Russia Prepares For The Nuclear Showdown (Daniel 7:7)

 

Russia Has Intensified Its Nuclear Rhetoric, But Why?

Posted By: Vikas ShuklaPosted date: August 18, 2015 03:06:28 PM

In the past few years, Russia’s nuclear posture has become extremely aggressive. Recently, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called Moscow’s nuclear saber rattling “destabilizing and dangerous.” In March this year, Russian President Vladimir Putin revealed that the country was fully prepared to drop nukes on any country that interfered in the annexation of Crimea.

Russia has failed to address some key problems

This March, the Kremlin warned Denmark that it would become a target of Russian nukes if it joined the U.S.-led missile defense system. A month later, Russia threatened to go nuclear if NATO moved more troops to the Baltic states. What’s more, a senior Russian military strategist suggested in April that Moscow should detonate nuclear weapons on the Yellowstone National Park and the San Andreas line in the event of war to “ensure complete destruction” of the United States.

Why is Russia under Vladimir Putin issuing nuclear threats every now and then? The country is spending 4.5% of its GDP on defense, and its military is undergoing a massive, 10-year long modernization program. More than half a dozen military experts told Politico that Russia is trying to hide the weakness of its conventional forces. The size and quality of the country’s conventional forces are far inferior to those of NATO.

Pavel Baev of Peace Research Institute told Politico that the Soviet Union had more than 500,000 troops in East Germany in the mid-1980s. Today, Russia has only about 50,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. Of course, Russia’s military modernization program has led to the development of some advanced weapons. But the country has failed to address some crucial problems like its conscription system and technological inferiority.

There isn’t much Russia can use as a threat

Russian Navy currently has only one aircraft carrier, compared to more than 20 of the United States. And Moscow doesn’t expect its next-gen aircraft carrier to enter service before 2030. Russia’s air force fleet is easily dwarfed by that of the U.S. So, Putin has resorted to the nuclear card to send a signal that Russia is still a dominant power in the region. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Moscow still has about 7,500 nuclear warheads.

Pavel Podvig, a Geneva-based Russian nuclear expert, said there wasn’t much Putin could use as a threat. Given the inferiority of Russia’s conventional forces, nuclear rhetoric is the last resort.

Antichrist’s Men Take The Mark (Revelation 13:18)

Interview with Militia Leader, Qais al-Khazali:

‘We Don’t Deny Militias Have Committed Violations’

Mohammed al-Zaidi

NIQASH meets Qais al-Khazali, head of one of Iraq’s most feared militias. The cleric and soldier answered critics, talking about what to do when his fighters commit crimes and whether militias are replacing the army.

Qais al-Khazali has been described as “one of the most feared and respected militia leaders in Iraq”; he heads the League of the Righteous militia, one of the most extreme and best connected of the unofficial Shiite Muslim militias currently fighting in Iraq against the Islamic State group.

But when al-Khazali came out of his office – located in the southern Iraqi city of Najaf – for this interview, he wasn’t dressed in the military-style outfit he has been seen in a lot recently. Posters of al-Khazali commanding his militias are hanging up around Iraqi cities where many consider him a hero for the fight he and his men are putting up against the Islamic State, or IS, group.

But today al-Khazali was wearing a traditional religious uniform, a turban and a smile. Despite the fact that al-Khazali could be considered an extremely dangerous man, his easy smile and his charismatic responses put those around him at ease. Despite the controversial nature of some of the questions – and indeed, of the organisation he heads – al-Khazali answered everything NIQASH put to him.

NIQASH: There’s been a lot of information that indicates that an offshoot of your militia is fighting in Syria under the name, the Haidar al-Karar Brigades. Can you tell us what they are doing there, especially given that they’re often not fighting to protect any Shiite shrines and nor is the Islamic State group there?

Qais al-Khazali: We deny any reports saying that we are present anywhere outside Iraq’s borders. Our fighters are only in Iraq. Together with other militias and the Iraqi army we’ve been able to stop the Islamic State group expanding to other Iraqi cities.

NIQASH: So you deny any coordination with the Syrian government?

Al-Khazali: There is no coordination with the Syrian government, because we do not have any military presence in Syrian territory.

NIQASH: How would you describe your relationship with Iran. Rumour has it that Iran trains your fighters and supports your militia in logistical and financial terms and that in return, you do what they tell you to.

Al-Khazali: We have a good relationship with Iran and there is mutual respect. But that’s not really so unusual because we [in Iraq] have a long history with Iran and Iraq shares borders with Iran. So it is only natural to have a relationship with Iran and to share some common interests.

