Israel Tries to Stop the Shia Crescent

Israel May Be Planning A Nuclear Attack On Syria

Surprising Videos:Israel Plans A Nuclear Attack On Syria;Russia Summons The Israeli Ambassador To Moscow For Clarification

We know Syria has decided to fight it out with Israel despite the 2013 nuclear attack the world continues to deny. We know Israel who admits to giving medical treatment to ISIS has been moving jihadists through Jordan for years, arming and training ISIS and supplies its intelligence, communications and even air support. Denying this is insanity.Everyone knows Turkey, Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States finance ISIS, recruit for them, arm them and keep other nations from effectively opposing them.
Those other nations include not just the United States but perhaps Russia as well. Israel is terrified of ISIS being defeated. This means Hezbollah returns to Lebanon, victorious in war and able to stand up to the Israeli onslaughts that are staged whenever Israel’s internal politics demand a whipping boy outside the country.Bombing Palestinians and whipping up hatred at home against them and the the few remaining Christians inside Greater Israel and the Occupied Territories is a useful narrative that Saudi Arabia, in particular, has played a part in all along.When did the Saudi/Israeli alliance begin? Some believe long before the 1973 war and the oil embargo against the United States. The Saudi’s have been playing a double game that long. Yesterday’s Israeli bombing attacks aimed at the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian advisers at Palmyra, a battlefield with no Hezbollah forces whatsoever, has to be “enough” for Russia.
Back on May 2, 2013, SyriaNews reported an Israeli submarine sunk off the coast of Latakia. Their mission was to pick up IDF commandos tasked with planting communications relays to support a false narrative that the Syrian Army was using sarin gas, in order to force the United States into war.
Two days later, Israel staged a bombing attack outside Damascus using a tactical nuclear weapon, and this is not conjecture. It is time the world community and Russia began dealing with this and the likelihood that Israel is going to do the same thing again, against Syria, against Lebanon and do it with full complicity of Donald Trump.
Nuclear Attack
VT submitted the video above to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and University of California at Los Alamos. They confirmed that the presence of ball lightning is an indicator of a nuclear weapon, nothing else can cause this, though there were many other observable factors that made this a nuclear explosion as well.
If you think Syria was Israel’s only nuclear target, watch the video below. This attack was confirmed by the IAEA as well who observed the video and found “slam dunk” proof of a tactical nuclear weapon strike. Attempts were made, unsuccessfully, by the IAEA to get soil samples, needed within 72 hours, from the site but their inspectors were blocked by Saudi Arabia.
Those other nations include not just the United States but perhaps Russia as well. Israel is terrified of ISIS being defeated. This means Hezbollah returns to Lebanon, victorious in war and able to stand up to the Israeli onslaughts that are staged whenever Israel’s internal politics demand a whipping boy outside the country.
Bombing Palestinians and whipping up hatred at home against them and the the few remaining Christians inside Greater Israel and the Occupied Territories is a useful narrative that Saudi Arabia, in particular, has played a part in all along.
When did the Saudi/Israeli alliance begin? Some believe long before the 1973 war and the oil embargo against the United States. The Saudi’s have been playing a double game that long.
Yesterday’s Israeli bombing attacks aimed at the Syrian Arab Army and its Russian advisers at Palmyra, a battlefield with no Hezbollah forces whatsoever, has to be “enough” for Russia.
Back on May 2, 2013, SyriaNews reported an Israeli submarine sunk off the coast of Latakia. Their mission was to pick up IDF commandos tasked with planting communications relays to support a false narrative that the Syrian Army was using sarin gas, in order to force the United States into war.
Two days later, Israel staged a bombing attack outside Damascus using a tactical nuclear weapon, and this is not conjecture. It is time the world community and Russia began dealing with this and the likelihood that Israel is going to do the same thing again, against Syria, against Lebanon and do it with full complicity of Donald Trump.
Nuclear Attack
VT submitted the video above to inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency and University of California at Los Alamos. They confirmed that the presence of ball lightning is an indicator of a nuclear weapon, nothing else can cause this, though there were many other observable factors that made this a nuclear explosion as well.
If you think Syria was Israel’s only nuclear target, watch the video below. This attack was confirmed by the IAEA as well who observed the video and found “slam dunk” proof of a tactical nuclear weapon strike. Attempts were made, unsuccessfully, by the IAEA to get soil samples, needed within 72 hours, from the site but their inspectors were blocked by Saudi Arabia.

