Iraq’s Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi listens during a meeting with then-US President Donald Trump in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, August 20, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo
After all recent attempts to persuade the leader of the Sadrist movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, to go back on his decision to boycott the elections, supporters and opponents alike realize that holding elections without the Shiite figure could drag the country into an unknown fate.
Despite daily statements by the Electoral Commission about completing the preparations for the elections, which are scheduled to be held in October, all sides are aware that the commission’s procedures, despite their legality, are no longer binding as long as everyone can act outside the law if they wanted. In fact, the withdrawals of al-Sadr and other parties and forces all took place after the deadline set in the electoral law.
Meanwhile, based on the map of sectarian and political distribution, no major Kurdish or Sunni political forces have announced their withdrawal from the electoral race, while the problem lies within the Shiite forces whose various currents are competing with each other.
Al-Sadr’s retreat provided these forces with an opportunity to reach out to the movement’s supporters, whose votes might be scattered and distributed among a number of other Shiite currents.
In this context, Prime Minister Mustafa Al-Kadhimi’s position seems difficult in terms of how to find an approach between all parties in order to secure the holding of the elections, which will be preceded by the Iraqi Neighborhood Summit, in addition to the National Dialogue Conference, which will bring together all political forces around one table to address outstanding crises.
Al-Kadhimi, who had succeeded in setting the date of the elections and prepared all the requirements for their success, now wants the scene to be completed through the participation of all sides, including the Sadrist movement.
While the internal crises continue, the government has achieved important external successes represented in opening up to the Arab and regional environments as well as the international community.
The video item below is a piece of English language content from RT (formerly Russia Today). RT is a Russian state-funded broadcaster.
Russia’s joint military exercise with China, the first time servicemen from both nations have participated together on operational and strategic drills, was a “complete success” and demonstrated a “high level” of cooperation.
China is the third largest country in the world by area and the largest country in the world by population. Properly known as the People’s Republic of China, the political territory of the country includes the former nations of Tibet and Hong Kong. The capital is Beijing.
Russia, or the Russian Federation, is a transcontinental country located in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. It extends from the Baltic Sea in the west to the Pacific Ocean in the east, and from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea in the south.
Russia spans more than one-eighth of the Earth’s inhabited land area, stretching eleven time zones, and bordering 16 sovereign nations. Moscow is the country’s capital.
The Soviet Union was dissolved in 1991 and since 1993 Russia been governed as a federal semi-presidential republic. Russia is a major great power, with the world’s second-most powerful military, and the fourth-highest military expenditure. As a recognised nuclear-weapon state, the country possesses the world’s largest stockpile of nuclear weapons.
The main result of the meeting between Presidents Putin and Biden in Geneva on June 16 was the joint statement that “we reaffirm the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.” This most welcome recognition that nuclear war would probably destroy the world is especially relevant now, because August sees the 76th anniversary of the first — and so far the last — use of nuclear weapons in war. On 6 August 1945 a US atomic bomb exploded over the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing some 70,000 people. On August 9 another bomb destroyed Nagasaki city, causing about 40,000 deaths. Japan surrendered on August 15, thereby ending a world war that resulted in the deaths of tens of millions of people, mainly civilians. Estimates vary from 35 to 60 million, but whatever the number, the war was a major catastrophe — but not as great as the cataclysm that would befall the world if nuclear weapons are ever again employed.
While many of us may be confident that the US and Russia will not make use of nuclear weapons against each other, even in the event of major confrontation, that sanguinity cannot extend to other situations, and it is notable that there are four nations that refuse to abide by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which the UN describes as “a landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament.”
The State Department writes effusively that “Israel is a great partner to the United States, and Israel has no greater friend than the United States. Americans and Israelis are united by our shared commitment to democracy, economic prosperity, and regional security. The unbreakable bond between our two countries has never been stronger.” The CIA, whose Israel Factbook was updated on July 20, states that “the US is by far the leading supplier of arms to Israel” which “has a broad defence industrial base that can develop, produce, support, and sustain a wide variety of weapons systems for both domestic use and export, particularly armoured vehicles, unmanned aerial systems, air defence, and guided missiles.”
Washington sees no evil and hears no evil where Israel is concerned, and when Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman met Israel’s National Security Advisor, Dr Eyal Hulata and Senior Foreign Policy Advisor Shimrit Meir on August 3 she reiterated US policy and made yet more Arab enemies by emphasising the “U.S. government’s unwavering support for Israel’s security.” Which presumably includes support for its nuclear weapons’ programme.
In February the Times of Israel carried an Associated Press report that “a secretive Israeli nuclear facility, supposedly at the centre of the nation’s undeclared atomic weapons program, is undergoing what appears to be its biggest construction project in decades.” There was much international speculation concerning the clandestine development, which was detected through satellite imagery, but nothing consequential was revealed.
The 2021 Yearbook of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) records that “Israel has a long-standing policy of not commenting on its nuclear arsenal” and estimates it has ninety warheads of which about 30 “are estimated to be gravity bombs for delivery by F16 aircraft.” According to the Times of Israel, the IAF now operates 27 F-35 multi-role strike aircraft, with a total of 50 to be in service by 2024, and Defence Worldreported that “In a dozen photos published by the F-35 Joint Program Office, the USAF stealth fighter can be seen testing its ability to deploy the latest iteration of the B61-12 thermonuclear gravity bomb. The weapon, with a maximum explosive yield of 50 kilotons, is small enough to fit inside the F-35’s internal bomb bay.”
