The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

North Korea Prepares to Nuke Up

North Korea is threatening new nuclear weapons tests

North Korea is once again eyeing nuclear weapons development, as denuclearization talks with the United States appear to have reached an impasse.

In its latest threatening remarks following a reported submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test, North Korean officials called a European rebuke of their missile tests a “serious provocation,” according to the South Korean Yonhap News Agency.

“There is a limit to the patience of the DPRK, and there is no guarantee that all our patience would continue indefinitely,” a spokesperson for the North Korean foreign ministry said in a statement published by the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

The North Korean spokesperson accused the U.S. of pressuring European countries to support a statement warning Pyongyang against its missile tests and urging North Korea to make efforts to build trust with officials in Washington.

The recent SLBM test raises the threat of North Korea’s ability to strike the U.S. and its allies. A submarine-borne ballistic missile could extend North Korea’s nuclear strike range, by carrying such a ballistic missile much closer to the U.S. mainland.

The missile test also comes on the heels of a round of denuclearization talks over the weekend in Stockholm, Sweden between U.S. officials and North Korean envoys, signaling little faith in the ongoing negotiations.

The North Korean side left the peace talks on Saturday, amid claims that negotiations had “broke down.”

North Korea’s top negotiator Kim Miyong Gil said the U.S. had not met North Korea’s expectations for talks and has not “discarded its old stance” towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Despite the claims of North Korean negotiators, U.S. officials signaled optimism on Saturday, vowing to return to Sweden for an additional round of talks in the next two weeks. North Korea has not yet appeared to accept the invitation to return to talks in Sweden.

Kim also reportedly said Pyongyang’s moratorium on nuclear and ICBM tests are now dependent Washington.

In North Korea’s latest statements, the ministry spokesperson said the DPRK is considering leaving negotiations altogether, and accused the U.S. of coming to denuclearization talks with an “empty hand.”

“The UNSC … picks fault with the just measure belonging to our right to self-defense, while keeping mum about the test-fire of Minuteman 3 ICBM recently conducted by the U.S,” the North Korean criticism continued, appearing to reference a recent U.S. ballistic missile test in the South Pacific.

Massive protests sweep Iraq; Antichrist’s Party calls for emergency government

Protesters rush to an injured demonstrator during a rally in Baghdad, Iraq on Oct. 5. Protests have plunged the country into a new cycle of instability, one that could potentially overthrow the current government. Over 100 people have been killed in less than a week. Iraqi security forces have been shooting at young Iraqis demanding jobs, electricity, clean water, and an end to corruption. | Hadi Mizban / AP

Massive protests sweep Iraq; Communist Party calls for emergency government

Combined SourcesOctober 10, 2019

Massive protests have swept Iraq since Oct. 1 in response to widespread anger over high unemployment, especially among youth, enormous corruption, and the inability of the government to deliver essential services like health care, water, and electricity.

Protesters are directing their anger at the government of Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mehdi and the political parties dominating Iraqi politics since the U.S. invasion who have done nothing to address the crisis. The protest movement seems to cross all community, tribal, and religious affiliations, in distinct contrast to the sectarian violence that often sharply divided the Iraqi people in the past.

The protests have been met with violent repression by police and government security services. The death toll now exceeds 100 with over 6,000 wounded.

Armed militias with links to the governing parties and employing professional assassins have been shooting into the crowds and attacking television stations for covering the protests. Meanwhile, the government has imposed curfews across the country and shut down the internet.

Similar mass protests for change rocked the southern oil city of Basra for several months in 2018 over related issues. Finally, in September, the government and the ruling parties’ armed militias violently suppressed demonstrations there.

The government, caught off guard by the size and scope of popular anger, passed some emergency measures to expand the social safety net and provide grants to graduating jobless students. But the action failed to quell the protests.

The Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) called for a new emergency government to take office. Shi’ite leader Muqtada al-Sadr, who leads the Sairoun Alliance composed of his Islamist Sadrist Integrity Party, the ICP, and some smaller groups, also called for new elections.

This development is significant because Al-Sadr had initially backed Abdul-Mahdi, and his support was crucial to his ascendance as prime minister. Now, Al-Sadr has joined the protesters, raising doubts about Abdul-Mahdi’s future.

The ICP called for swift action to protect protesters from state violence, bring people accused of corruption to justice, and tackle the economic grievances at the root of the unrest. The ICP called the fallen “martyrs of the people.”

