Antichrist Wants U.S. Forces Out

Trump Wants To Use Iraqi Base To Watch Iran. Now Iraqi Parties Want U.S. Forces Out

Jane Arraf

Khalid Mohammed / AP

U.S. Marines preparing to build a military site in western Anbar, Iraq, in November 2017, as an outpost in the fight against the Islamic State group.

With a single line, President Trump fanned the flames of a push in Iraq to expel U.S. forces, just as he declared he wanted to keep troops in the country.

„We spent a fortune on building this incredible base. We might as well keep it,“ Trump said in a CBS interview on Feb. 3, referring to the Ain al-Asad military base in Iraq’s western desert. „And one of the reasons I want to keep it is because I want to be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem.“

The Pentagon has described the mission for the several thousand U.S. troops stationed at the Iraqi base as helping Iraq fight ISIS.

Trump’s comment has raised Iraqi fears that the U.S. could draw it into conflict with neighboring Iran. It has also left U.S. officials, including the acting defense secretary, scrambling to reassure Iraqi leaders that the United States respects Iraqi sovereignty.

That wasn’t the first time the president has mentioned this alternative motive. When Trump flew into the Ain al-Asad base for a Christmas visit, he told U.S. service members he planned to keep forces in Iraq to protect U.S. interests, monitor „any potential reformation of ISIS and also to watch over Iran.“ It also angered Iraqis who viewed Trump’s failure to drop by Baghdad to meet the country’s leaders as a breach of sovereignty.

But those December comments, overshadowed by the surprise visit itself, failed to elicit the media coverage or the firestorm of criticism that Trump’s later statement has drawn.

While Iraq’s prime minister maintains his country still needs U.S. military support, a number of Iraqi politicians want the U.S. out. Several opposing parties are now increasing efforts to move parliament to a vote on ending the U.S. presence when lawmakers reconvene in March.

„We have submitted a proposal to parliament to cancel the agreement with the U.S.,“ Sabah al-Saedi, head of one of the biggest blocs in parliament, told NPR. „The remarks by President Trump show a lack of realization that such statements will increase mobilization to get American forces out of Iraq.“

The Trump administration has made limiting Iran a centerpiece of its foreign policy. Iraq, which has strong security, economic and political ties with Iran, has made clear that it will maintain those links. Iraq’s 2005 constitution, drafted with the help of the United States, forbids using the country’s territory to harm its neighbors.

„The recent statements by the U.S. president on reasons for the U.S. military presence in Iraq reveal the real reason behind this presence,“ said a statement from Sairoon, the political coalition loyal to Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. „It has nothing to do with providing assistance to the Iraqi security forces but it is intended to use Iraq as a starting point to attack the interests of neighboring countries.“

Trump’s remarks prompted public rebukes even from pro-Western Iraqi leaders.

„Don’t overburden Iraq with your own issues,“ said President Barham Salih, stepping out of his usual diplomatic phrasing. „The U.S. is a major power … but do not pursue your own policy priorities. We live here,“ he said at a forum of an Iraqi think tank, the Rafidain Center for Dialogue, last week.

Salih said the troops were in Iraq on a mission to fight ISIS and any other actions were unacceptable. He made clear that Trump had not discussed with Iraqi leaders using Iraq as a watch post.

Even Iraq’s most revered Shiite religious scholar entered the fray. Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, whose words carry immense weight in the country and who normally avoids political issues, emphasized that Iraq wants good relations with all countries without interference in its internal affairs.

„Iraq rejects being a station for harming any other country,“ his statement said.

Acting U.S. defense chief Patrick Shanahan tried to conduct damage control during a visit to Baghdad this week.

„I made very clear that we recognize their sovereignty, their focus on independence and that we are there at the invitation of the government,“ Shanahan told reporters.

U.S. military and State Department officials have also sought to make clear that despite Trump’s having declared ISIS defeated, the militant group still poses a significant threat.

There are between 5,000 and 6,000 U.S. troops in Iraq as part of an agreement with the Iraqi government to advise, assist and support Iraqi forces in the fight against ISIS.