US-Arab relationship in the End Age

As US President Donald Trump and Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei trade barbs, a nervous Arab World is caught in the middle.
Earlier this week, Iran’s Supreme Leader made headlines thanking Trump for “revealing the true face of America”. While much of Khamenei’s criticism was directed at the administration’s hardline policy and threat to “put Iran on notice”, he zeroed in on the disastrous White House executive order and its impact on refugees, immigrants and visitors from seven majority Muslim countries. At one point, Khamenei said, “Now with everything he is doing – handcuffing a child as young as five at an airport – he is showing the reality of American human rights.”
This news item, the nasty Twitter exchange and war of words between the two leaders brought home the intimate connection between US domestic and foreign policies and encapsulated the dilemma that will be faced by America’s Arab allies in the “Age of Trump”. It reminded me of two stories from the first George W Bush administration – both involving Saudi Arabia’s then Crown Prince Abdullah.
Bush’s callous disregard for the rights of the Palestinians, his administration’s policies which trampled on the rights of Arabs and Muslims in the US, and his disastrous invasion of Iraq severely strained US-Saudi relations. The kingdom, ever cognizant of the important role the US played in providing a security umbrella protecting the Gulf states from the threat of Iran, was at its wit’s end. At one point Abdullah told Bush that if the US persisted in ignoring Arab concerns, Saudi Arabia might feel compelled to go its own way. It was not a step he was eager to take, but it was one born of frustration with US policies and the increasingly high cost they incurred at home.
On election night in 2004, I received a call from a friend of mine who served as an adviser to the Crown Prince. He asked me excitedly whether the news stories he was hearing were correct – that Democratic challenger John Kerry was in a position to beat incumbent Bush. I was surprised and asked why he would be supportive of Kerry. I said, “Kerry has been very critical of Saudi Arabia, while Bush claims to be your friend”. He responded, “I think it is better for us to have a US president who hates us, than to have a US president hated by our people”.
During the last 16 years, US-Gulf relations have been on a dizzying roller coaster ride. First there was the adventurism of the Bush administration – which went from neglect, to destabilising war, to misguided democracy promotion based more on ideology than reality. The Obama administration only compounded Arab frustration.
By 2016, the Arab region was in disarray and the US-Arab relationship was in tatters. Thanks to the foolish Iraq war and its seriously bungled aftermath: That country is in the midst of a long civil war; Iran has been unleashed and emboldened as a threatening regional power; the US military and public are war weary and wary of new conflict; Russia has extended itself into the Middle East; violent extremist movements have found safe-havens and metastasised across the region; and because US allies have felt abandoned they have felt compelled to act on their own to defend their interests vis a vis Iran’s designs.
From its performance, to date, the Trump administration does not appear to be a partner. Trump has spoken forcefully about wiping out extremism and reining in Iran, but he and too many of his advisers have coupled this with ham-fisted anti-Muslim rhetoric and policies that have caused IS and Al Qaeda, and now the Iranian leader to thank him.