To many observers, the protests appear to be spontaneous and leaderless. However, political analyst Abdulkader Alnael said the protests were well-organized by “Coordination Committees” composed of academics, university graduates, youth movements, and tribal leaders. The same committees had staged anti-government demonstrations as early as February 2011.

Much of the nation’s attention has been on defeating the Daesh, or Islamic State, terrorists. With Islamic State largely defeated, focus has shifted to the economic and social crisis facing the Iraqi people. Besides, Iraqis are fed up with the government’s inability to prevent internal interference by the U.S., Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.

“People have an endless list of very legitimate demands,” Alnael told Gulf News, “like the slump in health services, educational collapse, unemployment, the spread of illegal arms in cities, kidnapping, assassinations, sectarian distribution of power, and Iranian tutelage in Iraq.”

Poverty is at 50%, and the price of tomatoes jumped 300%, according to another report.

One unemployed graduate told journalists that Iraqi politicians had done nothing but “steal, steal, steal from 2003 (when the United States and Britain invaded the country) until now.”

“It is estimated that between 2006 and 2014, $500 billion of oil sales receipts and foreign aid disappeared through some of the most massive corruption in history,” wrote Juan Cole. Iraq has one of the largest oil reserves in the world, and could easily fund massive job creation, essential infrastructure, and social services.

According to the ICP, addressing the grievances would entail “a major campaign to build decent houses and distribute them to the poor,” a new council to vet public-sector appointments to address nepotism, and monthly payments to the poor and unemployed.

The ICP also called for a reduction in the top politicians’ salaries and the abolition of privileges and special allowances.

To force the establishment of a government with such a program, “the pace and momentum of the protest movement must be increased, along with a commitment to maintaining its peacefulness,” the Communists said.

Iraq faces a transformative moment, Renad Mansour of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, told the BBC. Iraqis are rejecting a system imposed on them in 2003 by U.S imperialism and the Bush administration.

Social tensions and frustration have been mounting since the May 2018 elections. Then, the new government promised long-needed reforms to deal with massive corruption, nepotism, and high unemployment but ended up maintaining the status quo.

The Sairoun Alliance emerged as the single largest party in the elections. The Iraqi constitution allows for a vote of no-confidence that can be initiated by 50 members of parliament. Without the Sadrists, it’s not clear Abdul-Mahdi can survive a vote, according to Cole.

But no amount of repression will address the underlying issues which sparked the protest. That will take a new governing coalition and a fundamental re-orientation of policy.

4,500 Arabs Riot Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Protesters clash with Israeli forces at the Israel-Gaza border

4,500 Arabs riot along Gaza border

Approximately 4,500 Palestinian Arabs protest as part of weekly “March of the Return” demonstrations, throw explosives at fence.

Elad Benari, Canada, 11/10/19 21:44

Hassan Jedi/Flash 90

Approximately 4,500 Palestinian Arabs protested on Friday near the Gaza border as part of the weekly “March of the Return” demonstrations.

During the demonstrations, explosives and firebombs were thrown at the border fence. Several suspects crossed the fence in the northern Gaza Strip and returned immediately to Gazan territory, reported Channel 13 News.

Palestinian Arab footage published by Channel 13 shows a military jeep allegedly hit by a smoke grenade thrown by the rioters.

The Hamas-run “health ministry” said that 31 Palestinian Arabs were injured during the demonstrations near the Gaza border, adding 12 of them were wounded by IDF live fire.

The “March of the Return” protests, orchestrated by Hamas, have been going on every Friday since March of 2018.

Last week, Hamas claimed a Palestinian Arab was killed by Israeli fire during the weekly clashes.

Last month, two Palestinian Arabs were killed by Israeli Fired in the weekly clashes. Hamas threatened to retaliate for the deaths, saying that Israel will “bear full responsibility for this crime.”

