Obama’s Great Betrayal (2 Kings 25)


Obama chose dishonor, and Israel will have war

Iran is taking over Syria. The distant enemy is coming closer. The US is out of the picture. Those who put their trust in the new world sheriff, Donald Trump, have to admit he appears to be far more concerned with the American media than the Iranian imperialism. That is who he is.
The world’s sheriff is not whoever has more power—the United States has a lot more—but whoever uses the power he has.
Netanyahu had to go to Vladimir Putin this week again for another round of talks with the Russian leader during his vacation in Sochi. It’s not clear whether Putin is going to stop the Iranian threat. It is clear, however, that he’s the only one there is any point in talking to.
ISIS has been defeated on the ground. Over the last year, its fighters have been pushed out of Mosul in Iraq, and in the coming year, probably, they’ll also be pushed out of Syria’s Raqqa, the caliphate’s capital. The problem is that the alternative for ISIS on the ground—Iran and Hezbollah—is just as bad.
The strengthening and spreading of Iran’s influence were made possible, inter alia, because of the nuclear deal. European nations were quick to court the country that got Barack Obama and John Kerry’s stamp of approval. Most of the sanctions were lifted. Europe rushed to renew the massive deals and oil purchases. In the five months that followed the sanctions’ removal, Iranian exports—excluding oil—grew by $19 billion. The oil production soared from an average of 2.5 million barrels a day during the sanctions to close to 4 million barrels a day in recent months. The billions increased accordingly.
Many of the heads of Israel’s defense establishment, unlike Netanyahu, determined the nuclear deal was the lesser of evils. Its advantages, they claimed, outweigh its shortcomings.
I’m afraid they were wrong. The Iranian threat was twofold: Both the development of nuclear weapons and regional subversion. It is possible there is a temporary waning of the first threat. The second threat, meanwhile, continues growing. Iran is stirring the pot: it has militant affiliates in Yemen; it is fighting in Iraq and turning it into a protected state; Syria is also becoming a protected state; and Lebanon, for a long time now, has been under the control of Iran’s proxy, Hezbollah.
Between Iran and Israel there is a growing, ever expanding territorial corridor under Iranian control, and the Shiite nation is planning on building a sea port in Syria, perhaps an airport as well. This didn’t happen because of the nuclear agreement, but there is no doubt the nuclear agreement served to bolster Iran and its expansionist aspirations.
Obama and Kerry managed to mislead the international community in general—and the American public in particular—by claiming the alternative to the agreement was war. That’s not true. The alternative was continuing and the sanctions and imposing additional, harsher sanctions. Only then, it might have been possible to deal with both threats. Now, it is too late.
Most of the time, Netanyahu’s conduct was appropriate. He was among those who pushed for the sanctions on Iran. He spurred the international community into action. But at some point, something went wrong. Netanyahu became a nuisance. Instead of showing a little more flexibility on the Palestinian issue, in order to get more on the Iranian issue, he made himself the American administration’s enemy on both matters. The result was a complete failure. Iran’s nuclear capabilities were not curbed, and Tehran is now turning into a regional power. Chamberlain, said Winston Churchill, was “given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” As time goes on, it becomes all the more apparent Obama has chosen dishonor. Iran is becoming a world power, and Israel might pay with another war.

The French Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

France’s Nuclear Arsenal Could Kill Millions of People in Minutes
Kyle Mizokami 
France was the fourth country to join the so-called “Nuclear Club,” and at the height of the Cold War maintained its own nuclear triad of land-based missiles, nuclear-armed bombers and ballistic missile submarines. Today, France’s sea-based nuclear deterrent is the home of most of its nuclear arsenal, with four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, of French design and construction, providing constant assurance against surprise nuclear attack.
France’s nuclear weapons arsenal began in earnest on February 13th, 1960, with the country’s first nuclear weapons test. The test, code-named “Gerboise Bleue” (Blue Desert Rat) confirmed that France had the know-how to build its own weapons. It also confirmed that France had the nuclear know-how to part ways with the United States and NATO and chart its own course versus the Soviet Union.
France began working on its own naval nuclear propulsion program in 1955, under what was known as Project Coelacanth. The first effort to build a nuclear-powered submarine, Q.244, was to be the first of five nuclear ballistic missile submarines. The effort to develop Q.244 was a failure, due to the inability of nuclear engineers to sufficiently miniaturize the reactor, and the submarine was cancelled in 1959. A subsequent project to develop a land-based reactor, PAT 1, was a success and led to development of Q.252, which became the submarine Le Redoutable.
At the same time, France’s defense industry was working diligently to produce a submarine-launched ballistic missile. The result was the M1 MSBS, or Mer-Sol Balistique Stratégique (Sea-Ground Strategic Ballistic Missile). The M1 was a two stage rocket with a 500 kiloton warhead and a range of 1,553 miles. This was sufficient range for a French ballistic missile submarine in the Bay of Biscay to strike Moscow.
France’s first generation missile submarines, the five submarines of the Le Redoutable class and the single L’Inflexible submarine, were all built at the Cherbourg shipyards and completed between 1971 and 1980. The cancellation of Q.244 may have been fortuitous, as it allowed the United States to make pioneer engineering decision in nuclear ballistic submarine design, something also seen in the Soviet Union’s first generation Yankee-class ballistic missile submarine. The overall layout of the Redoutable class was very similar to the U.S. Navy’s second generation Lafayette-class ballistic missile submarines, with fin-mounted hydroplanes and sixteen missile silos in two rows of eight directly behind the fin.
The first two submarines, Le Redoutable and Le Terrible, carried the M-1 missile, while the third, Le Foudroyant, carried the improved M-2 missile with a longer 1,841 mile range. The next two submarines, L’Indomptable and Le Tonnant had a mix of M-2 missiles and the new M-20, which had the same range but a gigantic 1 megaton thermonuclear warhead. The last submarine, L’Inflexible, carried missiles of a completely new design. Designated M4, the missiles had a 2,474 mile range, allowing them to strike as far east as Kazan.
At the height of France’s nuclear weapons arsenal, 87 percent of France’s nuclear arsenal was in submarines. France’s nuclear submarine fleet, the Force Océanique Stratégique (FOST), was based at Ile Longue in Brest, and FOST submarines were sent on two month patrols off the coast of France and Portugal. Three submarines were to be at sea at any one time, with a fourth also ready to go to sea.
Starting in the mid 1980s, all submarines except for Le Terrible were outfitted with improved M-4A and then M-4B missiles with ranges of up to 3,720 miles and multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles, allowing each missile to carry six 150 kiloton warheads. The MIRVing of the M4 increased the firepower of each submarine sixfold.
In addition to their nuclear firepower, the Redoutable class submarines had four 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for self-defense, capable of launching the L5 Mod. 3 anti-submarine torpedo and the F 17 dual-purpose torpedo. They could also launch the SM 39 Exocet anti-ship cruise missile, but the primary mission of ballistic missile submarines is always to avoid detection until their nuclear missiles are needed.

