Drone Attack Targets Antichrist’s Home Following Deadly Attack on Protesters

Drone attack targets Iraqi cleric’s home following deadly attack on protesters

07/12/2019 – 18:09

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr gather near his home, after it was attacked, in the holy city of Najaf, Iraq on December 7, 2019. Alaa al-Marjani, Reuters

The drone attack, which caused little damage and left no casualties, followed a deadly attack by armed men near Baghdad’s main protest site on Friday night, which left at least 23 dead, police and medical sources said.

Nearly 130 others were wounded by gunfire and stabbings targeting anti-government protesters at the Sinak bridge near Tahrir Square, the sources said. The death toll includes three members of the police.

Thousands of Iraqis have occupied the central square and three nearby bridges which lead to the city’s Green Zone, Iraq’s political centre, for more than two months, calling for a complete uprooting of the political system.

Friday and Saturday’s attacks came days after Iraq’s prime minister, Adel Abdul Mahdi, said he would resign.

Sadr, a mercurial figure who has supported the protests but not thrown his full weight behind them, was in Iran at the time of the drone attack on his home in the southern holy city of Najaf, a source in his office said.

However, a spokesman for his party said the incidents were aimed at pressuring both protesters and political leaders to accept whichever candidate is nominated for the premiership by the ruling elite.

“The Sinak massacre and the bombing of (Sadr’s home) is geared at pushing the acceptance of the candidate for prime minister,” said Jaafar Al-Mousawi.

Iranian officials including the powerful commander of its Revolutionary Guards’ elite Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, stepped in to prevent Abdul Mahdi’s resignation in October, Reuters reported.

Soleimani was reported to be in Baghdad this week, negotiating with political leaders for a new consensus candidate for prime minister.

Masked gunmen

The weekend’s developments marked a drastic escalation to quell the demonstrations, the country’s largest in decades. More than 430 people have been killed since protests began on Oct. 1.

Security sources said they could not identify the gunmen who attacked protesters on Friday night.

The incident was followed by further intimidation early on Saturday morning, as more unknown gunmen drove in a convoy down the main riverside street which leads to Tahrir Square, firing a volley of shots towards it.

The heavily armed, masked gunmen roamed the street near Tahrir Square and attempted to advance onto it but were eventually turned around at a checkpoint manned by Iraq’s security forces, witnesses said.

Friday’s deadly attack came hours after Washington imposed sanctions on three Iranian-backed Iraqi paramilitary leaders whom it accused of directing the killing of Iraqi protesters. A senior U.S. Treasury official suggested the sanctions were timed to distance those figures from any role in forming a new government.

Western diplomats condemned the attack on protesters, urging Iraqi authorities to investigate whoever is responsible.

The government has said it would investigate and try those responsible for the violence, but there has been little evidence of real accountability, partly due to the complexity of Iraq’s varied security apparatus.

(REUTERS)

The Flashpoint For The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

India, Kashmir & deterrence

Riaz Mohammad Khan

The writer is an author and a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.

KASHMIR is generally described as a nuclear flashpoint. Reference to Pakistan and India being nuclear-armed neighbours is often cited in times of heightened tension between the two countries and as a reminder that they must avoid an all-out conflict. The Aug 5 Indian move to annex India-held Kashmir (IHK), the draconian lockdown in the Valley since that date, and reckless Indian claims to Azad Kashmir have created a radically new and dangerous situation which has been the subject of extensive comment.

In a recent Dawn article, my respected senior colleague ambassador Ashraf Jehangir Qazi pointed to an impending genocide in the Valley and suggested that “if the people of the Valley are threatened with genocide, as indeed they are, Pakistan’s [nuclear] deterrent must cover them”. The concept of nuclear deterrence has an inbuilt ambiguity, but given the gravity of the subject matter, it needs further scrutiny.

Two questions readily come to mind. Will the post-Aug 5 conditions in IHK morph into a genocidal crisis and how should Pakistan respond to such a situation? Second, what broadly underpins Pakistan’s thinking on resort to its nuclear deterrent and how will it apply to Kashmir?

Arguably, the lockdown of eight million Kashmiris represents a most reprehensible human rights violation that deserves the severest international condemnation, but despite the danger, in the general perception, genocide is tied to large-scale massacres, mass exodus and international outrage. The Indians appear to be avoiding that tipping point and are attempting to pursue calculated repression to tire the Kashmiris out and entice pliable Kashmiri individuals to acquiesce in the new diktat. They are embarked on a long haul.

The Aug 5 move has so poisoned the well that it is difficult to see a path to normal relations with India.

Pakistan, on the other hand, is waiting to see how Kashmiris react to repression when they find some breathing space. This policy dilemma is at play in Prime Minister Imran Khan’s warning to those intending to cross the Line of Control. The current impasse is fraught and nothing is clear about its denouement. If, however, the situation deteriorates and there is bloodshed and people start fleeing the Valley, Pakistan’s restraint will come under great stress and become untenable. A stage may come when beyond exhausting diplomatic options, Pakistan would be unable to withhold material assistance to the Kashmiri struggle.