A week earlier, an IDF soldier was lightly injured during the violence.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

Iran Continues to Advance Her Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

See the source image

Despite The JCPOA, Iran Accelerates Its Nuclear Research And Development – While The U.S., After Leaving The JCPOA, In Fact Preserves It With Waivers For Member Countries Allowing Them To Help Iran Continue Civilian Nuclear Development

By: A. Savyon and M. Avraham*

Introduction

Although since President Trump’s May 2018 announcement on the matter, the U.S. is regarded as having withdrawn from the JCPOA nuclear deal,[1] it in effect remains in the agreement because it continues to provide significant waivers to the U.S. sanctions for the rest of the countries in the JCOPA to help Iran develop its nuclear program. That is, the U.S. is preserving the civilian nuclear cooperation with Iran by the JCPOA members, allowing Europe, Russia, and China to continue to uphold the agreement (see July 2019 statements on this matter by former U.S. national security advisor John Bolton).[2]

It is Iran that is withdrawing from the JCPOA, emptying it of meaning by unilaterally cancelling the agreement’s technical restrictions on its activity. For example, on September 4, 2019, Iran announced its third step in withdrawing from its obligations under the agreement; the two previous steps included increasing its enriched uranium inventory beyond the 300 kg permitted in the agreement, and enriching uranium to above the permitted 3.67%.

However, Iran is carefully preserving the framework of the JCPOA, even stating that it is doing so in order to preserve international recognition of it as a nuclear state and as a state entitled to enrich uranium. Iran will never announce that it is withdrawing from the JCPOA because it has no intention of relinquishing this recognition – since the Iranian regime’s first and most important strategic and political aim in pursuing the JCPOA was to achieve it.[3]

In recent weeks, senior Iranian spokesmen have announced that Iran is further abandoning its obligations under the JCPOA. First and foremost, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei stressed, on October 2, 2019, that Iran would continue to cut back on its JCPOA obligations “until we attain the required result.” Earlier, on September 4, Iranian President Hassan Rohani announced Iran’s third step, namely, Iran’s cancellation of the timetable to which it had committed under the agreement and its resumption and acceleration of its research and development free of all restrictions. A few days later, on September 7, Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi clarified the nature of this third step, explaining that Iran was in effect erasing the years-long restriction on its development of advanced centrifuges, and that it was now continuing its nuclear development program – ostensibly permitted by the JCPOA – without it being recognized as a violation of the JCPOA.

Following that, at a October 7 press conference, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi said that these steps by Iran were being undertaken as part of its cutbacks on its obligations under the JCPOA. He explained that Iran was accelerating its nuclear research and development, its uranium enrichment, and its activity at the Arak reactor.

All this means that Iran is stepping up its nuclear program, ostensibly in the framework of the JCPOA, while at the same time unilaterally rejecting its obligations under the agreement.

This report will present Iranian officials’ explanations of the essence of this third step in Iran’s withdrawal from its JCPOA obligations and what it means for Iran’s nuclear development program.

Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei: “We Must Continue [To Act] With Determination And Precision To Cut Back On Our Nuclear Obligations… Until We Attain The Required Result – And We Surely Will Attain It”

In an October 2, 2019 speech to thousands of commanders of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) on the Islamic Revolution’s and the IRGC’s victory over their enemies – i.e. the U.S., as leader of the “world of oppression and arrogance” – Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei twice ordered the continuation of Iran’s cutbacks in its obligations under the JCPOA “until we attain the required result,” though he did not specify what that would be. At the same time, it can be inferred that the goal to which Iran aspires is the eradication of any possibility of Iranian submission to the U.S. – that is, strategic and military supremacy over it, apparently in the form of a nuclear bomb.

Khamenei said: “America’s ‘maximal pressure’ policy has without a doubt been defeated, and Iran will not submit to the regime that seeks hegemony [i.e. the U.S.]. [The Americans] have made efforts recently, with the help of their European friends, to meet with [Iranian President] Rohani and to make it look like Iran was defeated. But the efforts were pointless. Iran will continue to cut back on its nuclear obligations with vigor and determination until the desired outcome is reached… We must continue [to act] with determination and precision to cut back on our nuclear obligations, and the AEOI is charged with carrying this out, just as the government announced, until we attain the required result – and we surely will attain it…[4]

Khamenei’s veiled reference to “the required result,” along with Iran’s steps that empty the JCPOA of its content and its acceleration of its nuclear research and development program, may have prompted him to reiterate statements he had made in the past about the religious ban on the use of nuclear weapons. In an October 9, 2019 speech, he said that according to Islam, Iran was prohibited from using a nuclear bomb – adding, however, that “Iran is capable of doing so.” He said:

“Iran has a mighty and determined position in the matter of the religious ban on the use of a nuclear bomb. Although we were able to go down this path [and attain a nuclear bomb], we have declared the use of this weapon completely prohibited by religious law, according to the precepts of Islam. Therefore, there is no reason to spend money on producing and storing weapons whose use is strictly forbidden…”[5]