The Sixth Seal Will be in New York (Rev 6:12)


Earthquakes Can Happen in More Places Than You Think
By Simon Worrall
PUBLISHED AUGUST 26, 2017
Half a million earthquakes occur worldwide each year, according to an estimate by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Most are too small to rattle your teacup. But some, like the 2011 quake off the coast of Japan or last year’s disaster in Italy, can level high-rise buildings, knock out power, water and communications, and leave a lifelong legacy of trauma for those unlucky enough to be caught in them.
In the U.S., the focus is on California’s San Andreas fault, which geologists suggest has a nearly one-in-five chance of causing a major earthquake in the next three decades. But it’s not just the faults we know about that should concern us, says Kathryn Miles, author of Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake. As she explained when National Geographic caught up with her at her home in Portland, Maine, there’s a much larger number of faults we don’t know about—and fracking is only adding to the risks.
When it comes to earthquakes, there is really only one question everyone wants to know: When will the big one hit California?
That’s the question seismologists wish they could answer, too! One of the most shocking and surprising things for me is just how little is actually known about this natural phenomenon. The geophysicists, seismologists, and emergency managers that I spoke with are the first to say, “We just don’t know!”
What we can say is that it is relatively certain that a major earthquake will happen in California in our lifetime. We don’t know where or when. An earthquake happening east of San Diego out in the desert is going to have hugely different effects than that same earthquake happening in, say, Los Angeles. They’re both possible, both likely, but we just don’t know.
One of the things that’s important to understand about San Andreas is that it’s a fault zone. As laypeople we tend to think about it as this single crack that runs through California and if it cracks enough it’s going to dump the state into the ocean. But that’s not what’s happening here. San Andreas is a huge fault zone, which goes through very different types of geological features. As a result, very different types of earthquakes can happen in different places.
There are other places around the country that are also well overdue for an earthquake. New York City has historically had a moderate earthquake approximately every 100 years. If that is to be trusted, any moment now there will be another one, which will be devastating for that city.
As Charles Richter, inventor of the Richter Scale, famously said, “Only fools, liars and charlatans predict earthquakes.” Why are earthquakes so hard to predict? After all, we have sent rockets into space and plumbed the depths of the ocean.
You’re right: We know far more about distant galaxies than we do about the inner workings of our planet. The problem is that seismologists can’t study an earthquake because they don’t know when or where it’s going to happen. It could happen six miles underground or six miles under the ocean, in which case they can’t even witness it. They can go back and do forensic, post-mortem work. But we still don’t know where most faults lie. We only know where a fault is after an earthquake has occurred. If you look at the last 100 years of major earthquakes in the U.S., they’ve all happened on faults we didn’t even know existed.
Earthquakes 101
Earthquakes are unpredictable and can strike with enough force to bring buildings down. Find out what causes earthquakes, why they’re so deadly, and what’s being done to help buildings sustain their hits.
Fracking is a relatively new industry. Many people believe that it can cause what are known as induced earthquakes. What’s the scientific consensus?
The scientific consensus is that a practice known as wastewater injection undeniably causes earthquakes when the geological features are conducive. In the fracking process, water and lubricants are injected into the earth to split open the rock, so oil and natural gas can be retrieved. As this happens, wastewater is also retrieved and brought back to the surface.
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Different states deal with this in different ways. Some states, like Pennsylvania, favor letting the wastewater settle in aboveground pools, which can cause run-off contamination of drinking supplies. Other states, like Oklahoma, have chosen to re-inject the water into the ground. And what we’re seeing in Oklahoma is that this injection is enough to shift the pressure inside the earth’s core, so that daily earthquakes are happening in communities like Stillwater. As our technology improves, and both our ability and need to extract more resources from the earth increases, our risk of causing earthquakes will also rise exponentially.
After Fukushima, the idea of storing nuclear waste underground cannot be guaranteed to be safe. Yet President Trump has recently green-lighted new funds for the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada. Is that wise?
The issue with Fukushima was not about underground nuclear storage but it is relevant. The Tohoku earthquake, off the coast of Japan, was a massive, 9.0 earthquake—so big that it shifted the axis of the earth and moved the entire island of Japan some eight centimeters! It also created a series of tsunamis, which swamped the Fukushima nuclear power plant to a degree the designers did not believe was possible.
Here in the U.S., we have nuclear plants that are also potentially vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis, above all on the East Coast, like Pilgrim Nuclear, south of Boston, or Indian Point, north of New York City. Both of these have been deemed by the USGS to have an unacceptable level of seismic risk. [Both are scheduled to close in the next few years.]
Yucca Mountain is meant to address our need to store the huge amounts of nuclear waste that have been accumulating for more than 40 years. Problem number one is getting it out of these plants. We are going to have to somehow truck or train these spent fuel rods from, say, Boston, to a place like Yucca Mountain, in Nevada. On the way it will have to go through multiple earthquake zones, including New Madrid, which is widely considered to be one of the country’s most dangerous earthquake zones.
Yucca Mountain itself has had seismic activity. Ultimately, there’s no great place to put nuclear waste—and there’s no guarantee that where we do put it is going to be safe.
The psychological and emotional effects of an earthquake are especially harrowing. Why is that?
This is a fascinating and newly emerging subfield within psychology, which looks at the effects of natural disasters on both our individual and collective psyches. Whenever you experience significant trauma, you’re going to see a huge increase in PTSD, anxiety, depression, suicide, and even violent behaviors.
What seems to make earthquakes particularly pernicious is the surprise factor. A tornado will usually give people a few minutes, if not longer, to prepare; same thing with hurricanes. But that doesn’t happen with an earthquake. There is nothing but profound surprise. And the idea that the bedrock we walk and sleep upon can somehow become liquid and mobile seems to be really difficult for us to get our heads around.
Psychologists think that there are two things happening. One is a PTSD-type loop where our brain replays the trauma again and again, manifesting itself in dreams or panic attacks during the day. But there also appears to be a physiological effect as well as a psychological one. If your readers have ever been at sea for some time and then get off the ship and try to walk on dry land, they know they will look like drunkards. [Laughs] The reason for this is that the inner ear has habituated itself to the motion of the ship. We think the inner ear does something similar in the case of earthquakes, in an attempt to make sense of this strange, jarring movement.
After the Abruzzo quake in Italy, seven seismologists were actually tried and sentenced to six years in jail for failing to predict the disaster. Wouldn’t a similar threat help improve the prediction skills of American seismologists?
[Laughs] The scientific community was uniform in denouncing that action by the Italian government because, right now, earthquakes are impossible to predict. But the question of culpability is an important one. To what degree do we want to hold anyone responsible? Do we want to hold the local meteorologist responsible if he gets the weather forecast wrong? [Laughs]
What scientists say—and I don’t think this is a dodge on their parts—is, “Predicting earthquakes is the Holy Grail; it’s not going to happen in our lifetime. It may never happen.” What we can do is work on early warning systems, where we can at least give people 30 or 90 seconds to make a few quick decisive moves that could well save your life. We have failed to do that. But Mexico has had one in place for years!
There is some evidence that animals can predict earthquakes. Is there any truth to these theories?
All we know right now is anecdotal information because this is so hard to test for. We don’t know where the next earthquake is going to be so we can’t necessarily set up cameras and observe the animals there. So we have to rely on these anecdotal reports, say, of reptiles coming out of the ground prior to a quake. The one thing that was recorded here in the U.S. recently was that in the seconds before an earthquake in Oklahoma huge flocks of birds took flight. Was that coincidence? Related? We can’t draw that correlation yet.
One of the fascinating new approaches to prediction is the MyQuake app. Tell us how it works—and why it could be an especially good solution for Third World countries.
The USGS desperately wants to have it funded. The reluctance appears to be from Congress. A consortium of universities, in conjunction with the USGS, has been working on some fascinating tools. One is a dense network of seismographs that feed into a mainframe computer, which can take all the information and within nanoseconds understand that an earthquake is starting.
MyQuake is an app where you can get up to date information on what’s happening around the world. What’s fascinating is that our phones can also serve as seismographs. The same technology that knows which way your phone is facing, and whether it should show us an image in portrait or landscape, registers other kinds of movement. Scientists at UC Berkeley are looking to see if they can crowd source that information so that in places where we don’t have a lot of seismographs or measuring instruments, like New York City or Chicago or developing countries like Nepal, we can use smart phones both to record quakes and to send out early warning notices to people.
You traveled all over the U.S. for your research. Did you return home feeling safer?
I do not feel safer in the sense that I had no idea just how much risk regions of this country face on a daily basis when it comes to seismic hazards. We tend to think of this as a West Coast problem but it’s not! It’s a New York, Memphis, Seattle, or Phoenix problem. Nearly every major urban center in this country is at risk of a measurable earthquake.
What I do feel safer about is knowing what I can do as an individual. I hope that is a major take-home message for people who read the book. There are so many things we should be doing as individuals, family members, or communities to minimize this risk: simple things from having a go-bag and an emergency plan amongst the family to larger things like building codes.
We know that a major earthquake is going to happen. It’s probably going to knock out our communications lines. Phones aren’t going to work, Wi-Fi is going to go down, first responders are not going to be able to get to people for quite some time. So it is beholden on all of us to make sure we can survive until help can get to us.
This interview was edited for length and clarity.

