The Power Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

New Evidence Shows Power of East Coast Earthquakes

Virginia Earthquake Triggered Landslides at Great Distances

Power of the 2011 Virginia Quake

Power of the 2011 Virginia Quake

USGS Newsroom

Earthquake shaking in the eastern United States can travel much farther and cause damage over larger areas than previously thought.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists found that last year’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake in Virginia triggered landslides at distances four times farther—and over an area 20 times larger—than previous research has shown.

“We used landslides as an example and direct physical evidence to see how far-reaching shaking from east coast earthquakes could be,” said Randall Jibson, USGS scientist and lead author of this study. “Not every earthquake will trigger landslides, but we can use landslide distributions to estimate characteristics of earthquake energy and how far regional ground shaking could occur.”

“Scientists are confirming with empirical data what more than 50 million people in the eastern U.S. experienced firsthand: this was one powerful earthquake,” said USGS Director Marcia McNutt. “Calibrating the distance over which landslides occur may also help us reach back into the geologic record to look for evidence of past history of major earthquakes from the Virginia seismic zone.”
This study will help inform earthquake hazard and risk assessments as well as emergency preparedness, whether for landslides or other earthquake effects.

This study also supports existing research showing that although earthquakes are less frequent in the East, their damaging effects can extend over a much larger area as compared to the western United States.

The research is being presented today at the Geological Society of America conference, and will be published in the December 2012 issue of the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America.
The USGS found that the farthest landslide from the 2011 Virginia earthquake was 245 km (150 miles) from the epicenter. This is by far the greatest landslide distance recorded from any other earthquake of similar magnitude. Previous studies of worldwide earthquakes indicated that landslides occurred no farther than 60 km (36 miles) from the epicenter of a magnitude 5.8 earthquake.
“What makes this new study so unique is that it provides direct observational evidence from the largest earthquake to occur in more than 100 years in the eastern U.S,” said Jibson. “Now that we know more about the power of East Coast earthquakes, equations that predict ground shaking might need to be revised.”

It is estimated that approximately one-third of the U.S. population could have felt last year’s earthquake in Virginia, more than any earthquake in U.S. history. About 148,000 people reported their ground-shaking experiences caused by the earthquake on the USGS “Did You Feel It?” website. Shaking reports came from southeastern Canada to Florida and as far west as Texas.

In addition to the great landslide distances recorded, the landslides from the 2011 Virginia earthquake occurred in an area 20 times larger than expected from studies of worldwide earthquakes. Scientists plotted the landslide locations that were farthest out and then calculated the area enclosed by those landslides. The observed landslides from last year’s Virginia earthquake enclose an area of about 33,400 km2, while previous studies indicated an expected area of about 1,500 km2 from an earthquake of similar magnitude.

“The landslide distances from last year’s Virginia earthquake are remarkable compared to historical landslides across the world and represent the largest distance limit ever recorded,” said Edwin Harp, USGS scientist and co-author of this study. “There are limitations to our research, but the bottom line is that we now have a better understanding of the power of East Coast earthquakes and potential damage scenarios.”

The difference between seismic shaking in the East versus the West is due in part to the geologic structure and rock properties that allow seismic waves to travel farther without weakening.
Learn more about the 2011 central Virginia earthquake.

The Antichrist Is Back With Power (Revelation 13)

Moqtada Sadr, Influential Shiite Cleric, Back in Spotlight Amid Protests
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Moqtada Sadr, Influential Shiite Cleric, Back in Spotlight Amid Protests Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr delivers a speech to his supporters following Friday prayers at the grand mosque of Kufa in the holy city of Najaf, on April 3, 2015. (Haidar Hamdani/AFP/Getty Images)

By Newsmax Wires | Monday, 21 Mar 2016 08:52 AM

Moqtada Sadr, the controversial Shiite cleric, is back in the spotlight after a string of mass protests culminated in an ongoing sit-in at the gates of Baghdad’s Green Zone.

The scion of an influential clerical family from the holy city of Najaf, he first made a name for himself at the age of 30 as a vociferous anti-American cleric who raised a rebellion, according to Agence France-Presse.

His influence ebbed after the 2011 U.S. pullout but he retained strong support among the lower classes and is now casting himself as the champion of the fight against graft.

“This is your time to root out corruption and the corrupt,” he said earlier this month in a call to his supporters to march on the fortified Green Zone and set up protest camps.

Thousands of them defied a government ban on Friday to heed their leader’s call and set up tents at the main entrances of the vast restricted area in central Baghdad which houses key state institutions as well as foreign embassies.

