Iran displays her Nuclear Horn amid nuclear talks

Iran displays missiles amid nuclear talks with world powers

Iran is displaying three ballistic missiles at an outdoor prayer esplanade in central Tehran as talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers flounder

ByThe Associated Press

January 7, 2022, 5:29 AM

On Location: January 7, 2022

Catch up on the developing stories making headlines.The Associated Press

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Iran displayed three ballistic missiles at an outdoor prayer esplanade in central Tehran on Friday as talks in Vienna aimed at reviving Tehran’s nuclear deal with world powers flounder.

The missiles — known as Dezful, Qiam and Zolfaghar — have official ranges of up to 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and are already-known models, the paramilitary Revolutionary Guard said.

Diplomats from countries that remain in the 2015 nuclear deal — Britain, France, Germany, Russia and China — are working with Tehran to revive the accord, which had sought to limit Iran’s nuclear ambitions in exchange for lifting of economic sanctions.

American diplomats are present at the nuclear talks in Vienna but they are not in direct talks with Iranians. The accord collapsed in 2018 when then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from the deal and re-imposed sanctions on Iran.

A report by Iranian state television said the missiles on display were the same types as those used to strike U.S. bases in Iraq.

The display came on the second anniversary of a ballistic missile attack on bases housing American troops in Iraq in retaliation for the U.S. drone strike that killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad in 2020.

The Iranian military mistakenly shot down Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 with two surface-to-air missiles after the attacks, killing all 176 people on board. After days of denial, the Guard publicly apologized, blaming an air defense operator who authorities said mistook the Boeing 737-800 for an American cruise missile.

An Iranian military court in November held a hearing for 10 people suspected of having role in downing the Ukrainian airliner.

State TV said a commemoration ceremony for the victims was held in Tehran’s main cemetery with the presence of their families as well as officials.

The reach of the Iranian nuclear horn: Daniel 8

Demonstrators holding a banner between them

Mideast tensions rise as Yemeni rebels seize UAE ship and hackers hit Israeli newspaper

Demonstrators in Baghdad on New Year’s Day hold banners depicting a powerful Iranian general and a top Iraqi militia leader.(Khalid Mohammed / Associated Press)BY JON GAMBRELLASSOCIATED PRESSJAN. 3, 2022 UPDATED 7:43 AM PT

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — 

Yemen’s Houthi rebels seized a ship in the Red Sea, armed drones targeted Baghdad’s international airport and hackers hit a major Israeli newspaper Monday — a string of assaults that showed the reach of Iran-allied militias on the second anniversary of the U.S. killing of a top Iranian general.

All three attacks coincided with a massive memorial in Tehran for Qassem Suleimani, the general killed by a U.S. drone strike in 2020 in Iraq. Iran’s hard-line President Ebrahim Raisi demanded that former President Trump “be prosecuted and killed.” 

“If not, I’m telling all American leaders, don’t doubt that the hand of revenge will come out of ummah’s sleeve,” Raisi said, referring to the worldwide community of Muslims.

Monday’s events highlight tensions in the Middle East, a region roiled by Trump’s 2018 decision to unilaterally withdraw Washington from a deal aimed at limiting Tehran’s nuclear program. As talks continue in Vienna to try to resuscitate the accord, Iran remains able to apply pressure from outside the negotiations even as it is squeezed by U.S.-led sanctions and a shadow war with Israel.ADVERTISEMENTnullnull

The taking of the Emirati ship Rwabee marks the latest assault in the Red Sea, a crucial route for international trade and energy shipments. The Iranian-backed Houthis acknowledged the seizure off the coast of Hodeida, a long-contested prize of the grinding war in Yemen between the rebels and a Saudi-led coalition that includes the United Arab Emirates.

First word of the Rwabee’s seizure came from the British military’s United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations, which said only that an attack had targeted an unnamed vessel around midnight. The coordinates it offered corresponded to the Rwabee, which has rarely given its location via tracking data in recent months, unlike most commercial traffic in the region, according to the website MarineTraffic.com.

A man fills his car with petrol at a gas station in the Iranian capital Tehran, October 27, 2021.

A statement from the Saudi-led coalition, carried by state media in the oil-rich kingdom, acknowledged the attack on the Rwabee hours later, saying the rebels had committed an act of “armed piracy” involving the vessel. The coalition asserted that the ship carried medical equipment from a dismantled Saudi field hospital on the distant island of Socotra, without offering evidence.

“The Houthi militia must immediately release the ship. Otherwise, the coalition forces shall take all necessary measures and procedures to deal with this violation, including the use of force,” Brig. Gen. Turki Malki said in a statement. 

The Houthis later aired footage from the Rwabee on their Al-Masirah satellite news channel. It showed military-style inflatable rafts, trucks and other vehicles on the vessel, a landing craft that lowers a ramp to allow equipment to roll on and off. One brief clip showed what appeared to be a collection of rifles inside a container.

“It is completely obvious today that the information that this ship was carrying a civilian field hospital is not correct,” said Yahia Sarei, a Houthi militia spokesman. “This is clearly military equipment.”

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, center, chairs a weekly cabinet meeting, at the prime minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2021. Bennett on Sunday urged world powers to take a hard line against Iran in negotiations to curb the country's nuclear program, as his top defense and intelligence officials headed to Washington amid the flailing talks. (Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool via AP)

Saudi state television later alleged that the Houthis wanted to transfer weapons onto the ship.

An employee at the vessel’s owner, Abu Dhabi-based Liwa Marine Services, told the Associated Press that the Rwabee appeared to have been the target but said the company had no other information.

A similar assault happened in 2016 involving the Emirati vessel SWIFT-1, which had been sailing back and forth in the Red Sea between Yemen and an Emirati troop base in Eritrea. That vessel came under attack by Houthi forces. The Emirati government said the SWIFT-1 carried humanitarian aid; United Nations experts later said they were “unconvinced of [the claim’s] veracity.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the hacking of the Jerusalem Post’s website. The hackers replaced the English-language newspaper’s homepage with an image depicting a missile coming from a fist bearing a ring long associated with Suleimani.

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The image also depicted an exploding target used during a recent Iranian military drill that was designed to look like the Shimon Peres Negev Nuclear Research Center, near the city of Dimona. The facility is home to decades-old underground laboratories that re-process the reactor’s spent rods to obtain weapons-grade plutonium for Israel’s nuclear bomb program.

Under its policy of nuclear ambiguity, Israel neither confirms nor denies having atomic weapons.

