Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago

It happened before, and it could happen again.

By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg

Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM

On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.

The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.

According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.

The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.

A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:

“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”

The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.

The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.

The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.

“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”

The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.

“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.”

The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.

There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.

According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.

In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.

“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,

that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,

the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;

O turn to God; lest by his Rod,

he cast thee down to Hell.”

Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”

There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.

Well, sort of.

In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”

It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.

In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”

If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

In the Event is a War, Pakistan Plans on Nuking India (Revelation 8)

Pakistani PM Khan hints at nuking India in ‘surrender-or-death’ scenario

Published time: 15 Sep, 2019 09:21

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned of “consequences” if nuclear-armed Pakistan ends up losing a conventional war to its nuclear-armed rival and neighbor India.

Asked in an Al Jazeera interview to set the record straight on whether Pakistan would hit India with nuclear weapons in case of a large-scale conflict, Khan began with the disclaimer that he would never be the one to attack.

“Pakistan would never start a war, and I am clear: I am a pacifist. I am anti-war,” he said.

However, the prime minister quickly added that when two nuclear-armed states “fight a conventional war, there is every possibility that it is going to end up into nuclear war.” And while he described it as “unthinkable,” his next hint sent a clear message about what Pakistan may do if it’s losing a conventional war against India.

“If say Pakistan, God forbid, we are fighting a conventional war, we are losing, and if a country is stuck between the choice: either you surrender or you fight ‘til death for your freedom – I know Pakistanis will fight to death for their freedom.”

So when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end, to the death, it has consequences.

Also on rt.com Kashmir, nukes & Pakistan’s toll in US war on terror: Imran Khan talks to RT

Khan has repeatedly warned in recent weeks that the standoff between India and Pakistan over disputed Kashmir risks spiraling into a nuclear conflict unless foreign powers intervene, along with the UN. There has also been some confusion in the media about Pakistan’s nuclear strategy.

Earlier this month, Khan vowed not to use nuclear weapons first against India. His spokesperson later said that his words were “taken out of context,” and there is “no change” in Pakistan’s nuclear stance – which reportedly does not rule out a first strike against overwhelming conventional force.

Bitter rivals India and Pakistan have fought three major conventional wars since the mid-1940s, along with several smaller border skirmishes. Most of the clashes are centered around the Kashmir region, where cross-border shelling frequently takes place along the Line of Control (LoC).

Also on rt.com Pakistan denies Indian president permission to enter airspace

The neighbors edged close to a full-blown war in February. New Delhi sent warplanes into Pakistan to bomb what it said were camps of Islamist insurgent group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), which had carried out numerous terrorist attacks on Indian soil. Islamabad accused India of violating its sovereignty. The hostilities ultimately led to intense shelling from both sides and open aerial combat.

The countries eventually made several friendly overtures but their relations hit another low last month, after India revoked the self-governing status of the part of Kashmir it controls. India claims the move will help curb terrorism and boost Kashmir’s economy. Pakistan says that ending Kashmir’s autonomy is against international law and will lead to violence in the region.

Trump Prepares to Damage the Wine (Revelation 6:6)

Oil prices surge and Trump says he has ordered use of emergency supplies

Trump: US ‘locked and loaded depending on verification’ of attack on Saudi oil field

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump on Sunday evening tweeted that the US has “reason to believe that we know” who is responsible for an attack on a Saudi Arabian oil field and the country is “locked and loaded depending on verification” following the crippling strike.

Saudi Arabia oil supply was attacked. There is reason to believe that we know the culprit, are locked and loaded depending on verification, but are waiting to hear from the Kingdom as to who they believe was the cause of this attack, and under what terms we would proceed!” Trump said.

On Saturday, coordinated strikes on key Saudi Arabian oil facilities — among the world’s
largest energy production centers — disrupted 5% of the daily global oil supply. Yemen’s Houthi rebels took responsibility for the attacks, but they are often backed by Iran.
A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo blamed Iran for the attack on Saudi oil facilities and argued there is “no evidence the attacks came from Yemen,” a senior administration official briefed CNN on information to back up Pompeo’s claims.
Trump tweeted later Sunday that it is “incorrect” to say he is “willing to meet with Iran, ‘No Condition,'” a contradiction of his own administration. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the President, “has said he would sit down with (Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani with no conditions.”