Sadr says the goal of the protests is the formation of a cabinet of technocrats to replace party-affiliated politicians he says have perpetuated a system based on nepotism and patronage.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi himself made the proposal but he is being undermined by parties — including his own — whose barons are reluctant to relinquish their positions and attendant privileges.
While ostensibly declaring his support for Abadi’s proposed reforms, Sadr’s decision to take to the street leaves the prime minister even closer to the brink.

The sit-in and the huge security deployment around it have paralyzed central Baghdad and Sadr has given Abadi an ultimatum expiring in a week to present names for a new cabinet.

“This is a serious escalation,” said Ahmed Ali, of the Institute of Regional and International Studies at the American University of Iraq.

“Sadr started this thing and will not go silent now, he wants to go all the way,” said Issam al-Faily, professor of political science at Baghdad’s Mustansiriya University.

Since he took over the premiership in 2014, and despite the backing of the country’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Abadi has ruled with very tenuous support from his own government.
Now any reform that does go through would risk looking like a victory for Sadr and create more unease among the country’s other, rival Shiite leaders.

“The Sadrists are attempting to reinsert themselves forcefully into the Iraqi Shiite political sphere which is getting more contentious by the moment,” said Ahmed Ali.

The top players in the Shiite-majority country, many of them aligned with Iran, are fretting at the resurgence of the populist cleric, who was once a Tehran client but has since reinvented himself as a nationalist.

While his popularity had appeared to recede in recent years, the 42-year-old cleric can still mobilise large crowds like few others in Iraq.

“Sadr began this as a new effort to co-opt the anti-corruption protest movement after a different effort failed last fall,” said Kirk Sowell, publisher of the Inside Iraqi Politics newsletter.

Several stalwarts of the Sadr movement are in the government and some are widely seen as the least competent and more corrupt but the cleric has tried to deflect any criticism by distancing himself from his own ministers.

“The solution should come from all parties. Once they are satisfied they can wield their influence through parliament, they should accept the formation of an independent government,” said Faily.
Possibly the most predictable feature of Sadr is his unpredictability.

“Impossible to know where this is going,” said Sowell. “How he actually accomplishes anything meaningful, I don’t know. It may help him in becoming the popular leader he wants to be.”

In a statement on Saturday, Sadr said he did not want to complain — but essentially did — about “the lack of coverage by Iraqi, Arab, and international channels of the most important event in Iraq, the peaceful national sit-in.”

The China Horn Rises (Daniel 7:7)

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China Advances Global Nuclear Ambitions With Argentina Deal

Beijing seeks to improve its international presence in nuclear technology

BEIJING—China struck a deal to build a nuclear reactor in Argentina and the agreement could result in more than 30 billion yuan (about $4.7 billion) in equipment exports, Chinese official media said.
The deal comes as China seeks to bolster its international presence in nuclear technology, where it hopes to someday export homegrown reactors.

The official Xinhua News Agency said this week that state-controlled China National Nuclear Corp. signed a commercial contract to build Argentina’s fourth nuclear power plant. The heavy-water reactor will be based on a Canadian technology called Canada Deuterium Uranium, or Candu.
State-run Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. , China’s largest bank by assets, will provide financing, which will cover 85% of the cost, according to Argentine and Chinese officials.

The two sides also struck a framework agreement—which is more tentative—for a long-discussed second reactor based on Chinese technology. Argentine officials said the two projects would require a total of about $15 billion in financing if the second project advances.

The second reactor would be based on a Chinese technology called Hualong-1, which China hopes will someday compete with reactors made by U.S. nuclear giant Westinghouse Electric Co. and French rival Areva SA . In April, China’s State Council, or cabinet, approved construction of the first Hualong-1 reactor.

Xinhua said the two sides hope to sign an agreement to begin construction on the second reactor in the coming months.

China has been broadening its presence in the global nuclear industry. In October, state-controlled China General Nuclear Power Corp. agreed to take about a one-third stake in the Hinkley Point nuclear-power project in the U.K.

The Third Horn Will Be The Third Largest Nuclear Power (Daniel 8:8)

‘Pakistan can become world’s third-ranked nuclear power’

US paper believes Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons can hit India; longer-range nuclear missiles can reach farther
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File photo of nuclear-capable missiles on a mobile launcher during a Pakistan Day military parade in Islamabad.
 
NEW YORK – Pakistan, with as many as 120 warheads, could become the world’s third-ranked nuclear power in a decade, behind the United States and Russia, but ahead of China, France and Britain, according to The New York Times newspaper.