In a tweet, the Post acknowledged being the target of hackers. ADVERTISEMENThttps://33b9cfcaae4609ac6be4e4b47b6aca17.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

“We are aware of the apparent hacking of our website, alongside a direct threat to Israel,” the newspaper wrote. “We are working to resolve the issue & thank readers for your patience and understanding.” 

A young man watches an episode of the Iranian television series "Gando" at his home in Iran's capital Tehran on September 6, 2021. - Loathed by Iran's moderates, television spy series "Gando" with its plots mirroring the headlines has gone back on air since ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi's election victory. Named after a local species of crocodile known to ambush its prey, Gando's stars are counter-espionage agents of the Revolutionary Guard, operating from a control room festooned with monitors, much like in the US thriller "24". (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

The newspaper later restored its website. It noted that Iran-supporting hackers previously targeted its homepage in 2020.

The hack came after Israel’s former military intelligence chief in late December publicly acknowledged that his country was involved in Suleimani’s killing. The U.S. drone killed Suleimani as he was leaving Baghdad’s international airport.ADVERTISEMENTnull

In Iraq on Monday, troops shot down two so-called suicide drones at the Baghdad airport, U.S. and Iraqi officials said. No group immediately claimed the attack, though one of the drones’ wings had the words “Suleimani’s revenge” painted on it in Arabic. Militias backed by Iran have been suspected in similar assaults. No injuries or damage were reported. 

As the head of the Quds, or Jerusalem, Force of the Revolutionary Guard, Suleimani led all of its expeditionary forcesand frequently shuttled between Iraq, Lebanon and Syria. Quds Force members have been deployed to Syria to support President Bashar Assad in the long civil war there, and also to Iraq in the wake of the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein, a longtime foe of Tehran.

Suleimani rose to prominence by advising forces fighting Islamic State in Iraq and in Syria, on behalf of Assad.

U.S. officials say that, under Suleimani, the Revolutionary Guard taught Iraqi militants how to manufacture and use especially deadly roadside bombs against U.S. troops. Iran has denied that.

Save the Oil and the Wine: Revelation 6

In this photo released on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019, by the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, spokesman of the organization Behrouz Kamalvandi, center, briefs the media while visiting Fordo nuclear site south of Tehran, Iran. On Saturday, Iran defended its decision to block a U.N. inspector from the Natanz nuclear facility on Oct. 28. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran via AP)

Iran presses on oil exports as nuclear talks resume

Tehran’s landmark accord with world powers — Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Russia and China — granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.ASSOCIATED PRESS / December 27, 2021

VIENNA (AP) — Negotiators from Iran and five world powers resumed negotiations Monday on restoring Tehran’s tattered 2015 nuclear deal, with Iran insisting that the United States and its allies promise to allow it to export its crude oil.

The latest round of talks in Vienna, the eighth, opened 10 days after negotiations were adjourned for the Iranian negotiator to return home for consultations. The previous round, the first after a more than five-month gap caused by the arrival of a new hard-line government in Iran, was marked by tensions over new Iranian demands.

“If we work hard in the days and weeks ahead, we should have a positive result,” Enrique Mora, the European Union diplomat who chaired the talks, said after the opening session. But “it’s going to be very hard — difficult political decisions have to be taken.”

Tehran’s landmark accord with world powers — Britain, France, Germany, the U.S., Russia and China — granted Iran sanctions relief in exchange for curbs on its nuclear program.

But in 2018, then-President Donald Trump withdrew America from the deal and imposed sweeping sanctions on Iran, including against its oil sector — the lifeline of its economy. Iran’s crude exports plummeted and international oil companies scrapped deals with Tehran, weakening its economy.

The other signatories struggled to keep alive the agreement, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The United States is participating only indirectly in this year’s talks to restore the deal, which President Joe Biden has signaled he wants to rejoin.

Speaking in Tehran ahead of the talks’ resumption, Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said Iran wants the upcoming round of talks to focus on its sanctions-hit oil industry. The aim is to get to the “point where Iranian oil is being sold easily and without any barriers and its money arrives in Iran’s bank accounts,” he said.

Amirabdollahian said Iran wanted to “be able to enjoy full economic concessions under the nuclear deal.”

“Guarantee and verification (of the removal of sanctions) are among topics that we have focused on,” he said.

The new administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has repeatedly demanded the removal of all economic sanctions before Iran reins in its nuclear advances.

Separately on Monday, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Saeed Khatibzadeh said it would be “intolerable” for the West to demand anything from Tehran beyond compliance with the original deal.

Iran has steadily abandoned all of the accord’s limits since the American withdrawal and is now enriching uranium to 60% purity — a short, technical step from weapons-grade levels. It spins ever-more advanced centrifuges also barred by the deal.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful. But the country’s significant nuclear steps have alarmed regional foes like Israel and world powers. Diplomats have warned that time is running out to restore the deal as Iran maintains a hard line in putting the onus on the U.S. to lift sanctions.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid of Israel, which fiercely opposed the 2015 deal, repeated his country’s vow that Iran will never get a nuclear weapon.

“Certainly we prefer to act through international cooperation, but if necessary — we will defend ourselves, by ourselves,” he said, a veiled threat of unilateral military action against Iran’s nuclear program.

Diplomats from the three European powers have said that time is running out for a successful conclusion to the talks.

And Russian delegate Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted after the resumption of the talks was announced that “we need to orient ourselves towards successful completion of the talks as soon as possible, preferably by the beginning of February.”

He described Monday’s opening session as “businesslike and result-oriented.”

Mora, the talks’ chair, said the decision to resume discussions between Christmas and the new year was made because “there is a sense of urgency” and it “was not acceptable to lose, let’s say, 10 days more.”

He said he wouldn’t “speculate” on target dates for an agreement, but reiterated that “we are talking about weeks, not about months.”

___

By ALEX SCHULLER and GEIR MOULSON Associated Press

Moulson reported from Berlin. Associated Press writer Nasser Karimi in Tehran, Iran contributed.

Twenty years after 9/11, terrorists will l go nuclear: Revelation 16

Twenty years after 9/11, terrorists could still go nuclear

By Matthew Bunn | September 16, 2021

As Americans reeled after the 9/11 attacks 20 years ago, one question was at the front of many minds: Could even worse be coming? If the terrorists who attacked on September 11 had a crude nuclear bomb on the plane, it wouldn’t have been just the twin towers—the whole lower half of Manhattan could have been turned to rubble and ash, with hundreds of thousands dead and injured.

