A Closer Look At The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

A Look at the Tri-State’s Active Fault LineMonday, March 14, 2011By Bob Hennelly
The Ramapo Fault is the longest fault in the Northeast that occasionally makes local headlines when minor tremors cause rock the Tri-State region. It begins in Pennsylvania, crosses the Delaware River and continues through Hunterdon, Somerset, Morris, Passaic and Bergen counties before crossing the Hudson River near Indian Point nuclear facility.In the past, it has generated occasional activity that generated a 2.6 magnitude quake in New Jersey’s Peakpack/Gladstone area and 3.0 magnitude quake in Mendham.But the New Jersey-New York region is relatively seismically stable according to Dr. Dave Robinson, Professor of Geography at Rutgers. Although it does have activity.„There is occasional seismic activity in New Jersey,“ said Robinson. „There have been a few quakes locally that have been felt and done a little bit of damage over the time since colonial settlement — some chimneys knocked down in Manhattan with a quake back in the 18th century, but nothing of a significant magnitude.“Robinson said the Ramapo has on occasion registered a measurable quake but has not caused damage: „The Ramapo fault is associated with geological activities back 200 million years ago, but it’s still a little creaky now and again,“ he said.„More recently, in the 1970s and early 1980s, earthquake risk along the Ramapo Fault received attention because of its proximity to Indian Point,“ according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.Historically, critics of the Indian Point Nuclear facility in Westchester County, New York, did cite its proximity to the Ramapo fault line as a significant risk.In 1884, according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website, the  Rampao Fault was blamed for a 5.5 quake that toppled chimneys in New York City and New Jersey that was felt from Maine to Virginia.„Subsequent investigations have shown the 1884 Earthquake epicenter was actually located in Brooklyn, New York, at least 25 miles from the Ramapo Fault,“ according to the New Jersey Geological Survey website.

War Escalates Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israel hits Hamas targets as Gaza militants fire rockets

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli aircraft struck a series of targets in the Gaza Strip early Monday while Palestinian militants launched rockets into Israel in the third consecutive night of fighting between the sides.

The violence took place shortly before Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, was heading to Egypt for a visit expected to focus on Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers in the wake of an 11-day war last May.

Those efforts appear to have come to a standstill in recent weeks. Tensions have further risen after last week’s escape from an Israeli prison by six Palestinian inmates.

The Israeli military reported three separate rocket launches late Sunday and early Monday, saying at least two of them were intercepted by its rocket defenses. It said it attacked a number of Hamas targets in retaliation. There were no reports of casualties on either side.

In other violence, the Israeli army said an assailant attempted to stab a soldier at a busy intersection in the occupied West Bank. It said that soldiers shot the attacker, who was taken to a hospital. No further details were immediately available.

In downtown Jerusalem, meanwhile, police said a 17-year-old Palestinian boy stabbed and wounded two people near the city’s central bus station.

Jerusalem police chief Doron Turjeman said the assailant was shot by an officer. The boy suffered a serious gunshot wound to the chest.

Islamist militant group Hamas praised the two attacks, but stopped short of claiming responsibility. Abdulatif Qanou, a Hamas spokesman, said they were meant to pressure Israel into “stopping its crimes against our people and prisoners.”

Last week’s prison break appears to have heightened tensions across the region, with Palestinians staging a number of protests in solidarity with the men. In Palestinian society, nearly every family has seen a member imprisoned by Israel, and the thousands of prisoners held by Israel are widely seen as heroes paying a price for the national cause.

Over the weekend, Israel caught four of the six Palestinian inmates, who tunneled out of a maximum security prison on Sept. 6. Palestinian militants reacted to the arrests with rocket fire. Israel’s search for the last two prisoners is continuing.

The Egyptian-mediated efforts to deliver a long-term truce have struggled with the sides unable to agree on a system to renew Qatari payments to needy Gaza families. Israel has demanded guarantees that Hamas does not divert the money for military use.