In its editorial, the paper reported that Pakistan’s arsenal was growing faster than any other country’s, and it has become even more lethal in recent years with the addition of small tactical nuclear weapons that can hit India and longer-range nuclear missiles that can reach farther.

“The major world powers spent two years negotiating an agreement to restrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which doesn’t have a single nuclear weapon. Yet there has been no comparable investment of effort in Pakistan, which along with India, has so far refused to consider any limits at all,” the paper said.

The US administration has begun to address this ‘complicated’ issue with greater urgency and imagination, even though the odds of success seem small. On Oct 22, the recent meeting at the White House between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Barack Obama appears to have gone nowhere. Yet it would be wrong not to keep trying, especially at a time of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir.

For decades, India was also penalised for developing nuclear weapons. But attitudes shifted in 2008 when the US, seeking better relations with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies as a counterweight to China, gave India a pass and signed a generous nuclear cooperation deal that allowed New Delhi to buy American nuclear energy technology.

American officials say they are not offering Pakistan an India-like deal, which would face stiff opposition in Congress, but are discussing what Pakistan needs to do to justify American support for its membership in the 48-nation Nuclear Supplier Group, which governs trade in nuclear fuel and technology.

As a first step, one American official said that Pakistan would have to stop pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, which are more likely to be used in a conflict with India, and halt development of long-range missiles. “Pakistan should also sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons tests,” the paper said.

Such moves would undoubtedly be in Pakistan’s long-term interest. It cannot provide adequate services for its citizens because it spends about 25 percent of its budget on defence. Pakistan Army, whose chief of staff is due to visit Washington this month, says it needs still more nuclear weapons to counter India’s conventional arsenal.

Also, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has done nothing to engage Pakistan on security issues, and he also bears responsibility for current tensions. The nuclear arms race in South Asia, which is growing more intense, demands far greater international attention.

The Iranian Horn Grows Stronger (Daniel 8:4)

احمد پوردستان

Iran Constantly Boosting Military Power: Commander

October 17, 2015 – 14:25
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Commander of Iran’s Army Ground Force said defensive capabilities of all of the country’s combat units are upgraded constantly based on the guidelines set by Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei.
Speaking to reporters in Iran’s western city of Kermanshah on Saturday, Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan assured people that all hostile moves across the region are being monitored by the Iranian Armed Forces.
“We create the necessary defensive capacities in the units proportional to the threats,” he stressed.
The commander also pointed to an upgrade in the defensive power of the ground, naval and air forces according to the Supreme Leader’s guidelines.
Pourdastan warned that any threat against Iran will face the military forces’ “decisive and crushing” response.
Earlier this month, Imam Khamenei called on the Iranian armed forces to speed up their progress and boost their preparation to gain such power that enemies would not even think of attacking the country.

The Iran Horn: The New Hegemonic Power (Dan 8:4)

 
Nuclear accord elevates Iran’s regional status: analyst
By Javad Heirannia

TEHRAN – Political analyst Yuram Abdullah Weiler says the nuclear deal between Iran and great powers has strengthened the Islamic Republic’s status in the Middle East region.

“There has been an elevation in Iran’s regional status by virtue of the fact that Iran was able to bring the nuclear agreement to fruition despite the naysayers in the United States and the powerful influence of the Zionist lobby,” Weiler told the Tehran Times.

The interview with Weiler took place before Democrats in the Senate succeeded to block efforts by Republicans to scuttle Barack Obama’s nuclear accord with Iran.

This is the text of the interview:

Q: What are the effects of the nuclear deal between Iran and great powers?

A: First of all, there has been an elevation in Iran’s regional status by virtue of the fact that Iran was able to bring the nuclear agreement to fruition despite the naysayers in the United States and the powerful influence of the Zionist lobby, which effectively controls the U.S. Congress, particularly the Republican members who now hold a majority in the U.S. Senate. For Iran to succeed in its diplomatic endeavors despite the unabashed spending of the Israeli lobbyists, which averages over $50,000 USD per senator, is an amazing achievement. And the more money the respective senator receives, the more voracious is the attack on the Iran nuclear deal. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham received over $285,000 during the 2014 election cycle. Tom Cotton, the notorious author of the letter to Iran’s leadership, received some $900,000 from Zionist-aligned sources.