Unfortunately, that possibility was all too real. Investigations after the attacks uncovered focused al Qaeda efforts to get nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons. The nuclear program reported directly to Ayman al-Zawahiri, now the leader of the group, and got as far as carrying out crude but sensible conventional explosive tests for the bomb program in the Afghan desert. Weeks before 9/11, Osama bin Laden and Zawahiri met with two senior Pakistani nuclear scientists and discussed how al Qaeda could get nuclear weapons.

But that was then. Today, both al Qaeda and another major jihadist terror group, the Islamic State, have suffered tremendous blows, with their charismatic leaders dead and many others killed or captured. A US-led counterterrorism coalition destroyed the Islamic State’s geographic caliphate in Iraq and Syria. In recent years, many terrorist attacks have not been much more sophisticated than driving a van into a crowd. Al Qaeda has not managed to carry out a single successful attack in the United States since 9/11. Is a terrorist nuclear attack still something to worry about?

The short answer, unfortunately, is “yes.” The probability of terrorists getting and using a nuclear bomb appears to be low—but the consequences if they did would be so devastating that it is worth beefing up efforts to make sure terrorists never get their hands on a nuclear bomb’s essential ingredients. To see the possibilities, we need to look at motive, capability, and opportunity.

Motive. Violent Islamic extremists desperately want to strike back at the “crusader forces” who have inflicted such punishing blows on their organizations. And both the Islamic State and al Qaeda would like a spectacular action to put them firmly back at the forefront of the violent Islamic extremist movement. Years ago, al Qaeda spokesman Sulaiman Abu Ghaith argued that because Western actions had killed so many Muslims, al Qaeda had “the right to kill four million Americans, one million of them children.” That kind of hatred still festers. (Abu Ghaith is serving a life sentence in a US prison.)RELATED: The US government’s comic approach to information warfareNuclear explosives are only one of the paths to mass slaughter that terrorists have pursued. Nuclear efforts must compete for terrorists’ attention with tried-and-true conventional weapons, biological weapons—whose dangers the pandemic has highlighted—chemical weapons, and more. Many of these other types of weapons would be easier for terrorists to acquire, and so their use may be more likely. But the history-changing power of a mushroom cloud rising over a major city has proved attractive to terrorists in the past and may again.Capability. Government studies make clear that if a sophisticated, well-funded terrorist group got hold of the needed plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU), they might well be able to put together a crude nuclear bomb. Unfortunately, it does not take a Manhattan Project to build a bomb, when you have weapons-usable fissile material. Indeed, the group needed to make a crude bomb might not have a footprint much bigger than the 9/11 attackers had. Despite the enormous destruction that has been rained on al Qaeda and the Islamic State over the last 20 years, a cell of terrorists could be working on a nuclear project even now, somewhere far from US attention and drone strikes.The intense counterterrorism campaigns of the last two decades have surely reduced terrorists’ ability to plan and carry out such a complex effort. But we simply do not know what capability might remain. The Taliban’s rapid return to power in Afghanistan could add to that capability, making that country a terrorist haven again—but there are many other largely ungoverned or terrorist-controlled places where such a project could be undertaken.And the capability side of the equation can change at remarkable speed. In January 2014, the US intelligence community did not mention the Islamic State in its annual assessment of threats to US security. By summer, the group had seized much of Iraq and Syria and declared a global caliphate.Opportunity. Fortunately, around the world, security for plutonium and HEU is far better than it once was, making it far harder for terrorists to get their hands on the needed ingredients for a bomb. More than half of all the countries that once had such material on their soil have gotten rid of it. While stolen HEU or plutonium was once showing up in parked cars and airplane luggage racks in Europe, there hasn’t been a major seizure of potential nuclear bomb material for a decade now.RELATED: Climate conversations neglect an essential component of a healthy planet: the oceanNevertheless, with the Obama-era nuclear security summits now far in the rearview mirror, the momentum of nuclear security improvement has slowed. There is still a need to ensure that nuclear weapons, materials, and facilities are protected against the full range of plausible threats—especially from insiders, who appear to pose the biggest nuclear security problem. The rise of domestic violent extremists in the United States and other advanced democracies makes the insider threat even more challenging. There is still a need for realistic tests and assessments of nuclear security systems’ real capabilities against intelligent adversaries looking for ways to beat them. And there’s still a need to strengthen nuclear security culture—to make sure the staff and guards at nuclear facilities are giving security the priority it needs, day-in and day-out.If terrorists ever did manage to turn the heart of a modern city into a smoldering radioactive ruin, they would change history. The economic, political, and social consequences would reverberate far and wide. Fears that it could happen again—possibly stoked by terrorist claims that they had more bombs already hidden in cities and would detonate them unless their demands were met—could lead people to flee major cities. The reactions after 9/11—a more aggressive US foreign policy, racist animosity, expanded government powers, cutbacks in civil liberties—would be expanded manyfold, particularly once people realized that the material for such a bomb could be hidden in any suitcase.President Biden has warned of these dangers. Now is the time for him to act. Despite the many other priorities on his desk, it is time for him to launch a new, expanded nuclear security initiative, working to ensure that nuclear stockpiles worldwide are secure and accounted for to the highest standards, that major obstacles are placed in the path of nuclear smugglers, that states are deterred from helping terrorists with nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons, and that terrorist nuclear plots are found and stopped. The risk of a nuclear 9/11 will persist as long as high-capability terrorists and the materials needed to make a nuclear bomb both exist in the world.

How the Beast of the Sea Failed: Revelation 13:1

The roots of America’s defeat

The foundations of failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks, when the guiding assumptions of the “War on Terror” were put together.

Caroline Glick(August 29, 2021 / JNS)

Afghanis crowd the airport in Kabul after U.S. troops get ready to withdraw and the Taliban wait to take over the country, Aug 18, 2021. Credit: John Smith 2021/Shutterstock.

Even before the suicide bombings outside the Kabul airport on Thursday evening, the U.S. media was acting with rare unanimity. For the first time in memory, U.S. media organs across the ideological and political spectrum have been united in the view that U.S. President Joe Biden fomented a strategic disaster for the United States and its allies with his incompetent leadership of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Some compare it to the 1961 Bay of Pigs; others to Saigon in 1975; others to the U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1979. Whatever the analogy, the bottom line is the same: Biden’s surrender to the Taliban has already entered the pantheon of American post-war defeats.