Points of impact

The official pointed to the angle at which Saudi oil facilities were attacked, the numbers of points of impact and other information to argue that it is unlikely the attacks were carried out by Yemen. Instead, the official suggested the attack most likely originated in Iran or Iraq.

“It is very difficult to see how these things could have come from anywhere but Iran or Iraq,” the senior administration official said.
The official said 19 Saudi targets were struck in Saturday’s attack and argued that such an attack could not be carried out with 10 drones, which the Houthis claimed to have used.
“You can’t hit 19 targets with 10 drones like that,” the official said.
The official, drawing on commercial satellite imagery shared with CNN, also noted that “all the points of impact on Saudi facilities were on the northwest side of them, which is somewhat difficult to do from Yemen.” The official could not say whether it’s possible drones from Yemen could have angled around to attack northwest facilities.

Military experts examine commercial satellite images

Three CNN military experts have examined the private satellite photos.
Ret. Col. Cedric Leighton, who is an intelligence expert with a focus in imagery, said the images do help support the Trump administration’s claim that the drones likely came from Iraq or Iran, but cautioned that they’re not definitive.

“This is the handiwork of a sophisticated (most likely State) actor. The precise nature of the intelligence used to conduct targeting, the mission planning that went into this to avoid radar detection, as well as the selection of the targets shows a robust capability that would most likely be the work of a government or government-sponsored group,” Leighton told CNN Sunday.
“The drones most likely originated in either Southern Iraq or Iran,” he said.
Ret. Gen. Mark Hertling said the images “really don’t show anything, other than pretty good accuracy on the strike of the oil tanks. Ret. Adm. John Kirby echoed this point, stating “there is nothing I see in these pictures which confirms a launch from any particular location.”
“I’m struck by the precision of the strikes. Almost pin-prick,” Kirby said. “Certainly possible with (unmanned aerial vehicles). But again, that doesn’t really confirm anything.”

Iran’s response

Rouhani did not specifically reference the attack on the Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities in an address on Iran’s Press TV Sunday but did accuse Americans of running a “war operation” by “supporting the UAE and Saudi Arabia, transferring weapons, and providing intelligence.”

“What is happening in this region today has created concern among majority of world countries,” he said.
Earlier Sunday White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said Trump has “many options on the table” when it comes to responding to the strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil production this weekend.
“The President will always consider his options,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday” when asked if Trump would still sit down with Rouhani under current circumstances. “We’ve never committed to that meeting at the United Nations General Assembly. The President’s just said he’s looking at it.”

 

Kashmir is the Flashpoint for the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

PM Imran says some countries look India as a market of 1bn people, they don’t realise consequences of not intervening right now. — Photo courtesy Al Jazeera

‘Kashmir now a flashpoint, has potential of turning into nuclear war’

Dawn.com

Prime Minister Imran Khan has urged the international community to play their due role in resolving the Kashmir issue and warned them that the dispute — which has now become a flashpoint between India and Pakistan — carries the potential of turning into a nuclear war and impacting the entire world.

In a wide-ranging interview with Al Jazeera, the prime minister said that Pakistan has limited options to address the situation.

“There is not much we can do except approach all international organisations that were set up after the first World War — mainly the United Nations,” he said, adding that the United States, China, Russia, and European countries are all being approached by Pakistan over the matter.

He expressed his resentment over the lukewarm global response after India’s revocation of occupied Kashmir’s autonomous status, and said, “Unfortunately, because of this whole thing about big markets, [some] countries look at big markets, they look upon India as a market of one billion people, they don’t realise that if they do not intervene right now, it will have consequences for not only the subcontinent but the world’s trade — everyone will be affected by this.”

Possibility of nuclear war

Asked if he shares concerns voiced by Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi about an accidental war between the two nuclear-armed powers, he said: “Absolutely. What is happening is that India is more or less conducting a genocide. The sort of racial attacks [made] on the population, I don’t think it has been witnessed since Nazi Germany. The eight million Muslims in Kashmir are under siege for almost six weeks now. And why this can become a flash point between India and Pakistan is because what India is trying to do is divert attention from its illegal annexation and their impending genocide in Kashmir.”

He added: “They are taking attention away by blaming Pakistan for terrorism. And this is what they did last February when there was a suicide attack by a young Kashmiri boy, blowing himself up against an Indian military convoy and India blamed Pakistan for it and then bombed us.