Second, Iran has masterfully forced the United States into a position where it has little choice but to ratify the agreement or risk irrelevance in the international arena. Despite the rhetoric of the reactionary Republicans, the U.S. is in no position to finance another war, especially against a country as formidable as Iran, which is well equipped militarily and fully capable of not only defending itself, but also inflicting significant damage upon any would-be aggressor. In fact, before the deal was inked, right-leaning editor Zachary Keck conceded that if the U.S. were to try to exercise the “military option” in an attempt to roll back Iran’s nuclear progress, “Tehran would be able to impose prohibitive costs against the U.S. military.”

In short, the U.S. is faced with a choice of ratifying the agreement it so vigorously sought with Iran, or be isolated as the European powers and others enthusiastically flock to the Islamic Republic in hopes of expanding economic and diplomatic ties. As former U.S. presidential adviser Gary Sick put it, “If [the Iran nuclear agreement] is turned down by the U.S. Congress, the United States will be on its own.”

Q: Is there any possibility of new regional alignments including one between Saudi Arabia and Turkey now that Iran has struck a nuclear deal with major powers?

A: According to stalwart Zionist Charles Krauthammer, Saudi Arabia has been pushed in a contrary diplomatic direction as a result of being “shell shocked by Obama’s grand nuclear capitulation to Iran that will make it the regional hegemon.” Typical of western observers, Krauthammer ignores the U.S.-backed unitary nuclear hegemon in the Middle East with its undeclared arsenal of some 80 nuclear warheads. Also unmentioned is the very real nuclear arms race taking place between India and Pakistan, which has been a threat to regional stability for decades.

Furthermore, the historical close ties between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan fuel concerns over the existence of a covert nuclear weapons agreement between the two nations. However, such speculation is not new, as can be evidenced by a New York Times article, which appeared on the subject on July 10, 1999 entitled, “Saudis Visit to Arms Site in Pakistan Worries US.” Saudi-Pakistan nuclear intimacy goes back even further to the 1970s when former Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto received funding for Pakistan’s nuclear program from former Saudi King Faysal in exchange for providing a security umbrella for the kingdom. Obama’s former counter-proliferation advisor Gary Samore acknowledged the existence of such an agreement. The Pakistan Muslim League, current Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif’s political party, continues to be heavily funded by the Saudis, so certainly there appears to be no radical shift in alignment here.

In contrast, relations between Iran and Turkey at least have the potential to move in much more positive direction provided Ankara can overcome its historical fear of increasing Kurdish power and autonomy. Turkey views the unification of the Kurdish regions spanning from the border with Iran to Latakia in Syria as a “Kurdish-Alawite” belt, which threatens to cause increased domestic unrest and demands for Kurdish autonomy. Behind these concerns are centuries of latent Persian-Ottoman rivalry, which lies beneath the surface of current relations.

While Iran and Turkey are on opposite sides of the conflicts in Syria and Yemen, the nuclear deal brings the opportunity for closer economic ties between the two countries. Hopes exist in Iran of increasing trade with Turkey from a current level of $14 billion to $30 billion by the end of 2016. Moreover, with the further development of reserves in Iran’s South Pars gas field and Turkey’s desire to improve its standing as a gas transit hub, the two countries have a strong basis for mutually beneficial economic development, which no doubt would be a boon to regional security. And if historical trends continue, Iran stands to receive the greater share of economic benefit from increased trade with Turkey.

Q: Will Washington’s “Asia Pivot” affect the U.S. relations with its allies in the Middle East? If so, how can the power vacuum in the region be filled?

A: In reality, Obama’s much-touted “Asia Pivot” with its fast-tracked Trans Pacific Partnership agreement has not met with resounding success. This is despite numerous predictions by right-leaning academians of the impending ‘irrelevance of the Middle East’, dating back to before 2007. The amount of diplomatic capital invested by the current Washington regime in securing an agreement with Iran should supply sufficient evidence to convince all except the most fervent neocon holdouts of the fallaciousness of this concept.

Arguably, a power vacuum was created by a combination of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but it has long been Iran’s policy to balance against the American juggernaut with its own pivot towards Asia, resulting in a realignment and rejuvenation of the traditional Silk Road powers. This Silk Road group of nations, which includes China, Russia and India, has transformed from an economic cooperation organization into a strategic alliance to counter Washington’s hegemonic ambitions. In particular, the efforts made by Iran in cultivating favorable relations with Russia and China have paid dividends in the recent nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 as well as in countering U.S.-created terrorism in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the region.

Q: Can the nuclear deal help resolve conflicts in Syria, Yemen, and Iraq?