That scenario can precipitate a conflict for which Pakistan must be fully prepared.

In all probability, conflict would draw international intervention and activate the United Nations Security Council to call for a ceasefire and dialogue for a political settlement of Kashmir. This could become a new basis for dialogue, since the heart of a meaningful dialogue on Kashmir provided by the Shimla Accords, the Lahore Summit Declaration and subsequent bilateral pronouncements has been knocked out by the Aug 5 move of the Modi government. This could usher in a period of tenuous peace and another status quo over Kashmir. But conflicts can have unpredictable trajectories and far worse, and disastrous consequences cannot be ruled out, which makes the talk of nuclear deterrent relevant.

Pakistan developing a nuclear deterrent was a necessary and understandable response to rectify the qualitative force imbalance created by India’s 1974 nuclear test. Pakistan obviously had no outside nuclear umbrella available and had to rely on its own capacity. Since 1998, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine has maintained that its deterrent is entirely defensive and meant to be a shield against any intended aggression to destroy its territorial integrity.

India’s Cold Start Doctrine forced further fine-tuning of Pakistan’s thinking as to the practical applicability of its deterrent. Because the Cold Start Doctrine contemplated incursion and lopping off a vulnerable part of Pakistani territory, Pakistan responded by developing tactical nuclear weapons to be deployed against an invading force inside Pakistan. India has reacted by declaring that use of a nuclear weapon, however limited, anywhere (including inside Pakistan) would draw a massive nuclear retaliation. Regardless of the debates swirling around these scenarios, they provide the clearest indication of Pakistan’s determination to go to any extent to defend its territorial integrity.

How does all this apply to Kashmir? In practical terms, Pakistan’s deterrent cannot protect people in the Valley or prevent mayhem in IHK. But a genocide can lead to a conflict between Pakistan and India with its own dynamic and risks, thus Kashmir becoming a nuclear flashpoint. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent must however cover Azad Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan to thwart any Indian designs to capture any part of that territory. Many among the current BJP leadership mince no words about their covetous intentions and claims over the territory. It is imperative that we leave no one in doubt that we will defend Azad Kashmir and GB as we will defend any part of Pakistan. We cannot tolerate a repeat of Siachen.

Islamabad must also brace itself for Indian-sponsored subversion and disaffection in Azad Kashmir and GB, and, recognising their special status, ensure well-being, development, rights and opportunities for the people of these areas.

The Aug 5 move by the Modi government has so poisoned the well that it is difficult see a path to normal relations with India. Imran Khan’s Kartarpur initiative and his call to curb any jihadist impulse along the LoC are laudable. These measures, or any other similar gestures or initiatives, are unlikely to compel India to change course to some form of a policy reversal that respects Kashmiri sentiment and restores an environment for purposeful interaction with Pakistan. Much will depend on the Kashmiris and sensitivity of the international community to their predicament and to sane voices within India. Meanwhile, barring further deterioration, Pakistan has little choice but to maintain only a circumspect functional relationship with its eastern neighbour without expectations of normalisation any time soon.

The writer is an author and a former foreign secretary of Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, December 9th, 2019

Iran Goes on the Offensive in Iraq (Daniel 8:4)

Iraqi demonstrators gather as flames consume Iran’s consulate in Najaf, Iraq, on Nov. 27. HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP via Getty Images

Tehran funnels in missiles while Trump reportedly mulls a big increase in U.S. troops.

Robbie GramerDecember 5, 2019, 11:44 AM

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Security Brief Plus.What’s on tap today: Iran is secretly funneling missiles into Iraq as it grapples with protests, tensions mount on the Korean peninsula as North Korea mulls new long-range missile tests, and Sudan’s new leader makes his debut in Washington.

If you would like to receive Security Brief Plus in your inbox every Thursday, please sign up here.

Iran Takes Advantage of Turmoil in Iraq

Tehran isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. As anti-government protests  roil Iraq, neighboring Iran has funneled short-range ballistic missiles into the country to help reassert its influence in the Middle East, U.S. officials told the New York Times.

The move, to some critics, shows that U.S. President Donald Trump’s longstanding efforts to weaken the Iranian regime and roll back its influence in the Middle East through sanctions and increased U.S. troop presence in the Persian Gulf isn’t working out as well as the administration hoped.

Troop surge? The news comes as the Trump administration considers sending more military hardware, ships and up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in an effort to counter Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal. Top Pentagon officials insist they have not yet made a decision to deploy additional troops, however.

The move would be another reversal of Trump’s promise to extricate the U.S. military from costly conflicts in the Middle East. Since the spring, the United States has deployed roughly 14,000 troops to the region after a series of attacks on oil tankers and infrastructure in the Gulf that pushed tensions between Tehran, Washington, and its Gulf allies to new heights.

