Nuclear Chess: Trump vs Putin

Trump revamps Navy’s arsenal to neutralize Putin’s threat of ‘nuclear blackmail’

New sub-based missile shows new thinking in Washington on war

By Ben Wolfgang

The Trump administration is taking dramatic steps to revamp the nation’s arsenal and prepare for a theoretical nuclear war with Russia in Eastern Europe, with the two countries returning to Cold War-era gamesmanship on the world stage and rethinking the unthinkable: how mankind’s deadliest weapons could be used in the 21st century.

The Kremlin’s strategy of “escalate to de-escalate,” analysts say, hinges on the belief that Russia can deploy several small “tactical” nuclear weapons in the region before the U.S. and its NATO allies are able to respond. Without an effective tactical nuclear capability of their own, U.S. leaders would then be forced to choose between standing down or escalating a theater conflict into all-out global nuclear warfare.

Scholars say the approach could be dangerously effective in exploiting holes in America’s nuclear stockpile, most notably a lack of sea-based weapons capable of launching quickly and penetrating Russia’s increasingly advanced air defense systems.

The Pentagon last week took a major step forward by fielding its first new nuclear warhead in decades. The submarine-launched, low-yield device is specifically designed to counter Russia’s arsenal of smaller missiles and to give the U.S. a way to retaliate in kind.

Analysts say that is just the first move in a grand long-term nuclear strategy to counter Russia and contend with an ambitious China, which has shown signs that it also wants to become a major nuclear player.

Nuclear weapons are back,” said Matthew Kroenig, deputy director of the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. “For the past 25 years or so, many people assumed these were Cold War relics, that we were so stupid to have these in the Cold War, we’re more enlightened now and we’re getting rid of them. We might want that to be the case, [President] Obama wanted that to be the case. But Russia, China and North Korea see it differently.”

A new arms race

Growing evidence shows the U.S. and Russia are once again in a nuclear arms race, and analysts say such a situation poses serious global risks. The two countries already possess more than 90% of the world’s nuclear warheads, according to figures from the Arms Control Association.

The U.S. has about 6,185 warheads, and Russia has an estimated 6,490 in its arsenal. The next closest nations are France and China, with 300 and 290 nuclear warheads respectively.

Against that backdrop, the Trump administration is facing pressure from some in Congress to negotiate with Moscow and extend the New START, a 2011 pact designed to draw down countries’ active nuclear stockpiles and set up new inspection protocols. The agreement is set to expire next year, although President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin have the power to extend it for five years.

Military observers say that allowing the treaty to expire next year would reignite the nuclear competition between the U.S. and its Cold War adversary.

“The stability that we’ve learned to take for granted in the nuclear realm seems to be drying up,” Richard Burt, a former U.S. ambassador to Germany who helped craft the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty in the 1990s, told Newsweek magazine this week. “People are once again going to worry about the possibility that somebody could be tempted to engage in nuclear blackmail — threatening the use of nuclear weapons — to get their way.”

Indeed, analysts say, Russia’s foreign policy, particularly in Eastern Europe, hinges on demonstrating to the U.S. and its NATO allies that it is able and willing to quickly deploy nuclear weapons if necessary. Mr. Putin seems to be banking on the fact that such threats could force the U.S. and NATO to give in to Russian demands or avoid any military confrontations out of fear that full-scale nuclear weapons would soon become part of the conflict.

Mr. Putin and Russian military officials, pointing to the U.S. withdrawal last year from the Cold War-era Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and Washington’s reluctance to commit to a New START extension, say Mr. Trump is the aggressor in the revived nuclear debate. Mr. Putin has sounded an increasingly provocative tone about the weapons balance between the two countries and says Russia leads in fields such as intercontinental hypersonic missiles.

“We are in the unique situation in our contemporary history in which they’re trying to catch up with us,” Mr. Putin said in a December speech at the Russian Defense Ministry.

Since the early days of President Trump’s tenure, the White House has recognized the shifting strategic dynamic and has undertaken a comprehensive strategy to address it.

In 2018, the administration released its Nuclear Posture Review, a sweeping document that calls for wholesale changes in American nuclear policy, particularly in the realm of countering Moscow.

The approach began to come to fruition last week with the Navy’s announcement that it had deployed the first new U.S. nuclear weapon in decades. Navy officials confirmed the fielding of a submarine-launched ballistic missile known as the W76-2, a relatively low-yield nuclear weapon that could be used as a counter to Russia’s growing array of smaller, tactical nuclear weapons.

Pentagon officials made clear that the weapon is primarily a deterrent to Russia.

“In the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review, the department identified the requirement to ‘modify a small number of submarine-launched ballistic missile warheads’ to address the conclusion that potential adversaries, like Russia, believe that employment of low-yield nuclear weapons will give them an advantage over the United States and its allies and partners,” Undersecretary of Defense John Rood said in a statement.

The submarine-launched missile “strengthens deterrence and provides the United States a prompt, more survivable low-yield strategic weapon; supports our commitment to extended deterrence; and demonstrates to potential adversaries that there is no advantage to limited nuclear employment because the United States can credibly and decisively respond to any threat scenario,” Mr. Rood said.

The administration’s recently released fiscal 2021 budget request calls for billions of dollars in investments in nuclear warheads, including intermediate-range weapons that were banned under the INF Treaty. The budget request is likely to generate substantial opposition in the Democratic-led House.

Proportional response

Despite a newfound focus on tactical weapons, critics caution that the idea of a limited nuclear war is a misnomer. Skeptics say that any lowering of the threshold to launch a nuclear weapon is a major step in the wrong direction.

There is no such thing as a low-yield nuclear weapon. Either it’s a nuclear weapon or not. There is no use of this weapon that does not lead [to] nuclear war,” Rep. Ruben Gallego, Arizona Democrat and a Marine Corps veteran, said in a Twitter post last week after the Pentagon announced the W76-2 deployment.

“This throws off game-theory calculations and messes with nuclear deterrence calculations,” he said. “The answer to Russia using any nuclear weapon ‘low yield’ or not is a nuclear strike. Any indication that we may use something less only makes it more likely that Russia strikes first.”

But weapons specialists counter that the U.S. has little choice but to begin producing small numbers of low-yield, tactical warheads. The hope is that such weapons are never used but having them in the U.S. arsenal provides options beyond surrender and complete annihilation.