The Fallacy of the Arab Spring

Nasim Ahmed
Tuesday, 19 January 2016 10:51
The Arab Spring carried with it the Middle East’s hopes, dreams and aspirations. Like its cousins in Eastern Europe and sub-Saharan Africa almost 30 years ago, it promised to be the spark to transform the region into a haven of democracy and bring the grip of autocracy to an end.
Six years on, can anyone be certain what the next few years will bring? Have we witnessed the end of the Arab Spring or just the beginning of a much longer stage on the road to democracy? Although no one can answer these questions with any degree of certainty, enough time has elapsed to make some sense of the events that have unfolded since protests began in December 2010.
The authors of The Arab Spring — Pathways of Repression and Reform have done just that by offering what they believe is a much deeper explanation of the regional variances of the uprising and, more crucially, its disappointing outcomes. Why, for example, did only six of the the 21 member states of the Arab League experience serious challenges to their regimes? Why were dictators overthrown in only four of the six? And why can only one be judged to be a success?
Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya managed to overthrow their dictators but only Tunisia has gone through an admittedly precarious transition to democracy. In all of the other Arab countries, uprisings either subsided, were beaten into submission or failed to materialise in the first place. After surveying the region, Jason Brownlee, Tarek Masoud and Andrew Reynolds make some interesting conclusions, not least that there were no structural preconditions for the emergence of the Arab Spring uprisings. The random manner in which protests spread meant that a wide variety of regimes faced popular challenges to their authority.
The three professors noted further that the success of a popular campaign to oust a ruler was preconditioned on two key variables: oil wealth and hereditary succession. Oil, despite the obvious boom it has brought to the region, creates a unique pathology; “the curse of oil” not only stunts economic growth but also blunts democratic development.
The link between such wealth and authoritarianism is hard to dismiss. Oil wealth has endowed rulers with the capacity to forestall or contain challenges to their authority. Arab monarchies, for example, have deployed their ample resources to blunt popular demand for reform and fend off attempts to unseat them. Heredity succession transmits heightened loyalty from coercive agents of the state, which helps to explain why countries like Jordan, Bahrain and Morocco did not experience similar threats to their authority despite lacking significant oil revenue.
Variations in outcome are also explained by the level of freedom available to the people in organising an effective challenge to a regime’s authority. Those states with little or no oil, such as Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia, generally had more freedom than those with lots of black gold, such as Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya and Saudi Arabia. The Gulf countries regularly score very low in the global freedom index. The Arab Spring only seriously threatened just one oil-backed ruler — Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi — and that only because NATO’s intervention prevented the rebels’ certain defeat.
Like Libya, Iraq may have been in the category of regimes that were impervious to the unassisted overthrow of regimes from within. Nevertheless, the country was omitted from the Brownlee, Masoud and Reynolds survey because there were other factors, such as the US invasion in 2003 and its bloody aftermath, which distorted any post Arab Spring conclusions.
The academics have, in effect, sought to avoid counterfactual claims — in what is a highly scientific survey of the region — like the kind of conclusion made by discredited champions of the Iraq war, including Tony Blair. The former British prime minister and his ilk have attempted to rewrite history by peddling the idea that the war in Iraq was not a bad idea after all because George W Bush’s freedom agenda has had the desired ripple effect in the region by giving rise to the Arab Spring.
Putting aside the fact that there is absolutely no statement from any Arab Spring leaders crediting the US invasion as their inspiration, Iraq is a prime example of how not to bring political change to a country. Instead of being inspired, people would have been repelled, observed Paul Pillar, a former CIA official. “If violence, disorder, sectarian divisions, simmering civil war, militia control, chronic corruption [and] breakdown of public services were the ‘birth pangs of democracy’,” added the Middle East expert, “no one wanted anything to do with it.” If Iraq offered an example, then it was an example that no one wanted to repeat.
The installation of a post-Saddam fledgling state by America and the West did not trigger the Arab Spring. However, the Nouri Al-Maliki government (2006-2014), ravaged by corruption, was not bypassed by the popular uprising spreading across the Middle East. Throughout 2011, thousands of Iraqis came together, in a rare display of cross-sectarian harmony around the country, with Shia, Sunni and Kurdish citizens demanding improved living conditions and public services; an end to corruption, unemployment and inflated salaries for politicians; and an end to foreign occupation.
In February 2011, a full eight months before the US withdrawal from their country, thousands of Iraqis gathered on the streets and converged on Baghdad’s Liberation Square as part of an anti-government rally. Demonstrations took place across the country from Mosul in the north to Basra in the south, reflecting the widespread anger felt by Iraqis at the government’s inability to improve their lives. One of the larger clashes was in Fallujah, where approximately 1,000 demonstrators clashed with the police. On these “Day of Rage” protests, 23 demonstrators were killed.
As the Arab Spring was overturning regimes elsewhere during 2012 and becoming ever more sectarian in Syria, angry Iraqis were staging weekly demonstrations against the sectarian Shia-led government of Al-Maliki; among their demands was for him to step down and for the US-brokered constitution to be replaced.
New waves of protest began in early 2012 following a raid on the home of Finance Minister Rafi Al-Issawi and the arrest of 10 of his bodyguards, which reinforced widespread perceptions that the prime minister was intent on eliminating his political rivals within the Sunni community. Protests continued throughout the first half of 2013, gaining support from non-Sunni Iraqi politicians like Muqtada Al-Sadr.
These protests became extremely fierce by April 2013, when gun battles erupted as Al-Maliki’s security forces stormed a Sunni protest camp in Hawija. At least 42 people were killed, 39 of them civilians, with more than 100 wounded. It was one the most deadly confrontations between predominantly Sunni-organised protests and Shia-led security forces. The country was on edge, as Sunni tribesmen mobilised and declared that this was a jihad — holy war.
The incident sent shock waves across the country in Sunni communities seething with discontent; protesters set up street camps similar to those established in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution. The New York Times reported at the time that Sunni mosques were bombed in the mixed Baghdad neighbourhood of Dora and the volatile city of Diyala, killing 10 people. In Saddam Hussein’s hometown, Tikrit, the authorities imposed a curfew after gunmen twice attacked security forces
Syrian’s sectarian war, it seemed, was spreading into Iraq. Throughout May, killings were reported in both Sunni and Shia majority cities. From 15 to 21 May 2013, a series of deadly bombings and shootings struck the central and northern parts of Iraq, with a few incidents also occurring in towns in the south and far west. At least 449 people were killed and 732 others were injured during outbreaks of violence of an intensity that had not been seen since 2006-2007 when the country was on the brink of civil war. Al-Maliki’s heavy-handedness was demonstrated further when dismantling the anti-government protest camp in the city of Ramadi. A Human Rights Watch investigation noted that hundreds of security personnel descended on the camp where 300 to 400 Sunni demonstrators were staying; at least 17 people were killed.
The collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul in the face of Daesh militants who entered the city from Syria in June 2014 finally put an end to Al-Maliki’s government and exposed the serious weaknesses of the rump state created by the US and its allies. Iraq’s sectarian politics had finally brought the country to its knees; it required foreign intervention to stay alive. Having all but eradicated Al-Qaeda in Iraq in 2007 by supporting the Sunni tribes, Al-Maliki’s subsequent marginalisation of the Sunni population and his regime’s corruption and misrule left the country weak, vulnerable and on the brink of collapse.
As the Arab Spring collided with the bitter legacy of the Iraq war, the massive failures of the previous decade were exposed. Unresolved grievances led to people pouring onto the streets; simmering tensions escalated into violence between the US-installed regime and Sunni sections of the population that were alienated. Instead of becoming a “beacon of democracy” in the Arab world, as claimed by supporters of the US and Western 2003 invasion, Iraq has become a haven for Daesh, arguably the most extreme sectarian group of the very many in the region. The West’s long history of “divide and rule” policies has rarely borne such bitter fruit.

