Saudi Arabia Preparing For World War III (Revelation 15)

Saudi Arabia Becomes World’s Largest Arms Importer As Iran Moves Closer to Nuclear Threshold
Saudi Missiles

The belief that Iran could develop nuclear weapons under the auspices of a nuclear deal with the West has raised fears in the Arab world, leading many countries to build up their military arsenals.

According to data released Sunday by IHS, a leading analyst of the global arms trade, Saudi Arabia has passed India to become the world’s biggest arms importer. Last year Saudi spending on new weapons skyrocketed by 54 percent to an estimated $6.5 billion.

The Al-Arab newspaper analyzed this development:

Saudi Arabia is building its arsenal amid concern about a geopolitical shift in the Middle East as the United States looks for help in fighting the Islamic State group, said David Cortright, director of policy studies at the University of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Fox News reported that Riyadh may also look to go nuclear if Tehran does:

Saudi Arabia, growing increasingly nervous about its neighbor across the Persian Gulf, may be hedging its bets and crafting a nuclear back-up plan if a diplomatic deal with Iran fails to halt the Islamic Republic’s alleged march toward a weapon.
The latest sign is a curious visit on Wednesday by Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, the day before Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to the capital Riyadh.
Sharif arrived in Saudi Arabia following a visit by the Egyptian president on Sunday and Turkey’s president on Monday — but the Pakistan PM’s House of Saud call might be the most significant of the three, considering Pakistan is seen by some analysts as Saudi Arabia’s future nuclear tech supplier, should the Kingdom take that leap.

Fox also quoted Simon Henderson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, who said, “The visit by the PM … almost certainly has to be seen in the context of Saudi Arabia looking to Pakistan for nuclear cooperation to counter Iran’s emerging status.”

Iran actively supports the Shiite Houthi rebels in Yemen, where they toppled the country’s Saudi-allied government last month.

In an article on the front page of the pan-Arab newspaper al-Hayat, Saudi commentator Bader Al-Rashed wrote (Arabic link) that many in the Gulf states think that Iran is more dangerous to the Arab world today than Israel, which may necessitate normalizing relations with the Jewish state.

[Photo: Pixabay, Public Domain]

Reshaping The Middle East: The Horns Of Prophecy (Dan 7)

More Mideast allies fear U.S. soft on Iran
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Jim Michaels, USA TODAY 4:46 p.m. EDT March 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — Israel is not the only vital American ally in the Middle East increasingly alarmed that the U.S. is working too closely with Iran. So are America’s most important Arab partners.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has trumpeted his worries about a U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal, most recently to the U.S. Congress last week. Equally concerned but less vocal are Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states who play vital roles as bulwarks against radical Islamists in the region.

Shared interests Washington and Tehran have in driving the Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria are another source of worry for the allies, who do not want to see Iran’s radical leadership emerge as a more powerful and potentially nuclear-armed state in the region.

“Distrust in Saudi Arabia toward the United States hasn’t been this high since 1973,” during the oil embargo, said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

Reports last week that Iran’s military was playing a prominent role in an Iraqi offensive to drive Islamic State militants from Tikrit, north of Baghdad, raised a fresh a wave of fear that the United States isn’t doing enough to blunt Iran’s expansionist designs.

“The situation in Tikrit is a prime example of what we’re worried about,” Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said during a joint news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday. “Iran is taking over the country.”

Kerry traveled to the region to assure allies that the U.S. would not lessen its vigilance against Iran’s expansionism or agree to a bad nuclear agreement that would let Iran develop nuclear weapons.
“Whether or not we are able to reach a deal on the nuclear program, the United States will remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we have with Iran, including its support for terrorism,” Kerry said.

That is a tough sell to Arab countries that have long relied on America to thwart Iran’s expansion in the region. Iran is a majority Shiite country, as is Iraq, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other key U.S. allies are Sunni-led nations.

The Pentagon has taken pains to say it is not coordinating with Iran’s military in Iraq. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iran’s role in the Tikrit offensive could be positive if it leads to defeat of the Islamic State militants. He said it would only be a problem if it triggered renewed sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis, who have long been mortal enemies.

Kerry’s and Dempsey’s words may not allay the allies’ concerns. “Whether we are coordinating or not doesn’t matter because the perception is we are letting that happen,” Rubin said.

