Antichrist Rejects Iraqi Alliance

Supporters of the Al Sairun Party, which is backed by Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, attend a campaign rally on May 4, 2018, ahead of the parliamentary election in Baghdad. Alaa Al Marjani / Reuters Photo

Moqtada Al Sadr has rejected former Iraqi prime minister Nouri Al Maliki’s call for an all majority government ahead of the country’s parliamentary elections on Saturday.

The populist preacher has defied his clerical rivals and opted to campaign for the polls alongside rival enemies – the communist party, vowing to fight corruption, improve public services and to develop a reform system.

“Some politicians believe that they can have absolute majority policy to continue with their corrupt strategies, Mr Al Sadr said, in an apparent dig at the former premier.

Mr Al Maliki – now a vice president and close ally of Iran – has been severely diminished because of Iraq’s losses to ISIS, but is seeking a return as prime minister.

He was blamed for the widespread of corruption and sectarian policies that eventually contributed to the rise of ISIS.

 

Mr Al Sadr, however, has positioned himself as a political counterweight against Iranian influence in Iraq, and as a champion of reform.

Shiite religious parties have come to play a greater role in the years since the US-led 2003 invasion of Iraq that toppled long-time dictator Saddam Hussein.

Mr Al Sadr’s calls are supported by Mr Al Maliki’s fiercest competitor, Ayyad Allawi.

Mr Allawi, who is also a vice president of Iraq, claims that an all majority government would heighten sectarian tensions in the county.

“Politicians try to camouflage it by saying it’s a political majority, but we all know that its sectarian. We don’t believe in this at all,” he told The National in a recent interview.

Iraqi voters will be choosing from among 7,000 candidates competing for 329 seats in parliament.

U.S. exit from nuclear deal will threaten international peace

Iraqi VP: U.S. exit from nuclear deal would threaten intl. peace

TEHRAN – Iraqi Vice President Nouri al-Maliki has said that a U.S. withdrawal from the 2015 nuclear deal would pose threat against the international peace and security.

In an interview with IRNA published on Sunday, al-Maliki said implementation of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA, is beneficial to the entire world.

“The JCPOA is a victory for the entire humanity, the region and all the peace-seeking people in the world,” noted al-Maliki, who was Iraq’s prime minister from 2006 to 2014.

He also said that it is better for the U.S. to remain in the nuclear deal.

Quitting an agreement which has been approved by the UN Security Council will be a violation of international law, the senior Iraqi politician remarked.

U.S. President Donald Trump is to decide on May 12 whether to stay in the multilateral agreement or not.

Iran, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – the U.S., UK, France, Russia, and China – Germany and the European Union struck the nuclear deal in July 2015. The deal took effect in January 2016.

The UN Security Council turned the JCPOA into international law by endorsing a resolution in July 2015.

NA/PA

Yes, Saudi Arabia is the Tenth Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:8)

image-145The tenth nuclear state? Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program

WHAT’S HAPPENING?

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) recently warned that Riyadh would develop a nuclear bomb if Iran did. With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the deal aimed at limiting Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief — at imminent risk of collapse on May 12, MBS’s statements have sparked fears of a Middle Eastern nuclear arms race.

KEY INSIGHTS

– Congressional and Israeli opposition makes it unlikely that Saudi Arabia will develop a nuclear weapons program in the foreseeable future for fear of undermining its traditional and emerging security partnerships.

– Washington is likely to try to appease Riyadh’s concerns by offering the Saudis deepened security ties and a nuclear cooperation agreement which leaves open the potential for Riyadh’s civilian program to evolve into a military one.

TRUMP’S GREEN LIGHT?

Saudi Arabia’s purported nuclear ambitions have surfaced amidst the backdrop of rising regional tensions with Iran. Riyadh has been alarmed at Tehran’s recent success in expanding its influence in Iraq, Syria and closer to home in Yemen. The Saudis fear that a nuclear-armed Iran will further and indeed dramatically shift the regional balance in favour of its revolutionary rival.

Somewhat counterintuitively, Saudi Arabia’s concerns were not eased by the implementation of the JCPOA in 2015, which put a hold on Iran’s semi-developed nuclear weapons program. Riyadh believes that the deal will not stop Iran from eventually acquiring nuclear weapons, as the key provisions restricting Iran’s program contain ‘sunset clauses’ which eventually expire. The nuclear deal also does not comprehensively address lran’s ability to develop and test ballistic missiles, the essential delivery system for nuclear weapons.