The Saudi Nuclear Horn On Hold, For Now (Daniel 7)


By Emad Mekay* | IDN-InDepthNews Analysis

Saudi Arabia attended the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague | Credit:
CAIRO (IDN) – When the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal was announced in July, the image in state-controlled Saudi media was of Western powers caving in to a new powerful neighboring foe. The usually reticent Saudi officials paid the usual diplomatic lip-service to the agreement but social media, academia and state-owned news outlet all portrayed a different picture; profound Saudi anxiety that included statements that the oil-rich country can use its wealth to go nuclear.
The kingdom can only look to itself to protect its people, even if it means implementing a nuclear program,” wrote Nawaf Obaid, Senior Fellow at the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies. A nuclear Iran, he said, “represents a state of extreme danger to multiple nations, but few more so than Saudi Arabia, which has long been Iran’s primary opponent in the Middle East power balance.”

Ironically, the deal that alarmed the Saudis was designed to produce a different result. The framework would in fact gradually lift sanctions on Tehran for its agreement to cut back its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 98 percent for 15 years and reducing its installed centrifuges. Yet, Saudi Arabia and other regional Gulf Arab allies saw the deal as nothing short of a dramatic shift of the balance of regional power.

Iran can use new streams of revenue to improve its conventional armament and expand its regional influence without losing any of its scientific, technological or nuclear edge over its over-indulgent wealthy Arab neighbors. After all, Arab capitals have long blindly trusted U.S. guarantees of Gulf security to the point where they neglected investment in scientific development and relied heavily on massive arms purchases from the U.S. that sat to collect dust in storage houses.

Iran’s unprecedented projection of military power and influence in neighboring Iraq and Syria along with Iranian backing of Yemeni Houthi rebels only vexed the Saudis more. Little wonder more Saudi pundits are screaming at the top of their voice they can and will go nuclear. To seal it all, the Obama administration appears to them as if Washington is renegading on its security pledges.
“I think the Obama Administration has done a terrible job of creating a regional security strategy,” said Jeffrey Lewis, professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “It is not surprising that allies and partners would be expressing discomfort with what they see as strategic drift. Most Saudis are alarmed at the deterioration in regional security and believe that the Obama Administration is inept.”

“I am reluctant to conclude that the current unease is permanent until we see how the next Administration handles the regional and bilateral relationship,” he added.

For Middle East experts, the Saudis rarely vent their frustration publicly preferring to work behind the scene or clandestinely. But this time the Saudi media responded to the deal with stories upon stories describing Saudi Arabia’s missile forces in striking detail as well as its nuclear ambitions.

Nuclear programme

Riyadh already has a nuclear programme. In 2011, it announced plans for the construction of sixteen nuclear power reactors over the next twenty years at a cost of more than 80 billion dollars. These would generate about 20 percent of Saudi Arabia’s electricity, while other, smaller reactors were envisaged for desalination.

Recently, the French and the Saudis announced feasibility studies to secure contracts for two nuclear reactor facilities to be built by Areva, a French company. Deals with Hungary, Russia, Argentina and China are in the pipeline towards building reactors costing around 2 billion dollars each.

The King Abdullah Atomic Energy City (KACARE) has taken most matters into hand and it is said to be manned by young researchers imbibed with an ideology that sees Iran as the ultimate threat to their nation’s existence.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in close cooperation with Riyadh in developing a peaceful nuclear power programme and cancer treatment facilities at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center.

But despite the newly-found motivation and initial endeavour, many Middle East experts agree that Saudi officials can wish all they want but they really cannot build a nuclear weapon. All they are doing is just dabbling in early nuclear energy research and making “noise’.

“So far that noise has not translated to anything concrete above and beyond talk, sometimes a loud talk,” said Avner Cohen, a researcher with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies.
Other obstacles remain before a Saudi nuclear programme. Saudi Arabia controls 16 percent of the world’s known oil reserves yet it remains an authoritarian developing nation that lacks the educational and technological skills to develop nuclear warheads or ballistic missile technology.
Te Al-Saud family-run regime has long preferred to spend on the welfare state and pamper its citizens with luxury items rather than on developing profound scientific or personal skills.