That mistrust is already complicating Pentagon efforts to develop a moderate opposition in Syria to oust the Islamic State from Syria. In doing so, the U.S. may inadvertently help keep Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Key allies in the region want Assad overthrown. The U.S. wants him to step down.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview last week that any solution in Syria has to involve the removal of Assad.

Davutoğlu said a flood of 2 million Syrian refugees into Turkey will only be reversed if Assad is removed from power.

Rubin said losing the confidence of leaders in the region will have costs. “We may not think these countries are important now but they have long memories,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has been critical in keeping oil prices low by refusing to reduce its massive production of crude. It also backed the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a long-time U.S. irritant.

“When we find ourselves in a crisis the first Arab country we call is Saudi Arabia,” Rubin said.

Antichrist Moves To Take Mosul (Rev 13:18)

Moqtada al-Sadr calls on brigades to join fight to retake Mosul
NRT
March 9, 2015

Moqtada al-Sadr, Getty Images via CNN
 
SULAIMANIYAH – Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered an end to the freeze on the Saraya al-Salam brigade’s armed activities on Sunday, telling fighters to prepare to join the fight to regain control of Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul, which has been under Islamic State (IS) control since June 2014. Sadr announced the Saraya al-Salam brigade will join the large-scale Mosul operation in coordination with Iraqi armed forces and the Popular Defense Forces (al-Hashid al-Shaabi) Shiite milita, 

The al-Hashid al-Shaabi milita has been fighting alongside the Iraqi military to retake IS-held areas in Salahaddin province over the last week and took part in the liberation of Diyala province in January.

Sadr had ordered his forces to lay down weapons in February after the assassination of a Sunni cleric and ten of his tribesmen by unidentified militiamen.

The militias, suspended by Sadr, were involved in the battles against (IS) militants in the predominantly Sunni provinces of Salahaddin, Diyala and Anbar.

If The GOP Has It Their Way, Iran Will Be Nuclear Ready By Next Year

The Danger of a Failed Iran Deal
iran-nuclear-ambitions
March 08, 2015

In national security policy, you must always be careful what you wish for. Policies with short-term appeal often come with disagreeable longer-term consequences. And that may be exactly what is happening on Capitol Hill as politicians line up against a nuclear deal with Iran.

Today, there are many who are prepared to reject a negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran on the grounds that a return to coercive pressure and isolation will ensure the elimination of the entire Iranian nuclear capability and extend that “zero probability” of a nuclear weapon into the indefinite future. This is close to the position that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu laid out in his speech to Congress last week.

Certainly, turning back the clock and eliminating every aspect of nuclear know-how in Iran would be desirable. But proponents of an even more coercive policy should recognize that if they get their wish, they may create a security threat far greater than the limited threat they are now trying to prevent.

We don’t need a fortuneteller or crystal ball to predict the outcome of such a policy. We have more than three decades of experience to draw upon, based on the policies of eight successive American presidents and four presidents of Iran. Over that period of time, Iran has been subjected to a wide variety of sanctions and pressures. Originally these were mostly unilateral pressures from the U.S., but under the Obama administration they have become far more international and far-reaching, culminating in the crippling sanctions on Iran’s oil sales and its ability to access international financial markets.

Twice, Iran has come to the negotiating table. The first time was in 2003-05, when the Iranian negotiating team of Hassan Rohani and Javad Zarif — not yet president and foreign minister — made a proposal to cap Iran’s centrifuges at about 3,000. The United States was not a direct participant in those talks with several European states, but it is widely acknowledged that the George W. Bush administration vetoed the talks for essentially the same reason as opponents of the present negotiations. It was believed that the danger of permitting Iran to operate several thousand centrifuges was too great. Moreover, the coercive pressures available to the United States and the international community had scarcely been tried, and sanctions had not really begun to bite.
We all know what happened. With sanctions increasing almost by the day, and with increasing threats of a unilateral attack by Israel (which would probably draw in the U.S. and others), Iran steadily increased its nuclear program. By the time Rohani and Zarif returned to the field in 2013, Iran had about 20,000 centrifuges installed in two major sites — one of them deep underground — and a substantial stockpile of enriched uranium. Some of the uranium was enriched to nearly 20 percent, which is well on the way to weapons level.

