Antichrist Spreads His Influence (Revelation 13)

Official sources expect Muqtada al-Sadr’s visit Jordan

[3/23/2015 1:25:30 PM]
AMMONNEWS – Diaa Al-deen Talafha – Official sources told Ammon that expected that the leader of Sadrist movement in Iraq , Muqtada al-Sadr will visit the Kingdom in the coming days.
The source did not specify a date for the visit, saying only emphasizing that it “over the coming days.”
The visit comes, “that has” days after the visit of the President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, Ammar Al-Hakim to the Jordan , where met with King.

Obama Bites The Bait (Ezekiel 17)

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Obama: ‘Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei Has Issued Fatwa Against Development Of Nuclear Weapons’-Khamenei: ‘Death To America’

By Terence P. Jeffrey, CNS News

President Barack Obama said this week that the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has isued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons.

“Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon,” Obama said.

Other administration officials–including Secretary of State John Kerry and Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes–have previously referred to the ayatollah’s reported fatwa in the context of the ongoing nuclear negotations with Iran.

Last month, in a speech to his air force commanders, the ayatollah boasted of Iran’s achievement in enriching uranium to the 20-percent level. Twice during the speech, according a transcript made by the BBC, the air force commanders chanted: “Death to America.”

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has testified in Congress that, as Iran’s supreme leader, the ayatollah will personally–“singly”–decide whether Iran builds a nuclear weapon.

Obama made his observation about the supreme leader’s fatwa in a video statement to the Iranian people about his and First Lady Michelle Obama’s observation of the Iranian new year’s holiday of “Nowruz.” The video was posted on the White House website with Farsi subtitles.

“To everyone celebrating Nowruz—across the United States and in countries around the world—Nowruz Mubarak,” Obama said at the beginning of his statement. “For thousands of years, this has been a time to gather with family and friends and welcome a new spring and a new year.  Last week, my wife Michelle helped mark Nowruz here at the White House.”

Obama called on the Iranians to help him overcome people in the United States and elsewhere who oppose the nuclear deal he is trying to negotiate with Iran.

“Our negotiations have made progress, but gaps remain,” he said. “And there are people, in both our countries and beyond, who oppose a diplomatic resolution. My message to you—the people of Iran—is that, together, we have to speak up for the future we seek.

“As I have said many times before, I believe that our countries should be able to resolve this issue peacefully, with diplomacy,” Obama said. “Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has issued a fatwa against the development of nuclear weapons, and President Rouhani has said that Iran would never develop a nuclear weapon.

“Together with the international community, the United States has said that Iran should have access to peaceful nuclear energy, consistent with Iran’s international obligations,” Obama said. “So there is a way for Iran—if it is willing to take meaningful, verifiable steps—to assure the world that its nuclear program is, in fact, for peaceful purposes only.”

On Sept. 25, 2009, the Obama White House sponsored a background briefing by “senior administration officials” who said that Iran had been discovered covertly building uranium enrichment facilities twice. One was at Natanz, another near Qom.

A “senior administration official” explained at that time why it was logical to conclude that the second secret facility was designed to produce enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon not for peaceful purposes.

“Our information is that the facility is designed to hold about 3,000 centrifuge machines,” said the official. “Now, that’s not a large enough number to make any sense from a commercial standpoint. It cannot produce a significant quantity of low-enriched uranium. But if you want to use the facility in order to produce a small amount of weapons-grade uranium, enough for a bomb or two a year, it’s the right size. And our information is that the Iranians began this with the intent that it be secret, and therefore giving them the option of producing weapons-grade uranium without the international community knowing about it.”

Ayatollah Khamenei, who as Iran’s supreme leader is commander in chief of the Iranian military, gave a speech on Feb. 8 to the commanders of the Iranian Air Force. In this speech, the ayatollah boasted about Iran’s technical accomplishment in enriching uranium to the 20-percent level–which is beyond what is needed for peaceful power production.

“Those who are experts on this matter know that producing 20 percent from 5 percent is much more significant than producing uranium which is higher than 20 percent,” he said. “However, our youth and our committed scientists did so.”

The Congressional Research Service has explained why this is a problem. “LEU used in nuclear power reactors typically contains less than 5% uranium-235,” said CRS, “research reactor fuel can be made using 20% uranium-235; HEU used in nuclear weapons typically contains about 90% uranium-235.”

“Iran’s production of LEU enriched to the 20% level has caused concern because such production requires approximately 90% of the effort necessary to produce weapons-grade HEU, which, as noted, contains approximately 90% uranium-235,” said CRS.

During the speech in which he boasted about Iran’s enrichment of uranium to the 20-percent level, according to a BBC transcript, the ayatollah’s air force commanders chanted: “Allah Akbar. Khamenei is the leader. Death to the enemies of the leadership. Death to America. Death to England. Death to hypocrites. Death to Israel.”