In any case, Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons may come sooner rather than later. For similar reasons to Riyadh, President Donald Trump is vehemently opposed to the JCPOA. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also pushed Trump by quite publicly and sensationally railing against the deal. The recent appointments of the hawkish Mike Pompeo and John Bolton as Secretary of State and National Security Advisor respectively have only heightened fears that Trump will refuse to extend the sanctions waiver on Iran when the May 12 deadline arrives. If this occurs, there is a serious risk that the deal will collapse entirely. In such a scenario, Iran could plausibly respond by restarting their nuclear program — Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif warned as much, saying Iran is ready to resume nuclear enrichment at a much greater speed if the US walks away from the nuclear deal.

These fears pertaining to Iran are one of the reasons why Riyadh has publicly considered developing a nuclear program of its own — though domestic energy production is a notable justification too. Riyadh plans to build sixteen reactors at a cost of $80 billion over the next two decades, though lacks the technology to achieve this on its own and is considering offers from over ten different countries. As it stands, US firms are in the box seat to reap these highly lucrative contracts.

However, if the Saudis want to use US technology, they will have to sign a ‘123 deal’ pursuant to Section 123 of the U.S. Atomic Energy Act of 1954, which empowers Congress to reject the transfer of nuclear technology abroad. Normally such a deal entails a commitment to maintaining a nuclear program for civilian purposes only by refraining from uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing. Owing to Riyadh’s refusal to explicitly forgo uranium enrichment, a deal was never reached under the Obama administration.

Trump may prove to be less concerned with non-proliferation. In addition to stating during his candidacy that Riyadh should ‘absolutely’ get nuclear weapons, Trump has shown a general willingness to back MBS despite his contentious policies both at home and abroad. Given this and the huge payday that US firms would receive, it is not impossible to envisage that Trump would support a deal which allowed the Saudis to enrich uranium and process plutonium.

DANGEROUS GAMES AND COMPROMISES

Photo: The White House

On balance, Saudi Arabia is unlikely to develop a military nuclear program. Congress has the power to pass a joint-resolution which will stop any unfavourable 123 deal from becoming law. Currently, there appears to be bipartisan opposition to any deal which would allow Riyadh to start on the path to developing nuclear weapons by enriching uranium.

Reasons for this opposition are varied. Regional stability is a concern, as a Saudi nuclear program could catalyse a destabilising arms race between Riyadh and Tehran which, in a worst-case scenario, could spill into open nuclear warfare. Because Saudi’s civil nuclear program is only its infant stages, the prospect of an arms is decades away, though even the development phase would raise regional tensions. Furthermore, freed of the non-proliferation norm, US acceptance of a nuclear-armed Saudi Arabia could prompt other allies to demand nuclear weapons capabilities of their own, threatening to create dangerous escalatory cycles in other high tension regions such as East Asia and Eastern European.

Israel is another factor which plays into Congress’s opposition. Despite warming (if unofficial) ties between the two countries, Tel Aviv is deeply opposed to Riyadh obtaining nuclear weapons or indeed having any kind of nuclear program. The House of Saud increasingly sees Israel as a strategic partner in its regional conflict with Iran, but Israel fears nuclear weapons could foreseeably be used by Islamist elements within the Kingdom who remain deeply opposed to the Zionist state. Accordingly, Israel has furiously lobbied the White House and Congress to refrain from transferring nuclear technology to Riyadh.

While Congress is highly likely to oppose any deal which could see Riyadh develop nuclear weapons, Trump could veto any joint blocking resolution, provided less than two-thirds of Congress is opposed to arming Riyadh. Although such a possibility is not inconceivable and could fit into part of Trump’s broader Iran strategy, allowing the Saudis the chance to develop nuclear weapons would deeply alienate Congress, Israel and the EU.

Even if the Saudis got the go-ahead through a presidential veto, it remains an open question whether they would actually proceed, as developing nuclear weapons could contribute to their own insecurity. An increasingly hostile Congress would be less favourable to approving arms deals with Saudi Arabia — it has already questioned its current deals due to the humanitarian disaster in Yemen, magnified by the Saudi-led intervention. Moreover, the Trump presidency will last no longer than 2024 while nuclear weapons will take decades to build. Worryingly for Riyadh, there is no certainty that the next president would continue to support Riyadh’s program, meaning a rupture in White House–Riyadh relations cannot be ruled out. Finally, developing nuclear weapons would undermine Saudi Arabia’s budding strategic partnership with Israel.

At the same time, knowing that Russia, China or Pakistan could assist a Saudi nuclear program instead — indeed this would be the most logical path for the Saudis to pursue nuclear weapons if a favourable 123 deal is not concluded — Congress will be reluctant to call the Saudis bluff. US industry would also be loath to miss out on such lucrative contracts. These circumstances make a compromise likely. One possible option would be for a 123 deal to temporarily ban the Saudis from enriching uranium, leaving the issue open for negotiations in the future. The US could also redouble its pledges to safeguard Riyadh’s security and combat any resurgent Iranian nuclear program. From Riyadh’s perceptive, these developments would hopefully be enough to deter Iran from restarting its program.

