The Antichrist Forms His New Government

Sadr, Abadi form ‘core’ parliamentary bloc with Hikma, Watanyah

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraq took a major step closer to forming a new government on Sunday, hours after the Federal Court finally ratified the May 12 election result.

Talks took place on Sunday evening at Baghdad’s Babylon Hotel between Muqtada al-Sadr, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Ammar Hakim, and representatives of al-Watanyah.

“In a national Iraqi decision springing from the interest of our country, and responding to the demands of the people, we agreed today to form the core of an alliance that will seek to form the parliamentary bloc that can form the government,” reads a joint statement issued following the meeting.

The parties said they are open to other partners joining them, insisting the alliance is “cross sectarian and refuses partisanship in all of its forms”.

The new alliance “will seek to seriously and actively contribute to forming a government that works seriously to provide services, rebuilds, return IDPs, fights corruption, and holds the corrupt accountable,” the statement added.

Sadr, whose Sayirun alliance won the most seats in the May 12 election, arrived in Baghdad earlier on Sunday to personally participate in talks.

The announcement comes after Iraq’s federal court officially approved the results of Iraq’s May 12 parliamentary election earlier on Sunday.

Sadr’s grouping is one of two teams vying to create the biggest bloc in the Iraqi parliament.

The rival bloc is led by former Iraqi PM Nouri al-Maliki. It includes Maliki’s State of Law coalition and Hadi Amiri’s Fatih (Conquest) alliance – a coalition of Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias.

Kurdistani parties are in the middle with each side competing for their support.

“It is clear there are two axes competing on forming the biggest bloc, and this is good politically. But the question is what if one of those axes fails? Will it concede to becoming the opposition? Or will it throw that out of the window and demand to join, even if it means a government of partisanship? On our side, we will commit,” Qais al-Khazali, leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and prominent pro-Iran leader, said in a tweet on Sunday.

The newly formed Sunni National Axis Alliance is in Erbil holding talks with Kurdish parties.

2018: The Year of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Sloshing of Earth’s core may spike major earthquakes

By Paul VoosenOct. 30, 2017 , 1:45 PM

The number of major earthquakes, like the magnitude-7 one that devastated Haiti in 2010, seems to be correlated with minute fluctuations in day length.

SEATTLE—The world doesn’t stop spinning. But every so often, it slows down. For decades, scientists have charted tiny fluctuations in the length of Earth’s day: Gain a millisecond here, lose a millisecond there. Last week at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America here, two geophysicists argued that these minute changes could be enough to influence the timing of major earthquakes—and potentially help forecast them.

During the past 100 years, Earth’s slowdowns have correlated surprisingly well with periods with a global increase in magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes, according to Roger Bilham of the University of Colorado (CU) in Boulder and Rebecca Bendick at the University of Montana in Missoula. Usefully, the spike, which adds two to five more quakes than typical, happens well after the slow-down begins. “The Earth offers us a 5-years heads up on future earthquakes, which is remarkable,” says Bilham, who presented the work.

Most seismologists agree that earthquake prediction is a minefield. And so far, Bilham and Bendick have only fuzzy, hard-to-test ideas about what might cause the pattern they found. But the finding is too provocative to ignore, other researchers say. “The correlation they’ve found is remarkable, and deserves investigation,” says Peter Molnar, a geologist also at CU.

The research started as a search for synchrony in earthquake timing. Individual oscillators, be they fireflies, heart muscles, or metronomes, can end up vibrating in synchrony as a result of some kind of cross-talk—or some common influence. To Bendick, it didn’t seem a far jump to consider the faults that cause earthquakes, with their cyclical buildup of strain and violent discharge, as “really noisy, really crummy oscillators,” she says. She and Bilham dove into the data, using the only complete earthquake catalog for the past 100 years: magnitude-7 and larger earthquakes.

In work published in August in Geophysical Research Letters they reported two patterns: First, major quakes appeared to cluster in time

—although not in space. And second, the number of large earthquakes seemed to peak at 32-year intervals. The earthquakes could be somehow talking to each other, or an external force could be nudging the earth into rupture.

Exploring such global forces, the researchers eventually discovered the match with the length of day. Although weather patterns such as El Nino can drive day length to vary back and forth by a millisecond over a year or more, a periodic, decades-long fluctuation of several milliseconds—in particular, its point of peak slow down about every three decades or so—lined up with the quake trend perfectly. “Of course that seems sort of crazy,” Bendick says. But maybe it isn’t. When day length changes over decades, Earth’s magnetic field also develops a temporary ripple. Researchers think slight changes in the flow of the molten iron of the outer core may be responsible for both effects. Just what happens is uncertain—perhaps a bit of the molten outer core sticks to the mantle above. That might change the flow of the liquid metal, altering the magnetic field, and transfer enough momentum between the mantle and the core to affect day length.