Antichrist Stops ISIS Advances (Rev 13)

ISIS Battle: Islamic State No Longer ‘On The March’ In Iraq and Syria, CIA Director Says
ISIS

   on March 22 2015 12:33 PM EDT
The Islamic State group is no longer “on the march,” said CIA Director John Brennan, who argued Sunday the militant organization’s momentum in Iraq and Syria had been blunted by U.S. and Iraqi efforts at fighting the jihadist advance.
“Clearly ISIS’s momentum inside of Iraq and Syria has been blunted, and it has been stopped. So they are not on the march as they were several months ago,” Brennan said in an interview on “Fox News Sunday.” “Our working with the Iraqis, and now the Iraqis trying to push back against it, it is having some great progress.”
The U.S. is currently leading a coalition of more than 60 countries dedicated to stamping out the group, with multinational forces carrying out nearly 2,900 airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria, the Pentagon has said. Since the start of the campaign Aug. 8, the U.S.  military alone has flown 2,320 airstrikes against the militants, at a cost of $1.83 million.
While Washington has dedicated significant resources to the fight against ISIS, which seized broad swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria last summer, a top former U.S. official has warned the biggest threat to the region is not the militant group but, rather, the anti-ISIS militias funded by Iran. “Longer term, Iranian-backed [Shiite] militia could emerge as the pre-eminent power in the country, one that is outside the control of the [Iraqi] government and instead answerable to Tehran,” said former CIA Director David Petraeus in an interview with the Washington Post last week.
Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard is currently on the ground in Iraq and a major force in the ongoing campaign by Iraqi forces and militias against the ISIS stronghold of Tikrit. The Islamic Republic deployed advanced rockets and missiles to the country last week to bolster its efforts in Tikrit, U.S. intelligence agencies said. While Iran and the U.S. are both engaged in the battle against ISIS in Iraq, they have avoided coordinating efforts, with Brennan saying he “wouldn’t consider Iran an ally” in the fight.

The Nuclear Race Has Already Threatened US Oil (Rev 6:6)

This Nuclear Arms Race Could Further Threaten the U.S. Oil Industry

While the world watches as Iran and the U.S., along with five other world powers — the so-called “P5+1″ — negotiate a deal regarding the country’s nuclear ambitions, fellow Middle-East power Saudi Arabia isn’t sitting still. The Saudis have actually been working on developing energy from alternatives to oil since former King Abdullah established a center for atomic and alternative energy in 2010.

Raising the ante, the country recently signed a nuclear cooperation agreement with South Korea, even as rival Iran inches closer to an agreement to allow it to continue its own nuclear ambitions. A recent Wall Street Journal article even brought up the potential risk of Saudi Arabia using its partnership with Pakistan to have access to nuclear weapons as a response to the threat of a nuclear Iran.

These are real concerns; but nuclear proliferation has been a world risk for 70 years now, since the U.S. developed the first hydrogen bomb. I don’t want to downplay that risk; however, there’s another side to this story that shouldn’t be ignored. It may have very real economic consequences for the American oil industry, which is not an insignificant part of the U.S. economy, and has been one of the brightest spots in our jobs recovery.

Oil: U.S production has replaced Iranian market share 

In 2011, Iran exported 2.5 million barrels of oil per day. By 2013, exports had plummeted to 1.1 mmb/d following sanctions based on the country’s continued attempts to develop nuclear technology. Iran exported roughly 1.4 mmb/d in 2014.

At the same time, American shale production was cranking into high gear. In 2013, U.S. oil production was 7.45 mmb/d, and increased an astonishing 1.2 mmb/d last year. Considering that oil is a largely global commodity, it’s not much of a stretch to view U.S. production growth as essentially offsetting the cuts to Iranian output in recent years.

Of course, oil prices have declined more than 50% since last June, largely because global production has grown faster than demand:
Brent Crude Oil Spot Price Chart

That’s happened without more than 1 million daily barrels of Iranian oil, which could be coming back online very soon.

American oil hits fresh lows even as Iran prepares to turn the pumps back on

On March 19, West Texas Intermediate, a common benchmark for U.S.-produced oil prices, almost fell below $43/bbl, and has been trading near or below its low since the 2009 recession for much of the past week. This has been driven by concerns that U.S. production has continued to grow even as the oil market remains oversupplied.

Iran’s nuclear program has been around for 35 years. The U.S. was instrumental in its early days, and even American utilities used it to market nuclear power as safe.

At the same time, the negotiations with Iran could lead to the country pouring hundreds of thousands of new barrels of supply into an already oversupplied market,  as soon as this summer. The country is starving for cash, and even with Brent crude — the international benchmark — trading below $55 per barrel, Iran could pour as much as 1 million barrels per day in new supply into the market “within a few months,” according to Iranian Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh.