Gaza is an impoverished territory whose population is overwhelmingly comprised of families who fled or were forced from properties in what is now Israel during the war surrounding Israel’s establishment in 1948.

Hamas is pushing for Israel to end a crippling blockade that has devastated Gaza’s economy, while Israel is demanding that Hamas free two captive Israeli civilians and return the remains of two dead Israeli soldiers.

Hamas has controlled Gaza since ousting the forces of the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007, a year after the Islamic militant group won Palestinian parliamentary elections.

Since then, Israel and Hamas have fought four wars and numerous smaller rounds of fighting.

On Sunday, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid on Sunday called for a new approach to end the cycle of fighting with Hamas, describing a plan of international investment in Gaza’s infrastructure in exchange for pressure on Hamas to halt its military buildup and preserve calm.

“The policy Israel has pursued up until now hasn’t substantially changed the situation,” Lapid told a security conference. “We need to change direction,” he added.

Much about his proposal — which he said was made in consultation with the United States and other countries — has been floated before but never implemented due to the fighting, deep distrust and bitter internal divisions on both sides. Bennett, whom Lapid is to replace in 2023 under a rotation agreement, did not immediately comment on the proposal.

Why the US WILL NEVER to go to war with China

Why US is afraid to go to war with China

Illustration: Liu Rui/GTGeneral John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday, “Our goal should be to never go to war with China, to never go to war with Russia. Because that day is a horrible day for the planet, and a horrible day for our countries.” Retired US admiral and former head of US Pacific Command Harry Harris also said that “it’s very important that we do everything that we can to prevent an escalation and open warfare” with China.
Recently, there have been more voices in the US emphasizing that the US should not have military conflicts with China. This is obviously because the tensions in the relations between the two countries have been escalating. The frontline troops are getting closer and closer, and the US has had real worries of accidental and serious confrontation between the two militaries and even accidental discharge of fires. 

The risk of a China-US military confrontation has increased. The reason is that the two countries’ strategic hostility has continued to increase, and their mutual trust has dropped to almost zero. Metaphorically, if the wind blows the door shut now, both countries would believe that the other side is slamming the door. If an incident like the 2001 in-flight collision in the South China Sea happens again today, it is difficult for the two sides to cool the incident down and resolve it peacefully.

Who is to blame for such an awkward situation? 

China has absolutely no way to retreat. The one-China principle is the fundamental principle that we must insist on. When the Democratic Progressive Party authority wants to promote “Taiwan independence,” how can we not stop it? If the US really doesn’t want conflicts with the Chinese mainland in the Taiwan Straits, there are two ways. First, it should put pressure on the DPP authority, not allowing it to make trouble. If both the mainland and the US are against “Taiwan independence,” the DPP authority will chicken out. Second, the US should stop interfering. It should not intervene if the Chinese mainland launches attacks against Taiwan secessionists. In that case, no conflicts will erupt between China and the US in the Taiwan Straits.    

But the problem is: The US is instigating the DPP authority to provoke, continuously sending signals that Washington will offer support even if the island touches the bottom line, while at the same time, it asks the mainland to prevent the so-called competition between the mainland and the US falling into conflicts. We have to ask: Is what Washington has done in the Taiwan Straits “competition”? We advise Washington to straighten out its logic. Political hooligan tactics cannot work with the Chinese mainland. 

To prevent military conflicts between China and the US and ensure 100 percent security, the US must retreat from provoking China’s core interests. As the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea has never been a problem, why do US warships always sail so close to China’s islands and reefs? The South China Sea is so wide that lanes are everywhere. Why must they come to China’s islands and reefs to find trouble? This is not navigation at all, but undisguised provocations and threats.  

The Chinese people have already seen it through. There is no way that we can talk to the US with reason, we can only talk to the US with strength and actions. I noticed that when Hyten said the US should never go to war with China and Russia, he particularly mentioned that “a war with a nuclear power is a bad thing.” See? What the US is really afraid of are the nuclear weapons of China and Russia. 

