The Sixth Seal Long Overdue (Revelation 6:12)

ON THE MAP; Exploring the Fault Where the Next Big One May Be Waiting

By MARGO NASH

Published: March 25, 2001

Alexander Gates, a geology professor at Rutgers-Newark, is co-author of ”The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes,” which will be published by Facts on File in July. He has been leading a four-year effort to remap an area known as the Sloatsburg Quadrangle, a 5-by-7-mile tract near Mahwah that crosses into New York State. The Ramapo Fault, which runs through it, was responsible for a big earthquake in 1884, and Dr. Gates warns that a recurrence is overdue. He recently talked about his findings.

Q. What have you found?

A. We’re basically looking at a lot more rock, and we’re looking at the fracturing and jointing in the bedrock and putting it on the maps. Any break in the rock is a fracture. If it has movement, then it’s a fault. There are a lot of faults that are offshoots of the Ramapo. Basically when there are faults, it means you had an earthquake that made it. So there was a lot of earthquake activity to produce these features. We are basically not in a period of earthquake activity along the Ramapo Fault now, but we can see that about six or seven times in history, about 250 million years ago, it had major earthquake activity. And because it’s such a fundamental zone of weakness, anytime anything happens, the Ramapo Fault goes.

Q. Where is the Ramapo Fault?

A. The fault line is in western New Jersey and goes through a good chunk of the state, all the way down to Flemington. It goes right along where they put in the new 287. It continues northeast across the Hudson River right under the Indian Point power plant up into Westchester County. There are a lot of earthquakes rumbling around it every year, but not a big one for a while.

Q. Did you find anything that surprised you?

A. I found a lot of faults, splays that offshoot from the Ramapo that go 5 to 10 miles away from the fault. I have looked at the Ramapo Fault in other places too. I have seen splays 5 to 10 miles up into the Hudson Highlands. And you can see them right along the roadsides on 287. There’s been a lot of damage to those rocks, and obviously it was produced by fault activities. All of these faults have earthquake potential.

Q. Describe the 1884 earthquake.

A. It was in the northern part of the state near the Sloatsburg area. They didn’t have precise ways of describing the location then. There was lots of damage. Chimneys toppled over. But in 1884, it was a farming community, and there were not many people to be injured. Nobody appears to have written an account of the numbers who were injured.

Q. What lessons we can learn from previous earthquakes?

A. In 1960, the city of Agadir in Morocco had a 6.2 earthquake that killed 12,000 people, a third of the population, and injured a third more. I think it was because the city was unprepared.There had been an earthquake in the area 200 years before. But people discounted the possibility of a recurrence. Here in New Jersey, we should not make the same mistake. We should not forget that we had a 5.4 earthquake 117 years ago. The recurrence interval for an earthquake of that magnitude is every 50 years, and we are overdue. The Agadir was a 6.2, and a 5.4 to a 6.2 isn’t that big a jump.

Q. What are the dangers of a quake that size?

A. When you’re in a flat area in a wooden house it’s obviously not as dangerous, although it could cut off a gas line that could explode. There’s a real problem with infrastructure that is crumbling, like the bridges with crumbling cement. There’s a real danger we could wind up with our water supplies and electricity cut off if a sizable earthquake goes off. The best thing is to have regular upkeep and keep up new building codes. The new buildings will be O.K. But there is a sense of complacency.

MARGO NASH

Photo: Alexander Gates, a Rutgers geologist, is mapping a part of the Ramapo Fault, site of previous earthquakes. (John W. Wheeler for The New York Times)

Violence Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Image result for gaza violenceLatest Round Of Violence Flared At The Gaza-Israel Border

May 6, 20195:01 AM ET

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered „massive strikes“ in Gaza as 600 rockets were fired into Israel. NPR’s David Greene talks to Josef Federman of The Associated Press.

DAVID GREENE, HOST:

There is a cease-fire after days of deadly rocket launches and airstrikes between Israeli forces and militants in Gaza. On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered what he called massive strikes against militant groups in Gaza; that was in response to a barrage, at least 600 rockets and mortars fired at Israel since Friday. At least four Israelis and 23 Palestinians have been killed since this violence broke out, and many more have been wounded on both sides of the border.