At the same time, American oil producers have reduced spending on development of new wells by tens of billions of dollars since late 2014. This has resulted in significant cuts in drilling activity so far this year. Through March 16, there were almost 600 fewer drilling rigs operating in oil fields in the U.S., more than a 40% reduction from year-ago levels.

However, the drilling cuts are yet to materially affect oil production, which is actually up so far in 2015. This is why, after a slight rebound in oil prices in late January and early February, prices have been steadily falling, on concerns about the continual oversupply in the global and domestic oil market.

Impact on U.S. oil producers 

While it’s been slow to materialize, American oil output is expected to begin flattening in the next few months. Though it’s unclear if production will actually decrease, at this point, flat U.S. production would likely reestablish some balance in the market, and lead to a recovery in oil prices. The Iran situation could significantly change the game, though.

The way things are unfolding, Iran would begin ramping up its production just as U.S. output stabilizes, meaning the current global oversupply continues. This would very likely keep oil prices down for an impossible-to-determine period of time.

The impact of oversupply — without all that extra Iranian oil —  is already being felt on U.S. producers’ stocks:

XOP Chart

XOP data by YCharts.

The Dow Jones U.S. Select Oil Exploration and Production Index has declined 27% since oil prices peaked in June; but it’s important to note that this index isn’t really a good measure of U.S. producers. As a starting point, it’s market-cap weighted, which means that ConocoPhillips, a U.S.-based international producer, makes up 13% of the index, while several refiners — which can actually benefit from falling oil prices — make up another 18% of the index. The SPDR S&P Oil & Gas Explore & Prod. (ETF)  (NYSEMKT: XOP  ) , on the other hand, is almost exclusively made up of independent U.S. producers, which are bearing the full brunt of falling oil prices.

While the majority of U.S. producers have enough capital to ride out the current environment, Iran’s million-barrel addition to the market could change the dynamic quickly for producers with limited resources. Even the best-managed and capitalized producers would likely be forced to make further cuts to drilling, and potentially, even some marginal production if prices stay low for an extended period of time.

While low oil prices are good for consumers, because oil is used for everything from a feedstock for manufacturing to the primary fuel for shipping, cheap oil means lower prices. However, there has already been some impact on domestic jobs in the industry, while many states that depend on taxes from oil producers will also feel a pinch. The double whammy here is more people potentially depending on government assistance, while the resources that help fund those services falls.
Looking ahead: Realities, unknowables, and operating based on likelihoods 
Many in the industry doubt just how much sustained production Iran could generate at this point, because the country quite frankly hasn’t had the money to invest in maintaining its oilfields with the current sanctions in place. Many in the industry doubt that it could sustainably produce 800,000 bbl/d at this point, and that it could take a year or more for the necessary investments to get the country to even that point on a sustained basis.

However, there’s little reason to doubt that the international community and Iran are likely, at this point, to reach an agreement that allows the country to turn the oil pumps back on, increase exports substantially, and reclaim its former place as the No. 2 OPEC producer behind its rival Saudi Arabia. While only time will tell how quickly — and how much — Iran can scale up its oil production, it’s not likely going to be a good thing for U.S oil producers.

That, in turn, is likely to be harmful for investors looking for a rebound in oil producer stocks, and further the damage to those already investing in the industry.


Oil pumpjack near Midland, Texas.

Obama And Babylon Collapse To Pressure In Yemen (Ezekiel 17)

U.S. pulling troops from Yemen after mosque attacks

An injured girl reacts as she is carried by a man out of a mosque which was attacked by a suicide bomber in Sanaa, Yemen, March 20, 2015. Reuters/Khaled Abdullah
Last Updated Mar 21, 2015 12:11 PM EDT

A day after suicide bombers attacked a pair of mosques in the Yemeni capital, the U.S. military decided to pull the remainder of its troops out of the rapidly fragmenting nation, CBS News confirmed Saturday.

CBS News national security correspondent David Martin reports that the withdrawal of about 100 special operations troops would be completed within hours.

Martin reports that no direct threat prompted the decision. Instead, it was the overall deterioration of the country.

Friday’s blasts ripped through worshippers and killed 137 people in the deadliest assault yet targeting Shiite rebels who have taken over large parts of the country. At least 13 children were among the dead.

A purported affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the bombings, which also wounded 357 people – raising the alarming possibility the extremist group has expanded its presence to Yemen after already setting up a branch in Libya. Earlier this week, the group claimed responsibility for a bloody attack on Western tourists in Tunisia that authorities said was carried out by militants trained in Libya.

If the claim is true – and the U.S. expressed skepticism – Friday’s attacks would be the first by ISIS’ group in Yemen, adding a frightening new layer to the country’s turmoil.