A: Due to the elevated diplomatic status of Iran as a result of successfully negotiating the nuclear deal with the P5+1, the potential has been established for Iran to play a major role in resolving all the outstanding regional issues. However, I hesitate to point out that the U.S. still remains a major obstacle to peace in the region with its unflinching support for the Zionist entity and its steadfast alignment with Saudi Arabia, which is currently carrying on an unabashed aggression against the people of Yemen and is a major factor in supporting the ongoing takfiri insurgency in Syria.
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Relations between Iran and Turkey at least have the potential to move in much more positive direction provided Ankara can overcome its historical fear of increasing Kurdish power and autonomy.

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A power vacuum was created by a combination of the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, but it has long been Iran’s policy to balance against the American juggernaut with its own pivot towards Asia, resulting in a realignment and rejuvenation of the traditional Silk Road powers. This Silk Road group of nations, which includes China, Russia and India, has transformed from an economic cooperation organization into a strategic alliance to counter Washington’s hegemonic ambitions.

Futility Of Trying To Stop The Pakistani Horn (Dan 8:8)

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US slams Pakistan for nuclear arsenal boast

WASHINGTON: Pakistan’s nuclear sabre rattling earned for it a mild reprimand from the Obama administration even as military generals in Rawalpindi told the country’s politicians that India is their principal ex ternal threat and they need more money to counter it.

Border tension between India and Pakistan figured in the daily US state department briefing on Thursday with a spokesman cautioning Islamabad for talking loosely about using nuclear weapons to counter India.

“We want to see tensions decrease, and speculation about potential use of nuclear weapons certainly isn’t doing anything to help it, if in fact those comments were made,” spokesman John Kirby said.
The censure came after Pakistan’s geriatric NSA Sartaj Aziz boasted that Pakistan was a nuclear weapons power that was capable of defending itself against India, even though New Delhi has made no nuclear threats and has a no-first use policy when it comes to nuclear weapons use.

Kirby essayed the familiar salutary advice to a country that is home to a wide range of terrorists and terror groups, some of them designated by the UN and US.

“(US) secretary (of state, John) Kerry has said repeatedly that he wants the two nations to continue to work together, with constructive dia logue, to resolve their issues, and we understand that there are issues that are longstanding,” Kirby told reporters. “But that’s what really needs to happen, is sitting down, dialogue, cooperation, talking through these things, and trying to work through some meaningful solutions.”

Earlier in the week, the state department had repeated the familiar mantra that such talks were something the two sides needed to undertake and no mediation can be expected from a third party .
Pakistan has been trying hard to attract international attention and mediation into the Kashmir dispute while not giving up on its patronage of terrorist groups such as LeT and its avatars and helping militants infiltrate into India. Earlier this week, Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN Maleeha Lodhi took its complaints to the UN even though Pakistan protects UN designated terrorists such as Hafiz Saeed.
On Friday , Pakistani media reported that in a briefing at the joint staff headquarters, the generals told members of Pakistan’s senate defense committee that India was buying $100 billion worth of weapons over the next five years aimed primarily at Pakistan, and they needed more money to counter that.

The Mullahs are here till the end (Daniel 8:4)

iran-Ayatollah
Iranian ex-pat: Nuclear deal ruins opportunity to remove the ayatollahs from power

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN
Sat, 08 Aug 2015, 08:19 PM

‘We are used to just a few weeks of sunshine,” Saba Farzan, an Iranian journalist, remarks about the unusually hot weather in Berlin.

While Germans have been enjoying the parks and lakes, Farzan, who is executive director of the strategy think tank Foreign Policy Circle, has been consumed with the nuclear deal signed between the Islamic Republic and six world powers led by the United States. The deal, signed on July 14, has yet to be fully ratified in the US Congress, where it will face opposition, or in Tehran, but it is widely expected to be finalized.

“The deal means this regime will stay in power and that anti-Semitism will stay in power, and it is bad news for Iranian civil society,” Farzan says in a phone interview with the Magazine.

IN MANY countries threatened by the Iranian regime’s influence, there is consternation over the deal, no more so than in Israel. But for many like Farzan, the deal strikes a personal note. She was born in 1980; her family fled the country a few years later because of the extremism of the ayatollahs who came to power after the fall of the shah in 1979.

“I have lived in Germany since I was six years old. We fled Iran as political refugees and were accepted in Germany right away. We were granted asylum and started a new life.”

In those years Iran went through a series of upheavals.

The initial enthusiasm of the fall of the shah and hope for a pluralistic democracy were dashed. Then came the Iran-Iraq war, the crackdowns on civil society, the imposition of religious laws.
“It was like in Lebanon in the 1980s, a dark place,” recalls Farzan. “My dad was a sociologist. [He and my mother] were from Shi’a families.”

