Babylon the Great Maintains Hegemony in Iraq

Trump: US forces staying in Iraq to watch Iran

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump pose for a photo with US military personnel at al-Asad air base in Iraq on December 26, 2018. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – United States President Donald Trump says he wants American forces to stay in Iraq in order to keep an eye on Iran. 

The US has some 5,200 troops in Iraq and they will stay there “because I want to be able to watch Iran,” Trump told CBS programme Face the Nation that aired on Sunday.

“All I want to do is be able to watch,” he said, pointing out that the US has an “unbelievable and expensive military base” in the country that is in the best location for keeping watch on events in the Middle East. 

“We’re going to keep watching and we’re going to keep seeing and if there’s trouble, if somebody is looking to do nuclear weapons or other things, we’re going to know it before they do,” he asserted. 

Iraq’s deputy parliament speaker quickly responded to Trump’s comments, saying the American president had committed a “blatant and overt violation of sovereignty and national will” by declaring the US would use Iraqi soil to spy on neighbours. 

Iraq’s constitution stipulates that its territory will not be used to commit transgressions against any other nation, deputy parliament speaker Hassan Karim al-Kaabi pointed out, adding that the parliament will work on legislation to kick US troops out. 

In the next parliamentary session, lawmakers will pass a law terminating “the security agreement with America, in addition to ending the presence of American military trainers and advisors and foreigners on Iraqi soil,” Kaabi declared in a statement published by the parliament. 

The legislature wrapped up its last session in late January. It is expected to reconvene in March, after a break.

Trump’s administration has labelled Iran the greatest state sponsor of terror and the primary destabilizing influence in the Middle East. He pulled out of the nuclear deal last May, undoing years of diplomacy by his predecessor, and has reimposed sanctions on the Islamic Republic. 

One concern of Washington is that Iran is looking to build a crescent of influence spanning Iraq and Syria, reaching the Mediterranean. 

In Iraq, Iran is backing mainly Shiite militias of the Hashd al-Shaabi who fought in the war against ISIS and have gained ground politically, entering the parliament where they hope to build pressure to force the Americans to leave the country. 

Trump’s intelligence chief has described the Hashd as the “primary threat” to the US in Iraq. 

The president, however, has a rocky relationship with intelligence experts who have said Iran is abiding with the nuclear deal. He told CBS that he doesn’t have to agree with the assessments of the intelligence community, pointing to mistaken reports of Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction. 

“So when my intelligence people tell me how wonderful Iran is – if you don’t mind, I’m going to just go by my own counsel,” he said. 

US troops who stay in Iraq will also keep an eye on Syria, the president added. 

He declined to put a timeline on withdrawing from Syria, vaguely saying “at a certain point, we want to bring our people back home,” first going to bases in Iraq and then to the US. 

Trump is under pressure from his allies and critics to walk back his decision to pull out of Syria because of the threat it leaves Kurdish allies exposed to and because of the need to ensure ISIS is fully defeated before easing up the military pressure. 

He appeared unconcerned about the risks from sleeper cells, pockets of militants, and a resurgence of ISIS. 

“You’re always going to have pockets of something,” he told CBS, arguing that you don’t keep an army in the country on the basis of a few people. 

And if the threat becomes a full-blown resurgence again, the US can always come back, he argued. “We’ll come back if we have to. We have very fast airplanes, we have very good cargo planes. We can come back very quickly.”

He also said the US isn’t really leaving because they will maintain the base in Iraq – “a fantastic edifice.”

Trump visited the al-Asad air base in Anbar province, which was under threat of a rocket attack on Saturday, when he dropped in for a few hours over Christmas. His visit sparked outrage in Iraq when he failed to meet with any Iraqi officials. 

Iraqi Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi said at the time that the American president’s visit had broken conditions set by Baghdad. He also slammed the notion that the US has a base in Iraq, reminding the world that the military bases in Iraq are Iraqi and foreigners are there as guests only. 

“There is no US base in Iraq,” he said. “There are only Iraqi bases where some US and non-US soldiers are present.”