The issue has put Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi in a difficult position. Unlike previous parliaments, the current one has no majority coalition. Some of the most powerful of the diverse political blocs are Iranian-backed and have military wings.

One of the most vocal critics of the U.S. military presence is Qais al-Khazali, head of a prominent Iran-backed militia called Asaib Ahl al-Haq. Khazali was jailed by U.S. forces for ordering an attack that killed five U.S. military personnel in central Iraqi city of Karbala in 2007. He was released in 2009 in a swap for British prisoners held by his group.

„Trump should know that Iraq is a strong society,“ Khazali told NPR last week in Baghdad. He said that between Iraq’s legislature and security forces, „they can expel those 5,000 [U.S. service members] from our country.“

Khazali and other Iran-backed Iraqi leaders, however, have said they don’t object to U.S. personnel training Iraqi security forces.

„Asaib Ahl al-Haq has 15 members of parliament and his militia has a long track record particularly during the [U.S.] occupation and the civil war of targeting American troops successfully, so it’s not an idle threat,“ said Toby Dodge, a professor at the London School of Economics who advised Gen. David Petraeus and other U.S. military leaders in Iraq in 2007 and 2008.

„I think this shows the almost certainly unintended consequences of what Trump has done,“ Dodge told NPR. „Parliament will almost certainly push through some form of largely symbolic law calling for American troops to go but then the devil will be in the details — are they trainers or troops?“

Even supporters of the U.S. presence want more clarity about what exactly the troops are doing.

„The U.S. helped liberate the country but there is no clear plan with the Iraqi government for what they will do after ISIS,“ said Jaber al-Jaberi, a former member of parliament.

„There are still ISIS sleeper cells in the country. We had expected ISIS to reorganize themselves and prepare to be back in 2020 but they are already reorganizing themselves,“ said Jaberi, who is from Anbar province. „We still need the U.S. to stay because Iraq is not yet stabilized. But we have to organize this between two independent, sovereign countries.“

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Policeman hurt by explosive as thousands riot outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Border policeman lightly hurt by explosive as thousands riot on Gaza border

2 Palestinians injured by IDF fire, demonstrators attempting to sabotage security fence; Palestinian said seriously injured by Israeli fire in West Bank during riot near Nablus

By TOI staff15 Feb 2019, 3:32 pm

Some 11,000 Palestinians gathered near the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel Friday afternoon for weekly riots and protests against Israel, burning tires, throwing stones, explosive devices and trying to breach the fence.

An Israeli border police officer from an undercover unit was lightly wounded by shrapnel in the leg when a pipe bomb exploded next to his team, police said. He was evacuated to the hospital for treatment.

The army said 11,000 people took part in the protests and that some rioting was taking place, with demonstrators attempting to sabotage the border fence. Troops were responding with tear gas and occasional live fire to push protesters away from the barrier, it said.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry said two Palestinians had been injured by live fire.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, the Ynet news site reported that a Palestinian was seriously wounded by Israeli fire during a riot in a village near Nablus.

The riot began after villagers in Urief held a protest prayer session in the eastern part of the village, to challenge the army’s recent move to block a path leading to residents’ agricultural lands. It was not immediately clear why the path had been sealed off.

Last Friday three people died and 17 were wounded during protests at the Gaza border. At the time, the Israeli army said some 8,200 rioters and demonstrators had gathered along the border to throw stones and a number of explosive devices towards troops.

Palestinian protesters run toward the fence along the border with Israel, east of Gaza City, on February 15, 2019. An Israeli military vehicle is pictured on the other side of the fence. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Since last March, the Gaza border has seen large-scale weekly clashes on Fridays, smaller protests along the northern Gaza border on Tuesdays, as well as periodic flareups between the Israeli military and Palestinian terror organizations.

For the past several months, Egypt, UN special coordinator to the Middle East peace process Nikolay Mladenov and Qatar have worked to try to restore calm in Gaza and prevent flareups between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.

Israel has demanded an end to the violent demonstrations along the border in any ceasefire agreement.