The Antichrist Spreads His Horns Throughout the World


Spokesman confirms Sadr’s Europe tour plans, Egypt visit
by Mohamed Mostafa Aug 26, 2017, 12:00 pm
Baghdad (IraqiNews.com) A spokesperson has confirmed reports of an intended tour by influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Europe, including a meeting with Pope Francis of Vatican.
Jaafar Mosawi, a spokesperson of the Sadrist Movement, said Saturday that Sadr will visit Vatican responding to an official invitation, and had also received an invitation from Egypt.
Mosawi told Baghdad Today that Sadr will embark on the Vatican visit within the coming few days.
Sadr seeks openness to the countries that want Iraq’s best and abstain from interfering in its domestic affairs,” he stated.
On Friday, London-based al-Hayat said Sadr is preparing for a tour including France, Germany, Belgium, Italy and Vatican, and would hold meetings with senior officials at those countries.
The purpose of the visit, as the paper put it, will not differ from that of his recent Arab region tour, focusing on Iraq’s openness to other countries and encouragement of investments in the war-torn country, especially in the reconstruction of terrorism-hit areas.
Al-Sadr headed United Arab Emirates earlier this month, having received an official invitation for a visit. He met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
The announced visit has stirred more debates among observers about Sadr’s unexpected diplomatic orientations as he came back days earlier from Saudi Arabia, the arch regional rival of Iran, presumably the biggest patron of Shia political elites and political movements in the Middle East.
While political commentators viewed Sadr’s visits to Iran’s longtime regional rivals a remarkable attempt to break away with the Iran-dominated Iraqi politics, others saw they were a balancing political act designed to get advantage from Sunni Saudi Arabia’s regional weight while staying on good terms with Shia Iran. Some also say Sadr was seeking to embolden his image as a nationalist figure whose orientations can transcend sectarian calculations.
The UAE and Saudi Arabia visits come after apparent rapprochements between Baghdad and Sunni-ruled governments in the region. Besides Sadr, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi visited Riyadh in June, and was followed by Iraqi Interior Minister Qassem al-Araji a month later. In February, Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir visited Iraq, where he voiced support for Iraq against terrorism.

