The US and Pakistan Horns Separate (Daniel 7-8)

No US aid for Pakistan as decisive action against terror pending: Report

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan

Ahead of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s visit to the United States, a Congressional report has said the security assistance to Pakistan would remain suspended pending „decisive and irreversible“ action against terrorist groups.

At the direction of President Donald Trump, the US had suspended all its security assistance to Pakistan in January 2018. This is first high-level trip by a Pakistani prime minster to the White House during the Trump administration.

„Pakistan is a haven for numerous Islamist extremist and terrorist groups, and successive Pakistani governments are widely believed to have tolerated and even supported some of these as proxies in Islamabad’s historical conflicts with its neighbors,“ the independent Congressional Research Service (CRS) said in a latest report on Pakistan.

The CRS is an independent and bipartisan research wing of the the US Congress, which prepares periodic reports on issues of interest for lawmakers to make informed decisions. Its reports are prepared by eminent experts of the field and are not considered as an official view of the Congress.

The latest CRS report told lawmakers that the 2011 revelation that Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had enjoyed years-long refuge in Pakistan led to intensive US government scrutiny of the bilateral relationship. It also sparked congressional questioning of the wisdom of providing significant aid to a nation that may not have the intention or capacity to be an effective partner.

The Trump administration has taken a harder line on Pakistan than its predecessors, sharply cutting assistance and suspending security-related aid, said the CRS report dated July 15.

„The United States continues to press for decisive and irreversible action against externally-focused militant groups and UN-designated terrorist organizations operating from its territory,“ it said. „Pending such action, security assistance will remain suspended.“

During a September 2018 visit to Islamabad amidst talk of a „reset“ of bilateral ties, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo expressed hope that the US could find common ground with Pakistan’s new leadership, but mutual distrust was seen to be pervasive in the relationship and American leverage was much reduced.

In mid-2017, the administration announced that it would „pause“ disbursement of $255 million in Foreign Military Financing (FMF) and announced a broader security aid suspension in January 2018. According to the State Department, about $790 million in unobligated FMF dating back to 2001 is affected.

Pakistani politicians and analysts of all stripes decried what they perceived as an effort to scapegoat their country for US policy failures in Afghanistan. The administration’s 2020 budget request for assistance to Pakistan totals about $70 million, including $48 million for economic and development aid.

Noting that numerous indigenous terrorist groups operate on or from Pakistani territory, many designated as ‚Foreign Terrorist Organisations‘ under the US law, the CRS said incidents of domestic terrorism decreased since the Pakistan Army launched major operations in 2014.

However, some externally-oriented terrorist groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba continue to operate, by some accounts supported by state elements. Al Qaeda and Islamic State networks are also present in Pakistan, it said. According to the report, Pakistan’s continued conflict and rivalry with India is unabated, with international fears about the possibility of war between two nuclear-armed powers.

Pakistan, it said, seeks to raise the issue of Kashmiri rights internationally, while India rejects any high-level peace negotiations pending decisive Pakistani action against anti-India militants inside Pakistan. The report also notes that the Trump administration had noted Pakistan’s growing debt to China and expressed opposition to any bailout that would go to reducing such debt.

Pakistan’s Finance Ministry denies that the IMF funds would be used to repay Chinese debt and it is seeking to renegotiate aspects of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to reduce long-term debt, the CRS said.

Babylon the Great Returns to the Middle East

U.S. Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the commander of U.S. Central Command, right, shakes hands with airmen of the Royal Saudi Air Force on Prince Sultan Air Base, July 18, 2019. While visiting the Central region, McKenzie met with forward deployed troops and key allied leaders and reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to security and stability in the region. (Roderick Jacquote/Marine Corps)

US Troops Returning to Saudi Arabia Amid Threats from Iran

Robert Burns

WASHINGTON (AP) — With Iranian military threats in mind, the United States is sending American forces, including fighter aircraft, air defense missiles and likely more than 500 troops, to a Saudi air base that became a hub of American air power in the Middle East in the 1990s but was abandoned by Washington after it toppled Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein in 2003.

The Saudi Foreign Ministry announced the basing agreement Friday without mentioning details.