Biden is personally responsible for the humanitarian and strategic disaster unfolding before our eyes. He is the only American leader in history who has willfully abandoned Americans and American allies to their fate behind enemy lines. But while Biden is solely responsible for the decision to leave Afghanistan in its current condition, it isn’t Biden’s fault that after 20 years of war, the Taliban was still around, stronger than it was on Sept. 11, 2001, and fully capable of seizing control of the country. The foundations of that failure were laid in the days, weeks and months that followed the Sept. 11 attacks.

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, then-President George W. Bush and his national security team put together the guiding assumptions for what came to be known as the global war on terror. In the years since, some of the assumptions were updated, adapted or replaced as conditions on the ground evolved. But three of the assumptions that stood at the foundation of America’s military, intelligence and diplomatic planning and operations since then were not revisited, save for the final two years of the Trump administration. All three contributed significantly to America’s defeat in Afghanistan and its failure to win the war against global terror as a whole. The first assumption related to Pakistan, the second to Iran and the third to Israel.

By rights, Pakistan should have been the first domino to fall after the Sept. 11 attacks. The Taliban were the brainchild of Pakistan’s jihad-addled ISI intelligence agency. Al-Qaeda operatives also received ISI support. But aside from a few threats and temporary sanctions around the time of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in October 2001, the United States took no significant actions against Pakistan. The reason for America’s inaction is easy to understand.

In 1998 Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. By Sept. 11, 2001, Pakistan fielded a significant nuclear arsenal. Following the attacks, Pakistan made clear its view of nuclear war, and the connection between its position and its sponsorship of terror.

In October and December 2001, Kashmiri terrorists sponsored by Pakistan attacked the Jammu and Kashmir parliament and the Indian parliament. When India accused Pakistan of responsibility and threatened reprisals, then-Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf placed the Pakistani military on alert. India began deploying troops to the border and Pakistan followed suit.

Rather than side with India, the United States pressured Delhi to stand down, which it did in April 2002. In June 2002, Pakistani-backed terrorists carried out suicide bombings against the wives and children of Indian soldiers. The countdown to war began again. In June 2002, again bowing to U.S. pressure, India pledged it would not be the first to introduce nuclear weapons to the conflict. Musharraf refused to follow suit.

Rather than rally behind India, the Bush administration wrested an empty promise from Musharraf that he would stop sponsoring terrorism and then pressured India to stand down again. The U.S. message was clear. By credibly threatening to use its nuclear weapons, Pakistan deterred the Americans. Less than six months later, North Korea expelled United Nations inspectors from its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran escalated its covert nuclear activities at Isfahan and Natanz.

The U.S. decision to dodge a confrontation with Pakistan following the Sept. 11 attacks empowered the ISI to rebuild the Taliban and Al-Qaeda after the United States decimated both in its initial offensive. Taliban leaders decamped to Pakistan, where they rebuilt their forces and waged a war of attrition against U.S. and NATO forces and the Afghan army and government they built. Osama bin Laden was living in what amounted to a Pakistani military base when he was killed by U.S. commandos. That war ended with Biden’s surrender and the Taliban’s recapture of Kabul this month.

This brings us to Iran. In their post-Sept. 11 deliberations, Bush and his advisers decided not to confront Iran, but instead seek to reach an accommodation with the mullahcracy. This wasn’t a new policy. Since the Reagan administration, the dominant view in Washington has been that it is possible to reach an accord with the Iranian regime that would restore the strategic alliance between Washington and Tehran that existed prior to the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

Bush and his advisers were not moved to reassess that view when they learned that Iran provided material support to the September 11 hijackers. They didn’t reconsider their assumption after Al-Qaeda’s leadership decamped to Tehran when the Taliban was routed in Afghanistan. They didn’t reconsider it when Iran served as the headquarters and the arms depot for Al-Qaeda in Iraq or the Shi’ite militias in their war against U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Barack Obama embraced Bush’s assumption on Iran. Instead of confronting Tehran, he tried to realign the U.S. Middle East alliance system toward Iran and away from America’s Arab allies and Israel. He effectively handed Iran control over Iraq when he withdrew U.S. forces. He paved Iran’s path to nuclear arsenal with the 2015 nuclear deal.

After a prolonged fight with the Washington establishment and its representatives in his cabinet who embraced Bush’s assumptions, in his last two years in office, Donald Trump partially abandoned the strategic assumption that Iran could and should be appeased. Biden, for his part, is committed to reinstating and escalating Obama’s policies towards Iran.

As for Israel, in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, then secretary of state Colin Powell convinced Bush to adopt two related assumptions on Israel. First, he determined that terrorism against Israel was different—and more acceptable—than terrorism against everyone else. And second, Bush determined that the war against terror would be directed at terror groups, but not at governments that sponsored terrorism (except Iraq). As former Bush administration official David Wurmser, who was involved in the post-Sept. 11 deliberations, recalled recently, Powell argued that terrorism threatened the Arabs no less than it threatened America. This being the case, the trick to winning them over to the U.S. side was to give them a payoff that would make it worth their while.

Israel was the payoff. The United States would be able to bring Syria on board by getting Israel to give the Golan Heights to the Assad regime. Washington would bring in the Saudis and the rest of the Sunnis by forcing Israel to give Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Jerusalem to the PLO.

Ahead of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon tried to unravel Washington’s guiding assumption about Iran. He told Bush and his advisers that Iraq hadn’t posed a strategic threat to Israel or anyone else in the region since the 1991 Gulf War. If the United States wanted to defeat global terror, Sharon explained, it should act against Iran. The administration ignored him.

As for the administration’s assumptions about Israel, a week after the attacks, Bush deliberately left the terrorism against Israel out of the war on terror when he told the joint houses of Congress that the war would be directed against terror groups “with global reach.”

Recognizing where the Americans were headed, in October 2001, Sharon gave what became known as his “Czechoslovakia speech.”

Following a deadly terror attack in Gaza, Sharon said, “I call on the Western democracies, and primarily the leader of the free world, the United States: Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when enlightened European democracies decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for ‘a convenient temporary solution.’

“Do not try to appease the Arabs at our expense—this is unacceptable to us. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. Israel will fight terrorism. There is no ‘good terrorism’ and ‘bad terrorism,’ as there is no ‘good murder’ and ‘bad murder.’”

The administration’s response to Sharon’s statement was swift and furious. Sharon was harshly rebuked by Powell and the White House and he beat a swift retreat.
A month later, Powell became the first senior U.S. official to officially endorse the establishment of a Palestinian state.