That situation was so alarming that Netanyahu appeared before the United Nations General Assembly displaying a cartoon drawing that showed a bomb filling with 20 percent enriched uranium. He estimated that it would arrive at the red line — enough to produce a bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium very quickly — by the following summer. Many close observers of Israel believed that an attack on Iran’s nuclear infrastructure was imminent.

Netanyahu, in various capacities, had been warning of an imminent Iranian nuclear weapon since at least 1992, when he told the Israeli Knesset that Iran could have a bomb in three to five years. He and others, in Israel and elsewhere, have made similar predictions almost annually for the past two decades.

It is easy to dismiss these predictions as fear-mongering about something that obviously never happened. But it is much more instructive to understand that what they were saying had a basis in fact: During this entire period, Iran was steadily increasing its capability to produce a nuclear bomb. The more interesting fact is that Tehran did not follow through. By virtually every estimate, Iran has had the capability to produce a nuclear weapon for at least a decade. The predictions were wrong, not about Iran’s ability but about its willingness to use that capability to produce a weapon. The entire U.S. intelligence community and most of our allies — apparently including Israel — have concluded with high confidence that Iran has not made a decision to build a bomb.

The second round of multilateral negotiations with Iran is approaching the finish line. The details have not been announced, but the outlines of an agreement seem to be emerging. Netanyahu’s cartoon bomb has been drained. It is now empty of 20 percent enriched uranium, and all indications point to the fact that Iran’s stockpile of enriched uranium will be severely limited for the foreseeable future. Iran is the world’s most inspected state. It has apparently agreed to accept vigorous international inspection in perpetuity in return for an agreement that lifts the most onerous sanctions on its commerce. Iran has ceased development of its heavy water reactor at Arak, which produces plutonium — the shortest route to weapons-quality fissile material — and will modify it permanently. And the most severe restrictions ever imposed on a state will reportedly be accepted for a decade or more before Iran is gradually permitted to assume its position as a “normal” member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which explicitly prohibits Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

On the other hand, if this agreement is rejected, as the Israeli prime minister and many in Congress are proposing, we go back to the early days of 2013: heavy sanctions, a rapidly increasing Iranian nuclear program and a looming threat of war. That is surely something no responsible statesman or politician would wish to see.

Gary Sick, a scholar at Columbia University, served on the National Security Council under Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and was the principal White House aide for Iran during the Iranian Revolution and the hostage crisis.

Nuclear War Will Soon Be Conventional (Revelation 16)

A New Nuclear Age
Tactical-Nukes

Within the next few weeks, after years of stalling and evasion, Iran at last may agree to curb its nuclear program. In exchange for relief from sanctions, it will accept, in principle, that it should allow intrusive inspections and limit how much uranium will cascade through its centrifuges. After 2025 Iran gradually will be allowed to expand its efforts. It insists that these are peaceful, but the world is convinced that they are designed to produce a nuclear weapon.

In a barnstorming speech to the United States Congress on March 3, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel fulminated against the prospect of such a deal. Because it is temporary and leaves much of the Iranian program intact, he said, it merely “paves Iran’s path to the bomb.” Determined and malevolent, a nuclear Iran would put the world in the shadow of nuclear war.

Netanyahu is wrong about the deal. It is the best available, and much better than no deal at all, which would lead to stalemate, cheating and, eventually, the dash to the very bomb he fears. He is right, though, to worry about nuclear war, and not only because of Iran.

Twenty-five years after the Soviet collapse, the world is entering a new nuclear age. Nuclear strategy has become a cockpit of rogue regimes and regional foes jostling with the five original nuclear-weapons powers — the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China — whose own dealings are infected by suspicion and rivalry.

Thanks in part to Netanyahu’s efforts, Iran commands worldwide attention. Unfortunately the rest of the nuclear-weapons agenda is bedeviled by complacency and neglect.

After the end of the Cold War, the world clutched at the idea that nuclear annihilation was off the table. When President Barack Obama, speaking in Prague in 2009, backed the aim to rid the world of nuclear weapons, he was treated not as a peacenik but as a statesman.

Today his ambition seems a fantasy. Although the world continues to comfort itself with the thought that mutually assured destruction is unlikely, the risk that somebody somewhere will use a nuclear weapon is growing apace.