Seismologists aren’t used to thinking about the planet’s core, buried 2900 kilometers beneath the crust where quakes happen. But they should, Bilham said during his talk here. The core is “quite close to us. It’s closer than New York from here,” he said.

At the equator, Earth spins 460 meters per second. Given this high velocity, it’s not absurd to think that a slight mismatch in speed between the solid crust and mantle and the liquid core could translate into a force somehow nudging quakes into synchrony, Molnar says. Of course, he adds, “It might be nonsense.” But the evidence for some kind of link is compelling, says geophysicist Michael Manga of the University of California, Berkeley. “I’ve worked on earthquakes triggered by seasonal variation, melting snow. His correlation is much better than what I’m used to seeing.”

One way or another, says James Dolan, a geologist at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, “we’re going to know in 5 years.” That’s because Earth’s rotation began a periodic slow-down 4-plus years ago. Beginning next year, Earth should expect five more major earthquakes a year than average—between 17 to 20 quakes, compared with the anomalously low four so far this year. If the pattern holds, it will put a new spin on earthquake forecasting.


One Last Time: The Antichrist Wins

Iraq SC ratifies results of parliamentary election won by Muqtada al-Sadr

Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, its spokesman said on Sunday, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government.

Reuters | Iraq | 19 Aug 2018, 10:41 AM

Iraq’s Supreme Court has ratified the results of the May 12 parliamentary election, its spokesman said on Sunday, setting in motion a 90-day constitutional deadline for the winning parties to form a government.

“The court has issued a decision to ratify the results of the parliamentary election,” the spokesman said in a statement.

A nationwide recount of votes showed on Aug. 10 that populist Shi’ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr retained his lead, positioning him to play a central role in forming the country’s next government.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

The Collision of the Middle East Horns (Daniel)

The Saudi-Israeli Alliance Against Iran, Two Major Middle East Projects Are About to Collide

Israel has ineluctably allied itself with Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam. So too, the US has taken Israel’s and Saudi’s partisan position against Iran. Both have their shoulders behind the Saudi king’s back – pushing him into leading a hybrid war against his powerful neighbor.

September 18th, 2018

Out from the ashes of the two mega projects of this expiring decade – i.e. the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) attempted Mideast take-over, and, contrarily, the Gulf project to rupture the MB – and to reconstitute hereditary, tribal absolutism (the ‘Arab System’) – two different oppositional ventures are arising. They are gaining greater mass and inevitably will vie with each other – sooner or later. In fact, they already are. The question is how far will the vying go?

One is the tying together of the northern tier of the Region through the diffusion of a common political ethos (based in resistance to the US insistence the region to accede to a revived American hegemony), and by the more mundane imperative to find the means to by-pass, and overstep, America’s financial war machine.

This latter movement had a major victory in recent days. Elijah Magnier, the veteran Middle East journalist, sums it up succinctly:

The US favourite candidate for the [Iraqi] prime ministership, Haidar Abadi, lost his last chance to renew his mandate for a second term when riots caused arson around the southern city of Basra and burned down the walls of the Iranian consulate in the city. While the inhabitants demonstrated for their justified demands (fresh water, electricity, job opportunities and infrastructure), sponsored groups with different agendas mixed with the crowds and managed to burn down offices, ambulances, a government building and school associated with al-Hashd al-Shaabi and other anti-US political groups. This mob behaviour forced Sayyed Moqtada al-Sadr, leader of 54 MPs, to drop his political partner Abadi and to put an end to [the latter’s] political carrier. Moqtada sought to distance himself from the events in Basra in order to let the blame fall on Abadi alone. He has joined the side of the winning horse, that of Iran …

This combination of events led Moqtada to… take his 54 MPs to join the largest coalition. Overt sponsorship by the US, and the Basra events, have brought Abadi’s political carrier in Iraq to an end … The largest coalition is now expected to include many more than 165 MPs, and thus become eligible to choose the Speaker and his two deputies, the president and the new prime minister … The emergent large coalition will no longer need the support of the Kurds (42 MPs).”

The leader of this broad coalition of Shi’a and Sunni parties is likely to be Faleh al-Fayyadi, the head of Hashd al-Shaabi (the PMU). In political terms, therefore, Iraq now is prone for inclusion in the Russian-Iranian-Syrian led, northern partnership (though divisions within the Iraqi Shi’a camp remain a source of potential conflict). And if, as is likely, Iraq is embargoed by the US for failing to abide by US sanctions on Iran, then Iraq will be pushed – by the exigency of circumstance – into the evolving economic sphere that was the subject of major discussion at last Friday’s Tehran summit. That is to say, into an evolving series of economic frameworks for de-dollarizing and US sanctions busting.