So, my conclusion is strong military strength, especially strategic nuclear power, has made the US in deep awe of confronting China. Under the condition that China doesn’t proactively attack it, the US knows that it should stick to the bottom line and not push China into a life and death fight with it. Therefore, as long as what China is doing is defending its core interests, China has the morality and has nothing to fear.   

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction from the End

China's nuclear build-up: The great distraction

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction

By Rose Gottemoeller, Opinion ContributorSeptember 13, 2021 – 02:30 PM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

President Biden is reviewing America’s nuclear posture. By January, we should know what he thinks about U.S. nuclear weapons, what policies should govern them and how many we need. Congress is watching closely, and the Senate and House of Representatives are sure to debate the results; they always do. 

But this year will be different. A new player has entered the field — China. 

China is modernizing its nuclear forces. The recent discovery of three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo fields in remote regions west and north of Beijing point to a big build-up of weapons and a different strategy for their use. Since acquiring nuclear weapons from the Soviets, the Chinese have taken the stance that they would not build up a large and highly alert force but instead would be ready to retaliate. This “second strike deterrence posture” has served them well, but now the Chinese seem to have decided it is not enough. 

Which is why it is urgent that the Biden administration (and the Kremlin) get them to the table to ask them. Chinese nuclear force posture and strategy should be an equal concern in Washington and Moscow.

We can ask the Chinese separately, or together, but ask them we should. All three countries might even agree to take some early steps, such as exchanging deployment plans and information about nuclear doctrine. Such confidence-building measures would build mutual predictability and may stave off a nuclear arms race. 

Most importantly, we must not panic. Even if the Chinese deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles in each of their new silos, the U.S. will still have a large and capable nuclear force structure and many more nuclear warheads. Some authorities have predicted that the Chinese may be able to quadruple their warhead numbers in coming years. If one goes by the Stockholm Peace Research estimate of 350 Chinese warheads, then China would end up with 1,400 total warheads. That compares with over 4,000 warheads available for deployment in both the United States and Russia. We need to keep a sharp eye on what they are doing but not rush into making rash changes in our own nuclear forces. 

China may be a rising nuclear power, but its bigger agenda is building up its science and technology prowess. And this is where we need to focus as a competitor. We should ask ourselves: What is in the long-term U.S. national security interest? Where can we best spend our national treasure to ensure our future defense? Our defense budget funds are finite; we have to balance how best to spend them.

The focus should be not on nuclear weapons but on the new and emerging technologies that are rapidly maturing into military assets. Innovations in artificial intelligence, big data analysis, quantum computing and quantum sensing and biotechnology are where future defense capacity is being born. 

The Chinese have sworn to beat us at acquiring and exploiting every one of them. Their China 2025 and 2050 plans are designed to ensure that China will dominate the science and technology space at mid-century.

The United States needs to do everything it can to disrupt this Chinese rush to technological superiority. But we cannot do so if we let 100 ICBM silos distract us. These 70-year-old weapon systems have nothing to do with the future capabilities we must deploy if we are to maintain our national defense.

To achieve that goal, we must push the frontiers of science and innovation and prevent Chinese dominance. The U.S. has the talent and the institutions to do so — as long as we spend our resources wisely. 

But we are moving in the wrong direction. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), between 2000 and 2017, the share of basic research funded by the federal government declined from 58 percent to 42 percent. Other NSF indicators, such as the number of patents granted, also show a decline in U.S. performance.

Putting more resources into science and innovation does not mean that we should fail to modernize our nuclear forces. The program of record for nuclear modernization first put in place by President Obamacontinued to develop momentum during the Trump presidency as we began to exchange new weapons systems for old.

Some of them, such the Ohio-class submarines, are nearly 50 years old. They need to be replaced with new, quieter and more capable nuclear-armed submarines. It is still true that, for as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

But let us not let the Chinese push us into pouring our national treasure into nuclear weapons that we do not need. They will continue to go for broke to dominate science and technology achievement in this century, and this is where our attention needs to be.