In the event of a theoretical Russian strike in Eastern Europe, for example, analysts argue that the U.S. right now is limited in its ability to respond.

“If Russia uses a small nuclear weapon against an air base or something, we can’t retaliate with something 10 times bigger than Hiroshima. That could spiral out of control,” said Mr. Kroenig, the Atlantic Council scholar.

Analysts say Mr. Trump is correct to insist that any future nuclear weapons deals — including New START — include China, not just the U.S. and Russia. China has just a fraction of the nuclear weapons in the American and Russian arsenals, but U.S. officials warn that Beijing is aiming to double the size of its stockpile over the next decade.

Mounting evidence shows China has recognized that its limited nuclear capabilities constitute a hole in its otherwise effective quest to compete with the U.S. on the world stage.

“Beijing worries that the establishment of an advanced, multi-layered US missile defense architecture will weaken China’s strategic deterrent by diminishing its ability to deliver a retaliatory nuclear attack,” says a recent analysis of China’s nuclear ambitions by the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ China Power Project. “To avert this outcome, China is expanding the number of weapons in its arsenal and increasing the sophistication of its delivery systems.”

Trump Builds Up Babylon the Great’s Nuclear Reserve

Trump’s $1.5B Uranium Bailout Triggers Rush of Mining Plans

President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including outside Grand Canyon National Park.

By BRADY McCOMBS and ELLEN KNICKMEYER, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — President Donald Trump’s $1.5 billion proposal to prop up the country’s nuclear fuel industry has emboldened at least one company to take steps toward boosting operations at dormant uranium mines around the West, including outside Grand Canyon National Park.

The company, Canada-based Energy Fuels Inc., announced a stock sale late Thursday and said it would use the proceeds for its uranium mining operations in the U.S. West.

The Trump administration asked Congress this week for $1.5 billion over 10 years to create a new national stockpile of U.S.-mined uranium, saying that propping up U.S. uranium production in the face of cheaper imports is a matter of vital energy security. Approval is far from certain in a highly partisan Congress.

Some Democratic lawmakers, and market analysts across the political spectrum, charge that the Trump administration’s overall aim is really about helping a few uranium companies that can’t compete in the global market, and their investors.

Demand for the nuclear fuel has languished worldwide since Japan’s 2011 Fukushima disaster. U.S. uranium production has plummeted 96% in the last five years, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reported Thursday.

Energy Fuels Inc., a Toronto-based corporation that is the leading uranium mining company in the U.S., announced it was selling stock and putting the nearly $17 million in proceeds into its mining operations in Utah, Wyoming, Arizona, Texas and elsewhere in response to Trump’s 2021 budget. Company spokesman Curtis Moore said Friday that could mean opening a mine about 15 miles from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim entrance.

Environmentalists and Democrats have opposed uranium mining outside the national park, mainly over concerns it could contaminate water resources. Republicans say mining could bring much-needed jobs to the region.

Energy Fuels had been one of the main mining companies seeking U.S. taxpayer support for domestic uranium mining. It also helped sell the Trump administration on cutting the size of Bears Ears National Monument in Utah to open more land for possible future mining, and oil and gas development.

Energy Fuels has no mining claims or land inside the former territory of Bears Ears, Moore said Friday. “So, that’s a hard no,” he said, to any suggestion it planned any immediate uranium development there.

Launching operations at the company’s Canyon Mine claim outside the Grand Canyon is definitely on the table, however, if Congress approves Trump’s proposal, he said.

“Depending on how things go in the coming weeks and months, we may be in a position to use some of the money to put that small mine into production,” Moore said.

Trump made the request for a new national uranium reserve in his 2021 budget request this week. It was the latest illustration that trying to rescue the U.S. nuclear and coal industries is a political priority for the Republican president, who often invokes national security as justification.

The move has a range of critics.

“It’s not the responsibility of the taxpayer to bail out an industry, whether that’s uranium, solar, coal, what have you,” said Katie Tubb, a senior energy policy analyst at the conservative Washington Heritage Foundation.

The Energy Department said the plan would boost work for at least a couple of the U.S. West’s nearly dormant uranium operations. Residents near another of the mines, in Utah, say they fear an increase in radioactive threats.

“Whatever Trump does, we’ll be standing our ground to let the people know that we’re not going to give up,” said Yolanda Badback, a resident of White Mesa, a town of about 200 people who are members of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe near a uranium mill in southern Utah.

Trump’s plan would need approval from a highly partisan Congress. Rep. Raul Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, has opposed Trump’s effort to make domestic uranium mining a strategic issue. His aides said they needed to see more details from the administration on the stockpile proposal.

Sen. John Barrasso, a Wyoming Republican and chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, backed Trump’s proposal. “The United States should not be dependent on foreign imports of uranium. It is a risk to our national security,” Barrasso said in a statement.

Demand for nuclear and coal power sources has fallen against marketplace competition from ever-cheaper natural gas and renewable wind and solar. Trump has been unable to stop a string of coal and nuclear power plant closures.

The U.S. nuclear industry has sought help from the Trump administration, including asking for taxpayer subsidies to promote use of U.S. uranium. U.S. nuclear power plants in 2018 got 90% of their uranium from Canada, Kazakhstan and other foreign suppliers and only 10% from U.S. mines.

Trump in 2019 rejected a request from U.S. uranium mining operators that he set a minimum quota for domestic uranium. But he agreed to set up a task force of national security, military and other federal officials to look for other ways to revive domestic production of the whole nuclear fuel supply chain.

That task force’s findings are expected within two weeks. Trump’s budget proposal would be part of an effort “to put the United States back in the nuclear game around the world,” Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette told reporters Monday.

While Trump has called propping up U.S. uranium mining essential to national security, the Energy Department acknowledged in its budget presentation that “no immediate national security need has been identified” for the uranium reserve. The same document contends that the funds aren’t meant to “disrupt market mechanisms.”

“That is exactly what it is designed to do,” said Luke J. Danielson, president of Colorado-based Sustainable Development Strategies Group, which advises foreign governments about mineral policies.

“The history of the government of trying to subsidize the energy sector and pick winners and losers is abysmal,” Danielson added.