North Korea ready to renew long-range missile tests. Tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula, as well as between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fading fast. Name calling is back: Trump has reverted to calling Kim “Rocket Man” again and North Korea threatened to call Trump a “dotard” without going so far as to do so. And as nuclear talks flounder, reports seem to indicate that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its first long-range missile test since 2017.

On Monday, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song issued a vague and ominous warning to the United States, saying, “It is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.” Kim Jong Un followed those statements with a horse ride up North Korea’s sacred Mount Paektu, his second since October and a symbolic move experts see as a sign that Kim will announce a major new policy decision.

A rare win for NATO with Turkey. Under pressure from U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Turkey has officially agreed to a NATO plan for the defense of Poland and the Baltic states, giving it the necessary unanimous approval. Ankara was dragging its feet over the issue because of disputes over the situation in Syria, where it is demanding that Washington officially label U.S.-allied Kurdish militias as terrorist groups.

On the eve of a meeting of NATO leaders in London this week, Esper urged Turkey to support the defense plan, suggesting that Ankara was too focused on its own narrow agenda rather than the threat of Russia in Eastern Europe. It’s a rare victory as NATO grapples with an increasingly bellicose Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has plunged relations between Ankara and Washington to new lows.

A new Sudan? The leader of Sudan, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, is visiting the United States for the first time in three decades. Long an international pariah accused of supporting terrorism and trading arms with North Korea, Sudan is seeking to turn over a new leaf under a transitional government after a coup ousted the autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this year. The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it would renormalize relations with Sudan, sending an ambassador there for the first time in over two decades. Sudan is next pushing for the United States to delist it as a state sponsor of terrorism to open its economy to international investors.

Foreign Policy Recommends

Trump’s man on Iran. He may not be a household name, but Brian Hook has played an outsized and influential role in Trump’s State Department from the beginning.Vox has an in-depth profile of Hook, the Trump administration’s special envoy on Iran. Despite initial skepticism of Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, Hook has become one of the president’s strongest allies in the State Department, steadily implementing the administration’s hardline approach to Tehran.

“Let us stop the façade that our governments enjoy ‘warm and cordial’ relations. The current government of Zambia wants foreign diplomats to be compliant, with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

—U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote issues an unusual scathing rebuke of the country’s government, which lashed out at him after he criticized it for sentencing two men to 15-year imprisonment for engaging in a same-sex relationship.

Life inside the DMZ. When the demilitarized zone was formed between North and South Korea after the end of the Korean War, only two villages—one in the north and one in the south—were permitted to remain inside. For decades, the villages served propaganda purposes, allowing each regime to showcase the best of their respective societies. North Korea’s village has mostly been cleared out, but Taesung, the south’s village, still remains. The Seoul government recently installed a 5G network to keep villagers content and ensure the long-term survival of the village.

Drama at the (fake) border. A man was arrested last week for erecting a fake border between between Russia and Finland and charging four migrants from South Asia more than $10,000 in exchange for safe passage. The nationalities of the migrants were not released, but all four were fined by a St. Petersburg court on Wednesday and ordered to be deported.

Trudeau dragged into 2020 fight. Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking advantage of an embarrassing candid camera moment, where NATO leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were caught making fun of Trump. Biden released a 2020 presidential campaign ad Wednesday evening using the viral video to criticize Trump. Trump, meanwhile, was none too pleased with Trudeau.

That’s it for today.

For more from FP, subscribe here or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or typos to securitybrief@foreignpolicy.com.

Dan Haverty contributed to this report.

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

The Sixth Seal Is Past Due (Revelation 6:12)

https://www.cheatsheet.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/aftershock-640x484.png?044193 

New York City is Past Due for an Earthquake

by , 03/22/11

filed under: News

New York City may appear to be an unlikely place for a major earthquake, but according to history, we’re past due for a serious shake. Seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory say that about once every 100 years, an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 rocks the Big Apple. The last one was a 5.3 tremor that hit in 1884 — no one was killed, but buildings were damaged.

Any tremor above a 6.0 magnitude can be catastrophic, but it is extremely unlikely that New York would ever experience a quake like the recent 8.9 earthquake in Japan. A study by the Earth Observatory found that a 6.0 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and a 7.0 magnitude hits about every 3,400 years.

There are several fault lines in New York’s metro area, including one along 125th Street, which may have caused two small tremors in 1981 and a 5.2 magnitude quake in 1737. There is also a fault line on Dyckman Street in Inwood, and another in Dobbs Ferry in Westchester County. The New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation rates the chance of an earthquake hitting the city as moderate.

John Armbruster, a seismologist at the Earth Observatory, said that if a 5.0 magnitude quake struck New York today, it would result in hundreds of millions, possibly billions of dollars in damages. The city’s skyscrapers would not collapse, but older brick buildings and chimneys would topple, likely resulting in casualities.