The import of this miscalculation (instigating the violent protests) in Basra (a Saudi hand is widely suspected) has wider implications for the US. Firstly, it is likely to lead to American forces being told to quit Iraq. Secondly, it will complicate the ability of the Pentagon to sustain its military presence in Syria. The logistics for American deployments in north-east Syria, which traverse through Iraq, may no longer be available – and the US forces there, in Syria, inevitably will become isolated, and hence, more vulnerable.

Protesters storm and burn the Iranian consulate building in Basra, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Nabil al-Jurani | AP

But a turnaround in Iraq also puts a spike into the balloon of President Trump’s aspiration to reassert US energy dominance over the Mideast. Iran – it was hoped – would ultimately capitulate and fall to economic and political pressures, and as the Iranian domino capsized, it would take with it, crashing down into political acquiescence, the Iraqi domino.

This scenario would leave the US with the main sources of ‘low production cost’ Middle East energy in its hands (i.e. Gulf, Iran and Iraqi oil and gas). On the face of this week’s events however, it looks more likely that these resources – or at least, the greater energy resources of Iran and Iraq – will end up in the Russian sphere (together with Syria’s unexplored Levant Basin prospects). And this Russian ‘heartland’, energy-producing sphere, may, in the end, prove to be a more than substantive rival to US (newly emerged as ‘the world’s top oil producer’) aspirations for restoring its Mideast energy dominance.

The other oppositional ‘dynamic’ gaining critical mass is the Kushner-Friedman-Grrenblatt objective to terminate the Palestinian people’s insistence that theirs, precisely, is a ‘political project’. The aim (from the details leaked so far), is to evacuate their claim’s political potency – through progressive salami-slicing away of the main planks that that constitute the claim to theirs being a political project, in the first place.

Firstly, by ending the two-state paradigm, to be replaced by a One State, Jewish ‘nation-state’ of differentiated rights and differentiated political empowerment. Secondly, by taking Jerusalem ‘off the table’ as capital of a Palestinian state; and thirdly, by attempting to dissolve Palestinian refugee status, by re-directing the onus of settlement onto existing host governments. In this way, Palestinians are to be pushed out from the political sphere, in return for the promise that they may become more prosperous – and therefore ‘happier’ – through following the Kushner recipe.

And, seemingly, drawing on their real-estate background for dealing with awkward tenant ‘stand-outs’ to any major real-estate development, the Kushner-Friedman ‘squeeze’ is on: de-funding of UNWRA, closing the PLO office in the US; cutting aid to East Jerusalem hospitals – and demonising Palestinian leaders as corrupt and inattentive to claimed Palestinian desires (for a materially more prosperous life).

Recently, the Kushner team have been floating an old idea (outlined in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahoronot by Sima Kadmon, 7 Sept 2018) which Abu Mazen did not directly dismiss when approached). It originated with the Israeli General, Giora Eiland, in January 2010, in a paper that he wrote for the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. In it, Eiland wrote:

The solution is to establish a federative Jordanian kingdom that has three ‘states’: the East Bank, the West Bank and Gaza. Those states, in the American sense [of the word], will be like Pennsylvania or New Jersey. They will have full independence on internal affairs, and they will have a budget, government institutions, unique laws, a police force and all other outward symbols of independence. But, similar to Pennsylvania and New Jersey, they will have no responsibility for two issues: foreign policy and military troops. Those two areas, just like in the United States, will remain under the purview of the ‘federal’ government in Amman.”

Eiland opined that there were clear advantages to Israel in such a solution, instead of the two-state solution. “First of all, there’s a change in the ‘story.’ We’re no longer talking about the Palestinian people living under occupation, but a territorial conflict between two countries, Israel and Jordan. Secondly, Jordan can be more compromising on some of the issues, such as the territorial issue.” Adding that “In the Middle East, the only way to ensure the survival of the regime is by means of effective security control … therefore, the way to prevent unrest in Jordan that will be fed by a future Hamas regime in the West Bank is Jordanian military control over that territory [plus a demilitarised West Bank on which Israel would insist]”.

Jared Kushner watches a ceremony where Donald Trump was presented with The Collar of Abdulaziz Al Saud Medal, May 20, 2017, in Riyadh. Evan Vucci | AP

Putting this all together, the Palestinians in Gaza (according to reports) will be settled in Gaza/Sinai (and ‘policed’ by Egyptian Intelligence), whilst what Palestinian enclaves remained in West Bank would be policed by Jordanian officers, under overall Israeli security control. And a complaint ‘Federal’ government in Jordan would be held responsible, by Israel, for the whole.