It should be emphasized that in his statements, Khamenei referred only to a ban on the use of nuclear weapons, not to a sweeping ban on producing or storing them. Furthermore, MEMRI has published a series of reports concerning Khamenei’s alleged nuclear fatwa showing that it does not actually exist. See:

Iranian President Rohani: “All Research And Development Timetables To Which We Are Obligated Under The Nuclear Agreement Are Completely Cancelled Starting Friday [September 6, 2019]”

At a September 4, 2019 government meeting, Iranian President Hassan Rohani explained why Iran’s third step in withdrawing from its JCPOA obligations is significant for the country’s nuclear research and development program:

“The external form of the third step is not particularly impressive, but its essence is especially important. In my view, this step is the most important of the three steps [taken by Iran to withdraw from the obligations], and its impact will be outstanding. God willing, by means of this step and the instructions that will be released today or tomorrow, the AEOI will exit the current framework of the normal pace of progress, and its activity to achieve its goals will be extraordinarily accelerated.”[6]

Later that day, Rohani announced the cancellation of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear research and development: “…In the third step, the AEOI is obligated to begin immediately [any] research and development [activity] required by the state. It must abandon any obligation under the nuclear agreement pertaining to research and development, so that we see rapid expansion of research and development of the new centrifuges and of anything required for enriching [uranium].

“We know that this is a big step… All research and development timetables to which we are obligated under the nuclear agreement are completely cancelled starting Friday [September 6, 2019], and we will carry out, under the oversight of the International Atomic Energy Agency and within the framework of the peaceful activity, any [nuclear] activity that is technically necessary and that advances nuclear technology. At the same time, we will give the 4+1 countries [Britain, France, China, Russia, and Germany] a two-month opportunity [to compensate Iran for the U.S. sanctions]. If we succeed in reaching an agreement, we might resume our obligations under the JCPOA…”[7]

AEOI Spokesman Kamalvandi: “We Are Already Reaching The End Of The JCPOA Technically – Only One Or Two More Issues Remain, And Once They Are Carried Out [Iran] Will Have No More Obligations” Under The JCPOA

At a September 7 press conference, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), explained the nature of Iran’s third step to cut back on its obligations under the JCPOA. Stressing that Iran is in effect erasing the years-long restrictions on its development of new-generation centrifuges, he said that it is now continuing to develop its nuclear program, ostensibly under the JCPOA and without this activity being recognized as a violation of it. He said:

“Today we have carried out four things: The first is with regard to Section 39, Annex I [of the JCPOA], that is, the production of enriched material by means of new-generation centrifuges and nonintervention [in the separation of] waste from the product. This activity was meant to be carried out only 10 years after the beginning of the JCPOA. From now on, when the centrifuges are operated for research and development [purposes] it will at the same time help increase our [uranium] inventory.

“The second is the injection of gas into the IR6s centrifuges, which is mentioned in Section 32 of Annex I, that was expected to be carried out at the beginning of the 11th year of the JCPOA.

The third is the operation of a cascade of 20 IR4 centrifuges, mentioned in Section 35 of Annex I, that was expected to be carried out in the beginning of the 11th year of the JCPOA.

“The fourth is the injection of gas into the cascade of 20 IR6 centrifuges, that was expected to be carried out in late November of this year. The injection of gas into a cascade of 30 machines will happen in the coming months, such that in effect in the next two months 60 IR6 centrifuges will operate in research and development, and will increase Iran’s enriched uranium inventory. These are actions that have been underway since September 6, 2019.

“During the next two months, and before the end of the phase of the third step, we will have three more important and valuable activities: The first is the activation and injection of gas into the cascade of 164 IR4 centrifuges; the second is the activation of the cascade of the 164 IR2m centrifuges, and the third is the injection of gas into the middle cascade of IR5s centrifuges…

“With regard to the JCPOA and whether or not it has reached its end, this is a political matter, and the politicians must discuss it. Our role is technical, and our obligations in this area are known. [It can be said] that we are already reaching the end of the JCPOA technically. Only one or two more issues remain, and once they are carried out [Iran] will have no more obligations [under it].”[8]

AEOI Director Salehi: “We Will Add 45% To Our Enrichment Capability; There Is An Increase In Production Of Uranium Enriched To Over 3.5%”; In Two Or Three Weeks, We Will Reach 2,500 Kg Of Enriched [Uranium] Using New-Generation Centrifuges”

Speaking at a press conference about the steps Iran was taking to cut back on its obligations under the JCPOA and the way forward for nuclear research and development, uranium enrichment, and the Arak reactor, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi said on October 7:

“In the technical part of the nuclear talks, we tried hard to preserve the essence of the research, in accordance with the directives [from Supreme Leader] Khamenei and his emphasis on this matter. That is, we did not compromise on a thing in the research, and in the JCPOA framework not one Iranian right to research was cancelled. Therefore, the only restriction was time, and the number [of centrifuges].

