The Iranian Nuclear Horn Upgrades Her Centrifuges (Daniel 8:4)

Iran will unveil a new generation of uranium enrichment centrifuges, the deputy head of Iran’s nuclear agency Ali Asghar Zarean told state TV on Saturday.

“In the near future we will unveil a new generation of centrifuges that are domestically made,” said Zarean, without elaborating.

In September, Iran said it had started developing centrifuges to speed up the enrichment of uranium as part of steps to reduce compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal following the withdrawal of the United States.

In neighboring Iraq, meanwhile, anti-government protesters returned to Baghdad’s central plaza on Saturday after a night of bloody attacks that left 25 people dead and more than 130 wounded.

Storm clouds gathered over Khilani Square as the protesters surveyed the blackened facade of a parking garage that had served as their de facto command post before unknown assailants torched it Friday night.

The attack, which took place in darkness moments after the power was cut, marked a major escalation in assaults against protesters that have been taking place in recent weeks.

It was among the deadliest since Oct. 1, when thousands of Iraqis first took to the streets calling for sweeping political reforms and the end of Iran’s influence in Iraqi affairs. At least 400 have died at the hands of security forces firing live ammunition and tear gas to disperse the demonstrations.

A protester holds a bloodstained flag at the site of a gunmen attack in Baghdad, Saturday

Friday’s attacks also came hours after Washington slapped sanctions on the leader of Asaib Ahl al-Haq, a powerful Iran-backed militia accused of being behind deadly sniping attacks on protesters. The US Treasury sanctioned leader Qais al-Khazali, his brother Laith al-Khazali, a commander in the group, and Husain Falih Aziz al-Lami.

Demonstrators feared the attacks would be followed by armed street fighting and more violence that would undermine the peaceful tone of their mass rallies.

“Everyone is terrified,” said Noor, a protester who provided only her first name for fear of reprisal. “We don’t want this to become a street war. That is why we are trying to stay peaceful. But day after day we find that we are alone.”

Anti-government activists blame the attacks on Iran-backed militias, which have staged similar assaults against protester sit-ins in the capital and the country’s southern cities. On Thursday, the militias attempted to hold their own demonstration in the square to counter anti-government protesters, many of whom were attacked with knives by unknown assailants. They later withdrew.

Two Iraqi officials, who requested anonymity in line with regulations, said it was widely suspected that militiamen were involved in Friday night’s attacks.

Members of the Popular Mobilization Units, an official umbrella organization comprising an array of militia groups, have said the attacks during the protests have been aimed at infiltrators of the anti-government movement who were looking to cause disturbances.

Policemen use slingshots to fire stones towards anti-government protesters during clashes on Rasheed Street in Baghdad, Iraq, Friday

Falah Fayadh, chairman of the paramilitary PMUs, the program that oversees an array of Shiite militia groups, directed the PMU forces to stay away from squares occupied by protesters, according to an internal statement issued Saturday and seen by The Associated Press. Those who disobeyed the order would be fired, Fayadh said in the statement.

Protesters said the government’s failure to protect them at the height of the hostilities on Friday forced them to rely on a militia linked to influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, also the leader of the Sairoon bloc, which holds the most seats in Parliament.

Al-Sadr has supported the protests by sending Saraya Al Salam (Peace Brigades), a militia group under his control, to block roads and prevent anti-protest gunmen from entering during Friday’s clashes.

Iraqi officials said they believed al-Sadr would use his popularity on the street as political leverage in talks over the selection of a new premier. Prime Minister Adil Abdul-Mahdi resigned last week in response to the protests.

Abdul-Mahdi’s ascension to prime minister was the result of an uneasy alliance between the Sairoon bloc and parliament’s other main bloc, the Fatah, which includes leaders associated with the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Units headed by Hadi al-Amiri.

Even protesters who are wary of al-Sadr’s politics – they consider him part of the establishment they are protesting – said the presence of Saraya Al Salam members, who were unarmed, was key to their safety.

“I wish the … army had come and fought for us so that other people don’t feel that Sadr is protecting the protesters – because they are also a militia at the end of the day,” Noor said.