In recent weeks, tensions between Israel and terror groups in Gaza rose after a Palestinian sniper opened fire on a group of Israeli soldiers. The bullet hit the helmet of an officer, lightly injuring him.

Earlier this month Israel announced that it had begun the final phase of construction of a 20-foot (some 6 meters) high galvanized steel fence that will completely surround the Strip.

The barrier will extend 65 kilometers (40 miles) miles around the enclave and sit atop the subterranean concrete wall that Israel is constructing around Gaza to block terrorist groups’ attack tunnels.

An Israeli Military Intelligence assessment released Wednesday warned that Hamas, the terror group that controls Gaza, may seek to spark a war with Israel in the near future in an attempt to elicit international sympathy and an influx of international aid money to the Gaza Strip.

The Israel Defense Forces believes Hamas or the Iran-backed Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second largest terror group in Gaza, could attempt to draw Israel into a war by conducting an attack along the border — an anti-tank missile strike, an ambush from an as-yet-undiscovered tunnel or a similar low-level but significant attack.

In light of this view, IDF chief Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, whose tenure began last month, called for the military to update operational plans for fighting in the Gaza Strip.

AFP contributed to this report.

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Rev 6:12)

US Raises Threat of Quake but Lowers Risk for Towers

New York Times

By SAM ROBERTS

JULY 17, 2014

Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

“The eastern U.S. has the potential for larger and more damaging earthquakes than considered in previous maps and assessments,” the agency said, citing the magnitude 5.8 quake that struck Virginia in 2011.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

“Could there be a magnitude 6 in New York?” Mr. Armbruster said. “In Virginia, in a 300 year history, 4.8 was the biggest, and then you have a 5.8. So in New York, I wouldn’t say a 6 is impossible.”

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”

Preparing For World War 3 (Revelation 16)

World War 3 WARNING: Russia, US and France launch nuclear-capable missiles HOURS APART

The US recently abandoned the INF Treaty sparking fears of a Cold-War era arms race (Image: GETTY)

RUSSIA, the United States and France have test-launched nuclear-capable missiles within hours of one another as fears rise of a return to a Cold War-era arms race amid the abandonment of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

By ATHENA CHRYSANTHOU

PUBLISHED: 02:03, Thu, Feb 7, 2019

UPDATED: 14:11, Thu, Feb 7, 2019

US test Minuteman III intercontinental missile in Vandenberg

The United States test launch an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The French military announced Tuesday its air force conducted a rare test Monday of the nuclear-capable medium-range air-to-surface missile (ASMP). The US then followed with firing a nuclear-capable Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile on Tuesday night. Shortly after, Russian armed forces fired a nuclear-capable RS-24 Yars ICBM.

None of the tests were thought to be equipped with nuclear warheads and were likely scheduled ahead of the INF treaty breakdown.

In a press release the French Ministry of Defense said the demonstration of the ASMP was „successful“.

The weapon was fired at a testing centre of the DGA Essays de missiles located near Biscarrosse, southwestern France.

The ministry said the 11-hour mission was “planned for a long time” and demonstrated “the reliability of the airborne weapons system over time”.

The Trump administration has accused Russia has acted unlawfully under the terms of the treaty (Image: GETTY)

The US Air Force described the launching as a “developmental test” of the Minuteman III at approximately 11.01pm on Tuesday.

In a statement sent to the local NBC affiliate KSBY, Global Strike Command said their representatives “assert that missile tests are scheduled months or years in advance, this test comes just four short days after the Trump administration suspended the INF-treaty. A crucial landmark treaty between the US and Russia that eliminated entire categories of nuclear weapons.”

The Russian Defence Ministry said their weapon launched was “equipped with multiple warheads” and the “purpose of the launch was to confirm the tactical, technical and flight characteristics of the advanced missile system.”

Russia, the US and France are believed to have the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world.

It is believed Russia owns the largest number of nuclear weapons in the world with an estimated 6,800 warheads.

The US is thought to possess approximately 6,000 warheads.

Tensions are high following President Donald Trump’s announcement to abandon the INF treaty with Russia.