I’m joined by Josef Federman. He is the Associated Press bureau chief for Israel and the Palestinian territories. Josef, thanks for being here.

JOSEF FEDERMAN: Thank you.

GREENE: So talk us through this latest flare up and how it started.

FEDERMAN: Yeah, this is a recurring pattern. It’s something that we’ve seen several times since a war in 2014; that was the last time we had extended violence. And since then we’ve had these informal cease-fires that are in place. And what we see, over and over, is that usually the Palestinian side accuses Israel of some sort of violation, somebody – a militant group – will fire a small number of rockets toward Israel to protest, to send a message, Israel will respond with airstrikes, and it escalates and gets worse and worse, and then the next thing you know, you have hundreds of rockets flying.

GREENE: Well, I mean, the – what you have just described, I mean, that dynamic, has it changed at all in recent years, or has it remained sort of just entrenched like that?

FEDERMAN: Well, it’s a similar dynamic, except what’s become kind of disturbing is that it’s happening more frequently. After this last war in 2014, things remained quiet for several years – I think two or three years before it started to get worse. Now what we’re seeing is that this pattern keeps on repeating itself; it used to be every few months, and now it’s becoming every few weeks. We just went through the same thing twice in March.

GREENE: Well, contextualize this for me. I mean, how does this violence we’re seeing right now compare to these last – you know, the last times this has happened?

FEDERMAN: Similar but worse; each time seems to get a little bit worse. Even in March, we also – we had another round with several hundred rockets, I believe – I don’t remember the exact number – some pretty intense airstrikes. But this time around, we had Israelis killed for the first time since 2014 – four Israeli civilians. Pretty high death toll on the Palestinian side; we’re now up to 25 today, including – you know, a bunch of them are civilians. We don’t have the exact breakdown right now. So each time it seems to get a little bit worse.

GREENE: And this fighting, as I gather, broke out just as mediators were, you know, at least trying to negotiate some sort of long-term cease-fire agreement, right?

FEDERMAN: Exactly. So what happened in March – we had these two rounds of pretty intense fighting, and since then they’ve been working behind the scenes. It’s usually Egypt; they’ve taken the lead because they’re the one party. Israel and Hamas do not speak to each other. They’re bitter enemies, so they work through Egyptian mediators. Also, the UN has been involved, and also, the Gulf state of Qatar has also been involved. So they had been trying to strengthen these understandings behind the scenes, and what happened – Hamas, about a week ago, accused Israel of stalling and not keeping its promises, and then things quickly deteriorated.

GREENE: OK. And we have this tentative cease-fire; it seems like it’s in effect as of now. What exactly did the two sides agree to here, and is there hope in the region that this peace will hold?

FEDERMAN: Yeah. Basically, what the conditions always – Israel is always looking for quiet for quiet; Israel just wants Hamas to keep things quiet. Hamas wants Israel to ease this blockade on Gaza that has really devastated – Israel says it needs to maintain this blockade to prevent Hamas from importing arms and from strengthening. But the effect has been very devastating to the civilian population, as well. So Hamas wants Israel to ease this blockade.

And you know, they – so they’re trying to strengthen these understandings. They’re trying to allow more things, more money, into Gaza, more electricity into Gaza, to expand – there’s a fishing zone; Gaza has kind of a big fishing industry – to expand the distance the fishermen can go out and so forth. They’re trying to bring in jobs where international organizations would provide some money to provide temporary jobs for teachers and hospital workers and so forth. So that’s what they’re trying to strengthen up, but there’s always this animosity in the background, and it’s unclear whether they’ll be able to move forward this time around, either.

GREENE: OK, so not clear the cease-fire is going to hold at this point. But the signs might be…

FEDERMAN: No. For now it’s holding, until we go through the routine all over again.

GREENE: All right. Josef Federman reporting for The Associated Press. He is the bureau chief in Jerusalem. Thanks a lot for your time.

FEDERMAN: Thank you.

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The Antichrist and the Iranian Horn (Daniel 8)

To deter Iran, understand the IRGC and Iraqi politics

by Tom Rogan  | May 06, 2019 01:21 PM

Absent U.S. deterrence, the Iranian hardliners target U.S. interests, hence the newly announced deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group to the Persian Gulf. With its recent increase in U.S. Navy deployments near Iran, the Trump administration wants to deter the Islamic Republic from threatening maritime traffic in the Strait of Hormuz.