Quakes Leading Up To The Sixth Seal of NYC (Rev 6:12)

worlds-biggest-earthquakes

The world’s strongest earthquakes since 1900

Source: U.s. Geological Survey
A magnitude-7.8 earthquake shook Nepal’s capital and the densely populated Kathmandu Valley on Saturday, the worst quake in the Himalayan nation in over 80 years.
The world’s strongest earthquakes since 1900:
May 22, 1960: A magnitude-9.5 earthquake in southern Chile and ensuing tsunami kill at least 1,716 people.
March 28, 1964: A magnitude-9.2 quake in Prince William Sound, Alaska, kills 131 people, including 128 from a tsunami.
Dec. 26, 2004: A magnitude-9.1 quake in Indonesia triggers an Indian Ocean tsunami, killing 230,000 people in a dozen countries.
March 11, 2011: A magnitude-9.0 quake off the northeast coast of Japan triggers a tsunami, killing more than 18,000 people.
Nov. 4, 1952: A magnitude-9.0 quake in Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East causes damage but no reported deaths despite setting off 9.1-meter (30-foot) waves in Hawaii.
Feb. 27, 2010: A magnitude-8.8 quake shakes Chile, generating a tsunami and killing 524 people.
Jan. 31, 1906: A magnitude-8.8 quake off the coast of Ecuador generates a tsunami that kills at least 500 people.
Feb. 4, 1965: A magnitude-8.7 quake strikes Alaska’s Rat Islands, causing an 11-meter-high tsunami.
March 28, 2005: A magnitude-8.6 quake in northern Sumatra in Indonesia kills about 1,300 people.
Aug. 15, 1950: A magnitude-8.6 earthquake in Tibet kills at least 780 people.
April 11, 2012: A magnitude-8.6 quake off the west coast of northern Sumatra in Indonesia triggers tsunami warnings in more than two dozen nations.
March 9, 1957: A magnitude-8.6 quake strikes the Andreanof Islands in Alaska, triggering a 16-meter tsunami.
Sept. 12, 2007: A magnitude-8.5 quake near Sumatra in Indonesia kills at least 25 people.
Feb. 1, 1938: A magnitude-8.5 quake in the Banda Sea, Indonesia, generates a small tsunami.
Feb. 3, 1923: A magnitude-8.5 quake in Kamchatka in Russia’s Far East triggers a tsunami.
Nov. 11, 1922: A magnitude-8.5 quake along the Chile-Argentina border triggers a tsunami that causes damage along Chile’s coast.
Oct. 13, 1963: A magnitude-8.5 quake in the Kuril Islands triggers a tsunami.

The Antichrist Turns Against Iran

 
Shia rabble-rouser turns against Iran
Richard Spencer, Middle East Correspondent
August 26 2017, 12:01am, The Times
Moqtada al-Sadr, for long the West’s public enemy No 1 in Iraq, is now leading attempts to fend off Iranian domination of the Middle East.
A decade ago his Mahdi Army, drawn from the country’s Shia majority, was ambushing and killing American and British soldiers across southern Iraq while he sought refuge in Iran.
The Shia leader recently visited Saudi Arabia, the Sunni Arab world’s dominant power, and the UAE, and is about to visit Egypt. Saudi Arabia announced this month that it was reopening its land border with Iraq for the first time since the Gulf War in 1990, and that this was merely the start of a rapprochement by which it hopes to offer more direct flights, the opening of a consulate   in the holy Shia city of Najaf, and billions of dollars of investment.
The Saudis have even offered to build hospitals in Baghdad and in the oil-rich, Shia-majority city of Basra.
The shift in Mr Sadr’s position has drawn accusations of treachery from Iran. An editorial by Tasnim, a private news agency based in Tehran, asked how he could visit Riyadh when Saudi Arabia was bombing Yemen and attacking its own Shia minority.
“It is obvious that Riyadh is now seeking to change the status of its relations with Baghdad to effectively reduce the influence of Iran,” it added.
At the height of the Iraqi insurgency hardly a mention of Mr Sadr’s name went unaccompanied by the description “fiery Shia cleric”. A son and son-in-law of ayatollahs killed during the rule of Saddam Hussein, he is not a senior religious official but has inherited a role as favoured leader of Iraq’s long-oppressed Shia working classes.
His Mahdi Army was eventually crushed between 2006 and 2008 by US forces working with Nuri al-Maliki, the prime minister of Iraq at the time but, as is often the case in these parts, the alliance was a shaky one. Mr Maliki pivoted ever more towards Iran, alienating Iraq’s Sunni minority just as the Americans were trying to win their trust before their 2011 pull-out — culminating in the Islamic State takeover of large parts of the country in 2014.
Mr Sadr, who always said his opposition to America was nationalist rather than religious, has since come to see Iranian domination as the greatest threat to his goal of an Iraqi “Islamic democracy”. As a result, while Mr Sadr and Mr Maliki pursue their feud, they have swapped geopolitical sides. The West, Saudi Arabia and their allies are all determined to stop Mr Maliki, who was forced out in 2014, from returning to office in elections next year.
Kirk Sowell, a Middle East risk analyst, said that Mr Sadr’s reconciliation with Saudi Arabia arose from his appeal to “Islamist nationalism”. He said: “He’s realised that in order to balance Iran, he must lower the sectarian temperature, otherwise the Iran-aligned factions will run away with the next election.”
Mr Sadr has led demonstrations against Haider al-Abadi, the pro-West prime minister who is from the same Shia-dominated party as Mr Maliki but is deeply opposed by him. The protests, which focus on government corruption, are also veiled attacks on Mr Maliki, who appointed many of the officials accused of enriching themselves.
The reopening of the Saudi border came after a meeting between Mr Sadr and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; something that would have once seemed impossible.
Cynics say that every other foreign policy venture undertaken by the crown prince in the past two years has backfired, from the war in Yemen to the blockade of Qatar, and that Saudi Arabia will not re-establish influence until it forges better relations with Iran — rather than trying to undermine it.
Mr Sadr said in an interview with a Saudi-backed newspaper: “There are plans to secure peace and reject sectarianism in the region. It is necessary to bring Iraq back into the Arab fold.”
A lot depends on whether Mr Sadr remains popular and whether his instinct that Iraqis will put their national identity above their Shia one is enough to turn them against Iran.
Mr Sowell said that anti-Iran sentiment in Iraq was outweighed by hostility to Saudi Arabia, seen by many as having backed Isis. “Sadr is taking a risk here,” he said. “If he fails, it could hurt him.”