“Saudi Arabia possesses only a rudimentary civil nuclear infrastructure, and currently lacks the physical and technological resources to develop an indigenous nuclear weapons capability,” said a recent report from the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington-based NGO that works towards reduction of nuclear weapons.

To compensate for its lack of indigenous knowledge-based infrastructure, Riyadh, which routinely deploys its wealth to win international favours, had also assumed that forming an alliance with a nuclear power, such as Pakistan, would offer “purchased” protection. By showing generosity to the Pakistani or the Egyptian military, Riyadh can tap into the Pakistani nuclear programme and order bombs when it wants to, the theory went.

Shortcomings in Saudi largesse

But a recent development showed the shortcomings of Saudi largesse. Pakistan balked at sending ground troops to fight in Yemen alongside the inexperienced Saudi soldiers; an episode that embarrassed Riyadh and showed the limits of its money-based security strategy.

Many nuclear arms experts who monitor the Middle East say that Saudi nuclear weapons “on order” is an allegation that has not been substantiated in any way.

“It can be done, but it seems very unlikely,” said Lewis. “ Most experts doubt that Pakistan would set aside nuclear weapons for transfer to Saudi Arabia or participate in a nuclear sharing arrangement.”
Saudi allies, particularity the U.S., will not tolerate Saudi going nuclear as their over-zealous media and some in the regime would like to claim.

Washington has talked about offering Riyadh a “nuclear umbrella” that would purportedly protect Gulf states including Saudi Arabia against a nuclear Iran. If it was to go ahead, the deal would in fact limit Saudi nuclear ambitions.

Under the proposal Saudi Arabia would be negotiating a civil nuclear cooperation agreement. It is expected to include language whereby Saudi Arabia voluntarily refrain from enrichment and reprocessing. Heavy investments in the King Abdullah Center for Atomic and Renewable Energy would be scaled back and plans for city-sized research center would be shelved. The money would be going to US coffers instead.

The nuclear blustering in the Saudi media can also prove hollow on other counts. This month (in October) the IMF said that Riyadh suffers low oil prices and a budget deficit that could erode reserves quickly.

Worse, in their zeal to spread its regional hegemony, the Saudi royal family took on large foreign expenditure as well. It contributed some 6 billion dollars to the military coup in Egypt that toppled the country’s first elected president for fear democracy could spread to the conservative kingdom. It later started a costly bombardment campaign on the Shiite Houthi Group in Yemen in March 2015 on top of its bankrolling some Syrian rebel groups fighting for the fourth year.

The Iran deal may have indeed alarmed the Saudi regime into unleashing is propagandists into nuclear grandstanding but the country had missed the opportunity of a real nuclear programme a long time ago. Re-opening that window again can and will take many more years. [IDN-InDepthNews – 25 October 2015]

*Emad Mekay is Middle East correspondent and Middle East Bureau Chief of International Press Syndicate and its flagship IDN-InDepthNews.

Iran Nuclear Deal Causing Global Strife

Israeli PM Says Arab Leaders Also Weary of Iran Nuclear Deal

 Jun 9, 2015, 3:27 PM
The Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister said Tuesday that Arab leaders agree with him that an emerging nuclear deal with Iran won’t stop Tehran from getting atomic weapons.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s remarks come as Tehran and the six world powers negotiating with Iran face a June 30 target date for a comprehensive deal on curbing Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions’ relief.

Netanyahu told the prestigious Herzliya conference, an annual gathering that draws speakers from around the world, that he is not the only voice in the Middle East against the deal.

“I am often portrayed as the nuclear party pooper,” Netanyahu said. “But I speak with quite a few of our neighbors, more than you think, and I want to tell you that nobody in this region believes this deal will block Iran’s path to the bomb.”

Most of the region does not have official ties with Israel and Netanyahu did not name the leaders he spoke with or the circumstances of the discussions. He spoke in Herzliya, in central Israel, just days after a close confidant, Dore Gold, met publicly with a Saudi Arabian general to discuss Iran.

“It’s worth noting that nobody from this region except Iran is at the negotiating table,” Netanyahu added.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes but Israel fears it could still allow Tehran to build nuclear weapons.

Netanyahu also warned the deal would spark a nuclear arms race that will see the region “crisscrossed with nuclear trip wires as other states nuclearize” in fear of Iran. He said lifting the sanctions rewards Iran with “prosperity at home” while allowing it to continue “aggression abroad.”
Israel has long claimed a nuclear-armed Iran would threaten world peace and security, and views a nuclear-armed Tehran as a threat to its very existence, citing Iran’s repeated calls for Israel’s destruction, its long-range missile program and its support for militant groups like Lebanese Hezbollah or the Palestinian Hamas.

There was no immediate comment from Arab states on Netanyahu’s remarks.