Many Democratic lawmakers have challenged Trump’s security argument for domestic uranium. Existing uranium reserves and production and trade with allies Australia and Canada were already adequate to securing the U.S. uranium supply, Rep. Alan Lowenthal, a California Democrat, said last year.

Energy Fuels called the Trump proposal “a good lifeline for the industry.” Moore, the spokesman, said the company is likely to benefit since it has operating mines in east-central Wyoming and southern Utah.

Moore said the program should lead to production of 2.5 million pounds of uranium per year. U.S. uranium mines produced less than 174,000 pounds in 2019, according to Thursday’s Energy Information Administration report. That’s down from 4.9 million pounds in 2014.

Energy Fuels recently laid off nearly one-third of the company’s 79 employees at the White Mesa Mill and La Sal Complex mines, both in Utah, he said.

At White Mesa in Utah, Badback and other nearby residents participate in a yearly protest walk to draw attention to negative impacts the mine has on an otherwise wide open and remote stretch of land.

Knickmeyer reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Mead Gruver in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and Felicia Fonseca in Flagstaff, Arizona, and business writer Dorothea Degen in New York contributed to this report.

This story has been corrected to show a yearly protest walk to draw attention to negative effects of a uranium mill occurs in Utah, not Wyoming, and that the mill is located in Utah.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The Iranian and Shi’a Martyr

Threats and Adulation: Iran Marks 40 Days Since Soleimani’s ‘Martyrdom’

(CNSNews.com) –  The Iranian regime and its terrorist proxies on Thursday marked the 40-day commemoration of the “martyrdom” of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Qods Force chief Qassem Soleimani with a combination of adulatory rhetoric and threats directed at the U.S. and Israel.

Addressing a memorial ceremony in Tehran, IRGC commander Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami said Soleimani’s death in a U.S. airstrike in Baghdad last month had breathed new life into the Islamic revolution and the region’s “resistance front.”

The “resistance front” is the regime’s term for an axis comprising itself, the Assad regime, and terrorist groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Houthis in Yemen, and Shi’ite militias in Iraq such as Kata’ib Hezbollah – one of whose top leader was also killed in the airstrike targeting Soleimani.

“The U.S. was dealt a slap in the face,” Salami said of the IRGC’s retaliatory rocket attack on two Iraqi bases housing U.S. troops. “But the big and final slap is yet to come, until the last American trooper exits Muslim territories. This reality is upon them.”

Iran’s Press TV quoted IRGC Ground Force commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour as saying that the path of Soleimani “will be pursued until annihilation of all terrorists and expulsion of the Americans from the region. The Americans are terrorists, and we should know that General Soleimani stood up to them.”

The U.S. holds Soleimani responsible for the deaths of more than 600 American troops during the Iraq War, and he oversaw a military intervention on behalf of the Assad regime that has reportedly cost untold thousands of Syrian lives.

Trump in his State of the Union described the slain general as “the Iranian regime’s most ruthless butcher” and “the world’s top terrorist.”

As Soleimani’s surviving IRGC colleagues eulogized him on Thursday, he was praised for helping Hezbollah battle Israel during a month-long war in 2006, and for making it possible for Hamas to lob thousands of rockets into Israel.

“He stood on the shores of the Mediterranean, so that Muslims would not be at risk,” Salami declared. “He thwarted the Americans’ policy for creating a new Middle East.”

Salami also used the opportunity to threaten Israel, saying that if it “takes any erroneous action” Iran will respond, and Israel should not rely on the U.S. to show up and defend it. “You should definitely look to the sea, because that is going to be your eventual residing place,” he said in comments directed at Israel.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah leader Hasan Nasrallah told Iranian TV that with Soleimani’s death the U.S. had “crossed a red line” and people were now prepared for confrontation. He added that he has receive applications from individuals for “self-sacrifice [i.e. suicide] operations.”

In Iraq, senior Kata’ib Hezbollah (KH) figure Hashem al-Haydari said in a ceremony in Qom that the killing of Soleimani and KH leader Abu Mahdi al Muhandis paved the way for U.S. expulsion from the region, and “the de facto annihilation of the Zionist regime.”

Haydari, who is also “director of doctrinal guidance” for the Popular Mobilization Forces – the Qods Force-backed umbrella of mostly Shi’ite militias in Iraq – spoke in front of a giant banner featuring images of Soleimani, Muhandis, and Khamenei, and the words, “Your blood challenges any adversary.”

Addressing the same event, IRGC Brig. Gen. Mohammad Reza Naqdi echoed Haydari words.

“The great revenge will be the annihilation of Israel and expulsion of the U.S. from the region,” Iran’s state news agency IRNA quoted him as saying.

 

Who are Antichrist’s Blue Hats in Iraq and what side are they on?

Who are Sadr’s Blue Hats in Iraq and what side are they on?

In the face of harsh criticism from religious authorities and the Iraqi public, cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on his followers to retreat Feb. 8 from protests where they had clashed with anti-government demonstrators.

Sadr leads the Sadrist political current in Iraq and a group of followers among them called “Blue Hats.”

The outspoken, influential Shiite cleric’s sentiments change frequently. He formed the Blue Hats in October in support of the public protests against the government. Soon, Blue Hats filled Tahrir Square in central Baghdad with an initial directive to protect protesters. But Sadr withdrew his support, and his followers, from the protests in late January. Within a week, however, he sent his followers back out, this time to subdue the protests.

Protesters objected and cheered against Sadr. In southern Iraq, student coordination committees attended a massive protest Feb. 4 in Baghdad to reject the Blue Hats’ behavior.

Women’s rightsIraqi protests blush pink as feminists flood streets

Recently, Sadr recalled them again, but not before they allegedly killed protesters in Najaf.

The Blue Hats raided a Najaf protest center Feb. 5, where initial reports said at least eight people were killed and 20 wounded. (Medical personnel later said 23 protesters were killed and 197 wounded, but those figures have not been confirmed.) The Blue Hats also had deployed against protesters Feb. 6 in Tahrir Square in central Baghdad. Sadr‘s call that time came soon after he publicly announced he would endorse Iraqi Prime Minister-designate Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, whom the protesters reject as being under Iranian influence.