“So we fear that this will happen again because what they are doing in Kashmir will lead to a reaction, some sort of reaction, and they will then blame Pakistan for it to divert the world’s attention from the genocide in Kashmir.”

Talking about the country’s policy on the first use of nuclear weapons, he said: “There is no confusion. What I said was that Pakistan would never start a war and I am clear [about this]. I am a pacifist, I am anti-war but what I said clearly was that when two nuclear-armed countries fight — if they fight a conventional war — there is every possibility to end up in a nuclear war.”

The premier warned that if a conventional war were to be fought, “Pakistanis will fight to the death for their freedom”.

He said: “When a nuclear armed country fights to the death, it has consequences. That is why we have approached the United Nations and are approaching every international forum urging them to act right now because this is a potential disaster which would go beyond the Indian subcontinent.”

Message to be delivered at the UNGA

Speaking about his address at United Nations General Assembly later this month, the premier said, “Under normal circumstances, I would have talked about climate change. Pakistan is one of the few countries that are most vulnerable to climate change. I would have spoken at length on that, and secondly, on Islamophobia: the way Muslims suffer due to Islamophobia, particularly in the Western countries and of course in India.

“But because of what is happening in Kashmir, I would be mainly talking about the Kashmir situation.”

Dialogue or no dialogue

When asked about his position on dialogue with India, he said: “From the time I assumed office — and that was last August — we have made repeated attempts to hold a dialogue with India, for us to live like civilised neighbours, to resolve our differences.”

He said that the only issue was Kashmir and must be resolved through a political settlement which is why trade is important between Pakistan and India.

“Both countries suffer from poverty, both countries suffer from a huge impending disaster of climate change, both of us have similar problems — so I approached them that we should resume talks and sort out our differences and we repeatedly tried that,” said PM Imran.

“Now, I realise that this (our overtures) was misinterpreted. This BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party) extreme right wing, racist, fascist government was treating us as if we were scared of them and they took it as appeasement,” he added.

PM Imran said that the government discovered that all the while they were trying to establish a dialogue, India was trying to “push us in the black list of the FATF”.

“We are on the grey list. If Pakistan is pushed into the black list that means that there will be sanctions. So they were trying to bankrupt us. That is when we pulled back and that is when we realised that this comes under an agenda.”

“The agenda was to push Pakistan into disaster. So there is no question of talking to the Indian government right now (especially) after they revoked Article 370 of their own constitution and annexed Kashmir illegally,” he said.

He called attention to the fact that the move was made against the United Nations Security Council’s resolutions which had guaranteed that the people would be able to hold a referendum and plebiscite to decide their destiny.

“They have unilaterally not only broken international laws but also their own constitution, so there is no question of talking to India in these circumstances,” he reiterated.

Trump’s offer

The prime minister, while talking about US President Donald Trump’s repeated offers to play a role for dialogue between Islamabad and New Delhi over Kashmir, said, “We are thankful to US President Trump because he is the president of the most powerful country in the world and if the president of the US intervenes in this — and seriously intervenes — it is one way that you can guarantee some sort of resolution.

“Secondly, even if it doesn’t intervene directly, the US has power in the UNSC. You see, that’s why I think India is stonewalling this suggestion, because India knows if once the international community gets involved then the ruling will be for the people of Kashmir. The international community insist on the people of Kashmir exercising their right of their self determination.”

On Afghanistan endgame

The prime minister also spoke about the abrupt cancellation of talks between the United States and the Taliban after nearly a year of negotiations.

“Purely from a human point of view, everyone wants to help Afghans get peace, therefore Pakistan is playing its part. Whatever little influence we have on the Taliban, we have asked them to go to the dialogue table,” he said.

He said that the talks with Americans had been at a fairly advanced stage. “The only thing was now to get the Taliban to talk to the Afghan government so they all get together and decide what they want to do. Now, this is unfortunate what has happened.

“The idea of dialogue and fighting at the same time is always tricky. I hope this [suspension in dialogue] is a temporary thing. I hope that President Trump will get the talks going again, because there is no other solution. There is not going to be a military solution.

“The only way out is getting back to the dialogue table.”