Iran is very much on the move, fomenting terrorism and paramilitary activity in the region. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., warned recently that America „will not distinguish between attacks from Shia militias in Iraq and the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] that controls them. Any attack by these groups against U.S. forces will be considered an attack by Iran and responded to accordingly.“

But Rubio is only half right here. He is correct that the Guard actively uses Shia militias in Iraq as proxy forces. But he is wrong to suggest that all such Iraqi militias operate under Iranian direction. And that distinction must inform how the U.S. responds to any given threat.

Retired Gen. Mark Hertling and I debated some of the nuances here, but the basic point is that an attack by an Iraqi Shia militia might be but isn’t necessarily an attack by Iran.

Consider the organization of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. Formerly a close ally of Iran, al-Sadr has reinvented himself as an Iraqi nationalist. Aligning with the communists — yes, you read that right — the Sadrists won a huge victory in the May 2018 Iraqi elections. Sadr has earned the ire of the Iranian hardliners by his recentering of Iraqi Shia populism outside of Iranian control. This is not to say that Sadr is determined to attack America (he wants to maintain some dialogue). But an attack by Sadr’s militia on the U.S. would be unlikely to be an Iranian plot.

It is also important to note here that the nuances of Iraqi politics mean that even pro-Iranian figures, such as the Badr Organization’s Hadi Al-Amiri, would be cautious before targeting the U.S. These leaders are less directly controlled Iranian partners than, say, Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah. Of course the U.S. shouldn’t ignore attacks by these groups, but they represent Iranian interests in varying degrees. Iraqi prime minister Adi Abdul-Mahdi is the ultimate manifestation of these competing ideologies.

Still other Iraqi Shia militias, such as Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, and the Imam Ali Battalions, represent extensions of both Iran’s Khomeinist ideology and of the Guard. The Guard uses these groups as cutouts or deniable intermediaries for its dirty work. If these groups were to attack U.S. interests, Iran would be a legitimate target for direct U.S. retaliation — and that’s one reason they won’t do it without orders from Tehran.

How Iran Will Attack Babylon the Great

How Iran Could Strike the U.S. Military In a War (And It Won’t Be Pretty)

America is sending bombers and an aircraft carrier battle group to the region. What happens now? 

The facts are simple: Washington and Tehran are locked into a long-term geopolitical contest throughout the Middle East that will span decades—a similar contest in many ways to Washington and Beijing’s battle for influence in the Asia-Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific regions.

Over the long term, the U.S.-Iranian struggle throughout the Middle East could very well be a mini-Thucydides trap, to steal the phrase from my beloved Harvard’s resident geostrategic guru, Graham Allison—the classic tale of how when a rising power meets an established power, war is oftentimes the most common result (eleven out of fifteen times, per Allison).

(This first appeared in 2015.)

Taking such a long view of U.S.-Iranian relations only reveals stormy seas ahead. No serious foreign-policy or national-security mind can see a long-term partnership beyond maybe short-term alignments in Iraq and decreased tensions from Iran putting its nuclear program on ice for ten years (Remember, folks: In ten years, Iran can slowly expand its nuclear program, and in fifteen years, it has no restrictions on the amount of uranium it wishes to produce…then what?).

Looking at any map reveals a whole host of challenges.

From Yemen, to Syria, to Lebanon and over the long term in Iraq, it is quite clear Washington and Tehran have too many areas of contention for their relationship to turn rosey.

Iran is a nation that, like China, feels history has certainly not been kind, especially at the hands of Western powers. Tehran, while not trying to create an empire of sorts throughout the Middle East, as some have offered, certainly seems focused on expanding its regional interests and influence—as any power on the rise would naturally seek to do. The natural defense of such interests could, by default, turn Iran into the Middle East’s new regional hegemon. Look far and wide into the soul of U.S. diplomats, and that is the real fear (and a shared one among Washington’s allies in the region). While many in the Middle East and beyond fear Iran’s possible nuclear aspirations, such weapons are only a part of a much bigger geostrategic challenge.

So the real question seems quite simple: Will America and Iran come to blows over Tehran’s regional aspirations?