Sadr had the Blue Hats retreat again from the square Feb. 8. Security forces replaced them to keep order, and the protests reportedly stabilized.

This week, on Feb. 11, Sadr changed course once again, saying he might not endorse Allawi after all.

Among all these contradictions are conflicting reports about the Blue Hats’ actions. An activist told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “Sadr’s followers who are part of the Blue Hats [were] torturing protesters in Tahrir Square, and they expelled protesters from the ‘Turkish Restaurant’ that constitutes the main protest platform in Baghdad. The followers destroyed many tents, under the pretext that their owners are vandals tarnishing the protests and offending Sadr.”

Videos posted online Feb. 4 showed the Blue Hats attacking protesters. A demonstrator in Tahrir Square told Al-Monitor, “This attack coincided with the appointment of a new prime minister, which means there is an agreed-upon political goal between the government and parties to subdue the protests.”

A leader in the Sadrist current, Hakim al-Zamili, begged to differ, saying the videos online were fabricated and take events out of context, and are part of a “distortion campaign” against Sadrists.

“Sadrist protesters were the first to stand up against the government. They boosted the protests, and if it weren’t for them, demonstrations would have died out a long time ago,” he told Al-Monitor. “The Blue Hats deterred vandalizing armed militias in Tahrir Square and the Sanak area. In Khalani Square in Baghdad, those militias tried to rob stores and take over the Central Bank of Iraq.”

He also dismissed allegations claiming that the Blue Hats are armed militias.

“They are volunteers who believe in the political and ideological convictions of the Sadrist current. They do not receive any support or salary from anyone,” he said. “They are barely 2,000 to 3,000 individuals from across Iraq, and they are unarmed. They never participated in military or security sessions to be dubbed militias.”

Watheq al-Jabri, head of the Iraqi Institute for Strategic Studies, told Al-Monitor the Blue Hats initially withdrew support from the protests because demonstrators had not backed Sadr’s “million-strong” march Jan. 24 against the US presence in Iraq, and because protesters “tried to block roads to prevent Sadr supporters coming from the provinces from reaching Baghdad.”

Rami al-Sukeini of the Sairoon Alliance, led by the Sadrist current, responded to the accusations of violence by telling Al-Monitor, “Since the beginning of the protests, Sadr has invested his efforts in complying with the will of the people and working on giving them the rights they were deprived of and standing by them against the political class. His supporters have been alongside the protesters since the outbreak of the protests, and this is documented in statements and actions.”

He added, “Concerns about vandals infiltrating the protests and messing up the situation to harm Sadrists … prompted Sadrists to wear blue hats to stand out and prevent [outside agitators from] taking the protests in another direction to achieve partisan interests and certain ends.”

Sukeini admitted, “The Blue Hats made mistakes in the public square protests, which is expected among such massive crowds. But these mistakes weren’t intentional and did not aim to terrorize protesters. The Sadrist current is popular in the streets and in public square protests, and it derives its strength in politics from this popularity.”

Tamimi Ali Tamimi, a legal expert and former judge, told Al-Monitor, “Regardless of the violent parties and their names, the constant truth is that protesters are being killed. Security forces are responsible, as they are the only official group that should provide protection — not the Blue Hats or any other party.”

Ali al-Bayati, a member of the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights, told Al-Monitor, “The violations in protests have been ongoing since Oct. 1. Official institutions are the only ones that should provide protection. Clearly, the confrontations are escalating because of the increasing number of party and political bloc supporters, not just protesters, in the squares. Protests have become the front yard of political disputes.”

And Now We Have Created Iran’s Greatest Martyr

Islamic revolution and legacy of martyrs

TEHRAN – The night was heavily overcast with snow and cold, but the day started with gentle breeze and bright sunshine. The mood on the streets was cheerful as the occasion was historic and momentous.

Tens of thousands poured into the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities on Tuesday, Bahman 22, to mark the 41st anniversary of the Islamic revolution.

Exactly 41 years ago, the West-backed despotic monarch Reza Shah Pahlavi was deposed by the people of Iran, led by their charismatic leader Rohullah Mosavi Khomeini, popularly known as Imam Khomeini.

Imam Khomeini had triumphantly returned to Iran from Paris on February 1 (Bahman 12), ending his 15-year long exile. Ten days later, on February 11 (Bahman 22), the final vestiges of the Pahlavi regime crumbled as people reclaimed their country with honor and pride.

With the disgraceful ouster of Pahlavi, a minion of the Western powers, America’s criminal interference in Iranian affairs also came to an end. It was only a matter of time that they packed up and left, which was triggered by the takeover of the US embassy by angry Iranian students.

Bahman 22 is observed every year with tremendous patriotic fervor in Iran. It serves as a powerful reminder of what the foreign powers and their pawns inside the country did to destroy the sovereignty and independence of a proud nation and make it subservient to the West. People have not forgotten their history, which is evident by the massive participation in these annual rallies.

On Tuesday, like every year, there was a tremendous buzz as people marched from different parts of the city and converged at the city’s most popular landmark, Maidan e Azadi, where President Hassan Rouhani addressed the people.

Patriotic songs filled the air as marchers, young and old, men and women, sporting colorful outfits and carrying flags and posters, marched in unison towards Maidan e Azadi, which translates into ‘Freedom Square’, a reminder of the great sacrifices rendered by the people of Iran to liberate themselves from the shackles of Pahlavi dictatorship.

Pictures of Imam Khomeini, the chief architect of the Islamic revolution and Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran dotted the streets from every side. Latter, a protégé of the former, has quite impressively kept alive the illustrious legacy of his mentor and infused new life into the revolution. While Imam Khomeini led the first phase of the revolution that culminated with its victory in 1979, Ayatollah Khamenei has admirably led its second phase that continues till date.

The pictures of martyrs, most notably, the slain head of IRGC’s Quds Force Gen. Qassem Soleimani, were put up along the way from Maidan e Enghelab (Revolution Square) to Maidan e Azadi (Freedom Square). These bravehearts dedicated their whole lives to the revolution and ensured that Iran becomes a free, independent and proud nation.

It is important to note here that this Islamic revolution is not confined to Iran and Iranians. It is a guiding principle for every campaigner of truth and justice across the world. The glorious legacy of martyrs has inspired people in different corners of the world. That’s precisely why we see rallies commemorating the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in different countries today. People relate to it.