Antichrist Warns Of Arab Spring (Rev 13)

Senior Iraqi Cleric Warns of Imminent Arab Spring in Saudi Arabia

TEHRAN (FNA)- Senior Iraqi Cleric and Head of the Sadrist Movement Moqtada al-Sadr in a statement strongly condemned the Friday terrorist attack in a Shiite mosque in Eastern Saudi Arabia, and warned the Al Saud regime of the imminent outbreak of a revolution in that country.
Moqtada Sadr’s statement came after a suicide bomber blew himself at Qatif Shiite mosque in the East of Saudi Arabia during Friday prayers.

The senior Iraqi cleric said some parts of the Saudi government could have been engaged in masterminding or staging the Friday terrorist attack, and warned that in case of a similar incident in Saudi Arabia, unrest will break out in that country and there will be an Arab Spring.

“What happened against the Shiites in Qatif was not for the first time and I do not think that it was the last time either, specially when considering that the Saudi regime does not prevent the extremists from carrying out such terrorist actions,” he added.

Local residents said the explosion killed and wounded at least 30 people.

The blast took place at the Imam Ali mosque in the town of al-Qadeeh, in al-Qatif province. One witness said there were at least 30 casualties in the attack, where more than 150 people were praying.

The Dark Days Of Prophecy Lie Ahead (Rev 16)

Revelation 16: Nuclear Winter

Revelation 16: Nuclear Winter

Nuclear Deal or Not, Dark Years Await the Middle East

Trita Parsi President, National Iranian American Council

The regional impact of the world powers and Iran making a deal over Tehran’s nuclear program will be significant to say the least. It will mark a new era in the Middle East; one in which the US and Iran no longer will seek to undermine each other at every given opportunity. In this era of truce, the US and Iran can dialogue about regional problems rather than seeing the absence of diplomacy exacerbate existing conflicts. Yet, in spite of this pending historic achievement, dark years await the Middle East.

It all goes back to the disastrous decision by George W. Bush to invade Iraq. The repercussions of the Iraq war will be felt more strongly in the region in the next 10 years than it was in the 10 years immediately following the war. The reason in a nutshell is as follows: The invasion of Iraq weakened the United States to the point that the American-led order in the region began to collapse. The instability we are currently seeing in the Middle East is partly driven by the process of finding a new equilibrium; and that process is almost without exception bloody. It’s the storm before the calm, so to say.

But this is no ordinary storm because the Iraq war didn’t just destroy the regional order, it began destroying the very state structure that any order must be built on. At the end of the day, the Bush administration didn’t just change the regime in Iraq, it destroyed the Iraqi state as a whole. Combined with the deep societal problems many Arab countries suffered from — largely as a result of their unfree political systems and the security pact Arab regimes had struck with Washington in which a premium was put on short term stability rather than longer term political liberalization — this unleashed forces that spread chaos and turned several authoritarian states in the region into failed states.

As difficult and painful the process of establishing a new order is in and of itself, it is next to impossible to build a durable balance on the backs of collapsing states.

In the next 10 years, these twin problems will bring much suffering and chaos to the Middle East. It will likely get worse — much worse — before it gets better.

It is no surprise that the United States and Iran have chosen this moment to overcome their near four decades long enmity. The environment surrounding them is becoming so chaotic and threatening, that the cost of sustaining their own enmity simply is becoming unbearable. Washington can no longer afford to confront Al Qaeda, ISIS, the Taliban and the destabilizing activities of its own allies on top of its confrontation with Iran. Similarly, Tehran can no longer handle the spread of sectarianism, its rivalry and proxy war with Saudi Arabia in addition to the dispute with the US over the nuclear program.

As much as great power rivalries have defined Middle East politics for the past decades, strong states — even former rivals — now share a common threat: Failed states and the chaos they bring about. Their rivalry notwithstanding, Iran and the US need each other to meet the twin challenge of both stabilizing and rebuilding the failed states and creating a new security architecture for the region that establishes a new balance in the Middle East. Obviously, the US and Iran cannot meet this challenge alone. By definition, the process must be inclusive — no security architecture will succeed unless it has wide regional buy in. That requires the involvement of all major players, including Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel.

By virtue of its strong state, Iran can play a critical stabilizing role in the region. The EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini recognized this, stating that the nuclear deal can “open the way to a different role of Iran in the region” that will usher in security and stability to the region. Iran would, Mogherini pointed out, play a “major but positive role” in the conflicts roiling the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

This is a daunting task. Expectations should be tempered. There are no quick fixes. But at least one major obstacle appears to have been overcome: The US and Iran can now talk to each other, consult with each other and even quietly coordinate their policies as the region confronts the chaos burning the Middle East. That’s nothing short of a game changer.

This post is part of a series commemorating The Huffington Post’s 10 Year Anniversary through expert opinions looking forward to the next decade in their respective fields. To see all of the posts in the series, read here.

Guaranteed: The Ten Nuclear Horns Will Arise (Dan 7:7)

A general view of construction at the Kalininskaya nuclear power plant

Will Mideast power equation prompt Arab states to go nuclear?