Should the Iran deal collapse, Iranian moves to renew its weapons programs could embolden Trump to force through a lenient 123 deal. However, the opposition of Congress and Israel would likely remain and Riyadh would still face the prospect of dealing with potentially hostile post-Trump administrations. In any case, it is far from certain that the imposition of US sanctions will lead Iran to automatically restart its program. Therefore, irrespective of whether Trump reimposes sanctions, it is unlikely that the Saudis will commence a nuclear weapons program anytime soon.

The Truth About Khamenei: Manipulation and Lies

Following Exposure Of Iran’s Military Nuclear Program: The Leadership Of Iran’s Religious Regime Lies About Essential Islamic Matters, Manipulates Religion To Justify Its Grip On Power, Regional Expansion

MEMRI

Ever since suspicions arose in 2002 that Iran has a military nuclear program – when the Mujahideen Khalq organization exposed that Iran was secretly enriching uranium without the consent or knowledge of the IAEA –the Iranian regime leaders, from both the ideological camp and the pragmatic one, have been vehemently denying these suspicions, declaring that Iran does not have, never had and never will have a military nuclear program. They stressed that this is because nuclear weapons are banned by Islam, emphasizing that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has even issued a religious ruling (fatwa) prohibiting the development, manufacture, possession and use of such weapons.[1]

U.S. president Barack Obama and his foreign secretary John Kerry bought this religious Iranian claim regarding Khamenei’s fatwa, and presented it as an internal Iranian religious infrastructure that justified their diplomatic measure of making the agreement with Iran. Western researchers of Iran and of Shi’ite Islam likewise accepted the lie and legitimized the Obama administration’s diplomatic move.

MEMRI was the only research institute that claimed, in a series of documents, that this fatwa had never been issued and that all the Iranian leaders’ statements to this effect were a lie (see below).

Israel’s exposure of Iran’s military nuclear program reveals that:

1. All the Iranian regime officials who claimed that Islam bans the development, manufacture and use of nuclear weapons lied and continue to lie in this matter.

2. All the statements about a fatwa that bans this are a lie.

3. The Iranian regime officials have never hesitated to lie about matters that pertain to the tenets of the Islamic faith in order to promote Iran’s military program unhindered.

4. In so doing, they degraded the status of Islam in the Islamic Revolution regime, which relies on the religious authority of the jurisprudent: Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei.

5. For the Islamic Revolution regime, the goal of obtaining nuclear weapons supersedes any religious value, and therefore any Western attitude which regards the Iranian regime as motivated by religious values is misguided. The Iranian regime exploits the religion in a manipulative manner to consolidate its grip on Iran and the region, as exemplified by its claim that its presence in Syria is motivated by the need to protect the Shi’ite holy sites there.

The following is a list of MEMRI reports on the issue of the fatwa:

Inquiry & Analysis No. 825, Renewed Iran-West Nuclear Talks – Part II: Tehran Attempts to Deceive U.S. President Obama, Sec’y of State Clinton With Nonexistent Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa By Supreme Leader Khamenei, April 19, 2012.

Special Dispatch No. 5406, Release Of Compilation Of Newest Fatwas By Iran

Supreme Leader Khamenei – Without Alleged Fatwa About Nuclear Bomb, August 13, 2013.

Special Dispatch No. 5461, President Obama Endorses The Lie About Khamenei’s ‘Fatwa’ Against Nuclear Arms, September 29, 2013.

Inquiry & Analysis No.1022, The Official Iranian Version Regarding Khamenei’s Alleged Anti-Nuclear Weapons Fatwa Is A Lie, October 3, 2013.

Special Dispatch No. 5681, Prominent Iranian Analyst, Author, And Columnist Amir Taheri: Nobody Has Actually Seen Khamenei’s Anti-Nuclear Fatwa, Which Obama Often Quotes, March 17, 2014.

Inquiry & Analysis No. 1080, U.S. Secretary Of State Kerry In New And Unprecedented Statement: ‘President Obama And I Are Both Extremely Welcoming And Grateful For The Fact That [Iranian] Supreme Leader [Khamenei] Has Issued A [Nonexistent] Fatwa’ Banning Nuclear Weapons, April 19, 2014

Inquiry & Analysis No.1151, Iranian Regime Continues Its Lies And Fabrications About Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Nonexistent Fatwa Banning Nuclear Weapons, April 6, 2015.

* Y. Carmon is the President and Founder of MEMRI; A. Savyon is Director of MEMRI’s Iran media project.

[1] This claim is fundamentally groundless, since the Islamic Pakistan developed nuclear weapons, and it was the Pakistani nuclear scientist ‘Abdul Qadeer Khan who provided Iran with the initial knowhow in this field.