Economy in the ‘right direction’

The prime minister defended his government’s handling of the economy in the first year of his rule. In response to a question, he said: “Pakistan (Tehreek-e-Insaf) inherited the worst economy ever in our history, we had the biggest current account deficit which in our history no other government had to face.

“The moment we took over there was an acute dollar shortage because we were selling much less than we were buying from the world. That meant there was pressure on our rupee and so the rupee devalued. When the rupee devalued, there had to be inflation,” he said, adding that it was natural for the country to be going through a difficult period.

“The good news is that we have brought down the current account deficit by 70 per cent, our exports are going up, (and) we have curtailed our imports. So the gap has narrowed, which means we are going in the right direction.”

U-turns

Speaking about the oft-repeated term used to characterise him and his government, the prime minister said he did not mind the reference.

“I am glad they [his opponents] say I am a prime minister of U-turns. Only an idiot doesn’t do any U-turn. Only a moron keeps banging his head against a brick wall when it comes in his way. An intelligent person immediately revises his strategy and goes around it,” he explained. “When I was a cricketer, my team and I used to go to the ground with a strategy but I used to change the strategy all the time as per the situation.”

“If the corrupt elite in our country had taken a U-turn from corruption, they would not be in jail right now,” he said on a lighter note.

Speaking about approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a bailout after having sworn he would never do so during his election campaign, he said he had to handle the given situation.

“The fact that you have a big deficit and you have to borrow money means you are not running your economy properly. But when you inherit a sick economy, in the short time before you can raise your income, to bridge this gap, I’m afraid you have to take loans,” he said.

“What I am pledging to my people is that when our term is completed we (will) leave a surplus economy.”

Asked about the IMF’s control over the country’s economic decision making, the premier said, “They haven’t exercised any control right now apart from telling us to put our house in order in terms of cutting down our expenditure and raising our revenues.”

He added: “They [the IMF] haven’t really asked us to do anything which is against our sovereignty.”

No comments on Uighurs, China is ‘best friend’

Talking about the treatment of the Chinese government towards the Uighurs (an indigenous Muslim population), he said he hadn’t spoken about the issue in his discussions with government representatives.

“Frankly, we have been facing so many of our internal problems right now that we haven’t… I don’t know much about this problem,” he said. “Ever since we have been in power for one year, really, we have been inundated with problems. But I will say one thing about China: For us China has been the best friend.”

“At the moment, my responsibility are the people of Pakistan. I have 210-220 million Pakistanis I am responsible for. Therefore, my number one effort is to help my own countrymen,” he said.

On Baldev Kumar accusing the PTI government of mistreating minorities in Pakistan, he said, “If I remember right, this is the guy who is responsible for assassinating one of our most loved member of our party and parliamentarian Soran Singh. He was in our KP assembly and this man was responsible for assassinating him.

“I don’t know where he is right now, but last I know, he was in jail. For him to say a thing like that, let me make one thing clear: ever since my government has come into power, we have — this one government — has pledged that every citizen regardless of his religion will be an equal citizen.”

He then went on to describe the efforts made thus far in this regard.

“Our government has opened up the Kartarpur Corridor, made great efforts for the Sikh community in opening up their religious sites. We are going to open up all the religious sites of all different religions, like Hindus, Sikh religion, the Christian community.

“My government will be protecting all of them. And I will just say one other thing: if minorities are mistreated in Pakistan, that’s against our Constitution, it’s against our religion, it’s against the principles of our Holy Prophet (PBUH) because minorities were always regarded as equal citizens in Islam. So when we are unjust to them, we go against our ideology and religion.”

He further said that the difference between Pakistan and what the RSS-backed BJP government is doing in India, is that “when they mistreat their minorities, it is according to their ideology. They do not believe that minorities are equal citizens”.

Crackdown against media a myth

“This is utter and utter nonsense,” said the prime minister when asked about a reportedly fast shrinking space for dissent and a crackdown against media.

Pakistan is one of the freest places in the world when it come to the freedom of media, he insisted.

“Members of the media have said things against me and against the government. They would never have gotten away under any other democracy. They made personal attacks against me. Had there been any other democracy, the TV channels would have closed down. The freedom that journalists have in this country is unprecedented.

“This is one of the most tolerant governments ever. Although we think we have gone overboard. We think we will strengthen our regulatory body,” he said.