I, for one, certainly hope not. I think the best possible solution to these countries’ conflicting goals would be for both sides to take a very pragmatic approach—to align their interests in areas of shared goals, while agreeing to disagree, and even competing in many areas across the wider Middle East—“frenemies,” if you will.

However, as history has shown us time and time again, the end result we want does not always come to pass. This piece will explore the various ways Iran could strike U.S. forces if conflict ever occurred. Looking specifically at Tehran’s military capabilities, one quickly realizes Iran’s military, while not nearly as advanced as the United States’, is certainly tough enough to constrain Washington’s strategic objectives through large parts of the Middle East, especially as one approaches Iran’s borders.

While the pages of many publications—including this one—are filled with various ideas and concepts that detail one of my favorite subjects, Chinese anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD), other nations are adopting this smart asymmetric strategy, and Iran is one of them. While nowhere near as advanced as China’s various sea mines, ballistic and cruise missiles, submarines, cyber weapons and C2 and C4ISR systems, Iranian A2/AD still packs quite a punch.

So what would an Iranian A2/AD campaign against U.S. forces look like? Well, let us assume Iran decided, for whatever reason, to strike first and strike decisively—the best way to utilize any A2/AD force. The best research to guide us in such a discussion is a 2011 report from the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA) that looks at Iranian A2/AD capabilities and possible U.S. responses, titled: “Outside-In: Operating from Range to Defeat Iran’s Anti-Access/Area-Denial Threats.”

The real highlight of this report is that it sketches out an Iranian A2/AD campaign against U.S. forces in the timeframe between 2020 and 2025 with what CSBA assumes Iran would have developed in terms of military capabilities by that time. The scenario also assumes a U.S. force posture at roughly 2011-levels. While these qualifiers do detract slightly from the accuracy of the scenario, CSBA does show the reader quite effectively what Iran could do.

For starters, as noted prior, surprise will be the key, with Iran going all in with a massive strike:

Iran will likely exploit the element of surprise to subject U.S. forces in the Gulf to a concentrated, combined-arms attack. Using coastal radars, UAVs, and civilian vessels for initial targeting information, Iranian surface vessels could swarm U.S. surface combatants in narrow waters, firing a huge volume of rockets and missiles in an attempt to overwhelm the Navy’s AEGIS combat system and kinetic defenses like the Close-In Weapons System and Rolling Airframe Missile, and possibly drive U.S. vessels toward prelaid minefields. Shore-based ASCMs and Klub-K missiles launched from “civilian” vessels may augment these strikes. Iran’s offensive maritime exclusion platforms could exploit commercial maritime traffic and shore clutter to mask their movement and impede U.S. counter-targeting. While these attacks are underway, Iran could use its SRBMs and proxy forces to strike U.S. airfields, bases, and ports. Iran will likely seek to overwhelm U.S. and partner missile defenses with salvos of less accurate missiles before using more accurate SRBMs armed with submunitions to destroy unsheltered aircraft and other military systems. Proxy groups could attack forward bases using presighted guided mortars and rockets, and radiation-seeking munitions to destroy radars and C4 nodes.

Iran would also try to lock out the Strait of Hormuz:

After initial attacks to attrite U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, Iran will likely use its maritime exclusion systems to control passage through the Strait of Hormuz. Mine warfare should feature prominently in Iranian attempts to close the Strait. As with many of its A2/AD systems, Iran could employ a combination of “smart” influence mines along with large quantities of less capable weapons such as surface contact mines. Iran may deploy many of its less sophisticated mines from a variety of surface vessels, while it reserves its submarine force to lay influence mines covertly. Though Iran may wish to sink or incapacitate a U.S. warship with a mine, its primary goal is probably to deny passage and force the U.S. Navy to engage in prolonged mine countermeasure (MCM) operations while under threat from Iranian shore-based attacks. U.S. MCM ships, which typically lack the armor and self-defenses of larger warships, would be unlikely to survive in the Strait until these threats are suppressed.

Iran could deploy its land-based ASCMs from camouflaged and hardened sites to firing positions along its coastline and on Iranian-occupied islands in the Strait of Hormuz while placing decoys at false firing positions to complicate U.S. counterstrikes. Hundreds of ASCMs may cover the Strait, awaiting target cueing data from coastal radars, UAVs, surface vessels, and submarines. Salvo and multiple axis attacks could enable these ASCMs to saturate U.S. defenses. Similar to the way in which Iran structured its ballistic missile attacks, salvos of less capable ASCMs might be used to exhaust U.S. defenses, paving the way for attacks by more advanced missiles.