Sharon’s failure to convince the Americans to rethink their false assumptions owed to his incomprehension and fear of Washington. Benjamin Netanyahu, in contrast, had an intimate familiarity with the ways of Washington. As a result, his efforts to convince the Americans to reconsider their assumptions about Iran and Israel met with significant success. Netanyahu’s first success in relation to Iran came through the Arabs.

Netanyahu recognized that the Arab Gulf states were as threatened by Iran—and by Obama’s efforts to appease Iran—as Israel was. So he reached out to them. Convinced by Netanyahu, Saudi Arabia led the Arab Gulf states and Egypt in embracing Israel as their ally in their existential struggle against Iran. Confronting Iran, the Saudis explained, was far more important to the Arabs than helping the Palestinians.

Israeli-Arab unity on Iran stymied Obama’s efforts to win congressional approval for his nuclear deal. It also stood at the foundation of Trumps’ decision to abandon Obama’s deal.

Netanyahu used his operational alliance with the Arabs as well in his effort to undo the U.S.’s false assumptions about Israel, particularly in regard to the Palestinians. He also used public diplomacy geared towards influencing Israel’s congressional supporters and public opinion. Netanyahu’s efforts derailed Obama’s plan to dictate the terms of a “peace” settlement to Israel. Under Trump, Netanyahu’s efforts influenced Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and convinced Trump to support Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Distressingly, Netanyahu’s successes are being swiftly undone by the Biden administration and the Bennett-Lapid government.

There is a growing sense that Biden’s catastrophic withdrawal from Afghanistan is setting the world back 20 years. But the truth is even more dire. In 2001, the United States was far more powerful relative to its enemies than it is today. And as has been the case for the past 20 years, the situation will only start moving in the right direction if and when America finally abandons the false assumptions it adopted 20 years ago.

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

While 9/11 Came Closer, the Beast from the Sea Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs: Revelation 13

The Road to 9/11 Header

While 9/11 Came Closer, George W. Bush’s Team Focused on Saddam Hussein’s WMDs

By William M. Arkin On 8/7/21 at 5:00 AM EDT

In this series, Newsweek maps the road to 9/11 as it happened 20 years ago, day by day.

The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) published a secret report on “Iraq’s Reemerging Nuclear Weapon Program,” part of a raging debate within U.S. intelligences community agencies as to the state of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction program. United Nation’s inspectors had been banned from inside the country since November 1998, leaving U.S. intelligence to largely speculate as to what was going on.

Intelligence thereafter poured in from the intense American monitoring of Iraq, from regional allies (particularly Israel and Jordan) as well as the Iraqi expatriate community, suggesting that Iraq was pursuing nuclear and biological weapons as well as long-range missile—a phantom that would build in intensity after 9/11. The high priority intelligence collection supported the basic American policy—and the U.N. requirement—to eliminate all of Iraq’s WMD. Before the events that forced Saddam to eject U.N. inspectors—a combination of increasing aggressiveness on the part of the singularly focused U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM), the discovery of U.S. spying under the guise of the inspection effort—Iraq had been about to receive a clean bill.

We now know that U.S. intelligence not only misread the situation but that much of the reason that Washington (under the Bush and Clinton administrations) believed Saddam was secretly pursuing WMD was that he was lying to his own generals and diplomats, telling them that Iraq indeed had such a capability, hoping the lie would deter major attack and keep him in power.

The main issue on the table on August 7 was the purpose of aluminum tubes that Iraq attempted to import from China, the 3,000 tubs intercepted in Jordan in July. Though the tubes were intended to manufacture multiple rocket launchers, at the time, the DIA, CIA and Department of Energy intelligence component concluded that the thickness and strength of the tubes made them more suitable to be rotors in a gas centrifuge, to be used to enrich uranium. The DIA stated in the August 7 report that “alternative uses” for the tubes were “possible,” but that such alternatives are “less likely because the specifications [of the tubes] are consistent with late 1980’s Iraqi gas centrifuge rotor designs.”

saddam hussein intelligence  9/11 bush clinton iraq
While the U.S. intelligence community failed to see the 9/11 plot, it overestimated the threat of Iraqi WMDs. Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Jacques Pavlovsky/Sygma via Getty Images

Though many government analysts would change their view regarding the tubes—and Iraq would argue vociferously, and accurately, that the tubes were indeed intended to build multiple rocket launchers—the debate would continue up until the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is now clear in hindsight that Iraq was front and center in Washington and a focus of the Bush administration long before 9/11. The outgoing Clinton administration not only left the status of Iraq’s WMD unclear, and a priority for intelligence collection, but had instituted a policy (adopted by the new Bush team) that there could be no certification of Iraq being free of biological, chemical or nuclear weapons, nor normalization of relations, until there was regime change. The approach left little room for a negotiated settlement, paving the way to eventual war.

Follow the Newsweek live tweet of September 11, 2001 (based upon the new book On That Day) starting at 4:45 a.m. EST @Roadto911.

Iran Closes In On A Nuclear Bomb: Daniel 8

Without a Nuclear Deal, How Close Is Iran to a Bomb?


Jonathan Tirone
May 20, 2021, 10:00 PM MDT
Three years after former President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from a landmark nuclear agreement with Iran, Tehran’s government is closer to having the material needed for a nuclear weapon than if the deal had remained in place. Iranians have enriched more uranium to higher levels using more sophisticated technologies than they would otherwise have had access to under a strict monitoring regime. Those developments have led President Joe Biden’s administration to join diplomats from Europe, China and Russia in seeking to revive the 2015 agreement, which reined in Tehran’s atomic program in exchange for relief from economic sanctions.

  1. How close is Iran to making a bomb?

Iran has accumulated enough enriched uranium (meaning it has an increased concentration of the isotope uranium-235) to construct several bombs should its leaders choose to purify the heavy metal to the 90% level typically used in weapons. For the first time, the nation is producing small quantities of highly enriched uranium, purified to levels of 60%, demonstrating that its engineers could quickly move to weapons-grade. International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors report the country has stockpiled more than 3,000 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, which typically has 3%-5% concentration of U-235. That’s 10 times the volume allowed under the 2015 agreement.

Iran’s 5% Enriched Uranium Stockpile

Iran’s low-enriched inventory up 10 fold since Trump broke deal
Source: IAEA data compiled by Bloomberg

  1. Why is enrichment so important?

Obtaining the material necessary to induce atomic fission is the most difficult step in the process of making nuclear power or bombs. Countries need to develop an industrial infrastructure to produce uranium-235 isotopes, which comprise less than 1% of matter in uranium ore but are key to sustaining a fission chain reaction. Thousands of centrifuges spinning at supersonic speeds are used to separate the material. The IAEA keeps track of gram-level changes in uranium inventories worldwide to ensure the material isn’t being diverted for weapons. Whether or not Iran retains the right to enrich uranium has been at the heart of its nuclear conflict with the U.S. for two decades.