As I participated in the march on Tuesday, the feeling was strangely beautiful. I constantly reminded myself of the principles that guided the revolution, as envisioned by Imam Khomeini. I felt a hint of pride walking alongside these brave men and women, who are making history every single day by resisting the arrogant powers of the world. I felt immensely pleased to hold aloft a poster of Gen. Soleimani, who was the best student of the revolution that the great Imam Khomeini spearheaded.

Then I realized that the legacy of Imam Khomeini is no different from the legacy of Imam Hussain (as). Imam Khomeini is the product of the Karbala school of thought, where death with dignity is better than life with humiliation, where resistance against oppressors is a sacrosanct duty, where martyrdom is a badge of honor for the free men.

The revolution that toppled the Pahlavi regime has not culminated yet. It has taken a different shape and form, but the core idea, vision and concept is the same, rooted in the profound philosophy of Karbala. In every time and age, we have to identify Yazid and Hussain, Umr e Saad and Hurr. Then we have to choose our side wisely. That’s what separates free men from the slaves.

People who chanted ‘Death to America’ and ‘Death to Israel’ on the streets of Tehran today know the significance of these slogans. It is a part of resistance too, because as George Orwell puts it, during the times of universal deceit, telling truth becomes a revolutionary act.

This is the Iran that challenges the political and cultural hegemony of Western powers, this is the Iran that the likes of Trump and Netanyahu have to deal with, and this is the Iran that refuses to surrender despite overt and covert pressure. This Iran has survived thousands of years, and most probably shall outlive its enemies.

Trump Builds Up Babylon the Great’s Nukes

VANCOUVER, BC / ACCESSWIRE / February 12, 2020 / AZARGA URANIUM CORP. (AZZ.TO)(AZZUF)(P8AA.F(“Azarga Uranium” or the “Company”) is pleased to announce that President Trump’s fiscal 2021 budget proposal has requested an annual allocation of US$150 million for a 10-year period, totaling US$1.5 billion, to establish a United States uranium reserve, noting that “establishing a uranium reserve provides assurance of availability of uranium in the event of a market disruption and supports strategic U.S. fuel cycle capabilities.”

Blake Steele, President and CEO stated, “We commend the President’s recognition of the importance of the United States nuclear fuel cycle and specifically the uranium sector. President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget requests US$1.36 billion for the office of nuclear energy, which includes US$150 million (US$1.5 billion for 2021 to 2030) to establish a strategic United States uranium reserve. The budget proposal from President Trump confirms the administration’s commitment to reviving the United States nuclear fuel cycle, of which uranium mining is a critical component.”

Steele further noted, “Our flagship asset, the advanced stage Dewey Burdock In-Situ Recovery Uranium Project in South Dakota, USA (the “Dewey Burdock Project”), is one of the preeminent undeveloped uranium projects in the United States. A robust Preliminary Economic Assessment was recently filed for the Dewey Burdock Project, which estimated direct cash costs of US$10.46 per pound of production and low initial capital expenditures of US$31.7 million. This, coupled with the positive Atomic Safety and Licensing Board decision on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission license and the Environmental Protection Agency permit advancements in 2019, continues to de-risk the Dewey Burdock Project and pave the way towards construction. The Company anticipates being well positioned to realize the benefits of the administration’s support of the United States nuclear industry.”

On 15 July 2019, the Company announced that President Trump had established the United States Nuclear Fuel Working Group (the “NFWG”) to develop recommendations for reviving and expanding domestic nuclear fuel production. The Company also noted that President Trump acknowledged that the “United States uranium industry faces significant challenges in producing uranium domestically and that this is an issue of national security.” The proposed fiscal 2021 budget “addresses immediate challenges to the production of domestic uranium and reflects the Administration’s NFWG priorities. The NFWG will continue to evaluate issues related to uranium supply chain and fuel cycle.”

About Azarga Uranium Corp.

Azarga Uranium is an integrated uranium exploration and development company that controls ten uranium projects and prospects in the United States of America (“USA”) (South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah and Colorado), with a primary focus of developing in-situ recovery uranium projects. The Dewey Burdock in-situ recovery uranium project in South Dakota, USA (the “Dewey Burdock Project”), which is the Company’s initial development priority, has received its Nuclear Regulatory Commission License and draft Class III and Class V Underground Injection Control (“UIC”) permits from the Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) and the Company is in the process of completing other major regulatory permit approvals necessary for the construction of the Dewey Burdock Project, including the final Class III and Class V UIC permits from the EPA.

For more information please visit www.azargauranium.com.
Follow us on Twitter at @AzargaUranium.

For further information, please contact:

Blake Steele, President and CEO
+1 303 790-7528
E-mail: info@azargauranium.com

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Certain information and statements in this news release may be considered forward-looking information or forward-looking statements for purposes of applicable securities laws (collectively, “forward-looking statements”), which reflect the expectations of management regarding its disclosure and amendments thereto. Forward-looking statements consist of information or statements that are not purely historical, including any information or statements regarding beliefs, plans, expectations or intentions regarding the future. Such information or statements may include, but are not limited to, statements with respect to President Trump’s proposed fiscal 2021 budget requesting US$1.36 billion for the office of nuclear energy, which includes US$150 million (US$1.5 billion for 2021-2030) to establish a strategic United States uranium reserve, the Company’s Dewey Burdock Project Preliminary Economic Assessment (“PEA”), the future financial or operating performance of the Company and its mineral projects, including the Dewey Burdock Project, the timing and amount of estimated future production and capital, operating and exploration expenditures, the Company anticipating being well positioned to realize the benefits of the administration’s support of the U.S. nuclear industry and Azarga Uranium’s continued efforts to obtain all major regulatory permit approvals necessary for the construction of the Dewey Burdock Project, including the final Class III and Class V UIC permits from the EPA. Such statements are subject to risks and uncertainties that may cause actual results, performance or developments to differ materially from those contained in the statements. No assurance can be given that any of the events anticipated by the forward-looking statements will occur or, if they do occur, what benefits Azarga Uranium will obtain from them. These forward-looking statements reflect management’s current views and are based on certain expectations, estimates and assumptions, which may prove to be incorrect. A number of risks and uncertainties could cause actual results to differ materially from those expressed or implied by the forward-looking statements, including without limitation: the risk that President Trump’s final approved budget for fiscal 2021 does not include the proposed or any allocations for the office of nuclear energy and the establishment of a strategic United States uranium reserve, the risk that the Dewey Burdock Project is not constructed and the estimated economics of the PEA are not realized, the risk that the estimated economics contained in the PEA do not reflect actual project economics, the risk that the Company does not realize the benefits of the administration’s support of the U.S. nuclear industry, the risk that Azarga Uranium does not obtain all major regulatory permit approvals necessary for construction of the Dewey Burdock Project, including the final Class III and Class V UIC permits from the EPA, the risk that such statements may prove to be inaccurate and other factors beyond the Company’s control. These forward-looking statements are made as of the date of this news release and, except as required by applicable securities laws, Azarga Uranium assumes no obligation to update these forward-looking statements, or to update the reasons why actual results differed from those projected in the forward-looking statements. Additional information about these and other assumptions, risks and uncertainties are set out in the “Risks and Uncertainties” section in the most recent AIF filed with Canadian security regulators.

