. A clear-eyed view of the North’s weapons technology is essential, so that it is spotted before it becomes a surprise.

Making such an assessment is extremely difficult in a country that is hostile and closed. But a new report from Joel S. Wit and Sun Young Ahn at the US-Korea Institute at the School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University raises the prospect that North Korea is already moving to fulfill ambitious goals of a bigger, better nuclear arsenal that could put it on par with Pakistan and Israel.

Based in part on research from David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, the report concludes that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs “have gathered significant momentum” and “these programs now appear poised to rapidly expand over the next five years.” Offering a range of scenarios from now to 2020, the authors suggest that North Korea could take an existing stockpile of 10 to 16 nuclear weapons and expand it, with a middle scenario of 50 weapons in five years and a worst-case of 100 warheads. Even the middle estimate raises the possibility that North Korea could achieve an increase in the yield of its weapons. The report also notes North Korea’s efforts to improve its delivery systems, with the appearance of road-mobile and solid-fuel missile technologies.

The technical uncertainties are many, including how much fissile material North Korea can produce, how much political effort is put behind the modernization drive, and, not in the least, whether scientists and engineers can overcome serious technical hurdles. North Korea has surprised before, as in the building of a plant to enrich uranium. However, this report ought to give the Obama administration a jolt. After the collapse of a tentative deal in 2012, the United States seems to have turned its attention elsewhere — especially to Iran’s nuclear ambitions. If the past is any guide, North Korea is not taking a break and may be exploiting U.S. inattention to climb to the next level.

Antichrist Continues Battle For Tikrit (Revelation 13)

Battle for Tikrit Enters Second Week

March 08, 2015 2:02 PMLast updated on: March 08, 2015 3:25 PM
VOA News
Iraqi army soldiers and volunteers prepare to launch mortar shells and rockets against Islamic State militant positions outside Tikrit, March 4, 2015.

Iraqi army soldiers and volunteers prepare to launch mortar shells and rockets against Islamic State militant positions outside Tikrit, March 4, 2015.
The coalition is battling for al-Dour and Albu Ajil, where IS snipers are hampering efforts to clear the towns of the rebel extremists.
Thousands of troops launched Iraq’s largest anti-IS offensive last Sunday to reclaim Tikrit, a strategic stronghold between government-controlled Baghdad to the south and Islamic State-held Mosul to the north.
Iraqi forces with tactical help from Iran are carrying out the operation without intervention from the U.S.-led coalition, which continued to bomb IS targets Sunday in Iraq and Syria.
The airstrikes have not supported the Tikrit offensive, but hit 12 other IS positions in Iraq on Sunday, including Mosul, Kirkuk, and Fallujah, as well as in the Syrian border city of Kobani.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported Sunday that at least 40 Kurdish fighters and Islamic State militants were killed in 24 hours of fierce clashes in the northern Syrian province of Hassakeh.
Baghdad has also requested extra air power from the U.S.-led coalition to protect the country’s antiquities, which have been targeted for destruction by Islamic State militants in recent weeks.
Iraq’s Tourism and Antiquities Minister Adel Shirshab told reporters, “Our airspace is not in our hands. It’s in their hands… I am calling on the international community and coalition to activate its airstrikes and target terrorism wherever it exists.”
Also on Sunday, a peshmerga spokesman in Irbil shed more light on the shooting death of a Canadian soldier by friendly fire in northern Iraq last week.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Halgurd Hikmat said special forces Sergeant Andrew Doiron and three other Canadians approached the Kurdish militia on the front lines and responded to questions in Arabic. Peshmerga fighters mistook them for Islamic State forces and opened fire
“The biggest part of the responsibility for this incident lies with them, because they went there without our permission,” Hikmat said.

Regardless Of Rumors, Negotiations With Iran Will Change

Social media is ablaze with rumors that Iranian dictator Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has died. Iranian state-media has yet to confirm or deny such rumors.
Middle East blogger Daniel J. Levy wrote on Twitter late Saturday: “Hearing unconfirmed reports from a usually very reliable source of Ayatollah Khamenei’s death today.”
On Friday, Iranian media confirmed that “The commander of the Islamic Revolution, Ali Khamenei, his health deteriorated on Friday morning, and was admitted to a Tehran hospital,” reported Al Bawaba News.
Reports on Thursday revealed that the “Supreme Leader” may have been hospitalized and was said to be in critical condition, according to Israel Hayom. Khamenei, 75, was reportedly rushed to the hospital due to complications from his ongoing bout with cancer.
France’s Le Figaro released a report regarding the Ayatollah’s health last week. Citing intelligence sources, the paper estimated that Khamenei only had two years left to live, due to his cancer reaching stage four and spreading throughout the entirety of his body. Iranian media confirmed last year that Khamenei was hospitalized due to complications with his cancer.
Since 1989, Khamenei has ruled over the ancient Persian country with an iron fist, succeeding his predecessor, the late Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, in instituting Islamic law over Iran.
Khamenei is perhaps best known for his vicious crackdown of the 2009 Iranian Green Movement, which saw millions take to the streets in protest of the dictatorial regime. In order to shut down the protests, and instill fear upon the population, Khamenei’s forces took to the streets and killed dozens of peaceful demonstrators, while arresting thousands within the political opposition.
Khamenei has wrecked countless American lives while heading the world’s largest promulgator of Islamic terrorism.
In 1983 and 1984, while he was President of Iran under Khomeini, Khamenei oversaw the Iran-backed killings of hundreds of American servicemen in Lebanon.
Iran continued to target American soldiers during the United States’ most recent war in Iraq. American officials believe that Iran was primarily responsible for supplying IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) to jihadist groups during the war. The explosive devices, many of which were utilized as booby traps and roadside bombs, killed many American soldiers.
The rumors concerning Khamenei’s possible death come at the end of the Jewish holiday of Purim, which commemorates the thwarting of a Persian plot meant to destroy the empire’s Jews. The Book of Esther states that Haman, who served as a minister to who is believed to be King Xerxes I, planned to slaughter all of Persia’s Jews, but his plot collapsed after Mordecai and Esther exposed it.
History has shown that a country’s power structure is most vulnerable when its leadership appears to be in a state of transience. It remains to be seen whether Iran’s dissidents will seize the moment of uncertainty and rise up in an attempt to take their country back from its Caliphatist despots.