The Earth Observatory is expanding its studies of potential earthquake damage to the city. They currently have six seismometers at different landmarks throughout the five boroughs, and this summer, they plan to place one at the arch in Washington Square Park and another in Bryant Park.

Won-Young Kim, who works alongside Armbuster, says his biggest concern is that we can’t predict when an earthquake might hit. “It can happen anytime soon,” Kim told the Metro. If it happened tomorrow, he added, “I would not be surprised. We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

Armbuster voiced similar concerns to the Daily News. “Will there be one in my lifetime or your lifetime? I don’t know,” he said. “But this is the longest period we’ve gone without one.”

Via Metro and NY Daily News

Images © Ed Yourdon

Israel Conducts Air Raid Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel conducts air raid in Gaza Strip after intercepting rocket fire

By Daniel Uria

Israel said it conducted air raids in the Gaza Strip after intercepting two of three rockets fired from the region with its Iron Dome defense system, like the one pictured here. File Pool photo by Jack Guez/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Israel Defense Forces conducted air raids early Sunday in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian rockets were fired from the region toward southern Israel.

The IDF tweeted that three rockets were fired from Gaza and two were intercepted by its Iron Dome Aerial Defense System and hours later Israel deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters to the region in response.

No Palestinian groups took responsibility for the rocket fire but, Israel said the Islamist militant group launched the missiles.

“Hamas is responsible for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli citizens,” the Israeli military said.

The air raids struck several targets associated with Hamas including a camp and a naval position in the northern Gaza Strip, IDF said.

Israel’s defense minister, Naftali Bennett, warned that the nation would seek to move from a “defensive approach to an attacking approach” on the Gaza Strip.

“Whatever we’ll do — we’ll do it at the right time — in the right way and with great power,” Bennett said. “No one will drag us to it. A good ruse is served cold, not when the blood is boiling and the other side waits of it.”

Last month, rocket fire was also exchanged between Israel and the Gaza Strip after an Islamic Jihad commander in Northern Gaza and his wife were killed in a strike on his bedroom.

Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ (Daniel 8:8)

ANALYSIS: Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’

Even with Tehran facing internal pressure, Iranian expansionism and the formation of a ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ remain Israel’s top concerns.

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again addressed the issue of the growing Iranian threat to Israel and the region as a whole.

After mentioning his recent conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the PM spoke about the situation in Iraq where Iran’s proxy al-Hashd al-Shaabi this weekend killed up to 25 unarmed demonstrators in Baghdad after creating an electricity black-out.

Netanyahu again called upon the European countries to increase, not decrease as six European countries did last week, the pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Apparently, the Israeli caretaker premier mentioned the situation in Iraq on purpose to show that Israel sees Iran’s activities in that country, as well as Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Yemen as one huge Iranian plot to create the Shiite Crescent.

Netanyahu also threatened again to launch a wide-scale military operation in Gaza after four rockets fired from the enclave caused thousands of Israelis to run for their life on Shabbat the Jewish day of rest.

If we take a look at the larger picture Netanyahu has in mind the conclusion should be that the Israeli leader is rightly concerned about Iran’s increasing belligerent activities and about the possibility Iran could launch an attack on Israel.

To start with the latter, the Israeli government is sending signals to Iran it better not crosses “red lines” as the new Defense Minister Naftali Bennett put it.

Bennett indicated he intends to change the equation in the conflict with Iran and its many proxies.

While cautioning it will take time he warned Israel’s enemies “will realize that they cannot shoot at Jews anymore.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz sent another message to Iran when he bluntly said that the Israeli government could retort to military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program after news broke that Iran announced it would introduce a new type of centrifuge to enrich uranium.

Another Israeli message was sent to Iran last Friday when the Israeli air force test-launched a, what seemed to be, a long-range ballistic Jericho 3 missile which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Contrary to usual protocol when the Israeli military tests missiles, the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv was deliberately vague about the test launch from the IAF base Palmachim.

“The defense establishment conducted a launch test a few minutes ago of a rocket motor system from a base in the center of the country,” a statement read adding that the test was planned in advance and had been successful.

The IAF also used a telemetry plane and at least two Israeli AF G550 AEWC Shavit spy planes which flew to all the way to Crete to monitor and handle the test with the Jericho missile.

Iran got the message, which apparently touched a raw nerve.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif fired off a Tweet in which he claimed the “nuke-missile” was “aimed at Iran” and castigated four Western world powers for not complaining “about the only nuclear arsenal in west Asia.”

If we now take a look at developments on the ground in Iran’s Shiite Crescent we will understand the concerns of the Israeli government.

In Iraq, Iran tries with all its might to quell the continuing popular unrest and to install yet another pro-Iranian government after the resignation of PM Adil Abdul Mahdi while it continues to turn northeast Iraq into a missile base.