As for the decisions that the League makes, they are based on what our ruling council decides and they are absolutely independent of Iran. In any decisions we make, we put national interests first and we reject any negative, external interference.

However I want to emphasise that just because we make decisions independently, that doesn’t mean that there might not be any common goals or interests. It is no secret that Iran supports all the militias in this area and we are obviously one of them. In terms of direct support though, everything goes through the central Iraqi government in Baghdad.

NIQASH: In the past few weeks you have made several statements about the need to change Iraq’s political system from a parliamentary one to a presidential one. Could you explain what you’re asking for and why?

Al-Khazali: Today in Iraq we have big problems and everybody knows what they are – namely state services are problematic as are strategic projects and the level of unemployment as well as a raft of other things.

The League of the Righteous believes that one of the main reasons for these problems is the sectarian quota system in Iraq. To resolve this we have suggested that a presidential system be introduced because at the moment, the Prime Minister cannot choose the members of his government. He must bend to the will of the different blocs represented in Parliament who impose candidates upon him. There’s a bad atmosphere between the Prime Minister and the Cabinet and its had a negative impact on the government’s work. That is why we make such demands. But such sensitive issues must be left to the Iraqi people to decide.

NIQASH: But in making these requests, some critics have said that what you are really doing is opening the door for the return of former Iraqi prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

Al-Khazali: We do not have any special relationship with Nouri al-Maliki. For example, we were not given any special positions within his government when he was in charge. Additionally we didn’t join his electoral bloc during elections; in fact, we contested the elections as a completely separate list.
NIQASH: But you have said on previous occasions that over the past two years your organisation has become closer to al-Maliki. So how do you compare and contrast al-Maliki’s time in power with the past year under Iraq’s new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi?

Al-Khazali: I have never said that. During al-Maliki’s era, there were many positive as well as many negative developments. We have criticised some of al-Maliki’s work and we have evidence of that [criticism]. And when the Shiite coalition disagreed with [al-Maliki’s] State of Law bloc about who should be the next Prime Minister, we announced our official support for al-Abadi.

In terms of al-Abadi, I don’t think he has assessed his own performance thoroughly enough. There are big problems within the Iraqi government and I hope he is able to resolve them. Because we all need him to be successful, for the sake of the Iraqi people. This is what we want.

NIQASH: What are your plans for the future? Does the League plan to be more politically active once the Islamic State group has been driven out of Iraq?

Al-Khazali: We are already participating in the political process and that started as soon
 as the US left Iraq. We are also armed because we were heeding a call from the Iraqi government and from the highest Shiite religious authorities to defend the country. And yes, we have big political ambitions but these can only be achieved within the law and within the limits of the Iraqi Constitution.

NIQASH: There have been rumours lately that the League has been disagreeing with the Sadrist movement – led by the cleric, Muqtada al-Sadr – which also has militias fighting the Islamic State group.

Al-Khazali: There is much more that brings us closer to the Sadrist movement than anything that separates us. It is true that there are some disagreements but we would never go so far as to make them into real conflicts. At the moment we are confronting a very real enemy, one that threatens all Iraqis. So we should forget our differences and place more emphasis on what we have in common so that we may all serve the Iraqi people.

NIQASH: Up until now have you been happy with the Iraqi government’s policies in the conflict with the Islamic State?

Al-Khazali: The war on the Islamic State is an unusual one. It is a guerilla war and needs special fighting groups and skills. No regular army can fight such a war. So we are not so pleased with the way plans to fight the Islamic State have been developed. But in the end we do believe it is up to the Iraqi army.

Of course, we would place more emphasis on the abilities and skills of the militias because they have a lot of experience in this kind of fighting. That’s why we would call for more militias and more support for the militias, especially when it comes to holding on to areas they have liberated from the IS group.

The militias – made up of around 120,000 fighters – has been able to liberate many cities in Iraq while the Ministry of Defence, with about 300,000 members, has not been victorious.

NIQASH: These kinds of statements of yours have been interpreted in different ways. Some people think that you want militias to take the place of the regular Iraqi army.

Al-Khazali: We are not a substitute for the Iraqi army. On the contrary, we were, and we still are, supporting the army. Our main task is to strengthen the army so that, once again, it becomes capable of protecting the country the way it did before.

But we do also believe that the Iraqi army could really benefit from the experience and skills of the militias. Let’s be realistic. The way the Iraqi military has been developed has not been good. It too was influenced by the sectarian quota, which has influenced all Iraqi institutions. So that the enemy cannot fill this power vacuum we think that the militias could take the place of the army until the army is ready to take on that role again.