Jordan recently signed $10B deal with Russia to build first plants, desperate to extract itself from volatility of oil

Demand for electricity, rather than regional strategic rivalries, may be spurring a number of Arab countries to turn to nuclear power. While much of the world’s attention is locked on Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions, Jordan for one is quietly inching its domestic energy program toward the nuclear option.

Increasingly insecure about its energy dependence on turbulent neighbors such as Iraq and Egypt, Amman last week signed a $10 billion deal with Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom to build its first nuclear power plant in the northern hinterlands of Amra. The 2,000-megawatt plant, Jordan’s nuclear chief says, will be “a showcase for the region” that could provide up to 50 percent of the kingdom’s rapidly growing energy demand – for household electricity, desalination and industry – by 2022. Currently, nearly 98 percent of Jordan’s energy is met from abroad.

The proposal remains highly controversial in Jordan, where all recognize an imminent energy crisis but few are convinced the proposed nuclear plan is a workable solution. After over eight years of inconclusive public debate, however, the country’s nuclear commission appears intent on forging ahead. “As you know, we lost the oil from Iraq, natural gas from Egypt, and the country has been bleeding and losing an average $3 billion every year,” Khalid Toukan, the head of the Jordanian Atomic Energy Commission, told The Associated Press last week. “Nuclear power is definitely one of the solutions to graduate from total dependency on oil and gas.”

At a time when several nuclear pioneers, including Germany and France, are currently rolling back their programs and public confidence is still subdued by the memory of the Japan’s Fukushima disaster of 2011, atomic energy has seen something of a resurgence across the oil-rich Middle East — and in the developing world. Though largely overshadowed by the arm-wrestling with Iran (which is mainly about Tehran’s right to enrich fuel, not generate nuclear power), a handful of other countries in the region have either begun construction on their first plants or, like Jordan, signaled their intent to do so. Furthest along is the United Arab Emirates, which expects to have two Korean-built plants up and running by 2017.

The motives for going nuclear are varied. For oil-rich states like the UAE, nuclear is seen as a high baseload, clean power source that can help meet its growing domestic demand, freeing up oil to be exported and sold at a premium. “There’s also the prestige element,” added Ali Ahmad, a lecturer on nuclear policy at Princeton University’s Program on Science and Global Security. “Having a nuclear power plant is a sign of a strong, established and advanced state. The UAE wants to join this club.”

Net energy importers such as Jordan, Turkey or Egypt, on the other hand – all of which have recently inked preliminary nuclear supply deals with Russia – see the need to diversify energy sources as a security imperative. In the case of Jordan, oil supply routes from Iraq have periodically been cut off since 2003 due to war and, more recently, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant insurgency. Meanwhile, the gas pipeline from Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, which used to pump 80 percent of Jordan’s natural gas, is currently shut due to another insurgency stirring trouble in the region.

The Jordanian government has already spent nearly $2 billion in subsidies in order to insulate the public from the fluctuating fuel prices that have resulted from this turmoil. It has little other recourse. When it temporarily eased these subsidies in late 2012, hundreds of thousands of Jordanians took to the streets in the largest public rallies the normally tranquil country has ever seen. And when it began talks with Israel to hammer out a $15 billion natural gas supply deal, many were similarly outraged.

But while the need to diversify is clear, few are convinced that Jordan’s nuclear program is a viable answer. In a 2013 internal report on Jordan’s nuclear program provided to Al Jazeera, five of Jordan’s leading nuclear policy analysts expressed concerns that the decision to embrace nuclear energy might be driven by “preconceived notions” rather than sound scientific study.

Above all else, it hasn’t been made clear how cash-strapped Jordan, which is buckling under the added weight of 700,000 Syrian refugees at the moment, could possibly foot its agreed-upon 51 percent of the bill, let alone manage upgrades to the power grid or cost overruns that nuclear energy is infamous for.

“Almost every existent [nuclear] plant has ended up more expensive than expected in some dimension,” whether operation, maintenance or build cost, said Richard Mallinson, a geopolitical analyst with Energy Aspects in London. “It’s appealing to go for these big, flagship power plants that can supply half the country’s energy, but even ‘turn-key’ contracts can end up more costly and slower than expected.”

Back when its nuclear program was first presented in 2007, Jordan was hoping that its untapped uranium stores might be mined and sold to cover some of the plant’s steep costs. In 2012, however, French nuclear company Areva determined that the uranium was low in quality and therefore not commercially viable. According to the report, Jordan may even consider tapping into its social security fund to cover some of the program’s costs – an idea it has not yet presented to an already skeptical public.

The last time Jordanian lawmakers voted on the proposal, back in 2012, they decisively shot it down. MPs such as Hind al-Fayez, who represents the Beni Sakher tribe that lives around the proposed Amra site, have noted that Jordan is yet to complete a thorough environmental assessment of the area or to identify a suitable location for depositing spent fuel rods. “They’ll build that plant over my dead body,” she has said.