Senior American defense officials said some U.S. troops and Patriot air defense missile systems have already arrived at Prince Sultan Air Base, south of Riyadh, where the troops have been preparing for the arrival of aircraft later this summer as well as additional troops. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity in order to provide details not publicly announced.

The agreement has been in the works for many weeks and is not a response specifically to Friday’s seizure by Iran of a British tanker in the Persian Gulf. Tensions with Iran have spiked since May when the Trump administration said it had detected increased Iranian preparations for possible attacks on U.S. forces and interests in the Gulf area. The

In a written statement Friday evening, U.S. Central Command said the deployments to Saudi Arabia had been approved by the Pentagon.

„This movement of forces provides an additional deterrent, and ensures our ability to defend our forces and interests in the region from emergent, credible threats,“ Central Command said. „This movement creates improvement of operational depth and logistical networks. U.S. Central Command continually assesses force posture in the region and is working with Kingdom of Saudi Arabia authorities to base U.S. assets at the appropriate locations.“

Putting U.S. combat forces back in Saudi Arabia, after an absence of more than a decade, adds depth to the regional alignment of U.S. military power, which is mostly in locations on the Persian Gulf that are more vulnerable to Iranian missile attack.

But it also introduces a political and diplomatic complication for the Trump administration, accused by critics of coddling the Saudis even after the murder last fall of dissident writer Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi agents. Many in Congress now question the decades-old U.S.-Saudi security alliance and oppose major new arms sales to the kingdom.

Starting with the January 1991 air war against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait the previous summer, the U.S. flew a wide range of aircraft from Prince Sultan air base, originally known as al-Kharj. Supported by an all-American array of creature comforts like fast-food restaurants and swimming pools, U.S. forces there flew and maintained Air Force fighters and other warplanes.

The base also served as a launch pad for the December 1998 bombing of Iraq, code-named Operation Desert Fox, which targeted sites believed to be associated with Iraq’s nuclear and missile programs. In 2001, the base became home to the U.S. military’s main air control organization, known as the Combined Air Operations Center, which orchestrated the air war in Afghanistan until it was relocated in 2003 to al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

This article was written by Robert Burns from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

Do Not Damage the Oil (Revelation 6:6)

Iran captures UK tanker: Timeline of political tensions in Persian Gulf before seizure