For Iraqi officials inside the fortified Green Zone, the seat of Iraq’s government, the presence of al-Sadr’s militia on the street serves only to reinforce perceptions that the majority of anti-government protesters are in fact supporters of al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr, meanwhile, said his home in the holy city of Najaf was hit by a drone strike on Saturday. He did not elaborate. Nassar al-Rubaie, head of Sairoon’s political committee, decried the attack in televised remarks and called for an emergency parliamentary session to discuss the violence in Khilani Square.

Friday’s attacks had many protesters on edge.

Mohamed, a protester who only provided his first name for fear of reprisal, said when he arrived at the square Friday night after receiving a call from distressed protesters, he saw groups of masked men wielding knives near the protesters’ command post at the parking garage.

Twenty minutes later, he said, four white pickup trucks arrived from the direction of Abdul-Qadir Gilani mosque, adjacent to Khilani square, without license plates and carrying armed men wearing ski masks.

“They fired at us, and we ran,” he said, noting that the electricity went off moments before. The armed men positioned themselves on the top floor of the parking garage and started shooting at the demonstrators below, said Mohamed, whose version of events was corroborated by a half-dozen other protesters. The shooting lasted for at least three hours, he said.

The attacks claimed the lives of 22 protesters and three policemen, officials said. Iraqi security forces were deployed to streets leading to the square early Saturday.

Some protesters accused the government of colluding with the masked gunmen, pointing to the power outage that happened around the same time as the attacks.

But a senior Electricity Ministry official, who requested anonymity in line with regulations, denied the allegation. The official said it would have been easy for anyone to cut the power lines.

Iran Goes on the Offensive in Iraq (Daniel 8:4)

Iraqi demonstrators gather as flames consume Iran’s consulate in Najaf, Iraq, on Nov. 27. HAIDAR HAMDANI/AFP via Getty Images

Tehran funnels in missiles while Trump reportedly mulls a big increase in U.S. troops.

Robbie GramerDecember 5, 2019, 11:44 AM

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s Security Brief Plus.What’s on tap today: Iran is secretly funneling missiles into Iraq as it grapples with protests, tensions mount on the Korean peninsula as North Korea mulls new long-range missile tests, and Sudan’s new leader makes his debut in Washington.

If you would like to receive Security Brief Plus in your inbox every Thursday, please sign up here.

Iran Takes Advantage of Turmoil in Iraq

Tehran isn’t letting a good crisis go to waste. As anti-government protests  roil Iraq, neighboring Iran has funneled short-range ballistic missiles into the country to help reassert its influence in the Middle East, U.S. officials told the New York Times.

The move, to some critics, shows that U.S. President Donald Trump’s longstanding efforts to weaken the Iranian regime and roll back its influence in the Middle East through sanctions and increased U.S. troop presence in the Persian Gulf isn’t working out as well as the administration hoped.

Troop surge? The news comes as the Trump administration considers sending more military hardware, ships and up to 14,000 more troops to the Middle East in an effort to counter Iran, according to the Wall Street Journal. Top Pentagon officials insist they have not yet made a decision to deploy additional troops, however.

The move would be another reversal of Trump’s promise to extricate the U.S. military from costly conflicts in the Middle East. Since the spring, the United States has deployed roughly 14,000 troops to the region after a series of attacks on oil tankers and infrastructure in the Gulf that pushed tensions between Tehran, Washington, and its Gulf allies to new heights.

North Korea ready to renew long-range missile tests. Tensions are mounting on the Korean peninsula, as well as between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fading fast. Name calling is back: Trump has reverted to calling Kim “Rocket Man” again and North Korea threatened to call Trump a “dotard” without going so far as to do so. And as nuclear talks flounder, reports seem to indicate that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct its first long-range missile test since 2017.

On Monday, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Ri Thae Song issued a vague and ominous warning to the United States, saying, “It is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get.” Kim Jong Un followed those statements with a horse ride up North Korea’s sacred Mount Paektu, his second since October and a symbolic move experts see as a sign that Kim will announce a major new policy decision.