Ali Ahmad, the Princeton expert who has closely studied Jordan’s nuclear program and met with lawmakers, threw cold water on the proposal. “Jordan is far away from constructing a plant,” he said. “They don’t have an advanced electric grid, they don’t have appropriate legislation or the technical skill base, and one of the biggest problems is that they don’t have an independent regulatory body or safety authority.”

As for nuclear’s future in the wider Middle East, analysts are divided. Industry advocates may pin their hopes on suppliers, such as Russia and South Korea, continuing to subsidize plants in exchange for exclusive supply deals in the long term. That in itself could be cause for concern, critics have noted, especially as Russia seems intent on leveraging energy contracts to extend its political reach. In the case of Jordan, it might also make the United States, which counts the Hashemite kingdom among its closest allies in the region, uneasy.

Many, Ahmad among them, believe that solar may be a better long term bet for the sun-drenched Middle East. In a recent analysis on the potential viability of nuclear power in Saudi Arabia, he and co-author M. V. Ramana argued that solar power, while comparatively more expensive today, “has the potential to be cheaper than nuclear power within the next decade if the rapid decline in solar energy costs in the last decade continue.” That, they noted, could happen in the time it takes to build a nuclear plant – about eight years, under ideal conditions.

Given all the hurdles facing nuclear energy in the region, Mallinson said it was important to take announcements like Jordan’s with a grain of salt. “There will always be [a greater number of] countries ‘exploring’ it or even announcing plans to build than plants that are actually up and running and delivering,” he said. “Nuclear still has that incredible power to divide.”

Reshaping The Middle East: The Horns Of Prophecy (Dan 7)

More Mideast allies fear U.S. soft on Iran
Jim Michaels, USA TODAY 4:46 p.m. EDT March 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — Israel is not the only vital American ally in the Middle East increasingly alarmed that the U.S. is working too closely with Iran. So are America’s most important Arab partners.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has trumpeted his worries about a U.S.-Iranian nuclear deal, most recently to the U.S. Congress last week. Equally concerned but less vocal are Saudi Arabia and other moderate Arab states who play vital roles as bulwarks against radical Islamists in the region.

Shared interests Washington and Tehran have in driving the Islamic State out of Iraq and Syria are another source of worry for the allies, who do not want to see Iran’s radical leadership emerge as a more powerful and potentially nuclear-armed state in the region.

“Distrust in Saudi Arabia toward the United States hasn’t been this high since 1973,” during the oil embargo, said Michael Rubin, an analyst at the American Enterprise Institute.

Reports last week that Iran’s military was playing a prominent role in an Iraqi offensive to drive Islamic State militants from Tikrit, north of Baghdad, raised a fresh a wave of fear that the United States isn’t doing enough to blunt Iran’s expansionist designs.

“The situation in Tikrit is a prime example of what we’re worried about,” Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal said during a joint news conference with Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday. “Iran is taking over the country.”

Kerry traveled to the region to assure allies that the U.S. would not lessen its vigilance against Iran’s expansionism or agree to a bad nuclear agreement that would let Iran develop nuclear weapons.
“Whether or not we are able to reach a deal on the nuclear program, the United States will remain fully committed to addressing the full slate of issues that we have with Iran, including its support for terrorism,” Kerry said.

That is a tough sell to Arab countries that have long relied on America to thwart Iran’s expansion in the region. Iran is a majority Shiite country, as is Iraq, while Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and other key U.S. allies are Sunni-led nations.

The Pentagon has taken pains to say it is not coordinating with Iran’s military in Iraq. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Iran’s role in the Tikrit offensive could be positive if it leads to defeat of the Islamic State militants. He said it would only be a problem if it triggered renewed sectarian violence between Shiites and Sunnis, who have long been mortal enemies.

Kerry’s and Dempsey’s words may not allay the allies’ concerns. “Whether we are coordinating or not doesn’t matter because the perception is we are letting that happen,” Rubin said.

That mistrust is already complicating Pentagon efforts to develop a moderate opposition in Syria to oust the Islamic State from Syria. In doing so, the U.S. may inadvertently help keep Iranian-backed Syrian President Bashar Assad in power. Key allies in the region want Assad overthrown. The U.S. wants him to step down.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview last week that any solution in Syria has to involve the removal of Assad.

Davutoğlu said a flood of 2 million Syrian refugees into Turkey will only be reversed if Assad is removed from power.

Rubin said losing the confidence of leaders in the region will have costs. “We may not think these countries are important now but they have long memories,” he said.

Saudi Arabia, for example, has been critical in keeping oil prices low by refusing to reduce its massive production of crude. It also backed the ouster of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, a long-time U.S. irritant.

“When we find ourselves in a crisis the first Arab country we call is Saudi Arabia,” Rubin said.