Updated at 7:42 pm

A handout photo from Iran’s supreme leader on January 30, 2019 shows Ayatollah Ali Khamenei praying at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Tehran.

By Amir Vahdat

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader said Wednesday that any negotiations with the US would “bring nothing but material and spiritual harm” in remarks before an American-led meeting on the Mideast in Warsaw.

The comments from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were part of a seven-page statement read word-for-word on Iranian state television and heavily promoted in the run-up to its release. They also come two days after Iran marked the 40th anniversary of its 1979 Islamic Revolution amid heightened tensions between Tehran and Washington.

“About the United States, the resolution of any issues is not imaginable and negotiations with it will bring nothing but material and spiritual harm,” Khamenei said.

The supreme leader went on to describe any negotiations as an “unforgiveable mistake.” He also said negotiations would be like “going on your knees before the enemy and kissing the claws of the wolf.”

That tone is a long way from 2015, when Khamenei approved of talks between Iran and the United States that resulted in the nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers. The deal saw Iran limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

However, that deal came under the administration of former President Barack Obama.

Khamenei said the US must deal with Iran’s influence in the Middle East and “preventing the transference of sophisticated Iranian weapons to resistance forces,” a reference to Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah and other anti-Israel armed groups.

The statement by Khamenei, who has final say on all state matters, suggests more restriction by the current administration on engagement with the West.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, during a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, echoed Khamenei’s remarks, saying: “If the Iranian nation surrenders to the United States, it should surrender until the end.”

He said, however, that “Iran is about negotiation, but we are not ready to accept imposition, bullying, pressure and the trampling of our national rights.”

President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise of tearing up the nuclear accord, withdrew the US from the deal last May. Since then, the United Nations says Iran has kept up its side of the bargain, though officials in Tehran have increasingly threatened to resume higher enrichment.

Amid the new tensions, Iran’s already-weakened economy has been further challenged. There have been sporadic protests in the country as well, incidents applauded by Trump amid Washington’s maximalist approach to Tehran.

However, some have suggested Iranian leaders meet with Trump in a summit, much like North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Amir Mousavi, a former Iranian diplomat, has claimed that Trump sent a message to President Hassan Rouhani last week requesting direct talks. Mousavi, speaking with Lebanese television station al-Mayadeen, said Trump is ready to visit Tehran and had sent several messages through intermediaries in Oman.

There has been no acknowledgment of such a request from Washington.

The Warsaw summit, which started Wednesday, was initially pegged to focus entirely on Iran. However, the US subsequently made it about the broader Middle East, to boost participation.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif predicted the Warsaw summit would not be productive for the US “I believe it’s dead on arrival or dead before arrival,” he said.

Updated at 5:13 pm

Iran’s Khamenei is Correct: US Seeks War

Iran’s Khamenei Says US Seeks War, Sedition ‘Everywhere’

Algemeiner

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delivers a speech in Tehran, Feb. 18, 2019. Photo: Khamenei.ir / Handout via Reuters.

Iranian Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called the United States an untrustworthy and warmongering country on Wednesday, and urged neighboring Armenia to expand ties with Tehran despite American pressures.

Iran is struggling with the sanctions imposed by Washington after US President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six major powers last year, calling it deeply flawed.

Washington has told international firms that they will be barred from the US financial system if they breach its sanctions on Iranian energy and banking sectors. The warning has made many countries wary of doing business with Iran.

“Americans are totally untrustworthy and they want sedition, corruption, disagreement and war everywhere. They are against Iran-Armenia relations,” Khamenei’s official website quoted him as saying during a meeting with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Tehran.

“We are committed to good relations with our neighbors, but US officials like (national security adviser) John Bolton have no understanding of human issues and relations,” Khamenei charged. Bolton takes a particularly hawkish view of Iran in the Trump administration.

President Hassan Rouhani said earlier that Iran was ready to export more gas to Armenia.

Iran has accused the United States of starting an “economic war” against it, saying the sanctions are preventing Iranians’ access to vital resources. The US Treasury says imports of medicines and food are exempted from sanctions.