Iraqi protesters now report that al-Hashd al-Shaabi has resorted to an old tactic which is based on the proverb: if you can’t beat them join them.

Members of the predominantly Shiite organization are infiltrating the demonstrations and try to kill them from within by sowing discord or by sudden arrests.

On Saturday night, furthermore, an unidentified attack drone bombed the house of Muqtada al-Sadr, the winner of the last Iraqi election, who supports the demonstrations and is also known for his resistance against Iran’s attempt to turn Iraq into a second Lebanon.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also dispatched his close confident Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, to Baghdad in order to secure that a pro-Iranian politician becomes the successor of Mahdi.

In Syria, meanwhile, Israel allegedly carried out two new airstrikes on the Quds Force and its allies in the vicinity of the border town al-Bukamal the site of earlier IAF attacks against Iranian targets.

Arab media reported that five members of Iranian militias were killed in the second strike while the first destroyed an ammunition depot of the Quds Force.

Then there is Lebanon where Hezbollah is building-up forces along the border with Israel, the IDF reported last week.

“We have a very serious enemy” said Col. Roy Levy of the IDF’s Northern Command adding that “they have a lot of cameras, a lot of forces along the border, camouflaged.”

Yemen, a new player in Iran’s proxy war against Israel is now also threatening war against Israel.

Maj. General Mohammed al-Atefi, Yemen’s Defense Minister claimed this weekend that Israel has been involved in the Yemenite war since from the first day of “the invasion” an apparent reference to the Saudi-led intervention in the war.

Al-Atefi said that the “Yemeni Army now has a bank of naval and ground military targets of the Zionist enemy, and we will not hesitate to hit it whenever the leadership decides.”

He then added that his army “has completed all aspects of the construction that qualify it for a comprehensive strategic attack that cripples the enemy’s capabilities,” an apparent reference to the anticipated multi-front attack against Israel.

Iran, meanwhile, claims it has succeeded to pass a budget that will offset the effects of the Israeli-US campaign of maximum pressure and aims to ease the hardships of the Iranian population.

President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged that Iran is facing “a lot of problems” but that his government is on the “correct path” thanks to Allah.

If it will be enough to quell the current popular uprising in Iran remains to be seen.

Israeli Iran observer Ya’acov Yashar, the son of Iranian immigrants, reported to Arutz Sheva that the protests continue unabated despite over 1,000 deaths and more than 7,000 injured protesters.

A video posted on Facebook on Saturday showed large students protests in Tehran while another one showed how the Basij militia of the IRGC shot down all protesters of another demonstration in the city of Mahshar.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran later confirmed the student protests in Tehran where demonstrators vowed to continue the path of their martyred brothers.

According to Prophecy Nuclear War With North Korea Will NOT Happen

Is War with North Korea Unavoidable?

Key point: Pyongyang might not be subject to the same constraints as other nuclear regimes.

Many believe that North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons, along with its conventional arsenal, rules out war.

A conflict would indeed prove more horrific than many apprehend, and being enthused by the prospect of another Korean war would truly be insane. However, what is even more insane is telling the President of the United States that the greatest nation in history, and all its 300 million+ citizens, must live in the shadow of annihilation at the whims of a sadistic cult. This is simply not going to happen, and observers insisting that there is no military option ignore reality and all senior members of this administration and the president himself. The United States will not live with a North Korea that can destroy American cities with a nuclear-tipped ICBM, end of story.

Those arguing against war insist that traditional nuclear deterrence with North Korea can work, just like with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Before proceeding everyone should re-read the last paragraph and understand fully that their argument is an academic exercise and not a realistic course of action. They are also totally wrong, for these reasons:

1. Deterrence has already failed

North Korea’s nuclear weapons are not merely about regime survival, for all would agree that its existing capabilities are more than sufficient for dissuading unprovoked regime change. Rather, it seeks mutual nuclear vulnerability with the United States to prevent military responses to North Korea’s current and future aggression towards U.S. allies in the region.

This is already being demonstrated. On September 14, North Korea stated that:

“The four islands of the [Japanese] archipelago should be sunken into the sea by the nuclear bomb of Juche. Japan is no longer needed to exist near us.”

Hardly a declaration that nuclear weapons are for deterrence! The very next day residents on Hokkaido island received a text – ‘a missile from North Korea has been detected, take cover.’

Any suggestion that there is a ‘lock step’ allied response to these provocations is absurd. Imagine it was Hawaii that North Korea proclaimed would be ‘sunk’ and American citizens receiving texts with missiles flying overhead. Washington’s response would be starkly different.

Maybe North Korea could be deterred from launching a nuclear weapon directly against the United States (and none can be certain of that). Once North Korea possesses dozens of nuclear-tipped ICBMs, however, it can attack U.S. allies and even embark on a second Korean war knowing there isn’t a thing the United States can do about it without inviting a massive and unacceptable nuclear retaliation. This fact is not lost on Japan, Korea, or even Australia. Consequently, U.S. alliances in Asia will fast unravel.