The INF treaty has been suspended following accusations from the US that Moscow violated the deal with the new Novato 9M729 missile.

The purpose of the treaty was to avoid a potential nuclear war as it prohibited the US and Soviet Union from stationing short and intermediate-range land missiles in Europe.

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Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer said the abandonment of the INF-treaty could bring nuclear war “much closer”.

A member of the German Parliament Manfred Weber tweeted: „The announced suspension of the INF-treaty by the United States is an urgent wakeup call for Europe.

„The consequences of scrapping this agreement could put us back decades. Russia’s noncompliance is a serious threat to security in Europe.”

Members of the Trump administration have said Russia’s noncompliance with the treaty was their reason for abandoning the deal.

When abandoning the INF treaty Trump said Russia had acted unlawfully under its terms.

The President said: “The United States will suspend its obligations under the INF Treaty and begin the process of withdrawal, which will be completed in six months unless Russia comes back into compliance by destroying all of its violating missiles, launchers and associated equipment.“

He added: “We will move forward with developing our own military response options and will work with NATO and our other allies and partners to deny Russia any military advantage from its unlawful conduct.”

Babylon the Great Calls For End To Iran Deal

Pence calls on EU to withdraw from Iran nuclear deal

WARSAW, Feb 14 (Reuters) – U.S. Vice President Mike Pence accused Washington’s European allies on Thursday of trying to break U.S. sanctions against Tehran and called on them to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal.

„Sadly, some of our leading European partners have not been nearly as cooperative. In fact, they have led the effort to create mechanisms to break up our sanctions,“ Pence said during a conference on the Middle East organized by the United States in Warsaw.

Pence said a scheme set up by the EU to facilitate trade with Iran was „an effort to break American sanctions against Iran’s murderous revolutionary regime.“

„It is an ill-advised step that will only strengthen Iran, weaken the EU and create still more distance between Europe and the United States,“ he said.

The Warsaw meeting was attended by more than 60 nations but major European powers such as Germany and France, part to the 2015 nuclear accord, refused to send their top diplomats. (Reporting by Justyna Pawlak, Lesley Wroughton, Agnieszka Barteczko and Alan Charlish)

One Third Dead at the Tribulation (Revelation 8)

Billions Dead: That’s What Could Happen if India and Pakistan Wage a Nuclear War

This is the real nuclear crisis the world is missing. 

Autonomous Defense: The Next Wave Of Military Technology

Armed with what they believe is reasonable intelligence about the locations of Pakistan’s strategic forces, highly accurate missiles and MIRVs to target them, and a missile defense that has a shot at cleaning up any Pakistani missiles that survived the first strike, Indian leaders might be tempted to launch a counterforce first strike.

With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia.

(This first appeared back in 2017.)

That place is what could be called the nuclear triangle of Pakistan, India and China. Although Chinese and Indian forces are currently engaged in a standoff, traditionally the most dangerous flashpoint along the triangle has been the Indo-Pakistani border. The two countries fought three major wars before acquiring nuclear weapons, and one minor one afterwards. And this doesn’t even include the countless other armed skirmishes and other incidents that are a regular occurrence.

At the heart of this conflict, of course, is the territorial dispute over the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the latter part of which Pakistan lays claim to. Also key to the nuclear dimension of the conflict is the fact that India’s conventional capabilities are vastly superior to Pakistan’s. Consequently, Islamabad has adopted a nuclear doctrine of using tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces to offset the latter’s conventional superiority.

If this situation sounds similar, that is because this is the same strategy the U.S.-led NATO forces adopted against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. In the face of a numerically superior Soviet military, the United States, starting with the Eisenhower administration, turned to nuclear weapons to defend Western Europe from a Soviet attack. Although nearly every U.S. president, as well as countless European leaders, were uncomfortable with this escalatory strategy, they were unable to escape the military realities undergirding it until at least the Reagan administration.