Shiite rebels known as Houthis have taken over the capital, Sanaa, and nine of the country’s 21 provinces over the past six months, raising fears of a civil war tinged with sectarianism. The government of the internationally backed president, Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, has fled to the southern port city of Aden.

Yemen is already home to the most powerful branch of the al Qaeda network, which has been battling the Houthis for months. On Friday, al Qaeda militants seized control of a southern provincial capital, al-Houta, in the group’s most dramatic grab of territory in years. However, it denied carrying out the mosque bombings, citing instructions from the terror network’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahri, not to strike mosques or markets.

Friday’s blasts left scenes of bloody devastation in the Badr and al-Hashoosh mosques, located across town from each other in Sanaa. Both mosques are controlled by the Shiite Houthis, but they are also frequented by Sunni worshippers.

Images from the scene showed a number of children among the dead. In footage from the al-Hashoosh mosque, screaming volunteers were seen using bloodied blankets to carry away victims as a small child lay among the dead on the mosque floor.

“Blood was running like a river,” said one survivor, Mohammed al-Ansi, who said he was thrown six feet by one of the blasts at the Hashoosh mosque, where the floor was strewn with body parts.

The mosques were targeted by two suicide bombers each during midday prayers, when large crowds turn out to attend weekly sermons. The state news agency SABA put the toll at 137 dead and 357 wounded. Among the dead were 13 children, according to the Interior Ministry. A prominent Shiite cleric, al-Murtada al-Mansouri, and two senior Houthi leaders were also killed, the rebel-owned Al-Masirah TV channel said.

It also reported that a fifth suicide bomb attack on another mosque was foiled in the northern city of Saada – a Houthi stronghold.

In the Badr mosque, the first bomber was caught by guards searching worshippers at the gate, where he managed to detonate his device. In the ensuing panic, a second bomber entered the mosque and blew himself up amid the crowd, according to SABA.

“I fell on the ground and when I regained consciousness I found myself lying in a lake of blood,” one survivor, Ahmed al-Gabri, told The Associated Press. Two worshippers next to him were killed in the explosions and another died when one of the mosque’s glass chandeliers fell on him, al-Gabri said.

Another survivor, Sadek al-Harithi, said the explosions were like “an earthquake where I felt the ground split and swallow everyone.”

If Friday’s bombings were carried out by ISIS supporters, it could be intended as a dramatic signal to al Qaeda, the group’s rival – effectively a challenge over turf. That raises the possibility of intra-jihadi fighting as the two compete for recruits by showing who can unleash the worst bloodshed.

In its claim of responsibility, an alleged ISIS affiliate calling itself “Sanaa Province” warned of an “upcoming flood” of attacks targeting the Houthi rebels. “The soldiers of the Islamic State … will not rest until we have uprooted” the Houthis, it said. The claim could not be independently confirmed and did not give concrete proof of ISIS involvement.

The statement was posted on the same web bulletin board where the ISIS claimed responsibility for Wednesday’s deadly attack on a museum in Tunisia.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the U.S. had seen no indications of an operational link between ISIS and Friday’s attacks. He said the U.S. was investigating to see whether the ISIS branch in Yemen has the command-and-control structure in place to substantiate its claim of responsibility.

Earnest said it was plausible that ISIS was falsely claiming responsibility. “It does appear that these kinds of claims are often made for a perception that it benefits their propaganda efforts,” Earnest said.

Late Friday, Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, said the U.S condemns the attacks and also condemns airstrikes Thursday that targeted the Yemeni president. The airstrikes by forces loyal to Yemen’s former president missed his palace and Hadi was unharmed.

In recent months, there have been several online statements by individual Yemeni militants declaring allegiance to ISIS. Its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, formally accepted their oaths and declared a “province” of ISIS in Yemen in November.

He and his deputies in Iraq have vowed to strike against the Houthis in Yemen. That has raised questions whether direct operational links have also arisen. For example, in Libya, where ISIS also declared official “provinces,” fighters and officials are known to have been sent from the group’s core to build the local branch.

It also has fomented a rivalry with al Qaeda, with ISIS leaders mocking the terror network for failing to stop Houthi advances in Yemen. Al Qaeda has denounced the ISIS declaration of a caliphate in areas of Iraq and Syria under its control and accuses the group of “driving a wedge” among jihadis.

In a further sign of the country’s chaos, al Qaeda’s branch of the country took control of the southern city of al-Houta on Friday, Yemeni security officials said. Al Qaeda militants driving pickup trucks and flying black flags swept through the city, which is the capital of Lahj province. They took over the main security barracks, the governor’s office, and the intelligence headquarters, which houses prisons with al Qaeda detainees, the officials said.

Most of the security forces in the city – loyalists of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh – surrendered to the militants without resistance. The militants killed 21 members of the security forces who resisted at the governor’s office, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.