A rare win for NATO with Turkey. Under pressure from U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, Turkey has officially agreed to a NATO plan for the defense of Poland and the Baltic states, giving it the necessary unanimous approval. Ankara was dragging its feet over the issue because of disputes over the situation in Syria, where it is demanding that Washington officially label U.S.-allied Kurdish militias as terrorist groups.

On the eve of a meeting of NATO leaders in London this week, Esper urged Turkey to support the defense plan, suggesting that Ankara was too focused on its own narrow agenda rather than the threat of Russia in Eastern Europe. It’s a rare victory as NATO grapples with an increasingly bellicose Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which has plunged relations between Ankara and Washington to new lows.

A new Sudan? The leader of Sudan, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, is visiting the United States for the first time in three decades. Long an international pariah accused of supporting terrorism and trading arms with North Korea, Sudan is seeking to turn over a new leaf under a transitional government after a coup ousted the autocratic leader Omar al-Bashir earlier this year. The Trump administration announced on Wednesday it would renormalize relations with Sudan, sending an ambassador there for the first time in over two decades. Sudan is next pushing for the United States to delist it as a state sponsor of terrorism to open its economy to international investors.

Foreign Policy Recommends

Trump’s man on Iran. He may not be a household name, but Brian Hook has played an outsized and influential role in Trump’s State Department from the beginning.Vox has an in-depth profile of Hook, the Trump administration’s special envoy on Iran. Despite initial skepticism of Trump’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, Hook has become one of the president’s strongest allies in the State Department, steadily implementing the administration’s hardline approach to Tehran.

“Let us stop the façade that our governments enjoy ‘warm and cordial’ relations. The current government of Zambia wants foreign diplomats to be compliant, with open pocketbooks and closed mouths.”

—U.S. Ambassador to Zambia Daniel Foote issues an unusual scathing rebuke of the country’s government, which lashed out at him after he criticized it for sentencing two men to 15-year imprisonment for engaging in a same-sex relationship.

Life inside the DMZ. When the demilitarized zone was formed between North and South Korea after the end of the Korean War, only two villages—one in the north and one in the south—were permitted to remain inside. For decades, the villages served propaganda purposes, allowing each regime to showcase the best of their respective societies. North Korea’s village has mostly been cleared out, but Taesung, the south’s village, still remains. The Seoul government recently installed a 5G network to keep villagers content and ensure the long-term survival of the village.

Drama at the (fake) border. A man was arrested last week for erecting a fake border between between Russia and Finland and charging four migrants from South Asia more than $10,000 in exchange for safe passage. The nationalities of the migrants were not released, but all four were fined by a St. Petersburg court on Wednesday and ordered to be deported.

Trudeau dragged into 2020 fight. Former Vice President Joe Biden is taking advantage of an embarrassing candid camera moment, where NATO leaders including Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau were caught making fun of Trump. Biden released a 2020 presidential campaign ad Wednesday evening using the viral video to criticize Trump. Trump, meanwhile, was none too pleased with Trudeau.

That’s it for today.

For more from FP, subscribe here or sign up for our other newsletters. Send your tips, comments, questions, or typos to securitybrief@foreignpolicy.com.

Dan Haverty contributed to this report.

Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer

Israel Conducts Air Raid Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Israel conducts air raid in Gaza Strip after intercepting rocket fire

By Daniel Uria

Israel said it conducted air raids in the Gaza Strip after intercepting two of three rockets fired from the region with its Iron Dome defense system, like the one pictured here. File Pool photo by Jack Guez/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 8 (UPI) — Israel Defense Forces conducted air raids early Sunday in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian rockets were fired from the region toward southern Israel.

The IDF tweeted that three rockets were fired from Gaza and two were intercepted by its Iron Dome Aerial Defense System and hours later Israel deployed fighter jets and attack helicopters to the region in response.

No Palestinian groups took responsibility for the rocket fire but, Israel said the Islamist militant group launched the missiles.

“Hamas is responsible for what is happening in and out of the Gaza Strip and it will bear the consequences for actions against Israeli citizens,” the Israeli military said.

The air raids struck several targets associated with Hamas including a camp and a naval position in the northern Gaza Strip, IDF said.