Iran’s History of War and Weapons

  1. Did the 2015 deal slow Iran’s progress?

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Yes. The deal was written to ensure that even if it was someday broken, Iran would need at least a year to restore weaponization capacity. Iran forfeited some 97% of its enriched uranium and mothballed three-quarters of the industrial capacity needed to refine the heavy metal. Before the accord, Iran had enough to potentially build more than a dozen bombs. Iran always maintained it was pursuing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, but world powers doubted that claim.

  1. Why did Iran break its part of the agreement?

President Hassan Rouhani waited a year after the Trump administration reimposed sanctions before giving the orders to break the nuclear covenants set out by the accord. Over the last 18 months, Iran has shown it could steadily lift its atomic capacity despite the best efforts of saboteurs and assassins to derail the program.

  1. Can the deal be revived?

Biden promised during his presidential campaign that if Iran returned to compliance with its obligations under the 2015 deal, the U.S. would also return to the deal and lift sanctions. Diplomats bunkered down in Vienna have conducted intensive talks over two months to revive the accord. As of mid-May, they’d made substantial progress and were close to reinstituting the safeguards needed to ensure Iran can’t construct a weapon. Envoys are under pressure to seal a return to the accord before Iran’s presidential election in June, when the outcome is expected to favor political hardliners.

  1. What happens if the agreement is revived?

To return to compliance with the deal’s limits, Iran would have to dramatically reduce uranium stockpiles and sideline much of its enrichment technology. International inspectors would again have full access to places where nuclear material is produced, an important consideration as monitors continue parsing information about the country’s alleged historical weapons-related activities. Iran would win reprieve from sanctions that hamstrung its exports of oil and other economic activities. While some of the nuclear limitations in the deal begin to expire in 2025, diplomats expect follow-on talks to take place that would focus on regional security and Iran’s production of ballistic missiles.

  1. What happens if there’s no deal?

After entering the original deal in 2015, then-President Barack Obama said the alternative might have been a military conflict with major disruptions to the global economy. Over the last three years, the dispute between Washington and Tehran has roiled the wider Middle East, fueling conflicts where Iran and American allies are on opposing sides, with Iran blamed for attacks on shipping in key waterways.

The Beast of the Sea Adds His Insight on Iran: Revelation 13

George W. Bush: ‘Iranian influence’ is behind Hamas attacks on Israel


By Steven Nelson
Former President George W. Bush said in a new interview that Iran helped spur the Hamas terrorist group to attack Israel.

Bush told Fox News that what “you’re seeing playing out is Iranian influence targeted toward Israel.”

“I think the best approach with regard to Iran is to understand that their influence is dangerous for world peace,” he said.

The Republican former commander in chief said “they are very much involved with extremist movements in Lebanon and Syria and Yemen, and they are aiming to spread their influence.”

Hamas is a Palestinian offshoot of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, a Sunni Islamist movement that seeks to infuse religious fundamentalism into government. The US has condemned the group — which has controlled Gaza since 2007 — as a terrorist organization.

Although Iran opposed Sunni extremists in civil wars in Syria and Yemen, it allegedly supports the Palestinian group in fighting common enemy Israel.

The Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah, which is closely linked to Iran, joined the current fighting by firing its own missiles at Israel this week.

Other Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) have speculated that Iran arms Hamas, which launched about 3,750 rockets over nine days from poverty-stricken Gaza toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

McConnell said Iran backs Hamas and “keeps their rocket arsenals full.”

Hamas launched a barrage of missiles into Israel beginning last week after clashes in Jerusalem sparked by an Israeli court decision that ordered the eviction of Palestinian tenants who stopped paying rent in East Jerusalem.

Although Iran’s precise involvement in regional conflicts often is murky, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, Gen. Hossein Salami, said Wednesday that “Tehran backs the Palestinians’ fight against the Zionist regime.”

Salami boasted, “The Palestinians have emerged as a missile-equipped nation.”

Bush, who was president from 2001 to 2009, led the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 and ordered the US invasion of Iraq in 2003, making claims about weapons of mass destruction that turned out to be bogus.

Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading towards Israel on May 18, 20219.
Rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza City heading toward Israel on May 18, 2021.
Photo by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images
US military involvement in the Middle East later divided Republicans, with former President Donald Trump calling the invasion of Iraq one of the worst decisions in US history, in part because it allowed Iran’s influence to expand during a long-running insurgency against US troops.

Bush has rarely commented on political issues since leaving office, but told Foxnews.com that he’s concerned about efforts by the Biden administration to resurrect a nuclear deal with Iran that was brokered under former President Barack Obama. He said a new deal should be “comprehensive.”

“Any deal that is done has got to not only focus on its nuclear capabilities, but also its influence in the Middle East,” Bush said. “And you know, any deal, you’ve got to keep in mind the dangers of an aggressive Iran to our allies, and to stability, so it has to be a comprehensive look.”

Bush also offered support for the Abraham Accords negotiated by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The accords resulted in the recognition of Israel by four Arab countries.

“Once the sit-in settles down, and if those Abraham Accords hold, it will make it easier to establish peace,” Bush said. “But right now, those who don’t want peace are provoking and attacking Israel, and Israel is, of course, responding for national security reasons.”

Iran and the Shi’a Horn: Daniel

Factbox: Iranian influence and presence in Syria

During the last several years, the Iranian military involvement in Syria has grown and become more visible, which has made targeting them an easy job for the Israeli air force. As a result, in 2017-2018, Iran had to find a different approach for its military involvement in order to protect its militias. Iran then began the ambitious plan of redefining its presence in Syria by creating the Local Defense Forces (LDF), supporting specific brigades within the Syrian army and, most recently, establishing local private security companies.

Iranian militias recruitment

Local Militias

Iran encouraged the Shia minority in Syria to form special militias and recruited Sunnis—especially clans—in the provinces of Aleppo, Raqqa, and Deir ez-Zor. In addition, some of the Shia militias in Syria were and continue to be recruited on a sectarian basis under the pretext of defending places considered holy by the Shia community. For example, campaigns are being conducted in the areas housing holy Shia shrines in Damascus in the Sayeda Zeinab district. 