Pakistan’s Nuclear Terrorist Threat


US worried Pakistan’s Nuclear-weapons could land up in terrorists’ hands: Official – The Economic Times
PTI
WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is worried that nuclear weapons and materials in Pakistan could land up in the hands of terror groups and the concerns are aggravated by the development of tactical weapons, a senior US official has said.
The senior Trump administration official said that during a compressive review, one of the major issues that continually came up for discussion and is very important to the US was the nuclear danger in the region.
That is a critical element of the South Asia strategy, the official told reporters during a conference call.
The Trump administration is worried that nuclear weapons and materials in Pakistan might land up in the hands of terrorist groups or individuals, the senior administration official said, on condition of anonymity.
The South Asia strategy announced by US President Donald Trump on Monday notes that the “nuclear weapons or materials could fall” into the wrong hands, the official said.
“It (South Asia policy) also prioritises the escalating tension between India and Pakistan, the two nuclear power countries, and looks for ways to de-escalate the tension between the two to avoid any potential military confrontation among them,” the official said.
“We are particularly concerned by the development of tactical nuclear weapons that are designed for use in battlefield. We believe that these systems are more susceptible to terrorist theft and increase the likelihood of nuclear exchange in the region,” the Trump administration official said.
The official said it was due to this that the strategy also focuses on confidence building measures between India and Pakistan and encourages them to come to the negotiating table.
The danger of nuclear weapons was also mentioned by Trump in his Afghanistan and South Asia policy speech on Monday.
“For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states whose tense relations threaten to spiral into conflict. And that could happen,” he had said in his first prime time televised address to the nation.
In an article published in ‘War on the Rocks’, Christopher Clary, who worked on the South Asia policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defence from 2006 to 2009, said Pakistan likely possesses more than 100 nuclear weapons today and might possess fissile material for up to 200 or 300 nuclear weapons.
“The US presence in Afghanistan is primarily about preventing terrorist groups operating there, but there is some reporting that suggests elements of the US government are wary of losing basing in Afghanistan that is useful to monitor Pakistani terrorist groups and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons development efforts,” Clary said.
Stephen Tankel, an American expert, said the US has two vital security interests in Pakistan — ensuring militants in the region do not attack the US homeland and keeping militants from getting their hands on nuclear material.
“America also has a critical interest in preventing Indo-Pakistani nuclear escalation and terrorist attacks against US persons and infrastructure in the region,” Tankel recently wrote for Center for a New American Security.
“Maintaining a sufficient counter-terrorism presence in Afghanistan has been a cornerstone of the broader US counter- terrorism policy. This, in turn, has required ensuring the Afghan government retains sufficient control over its territory,” he said.
Pakistan is developing tactical nuclear-capable ‘Nasr’ ballistic missiles for battlefield use in order to deter a limited Indian military response to terrorist attacks by Pakistan-supported militants, he wrote.
“The common concern about Pakistani nuclear weapons is that they are vulnerable to internal threats. In reality, these weapons are most likely to fall into terrorists’ hands if forward-deployed during a conflict with India,” Tankel said.
“Even some Pakistani analysts recognise that it would be difficult for the Pakistan military to ensure the full security of these weapons once they were deployed in the field,” he said.

North Korea Fires More Nuclear Missiles

Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Saturday that that the projectiles were fired from an area from the North’s eastern coast and flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles).

The JCS says the South Korea and U.S. militaries were analyzing the launch.
The launch comes weeks after North Korea created a tense standoff with the United States by threatening to lob some of its missiles toward Guam.
North Korea also successfully flight-tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles in July that analysts say could reach deep into the U.S. mainland when perfected

The Ramapo Fault and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Ramapo Fault Line