Israel’s defense minister, Naftali Bennett, warned that the nation would seek to move from a “defensive approach to an attacking approach” on the Gaza Strip.

“Whatever we’ll do — we’ll do it at the right time — in the right way and with great power,” Bennett said. “No one will drag us to it. A good ruse is served cold, not when the blood is boiling and the other side waits of it.”

Last month, rocket fire was also exchanged between Israel and the Gaza Strip after an Islamic Jihad commander in Northern Gaza and his wife were killed in a strike on his bedroom.

Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ (Daniel 8:8)

ANALYSIS: Why Israel fears Iran’s ‘Shi’ite Crescent’

Even with Tehran facing internal pressure, Iranian expansionism and the formation of a ‘Shi’ite Crescent’ remain Israel’s top concerns.

At the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu again addressed the issue of the growing Iranian threat to Israel and the region as a whole.

After mentioning his recent conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, the PM spoke about the situation in Iraq where Iran’s proxy al-Hashd al-Shaabi this weekend killed up to 25 unarmed demonstrators in Baghdad after creating an electricity black-out.

Netanyahu again called upon the European countries to increase, not decrease as six European countries did last week, the pressure on the Islamic Republic.

Apparently, the Israeli caretaker premier mentioned the situation in Iraq on purpose to show that Israel sees Iran’s activities in that country, as well as Lebanon, Syria, Gaza, and Yemen as one huge Iranian plot to create the Shiite Crescent.

Netanyahu also threatened again to launch a wide-scale military operation in Gaza after four rockets fired from the enclave caused thousands of Israelis to run for their life on Shabbat the Jewish day of rest.

If we take a look at the larger picture Netanyahu has in mind the conclusion should be that the Israeli leader is rightly concerned about Iran’s increasing belligerent activities and about the possibility Iran could launch an attack on Israel.

To start with the latter, the Israeli government is sending signals to Iran it better not crosses “red lines” as the new Defense Minister Naftali Bennett put it.

Bennett indicated he intends to change the equation in the conflict with Iran and its many proxies.

While cautioning it will take time he warned Israel’s enemies “will realize that they cannot shoot at Jews anymore.”

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz sent another message to Iran when he bluntly said that the Israeli government could retort to military action to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program after news broke that Iran announced it would introduce a new type of centrifuge to enrich uranium.

Another Israeli message was sent to Iran last Friday when the Israeli air force test-launched a, what seemed to be, a long-range ballistic Jericho 3 missile which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Contrary to usual protocol when the Israeli military tests missiles, the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv was deliberately vague about the test launch from the IAF base Palmachim.

“The defense establishment conducted a launch test a few minutes ago of a rocket motor system from a base in the center of the country,” a statement read adding that the test was planned in advance and had been successful.

The IAF also used a telemetry plane and at least two Israeli AF G550 AEWC Shavit spy planes which flew to all the way to Crete to monitor and handle the test with the Jericho missile.

Iran got the message, which apparently touched a raw nerve.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif fired off a Tweet in which he claimed the “nuke-missile” was “aimed at Iran” and castigated four Western world powers for not complaining “about the only nuclear arsenal in west Asia.”

If we now take a look at developments on the ground in Iran’s Shiite Crescent we will understand the concerns of the Israeli government.

In Iraq, Iran tries with all its might to quell the continuing popular unrest and to install yet another pro-Iranian government after the resignation of PM Adil Abdul Mahdi while it continues to turn northeast Iraq into a missile base.

Iraqi protesters now report that al-Hashd al-Shaabi has resorted to an old tactic which is based on the proverb: if you can’t beat them join them.

Members of the predominantly Shiite organization are infiltrating the demonstrations and try to kill them from within by sowing discord or by sudden arrests.

On Saturday night, furthermore, an unidentified attack drone bombed the house of Muqtada al-Sadr, the winner of the last Iraqi election, who supports the demonstrations and is also known for his resistance against Iran’s attempt to turn Iraq into a second Lebanon.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also dispatched his close confident Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the IRGC’s Quds Force, to Baghdad in order to secure that a pro-Iranian politician becomes the successor of Mahdi.