July 19, 2019, 3:30 PM MDT

The seizure of the Stena Impero tanker in the Strait of Hormuz is the latest episode to contribute to rising tensions between the UK, US and Iran in the region.After Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the US from a long term nuclear agreement it had signed with five other world powers, tensions have worsened with Washington. Iran has refused to negotiate any changes, and has threatened to further break the terms of the agreement if Europe does not help limit the effects of US sanctions. It has also broken restrictions on its production of enriched uranium, used to make reactor fuel but also potentially nuclear bombs.Tensions between the UK and Iran flared up earlier this month when Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker which was suspected of breaking European Union sanctions. The UK suspected Grace 1, detained near Gibraltar, was carrying oil bound for Syria.Foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said it would be released if Tehran guaranteed its oil would not be given to the country’s president Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Here is a timeline of recent incidents involving the three nations:13 June: Two US oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz were attacked in an assault that left one ablaze and adrift, with 44 sailors evacuated from both vessels. The US Navy went to assist, with Mr Trump blaming Iran for the incidents.Iran denied involvement in the tanker attacks and accused the US of promoting an campaign.20.20 June: A US military drone worth $100m (£78m) was downed by Tehran, with Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani claiming it had violated their airspace.The move marked a new high in the rising tensions between the two countries, as Iran’s naval commander warned his forces would not hesitate to down more US drones if they entered its airspace.Mr Trump then pulled back from the brink of retaliatory military strikes on Iran after he was told 150 people could die.He has since signed an executive order targeting Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei and his associates with financial sanctions.4 July: Royal Marines from 42 Commando were involved in an operation to seize a supertanker off Gibraltar suspected of carrying oil destined for Bashar Assad’s Syrian regime. They boarded the ship by descending on ropes from a Wildcat helicopter and by using rigid inflatable boats.They worked alongside authorities in Gibraltar to detain the Iranian tanker Grace 1, which was believed to be heading to the Banyas refinery in breach of EU sanctions. In response, Iran’s revolutionary guard warned a British oil tanker could be seized in retaliation.10 July: Royal Navy frigate HMS Montrose drove off three Iranian vessels which tried to stop the commercial ship British Heritage.It is understood the tanker was making passage out of the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz when the ship was approached by the Iranian vessels. HMS Montrose was nearby and proceeded to come in between.Warnings were given but no shots were fired. The Iranian vessels then turned around and left.11 July: Police in Gibraltar said they had arrested the captain and chief officer of the Iranian supertanker Grace 1 in relation to suspected violations of EU sanctions on Syria.Two days later the force said the captain, chief officer and two second officers of the vessel had been conditionally bailed without charge.13 July: In a telephone call with Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt offered to facilitate Grace 1’s release in return for guarantees from Tehran that it would not breach EU sanctions on the Assad regime in Syria.15 July: Mr Hunt attended a Brussels meeting of EU foreign ministers on the issue of the Iran nuclear deal. He said there was a "small window" of hope for preventing the international agreement, aimed at stopping Tehran gaining nuclear weapons, from unravelling.Both he and Tory leadership rival Boris Johnson later ruled out supporting Mr Trump should he pursue military action in the Gulf.16 July: Ali Khamenei called the seizure of the Grace 1 tanker "piracy" and vowed to retaliate. He said: "God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evilness without a response."17 July: US officials said they suspected Iran had seized a Panamanian-flagged oil tanker from the United Arab Emirates as it travelled through the Strait of Hormuz. The tanker had turned off its tracker three days before as it entered Iranian waters.Iran later said its Revolutionary Guard had seized a foreign oil tanker and its crew of 12 for smuggling fuel out of the country.18 July: Mr Trump said the USS Boxer had shot down an Iranian drone that came within 1,000 yards of the warship and ignored calls to stand down.Iranian military officials denied one of its drones had been lost in the Strait of Hormuz.19 July: Two oil tankers are reported to have been seized by Iranian authorities in the Persian Gulf.The Stena Impero, registered in the UK, was seized by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in the Strait of Hormuz for "violating international maritime rules", the semi-official Fars news agency said.A second oil tanker, the Liberia-flagged Mesdar, owned and operated by Glasgow-based firm Norbulk, appeared to veer off course towards the Iranian coast.The Mesdar’s operator said the ship was boarded by armed guards but the crew were left and allowed to continue their voyage.Jeremy Hunt called the ships‘ seizure "unacceptable" ahead of attending a meeting of the Government’s emergency committee Cobra.Press Association contributed to this report

97 Injured Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

97 injured in Gaza border protests

By TAMAR BEERI

As on every Friday, protests broke out along the Gaza border with some 7,000 people demonstrating. Some 74 people were reported as having been injured, as well as four paramedics and two reporters.

Of those injured during the weekly protest, 47 were hurt by live fire coming from Israeli territory.  This week’s protest march was called „Burning the Israeli Flag.“

Stones were thrown in large waves at the fence along the border, as well as explosive devices.

UK Prepares to Fight Against Iran

Iran’s top diplomat in UK summoned over seizure of Stena Impero tanker

UK foreign secretary expresses ‘extreme disappointment’ over action to Iranian counterpart

Emma Graham-Harrison

The British government has summoned Tehran’s top diplomat in London and warned UK ships to temporarily avoid the strait of Hormuz after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker off its coast, deepening the crisis in the Gulf.

The British foreign secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said on Saturday that he had spoken to his Iranian counterpart, Mohammad Javad Zarif, to express “extreme disappointment” over Iran’s actions, and vowed to protect UK ships during the crisis.

“Having assured me last Sat[urday] Iran wanted to de-escalate the situation they have behaved in the opposite way,” Hunt said on Twitter. “This has to be about actions not words if we are to find a way through. British shipping must and will be protected.”

A British Royal Navy frigate was just an hour from the scene when Iranian forces took control of the British-flagged Stena Impero, the defence secretary, Penny Mordaunt, told Sky News. She said the tanker was in Omani waters at the time.

Hunt earlier promised a robust response if the tanker was not released, but said the government was not contemplating military action.

The Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, tweeted: “The UK tanker under Iranian control, and its crew, must be released. Escalation risks a deeper conflict, all sides must show restraint.

“Trump tearing up the Iran nuclear deal has fueled confrontation. Its negotiated reinstatement is essential to defuse threat of war in the Gulf.”

Stena Bulk said in a statement: “Our insurers in the region have been in contact with the head of marine affairs at the Port of Bandar Abbas, who has reported that the crew members of our vessel Stena Impero are in ‘good health’ and that the tanker is at the nearby Bandar Bahonar anchorage.

“The head of marine affairs has asked a formal request be made for a visit to be arranged to the crew members and vessel. I can confirm this formal request is being prepared forthwith.

“Our insurers have also advised that the head of marine affairs has confirmed to them that no instructions have been received so far as to what will happen to the ship.”

The Cobra emergency committee met on Saturday afternoon to discuss the crisis, the second such gathering in under 24 hours. The standoff between the west and Iran has escalated at a particularly difficult time for Britain, just four days before Theresa May is due to hand power to another leader.

Iran’s charge d’affaires, the country’s most senior diplomat in London, was also summoned to the Foreign Office over the incident, the Press Association reported.

Iran’s capture of the tanker and its 23 crew came two weeks after Royal Marines seized an Iranian tanker off Gibraltar, on suspicion of shipping oil to Syria in violation of an EU embargo, and just hours after authorities in Gibraltar announced that they would extend their custody of the vessel.

Friday’s action was widely seen as a response to the seizure of the Grace 1, which Tehran denounced as piracy carried out on the orders of Washington, and Iran on Saturday appeared to make the link explicit.

“The rule of reciprocal action is well known in international law,” Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, a spokesman for Iran’s powerful Guardian Council, told the semi-official Fars news agency.

Iran’s moves to “confront the illegitimate economic war and seizure of oil tankers is an instance of this rule and is based on international rights”, he added. The council rarely comments on state matters, but when it does it is seen as a reflection of the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s views.

Hunt said UK forces had followed international law. “Yesterday’s action in Gulf shows worrying signs Iran may be choosing a dangerous path of illegal and destabilising behaviour after Gibraltar’s legal detention of oil bound for Syria,” Hunt said on Twitter. “We have been trying to find a way to resolve Grace1 issue but will ensure the safety of our shipping.”

A second Liberian-flagged but British operated tanker was also detained for several hours by Iranian forces on Friday. The Mesdar made a sudden diversion from its planned course, and began moving towards the Iranian coast before apparently turning off its tracking signal.

Its Glasgow-based operator, Norbulk Shipping UK, confirmed that the vessel had been boarded by armed guards but had then been allowed to continue its voyage. Fars reported it was given a notice to meet environmental regulations.

About a fifth of the world’s oil passes through the strait of Hormuz, the busiest shipping lane in the world for crude tankers, and under 25 miles (40km) wide at its narrowest point. Tensions in the Gulf had already affected oil trading, and Friday’s tanker seizures caused prices to rise.

Tensions between the US and Iran have soared, with Washington dispatching warships to the Gulf, and Tehran resuming higher uranium enrichment.

12 May 2019

The UAE says four commercial ships off its eastern coast ‚were subjected to sabotage operations‘.

14 May 2019

Yemen’s Houthi rebels launch a drone attack on Saudi Arabia, striking a major oil pipeline and taking it out of service.

16 May 2019

Saudi Arabia blames Iran for the drone attack on its pipeline.

19 May 2019

A rocket lands near the US embassy in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, without harming anyone. It’s not clear who is behind the attack, but after the initial reports, Donald Trump tweets: ‚If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran. Never threaten the United States again!‘

24 May 2019

Senior Pentagon officer Vice-admiral Michael Gilday says the US has a high degree of confidence that Iran’s Revolutionary Guards were responsible for the explosions on the four tankers in the Gulf of Oman.

12 June 2019

Saudi Arabia says 26 people were wounded in an attack by Yemen’s Houthi rebels on an airport in the kingdom’s south-western town of Abha.

13 June 2019

Two oil tankers near the strategic strait of Hormuz were reportedly attacked in an assault that left one ablaze and adrift. 44 sailors were evacuated from both vessels and the US navy assisted.