We must keep a sharp eye on China’s nuclear deployments. But we have a long head start on them and can ensure that they do not surprise us in the nuclear space. If we fail to stay focused, we may find one day that they have achieved strategic superiority with entirely new military systems that we can neither defend against nor match.

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the under secretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. Department of State.

The apocalyptic scenario unfolding in the Middle East: Revelation 16

US Afghanistan Withdrawal Aided Iran in Its Apocalyptic Mideast Vision

Rabbi Abraham Cooper and Reverend Johnnie Moore

Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rev. Johnnie Moore is president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of the KAIROS Company.

The ignoble withdrawal of the US military from Afghanistan – a withdrawal commanded before vulnerable American civilians and military assets were safely evacuated – only served to benefit Iran’s apocalyptic vision for the Middle East, despite the Biden administration’s efforts to frame the decision differently.

Whatever Washington says about Afghanistan, Americans need to recognize this withdrawal was never about numbers. It was about a creeping change of heart, and it augurs potential disengagement from America’s loyal friends and allies and an eroding resolve to defend endangered minorities from threats of oblivion.

Before we get to the potential losers, we want to be crystal clear: If the Biden administration continues this course, there will be only one big winner – Iran’s megalomaniac Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, whose innate hatred for the United States is only matched by his genocidal loathing for Israel and Saudi Arabia.

Only one nation in the world has been the target of more terrorist missiles than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: the State of Israel. In the case of Israel, the treatment is courtesy of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah. In the case of Saudi Arabia, it comes from the Houthis in Yemen.

Whatever the source of the deadly trajectories, the missiles flung toward Saudi Arabia and Israel are virtually identical. That’s because they come from the same source: Iran. They also serve the same purpose: Kill innocent people to destabilize the Middle East in order to advance a Khamenei-led Iranian apocalyptic death cult. Khamenei’s vision – whatever his numerous suave puppets and apologists profess – involves the total destruction of the State of Israel and the total subjugation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Khamenei’s vision hasn’t changed despite the change of presidential administrations in the United States.

Now, the Biden presidency is seeking to tread down a disastrous path that will empower Khamenei in pursuing his vision. Indeed, President Joe Biden’s Iran envoy Robert Malley may have discovered that the administration can leverage America’s exhaustion with wars in the Middle East, and in Afghanistan, to grant Iran the ultimate prize without most Americans even noticing: a near-total American withdrawal from the Middle East.

This is why the Biden administration announced on July 27 its intention to also withdraw from Iraq altogether (another dream of Tehran), and why their “come hell or high water” approach to withdrawing from Afghanistan, whatever the human or reputational cost, continued undeterred. Could the US contingent in Syria be far behind?

It’s a new version of an old idea often floated by former Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. He advocated for a so-called “new security framework” in the Middle East which – as a prerequisite – involved the expulsion of the Americans.

“We need a strong region, not a strong man in the region. We have to recognize, all of us in the [Arabian] Gulf region, need to join Iran in recognizing that nobody can be the hegemon of the region. All of us need to work together in a strong region,” Zarif said in 2018.

With a heavy dose of Persian chutzpah, Zarif lauded with a straight face the virtues of “territorial integrity” and called for “no interference in the internal affairs of others” and “respect for national boundaries.”

All one needed to do was to start with “confidence-building measures.”

The confidence-building measures imagined by Zarif look a lot like what we’re seeing in the Middle East today as America disengages while Iran plays host to a regime whose new government is the most extreme since the onset of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution.

No one seems to notice or care but one party in the Gulf isn’t buying it: the actual Iranian people. Iranians have had it with less food on the table, less water to drink, more misery, and more repression. This is why Iran’s summer was marked by more protests and more brutal crackdowns by the regime’s revolutionary guards. While the rest of the Gulf is planning for a brighter 21st century, the Iranian people are stuck with a regime fueled by the hatreds of the 12th century.

Rather than expending so much energy trying to change the Iranian government’s trajectory, it’s time for the Biden administration to read the region and amplify the voices of those in the line of Tehran’s fire, beginning with the Iranian people and continuing with those whose cities face Iranian rocket fire and the threat of nuclear blackmail.