NIQASH: Are you cooperating with Iraqi Kurdish forces too? Who do you believe is your best ally in this fight against the IS group?

Al-Khazali: There is no coordination with the Kurds because they do not fight the IS group except on the land they believe is a part of [their region] Iraqi Kurdistan. The best allies for the militias are the Iraqi army and the local tribes.

NIQASH: One of the main criticisms of the militias is that they are undisciplined and that they have committed various violations and crimes after fighting the IS group. These violations have caused resentment in the Sunni areas where the militias are fighting. What are your thoughts on this? And if you did discover violations, will you hold the perpetrators responsible?

Al-Khazali: Every army in the world makes mistakes and some of its members commit violations. But we shouldn’t generalize and say that all soldiers are violators. The same holds true for the militias.

We don’t deny that there have been mistakes and violations. But these happen on an individual level. We believe that such violations should be identified and they should be dealt with according to the Iraqi law and Iraqi judiciary.

That is why we have created a joint operations room, together with the Iraqi army, to follow up on violations and to bring any criminals to justice. We have also managed to take control of this problem and restrict some of the behaviours that have been criticised, which is creating more trust between us and those in the liberated provinces.

That is also why more than 17,000 Sunni Muslims have joined the militias. For the same reason, tribal leaders in the areas [where we are fighting the IS group] have also asked us if they can participate in battles and they have welcomed us.

The Two Shia Horns of Prophecy (Daniel 8:3)

 

Iran Deal Is Shaping the Iraq War
 
12 AUG 19, 2015 11:54 AM EDT
By Noah Feldman

Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, is taking severe steps to rid himself of his troublesome predecessor, Nuri al-Maliki. On the heels of a government shakeup, the latest move is a parliamentary report blaming Maliki and many of his political and military leaders for the fall of Mosul to Islamic State last summer. The report is going to be referred to a public prosecutor — which means Abadi may be plotting a criminal prosecution. Maliki is fighting back, issuing a public statement repudiating the report.

Given that Maliki had more domestic support than Abadi when the U.S., with grudging Iranian acquiescence, forced Maliki out of office, it’s no surprise that Abadi would like to consolidate his authority by purging Maliki completely.

But beyond an interest in the Byzantine manipulations of Iraqi politics, why should the rest of the world care about Abadi’s move or Maliki’s displacement?

The answer lies in the effects of the U.S.-Iran deal, which is now before Congress but is being treated by regional actors as a fait accompli. Abadi’s move on Maliki reflects, through a glass darkly, the realignment of regional politics in light of the Iran deal. Where once Maliki was perceived as pro-Iran by Iraqi Sunnis and the U.S., today Abadi is pursuing a new approach in which, he is betting, U.S. and Iranian interests will be closely aligned, and maintaining a multi-sectarian, unified Iraq is no longer an inviolable goal. And the Iranians, having abandoned Maliki to his fate, seem to be on board.

To see what’s going on, consider the challenge that Maliki faced, and failed at, in dealing with Islamic State. The fall of Mosul is emblematic. The Iraqi army, a mixed Shiite-Sunni force, collapsed disastrously, as the parliamentary report emphasizes.

The reason for that failure was more than technical. Shiites in the army might have been loyal to Maliki, but they didn’t relish the idea of dying in defense of the mostly Sunni city. As for Sunnis in the army, they’d become so disillusioned by the impression that Maliki was running Iraq on Iran’s behalf that they were unwilling to stand and fight against Sunni attackers from Islamic State. In the end, the failure to defend Mosul was a failure of Maliki’s leadership, and of his plan to keep Iraq unified under Shiite control.
 
To be sure, Abadi hasn’t yet done any better than Maliki in resisting the jihadists. In May, under Abadi’s prime ministership, Ramadi fell, just as ignominiously and easily as Mosul the previous year. But Abadi seems to be contemplating a different way of addressing the problem than that adopted by Maliki. His strategy appears to have two prongs, both of them premised on growing U.S.-Iran cooperation.

First, Abadi embraces the deployment of Iranian-trained and -led Shiite militias supported by U.S. air strikes against Islamic State. It’s been a slow process getting the Americans and the Iranians on the same page, given the mutual distrust. But Abadi seems to think, with some reason, that the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal makes cooperation more likely. In June, Abadi went to Iran to urge Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei to continue supporting the fight against Islamic State — and he also went to the G-7 meetings in Austria to lobby Barack Obama for more support. He’s urged the U.S. to do more to train Iraqi army units, and welcomed the deployment of U.S. advisers, who might even coordinate with Iranian-led forces.