Too Late To Avoid a Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East

Avoiding a nuclear arms race in the Middle East

U.S. President Donald Trump recently remarked that his foremost priority regarding Iran is preventing its regime from acquiring a nuclear weapon. Refocusing attention on Tehran’s nuclear program is critical given its announcement that it will exceed the limits on how many centrifuges it can operate for uranium enrichment. This decision not only renders the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as increasingly obsolete, but it will also accelerate Iran’s breakout timetable, which some experts now believe is only four to five months.

This raises two immediate concerns. First, should Iran race for the bomb, it is almost inevitable that the United States and/or Israel will take preventative military action to stop it from crossing that fateful threshold. This could easily spiral into a regional war as Iran activates its various proxy forces against the United States and its allies.

Second, an Iranian nuclear breakout attempt could spur a proliferation cascade throughout the Middle East, beginning with Saudi Arabia.

Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi crown prince, openly stated in 2018 that if Iran developed nuclear weapons, Riyadh would quickly “follow suit.” One suggested approach would see Saudi Arabia purchase a nuclear power reactor from a major supplier like South Korea and then build a reprocessing plant that would yield enough weapons-grade plutonium in five years.

A half-decade delay isn’t optimal, however, when the goal is achieving nuclear deterrence quickly. Thus, there is the so-called Islamabad option.

This refers to Riyadh’s role in financing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program and an alleged commitment from Islamabad that it would repay the favor. While Pakistani and Saudi officials have denied any such understanding, there is the possibility that the two could work out an arrangement where Islamabad could deploy some of its nuclear arsenal on Saudi soil following a successful Iranian breakout.

Although this maneuver would draw sharp, international criticism, in theory, it would allow Riyadh to remain in good standing vis-a-vis the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Nevertheless, Pakistan might not be willing to play spoiler against a nuclearized Iran. If it is, Middle Eastern geopolitics would become extremely unstable.

If Saudi Arabia acquires nuclear weapons, many believe Turkey would follow suit. Last September, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared that he “cannot accept” the argument from Western nations that Turkey should not be allowed to attain nuclear weapons. In 1958, Charles de Gaulle proclaimed that a nation without nuclear weapons “does not command its own destiny”; two years later, France tested its first bomb. Erdogan’s comments echo those earlier remarks and raise the possibility that Ankara could become the second NATO member to leave the alliance’s nuclear umbrella in favor of its own independent arsenal.

On the plus side, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates will probably refrain from joining the proliferation cascade. After initially flirting with a nuclear weapons program under Gamal Abdel Nasser, subsequent Egyptian presidents made nuclear disarmament a core pillar of their foreign policy objectives. For the UAE, it signed a “123 Agreement” with the United States in 2009 that contained what is now termed the “gold standard” addendum whereby Abu Dhabi forswore enrichment and reprocessing.

While the Emirates were understandably unhappy with Washington’s subsequent signing of the far less restrictive JCPOA, reneging on their own nuclear commitments would only damage relations with Washington at this point.

Of course, concerns about a nuclear cascade can be avoided if Iran is prevented from going nuclear in the first place.

A possible solution to Riyadh’s dilemma would see the U.S. commit to extending its nuclear umbrella over Saudi Arabia should Iran declare itself a nuclear weapons power. This could help repair American credibility in the kingdom’s eyes, which has slowly eroded over the last decade as Riyadh increasingly doubts Washington’s strategic commitment to the region.

Earlier this month, national security adviser Robert O’Brien told President Trump that continued sanctions and burgeoning civil unrest “will force [Iran] to negotiate.” This process can be accelerated if Washington rallies its European allies to reimpose the so-called snapback sanctions. This refers to the fact that any JCPOA participant can officially complain about a possible Iranian violation of the accord. This launches the bureaucratic process that can conclude with the reimposition of U.N. sanctions if the complaint remains unresolved.

On this point, Germany, France and the United Kingdom announced that they would trigger the snapback dispute mechanism after rejecting Iran’s argument that it was justified in violating the JCPOA because the United States had withdrawn from the deal.

Unfortunately, this does not necessarily mean the return of multilateral sanctions, as the Europeans are still focused on bringing Tehran back into compliance with the nuclear accord. China and Russia have similarly called for diplomacy to save the JCPOA; however, their motivations are primarily self-serving. Beijing is Iran’s largest trading partner, and bilateral trade has suffered because of U.S. sanctions; and Moscow views Tehran as a lucrative future market for its weapons, and is actively fighting attempts to extend the U.N. arms embargo that expires later this year.

For its European partners, Washington could argue that while its unilateral sanctions have put Tehran on the ropes, reinstating multilateral snapback sanctions can deliver the final knockout blow to a regime that has once again turned its guns on its citizens who seek its removal. While that argument may not appeal much to Russia and China, neither wants a nuclear proliferation cascade that undermines their various interests throughout the region.

Retired U.S. Air Force Gen. Kevin Chilton led U.S. Strategic Command and has participated in the Jewish Institute for National Security of America’s Generals and Admirals Program. Harry Hoshovsky is a policy analyst at JINSA’s Gemunder Center for Defense and Strategy.