Also, according to CSBA, Iran would be rewarded by spreading the field of conflict:

Undoubtedly aware that the United States’ ability to bring military power to bear is influenced by the demand for forces in other regions, Iran may seek to expand the geographical scope of a conflict in order to divert U.S. attention and resources elsewhere. Iran’s terrorist proxies, perhaps aided by Quds Force operatives, could be employed to threaten U.S. interests in other theaters. Iran could conceivably leverage its relationship with Hezbollah to attempt to draw Israel into the conflict or tap Hezbollah’s clandestine networks to carry out attacks in other regions.

Concluding Thoughts

The above is only a very small sample of what is an excellent, but frightening, report. CSBA deserves credit for showing what such a conflict would look like, and did not get nearly enough credit when the report was released. While slightly dated, since it was written towards the end of 2011, any defense or national-security wonk should sit down and read it cover to cover. After reading the whole report, along with just a quick parsing of many other documents and resources on Iran’s military over the years, one can easily come to the conclusion that Iran’s forces, when confronted close to its shores, would not be easily subdued. What is referred to commonly as the “tyranny of distance,” combined with Tehran’s growing A2/AD capabilities, creates an interesting challenge for U.S. warfighters if the unthinkable ever came to pass.

Iran Continues to Grow it’s Nuclear Horn

Iran TV Breaks News On Partial Resumption Of Tehran’s Nuclear Activities

Radio Farda

Iran is about to partially resume parts of its nuclear program that were suspended within the frameworks of the 2015 nuclear agreement with the world powers, or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Iranian stat TV on Monday May 6 quoted „an official close to the JCPOA Supervisory Board“ as having said that although the activities to be resumed are covered under articles 26 and 36 of the JCPOA, „Iran is not planning to withdraw from the nuclear deal at the time being.“

The two articles are about partial or total suspension of implementation of JCPOA, and informing the United Nations organization of the other parties‘ lack of commitment to the agreement.

The unnamed „informed source“ told the Iranian State TV, „President Hassan Rouhani will announce on live TV the measures Iran is going to take in reaction to the United States‘ withdrawal from the JCPOA,“ which took place in May 2018.

The measure announced on Monday may be Iran’s official response to the US Pull-out almost a year after President Donald Trump announced his country’s withdrawal from JCPOA.

Rouhani’s speech might coincide with the anniversary of the United States‘ unilateral pull-out from the nuclear agreement, May 8.

The JCPOA Supervisory Board, is a body set up in June 2016 to address Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s concerns about possible reneging on the deal by the United States. At the time, Khamenei termed the board „the Islamic Republic’s hitting hand“ in case America violates the terms of the nuclear agreement.

The board consists of President Hassan Rouhani, Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, then Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan, Supreme National Security Council Chief Ali Shamkhani, former nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili and Khamenei’s Foreign Policy Adviser Ali Akbar Velayati. It has been at times criticized by hardliners for inaction in the face of what they called violation of JCPOA by America.

The informed source talking to Iranian TV’s newsroom, said that Tehran has informed EU officials of its new decision, adding that during the past year, EU officials did not take any practical step to help Iran and have simply offered promises which have not been met yet.

Iranian experts will meet with the representatives of UK, France, Germany, in Brussels on May 7.

Iran’s official news agency IRNA reported that the meeting will discuss several issues including the U.S. sanctions against Iran, the non-renewal of U.S. waivers and non-renewal of exemptions about nuclear cooperation with Iran. Iran also brought up the issue of economic cooperation with Europe based on the European financial mechanism (INSTEX) to help Iran with its international trade and banking in spite of US sanctions. Despite European promises the trade mechanism has not been operationalized yet.

Iran had vowed to make its final decision about JCPOA within a few weeks of the U.S. pull-out, but during the past year it was waiting to see what happens to Europe’s promise about a financial mechanism.

Even before that Khamenei has threatened to shred the JCPOA into pieces if the United States does not fulfil its commitments based on the agreement.