20 June 2019

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards say they have shot down what they called a US ’spy‘ drone they claim was flying in in the country’s airspace. The US military confirm one of its drones has been taken down, but say it was in international airspace.

21 June 2019

Donald Trump reportedly gives approval for the US military to launch strikes on Iran in retaliation for the loss of the drone, before pulling back at the last minute.

25 June 2019

The Iranian and US presidents trade insults, with Hassan Rouhani suggesting that Donald Trump suffered from a “mental disorder” and Trump once more threatening Iran with “obliteration”.

8 July 2019

The International Atomic Energy Agency, the body tasked with verifying Iranian compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal, verifies that Tehran has breached the agreed 3.67% limit for enriched uranium.

11 July 2019

The UK government says three Iranian boats were warned off by the frigate HMS Montrose after Iranian boats ‚attempted to impede‘ a British oil tanker in strait of Hormuz. Tehran denies involvement.

18 July 2019

Iran says it has seized a foreign oil tanker in the Gulf. A report on state TV says the ship was smuggling oil but does not say which country crew are from.

19 July 2019

Iran denies a claim by Donald Trump that the US destroyed one of its drones in the strait of Hormuz. The US president says the USS Boxer took ‘defensive action’ against an unmanned aircraft. Tehran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, tweeted: “We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else. I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS [unmanned aerial system] by mistake!”

Iran’s official Irna news agency said the impounded Stena Impero had been detained after colliding with a fishing boat, whose crew notified authorities on land. Its owners say it was intercepted in international waters, by four small craft and a helicopter, when in “full compliance with all navigation and international regulations”.

The ship has been taken to Bandar Abbas, one of the country’s main military ports, Fars reported.

Conservative MP Tom Tugendhat, chairman of the Commons foreign affairs committee, said if the report was correct, Britain should rule out the use of force in response. “That’s an important Iranian military port and I think any military options will therefore be extremely unwise,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Late on Friday night, the British government advised UK ships to stay out of the area “for an interim period” and said it was talking to international partners.

France’s foreign ministry said on Saturday it was very concerned by the seizure of the Stena Impero, saying such an action harmed de-escalation efforts in the region. Germany’s foreign ministry said it was an “unjustifiable intrusion” on shipping through a key shipping route and urged Iran to release the ship and crew.

“We remain deeply concerned about Iran’s unacceptable actions, which represent a clear challenge to international freedom of navigation,” a government statement said, following a meeting of ministers to discuss the incident in the strait of Hormuz.

The detention comes at a time of high tension in the region, with US, British and Iranian forces facing off at sea. Iranian politicians have called for reprisals over the detention of the Grace 1.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards previously attempted to capture a British tanker six days after the Grace 1 was seized. On 10 July, a British warship, the HMS Montrose, intervened to drive off three Iranian military vessels that were attempting to divert a UK tanker, the British Heritage, towards Iranian territory.

Q&A

Why is the Gulf of Oman so important for shipping oil?

The strait of Hormuz, which provides passage from the Gulf of Oman to the open sea, is the most important gateway for oil exports in the world. With Iran on its northern shore, and the UAE and Oman on its southern shore, the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) calls it the world’s worst ‚chokepoint‘

In 2016, 18.5m barrels of crude oil were transported each day through the strait of Hormuz, compared with 16m through the strait of Malacca, which runs between the Indonesian island of Sumatra, Malaysia and Thailand, connecting the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea. 5m barrels of crude oil are transported annually through the next largest chokepoint, the Suez canal.

Phillip Inman

The battle of nerves along the oil export routes of the Gulf has involved other close encounters between Iranian, UK and US military forces. Earlier on Friday, Tehran denied Trump’s claim that US forces had downed an Iranian drone over the Gulf, although the US president was adamant.

The prospect of a diplomatic resolution appeared to be receding however after a senior US official on Friday dismissed a nuclear offer proposed the previous day by Iran’s foreign minister.

The official suggested the offer, made during a visit to New York, was not serious and called for “an actual decision-maker” to enter talks to “end Iran’s malign nuclear ambitions”.

