Antichrist releases list of demands for incoming Iraqi Prime Minister

Muqtada al-Sadr releases list of demands for incoming Iraqi Prime Minister

Kurt T | 08.02.2018

Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraq’s parliamentary leader and former commander of the Mahdi Army militia, has put forth a list of requirements for Iraq’s next prime minister. Sadr’s Victory Coalition political party won the majority of votes, 54 in total, this past parliamentary election by appealing to the general public and the low-income majority of Shiite citizens. A letter was released by Sadr‘s office declaring his demands of the governing officials as well as appealing to the general public of Iraq.

Sadr started his letter to the public by stating that all of the nation’s people need to “stand seriously and carefully” to assist the nation in rising above its present “hard and critical” political hardships. His public address comes at a sensitive time for Iraq and especially the predominantly Shiite southern cities as mass protests have spread throughout the region over poor infrastructure, services and a high rate of unemployment. Perhaps this is his plan though — because, in conjunction with those things, protesters are also demanding that the government put a stop to corruption at all levels.

Sadr claimed in his letter that the majority of “corrupt” political officials have transitioned out or have been put on trial for their wrongdoing. He added that the “protesting soul” has taken hold of the nation and its people, something that has been made very clear to the government through the many people excising their rights by going out into the streets to protest. Sadr’s campaign, alongside its partner Communist Party of Iraq, centered around putting a stop to corruption in the current government. His letter added that,

“We shouldn’t return to any type of sectarian alliances, and to remain under the national framework, which will make everyone partners in building a homeland. That is why I will boycott any alliance or any government program that isn’t under the national framework.”

Sadr described his list of incoming Prime Minister requirements as the “basics … that could become a declaration for an alliance,” and were as follows:

The new Iraqi Prime Minister must,

• Be independent of influence outside of the parliament

• Not have dual citizenship

• Be acceptable on the national level and known for his patriotic stance

• Have total jurisdiction in his work and no political party interference

• Not run for future elections

• Not work off ethnic, sectarian, national or party lines

• Not pander to external pressures that violate the sovereignty of Iraq

• Maintain a good reputation and be bilingual

• Be just and fair, not use brute force against any side

• Pursue the end of political party interference in the government

Featured image: Supporters of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, carry his image as they celebrate in Tahrir Square, Baghdad, Iraq. The unexpected alliance between Iraq’s mercurial Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and an Iran-backed coalition of powerful Shiite militias, who fought Islamic State group, will boost Tehran interests in Iraq and give it more leverage over the process of forming the next government. | AP Photo/Hadi Mizban, File

Israel Tramples Palestinians Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Israel halts fuel shipments to Gaza citing continued fire balloon launches

Israel will stop shipments of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip from Thursday in response to militants in the enclave launching incendiary balloons that have torched fields in Israel.

A statement from Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office on Wednesday said he had ordered a halt to fuel supplies into the strip via the Kerem Shalom crossing until further notice.

“The decision has been taken in view of the continued terror of incendiary balloons and friction along the (border) fence,” the statement said.

Four months of weekly Friday border protests that began on March 30 have calmed slightly but organizers have vowed they will continue until Israel lifts economic sanctions on the enclave.

At least 155 Palestinians have been killed in the protests and one Israeli soldier was shot dead by a sniper in Gaza.

Israel has lost tracts of farmland and forests to fires set by kites and helium balloons laden with incendiary material and flown over from Gaza. Israel had already responded by preventing the entry of non-essential commercial goods to Gaza.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

Obama Has Already Sold US Out to Iran

A woman walks past a mural painted along Palestine Square in the Iranian capital Tehran on July 24.Atta Kenare / AFP – Getty Images

Trita Parsi Trump’s offer to meet with Iran’s President Rouhani won’t get us a better deal. We had our chance and lost it.

Iran has offered American deals to end their nuclear programs before, but we preferred belligerency to diplomacy

Jul.30.2018 / 7:42 PM E

After withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and threatening Iran with “consequences the likes of which few throughout history have ever suffered before,” President Trump announced on Monday that he wants to meet with President Rouhani without preconditions to craft a new deal.

Trump thinks he can achieve this by sanctioning Iran until the rulers in Tehran beg for mercy. But if history is a guide, there will be no such capitulation by Iran: With the Iranians, one of the most costly things to do, both culturally and politically, would be to show Trump the respect and deference he desires after his aggressive string of insults.

So I am skeptical about Trump’s ability to pivot to diplomacy with Iran, but that is not to say that a better deal cannot be achieved. Indeed, better deals have often been on the table — but the United States rejected them at the time.