Instead of pushing its Arab allies into normalizing their relations with Iran, the Biden administration ought to be building upon the peace-through-strength successes of the Abraham Accords. That’s what the American people supported and that’s what our allies in the Middle East desperately need. The nations of the Gulf, along with Egypt, Israel and other nations near Iran, don’t have the luxury of waiting for the results of the 2022 midterm US elections, let alone the 2024 presidential elections. They will instead have to forge their own collective path to defend themselves from more “confidence-building” demands from Tehran.

And if Washington is unwilling to do so then it may be time for the Arab countries to just move forward in the right direction without the Americans. They shouldn’t care too much about it either because Washington won’t be able to resist taking credit for their successes during midterm elections in 2022 and presidential elections in 2024.

In the meantime, it behooves American citizens – Democrats and Republicans – to demand action from their elected representatives in Congress. They must declare in a clear bipartisan voice: There will be no deals with Iran that endanger our allies. It’s time to show the pollsters and pundits at least that the American people are paying attention and do care about the fate of the Middle East.

If there is an actual, attainable deal with Iran that really reduces terrorism, violence, and nuclear threats, share those details with the American people, but from where we sit all we see are American diplomats promising Tehran everything they’ve demanded and more for the privilege of a useless piece of paper and the privilege of being serially lied to.

The author of this blog or other opinion piece is a third-party contributor who is independent of The Media Line Ltd and its partners or supporters. All assertions, opinions, facts, and information presented in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and are not necessarily those of The Media Line and/or all parties related thereto, none of whom assumes any responsibility for its content.

The War on Terror Has United the Shi’a Horn: Daniel 8

Mehmet Alaca, Iran news, Iraq news, Islamic State terrorism, war on terror at 20, 20 anniversary of 9 11, US invasion of Iraq, Iraq militias, Middle East news, Iraq politics news, Qassem Soleimani assassination

The War on Terror Drove Iraq Into Iran’s Orbit

By Mehmet Alaca

September 13, 2021

© Andy.LIU / Shutterstock

After al-Qaeda targeted the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, 2001, then-US President George W. Bush declared his (in)famous doctrine of the global war on terror, which will continue to have a great effect on the Middle East and the world for the coming decades, if not centuries. The framework implemented an aggressive foreign policy against Iraq, Iran and North Korea, singled out as the “axis of evil” in the new world order.

After 20 years of the doctrine in action, which saw the occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq that further ignited regional instability, President Joe Biden has withdrawn US troops from Afghanistan and is determined to end the combat mission in Iraq by the end of the year. Without concluding whether two decades of aggression succeeded in defeating terrorism, it can be said that the war on terror opened a new area of influence for one of the axis of evil, namely Iran in Iraq.

Opening the Gates

Thanks to its Shia population, Iraq has been a significant target of Iranian foreign policy since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Due to both geographic and sectarian proximity, Iran, which sees Washington as an enemy and a source of instability in the region, was suspicious of the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. 

Deeming Baathist Iraq as a major threat to its national security, the regime in Tehran has meddled in its neighbor’s internal politics and strategic tendencies ever since coming to power. With the US toppling of Saddam Hussein, however, Iran succeeded in courting Iraq’s Shia population by taking advantage of its shared border and cultural, religious and economic ties.

The fact that significant Shia figures opposed to the Iraqi regime took refuge in Iran in the early 1980s strengthened Tehran’s relations with these groups in the post-invasion period. During this time, the Shia population has become influential in the Iraqi state and society. For example, Hadi al-Amiri, the leader of the Badr Organization militia, and Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the recently deceased vice president of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), count among some of the most prominent pro-Iranian figures in the current Iraqi political and military establishments.

The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shia resistance group headed by Ayatollah Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim hoping to topple Saddam Hussein’s regime, was established in Iran in 1982. It became a pioneer organization for various Shia militias and political groups with connections to Tehran, incorporating the Badr Organization, then known as the Badr Brigades. 