In Syria, meanwhile, Israel allegedly carried out two new airstrikes on the Quds Force and its allies in the vicinity of the border town al-Bukamal the site of earlier IAF attacks against Iranian targets.

Arab media reported that five members of Iranian militias were killed in the second strike while the first destroyed an ammunition depot of the Quds Force.

Then there is Lebanon where Hezbollah is building-up forces along the border with Israel, the IDF reported last week.

“We have a very serious enemy” said Col. Roy Levy of the IDF’s Northern Command adding that “they have a lot of cameras, a lot of forces along the border, camouflaged.”

Yemen, a new player in Iran’s proxy war against Israel is now also threatening war against Israel.

Maj. General Mohammed al-Atefi, Yemen’s Defense Minister claimed this weekend that Israel has been involved in the Yemenite war since from the first day of “the invasion” an apparent reference to the Saudi-led intervention in the war.

Al-Atefi said that the “Yemeni Army now has a bank of naval and ground military targets of the Zionist enemy, and we will not hesitate to hit it whenever the leadership decides.”

He then added that his army “has completed all aspects of the construction that qualify it for a comprehensive strategic attack that cripples the enemy’s capabilities,” an apparent reference to the anticipated multi-front attack against Israel.

Iran, meanwhile, claims it has succeeded to pass a budget that will offset the effects of the Israeli-US campaign of maximum pressure and aims to ease the hardships of the Iranian population.

President Hassan Rouhani acknowledged that Iran is facing “a lot of problems” but that his government is on the “correct path” thanks to Allah.

If it will be enough to quell the current popular uprising in Iran remains to be seen.

Israeli Iran observer Ya’acov Yashar, the son of Iranian immigrants, reported to Arutz Sheva that the protests continue unabated despite over 1,000 deaths and more than 7,000 injured protesters.

A video posted on Facebook on Saturday showed large students protests in Tehran while another one showed how the Basij militia of the IRGC shot down all protesters of another demonstration in the city of Mahshar.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran later confirmed the student protests in Tehran where demonstrators vowed to continue the path of their martyred brothers.

US and Saudi Horns Remain Allied Together (Daniel 7:7)

President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)  (Associated Press)

Pensacola naval base shooting tests US-Saudi relations

By LOLITA C. BALDOR, Associated Press

Posted Dec 7, 2019 3:56 PM CST

WASHINGTON (AP) — Top U.S. defense and military officials on Saturday reaffirmed America’s continued commitment to and relationship with Saudi Arabia after a Saudi Air Force student’s deadly attack at a Navy base in Florida.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper and others attending a security conference in California played down any initial impact on U.S.-Saudi ties. President Donald Trump described a conciliatory conversation with the Saudi king.

But the shooting also is testing the allies’ ties just months after the Trump administration delivered substantial military aid to Saudi Arabia to counter threats from Iran.

“I spoke with the king of Saudi Arabia. They are devastated in Saudi Arabia,” Trump told reporters Saturday as he left the White House on a trip to Florida. He said the king “will be involved in taking care of families and loved ones. He feels very strongly.”

Asked about any potential effect on military relations, Esper had said on Friday: “We have strong military-to-military ties.” He added, “That’s the basis of our relationship with the Saudis. I don’t see this undermining” the military-to-military relationship.

In remarks at the Ronald Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, Esper was asked on Saturday whether he can say definitively that the shooting in Pensacola was terrorism. “No, I can’t say it’s terrorism at this time,” he said. Asked whether he would now hesitate to send American forces to Saudi Arabia, he said, “No, not at all.” He said the U.S. and Saudi Arabia have shared security interests, especially with regard to Iran.

Investigators were exploring why the pilot trainee and three others watched videos of mass shootings in the days before he fatally shot three people at Naval Air Station Pensacola and wounded several others.

When Gen. David Berger, commandant of the Marine Corps, was asked whether the shooting gave him reservations about sending Marines to Saudi Arabia, he said no.

“All of us have forces in other countries, and theirs in ours,” Berger said. “Reservations sending Marines or service members to other countries or to Saudi Arabia? No, not at all.”