Every nuclear power is spending lavishly to upgrade its atomic arsenal. Russia’s defence budget has grown by more than 50 per cent since 2007, and fully a third of it is devoted to nuclear weapons — twice the share of, say, France. China, long a nuclear minnow, is adding to its stocks and investing heavily in submarines and mobile missile batteries. Pakistan is amassing dozens of battlefield nukes to make up for its inferiority to India in conventional forces. North Korea is thought to be capable of adding a warhead a year to its stock of around 10, and is working on missiles that can strike the west coast of the United States.

Even the Nobel Peace Prize laureate in the White House has asked Congress for almost $350 billion to undertake a decade-long program of modernization of America’s arsenal.

New actors with more versatile weapons have turned nuclear doctrine into guesswork. Even during the Cold War, despite all that game theory and brainpower, the Soviet Union and the United States frequently misread what the other was up to. India and Pakistan, with little experience and less contact, have virtually nothing to guide them in a crisis but mistrust and paranoia. If weapons proliferate in the Middle East, as Iran and then Saudi Arabia and possibly Egypt join Israel in the ranks of nuclear powers, each will have to manage a bewildering four-sided standoff.

Worst of all is the instability. During much of the Cold War, the two superpowers, anxious to avoid Armageddon, were willing to tolerate the status quo. Today the ground is shifting under everyone’s feet.

Some countries want nuclear weapons to prop up a tottering state. Pakistan insists that its weapons are safe, but the outside world cannot shake the fear that they may fall into the hands of Islamist terrorists, or even religious zealots within its own armed forces. When history catches up with North Korea’s Kim dynasty, as sooner or later it must, nobody knows what will happen to its nukes — whether they might be inherited, sold, eliminated or, in a last, futile gesture, detonated.

Others want nuclear weapons not to freeze the status quo, but to change it. Russia has started to wield nuclear threats as an offensive weapon in its strategy of intimidation. Its military exercises routinely stage dummy nuclear attacks on such capitals as Stockholm and Warsaw. President Vladimir Putin’s speeches contain veiled nuclear threats, and Dmitry Kiselev, one of the Kremlin’s mouthpieces, has declared with relish that Russian nuclear forces could turn America into “radioactive ash.”

Only rhetoric, you may say, but the Feb. 27 murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov on the Kremlin’s doorstep was only the latest sign that Putin’s Russia is heading into the geopolitical badlands. Resentful, nationalistic and violent, it wants to rewrite the Western norms that underpin the status quo.

First in Georgia and now in Ukraine, Russia has shown that it will escalate to extremes to assert its hold over its neighbours and to convince the West that intervention is pointless. Even if Putin is bluffing about nuclear weapons, and there is no reason to think that he is, any nationalist leader who comes after him could be even more dangerous.

China poses a more distant threat, but an unignorable one. Although Sino-American relations hardly look like the cold war, China seems destined to challenge the United States for supremacy in large parts of Asia. Its military spending is growing by 10% or more a year.

Nuclear expansion is designed to give China a chance to retaliate using a “second strike,” should America attempt to destroy its arsenal. The two barely talk about nuclear contingencies, however, and a crisis over, say, Taiwan could escalate alarmingly. In addition Japan, seeing China’s conventional military strength, may feel that it no longer can rely on America for protection. If so, Japan and South Korea could go for the bomb and create, with North Korea, another petrifying regional standoff.

What to do? The most urgent need is to revitalize nuclear diplomacy. One priority is to defend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which slows the spread of weapons by reassuring countries that their neighbours are not developing nukes. It was essential that Iran stayed in the treaty — unlike North Korea, which left. The danger is that, like Iran, signatories will see enrichment and reprocessing as preparation for a bomb of their own, leading their neighbours to enrich in turn. That calls for a collective effort to discourage enrichment and reprocessing, and for America to shore up its allies’ confidence.

You don’t have to like the other side to get things done. Arms control became a vital part of Soviet-American relations. So it could be between China and America, and between America and Putin’s Russia. Foes such as India and Pakistan can foster stability simply by talking. The worst time to get to know your adversary is during a standoff.

“We must contemplate some extremely unpleasant possibilities, just because we want to avoid them,” wrote Albert Wohlstetter, an American nuclear strategist, in 1960.

So too today. The essential first step in confronting the growing nuclear threat is to stare it full in the face.