Iran Expands its Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

New Secretive Iranian Nuclear Sites Spark Concern in Congress

Iran is not “complying at all” with the landmark nuclear deal and continues to prevent international nuclear inspectors from accessing key sites suspected of housing the regime’s sensitive atomic weapons program, according to the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Sen. Jim Risch (R., Idaho) told the Washington Free Beacon in a wide-ranging interview on the Islamic Republic’s continued nuclear subterfuge that he is worried by new reports from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that there are “possible undeclared Iranian nuclear sites” that remain active in Iran.

Risch, who is also a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, recently met with IAEA head Rafael Grossi to gather more information on Iran’s efforts to block access to inspectors and hide undeclared work on the weapons front.

“I don’t think they’re complying at all” with the nuclear restrictions enshrined in the accord, Risch told the Free Beacon, adding it is now clear Iran intends to continue violating caps on the amount of enriched uranium it can keep in the country.

“They have specifically said they’re going to enrich beyond what the agreement said,” Risch noted. “And they said they don’t care what anybody does about it. You can’t say they’ve been in compliance by any stretch.”

Recent reports indicate that particles of uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, were found at secretive Iranian sites. Risch said he would not contradict any recent reporting but could not go into specifics for classification reasons. Thus far, Iran has rebuffed IAEA petitions to obtain more information about these undeclared sites.

Tehran’s very public breach of the nuclear accord warrants the full imposition of United Nations sanctions that were lifted under the terms of the deal, Risch said.

Under a provision known as “snapback,” the United States and European countries can reimpose all sanctions on Iran that were waived when the deal was implemented in 2015. In light of Iran’s moves in late 2019 to exceed caps on uranium and heavy water, a nuclear byproduct that could provide an alternate pathway to a bomb, many have argued that snapback is necessary.

“There’s no question about that, and the Europeans know snapback is warranted,” Risch said, expressing frustration with efforts by multiple European allies to stand in the way of snapback.

“As always with the Europeans, they drag their feet, they’re tolerant when they shouldn’t be tolerant. I tell them over and over again, I don’t understand this. Why, why, oh why are you guys so tolerant of this? Why are you so dedicated to wanting to deal with the Iranians instead of doing what needs to be done?” Risch asked.

Leading European nations have sought to keep their business interests in Iran alive, despite the Trump administration’s wishes. This has resulted in the creation of an alternative financial system that helps Iran conduct international transactions apart from the American monetary system, thereby skirting sanctions.

Iran does not “respect a gentle nudge, they don’t respect the weakness, they don’t respect people who are trying to do the right thing. They are recalcitrant in every respect,” Risch said.

In meetings with European officials, Risch has raised the Iran issue, he said.

“I’m always disappointed in the Europeans’ tolerance of what the Iranians do,” he said. “Every time I meet with the Europeans, different ones, I raise that, which by the way is frequently. They just simply aren’t getting it. They promised us before we entered into the agreement that they would demand snapback if Iran did not comply. They’re clearly not complying.”

However, the United States will continue to issue new and more biting sanctions as long as Iran continues its pursuit of enriched uranium and other nuclear materials.

Risch also expressed optimism that the IAEA, despite the challenges it faces, will continue to provide a window into Iran’s nuclear undertakings.

“My sense is that the IAEA is not turning its back on doing what their mission is, as far as Iran is concerned,” he said. “They’re not turning their back on that even though the Iranians are doing what they always do, and that is stiff-arm everybody who tries to do anything. They know that. They realize it.”

Antichrist’s Attack on Iraq Protests Brings Out His True Colours

Sadr’s attack on Iraq protests brings out his true colours

Taif Alkhudary

‘Al-Sadr has totally ignored the content of the protesters’ demands’ writes Alkhudary [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 February, 2020

Comment: Al-Sadr‘s attack on Iraqi protesters has brought his deeply conservative and pro-establishment values into sharp relief, writes Taif Alkhudary.

For over four months, Iraqis have taken to the streets en masse to demand basic rights, a sovereign state, the overhaul of the post-2003 political system and an end to endemic state corruption.

The demonstrations mark a continuation of the shift from identity politics to issue politics, first seen during the protests that gripped Baghdad and the southern provinces in 2015.

For Shia cleric and political figure Moqtada Al-Sadr, the 2015 protests were the perfect opportunity to gain legitimacy among a broad electoral base. In an act of shrewd political maneuvering, he forged allegiances with secular leftist groups, positioned himself and his followers as anti-Iranian and declared support for anti-government demonstrations.

Al-Sadr would later go on to build on this base during the 2018 elections, when his coalition Sairoon ran a populist campaign aimed predominantly at those very citizens who had participated in the 2015 protests and called for systemic political change.

In an effort to prove their progressive credentials, Sairoon ran the highest number of new candidates and used anti-elite messaging. As a consequence, they were able to convince voters that they could bring about political reforms and won the highest number of seats in the Council of Representatives.

As in 2015, since the start of Iraq’s October Revolution, Al-Sadr has tried to control and manipulate protestors in order to prop up his own power base. However, when this did not work, he turned to coercion, openly encouraging violence against demonstrators and attempting to hijack the protest movement. This has at once brought his deeply conservative and pro-establishment values into sharp relief, while at the same time emboldening the protest movement.

Pro-demonstrations

Al-Sadr initially came out in support of demonstrators, calling on his followers to join protests. They promptly set up tents, brought mattresses and provided food for protestors, marking their territory with images of the blue hats from which they get their name.

Since the start of Iraq’s October Revolution, Al-Sadr has tried to control and manipulate protesters in order to prop up his own power base

This was despite the fact that demonstrators, calling for secular nationalism and an equal society, outwardly rejected any cooperation with Al-Sadr and his followers on the basis of his reputation as an opportunistic and deeply sectarian figure.

Indeed, since 2003 Al-Sadr has repeatedly shifted allegiances in order to ensure a strong position for his political bloc within the Iraqi government. In addition, during the sectarian civil war that gripped Iraq following the US-led invasion, Al-Sadr‘s Mahdi army was notorious for targeting members of the Sunni community.

If this was not enough, protesters were also acutely aware of the fact that at the same time as professing support for their movement, Al-Sadr also maintained close links with Iran, hiding out in the country since the beginning of protest and reportedly receiving instructions to takeover demonstrations.  In addition, he played a central role in a government that has authorised and acquiesced to the killing of over 600 protestors and the wounding of at least 18,000 others in the space of just over four months.