Saudi leaders were quick to make calls to American officials, expressing condolences and outrage over the killings. Saudi King Salman called Trump soon after the news broke Friday. In a statement, the Saudi Embassy said the king “affirmed that the perpetrator of this heinous crime does not represent the Saudi people, who count the American people as friends and allies.”

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted Saturday that he had just talked to the Saudi foreign minister, ”who expressed his condolences and sadness at the loss of life in the horrific attack.”

The shooting raised uneasy parallels to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when many of the al-Qaida-linked hijackers who flew planes into the World Trade Center, Pentagon and Pennsylvania countryside were Saudi citizens who had flight training in the U.S.

The suspected Pensacola shooter, identified by U.S. officials as Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, was a member of the Saudi Air Force and was attending pilot training at the base. The officials provided his name on condition of anonymity because it has not yet been released publicly. Three people were killed in the shooting, and eight were injured, including two sheriff’s deputies. One of the deputies shot and killed Alshamrani.

A U.S. official told The Associated Press on Saturday that Alshamrani hosted a dinner party earlier in the week where he and three others watched videos of mass shootings. And one of the three students who attended the dinner party videotaped outside the building while the shooting was taking place, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after being briefed by federal authorities. Two other Saudi students watched from a car, the official said.

The official said 10 Saudi students were being held on the base Saturday while several others were unaccounted for.

U.S. officials at the security forum in California were careful not to draw any broader conspiracy or terrorism-related links to the shooting.

Adm. Michael Gilday, the chief of naval operations, was asked about unspecified reports that the Saudi shooter may have been part of a “sleeper cell.” He said he had not seen any such reports. He said the shooting was under investigation, and “at this point it is too early, in my opinion … to draw those types of conclusions.”

The U.S. has long had a robust training program for Saudis, providing assistance in the U.S. and in the kingdom. As of this week, there are more than 850 Saudis in the United States for various training activities. They are among more than 5,000 foreign students from 153 countries in the U.S. going through military training.

“This has been done for many decades,” Trump said Saturday. “We’ve been doing this with other countries, foreign countries. I guess we’re going to have to look into the whole procedure. We’ll start that immediately.”

The Trump administration has also been aggressively helping Saudi Arabia this year, sending Patriot missile batteries, dozens of fighter jets and hundreds of troops there after attacks on the kingdom that officials blame on Iran.

In October, Esper visited Prince Sultan Air Base to see one of the batteries and talk about efforts to get other allies to contribute to the defense of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf region to counter threats from Iran.

But the kingdom’s reputation is still damaged after the killing last year of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Saudi intelligence officials and a forensic doctor killed and dismembered Khashoggi on Oct. 2, 2018, as his fiancée waited outside the diplomatic mission.

Khashoggi, long a royal court insider, had been in self-imposed exile in the U.S. while writing critically of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, son of the oil-rich nation’s King Salman.

___

AP National Security Writer Robert Burns in Simi Valley, Calif., and Associated Press writer Brendan Farrington in Pensacola, Fla., contributed to this report.

Thousands Protest Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

Thousands protest along Gaza border

Some 4,000 Palestinian Arabs protest along Gaza border as Hamas-orchestrated “March of the Return” protests resume.

Some 4,000 Palestinian Arabs protested at several locations along the Gaza border on Friday, as the Hamas-orchestrated “March of the Return” protests resumed. In an unusual move, many of them were children, noted Channel 13 News.

Some of the demonstrators threw explosives at IDF forces, who in turn used riot dispersal means.

The Hamas-run “health ministry” in Gaza reported that 27 protesters were wounded, four of whom by live fire.

At the conclusion of the demonstrations, the “national authority for the return marches and breaking the siege on the Gaza Strip” announced the continuation of their activities next week.