Her parents were secular and “ardent supporters of enlightenment in the Islamic religion” who endorsed “separation of religion and state.”

They found a home in Germany and integrated quickly.

“From the beginning we felt safe and secure and happy in Germany. It granted freedom and opportunity to us. This is something I am grateful for, every single day. It is why I became a journalist and was interested in foreign and security policy.”

For Iran observers like Farzan, the last decades in Iran have been a repetitive cycle. Over the 36 years since the fall of the shah, the country has meandered from more extreme conservatives like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who was president from 2005 to 2013, to more “moderates” like Mohammad Khatami and Hassan Rouhani.

But Iranian civil society has changed. This generation, Farzan says, is the most nonideological, secular- oriented and educated since the revolution. However, this window of opportunity, as this generation comes of age, is being lost.

The Iran deal is a setback, she argues, and “the architecture behind the global Iran policy is an incredible willingness to appease the dictators and to just get over this conflict. It is essentially, as a friend of mine described the deal that was cut last week in Vienna, in fact a business deal.”

The concept is that the deal will allow billions of dollars to flow into the coffers of the Iranian leadership. That is supposed to give them less of an incentive to build a nuclear weapon. It is basically a bribe.

“That didn’t work in North Korea or elsewhere. Second, you cannot build a whole policy based on the hope that with enough money bad people will not do bad things. That is naïve and stupid. You can’t construct policy based on that hope. Nothing changed in the last 20 years [in Iran]. Except that, of course, the toughest sanctions regime this world ever saw was built up against Iran. We could have gotten different results if we had kept going with those sanctions.”

JOURNALISM WASN’T Farzan’s first calling. Initially, she sought to study literature and sociology in Bayreuth, Germany. While researching German-Jewish opera composer Kurt Weill, Farzan started to draw parallels between the artist who fled the Nazi regime and her own history. When the Green Revolution protests swept Iran in 2009, Farzan began to focus on Germany’s foreign policy with the Islamic Republic.

She started writing op-eds and participating in conferences, criticizing Germany’s emphasis on trade relations with Iran.

“As we speak today the German economy minister [Sigmar Gabriel] is in Iran. He is the first Western official after the deal who traveled to Iran.”

He is the first senior-level German government official to visit Tehran in 13 years. Some estimates claim that, due to the deal, Iran will be able to unlock more than $100 billion in trade after the sanctions are lifted. The Germans want to get on the financial bandwagon.

“You cannot structure foreign policy based on trade relations. That is not a strategic view to build the security of your country,” argues Farzan.

Even when sanctions began to be imposed on Iran in 2006, the UN resolutions were never strictly enforced, Farzan says.
 
“We indirectly allowed it to continue its work on nuclear weapons.”

Also, the sanctions did not have their desired effect, because Iran is not a rational actor.

“It doesn’t care about its own population. It cares about its proxy groups [such as Hezbollah]. It cares about the influence they have in Latin America. They [the Iranian leadership] care that the Obama administration surrenders to their demands. They are irrational from our point of view. It is a revolutionary ideology we are dealing with.”

She contrasts the Iranian mullahs with the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who renounced his nuclear weapons program in 2003. He understood the West’s threat, whereas the Iranian regime acts irrationally, in her view.

BUT THE question remains whether Iran’s nuclear weapons program is in fact a distraction for a larger regional policy of extending the influence and power of Iran in places like Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon.

“Iran has used this [weapons program] in its own interest and advantage. I have no doubt that this is really a nuclear weapons program. If you look at the components and the ballistic missiles and enrichment, and the infrastructure, it only makes sense if you want to have a nuclear weapon,” says Farzan.

However, the mullahs play a double game, she says; they may lack the means to complete a nuclear weapon.

“They play with the idea of letting the region think they are much more advanced and ready to build up a nuclear weapon…. Maybe it is sort of enough for them to cause destabilization.”

She ascribes this partly to the very Persian identity of the Iranian nuclear program.

“They want to build it themselves; they don’t want to buy it from the North Koreans or Pakistanis.”
This is an important point because Pakistan’s nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan was confirmed in 2004 to have aided the development of nuclear programs in Libya and North Korea and offered his services to Iran. The first Pakistani nuclear weapons test took place in 1998 and was a complete surprise to the world.

The serious Iranian nuclear program should be seen in that light, because it stretches back to the 1990s when, it should be recalled, the international community was focused on Iraq’s nuclear program. Since the middle of the first decade of this century, Israeli and American intelligence estimates have repeatedly claimed Iran would have the bomb by now.