2. North Korea is not the Soviet Union or China

This seemed so obvious that when the comparison was first made I regrettably ignored it. Since then there has been an increasing number of deterrence advocates who use the Soviet Union or China as examples to support their case.

(NOTE: This first appeared in 2017.)

Starting with the basics, deterrence can only exist when an adversary would have undertaken the action if not for the deterrent. In the case of China, there was never a prospect of Mao launching a nuclear strike against the United States, regardless of America’s own nuclear arsenal. Nor did America’s nuclear weapons deter China in any way – China fought the Korean war decades before the taboo against nuclear use had been established, and at a time when China did not even possess nuclear weapons!

Moreover, the capabilities and doctrine between Mao’s China and North Korea could not be more different. China did not possess any means of delivering a nuclear weapon to the United States until long after bilateral relations had been normalized. China also instituted a minimum-deterrent and no-first-use policy (maintained to this day), targeted at no specific country. Meanwhile, North Korea pursues nuclear ICBMs with gusto and constantly threatens the United States with nuclear destruction. Certainly, those in the 1960s who insisted that America could not live with a nuclear-armed China were fools, but to draw that comparison with North Korea today is spurious.

The Soviet case is equally broken. For most of the Cold War, the United States believed itself the conventionally inferior party that had to compensate with nuclear weapons. America’s objective was not to deter a Soviet nuclear attack but rather an invasion of Western Europe. Soviet domination of Western Europe would have posed such an existential threat to the United States that it was credible for America to initiate a nuclear war to prevent it. This credibility was underscored by the fact that two European NATO allies possessed their own nuclear deterrents and could retaliate to an attack on behalf of themselves.

By contrast, it is not credible that the United States will incur large-scale nuclear attack from North Korea on behalf of South Korea or even Japan. Unification of the peninsula under Pyongyang would not threaten America’s existence. The North Koreans know this and will therefore not be deterred.

Others say that Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) is the answer. The reason being that deterrence by punishment (nuclear retaliation) can be combined with deterrence by denial (thwarting an attack) to effectively deter hostile aggression. After all, if North Korea believes that America can shoot down its ICBMs, it is less likely to engage in hostile acts in the first place.

Again, this is wrong. The hostile reaction of China and Russia to BMD aside, missile defense is more like a Kevlar vest than an impregnable bank vault – the bad guy will still shoot at you, you are hoping to reduce some of the damage. It will take decades of proven efficacy before long-range BMD systems have any deterrent effect at all. In the interim, BMD systems must be assessed as an operational capability, not a strategic one.

However, the most significant issue is that nuclear deterrence simply doesn’t work the same way in the context of a major power-weak state dyad. Nuclear deterrence was effective with Russia and China because both saw themselves as massive and great civilizations in which nuclear weapons were guarantors of ultimate security, not instruments of first response. The risk of uncontrolled escalation created a disincentive against threatening the core interests of rival nuclear powers, and reduced (but hardly eliminated) the threat of major power war.

The incentive for North Korea is exactly opposite. Far from avoiding threatening America’s core interests, doing so directly advances Pyongyang’s own strategic goals. This is because the costs to the United States of intervening will greatly outweigh those of acquiescing to what are, relative to major power competitors, modest North Korean objectives (even though the long-term consequences for the United States’ position in Asia is profound). Moreover, unlike with America’s major power rivals, any level of American military intervention taken against North Korea would necessarily be interpreted by Pyongyang as an existential threat to regime survival, meaning that dramatic escalation is assured and not merely a risk. In short, North Korea will increasingly engage in hostile aggression below the nuclear threshold, without fear of conflict. The bottom line is that the United States will be deterred, not North Korea, despite the wide gap between their respective nuclear capabilities.

A better example than China or Russia would be India and Pakistan, were Pakistan only aggressive toward distant Indian allies and not India itself. It is inconceivable that India would incur a major nuclear exchange on behalf of these allies, and therefore Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would serve as a deterrent for India, but not the other way around, thereby encouraging Pakistani hostility.

The differing nature of each country’s political system should not be ignored either. In the case of both Russia and China, there is an advanced political structure in which the leaders who emerge have risen during a long career. These individuals must possess a degree of reason, patience, and resilience as pre-requisite of their station. In the case of North Korea, however, the requisite qualities are dynastic pedigree, personality worship, and absolute brutality – hardly a dependable catalog for nuclear restraint. Deterrence advocates rely heavily on Kim Jong-Un’s rationality to support their case. Leaving aside the fact that nuclear first use by North Korea could be rational, given the nature of the regime it is irrational for a U.S. president to stake millions of American lives on this assumption.

In timeless wisdom, the Ancient Greek historian Thucydides outlined the three causes of war: fear, honor, and interest. All three are at play on the Korean peninsula. The United States fears a North Korean nuclear weapon could detonate over an American city. Its status as a major power in Asia and credibility as an ally is on the line. And it has profound interests in North Korea not becoming an established nuclear power.