The weekly “March of the Return” riots, orchestrated by Hamas, had been held every Friday since March of 2018 until several weeks ago, when Hamas cancelled them, likely due to the efforts being made through mediators to achieve a long-term ceasefire with Israel.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

Iran About to Cross the Redline (Revelation 6:6)

Iran may have been behind attack on Iraq’s Balad base: U.S. State Dept official

Friday, December 06, 2019 1:38 p.m. CST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran may have been behind Thursday’s attack on Iraq’s Balad air base, a senior U.S. State Department official said on Friday, but added that Washington was awaiting further evidence.

Iraqi military on Thursday said that two Katyusha rockets landed inside Balad air base, which hosts U.S. forces and contractors and is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of Baghdad.

No casualties or damages were reported in the attack for which there was no immediate claim of responsibility.

“We’re waiting for full evidence, but if past is prologue then there’s a good chance that Iran was behind it,” David Schenker, Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, told reporters in a briefing.

On Tuesday, five rockets landed on Ain Al-Asad air base, which hosts U.S. forces in Anbar province in western Iraq without causing any casualties.

Schenker called the increasing attacks something of “great concern,” and said Iran has become more aggressive over the past five to six months.

“The Iranians often times, or have certainly in the past, taken aggressive action when they feel under pressure,” he said.

The United States ratcheted up economic sanctions against Iran after U.S. President Donald Trump pulled out of a 2015 nuclear pact between Tehran and world powers to choke Iran’s oil exports and isolate its economy.

In response, Tehran has remained defiant and rolled back commitments it made under the 2015 deal aimed at keeping Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran also has been angry over a lack of European protection from U.S. sanctions.

Some analysts have warned that cornering Tehran could make it more aggressive. Tensions in the Gulf in recent months have spiked after attacks on oil tankers and a September air strike on Saudi oil facilities, which the United States blamed on Iran, but that Tehran has denied.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

Russia Aligns Against Iran (Daniel 7)

Russia suspends project with Iran due to uranium enrichment

By By VLADIMIR ISACHENKOV

Associated Press

Dec 05, 2019 | 3:00 PM

MOSCOW

A Russian state company suspended a research project with Iran because of its decision to resume enriching uranium, a move a senior official said Thursday was necessary after the U.S. canceled a waiver to allow the joint venture.

The TVEL company said in a statement that Iran’s decision to resume uranium enrichment at the Fordo facility makes it impossible to convert the facility to produce radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.

Iran agreed to stop uranium enrichment under a 2015 deal with world powers to prevent it from building a bomb, but it has resumed such activities after the U.S. pulled out of the pact last year and imposed new sanctions.

TVEL’s suspension apparently reflects Moscow’s attempt to distance itself from the Iranian nuclear activities that violate the 2015 agreement to avoid the U.S. penalties. It comes after a U.S. announcement last month that the waiver allowing foreign companies to work at Fordo will end Dec. 15.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that the U.S. pressure “created a difficult environment” for Russia and other participants in the pact. He said in remarks carried by the RIA Novosti news agency that Russia is suspending its participation in the project to “analyze the possibilities and potential negative consequences of the American measures” but not stopping it altogether.

The Russian announcement comes a day before consultations in Vienna between Iran and the world powers involved in the deal.

Russian officials have been walking a fine line on the issue, voicing concern about the Iranian decision while also describing it as stemming from the U.S. decision to spike the deal and raise pressure on Tehran.

Last month, Ryabkov, Russia’s point-man on the Iranian nuclear deal, insisted that the project at Fordo would continue despite the resumption of uranium enrichment, noting that the Iranian move is technologically reversible.

But in its statement, TVEL argued that uranium enrichment is technologically incompatible with production of medical isotopes.

It said that Iran would need to disassemble the centrifuges currently used to enrich uranium and decontaminate the room for the medical research project to continue. Iranian officials have said it could reverse its enrichment moves if Europe offers a way for it to avoid U.S. sanctions choking off its crude oil sales abroad.

The Russian company, which makes nuclear fuel components, said it had informed Iran of its decision.

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.

Last month, Iran announced that it was resuming uranium enrichment at Fordo, a heavily fortified facility inside a mountain ringed by anti-aircraft batteries that has over 1,000 centrifuges.

Under the 2015 deal, Russia and Iran were supposed to work together to turn Fordo into a research center to produce radioactive isotopes of tellurium and xenon for medical use. It was monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency , the U.N. nuclear watchdog.