What’s new in ‘New Pakistan’?

“I think we are already in a new Pakistan. ‘New Pakistan’ means rule of law. Never before have mega criminals ever been put into jail like they are right now,” he said.

“The big difference in this Pakistan: We have been here for 13 months and there has not been one corruption case against any minister — this was (previously) unheard of. None of us are building our business empires.

“But most importantly, this government is devolving power right down. The difference between now and then is that for the first time, we are actually taking the most difficult decisions to fix our economy,” the premier said.

“This government has done things no government has done before. But as they say: ‘Rome wasn’t built in a day.’ When you start making these massive changes and reforms, it takes time. The time to judge a government is after five years.

“In our case we feel like we have passed through the most difficult period. The first year was the most difficult period. From now onward, people will start seeing the difference.”

Iran Denies Damaging the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Iran dismisses US allegation it was behind Saudi oil attacks

By JON GAMBRELL, Associated Press

Posted 9 hours, 21 minutes ago

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran denied on Sunday it was involved in Yemen rebel drone attacks the previous day that hit the world’s biggest oil processing facility and an oil field in Saudi Arabia, just hours after America’s top diplomat alleged that Tehran was behind the “unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply.”

The attacks Saturday claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels resulted in “the temporary suspension of production operations” at the Abqaiq processing facility and the Khurais oil field, Riyadh said.

That led to the interruption of an estimated 5.7 million barrels in crude supplies, authorities said while pledging the kingdom’s stockpiles would make up the difference. The amount Saudi Arabia is cutting back is equivalent to over 5% of the world’s daily production.

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While markets remained closed Sunday, the attack could shock world energy prices. They also increased overall tensions in the region amid an escalating crisis between the U.S. and Iran over Tehran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Late Saturday, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo directly blamed Iran for the attack on Twitter, without offering evidence to support his claim.

“Amid all the calls for de-escalation, Iran has now launched an unprecedented attack on the world’s energy supply,” Pompeo wrote. “There is no evidence the attacks came from Yemen.”

The U.S., Western nations, their Gulf Arab allies and U.N. experts say Iran supplies the Houthis with weapons and drones — a charge that Tehran denies.

U.S. officials previously alleged at least one recent drone attack on Saudi Arabia came from Iraq, where Iran backs Shiite militias. Those militias in recent weeks have been targeted themselves by mysterious airstrikes, with at least one believed to have been carried out by Israel.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi on Sunday dismissed Pompeo’s remarks as “blind and futile comments.”

“The Americans adopted the ‘maximum pressure’ policy against Iran, which, due to its failure, is leaning towards ‘maximum lies’,” Mousavi said in a statement.

Separately, Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s office issued a statement on Sunday denying the drone attack came from there.

Iraq “abides by its constitutions that prevents the use of its lands to launch aggressions against neighboring countries,” the statement said.

First word of Saturday’s assault came in online videos of giant fires at the Abqaiq facility, some 330 kilometers (205 miles) northeast of the Saudi capital, Riyadh.

Machine-gun fire could be heard in several clips alongside the day’s first Muslim call to prayers, suggesting security forces tried to bring down the drones just before dawn. In daylight, Saudi state television aired a segment with its local correspondent near a police checkpoint, a thick plume of smoke visible behind him.

President Donald Trump called Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to offer his support for the kingdom’s defense, the White House said. The crown prince assured Trump that Saudi Arabia is “willing and able to confront and deal with this terrorist aggression,” according to a news release from the Saudi Embassy in Washington.

Saudi Aramco describes its Abqaiq oil processing facility in Buqyaq as “the largest crude oil stabilization plant in the world.”

The facility processes sour crude oil into sweet crude, then transports it onto transshipment points on the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea or to refineries for local production. Estimates suggest it can process up to 7 million barrels of crude oil a day. By comparison, Saudi Arabia produced 9.65 million barrels of crude oil a day in July.

The Khurais oil field is believed to produce over 1 million barrels of crude oil a day. It has estimated reserves of over 20 billion barrels of oil, according to Aramco.

There was no immediate impact on global oil prices as markets were closed for the weekend. Benchmark Brent crude had been trading at just above $60 a barrel.

___

Associated Press writers Amir Vahdat in Tehran, Iran, Aya Batrawy in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, and Bassem Mroue in Beirut contributed to this report.