At present, only two nations can credibly threaten the United States with nuclear destruction, Russia, and China. A North Korean nuclear ICBM is entry to a very exclusive club. If this picture seems wrong instinctively, it is. Some with impressive nuclear resumes believe traditional nuclear deterrence strategies are adaptable to North Korea. They are totally wrong about this, and no-one should be seduced by this fantasy.

Is Pakistan Military Preparing for Nuclear War (Revelation 8 )

Is Pakistan military building base for air-dropped nuclear bombs? What satellite images show

5 December, 2019

When the Taliban was creeping closer to Islamabad in 2008-2009, Pakistan’s security dilemma was compounded by the discussion in the United States of a “Plan B” – to seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons should the US deem fit. The Indian intelligence community was rife with stories of how the Pakistanis had started shifting their nuclear strike assets – from the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) to Sindh and Balochistan. Today, satellite images more or less confirm it.

Satellite imagery provided by Shadowbreak & detected by @detresfa reveals significant expansion of two high-security bases. One is Samungli, on the outskirts of Quetta in Balochistan; and the other is Manjhand, a few kilometres outside Hyderabad in Sindh. There is significant evidence to show that these are also storage sites for Pakistani nuclear weapons.

Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

The site in question lies between two military bases in Balochistan – the Samungli air base (home to the 23rd and 28th squadrons of the Pakistan Air Force, known to fly the F7 and JF-17 fighters); and the Khalid air base, believed to be a drone base, and within a highly protected heavy security quadrant. In spite of this, the additional security at this site is notable.

Figure 2 | Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

In Figure 2, notice the triple-layer fencing – the innermost concentric circle complete with watchtowers. In some areas, the distance between each fence varies. They are very tight and there is a significant distance between the three concentric circles, indicating a different threat perception at each perimeter. This triple fencing in a high-security area marks it out as a special zone, given that neither of the two airbases nearby (Khalid and Samungli) have triple-layer fencing despite major attacks there in 2014.

The inset shows two of the several deep tunnels of 8-meter width each – one has a 14-meter container truck parked outside with a fence close by and another has some ongoing construction work next to it. The rail network starts only at the end of the road leading up to the tunnels. This restricts the movement of large missiles on Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs) being stored here – including larger ones in Pakistan’s arsenal that are capable of hitting India and that require a 20-meter-long TEL. So, the rail network is perhaps for transporting both heavy and highly secure material.

Figure 3 | Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

A close up (Figure 3 inset) indicates that the rail network isn’t meant to serve the military bases, but is for whatever is being stored in the two tunnels.

Figure 4 | Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

However, it is the two clusters of hardened shelters at this site that stand out. The first cluster marked as Area of Interest 1 (AOI1) shows four hardened bunkers. The frontal access to each is blocked by a double deflection wall. First, the extreme narrowness of the access to each bunker – about 4 meters wide (extrapolated by the width of the fire tender seen in Figure 4). Second, a set of hazard pits filled with water. As explained by the folks at Shadowbreak, this means “whatever is in those bunkers is highly explosive”, which is to say a water source to be used by fire tenders.

Figure 5 | Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

Also, note the regular fire patrols on site (Figure 5), with the base having a dedicated fire station.

Figure 6 | Image courtesy: Shadowbreak | ThePrint

AoI2 (Figure 6) shows some very different and interesting features.

1) The hardened shelters here not only face the mountain ridge, but also have a single deflection wall in the front, at a greater distance from the access than AoI1 shelters. This indicates two things – first, larger vehicles can enter this shelter unlike AoI1; second, thinner deflection wall in the front shows a confidence in the mountains’ ability to thwart any oblique attack by smart munitions.

2) The only purpose of the thicker deflection wall placed at a strange angle seems to be to deflect any blast from the access control to the outside. So, even if the bunker is lost, access to the compound still remains secure.

In line with what we know of the Pakistani precautions to keep nuclear weapons dismantled and secure, the site seems to be an assembly for warheads. This separation plan involves the missiles/delivery platform being held by the Pakistan Army/Air Force, while the actual “physics package” and the fuse are held separately by two different officers within the Strategic Plans Division (SPD). The proximity to the airbases indicates this may be for fighter dropped nuclear gravity bombs. So, the tunnels store the disassembled bombs, with the fuse and physics package mating being done at AoI1, and the final mating with the delivery platform (possibly an air launched missile or a gravity bomb) being done at AoI2 with immediate access to a road for the airbase.

The fact that the rail platforms and infrastructure neatly separate the storage tunnels and AoI1 could also indicate that larger, heavier warheads for missiles are stored here, which after a rapid assembly, can be transported by rail to another location. Curiously, if this is indeed a base for Pakistan’s air dropped nuclear bombs, then the presence of JF-17s – and not the F-16s – acquires importance, as it would mean that the JF-17s either have or will be made nuclear capable.