The Tribulation of the First Nuclear War (Zechariah 13:9)

Nuclear Winter From an India-Pakistan War Could Kill 2 Billion

People stage a demonstration to press, for the release of the IAF pilot in Pakistan’s custody, in Kolkata on Feb 28, 2019

(IANS)

As nuclear-armed India and Pakistan engage in military clashes over the disputed Kashmir region, consider that a “limited” nuclear war between them is capable of causing a catastrophic global nuclear winter that could kill two billion people. The inevitable wars and diseases that would break out could kill hundreds of millions more.

A 2008 paper by Brian Toon of the University of Colorado, Alan Robock of Rutgers University, and Rich Turco of UCLA, “Environmental Consequences of Nuclear War“, concluded that a war between India and Pakistan using fifty Hiroshima-sized weapons with 15-kiloton yield on each country, exploded on cities, would immediately kill or injure about forty-five million people. However, the final toll would be global and astronomically higher, according to recent research.

The most recent study of the environmental aftermath of a nuclear conflict, Mills et al. 2014, Multidecadal global cooling and unprecedented ozone loss following a regional nuclear conflict, used an Earth system climate model including atmospheric chemistry, ocean dynamics, and interactive sea ice and land components, to investigate a limited nuclear war where each side detonates fifty 15-kiloton weapons over urban areas—less than half of the existing arsenals of the approximately 140 warheads each that India and Pakistan have. These urban explosions were assumed to start 100 firestorms. Firestorms are self-feeding fires that suck air into themselves and generate immense columns of rising smoke which lofts into the stratosphere, where it spreads globally. The model predicted the smoke would block enough sunlight for the Earth to experience the coldest temperatures since the last ice age, thousands of years ago.

Since it does not rain in the stratosphere, the smoke would stay aloft for years, and surface temperatures would stay depressed for more than twenty-five years, due to thermal inertia from the cooled ocean waters and to extra reflection of sunlight back to space by expanded sea ice. The effects would be similar to what happened after the greatest volcanic eruption in historic times, the 1815 Tambora eruption in Indonesia. This cooling from this eruption triggered the infamous Year Without a Summer in 1816 in the Northern Hemisphere, when killing frosts disrupted agriculture every month of the summer in New England, creating terrible hardship. Exceptionally cold and wet weather in Europe triggered widespread harvest failures, resulting in famine and economic collapse. However, the cooling effect of that eruption only lasted about a year. Cooling from a limited nuclear exchange would cause 5 – 10 consecutive “Years Without a Summer”, and more than a decade of significantly reduced crop yields. Killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by ten to forty days per year for five years at mid-latitudes. Global precipitation would fall 6% during the first five years, and be reduced by 4.5% ten years later, resulting in a crippling increase in regional droughts. Over the Asian monsoon region, including the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia, annual rainfall would fall by 20% – 80%, so that even the “winner” of the nuclear war between India and Pakistan would experience devasting famine due to the failure of the life-giving monsoon rains.

An added global calamity would result from the intense heating of the stratosphere by 30°C (54°F), due to absorption of sunlight by the smoke there. In the hot stratosphere, ozone would be destroyed by chemical reactions, causing global ozone losses of 20 – 50 percent over populated areas. UV light would increase by 30 – 80 percent over midlatitudes, suggesting widespread damage to human health, agriculture, and terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems beyond what the cold temperatures and drought would wreak.

The cold temperatures and increased drought might reduce global grain production by 20 percent for the five years after the war, and 10 – 15 percent for the following five years, said Toon et al., 2017. Helfand (2013) estimated that two billion people who are now only marginally fed might die from starvation and disease in the aftermath of a nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, due to the cold weather and drought. The inevitable wars and diseases that would break out would likely kill hundreds of millions more.