The Expanding Shi’a Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Iran proxies join forces in shady arrangements

Shadowy ties between Tehran-backed militias in Iraq and Hezbollah have emerged

al Editorial

September 14, 2019

From Lebanon to South America, Africa to the Arabian Peninsula, the worldwide reach of Hezbollah has been extensively covered in these pages. For decades, the terror-listed group has woven a global web of dedicated supporters and financiers, proving that it will stop at nothing to raise money, whether this means establishing business links with South American drug cartels or profiting from fundraisers in war-torn Yemen, where a Houthi radio station claimed to have collected Dh1.1 million for Hezbollah since last year, at a time when eight out of 10 Yemenis are reliant on humanitarian assistance, most of which has been pledged by the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

And this week, The National has uncovered Hezbollah’s intricate ties with Iranian proxies that have wreaked havoc in Iraq. Samir Berro, a Lebanese man wanted by the US for allegedly supplying drones to Hezbollah, was also found to be linked to Iraqi politicians and militia leaders. Berro created an aviation company called Gulf Bird in 2007, in partnership with Shibl Al Zaydi, an Iraqi militant sanctioned by the US for supporting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Gulf Bird also holds Sami Al Askari, a former Iraqi MP, within its ranks. The shadowy company never applied for the certification needed to operate aircraft, and its board of directors has not made any filings since its creation. But with at least three of its co-founders linked to Tehran-backed proxies, including Al Zaydi, who owns 49 per cent of Gulf Bird’s shares and has allegedly conducted illicit activities in Lebanon, these revelations have shed light on Hezbollah’s murky dealings with Iraqi militants, chief of them Al Zaydi.

He was affiliated to Iraqi populist cleric Moqtada Al Sadr’s Mahdi Army, which he was expelled from in 2008 only to create his own militia six years later, the Tehran-funded Kataib Al Imam Ali. The armed group is one of many that form the Popular Mobilisation Forces, a powerful coalition of mostly Iran-backed militant militias that partook in the fight against ISIS in Iraq.

It is no surprise that Hezbollah and the PMF would co-operate. Both are backed by Tehran and active in Syria’s civil war alongside Bashar Al Assad’s regime.

Both Hezbollah and the PNF are militant groups that at one point, helped to rid their countries of malevolent forces only to use these past achievements as an excuse to bear arms and push for Iran’s agenda

They are also both militant groups which, at one point, helped to rid their countries of malevolent forces – Israel in Lebanon and ISIS in Iraq – only to use these past achievements as an excuse to keep bearing arms and push for Iran’s agenda in their home countries, even as the threat they initially fought against has subsided. And by doing so, they have considerably damaged their own countries’ economies.

As part of President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure policy against Iran, the US has taken action to curb Iran’s influence with increased economic sanctions on its institutions and proxies. Just last month, the Lebanese Jammal Trust Bank was targeted by the US Treasury for transferring money to Hezbollah. The banking sector is vital to Lebanon’s ailing economy and Hezbollah’s financiers are putting it in jeopardy. Meanwhile, in Iraq, PMF arms depots have been allegedly attacked by Israel, adding additional risks to Iraq’s security.

Tehran-backed groups in Iraq and Lebanon have embedded themselves so deeply in the nations’ political and financial lives that it is difficult to impose sanctions on these groups without affecting the whole country’s economy. A more sophisticated approach is needed to regulate their shady financial dealings and this can only be achieved if the Iraqi and Lebanese states are in turn empowered to reclaim a national sovereignty challenged by foreign-backed groups.

Bolton’s Damage is Already Done

Despite John Bolton exit, don’t expect thaw in US-Iran relations

President Donald Trump is not likely to be dragged into a war, but robust policy towards Tehran is expected to continue

Raghida Dergham

September 14, 2019

With US national security adviser John Bolton having recently departed the White House, the question being asked is whether president Donald Trump will decide to soften the hardline approach taken by his administration in dealing with an uncertain world or if he will stay the course.

It is hard to determine whether Mr Bolton resigned or was dismissed. Either way, the vacuum left by his exit might give the mercurial president a free hand to intervene in matters regarding foreign policy that could have profound consequences. Regardless of their differences or Mr Bolton’s quirks, he did manage to protect his boss from making mistakes while guaranteeing consistency in US foreign policy. But with him gone, will there be shifts in American behaviour towards Iran, Afghanistan, Venezuela and North Korea?