US and Saudi Horns Remain Allied Together (Daniel 7:7)

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)  (Associated Press)

Pensacola naval base shooting tests US-Saudi relations

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Posted Dec 7, 2019 3:56 PM CST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. defense and military officials on Saturday reaffirmed America’s continued commitment to and relationship with Saudi Arabia after a Saudi Air Force student’s deadly attack at a Navy base in Florida.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and others attending a security conference in California played down any initial impact on U.S.-Saudi ties. President Donald Trump described a conciliatory conversation with the Saudi king.

But the shooting also is testing the allies’ ties just months after the Trump administration delivered substantial military aid to Saudi Arabia to counter threats from Iran.

“I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia. They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters Saturday as he left the White House on a trip to Florida. He said the king “will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly.”

Asked about any potential effect on military relations, Esper had said on Friday: “We have strong military-to-military ties.” He added, “That’s the basis of our relationship with the Saudis. I don’t see this undermining” the military-to-military relationship.

In remarks at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Esper was asked on Saturday whether he can say definitively that the shooting in Pensacola was terrorism. “No, I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time,” he said. Asked whether he would now hesitate to send American forces to Saudi Arabia, he said, “No, not at all.” He said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have shared security interests, especially with regard to Iran.

Investigators were exploring why the pilot trainee and three others watched videos of mass shootings in the days before he fatally shot three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola and wounded several others.

When Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, was asked whether the shooting gave him reservations about sending Marines to Saudi Arabia, he said no.

“All of us have forces in other countries, and theirs in ours,” Berger said. “Reservations sending Marines or service members to other countries or to Saudi Arabia? No, not at all.”

Saudi leaders were quick to make calls to American officials, expressing condolences and outrage over the killings. Saudi King Salman called Trump soon after the news broke Friday. In a statement, the Saudi Embassy said the king “affirmed that the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people, who count the American people as friends and allies.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that he had just talked to the Saudi foreign minister, ”who expressed his condolences and sadness at the loss of life in the horrific attack.”

The shooting raised uneasy parallels to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when many of the al-Qaida-linked hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania countryside were Saudi citizens who had flight training in the U.S.

The suspected Pensacola shooter, identified by U.S. officials as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was a member of the Saudi Air Force and was attending pilot training at the base. The officials provided his name on condition of anonymity because it has not yet been released publicly. Three people were killed in the shooting, and eight were injured, including two sheriff’s deputies. One of the deputies shot and killed Alshamrani.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday that Alshamrani hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings. And one of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped outside the building while the shooting was taking place, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.

The official said 10 Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday while several others were unaccounted for.

U.S. officials at the security forum in California were careful not to draw any broader conspiracy or terrorism-related links to the shooting.

Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, was asked about unspecified reports that the Saudi shooter may have been part of a “sleeper cell.” He said he had not seen any such reports. He said the shooting was under investigation, and “at this point it is too early, in my opinion … to draw those types of conclusions.”

The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. As of this week, there are more than 850 Saudis in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.

“This has been done for many decades,” Trump said Saturday. “We’ve been doing this with other countries, foreign countries. I guess we’re going to have to look into the whole procedure. We’ll start that immediately.”

The Trump administration has also been aggressively helping Saudi Arabia this year, sending Patriot missile batteries, dozens of fighter jets and hundreds of troops there after attacks on the kingdom that officials blame on Iran.

In October, Esper visited Prince Sultan Air Base to see one of the batteries and talk about efforts to get other allies to contribute to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter threats from Iran.

But the kingdom’s reputation is still damaged after the killing last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi intelligence officials and a forensic doctor killed and dismembered Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, as his fiancée waited outside the diplomatic mission.

Khashoggi, long a royal court insider, had been in self-imposed exile in the U.S. while writing critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the oil-rich nation’s King Salman.

___

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Simi Valley, Calif., and Associated Press writer Brendan Farrington in Pensacola, Fla., contributed to this report.

Thousands Protest Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Thousands protest along Gaza border

Some 4,000 Palestinian Arabs protest along Gaza border as Hamas-orchestrated “March of the Return” protests resume.

Some 4,000 Palestinian Arabs protested at several locations along the Gaza border on Friday, as the Hamas-orchestrated “March of the Return” protests resumed. In an unusual move, many of them were children, noted Channel 13 News.

Some of the demonstrators threw explosives at IDF forces, who in turn used riot dispersal means.

The Hamas-run “health ministry” in Gaza reported that 27 protesters were wounded, four of whom by live fire.

At the conclusion of the demonstrations, the “national authority for the return marches and breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip” announced the continuation of their activities next week.

The weekly “March of the Return” riots, orchestrated by Hamas, had been held every Friday since March of 2018 until several weeks ago, when Hamas cancelled them, likely due to the efforts being made through mediators to achieve a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

(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.)