“Before the JCPOA came into force, Iran was working on five or six advanced centrifuges like the IR2, IR4, IR6, and IR8. There were research and development on all these centrifuges under the JCPOA. In effect, when we want to test mechanical stability or the [nuclear] process, an agreement will be made [with the IAEA] with regard to the number of tests…

“In the next three or four weeks, we will unveil a cascade of 30 IR6 machines. Other machines too will be unveiled, in different numbers…

“Within up to a month’s time, that is, by the end of the third step in cutting back on our obligations under the JCPOA, the AEOI will add almost 3,500 SWU [separative work units, i.e. centrifuges] to the existing number of 6,020 SWU. Thus we will increase our enrichment capability by 45%. There is also an increase in the production of uranium enriched above 3.5%, and the [quantity of the] product has reached five to six kilograms.

“Before the JCPOA, Iran had the capability to [enrich] 2,300 kg [of uranium a year]. So far, we have attained 1,700 or 1,800 [kg] a year – that is, we are back to what the situation was before the JCPOA as far as [the quantity of] enriched [uranium] is concerned… During the next two or three weeks, we will reach 2,500 kg of enriched [uranium] using new-generation machines…

“It is still early to decide on the fourth step. The AEOI has no authority to decide in this matter. The Iranian Foreign Ministry and the committee for reviewing the JCPOA are holding meetings, [at which] they are examining matters and making the correct decisions at the proper time. In any event, the AEOI is ready to implement any decision [about the fourth step made by the political echelon].”[9]

AEOI Director Salehi: We Will Launch The Second Phase Of The Heavy Water Reactor At Arak In The Next Three Weeks

According to another report, Salehi also announced on October 7: “We will launch the second phase of the Arak heavy water reactor in three weeks. The Arak reactor consists of two phases; most processes are carried out in the second phase. In the past four years, the comrades have succeeded in preparing the second phase so that it can be launched in the next two or three weeks. More important is the completion of a device for transferring fuel that [needed to be] replaced, and it will be installed in the next two or three weeks…”[10]

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project;. M. Avraham is a Research Fellow at MEMRI.

 

[1] Whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-joint-comprehensive-plan-action/, May 8, 2018.

[2] Reuters.com/article/us-usa-iran-nonproliferation/us-will-extend-sanctions-waivers-for-iran-nuclear-programs-bolton-idUSKCN1UQ2XW, July 31, 2019.

[3] See: MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1415, The JCPOA Is A UN Security Council Resolution Granting Iran Nuclear State Status – Iran Will Never Withdraw From It And Its Threats To Do So Are Empty, September 5, 2019; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1306, Iran Will Not Cancel The JCPOA – Because It Grants Iran Nuclear State Status And Is A Western Guarantee For The Regime’s Survival, April 6, 2017; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1397, Facing New U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Against It, Iranian Regime, Helpless, Clings To The JCPOA And Europe As A Defense Umbrella Against The U.S., May 25, 2018; Inquiry and Analysis No. 1400, Facing New U.S. Comprehensive Strategy Against It, Iranian Regime Officials Cling To JCPOA – Which Gives Iran Nuclear State Status Under UN Security Council Resolution, May 29, 2018; Inquiry and Analysis No. 837, Khamenei’s Aim at the Nuclear Talks – Securing the Survival of His Regime, May 15, 2012.

[4] Farsi.khamenei.ir/news-content?id=43615, October 2, 2019.

[5] Farsi.khamenei.ir/news-content?id=43704, October 9, 2019.

[6] President.ir/fa/111136, September 4, 2019.

[7] President.ir/fa/111152, September 4, 2019.

[8] Farsnews.com, September 7, 2019.

[9] Irna.ir, October 7, 2019.

[10] Irna.ir, October 7, 2019.