While Iran benefitted from the support of Iraqi militias during the inconclusive war with Iraq in the 1980s, Tehran redirected this mobilization against the US forces following the 2003 invasion. The Iraqi militia group Kataib Hezbollah was formed in early 2007, followed by Asaib Ahl al-Haq, as part of the campaign by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force against US forces.

Iran’s presence in Iraq came to light when the Americans captured several Iranian operatives in 2006 and 2007, among them Mohsen Chizari of the IRGC. Asaib Ahl al-Haq kidnapped and killed five US soldiers in January 2007, but two months later, coalition forces captured the militia’s leader, Qais al-Khazali, alongside an operative of Hezbollah, Tehran’s proxy in Lebanon, Ali Musa Daqduq. It is well known that the Jaish al-Mahdi militias led by Muqtada al-Sadr, who still has distant dealings with Iran, received intensive Iranian support to fight against the United States.

The disbanding the Iraqi army and establishing the interim government by the US after 2003 provided Iran with new opportunities to secure many significant positions in the bureaucracy. In this process, many members of the Badr Brigades were integrated into the new army and police forces, their political connections winning many rapid promotions. Today, Badr is still one of the most active groups within the police, the army and the Ministry of Interior.

Consolidation of Iranian Power

The Baghdad government was formed along ethnic and sectarian quotas. As per the country’s 2005 constitution, the presidency was allocated to the Kurds, the prime minister’s office to the Shia and the position of parliament’s speaker to the Sunnis. The allocation of the executive position to Shia leaders strengthened Iran’s elbow room in Iraqi politics.

The sectarian policies of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who held office between 2006 and 2014, disquieted the Sunni society further. In addition to the fact that the Shia occupied a central position in the administrative system, the American inability to understand Sunni expectations has marginalized Sunni society. Radicalization led to the resurgence of al-Qaeda and later the formation of the even more extreme Islamic State (IS) group in the Sunni regions or Iraq.

After capturing Mosul in June 2014, IS has taken control of almost a third of Iraqi territory. All Shia groups fighting against the new threat were united under the banner of the Popular Mobilization Units — an umbrella organization controlled mainly by pro-Iran armed groups — after Iraq’s top Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called for all those able to carry a weapon to take up arms.

The PMU militias were provided with American and Iranian-made weapons during their fight against IS. Pro-Iranian militias such as the Badr Organization, Kataib Hezbollah and Asaib Ahl al-Haq dominated the PMU. Active support by the IRGC provided to Iraqi militias and the presence of Qassem Soleimani, a Quds Force commander, at the front lines pointed to Iran’s effectiveness in the field.

Integrating the PMU as a legal part of the Iraqi security mechanism in 2016 further legitimized Iranian influence in the political and military establishments. For instance, almost $1.7 billion was allocated to the PMU, which consists of some 100,000 militants, from the $90-billion Iraqi budget in 2021.  

Defeating the Islamic State

After the declaration of victory against IS in 2017, tensions between Iran and the US, placed on the back burner during the campaign, reignited. While US officials argued that the PMU completed their mission and should be dissolved, pro-Iranian groups reassumed their anti-American tone. 

Thanks to their active role in the fight against IS, Iran-backed militias secured their position in the military bureaucracy and were able to establish themselves politically. The Fatah Alliance, under the leadership of Hadi al-Amiri and backed by pro-Iranian militias, gained victory in the 2018 election, becoming the second-largest group in the Iraqi parliament. Iran has thus become one of the decision-makers in post-IS Iraq.

Tensions increased in 2018 after President Donald Trump decided to unilaterally withdraw the United States from the nuclear deal with Iran. Pro-Iranian forces began to attack US forces on the ground in Iraq. While Iran seemed to want to punish the US via the Iraqi militias, these attacks also aimed at forcing Americans to withdraw from Iraq. The situation has come to an apogee with the killing of Soleimani and Muhandis in the US drone strike in Baghdad on January 3, 2020.