The insanity of global nuclear war

It is sobering to realize that the nuclear weapons used in the study represented less than 0.7% of the world’s total nuclear arsenal of about 14,500 warheads. A larger-scale global nuclear war would have much more severe environmental impacts. In the 1980s and early 1990s, a series of scientific papers published by Soviet and Western scientists (including prominent scientists Dr. Carl Sagan, host of the PBS “Cosmos” TV series, and Nobel Prize winner Paul Crutzen) laid out the dire consequences on global climate of a major nuclear exchange between the U.S. and Soviet Union. The nuclear explosions would send massive clouds of dust high into the stratosphere, blocking so much sunlight that a nuclear winter would result, they said. Global temperatures would plunge 20°C to 40°C for months and remain 2 – 6°C lower for 1 – 3 years. Up to 70% of the Earth’s protective stratospheric ozone layer would be destroyed, allowing huge doses of ultraviolet light to reach the surface. This UV light would kill much of the marine life that forms the basis of the food chain, resulting in the collapse of fisheries and the starvation of the people and animals that depend on it. The UV light would also blind huge numbers of animals, who would then wander sightless and starve. The cold and dust would create widespread crop failures and global famine, killing billions of people who did not die in the nuclear explosions.

The nuclear winter papers were widely credited with helping lead to the nuclear arms reduction treaties of the 1990s, as it was clear that we risked catastrophic global climate change in the event of a full-scale nuclear war. But even a limited nuclear war between India and Pakistan is a catastrophic threat to Earth’s climate. I urge India and Pakistan to seek a peaceful solution to their dispute. Pakistan said on February 28 it will release a captured Indian pilot in a ‘peace gesture’, and that is a hopeful sign. There is nothing more important than preventing nuclear war.

**

This article was originally published in www.wunderground.com

Why New York City Will Be Shut Down At The Sixth Seal

Published time: 10 Feb, 2016 22:12Edited time: 11 Feb, 2016 01:51

New measurements at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in upstate New York show levels of radioactive tritium 80 percent higher than reported last week. Plant operator insists the spill is not dangerous, as state officials call for a safety probe.

Entergy, which operates the facility 25 miles (40 km) north of New York City, says the increased levels of tritium represent “fluctuations that can be expected as the material migrates.”

“Even with the new readings, there is no impact to public health or safety, and although these values remain less than one-tenth of one percent of federal reporting guidelines,” Entergy said in a statement.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo raised an alarm last Saturday over the reports of groundwater contamination at Indian Point, noting that the company reported “alarming levels of radioactivity” at three monitoring wells, with “radioactivity increasing nearly 65,000 percent” at one of them.

The groundwater wells have no contact with any drinking water supplies, and the spill will dissipate before it reaches the Hudson River, a senior Entergy executive argued Tuesday, suggesting the increased state scrutiny was driven by the company’s decision to shut down another nuclear power plant.

“There are a number of stakeholders, including the governor, who do not like the fact that we are having to close Fitzpatrick,” Michael Twomey, Entergy’s vice president of external affairs, said during an appearance on ‘The Capitol Pressroom,’ a show on WCNY public radio.

The James A. Fitzpatrick plant is located on the southern shore of Lake Ontario, near Oswego, New York. Entergy said it intended to close the plant once it runs out of fuel sometime this year, citing its continued operations as unprofitable.

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant on the Hudson river © wikipedia.org

‘65,000% radioactivity spike’: New York Gov. orders probe into water leak at Indian Point

“We’re not satisfied with this event. This was not up to our expectations,” Twomey said, adding that the Indian Point spill should be seen in context.

Though it has never reported a reactor problem, the Indian Point facility has been plagued by issues with transformers, cooling systems, and other electrical components over the years. It currently operates two reactors, both brought on-line in the 1970s.

In December, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission allowed Entergy to continue operating the reactors, pending license renewal. The facility’s initial 40-year license was set to expire on December 12, but the regulators are reportedly leaning towards recommending a 20-year extension.

By contrast, Reactor 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Pripyat, Ukraine was only three years old when it exploded in April 1986. To this day, an area of 1000 square miles around the power plant remains the “exclusion zone,” where human habitation is prohibited.