After individuals are recruited, they are sent for about twenty-one to forty-five days of light and medium arms training and sometimes for six months for heavy weapons training. The Syrian militias backed or formed by Iran are divided into several groups.

• National Defense Forces: The formation of the National Defense Forces (NDF) began in 2012 with Iranian guidance and support in the city of Homs. It included members of all sects—Sunnis, Alawites, and Druze—and has headquarters in each province. The NDF was considered the largest Syrian militia in terms of number and outreach, with an estimated forty thousand fighters. Iran demanded that the Syrian regime legitimize these forces like the Shia Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq and integrate them into the Assad regime’s military. In 2016, the regime dismantled the NDF, which forced Iran to fully neglect the militia and focus more on the LDF. It’s worth noting that the Russians started communicating with the NDF in late 2018 in order to integrate them with the Fifth Corp, so as to bring militias and ex-Free Syrian Army into Assad’s military to fight on the battlefronts of Hama, Daraa, and Homs.

• Local Defense Forces: Iran recruited fighters from the provinces of Aleppo, Deir ez-Zor, and Raqqa under the name of the Local Defense Forces (LDF). The LDF are considered part of the Syrian army and have over fifty thousand fighters. The most prominent militias within the framework are considered to be the Nayrab Brigades (Special Operations), al-Sefira Corps, al-Baqir Brigade, the Nubul and Zahra Brigades, and the Qatraji forces. 

• Syrian Shia militias: Iran recruited from the Shia minority in Syria; mainly from northern Aleppo, northern Homs, and parts of Raqqa. The Syrian Shia militias have an estimated five thousand to eight thousand fighters. The most prominent of these militias include: the Aleppo branch of the Imam al-Hajjah, the Mahdi soldiers and the Mahdi Army in Nubul and Zahra, the Damascus branch of the Rukia Brigade, the Idlib branch of the al-Waed al-Sadiq Corps, the Homs branch of the forces of Imam Reza, Zin El Abidin Brigade, the Deir ez-Zor branch of the Brigade 313 Busra al-Sham in Daraa, and Al-Mukhtar Al-Thaqafi Brigade (Lattakia and Hama), among others.  

Foreign Militias

Iran uses several mechanisms to recruit foreign fighters. It employs the ideological factor through its own “Husseiniat Scouts” to recruit Shia volunteers under the motto of “Protecting Shia shrines.” 

Iran also lures fighters to Syria with salaries. For example, every fighter in the Fatemiyoun brigade is given anywhere from $450 to $700 monthly, which makes the militia the highest paid by Iran. For other militias, Iran pays salaries between $200 to $300 and, for local militias, such as Nubl and Zahra Brigades, it gives less than $100 month. The militia salaries are funded from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ (IRGC) budget of approximately $7.6 billion. 

The IRGC and Hezbollah typically train members of these militias in camps in Mashhad, northeastern Iran and then transfer them to Syria either by land through Iraq or by air. When they aren’t sent to Iran, the IRGC can rely on several military bases and camps inside Syria, such as Damascus International Airport, al-Tayfour Airport, Azraa Base, Sayeda Zeinab Base, al-Kaswa Camp, Zabadani Camp, and al-Qusayr Camp. 

• Iraqi militias: Iraqi Shia militias began to appear in Syria at the end of 2012, after Iran directed them to support the Assad regime. Of note are the Zulfiqar Brigade, Abu al-Fadl Abbas Brigade, Asaad Allah al-Ghalib Brigade, the Imam Ali Brigade, and Asayeb Ahl al-Haq Brigade. However, a number of these militias were forced to return to Iraq in mid-2014 to counter the expansion of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), following its takeover of the city of Mosul. 

• Afghan militias: The IRGC recruited Afghan Shia in Iran and Afghanistan and formed the Fatemiyoun Brigade, which began to appear in Syria in November 2012. The brigade has an estimated three thousand to fourteen thousand fighters spread between three battalions in Damascus, Aleppo, and Hama provinces. Some of the leaders of the Fatemiyoun Brigade fought in the Abu Thar Brigade during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war and the Army of Muhammad during the 1979-1989 Soviet-Afghan war.

• Pakistani militias: The IRGC recruited Pakistani Shias and formed the Zaynibion Brigade, which began to appear publicly in Syria in early 2013. The brigade has an estimated one thousand to five thousand fighters deployed in Damascus, Aleppo, Daraa, and Hama provinces. 

• Lebanese militias: Hezbollah intervened early in the Syrian crisis in May 2011. The Lebanese militant group provided training and technical support to security forces and the Syrian army. Hezbollah has also launched field combat missions since 2013 and has an estimated five thousand to eight thousand fighters in Syria. 

Syrian private security companies affiliated with Iran

Before May 2013, the activities of private security companies in Syria were limited to securing shopping malls, banks, and concerts. The growing need for legal armed forces not bound by government regulation led to the issuance of Legislative Decree No. 55: a legal contract that allows militias to operate in Syria and use military force—depending on their contract—thereby allowing these entities to operate freely without needing to report to Assad’s army or security branches.

Iran used private security companies to insert Iranian influence in sensitive Syrian areas, such as the capital, Damascus, without concerns about maintaining this presence in the future, because private security companies are under the guise of a registered Syrian company. Iran found private security to be an ideal way to maintain a presence in strategic locations, like the Baghdad-Damascus highway in the eastern desert of Syria.

Iranian influence and presence beyond the military and security

The Syrian opposition forces’ gains between 2014-2015 was one of Iran’s most important triggers to strengthen its military presence and direct involvement in Syria. Map 2 shows the reality of the current territorial control and influence of Iran, as well as on its local and foreign militias.

As for the Iran-backed foreign militias, the IRGC used a completely different tactic in 2018 to mitigate the risk of Israeli airstrikes. First, it reduced the activity of these militias and used local brokers to work on their behalf, such as the Iraqi Badr Brigade. The militia still maintains three bases in southern Aleppo and near Aleppo international airport. It’s worth noting that all its social media accounts stopped posting about their activity in the area and have since worked under the umbrella of the Syrian LDF.

As the map shows, Iran’s plan was to spread in almost all parts of Syria using a combination of local and foreign militias. The following table explains the actual military strength and involvement of Iran and its allies in Syria in 2020.

The aforementioned Iranian control is no longer limited to military and security presence. Iran’s focus continues to be infiltrating Syrian society and strengthening its presence in the Syrian economic system in order to ensure its survival in Syria—especially in the event that an international agreement is made to neutralize its military presence. The following figures show Iran’s influence and the extent of its military, security, social, and economic control in various Syrian provinces. For example, when it comes to economic control, Iran reactivated the Syrian-Iranian Business Forum in 2018, which played a fundamental role in the spread of Iranian projects in various areas in Syria, mostly focusing on power generation projects.