The assassinations shifted the tensions to the political arena. On January 5, under the leadership of pro-Iranian groups, a resolution was passed in Iraq’s parliament to call on the government to expel foreign troops from the country. In addition to political pressures, as a result of ongoing attacks by pro-Iranian militias on American bases and soldiers in Iraq, the US abandoned many of its bases in the country. As a result of strategic dialogue negotiations with Baghdad, Washington decided to withdraw its combat forces and retain only consultant support. To a large degree, Iran managed to get what it wanted — to drive the US out and reassert its own influence in the region.

Pro-Iranian militias, already active in the Shia regions, started to show their presence in Sunni-dominated areas such as Mosul, Anbar and Saladin after the defeat of IS. Furthermore, Iran-backed groups pursue a long-term strategy to seize control of disputed areas between the central government and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Iran-backed groups, including the Badr Organization, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, Kataib Imam Ali, Kataib Sayyid al-Shuhada and Saraya al-Khorasani, have been active in the disputed territories since 2014.

At the same time, these militias under the PMU umbrella reject control by Baghdad and threaten the central government. So much so that Abu Ali Askari, a spokesman for Kataib Hezbollah, was able to say that “the time is appropriate to cut his ears as the ears of a goat are cut,” referring to Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi, while militias were able to flex their muscle against the government in the streets of Baghdad amid tensions leading up to the anniversary of Soleimani’s assassination.

Make Sense of the World

Aiming to limit US influence, Iran has been gradually reshaping Iraq‘s internal and security policy since 2003. While millions are still paying the price of the war on terror in Iraq, which resulted in the collapse of the political and economic systems followed by a campaign of terror by the Islamic State, Iran continues to consolidate its power, both in military and political spheres. 

After an 18-year-long story of invasion and with the US poised to withdraw its combat forces, Iran’s hegemony over Iraq will inevitably come to fruition. The sectarian and ethnic emphasis within the framework of the government quota system not only prevents the formation of independent Iraqi identity but also keeps fragile social fault lines dynamic, an opportunity that Iran will, without doubt, continue to exploit.

Time Has Already Run Out: Revelation 16

Time Is Running Out: Israel Warns Iran’s Nuclear Program at ‘The Most Advanced Point Ever’

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett put the world on notice that time is running out to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. 

Speaking at his Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett sounded an international wake-up call.  

“I am calling on world powers: don’t fall into the trap of Iranian deception that will lead to additional concessions. You must not give up on inspecting sites and the most important thing, the most important message is that there must be a time limit,” he said.

“They (Iran) are dragging on, we must set a clear-cut deadline that says: until here. The Iranian nuclear program is at the most advanced point ever,” Bennett warned.

Israel remains clear – its military option to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities is open.

Earlier this month, the UN agency monitoring Iran’s nuclear program released a confidential report saying that for months, the regime hindered access to its nuclear sites by damaging surveillance cameras. The report said Iran is also expanding its nuclear program dangerously close to a weapons-grade level. To avert a political showdown, Iran invited the agency back this weekend, but it could be too late.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued another warning with the release of images of an Iranian training base.   

“The Kashan base located north of the city of Isfahan is used to train terrorists from Yemen, Iraq, Syria snd Lebanon,” Gantz said. “Iran has developed ‘proxy terror’ which is perpetrated by organized ‘terror armies’ which are assisting Iran in achieving its economic, political and military goals.”

The camps include another weapon of terror – military drones.

“One of the most significant tools employed by Iran and its proxies is UAVs with a range of thousands of kilometers,” Gantz said. “Hundreds of these UAVs are spread across Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iran is also attempting to transfer the know-how needed for UAV production to Gaza.”

Seth Frantzman, author of Drone Wars, says this is Iran’s war of the future today. 

“What it tells us is Iran is not just exporting drones and the blueprints, it’s bringing people into Iran, training them and sending them back,” Frantzman told CBN News. “I think that, of course, has big implications for the region because it means you [have] very skilled operators that can use drones that can target ships or energy facilities or whatever they want.”