Trump has vacillated on what he wants Iran to do in return for a lifting of the oil and banking embargo that the US has imposed since walking out of an international nuclear deal with Tehran in May last year.

The sharp response to Zarif’s offer suggests that administration hardliners, led by the national security adviser, John Bolton, are currently running Iran policy.

Babylon the Great’s Futile Efforts to Halt the Iran Nuclear Horn

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin (file photo)

U.S. Slaps Sanctions On Nuclear Supply Network For Iran’s Enrichment Program

July 19, 2019 00:28 GMT

By RFE/RL

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Treasury Department on July 18 imposed additional sanctions on Iran that target its nuclear-enrichment program.

They are the first restrictive measures since Tehran said earlier this month that it would increase enriched uranium levels to above those allowed under the terms of a 2015 nuclear accord.

The blacklist includes five people and an international group of companies in Iran, Belgium, and China that acted as a supply network for Iran’s nuclear program.

The individuals and entities are subject to asset freezes within the United States and will be denied access to the U.S. financial system as well as listed as “weapons of mass destruction proliferators,” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

„Iran cannot claim benign intent on the world stage while it purchases and stockpiles products for centrifuges,“ Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Tehran had initially promised to greatly limit its nuclear program in exchange for economic benefits based on a 2015 accord with six world powers, including the United States.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of the deal and reimposed economically crippling sanctions in many sectors, including the crucial oil and financial industries.

France, Germany, and Britain — three of the six remaining accord signatories — have tried to salvage the deal and have proposed a complicated financial barter system designed to provide some economic relief to Tehran.

Iran says it no longer feels bound by the accord and on July 1 said it had amassed more than the permitted amount of low-enriched uranium.

Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6)

http://www.ldeo.columbia.edu/news/images/nj-quake-030201.gif

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”

That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.

His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

Babylon the Great Sends More Troops Towards Iran

As tensions with Iran mount, reports say US readying 500 troops to deploy to Saudi Arabia

Diana Stancy Correll

The U.S. is poised to send hundreds of U.S. troops to Saudi Arabia, according to new media reports.

CNN reports two U.S. defense officials said 500 troops will deploy to Prince Sultan Air Base, which the U.S. has eyed as a spot for increased presence because intelligence indicates the desert region would be difficult for Iranian missiles to strike.

The new troops would be in addition to a small number of troops and support personnel already in Saudi Arabia readying a Patriot missile defense battery and a runway.

The deployment is part of the Pentagon’s plan to send 1,000 additional troops to the Middle East due to escalating tensions with Iran. The proposal was unveiled on June 17, but it was unclear exactly where the troops would be sent.

“The United States does not seek conflict with Iran,” former Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said at the time. “The action today is being taken to ensure the safety and welfare of our military personnel working throughout the region and to protect our national interests.”

Congress has yet to receive formal notification of the troop movement, but were unofficially tipped off that the deployment would happen, according to CNN.

Although the Trump administration has sought to cozy up to Saudi Arabia, the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia has been strained since the death of Washington Post’s Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in October 2018, as well as concerns about the ongoing Saudi-led fight in Yemen against Iran-supported Houthi rebels that has resulted in thousands of civilian casualties.

The Pentagon did not disclose details of the plan and said that there was no official announcement yet.

“U.S. Central Command continually works to manage our force posture in the region and will continue to do this in cooperation with our partners and allies in the region,“ Pentagon spokesperson Cmdr. Rebecca Rebarich said in a statement. „There is no official announcement at this time.”

U.S. Central Command did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Military Times.

The U.S. has already boosted its presence in the Persian Gulf in recent months. For example, the Trump administration sent the USS Abraham Lincoln, B-52 bombers, and a Patriot antimissile battery to the region in May.

Tensions have worsened since then, especially after Iran shot down a U.S. surveillance drone on June 20. In response, the Trump administration was prepared to launch a military strike, but President Donald Trump said he backed off the plan after he learned the number of estimated casualties.

Preparing for War Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Joseph Barrak/Getty

As Iran-U.S. Tensions Rise, Hezbollah Readies for War With Israel

Hezbollah field commanders say they’re redeploying toward Israel’s border, ready to fight in a devastating conflagration.