Living on the Fault Line

Posted June 15, 2010 by Wayne J. Guglielmo

This chart shows the location of the Ramapo Fault System, the longest and one of the oldest systems of cracks in the earth’s crust in the Northeast. It also shows the location of all earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater in New Jersey during the last 50 years. The circle in blue indicates the largest known Jersey quake.
The couple checked with Burns’s parents, who live in nearby Basking Ridge, and they, too, had heard and felt something, which they thought might have been an earthquake. A call by Burns some 20 minutes later to the Bernardsville Police Department—one of many curious and occasionally panicky inquiries that Sunday morning, according to the officer in charge, Sergeant John Remian—confirmed their suspicion: A magnitude 2.6 earthquake, its epicenter in Peapack/Gladstone, about seven miles from Bernardsville, had hit the area. A smaller aftershock followed about two and a half hours later.
After this year’s epic earthquakes in Haiti, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, and China, the 2.6 quake and aftershock that shook parts of New Jersey in February may seem minor league, even to the Somerset County residents who experienced them. On the exponential Richter Scale, a magnitude 7.0 quake like the one that hit Haiti in January is almost 4 million times stronger than a quake of 2.6 magnitude. But comparisons of magnitude don’t tell the whole story.
Northern New Jersey straddles the Ramapo Fault, a significant ancient crack in the earth’s crust. The longest fault in the Northeast, it begins in Pennsylvania and moves into New Jersey, trending northeast through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic, and Bergen counties before terminating in New York’s Westchester County, not far from the Indian Point Energy Center, a nuclear power plant. And though scientists dispute how active this roughly 200 million-year-old fault really is, many earthquakes in the state’s surprisingly varied seismic history are believed to have occurred on or near it. The fault line is visible at ground level and likely extends as deep as nine miles below the surface.
During the past 230 years or so, New Jersey has been at the epicenter of nearly 170 earthquakes, according to data compiled by the New Jersey Geological Survey, part of the United States Department of Environmental Protection. The largest known quake struck in 1783, somewhere west of New York City, perhaps in Sussex County. It’s typically listed as 5.3 in magnitude, though that’s an estimate by seismologists who are quick to point out that the concept of magnitude—measuring the relative size of an earthquake—was not introduced until 1935 by Charles Richter and Beno Gutenberg. Still, for quakes prior to that, scientists are not just guessing.
“We can figure out the damage at the time by going back to old records and newspaper accounts,” says Won-Young Kim, a senior research scientist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, directly across the New Jersey border. “Once the amount and extent of contemporary damage has been established,” Kim says, “we’re then able to gauge the pattern of ground shaking or intensity of the event—and from there extrapolate its probable magnitude.”
Other earthquakes of magnitude 5 or higher have been felt in New Jersey, although their epicenters laying near New York City. One—which took place in 1737 and was said to have been felt as far north as Boston and as far south as northern Delaware—was probably in the 5 to 5.5 range. In 1884, an earthquake of similar magnitude occurred off New York’s Rockaway Beach. This well-documented event pulled houses off their foundations and caused steeples to topple as far west as Rahway. The shock wave, scientists believe, was felt over 70,000 square miles, from Vermont to Maryland.
Among the largest sub-5 magnitude earthquakes with epicenters in New Jersey, two (a 3.8 and a 4.0) took place on the same day in 1938 in the Lakehurst area in Ocean County. On August 26, 2003, a 3.5 magnitude quake shook the Frenchtown/Milford area in Hunterdon County. On February 3 of last year, a 3.0 magnitude quake occurred in the Morris County town of Mendham. “A lot of people felt this one because of the intense shaking, although the area of intensity wasn’t very wide,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim, who visited the site after the event.
After examining the known historical and geological record, Kim and other seismologists have found no clear evidence that an earthquake of greater than 5.3 to 5.5 magnitude has taken place in this area going back to 1737. This doesn’t mean, of course, that one did not take place in the more remote past or that one will not occur in the future; it simply means that a very large quake is less likely to occur here than in other places in the east where the seismic hazard is greater, including areas in South Carolina and northeastern New York State.
But no area on the East Coast is as densely populated or as heavily built-up as parts of New Jersey and its neighbors. For this reason, scientists refer to the Greater New York City-Philadelphia area, which includes New Jersey’s biggest cities, as one of “low earthquake hazard but high vulnerability.” Put simply, the Big One isn’t likely here—but if it comes, especially in certain locations, watch out.
Given this low-hazard, high-vulnerability scenario, how far along are scientists in their efforts to predict larger magnitude earthquakes in the New Jersey area? The answer is complex, complicated by the state’s geographical position, its unique geological history, the state of seismology itself, and the continuing debate over the exact nature and activity of the Ramapo Fault.
Over millions of years, New Jersey developed four distinct physiographic provinces or regions, which divide the state into a series of diagonal slices, each with its own terrain, rock type, and geological landforms.
The northernmost slice is the Valley and Ridge, comprising major portions of Sussex and Warren counties. The southernmost slice is the Coastal Plain, a huge expanse that covers some three-fifths of the state, including all of the Shore counties. Dividing the rest of the state are the Highlands, an area for the most part of solid but brittle rock right below the Valley and Ridge, and the lower lands of the Piedmont, which occupy all of Essex, Hudson, and Union counties, most of Bergen, Hunterdon, and Somerset, and parts of Middlesex, Morris, and Passaic.
For earthquake monitors and scientists, the formation of these last two provinces—the Highlands and the Piedmont—are of special interest. To understand why, consider that prior to the appearance of the Atlantic Ocean, today’s Africa was snuggled cozily up against North America and surrounded by a single enormous ocean. “At that point, you could have had exits off the New Jersey Turnpike for Morocco,” says Alexander Gates, professor of geology and chair of the department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Rutgers-Newark.
Under the pressure of circulating material within the Earth’s super-hot middle layer, or mantle, what was once a single continent—one that is thought to have included today’s other continents as well—began to stretch and eventually break, producing numerous cracks or faults and ultimately separating to form what became the Atlantic Ocean. In our area, the longest and most active of these many cracks was the Ramapo Fault, which, through a process known as normal faulting, caused one side of the earth’s crust to slip lower—the Piedmont—relative to the other side—the Highlands. “All this occurred about 225 million years ago,” says Gates. “Back then, you were talking about thousands of feet between the Highlands and the Piedmont and a very active Ramapo Fault.”
The Earth’s crust, which is 20 to 25 miles thick, is not a single, solid shell, but is broken into seven vast tectonic plates, which drift atop the soft, underlying mantle. Although the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault neatly divides two of New Jersey’s four physiographic provinces, it does not form a so-called plate boundary, as does California’s infamous San Andreas Fault. As many Californians know all too well, this giant fault forms the boundary between two plates—to the west, the Pacific Plate, and to the east, the North American Plate; these rub up against each other, producing huge stresses and a regularly repeating pattern of larger earthquakes.
The Ramapo Fault sits on the North American Plate, which extends past the East Coast to the middle of the Atlantic, where it meets the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, an underwater mountain range in constant flux. The consequences of this intraplate setting are huge: First, as Gates points out, “The predictability of bigger earthquakes on…[such] settings is exceedingly poor, because they don’t occur very often.” Second, the intraplate setting makes it more difficult to link our earthquakes to a major cause or fault, as monitors in California can often do.
This second bit of uncertainty is especially troubling for some people, including some in the media who want a neat story. To get around it, they ignore the differences between plate settings and link all of New Jersey’s earthquakes, either directly or implicitly, to the Ramapo Fault. In effect, such people want the Ramapo Fault “to look like the San Andreas Fault,” says Gates. “They want to be able to point to one big fault that’s causing all of our earthquakes.”
Gates does not think that’s the case, and he has been working with colleagues for a number of years to prove it. “What we have found is that there are smaller faults that generally cut from east to west across the northeast-trending Ramapo Fault,” he explains. “These much smaller faults are all over the place, and they’re actually the ones that are the active faults in the area.”
But what mechanisms are responsible for the formation of these apparently active auxiliary faults? One such mechanism, say scientists, is the westward pressure the Atlantic Ocean exerts on the North American Plate, which for the most part resists any movement. “I think we are in an equilibrium state most of the time,” says Lamont-Doherty’s Kim.
Still, that continuous pressure on the plate we sit on causes stress, and when that stress builds up sufficiently, the earth’s crust has a tendency to break around any weak zones. In our area, the major weak zone is the Ramapo Fault—“an ancient zone of weakness,” as Kim calls it. That zone of weakness exacerbates the formation of auxiliary faults, and thereby the series of minor earthquakes the state has experienced over the years.
All this presupposes, of course, that any intraplate stress in this area will continue to be released gradually, in a series of relatively minor earthquakes or releases of energy. But what if that were not the case? What if the stress continued to build up, and the release of large amounts of energy came all at once? In crude terms, that’s part of the story behind the giant earthquakes that rocked what is now New Madrid, Missouri, between 1811 and 1812. Although estimates of their magnitude have been revised downward in recent years to less than magnitude 8, these earthquakes are generally regarded as among the largest intraplate events to have occurred in the continental United States.