US support is part of a longtime assistance programme which can be expected to continue under whatever government is in power in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv, because in June, after the election of Prime Minister Naftali Bennet, President Biden “expressed his firm intent to deepen cooperation between the United States and Israel on the many challenges and opportunities facing the region”, declaring that “the United States remains unwavering in its support for Israel’s security.”
It is hardly coincidental that both Israel and the US are energetically opposed to Iran and are determined that its government be overthrown and replaced by something along the lines of the corrupt regime of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who ruled as a US puppet until his ousting by an autocratic Islamic theocracy. To this end, the administrations in Washington and Jerusalem are endeavouring to make life for ordinary Iranians as difficult and miserable as possible, with one of their targets being Iran’s nascent and inconsequential nuclear power programme. As the BBC reports, in 2015 Iran reached a deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), with the US, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany that saw it limit its nuclear activities in return for sanctions relief. This was going well until the unstable Trump abrogated the arrangement and imposed further sanctions. Iran, understandably, remains intent on developing nuclear power, but the US and Israel affect to believe that this is a road to speedy production of nuclear weapons.
Accordingly, Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz declared that “Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA [which Trump rendered void] and is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon,” which was utter nonsense but has the value of indicating where the new Israeli regime is heading.
Israel and the US and the UK have blamed Iran for an attack on a tanker off the Oman coast on July 29, with Gantz claiming he has “hard evidence” of Iranian responsibility, thus proving that “the Iranian regime is threatening us and sparking a regional arms race . . . Iran is a global and regional problem and an Israeli challenge. We need to continue to develop our abilities to cope with multiple fronts, for this is the future.”
It cannot be denied that the theocratic regime in Teheran is blinkered and bigoted and that the new President, Ebrahim Raisi, is outrageouslyhardline, but the international problem is that we now have two extremist governments vehemently opposing each other at a time of rising tension.
Israel’s “abilities” include the capability to strike Iran with nuclear weapons. Given that Bennet and Gantz claim that Israel is threatened by Iran, what happens after the next “incident”?
It is far from inconceivable that Israel would employ its nuclear arsenal. After all, for what other reason does it have ninety nuclear weapons?
Russia’s intention to deploy nuclear weapons in occupied Crimea poses a global threat, and Ukraine will use every opportunity to restrain the Kremlin’s activity in this area.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine Dmytro Kuleba made a corresponding statement at an online briefing on Friday, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
Kuleba noted that Ukraine had long informed international partners about nuclear activities taking place in the occupied Crimea and would continue to do so, in particular with a view to taking countermeasures.
“The issue of nuclear weapons is not a local or even a regional issue, it is a global issue, a global threat. Therefore, we will use all opportunities, including the influence of other nuclear powers on the Russian Federation, to curb such activity,” Kuleba said.
The Iranian regime’s parliament recently received a list of names of prospective cabinet appointees from the regime’s newly “selected” president Ebrahim Raisi. Raisi was inaugurated to begin his first four-year term on August 5. There is little doubt regarding whether those appointments will be confirmed by the parliament, which is widely expected to act as a sort of rubber stamp for the policies that Raisi puts into place over the coming months. His June 18 “selection” was part of a process of consolidating power in the regime which began in earnest with the sham parliamentary elections in February 2020.
The electoral boycott was fueled by public awareness of Raisi’s background, including not just his leadership of the judiciary following the November 2019 crackdown but also his prominent role in a massacre of political prisoners that took place more than three decades earlier.
As deputy public prosecutor for Tehran in 1988, Raisi ended up taking on a leading role in the “death commission” that was created in the capital city following a fatwa from the regime’s founder, Ruhollah Khomeini. That fatwa declared that the members and supporters of the opposition movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) are “waging war on God” and that anyone who remained sympathetic to the MEK should be summarily executed. Over 30,000 political prisoners were put to death over the course of about three months. Raisi was personally tasked with extending his jurisdiction beyond Tehran when Khomeini determined that his enthusiasm for capital punishment would help correct the “weakness of the judiciary.”
Khomeini’s successor apparently had the same goal in mind when he announced in 2018 that Raisi would be heading the entire judicial branch. By subsequently directing Raisi to take charge of the executive branch, Khamenei seemed to be promoting a similar emphasis on “strength” through repression at all the highest levels of the Iranian regime.
Raisi was replaced as judiciary chief by his deputy Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejei, who has his own track record of human rights abuses and is therefore currently under sanction by the US and Europe. Between this and the takeover of the parliament, Khamenei has largely realized his goal while setting the stage for a new outpouring of Tehran’s familiar malign activities. Raisi’s pending cabinet appointments will only further reinforce the trend, with consequences not just for the usual targets of domestic repression but also for the international community.
Even before Raisi’s inauguration, there were clear signs of escalating of the mullahs’ belligerence toward regional and Western countries. Near the end of July, an explosives-laden Iranian drone struck a commercial tanker called Mercer Street in the Gulf of Oman, killing two crew members. The incident was part of a much larger project, spearheaded by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, to antagonize shipping in and around the Persian Gulf, but it was the first known instance of such an act claiming the lives of civilian sailors. Five days later, Iranian gunmen boarded but eventually released another tanker near the United Arab Emirates port of Fujairah.