At an event at the Stimson Center in Washington this week, Feroz Khan, a former brigadier in the Pakistan Army and author of one of the best books on the country’s nuclear program, said that Pakistani military leaders explicitly based their nuclear doctrine on NATO’s Cold War strategy. But as Vipin Narang, a newly tenured MIT professor who was on the same panel, pointed out, an important difference between NATO and Pakistan’s strategies is that the latter has used its nuclear shield as a cover to support countless terrorist attacks inside India. Among the most audacious were the 2001 attacks on India’s parliament and the 2008 siege of Mumbai, which killed over 150 people. Had such an attack occurred in the United States, Narang said, America would have ended a nation-state.

The reason why India didn’t respond to force, according to Narang, is that—despite its alleged Cold Start doctrine—Indian leaders were unsure exactly where Pakistan’s nuclear threshold stood. That is, even if Indian leaders believed they were launching a limited attack, they couldn’t be sure that Pakistani leaders wouldn’t view it as expansive enough to justify using nuclear weapons. This is no accident: as Khan said, Pakistani leaders intentionally leave their nuclear threshold ambiguous. Nonetheless, there is no guarantee that India’s restraint will continue in the future. Indeed, as Michael Krepon quipped, “Miscalculation is South Asia’s middle name.”

Much of the panel’s discussion was focused on technological changes that might exacerbate this already-combustible situation. Narang took the lead in describing how India was acquiring the capabilities to pursue counterforce strikes (i.e., take out Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal in a preventive or more likely preemptive strike). These included advances in information, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to be able to track and target Islamabad’s strategic forces, as well as a missile-defense system that could take care of any missiles the first strike didn’t destroy. He also noted that India is pursuing a number of missile capabilities highly suited for counterforce missions, such as Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Maneuverable Reentry Vehicles (MARVs) and the highly accurate BrahMos missiles that Dehli developed jointly with Russia. “BrahMos is one hell of a counterforce weapon,” even without nuclear warheads, Narang contended.

As Narang himself admitted, there’s little reason to believe that India is abandoning its no-first-use nuclear doctrine in favor of a first-strike one. Still, keeping in mind Krepon’s point about miscalculation, that doesn’t mean that these technological changes don’t increase the potential for a nuclear war. It is not hard to imagine a scenario where the two sides stumble into a nuclear war that neither side wants. Perhaps the most plausible scenario would start with a Mumbai-style attack that Indian leaders decide they must respond to. In hopes of keeping the conflict limited to conventional weapons, Delhi might authorize limited punitive raids inside Pakistan, perhaps targeting some of the terrorist camps near the border. These attacks might be misinterpreted by Pakistani leaders, or else unintentionally cross Islamabad’s nuclear thresholds. In an attempt to deescalate by escalating, or else to halt what they believe is an Indian invasion, Pakistani leaders could use tactical nuclear weapons against the Indian troops inside Pakistan.

With nuclear weapons introduced, Delhi’s no-first-use doctrine no longer applies. Indian leaders, knowing they’d face incredible domestic pressure to respond, would also have no guarantee that Pakistani leaders didn’t intend to follow the tactical use of nuclear weapons with strategic strikes against Indian cities. Armed with what they believe is reasonable intelligence about the locations of Pakistan’s strategic forces, highly accurate missiles and MIRVs to target them, and a missile defense that has a shot at cleaning up any Pakistani missiles that survived the first strike, Indian leaders might be tempted to launch a counterforce first strike. As former Indian National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon wrote in his memoirs (which Narang first drew people’s attention to at the Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference in March): “India would hardly risk giving Pakistan the chance to carry out a massive nuclear strike after the Indian response to Pakistan using tactical nuclear weapons. In other words, Pakistani tactical nuclear weapon use would effectively free India to undertake a comprehensive first strike against Pakistan.”

One factor Indian leaders would be forced to consider is how the other third of Asian nuclear triangle, China, would react. Although the Stimson Center event focused primarily on India and Pakistan, China has always been the primary focus of India’s nuclear program. Beijing is also a staunch if informal ally of Pakistan, with a growing economic stake in the country. It is this multipolarity that is the hallmark of the second nuclear age.

Zachary Keck is the former managing editor of the National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Image: Reuters.