For a number of reasons—including the relatively low odds that the kind of stored energy that unleashed the New Madrid events could ever build up here—earthquakes of plus-6 magnitude are probably not in our future. Still, says Kim, even a magnitude 6 earthquake in certain areas of the state could do considerable damage, especially if its intensity or ground shaking was of sufficient strength. In a state as geologically diverse and densely populated as New Jersey, this is a crucial wild card.
Part of the job of the experts at the New Jersey Geological Survey is to assess the seismic hazards in different parts of the state. To do this, they use a computer-simulation model developed under the direction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, known as HAZUS, for Hazards US. To assess the amount of ground shaking likely to occur in a given county during events ranging in magnitude from 5 to 7 on the Richter Scale, NJGS scientists enter three features of a county’s surface geology into their computer model. Two of these features relate to the tendency of soil in a given area to lose strength, liquefy, or slide downhill when shaken. The third and most crucial feature has to do with the depth and density of the soil itself and the type of bedrock lying below it; this is a key component in determining a region’s susceptibility to ground shaking and, therefore, in estimating the amount of building and structural damage that’s likely to occur in that region. Estimates for the various counties—nine to date have been studied—are sent to the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management, which provided partial funding for the project.
To appreciate why this element of ground geology is so crucial to earthquake modelers, consider the following: An earthquake’s intensity—which is measured on something called the Modified Mercalli Scale—is related to a number of factors. The amount of energy released or the magnitude of an event is clearly a big factor. But two earthquakes of the same magnitude can have very different levels of intensity; in fact, it’s quite possible for a lower magnitude event to generate more ground shaking than a higher magnitude one.
In addition to magnitude, other factors that affect intensity are the distance of the observer or structure from the epicenter, where intensity is the greatest; the depth beneath the surface of the initial rupture, with shallower ruptures producing more ground shaking than deeper ones; and, most significantly, the ground geology or material that the shock wave generated by the earthquake must pass through.
As a rule, softer materials like sand and gravel shake much more intensely than harder materials, because the softer materials are comparatively inefficient energy conductors, so whatever energy is released by the quake tends to be trapped, dispersing much more slowly. (Think of a bowl of Jell-O on a table that’s shaking.)
In contrast, harder materials, like the solid rock found widely in the Highlands, are brittle and break under pressure, but conduct energy well, so that even big shock waves disperse much more rapidly through them, thereby weakening the amount of ground shaking. “If you’ve read any stories about the 1906 earthquake in San Francisco, you know the most intense damage was in those flat, low areas by the Bay, where the soil is soft, and not in the hilly, rocky areas above,” says Karl Muessig, state geologist and NJGS head.
The map that accompanies the online version of the NJGS’s Earthquake Loss Estimation Study divides the state’s surface geology into five seismic soil classes, ranging from Class A, or hard rock, to Class E, or soft soil (state.nj.us/dep/njgs/enviroed/hazus.htm).
Although the weakest soils are scattered throughout the state, including the Highlands, which besides harder rock also contains areas of glacial lakes, clays, and wetlands, they are most evident in the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. “The largest expanses of them are in coastal areas where you have salt marshes or large glacial lakes, as in parts of the Passaic River basin,” says Scott Stanford, a research scientist with NJGS and lead author of the estimate. Some of the very weakest soils, Stanford adds, are in areas of filled marshland, including places along the Hudson waterfront, around Newark Bay and the Meadowlands, and along the Arthur Kill.
Faults in these areas—and in the coastal plain generally—are far below the ground, perhaps several hundred to a thousand feet down, making identification difficult. “There are numerous faults upon which you might get earthquake movement that we can’t see, because they’re covered by younger sediments,” Stanford says.
This combination of hidden faults and weak soils worries scientists, who are all too aware that parts of the coastal plain and Piedmont are among the most densely populated and developed areas in the state. (The HAZUS computer model also has a “built environment” component, which summarizes, among other things, types of buildings in a given area.) For this reason, such areas would be in the most jeopardy in the event of a large earthquake.
“Any vulnerable structure on these weak soils would have a higher failure hazard,” Stanford says. And the scary truth is that many structures in New Jersey’s largest cities, not to mention New York City, would be vulnerable, since they’re older and built before anyone gave much thought to earthquake-related engineering and construction codes.
For example, in the study’s loss estimate for Essex County, which includes Newark, the state’s largest city, a magnitude 6 event would result in damage to 81,600 buildings, including almost 10,000 extensively or completely; 36,000 people either displaced from their homes or forced to seek short-term shelter; almost $9 million in economic losses from property damage and business interruption; and close to 3,300 injuries and 50 fatalities. (The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation has conducted a similar assessment for New York City, at nycem.org.)
All of this suggests the central irony of New Jersey geology: The upland areas that are most prone to earthquakes—the counties in or around the Ramapo Fault, which has spawned a network of splays, or auxiliary faults—are much less densely populated and sit, for the most part, on good bedrock. These areas are not invulnerable, certainly, but, by almost all measures, they would not sustain very severe damage, even in the event of a higher magnitude earthquake. The same can’t be said for other parts of the state, where the earthquake hazard is lower but the vulnerability far greater. Here, the best we can do is to prepare—both in terms of better building codes and a constantly improving emergency response.
Meanwhile, scientists like Rutgers’s Gates struggle to understand the Earth’s quirky seismic timetable: “The big thing with earthquakes is that you can commonly predict where they are going to occur,” Gates says. “When they’re going to come, well, we’re nowhere near being able to figure that out.”
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Planning for the Big One
For the men and women of the state police who manage and support the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management (OEM), the response to some events, like hurricanes, can be marshalled in advance. But an earthquake is what responders call a no-notice event.
In New Jersey, even minor earthquakes—like the one that shook parts of Somerset County in February—attract the notice of local, county, and OEM officials, who continuously monitor events around the state from their Regional Operations and Intelligence Center (The ROIC) in West Trenton, a multimillion dollar command-and-control facility that has been built to withstand 125 mph winds and a 5.5 magnitude earthquake. In the event of a very large earthquake, during which local and county resources are apt to become quickly overwhelmed, command and control authority would almost instantly pass to West Trenton.
Here, officials from the state police, representatives of a galaxy of other state agencies, and a variety of communications and other experts would assemble in the cavernous and ultra-high tech Emergency Operations Center to oversee the state’s response. “A high-level earthquake would definitely cause the governor to declare a state of emergency,” says OEM public information officer Nicholas J. Morici. “And once that takes place, our emergency operations plan would be put in motion.”
Emergency officials have modeled that plan—one that can be adapted to any no-notice event, including a terrorist attack—on response methodologies developed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. At its core is a series of seventeen emergency support functions, ranging from transportation to firefighting, debris removal, search and rescue, public health, and medical services. A high-magnitude event would likely activate all of these functions, says Morici, along with the human and physical resources needed to carry them out—cranes and heavy trucks for debris removal, fire trucks and teams for firefighting, doctors and EMTs for medical services, buses and personnel carriers for transportation, and so on.
This is where an expert like Tom Rafferty comes in. Rafferty is a Geographic Information Systems Specialist attached to the OEM. His job during an emergency is to keep track electronically of which resources are where in the state, so they can be deployed quickly to where they are needed. “We have a massive database called the Resource Directory Database in which we have geolocated municipal, county, and state assets to a very detailed map of New Jersey,” Rafferty says. “That way, if there is an emergency like an earthquake going on in one area, the emergency managers can quickly say to me, for instance, ‘We have major debris and damage on this spot of the map. Show us the location of the nearest heavy hauler. Show us the next closest location,’ and so on.”
A very large quake, Rafferty says, “could overwhelm resources that we have as a state.” In that event, OEM has the authority to reach out to FEMA for additional resources and assistance. It can also call upon the private sector—the Resource Directory has been expanded to include non-government assets—and to a network of volunteers. “No one has ever said, ‘We don’t want to help,’” Rafferty says. New Jersey officials can also request assistance through the Emergency Management Assistance Compact (EMAC), an agreement among the states to help each other in times of extreme crisis.
“You always plan for the worst,” Rafferty says, “and that way when the worst doesn’t happen, you feel you can handle it if and when it does.”
Contributing editor Wayne J. Guglielmo lives in Mahwah, near the Ramapo Fault.