The two men had been divided on how to deal with the world at large. Mr Trump places great emphasis on the art of deal-making for he views himself as a good negotiator but his brand of deal-making applies more to the business world than it does to foreign affairs. Brokering deals requires flexibility and Mr Bolton proved an obstacle in this regard because he valued consistency and toughness even more.

That said, one country towards which Mr Trump is unlikely to change his robust policy is Iran.

Thus far, he has avoided military strikes against the regime, despite concerns Tehran has been accumulating ballistic missiles, which prompted Mr Trump to shred the 2015 nuclear deal struck by his predecessor. While maintaining effective sanctions against the Iranian regime, as well as against militia groups it sponsors in the Middle East – including Hezbollah in Lebanon – Mr Trump has now signalled an openness to talk to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in the hope of reaching a more comprehensive deal than the one Barack Obama secured.

How will Bolton’s departure affect US foreign policy?

Given that he is up for re-election next year, Mr Trump will be determined not to be dragged into a war with the Iranians. But securing a grand bargain with the regime will be a daunting challenge for his administration.

In response to the recent US pull-out, the Iranian regime has threatened to withdraw from the 2015 deal altogether and resume its nuclear activities. This is seen as a way to push the European parties to the deal to come up with ways to circumvent US sanctions while at the same time applying pressure on Mr Trump to soften his stance. This tactic has worked to the extent that the US president has expressed a willingness to talk.

France, meanwhile, offered Iran access to $15 billion in credit to stave off economic collapse, if Tehran returns to the terms of the deal and negotiates over security issues, including its regional policies. However, according to a source in Washington, the US has made it clear to French President Emmanuel Macron that his plan is unacceptable. The US reportedly told Mr Macron that it does not need him “to build a bridge” between Washington and Tehran, just for the sake of having a sit-down with the Iranian leadership.

There have been suggestions that a US-Iran meeting is possible on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly meeting later this month in New York. The US sees this as an opportunity for dialogue but will not lift sanctions just to entertain the notion of having talks. That puts the US at odds with the position expressed by Mr Rouhani, who has insisted on the lifting of sanctions as a prelude to any talks. The question therefore is how this gap can be bridged, particularly with the French initiative dead in the water.

Meanwhile next week, even as the name of Mr Bolton’s successor is expected to be announced, meetings are being scheduled to review US policy on Iran, following which new sanctions could be unveiled.

As Donald Trump’s NSA, John Bolton protected his boss from making mistakes while ensuring consistency in US foreign policy. AP

Sources have said even if a meeting were to be held between Mr Trump and Mr Rouhani, it would not be a significant nor substantial one, given that the US president will present a list of demands that Tehran is unlikely to accept. The broad outlines of these demands are already known: to renegotiate the parameters of the nuclear deal, halt the development and testing of ballistic missiles, and end support for groups Washington designates as terror organisations, such as Hamas and Hezbollah, in addition to Iran-backed paramilitaries such as the PMF in Iraq.

These militia groups have recently restated their loyalty to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as well as to the country’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. In a speech this week marking the Shia Muslim celebration of Ashura, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party would accept being killed 1,000 times by the “Americans and Zionists” rather than abandon Mr Khamenei, whom he called the heir of Hussein, grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Mr Nasrallah said his “axis of resistance” was prepared to take part in any war on behalf of Iran.

That Mr Nasrallah declared loyalty to Iran rather than his native Lebanon was telling, even more so at a time when David Schenker, the US assistant secretary for near eastern affairs, was making his first visit to Beirut. It was met with a robust response, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reportedly calling for a “gloves-off approach” against Hezbollah and its backers. Mr Schenker himself told Lebanese officials: “The window of opportunity is still open but it has started to close. All those concerned must know we are very serious.”

This could mean more sanctions. What is troubling, however, is whether it would translate to more than that.

Mr Schenker’s Lebanon visit was purportedly to highlight the danger of Hezbollah’s actions across the region, said to include manufacturing precision rockets in Lebanon. Lebanese leaders have been warned that unless they take action to rein in the group, their country could experience an outbreak of war. Confrontation remains a possibility.

Updated: September 14, 2019 05:39 PM