In March 2003, the Iranians sent a comprehensive negotiation proposal to the George W. Bush Administration through the Swiss ambassador in Tehran. Unlike the Iran nuclear deal, this proposal was not solely focused on nuclear matters: The Iranians offered to help stabilize Iraq, disarm Hezbollah and collaborate against all terrorist organizations (especially al Qaeda). They even offered to sign on to the 2002 Beirut Declaration, recognizing Israeli statehood in return for Israel’s recognition of a Palestinian state. And, of course, Tehran offered to open their nuclear program for full transparency.

But the Bush administration believed — much like Trump — that it could secure a better outcome by just continuing to pressure Iran and didn’t even dignify Iran with a response. Instead, the State Department reprimanded the Swiss for having delivered the proposal in the first place.

Two years later, the Iranians sent another proposal through the Europeans: Having already expanded their nuclear program, Tehran offered to cap its centrifuges at 3,000. The Europeans didn’t even bother to forward it to Washington, knowing the administration would reject anything that allowed Tehran to keep even a single centrifuge.

The Iranians had roughly 150 nuclear centrifuges at the time of the 2003 proposal; by the time the interim nuclear deal was struck in 2013, Tehran had 22,000.

During a closed White House briefing with a number of organizations that favored a peaceful resolution to the Iran situation in early 2014, a colleague asked one of America’s negotiators where a final deal likely would land in terms of centrifuges. Would it be possible to rollback Tehran’s centrifuges to 3,000 again? “We would jump on the opportunity to get that deal if it was offered today,” the official responded.

A few weeks later, I interviewed the Iranian foreign minister during one of the round of talks in Europe and asked the same question, trying to find out how the centrifuge issue likely would be resolved. To my surprise, Zarif explained that 3,000 had just been Iran’s opening bid in 2005. “We would have settled for 1,000,” he recalled with a smile. Eventually, Obama’s nuclear rolled back their program to 5,000 centrifuges — 2,000 more than their opening bid in 2005.

There are many similar examples; what they all have in common is that the United States usually believes that it is too strong to ever offer Tehran any concessions and doing so would ultimately undermine America’s standing. After all, Iran — unlike North Korea — doesn’t even have nuclear weapons, the thinking seems to go.

Reality is, of course, quite different. Whenever the U.S. has managed to change Iranian policies, it has been as a result of offering valuable incentives and concessions. The diplomacy that led to the Iran deal, for instance, would never even have taken off had it not been for Obama, in secret negotiations, accepting nuclear enrichment on Iranian soil.

There is no guarantee that a “better deal” can be reached by Trump, and many of Trump’s demands are proven non-starters. But if Trump wants to explore realistic changes in Iran’s regional policies, missile defense or tougher restrictions on its nuclear program, he must first be willing to contemplate changes in U.S. policy.

Trump may have no objections to some of these: Tehran seeks respect and a recognition that Iran is a major regional power without whom stability in the region is unachievable. To Trump, granting them this may be unproblematic. His allies in Israel and Saudi Arabia, however, will vehemently oppose any measure that signals American acceptance of Iran’s growing standing.

From left, European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry talk before a group picture in Vienna on July 14, 2015, after Iran and six world powers agreed to a nuclear deal.Carlos Barria / Pool via AFP – Getty Images file

Trump may even be eager to grant Tehran some concession: Trump partly opposed the Obama’s nuclear deal because it only lifted secondary sanctions (sanctions the U.S. imposed on other countries trading with Iran) without touching America’s primary sanctions, keeping American companies from entering the Iranian market. (Few doubt that Trump would love to build Trump Towers in Tehran.)

But other changes in U.S. policy will be trickier. Iran, for instance, will not agree to limit its missile program if Washington continues to sell Saudi Arabia, Israel and the U.A.E. billions of dollars worth of advanced weaponry. In fact, both Riyadh and Abu Dhabi outspend Iran on weaponryby a factor of five and two, respectively, despite having far smaller populations. And while Iran cut back its defense capabilities through the nuclear deal, the Saudis and Emiratis both beefed up their defense spending. Unless Washington is ready to rethink its arms sales to its Arab allies — and Trump clearly wants to sell them more weapons — it should have no expectations that Iran will cut back its missile program.

Another non-starter is the idea that Iran must stop asserting its influence in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon while Washington continues to help Saudi Arabia starve the people of Yemen, turns a blind eye to the Saudi Crown Prince kidnapping the Lebanese Prime Minister and financing the spread of extreme Salafism (the ideology of al Qaeda and ISIS).

And then of course you have Trump’s unquestioning support for the Netanyahu government in Israel and the tensions between Hezbollah and Israel, where neither side is in a position to simply capitulate or walk away.

The bottom line is that a better, bigger deal invariable will entail both American and Iranian concessions. If Trump isn’t willing to recognize this, he should stop pretending that his reckless rhetoric and Twitter threats are aimed at paving the way for diplomacy.

Trita Parsi is the author of “Losing an Enemy — Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy” and the President of the National Iranian American Council.