It’s optimistic to think that combined U.S. and Iranian efforts would actually defeat Islamic State in Iraq. That can’t be done without Sunni Arab ground troops, and Abadi has no clear way to create such a force.

But Abadi, unlike Maliki, plans to avoid taking the blame if the fight against the jihadists falters — because he is striving to show both sides, the U.S. and Iran, that he’s trying to get them all to help him in the war. In other words, Abadi, hedging against continuing failure to beat Islamic State, is relying on a deepening alignment of U.S.-Iranian interests.

Abadi has another thing Maliki lacked: a fallback strategy for what to do if Islamic State is here to stay in the medium-term in Iraq. Abadi is signaling to Iraqi Shiites, as well as to Iran and the U.S., that he can govern a rump state of Iraq, one that effectively excludes the jihadist-controlled Sunni areas and recognizes the de facto autonomy of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Abadi’s reform efforts of the last few weeks, in which senior Sunni politicians lost their positions, signaled as much. The position of vice-president of which there were three — including Maliki himself — was eliminated. The parliamentary report assigning blame for the fall of Mosul named two more prominent Sunni politicians, Saadoun al-Dulaimi, the acting defense minister under Maliki, and Atheel al-Nujaifi, the former governor of the Nineveh province and brother of Osama al-Nujaifi, one of the fired vice-presidents.

The message is that Abadi is done with Maliki’s strategy, adopted under intense U.S. pressure, of incorporating Sunni leaders into the central Iraqi government. This change may anger the U.S., since it’s hard to see how else to placate Sunnis and keep them committed to holding the country together. But it makes sense if Iraq is acknowledged as divided already by the presence of Islamic State in the Sunni-majority areas of the country.

In the past, an Iraqi prime minister might have worried about how the U.S. would feel about a Shiite-dominated rump Iraq, which would be something close to an adjunct of Iran. Abadi must be calculating that, having made its own deal with Iran, the U.S. can live with this result as the least-bad outcome — because it’s less threatened by Iran after the nuclear deal.

The U.S. would like to defeat Islamic State, and we assume Iran would, too. The big change, however, is that the U.S. may no longer be as committed to a multi-denominational, unified Iraq as a buffer against Iran. That’s the result of a regional change – brought about by the nuclear deal between the U.S. and Iran.

East Coast Expecting The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

United States Fault Lines Map – Earthquakes could also happen in East Coast and in the Midwest Cites

Fault Lines US

[BestSyndication News] Earthquakes are always a concern out in Alaska and in California, as it is full of fault lines that are continually shifting. There are some fault lines that are overdue to shift, especially the California San Andres fault line that runs through the mountain ranges and close to Wrightwood. But did you know there is a United States Fault Lines Map that illustrates great potentials for earthquakes outside of our state?

New Madrid Fault Line

The New Madrid Fault Line has records of over 4000 earthquake reports since 1974. This fault line is also called the New Madrid Seismic Zone and has potential to devastate the states of Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi. The biggest part of the New Madrid Fault Line sits in Missouri.

We often forget that this Midwestern fault line is there, but in 1811-1812 there was a series of earthquakes that shook with estimated magnitudes of 8.1 – 8.3, with several aftershocks of 6.0 magnitudes. Since those big ones, the largest earthquake that this fault line produced was in a 6.6-magnitude quake that happened on October 31, 1895. It’s epicenter was in Charleston, Missouri.The damage from these earthquakes were extensive, and there has been recent speculation by the scientific community that believe that this fault line might be shutting down and moving elsewhere. In an issue of Nature, scientist believe the current seismic activity at the New Madrid Fault line is only aftershocks from the earthquake back in 1811 and 1812.
 
Ramapo Fault Line

The Ramapo Fault Line spans 300 kilometers and affects the states of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. These faults run between the Appalachian Mountains and Piedmont areas to the east.
This fault remains relatively inactive, but scientists believe that it could produce some serious earthquakes. There was a study completed in 2008 that believes a 6 – 7 magnitude earthquake will very likely occur from this fault line. The last time this fault was the most active was believed to be 200 million years ago.

San Andreas Fault Line

The last few years Southern California has been preparing for the next big one with government sponsored Earthquake Drills. Scientist are predicting that the next big one with a magnitude of a 7.0 or higher for this fault line will happen any time, it could be now or 10 years from now. They believe the areas that are going to be hit the hardest are going to be Palm Springs and a number of other cities in San Bernardino, Riverside and Imperial counties in California, and Mexicali municipality in Baja California.

To learn more about earthquakes you can visit http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/