Of course, this may be no more than a kite flying exercise by Kushner et al. We do not know what will be in Trump’s Deal of the Century (it has repeatedly been delayed), but what seems clear is the intent to extinguish the notion of any Palestinian political potency per se, and to render the Palestinian people docile, through severing them from their leaders and offering them material gain. The Palestinians presently are weak. And no doubt, the US and Israel working in common cause, may succeed in eviscerating all opposition to the ‘Deal’. Jerusalem will be ‘given’ to Israel. The Palestinians will be politically de-fenestrated. But at what cost? What will ‘be’ then, for the Gulf kings?

The Oxford scholar, Faisal Devji, in a NY Times opinion piece has observed Saudi Arabia’s conundrum:

After World War I, the American Navy replaced the British, and oil turned the kingdom into a crucial resource for Western capitalism. But its religious and economic centrality was contradicted by Saudi Arabia’s continuing political marginality, with Britain, the United States and even the Pakistani Army responsible for its internal stability and defense from external threats.

Today, Saudi Arabia is ostensibly countering Iran, but its claims to dominance are also only made possible by the decline of Egypt and the decimation of Iraq and Syria. Turkey remains its only and as yet ambiguous rival, apart from Iran.

… Prince Mohammed’s kingdom is looking more like a “secular”, than a “theocratic”, state in which sovereignty has finally been wrested from clan and cleric to be claimed directly by the monarchy. But Saudi Arabia can assume greater geopolitical power only by putting its religious status at risk… [Emphasis added].

The project to make Saudi Arabia a politically, rather than religiously defined state, is likely to demolish the century-old vision of a [Sunni] Islamic geography, which has always been premised upon Arabia constituting its depoliticized center … Mecca and Medina will still receive their pilgrims, but [Sunni] Islam may finally … find itself at home in Asia, where by far the largest number of its followers live, and toward which global wealth and power are increasingly shifting.

But this is directly not the case for Shi’i Islam, which has been succeeding in combining political power with a revived religious status – as witnessed in the extraordinary flourishing of the Shi’a centre of pilgrimage at Kerbala – and Iran’s success in countering Wahhabi jihadists in both Syria and Iraq. (For Saudi Arabia, by contrast, the conflict in Yemen has undermined both its political and religious credentials.)

Popular Mobilization Units, (Hashd al-Shaabi) descend on western Mosul in northern Iraq to help route ISIS from the city. Photo | Reuters

And yet … and yet, despite the contrasting trajectories, this is where a collision may occur: Israel has ineluctably allied itself with Saudi Arabia and Sunni Islam. So too, the US has taken Israel’s and Saudi’s partisan position against Iran. Both have their shoulders behind the Saudi king’s back – pushing him into leading a hybrid war against his powerful neighbor.

Alon Ben David, an Israeli military correspondent, writing in the Hebrew language daily Ma’ariv (7 Sept 2018) exemplifies the Promethean Israeli narrative celebrating its successes (thanks mainly to Trump’s unqualified support): “The IDF, which was several years late in spotting the potential threat from Iranian expansion, realized that it had to take action … this week the IDF revealed that more than 200 air strikes have been carried out in Syria since early 2017. But if you look at the sum of the IDF’s activities, mostly covert, in the context of this war—in the past two years, the IDF has carried out hundreds of different types of cross-border operations. The war between the wars became the war of the IDF, and it has been waged day and night … Thus far, Israel has come out stronger in the direct war with Iran …. when we hit Iran, our power of deterrence grows stronger.”

Well … that is a matter of (high risk) opinion.

Top Photo | Protesters storm and burn the Basra Government building during a protest in Basra, Iraq, Friday, Sept. 7, 2018. Nabil al-Jurani | AP

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat, and founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Israel and Babylon the Great Prepare for War with Iran

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton, Jerusalem, Israel, August 19, 2018.חיים צח / לע”מ

Bolton Meets Netanyahu: Iran’s Nuclear Weapons at Top of List of Israeli, U.S. Challenges

Noa Landau19:55

U.S. National Security Adviser Bolton tells ABC News Israel, Russia and U.S. all agree that Iran’s entrenchment in Syria must end

U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton told Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Sunday that of “the great challenges” facing Israel and the U.S., “the Iran nuclear weapons program, the ballistic missile programs are right at the top of the list.”