The 2015 nuclear deal saw Iran limit its enrichment in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions. The West feared Iran could use its program to build a nuclear weapon; Iran insists the program is for peaceful purposes.

The concern is that the more uranium Iran enriches, the sooner it will have enough material to make an atomic weapon. Analysts had put that lag time at a year if Iran abided by the 2015 deal’s restrictions.

Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Palestinians Protest Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

A boy tries to evacuate a wounded Palestinian child during a protest at the Israel-Gaza perimeter fence in the southern Gaza Strip [Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters]

Palestinians protest at Gaza-Israel fence after 3-week pause

Gaza’s health ministry says 14 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli fire, four of them with live gunshots.

Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated along the Gaza Strip’s perimeter fence with Israel as weekly protests resumed after a three-week pause.

At least 14 Palestinians taking part in Friday’s Great March of Return protests were wounded by Israeli fire, four of them with live gunshots, according to the health ministry in the besieged enclave.

The protest organisers had announced the suspension of the demonstrations in mid-November to avoid casualties among Palestinians following an escalation of Israeli attacks on Gaza and the fighting that followed it.

Last month’s violence, the worst in months, was sparked by an Israeli targeted killing of a senior commander of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad. During the two days of fighting that followed the killing of Abu al-Ata, Islamic Jihad launched hundreds of rockets towards Israel, which carried out a number of air raids that killed 34 Palestinians, including nine members of a single family, all of whom were civilians.

Since the Gaza rallies began in March last year, hundreds of Palestinians have been killed and more than 30,000 wounded by Israeli forces at the fence areas around Gaza.

Demonstrators demand an end to an Israeli-Egyptian 12-year-old blockade around the Gaza Strip, which has shattered the coastal enclave’s economy and deprived its two million inhabitants of free movement in and out from Gaza, preventing the entry of many basic amenities.

Over the past decade, Israel has launched three military assaults on the Gaza Strip and there have been dozens of shorter skirmishes.

Iran is Enabling the Iraqi Horn With Nukes

Image result for short range missiles iran

Reports: Iran is secretly transporting missiles into Iraq that may have nuclear capability

Phil Shiver

Iran has been taking advantage of recent political unrest in Iraq by secretly stockpiling short-range missiles inside the country, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The buildup is part of Iran’s widening effort to assert dominance in the Middle East and could pose a threat to American troops as well as allies in the region such as Israel and Saudi Arabia, U.S. sources told the Times.

Both Iraq and Iran have been gripped by deadly protests in recent months, with more than 1,000 people reported dead as a result of protests in Iran. But public unrest has not seemed to slow Iranian leadership down from engaging in what the Times calls a “shadow war.”

Iran has been attacking countries in the Middle East of late but disguising the origin to diminish the chances of counterattacks. Iran’s stockpiling of short-range missiles in Iraq also serves as a strategic deterrent. If Iran were to face an attack, it could potentially strike back with the missiles stored outside its borders.

The missiles have an estimated range of 600 miles and are capable of reaching Jerusalem from outside Baghdad.

The missiles might be nuclear-capable

The same day that the news broke, a letter was released from the French, German, and British ambassadors to the United Nations alleging that Iran now has nuclear-capable missiles.

According to CNN, in the letter, “the ambassadors listed four examples of activity indicating nuclear-capable missiles, adding that ‘Iran’s developments of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles and related technologies is inconsistent’ with a UN resolution restraining the country from doing so.”

The U.N. resolution the letter cited endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of in 2018 but which is still supported by the United Kingdom, France, Germany, China, and Russia.

The letter cited footage of a flight test for a new Shahab-3 ballistic missile — which has a range of about 600 miles — equipped with a maneuverable re-entry vehicle that makes it “technically capable” of delivering a nuclear weapon.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has denied the allegation on social media.

These moves come amid a growing presence of U.S. military in the Middle East. About 14,000 troops have been sent to the region since May, and reports Wednesday said that the Trump administration is considering sending 14,000 more, though the Pentagon has denied the claim.