Shifting political priorities

Following the assassinations of Major General Qassem Soleimani, head of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, and Abu Mahdi Al Muhandis, deputy head of Iran-backed militias Al-Hashd Al-Shabi, on 3 January by a US drone in Baghdad, Al-Sadr‘s focus moved away from support from the protest movement to explicit anti-US rhetoric.

In mid-January Al-Sadr called for a million-man march to expel US troops. Following a low turnout and criticism from demonstrators who, since the very start of protests, have rejected any and all foreign interference in domestic Iraqi affairs, he instructed his followers to withdraw from protest sites. This left demonstrators in a vulnerable position and allowed security forces to move in and burn their tents, fire live ammunition and resume the use of lethal military tear gas canisters in Baghdad, Basra, Diyala, Dhi Qhar and Karbala.

The attacks caused a splinter within the Sadrist movement itself, with some members abandoning the cleric to permanently join protesters.

Coercion

Following the designation of Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi as prime minister – an establishment figure who served as communications minister under Nuri Al Maliki and who has been vehemently rejected by protestors who have called for an independent candidate – Al-Sadr‘s position against demonstrations seemed to harden further still.

In early February, he issued a number of statements calling on his followers to join, what he referred to as the “heroic” security forces, in restoring demonstrations to their peaceful state and “weeding out the saboteurs and intruders” from the protests. This encouraged further violence against demonstrators, resulting in the killings of seven protests and leaving 150 other injured following attacks by Sadrists in Najaf.

In addition, the statement marked a bizarre act of reverse psychology, suggesting that it was protestors and not the Iraqi security forces and associated militias Al-Hashd Al-Shabi who have launched indiscriminate and excessive attacks against peaceful demonstrators all along.

It has heralded a new chapter for Iraq’s revolution, one free of the deeply sectarian and conservative baggage that comes with the uneasy allegiances Al-Sadr forged with protesters

More worrying, perhaps, is an 18-point “manifesto” issued by Al-Sadr on 8 February, in which he calls on protestors to “abandon those controlling protests from the outside”. This echoes the accusations that protestors are foreign supported that have been levied at demonstrators since the beginning of protests by Al-Hashd Al-Shabi.

This not only signals the strengthening of Al-Sadr‘s ties with Iran, but also acts – in his view – as a justification for further violence against protestors.

Al-Sadr and his supporters have not only tried to take over the physical sites of the protest movement, but also tried to claim its intellectual space. This was already apparent in the statements issued by the cleric at the beginning of February, when he declared “the revolution and I are one and the same”.

It is further compounded in the 18-point “manifesto” where he instructs protestors to issue a set of unified demands, nominate an official spokesperson and keep out of “secondary political matters” such as the nomination of ministers.

In the process, he dismisses the fact that demonstrators have issued the most developed and comprehensive set of demands to have emerged out of any Iraqi protest movement since the Arab Uprisings of 2011.

In addition, he totally ignores the very content of those demands. That is, the fact that Iraqis want a say in the political system that was imposed on them by the US and exiled Iraqi politicians post-2003.

What is more, in the very same manifesto, Al-Sadr calls for protest sites to be segregated by gender. This is a direct attack on the cultural revolution that the protests have ushered in, and which has seen women at the front and centre of protests, organising demonstrations, leading chants, providing medical assistance and painting revolutionary murals.

Ultimately, while many feared that the withdrawal of Al-Sadr‘s support would mark the end of demonstrations, what this has in fact done is brought his counter-revolutionary position into sharp relief.

If the thousands of people that flocked to protest sites to fill the gaps left by the “Blue Hats” are anything to go by, it has also heralded a new chapter for Iraq’s October revolution, one free of the deeply sectarian and conservative baggage that comes with the uneasy allegiances that Al-Sadr has forged with protesters over the years.

Taif Alkhudary is an Iraqi-British journalist and research assistant at the LSE Middle East Centre, where she works on the post-2003 political system in Iraq.

Follow her on Twitter: @ALKTaif

Opinions expressed in this article remain those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The New Arab, its editorial board or staff.

Antichrist Dissolves Units Accused of Deadly Attacks on Protests

Iraq’s Sadr Dissolves Units Accused of Deadly Attacks on Protests

Tuesday, 11 February, 2020 – 19:00 –

Asharq Al-Awsat

Populist Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr announced on Tuesday he was dissolving the “blue caps”, an organized unit of his supporters accused of deadly attacks on anti-government protests in recent days.

Sadr had first backed the popular rallies demanding a government overhaul when they erupted in October, but has switched course multiple times in recent weeks.

He finally broke with the broader movement when he endorsed the premier-designate Mohammad Allawi, seen by protesters as too close to the elite they have railed against for months.

Since then, diehard Sadr supporters wearing blue caps have raided protest camps in Baghdad and the Shiite-majority south, with eight protesters killed in the ensuing violence.

The cleric has faced growing criticism over the violence and on Tuesday, he suddenly took to Twitter.

“I announce the dissolution of the ‘blue caps,’ and I do not accept the (Sadrist) movement’s presence in and of itself at the protests, unless it is absorbed into them,” he tweeted, according to AFP.

In the early days of the movement, Sadr supporters were seen as the most organized and well-stocked of the demonstrators but his recent tweets have infuriated activists.

After backing Allawi, he ordered the “blue caps” to help security forces reopen schools, roads and public offices shut down for months by anti-government sit-ins.

But Sadr has insisted that his movement ultimately wants “reforms”.

Allawi has until March 2 to form his cabinet, and is expected to govern only until early parliamentary elections.

“We hear that there are pressures from political parties and from sects over the forming of the temporary government,” Sadr tweeted on Tuesday.

“This could lead us to completely wash our hands of all of it.”

Sadr already controls the largest parliamentary bloc and top ministerial positions in the current government.

But one of his senior aides said Saturday that the new prime minister must not include members of the political elite in his new cabinet.

If Sadr “hears that Allawi has granted a ministry to any side, specifically the Shiite armed factions, Iraq will turn into hell for him and will topple him in just three days,” Kadhem Issawi said.