Iran also works with charitable organizations to better integrate into Syrian society. One of the most significant Iran-backed organizations is Jihad Al-Bina Organization, which focuses mostly on the issue of restoring schools and health centers. The organization is currently active in Deir ez-Zor and Aleppo provinces.

Iran has also recently focused on education outreach, with the number of constructed educational facilities now up to seven, in addition to Iranian cultural centers, which play an important role in spreading Iranian culture in Syrian society. In 2019, Jihad Al-Bina restored sixteen schools in Deir ez-Zor alone. Each had a placard confirming that Iran had supported the operation. Jihad Al-Bina periodically distributes food aid to civilians in an effort to gain loyalty from the local population. During the coronavirus pandemic, Iran established several small medical points in Deir ez-Zor to supply civilians with Vitamin C and surgical masks. Though a minute gesture, many civilians saw the aid as a big deal, while some even saw it as a sign that Iran would never abandon them.

The spread of Iran’s influence in Syria is working accordingly, though not in a fast or clear-cut way. Iran is in Syria for the long term and is taking the time it needs to get results.

Saving the Shi’a oil and wine: Revelation 6

How the Iran-Iraq war shaped oil markets regionally and globally

Napoleon once notably said, “A revolution is an idea which has found its bayonets”. Forty years ago, when Iraqi tanks rolled across the Iranian border on September 22, 1980, after early skirmishes and Iraqi complaints of incursions into disputed border regions, they invited the not yet two year-old Iranian revolution to unsheathe those bayonets. The consequences have shaped the Middle East and the world oil system ever since.

Energy was in the firing line immediately. The oil-rich province of Khuzestan was the main target of Saddam Hussein’s aggression. The giant Agha Jari oil-field and the huge Abadan refinery on the Iranian side of the Shatt Al Arab were immediate targets. Just eight days into the war, Iran bombed and badly damaged the Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad. The Iraqis would attack the under-construction Bushehr nuclear power plant several times during the conflict.

In April 1982, Iran’s ally, Syria, shut down the Iraqi pipeline through its territory to the Mediterranean. With Iraq’s narrow Arabian Gulf frontage also unusable, the country’s oil exports were mostly cut off. They would not revive until a new pipeline through Turkey was finished in 1986. Output, which had hit a record 3.5 million barrels per day in 1979 just before the war, would not exceed that until 2015, under a very different management.

Meanwhile, Iran’s exports, which had collapsed during the revolution, were also hit by air attack. They revived from 1982 but have never come close to regaining the levels of 1973-78 in the last years of the Shah.

During 1984-88, both sides attacked shipping throughout the Gulf in the “Tanker War”, with hundreds of ships damaged. The American and Soviet navies ended up protecting reflagged neutral tankers, and the US involvement marked a major escalation in its direct military presence in the Gulf.

Eventually, the bloody stalemate on the ground and growing disillusionment, the American threat and the 1986 collapse in oil prices, together forced Ayatollah Khomeini to accept a ceasefire in 1988.

The political ramifications were also profound. The demands of national defence allowed the Iranian revolutionaries to consolidate power. Much of the regime’s current paranoia, its attempts at self-sufficiency and its attempts to engage its enemies in the theatres of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen rather than on Iranian soil, stem from the wartime experience.

Today’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei was president for most of the war; current president Hassan Rouhani was on the supreme defence council and an early player in the US’s Iran-Contra scandal. Much of the esprit de corps and personal relationships of the Revolutionary Guards, including men such as former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and foreign expeditionary mastermind Qassem Soleimani, were forged on the battlefields. These have now burgeoned into corrupt business networks that distort the Iranian economy.

The war has three major energy lessons. The first is the great vulnerability of the Middle East’s oil industries to military action. Despite inadequate and uncoordinated deployment of their (for the time) very modern air-forces, both sides inflicted severe tit-for-tat damage on each other’s facilities. Through air, naval and political action, they were able to choke the enemy’s economic lifeline.

The second lesson is the cost of modern warfare, which far outweighs the value of capturing petroleum assets. Iraq emerged with $86 billion (Dh315.8bn) in debt, a ratio to gross domestic product of 278 per cent. With a large and unemployed army, Saddam was tempted to solve his economic problems by bullying his Gulf neighbours to cut production, then to invade Kuwait in 1990, bringing down on Iraq a yet greater catastrophe.

The scars of those two decades of dictatorship, war and sanctions on Iraq’s mutilated economy and politics have never healed. But the George W. Bush administration in 2003 had not learnt the lesson. They expected a swift reconstruction of Iraq’s oil sector after the US invasion, which would contradictorily bankroll the country’s reconstruction and bring down world prices.

Iran has rebuilt better. Its semi-isolation from the world economy, partly by choice, partly because of international and US sanctions, has been detrimental. Yet it has encouraged a rather diversified industrial base and export industry.

The third lesson is the unpredictable and chaotic long-term political and energy market impacts of conflict.

How would the energy world have evolved if Saddam had not launched his war? The early-1980s oil price spike would not have happened. The market to the mid-1980s would then have been much more oversupplied, with both Iran and Iraq pumping at normal levels. Non-Opec production, such as the North Sea, would not have developed as far and fast; the subsequent oil bust might not have been as long and punishing.

Saudi Arabia would have continued to face two strong rivals within Opec – in the case of Iraq, likely a growing one. If the pragmatism of Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the post-war president, had taken hold earlier, Iran might have achieved what it has often promised but not managed, and become a significant gas exporter to its neighbours.

Without the Tanker War intervention and President Bill Clinton’s “dual containment” of the 1990s, the US military build-up in the Gulf, with all its consequences, may not have occurred. The Gulf would have continued to be geopolitically and economically important, and the looming threat of revolutionary Iran’s bayonets would have remained. But the region may not have obsessed military and oil market strategists to the neglect of eastern Europe and east Asia.

Forty years on, these consequences are apparent, even if the counterfactuals must remain speculation. Generations in Iraq and Iran have grown up under the shadow of the human, environmental and financial cost of Saddam’s criminal blunder and Khomeini’s intransigence. Perhaps no other event in human history has so well illustrated the fragility of oil wealth.

Robin M. Mills is chief executive of Qamar Energy and author of The Myth of the Oil Crisis

Updated: September 27, 2020 06:39 PM