Farzan argues that the Iranians are more paranoid about their own internal problems than Western pressure to end the nuclear program.

“They studied us [the West] very closely. Look at the people in charge; many of them have been educated in the West – from Europe and the US – and they have studied us much better than we have studied them. We didn’t study them at all. That is why sometimes we believe what they say and are so slow in our responses.

The Iranians think strategically ahead and see where a vacuum exists that they can fill with their own ideology and proxies. They saw it coming that in Iraq things would fall apart.”

The picture of Iran is that, while it may have irrational elements, its strategic thinking is very cautious and pragmatic. For instance, it waited for the US to fail in Iraq in order to insert itself and wrap its tentacles around the Iraq government of Nouri al-Maliki over the last decade. The resulting sectarian chaos is very much in Iran’s interest.

But inside Iran, not all is well for the regime.

“The young generation and well educated are ready to connect to the outside. Their talents were not included into the economic way that Iran is going, or into political participation,” says Farzan. The money that the Iranian regime stands to earn from the deal will not trickle down to the educated classes.

“They have overstretched their capacities in the region.

Yes, they control four Arab capitals [Baghdad, Sana’a, Beirut and Damascus]. They have opened up so many battlefields for them that it is a question of logistics and the political price they pay in the region….

At the same time, it is questionable how long they can sustain this interference – not just in two, three or four places, but the next battlefields are around the corner, like in Jordan, Bahrain or other countries.”

In some ways the regime may be a paper tiger, exaggerating its prowess but in actuality quite weak. Farzan points to the fact that Iran’s military is undeveloped compared to Saudi Arabia, which has the latest American equipment.
 
“[Iran] is a paper tiger we are now feeding with cash and political acceptance.”

THE IRANIAN exile community, which numbers several million spread out through Europe, the United States and Canada, is very diverse in its approaches to what to do about the regime.
For instance, Ray Takeyh, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who was born in Tehran, argued last week that “no agreement is perfect, but at times the scale of the imperfection is so great that the judicious course is to reject the deal and renegotiate a more stringent one.”

Farzan says the approaches of those in the community are complex.

“Whether in the diaspora or in Iran, if you can gather five Iranians you [will] have seven opinions…. It is a diverse community. That is one thing that is hopeful for a democratic future in Iran. The negative aspect of it is that only very few Iranians can agree on something that they would want. Some say reform. Some say a revolution. One says an evolution. Some think it will take longer but with better results.”

She ascribes this to the long history of revolutions in Iran, stretching back to the early 20th century and the Persian Constitutional Revolution of 1906. One problem for Iranians who oppose the regime is that “they feel left alone by the Western world…. They are suffering under the dictatorship.”
When Barack Obama was elected he brought hope to Iranians that reform would come, not only because he was a Democrat who they thought would support progressive change but also because of his personal story.

“They really rose up in 2009 when Obama was president. They thought and expected that Barack Obama, as the first black American president, would support them, in memory of the civil rights movement, that he could relate to the suffering that they were going through. But it was the exact opposite. He was willing to throw them under the bus and consistently try and reach a deal with this dictatorship, fully knowing that the deal would cement the power that this regime has.”

But hope is not lost. Farzan believes there will be more protests and activism.

“As much as I hope and pray that Iran is on the verge of a revolution, a lot of the things that will happen in the immediate future depends on who will be the US president.”

That means that many are pegging their hope for the future on a future US administration scuttling the deal.

Farzan hopes that when Iran changes and the ayatollahs are removed, the country can rekindle its natural commonalities with Israel.

“This regime is standing in the way of these two countries becoming equal and true partners…. Jews and Persians have [many things] in common… not just because they are both ancient civilizations.”
From a strategic point of view, she argues that Iran is a much more logical partner for Israel than the Sunni Arab states such as Saudi Arabia.

For the time being, she concludes, we must look at whatever silver linings we can find in light of the deal and continue to support Iranian civil society

Iran’s Power Over America (Dan 8:3)

 

Exposed: Iran’s Super Strategy to Crush America in a War

Zachary Keck
June 20, 2015

Since assuming office in 2009, President Barack Obama has consistently held that the United States would carry out airstrikes to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. This position is supported by the vast majority of U.S. policy makers, lawmakers and the political elite, regardless of political affiliation.