Upon receiving Bolton at the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem for an official dinner Sunday evening, Netanyahu praised him as a “tremendous friend of Israel” and a “tremendous champion of the American-Israel alliance.” Netanyahu went on to describe U.S. President Donald Trump’s decisions to pull out of the “terrible” Iran deal and move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem as “momentous.”

Netanyahu said the most important topic he will discuss with Bolton will be “how to continue to roll back Iran’s aggression in the region and to make sure that they never have nuclear weapons.” U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer also attended the official dinner.

Bolton landed in Israel for a 48-hour trip on Sunday evening, the first stop on his three-country tour taking place this week. From Israel he will fly to Geneva, where he is scheduled to meet with his Russian counterpart, Nikolai Patrushev. The fact the Bolton is stopping in Jerusalem before meeting Patrushev could signal that the Trump administration wants to hear Israel’s views and positions on Syria before discussing any possible agreement with Russia on the subject.

In an interview with ABC News’ “This Week with George Stephanopoulos” earlier this week, Bolton said that Israel, Russia and the U.S. all want to see an end to Iran’s entrenchment in Syria and to support for Hezbollah in Lebanon. Bolton noted that he would discuss the topic with Netanyahu.

“Certainly the objective of the United States, of Israel, President Putin said it was Russia’s objective is to get Iran – Iranian forces, Iranian militias, Iranian surrogates out of the offensive operations they’re in in both Syria and Iraq and frankly, to end Iran’s support for Hezbollah,” Bolton said.

According to the U.S. official, the poor state of Iran’s economy following U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull Washington out of the nuclear deal has hampered Tehran’s ability to “conduct offensive operations” in the Middle East. Nevertheless, Bolton noted that sending Iranian and Iranian-backed forces back to the Islamic Republic continues to be Washington’s main objectives.

“The interest that we’re pursuing in Syria and in Iraq is the final destruction of the ISIS territorial caliphate, dealing with the ISIS territorial threat and – and getting Iran back into – getting its forces back into its own territory,” Bolton said, answering a question on whether Syrian President Bashar Assad remaining in power would be an “acceptable outcome” for the U.S.

China Enlarges Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7:7)

Chinese warships and jets taking part in a military display in the South China Sea in April.PHOTO: REUTERS

PUBLISHEDAUG 18, 2018, 5:00 AM

China has nuclear plans in South China Sea: US

Chinese bombers also likely training for strikes against US, allied targets in Pacific: Pentagon

WASHINGTON • The Pentagon has sounded a warning over China’s plans to introduce floating nuclear power plants on disputed islands and reefs in the South China Sea.

In a new annual report assessing the nation’s military strength released on Thursday, it said Chinese bombers are also likely training for strikes against US and allied targets in the Pacific.

China’s plans to power these islands may add a nuclear element to the territorial dispute,” the Pentagon said in its 2018 report to Congress titled “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China”.

“China indicated development plans may be under way to power islands and reefs in the typhoon-prone South China Sea with floating nuclear power stations; development reportedly is to begin prior to 2020.”

China Securities Journal – a Chinese state-run financial newspaper – said in 2016 that China could build up to 20 floating nuclear plants to “speed up the commercial development” of the South China Sea, according to a report in the South China Morning Post.

Beijing claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea, which carries around US$3.4 trillion (S$4.7 trillion) worth of global trade each year. Five other countries – including the Philippines and Vietnam – also have claims in the waters.

Beijing claims more than 80 per cent of the South China Sea, which carries around US$3.4 trillion (S$4.7 trillion) worth of global trade each year… China has reclaimed 1,295ha of land in the Spratly island chain and militarised it with ports, runways and other military infrastructure.

US-China military ties have deteriorated of late, with the Trump administration in May revoking an invitation for Beijing to join in Pacific naval exercises due to its activities in disputed parts of the sea.

China has reclaimed 1,295ha of land in the Spratly island chain and militarised it with ports, runways and other military infrastructure. In the case of its air power, the report states that Chinese bombers are developing capabilities to hit targets as far from China as possible.

“Over the last three years, the PLA (People’s Liberation Army) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets,” it stated, noting how China is pushing its operations out into the Pacific.

The PLA may demonstrate the “capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam”, the report said.

In August last year, six Chinese H-6K bombers flew through the Miyako Strait in the south-west of the Japanese islands, and then for the first time turned north to fly east of Okinawa, where 47,000 US troops are based.

China is engaged in a decades-long build-up and modernisation of its once backward armed forces, and military leaders have set a goal of fielding a world-class military by 2050. Chinese President Xi Jinping last year ordered the PLA to step up efforts, saying China needed a military ready to “fight and win” wars.