The tritium leak at Indian Point most likely took place in January, during the preparations to shut down Reactor 2 for refueling, according to Entergy. Water containing high levels of the hydrogen isotope reportedly overfilled the drains and spilled into the ground.

According to Entergy, tritium is a “low hazard radionuclide” because it emits low-energy beta particles, which do not penetrate the skin. “People could be harmed by tritium only through internal exposure caused by drinking water with high levels of tritium over many years,” an Entergy fact sheet says.

Environmentalist critics are not convinced, however.

“This plant isn’t safe anymore,” Paul Gallay, president of environmental watchdog group

Riverkeeper, told the New York Daily News. “Everybody knows it and only Entergy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission refuse to admit it.”

17 More Palestinians Shot Outside the Temple Walls (Rev 11:2)


GAZA CITY: Israeli troops on Friday (Mar 1) shot and wounded 17 Palestinians during a protest on the Gaza-Israel border, where rallies have been held for nearly a year, the enclave’s health ministry said.

A ministry statement reported “17 injuries by the Israeli occupation forces with live ammunition“, without giving details on the condition of those shot.

It said that three paramedics and one journalist were hurt by tear gas grenades.

The Israeli army told AFP that troops used live fire “according to the rules of engagement” with violent demonstrators.

There are close to 8,000 rioters who are throwing stones, who are burning tyres and throwing explosive devices and grenades at troops and at the (border) fence,” a spokeswoman said.

“In response we are using riot dispersal means and also firing, according to the rules of engagement of course,” she said.

The conclusions of a UN probe published on Thursday said Israeli forces responding to protests on the Gaza border had committed “violations of international human rights and humanitarian law”.

“Some of those violations may constitute war crimes or crimes against humanity,” said the report, by a commission of inquiry set up by the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Protests and clashes began along the Gaza border on March 30 last year.

Demonstrators have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel, which Israeli officials say is akin to calling for their country’s destruction.

Israel accuses Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas of using the protests as cover for infiltration and attacks, while rights groups and Palestinians say protesters posing little threat have been shot by Israeli snipers.

At least 251 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since March 2018, the majority shot during weekly border protests and others hit by tank fire or air strikes in response to violence from Gaza.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.

Israeli leaders strongly condemned the findings of the UN inquiry, which investigated possible violations from the start of the protests last March through to Dec 31.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel “rejects outright the report”.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz called it “hostile, deceitful and biased” and insisted that “no institution can negate Israel’s right to self-defence”.

Israel and Hamas, which has controlled the blockaded Gaza Strip for over a decade, have fought three wars since 2008.

Tensions Escalate Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

SRINAGAR, India (AP) — The Latest on the tensions between India and Pakistan (all times local):

10 a.m.

A Pakistani government official says Indian troops with heavy weapons have “indiscriminately targeted border villagers” along the two countries’ Line of Control in the Himalayan region of Kashmir, killing a boy and wounding three others.

The official, Umar Azam, said Saturday that Pakistani troops are “befittingly” responding to the Indian fire.

He says several homes were destroyed in Pakistan’s part of Kashmir, which is split between them and claimed by both in its entirety. India said earlier that Pakistani fire killed two siblings and their mother on its side.

Pakistan and India have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir since their independence from British rule in 1947.

Saturday’s exchange of fire came a day after Pakistan handed over a captured Indian air force pilot to India as a “gesture of peace” to defuse tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbors over the disputed Kashmir region.

___

9:45 a.m.

Officials say two siblings and their mother have been killed in cross-border shelling between Indian and Pakistani soldiers in disputed Kashmir.

Indian police say the three died overnight after a shell fired by Pakistani soldiers hit their home in Poonch region near the so-called Line of Control that divides the Himalayan territory of Kashmir between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

Indian army says its soldiers responded.

Tensions have been running high since Indian aircraft crossed into Pakistan on Tuesday, carrying out what India called a pre-emptive strike against militants blamed for a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in Indian-controlled Kashmir that killed 40 Indian troops.

Pakistan retaliated, shooting down a MiG-21 fighter jet Wednesday and its pilot, who was returned to India on Friday in a peace gesture.

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