BEIRUT—The tranquil winding roads of Lebanon’s mountainous interior are far from the tense waters of the Persian Gulf where President Donald Trump says America came within 10 minutes of war with Iran a few weeks ago. And where, he said on Thursday, the U.S. shot down an Iranian drone. But if fighting ever does begin, these hills and valleys near the border with Israel will quickly be on the front lines. And according to Hezbollah commanders, that moment could be coming soon.

When Trump talked of war, he meant a shooting war in the conventional sense. But for Iran and its allies, it’s Trump’s economic war with its suffocating sanctions that is bringing the region to the brink of armed conflict. The targets of Trump’s weaponized dollar increasingly see resorting to military engagements as the only response left.

Here in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s commanders are close allies and clients of Iran—and they are targeted by U.S. sanctions as well. They warn that if the pressure continues these rugged hills where the Party of God fought bloody guerrilla campaigns to end 15 years of Israeli occupation in 2000 and repel an Israeli invasion in 2006 could erupt once again.

And this time, they say, the combat will be far more devastating.

Hezbollah’s forces, battle-hardened in the Syrian civil war, have begun redeploying toward the Israeli border, not only in Lebanon, but in Syria opposite the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights.

Hezbollah fighters who spoke to The Daily Beast say their organization is hurting from sanctions and ready to initiate hostilities—if and when Tehran deems that necessary.

“The sanctions now have us preparing for dealing with the Israeli front,” says “Commander Samir,” a Hezbollah officer in charge of 800 fighters on Lebanon’s border with Israel. He declines to use his real name because he is not authorized to speak to the media. “We will fire the first shot this time,” he says.

“The pressure may actually be consolidating and motivating Iran’s proxies.”

Hezbollah’s military wing has changed fundamentally since its 2012 entrance into the war in Syria to prop up the Assad regime, transforming into a regional fighting force the Shia organization inspired by the Iranian revolution that the U.S. lists as a terrorist group.

When Trump offers the reasons he pulled out of the nuclear deal with Iran last year, precipitating the current crisis, he cites Iran’s support for militias that extend its power and influence across the region as something the U.S. intends to end—with Hezbollah the main target.

But the pressure may actually be consolidating and motivating Iran’s proxies.

Hezbollah is still fighting in Syria while training Iranian allied militias in Iraq and Yemen. The commander says his organization and Iran have moved past their split with Palestinian allies over Syria, where they were on opposite sides of the Syrian revolution as it turned into a bloody regional proxy war, and Iran is once again providing training and support for Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

From a living room overlooking the valleys where he became a veteran, ambushing the Israeli army and melting away into the surrounding hills, Samir says the next war will be nothing like those that came before.

The Red Line For Iran

This U.S. action should not be seen as retaliation for Iran’s downing of a U.S. drone in June, but rather as an act of self-defense.

It is justified for two reasons.

First, because Iran uses armed drones as a keystone element of its four-pronged war-fighting strategy for the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman (the other three elements being anti-ship missiles, mines, and fast attack boats). Second, because Iran conducted this operation to test U.S. resolve in face of overt threats to American personnel.

While it’s not yet clear which type of drone was involved here, it was likely a Shahed 129 type drone. Armable with bombs, and possibly unguided rockets, Iran has previously used this platform to threaten American forces in the region. Regardless, while not nearly as advanced as U.S. military and intelligence drones, Iranian drones can threaten American personnel.

Again, on the available information, this was a justified action. Iran was repeatedly warned to withdraw the drone. The drone closed within 1 kilometer of the Boxer amphibious ready group before being shot down. And remember, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps builds and deploys its drones as a means of lethal threat.

Still, as I warned last month, this kind of Iranian test was always highly likely. The Iranian economy is in free fall and European Union appeasement has failed to restrain the hardliners‘ anger. Iran would have intended this drone action to threaten American lives in a credible and serious manner. The Boxer amphibious ready group is embarked with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and over 2,000 Marines. So the perceived threat to life was significant, even if unarmed with bombs or missiles, the U.S. commander would have feared the drone might have been armed with explosives and intended to crash into the ship.

Shooting down the drone was the right action to take. Iran knows the United States will defend its personnel with all necessary force. Had the drone been allowed to approach closer, Iran would have been encouraged to escalate even further.