The Antichrist’s New Nationalist Iraq


Iraq’s post-Daesh political landscape
Ibrahim Al-Malashi
The US is no longer the most eligible suitor in Iraq’s power games. The US is becoming isolated, and local leaders are increasingly courting regional players to secure patronage ahead of elections next year.
Two significant visits this summer have shown how Iraqi power brokers are preparing for Iraq’s elections in April 2018.
First, former Iraqi prime minister and current vice-president, Nuri Maliki paid a visit to Moscow, meeting Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Second, the Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al Sadr—who holds no official position in the Iraqi government—visited Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.
The significance of these events is that they indicate the nodes of power that are vying for control in the aftermath of the liberation of Mosul. These power brokers are seeking foreign patronage to bolster their positions domestically, yet are also indicative of regional and international powers vying for influence in Iraq, as ISIS’s (Daesh) power wanes.
As ISIS is defeated, an Iranian-US battle for influence over the Iraqi state will ensue. The visits to Russia and Saudi Arabia respectively, serve as messages to the US and Iran that the influence they gained in Iraq – by combatting the Islamic State – can, and will, be contested by Iraq’s political elite.
Iraq’s domestic politics
Maliki’s meeting with Putin was surprising given that the former is one of Iraq’s three vice presidents, which are primarily ceremonial roles. Maliki stepped down in the summer of 2014 after the ISIS capture of Mosul, partly due to pressure from the US, who sought out a more conciliatory politician, Haidar al-Abbadi, to assume the premiership. Maliki resigned, but has been planning for his political come back since then. If Maliki blames the US for unseating him, his visit with Putin communicates to Washington that he enjoys the support of another power broker in the region.
Moqtada Sadr has also been planning a political comeback since 2008, when his militia, the Mahdi Army was defeated in street battles by the Iraqi military with American support. Sadr’s tactic has been to embrace the street protests that erupted in 2015 over government corruption.
As the de-facto spokesperson of this movement, he used the protests to criticize Iran’s influence in Iraq’s domestic politics. Sadr further challenged Iranian influence in Iraq in 2017 by calling for the demobilization of the Iraqi Shia militias, many of which serve as Iranian proxies.
Because Sadr has been hesitant to embrace Iranian patronage, the Islamic Republic, he believes, will seek to deprive him of asserting his own presence on the Iraqi political landscape. By distancing himself from Iran, Sadr has sought to rebrand himself as an Iraqi nationalist, and both the protests and trip to Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, serve as a message to Tehran that Sadr can carve out his own political agency.
Both Maliki and Sadr are Iraqi Shia power brokers. Yet their divergent actions demonstrate that there is no united Iraqi Shi’a political bloc to speak of. Furthermore, incumbent prime minister Haider al-Abbadi, himself a Shia, has attempted to foster a sense of Iraqi nationalism and unity, since the national victory in Mosul in July. The month of August has foreshadowed how the Iraqi Shia political elites are already jockeying for position as the 2018 elections approach.
Russia’s Middle East Geopolitics
In the early stages of the fight against ISIS, the Iraqi state mulled bringing in greater Russian involvement into the fight in 2015. Under the Obama administration, US pressure sought to prevent Iraq from doing this. Unlike the Obama administration, the Trump administration might be ambivalent about Russia projecting its influence in Iraq, having practically ceded Syria to Moscow’s orbit as well.
Russia’s embrace of Maliki has to be put in context of how Moscow is assessing both American and Iranian power in Iraq after the liberation of Mosul.
Russia has witnessed the American approach to combatting ISIS in Iraq, in addition to Syria. The US prefers standoff warfare – aerial bombardment, with only a limited number of ground troops. In a post-ISIS Iraq, the only leverage the United States has on the ground is its 5,000 strong military advisory mission, and future prospects of American arms sales.
By investing in building up Iraq’s land forces, Iran was able to carve a land corridor for its ground forces up to the Iraqi-Syrian border, through Syria, finally culminating in Lebanon –providing a contiguous conduit for Tehran’s proxy on the Mediterranean, Hezbollah.
Russia, by deploying its military forces to Syria, was instrumental in enabling Iran to create this new geography.
Iran’s ability to invest in creating power on the ground will keep Baghdad firmly within Tehran’s influence. The US could wean Iraq away from Iran with the promises of arms sales, but Maliki’s trip to Russia, where he signed a contract on behalf of Iraq to purchase Russian T-90 tanks, demonstrates, first, that Iraq does have options beyond complete dependence on the US for national security. Second, while al-Abbadi has a good working relationship with the US, Maliki’s trip indicates that if he were elected, he would reorient Iraq towards a Russian-Iranian axis.
This episode demonstrates a continuous trend of how Iraq, and the region in general, has been penetrated by extra-regional powers, such as the US and Russia, and regional powers, Iran and Saudi Arabia. But rather seeing Iraq as a country that is acted upon by foreign powers, the actions of the Iraqi politicians demonstrates a willing embrace of this system, as long as it enhances their domestic power.