Antichrist Says Government Responsible for Protesters Deaths

Top Iraq cleric says govt responsible for protest deaths

AFP News11 October 2019, 5:13 AM GMT-6

Ahmad Al-Safi, a representative of Sistani, read the Shiite cleric’s statement on October 4 urging Iraq to heed protesters ‘before it’s too late’, in a televised speech

The Iraqi government and security forces are “responsible for the bloodshed” during recent protests, top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani said on Friday.

In a sermon read out at the main weekly prayers, Sistani gave authorities “two weeks” to release the findings of an investigation into the more than 100 deaths recorded during the protests since October 1.

Spiritual leader for Iraq’s Shiite majority, Sistani wields significant power to influence the government.

Iraq descended into violence at the start of the month as protests that began with demands for an end to rampant corruption and chronic unemployment escalated with calls for a complete overhaul of the political system.

The demonstrations from October 1-6 in Baghdad and across the south of the country quickly turned violent, as protests were met with tear gas and live fire, with over 100 killed and more than 6,000 wounded.

Uncertainty over the identity of the perpetrators persists, with authorities blaming “unidentified snipers”.

But protestors and human rights advocates insist Iraqi security forces participated in the violent repression of the rallies.

– ‘End threats, violence’ –

The demonstrations were unprecedented because of their apparent spontaneity and independence in a deeply politicised society.

Sistani endorsed the protests on October 4, calling on the government to heed the demonstrators’ demands “before it’s too late”.

“The government must change its approach in dealing with the country’s problems,” the cleric said, adding that lawmakers also bore a heavy responsibility.

Sistani wields huge influence within Iraq’s Shiite community, among whom the deadly protests were concentrated.

“The government and its security forces are responsible for the bloodshed during the recent protests”, said Abdel Mahdi al-Karbalai, a representative of Sistani who read his sermon in Karbala on Friday.

“What happened demonstrates an unfettered violence that goes beyond all limits of the imagination,” he added, saying “the government is responsible when, under the eye of law enforcement, protestors are fired on illegally and media are beaten or attacked to terrorise their employees.”

The Ayatollah went on to call on authorities to act to “put an end to threats, beatings, abductions, sniper fire and violence by those who believe they can act with total impunity.”

After six days of violence, the authorities recognised “excessive force outside the rules of engagement” had been used in Sadr City, the Baghdad stronghold of influential Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr.

Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi on Wednesday promised a full probe into the violence.

In a televised address to the nation, Abdel Mahdi promised compensation to the “martyrs” — both civilians and members of the security forces killed in clashes.

He also said he would propose a government reshuffle on Thursday to parliament.

The Saudis Damage the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Iranian oil tanker hit by two missiles near Saudi port: state news

Updated 4:44 AM EDT October 11, 2019

An oil tanker belonging to the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC) was hit and damaged by two missiles on Friday, Iranian state news IRNA reported.

The missiles were “possibly” fired from Saudi soil, Saheb Sadeghi, head of the public relations of the National Iranian Tanker Company, told state-run Press TV.

No Iranian government officials have blamed the attack on any side at this stage.

The tanker was 60 miles (96 kilometers) from the Saudi port of Jeddah on the Red Sea when the incident occurred, damaging its body, IRNA reported.

According to the news service, the resulting explosions caused oil to leak into the Red Sea.

Iran’s Press TV also tweeted Friday: “Report: Explosion in #Iranian tanker has set vessel on fire near #Saudi port city of #Jeddah.”

All the tanker’s crew members are safe, IRNA reported. Investigators are looking into the sources of the missiles.

News of the incident caused oil prices to rise on Friday. Prices for Brent Crude jumped 2% to just over $60, while WTI Crude climbed nearly 2% to $54.

A series of attacks on oil tankers and production facilities in the region has increased tensions in recent months.

In September, Saudi Arabia’s Abqaiq oil processing facility — the largest of its kind in the world — was attacked in a series of drone strikes which halved the country’s production.

Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for the attack, but both Saudi and US investigators claimed “with very high probability” that it was launched from an Iranian base.

Shortly after that attack, President Donald Trump said the US was “locked and loaded.” He added that the US was waiting on Saudi Arabia to find out “under what terms we would proceed.”

Speaking to CNN, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied responsibility for the September attack and warned of “all-out war” if the US or Saudi Arabia conducted military strikes against his country.

The drone strikes followed attacks on tankers in the Strait of Hormuz in July, including the capture of the UK-flagged oil tanker Stena Impero by Iran. The vessel was eventually released from the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas in late September