Nonetheless, it is also generally agreed that airstrikes against Iran’s nuclear facilities would only have a limited impact on preventing Iran from acquiring the bomb. To be sure, a concerted airstrike effort against Iran would delay its ability to build a nuclear arsenal by several years.

Nonetheless, Iran would be able to rebuild its nuclear facilities before long, especially given the windfall in economic relief it would undoubtedly receive once the sanctions regime against it unraveled in response to America’s military action.

The only military action that can truly prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, then, is for the United States to invade and occupy the country, potentially turning it over to a U.S.-friendly regime that would uphold Iran’s non-nuclear status. Despite the widespread support in the United States for preventing Iran from building a nuclear weapon, this option is almost never proposed by any serious observer.

Part of this undoubtedly reflects America’s fatigue following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, it goes much deeper than that—namely, while Iran’s military is greatly inferior to the U.S. armed forces, the U.S. military would not be able to conquer Iran swiftly and cheaply like it did in Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, Tehran would be able to impose prohibitive costs against the U.S. military, even before the difficult occupation began.

Iran’s ability to defend itself against a U.S. invasion begins with its formidable geography. As Stratfor, a private intelligence firm, has explained, “Iran is a fortress. Surrounded on three sides by mountains and on the fourth by the ocean, with a wasteland at its center, Iran is extremely difficult to conquer.”

While the “stopping power of water” has always made land invasions far more preferable for the invading party, the age of precision-guided munitions has made amphibious invasions particularly challenging. As such, the United States would strongly prefer to invade Iran through one of its land borders, just as it did when it invading Iraq in 2003.

Unfortunately, there are few options in this regard. On first glance, commencing an invasion from western Afghanistan would seem the most plausible route, given that the U.S. military already has troops stationed in that country. Alas, that would not be much of an option at all.

To begin with, from a logistical standpoint, building up a large invasion force in western Afghanistan would be a nightmare, especially now that America’s relationship with Russia has deteriorated so greatly.

More importantly, however, is the geography of the border region. First, there are some fairly small mountain ranges along the border region. More formidable, going from the Afghan border to most of Iran’s major cities would require traversing two large desert regions: Dasht-e Lut and Dasht-e Kavir.

Dasht-e Kavir is particularly fearsome, as its kavirs are similar to quicksand. As Stratfor notes, “The Dasht-e Kavir consists of a layer of salt covering thick mud, and it is easy to break through the salt layer and drown in the mud. It is one of the most miserable places on earth.” This would severely constrain America’s ability to use any mechanized and possibly motorized infantry in mounting the invasion.

Iran’s western borders are not any more inviting. While northwestern Iran borders Turkey, a NATO ally of the United States, Ankara refused the United States permission to use its territory for the invasion of Iraq. Regardless, the Zagros Mountains that define Iran’s borders with Turkey, and most of Iraq, would make a large invasion through this route extremely difficult.

The one exception on Iran’s western borders is in the very south, where the Tigris and Euphrates rivers collide to form the Shatt al-Arab waterway. This was the invasion route Saddam Hussein used in the 1980s. Unfortunately, as Saddam discovered, this territory is swampy and easy to defend. Furthermore, not long after crossing into Iranian territory, any invading force would run into the Zagros Mountains. Still, this area has long been a vulnerability of Iran’s, which is one of the reasons why Tehran has put so much effort into dominating Shia Iraq and the Iraqi government. Unfortunately for any U.S. president looking to invade Iran, Tehran has largely succeeded in this effort, closing it off as a potential base from which America could attack Iran.

Thus, the United States would have to invade Iran from its southern coastline, which stretches roughly 800 miles and is divided between waterfront adjoining the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Iran has been preparing for just such a contingency for the better part of a quarter of a century. Specifically, it has focused on acquiring the capabilities to execute an antiaccess/area denial strategy against the United States, utilizing a vast number of precision-guided and nonsmart missiles, swarm boats, drones, submarines and mines.

Khamenei’s Financial Grasp On The Iranian Empire (Dan 8)

$95bn Khamenei empire

Posted on » Tuesday, May 19, 2015

DUBAI: Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei controls a financial empire worth an estimated $95 billion ‘“ 30 times more than the wealth accumulated by the late Shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, according to Reuters.

Forbes magazine revealed details of hunger for power and money shown by religious clerics after their accession to power in Iran despite raising the slogan of asceticism and attempts to establish the image of leading a humble life. On the contrary, they have amassed billions of dollars through monopoly of charity institutions, management of religious shrines and government facilities, banks, hotels and companies in addition to groceries and pharmacies, says a report in our sister paper Akhbar Al Khaleej.