Antichrist And US Finally Concur On Something (Rev 13)

Moqtada al-Sadr and Pentagon concur: It’s the wrong name at the wrong time

France 24

You know you’re in trouble when firebrand Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr thinks your operation codename is…well, a bit too firebrand Shiite for his taste.

Yes, it’s true. Scary Sadr, from the scary old Mahdi Army days, has weighed in on the latest debate over the codename given to a military operation to take back ISIS-controlled, Sunni areas of western Iraq.

On Tuesday, the Hashd al-Shaabi — an umbrella for mostly Shiite militias sometimes called the Popular/People’s Mobilization Forces — launched an operation to liberate ISIS-held parts of Iraq’s Sunni heartlands. The codename for the liberating mission, Hashd al-Shaabi spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi told reporters in Iraq, was “Operation Labaik ya Hussein”.

Ya Hussein, what sort of operation name is that for a Shiite force “liberating” their Sunni brothers?

“Labaik ya Hussein” has been translated by many news organizations as “We are at your service, Hussein” although Juan Cole’s version, “Here I am, O Husayn” is probably more accurate.

Hussein (also spelt Husayn or Hussain), one of Shiite Islam’s most revered imams, was the son of Imam Ali and Prophet Muhammad’s daughter, Fatimah Zahra. Hussein’s death during the 7th century Battle of Karbala marked the birth of Islam’s bitter Sunni-Shia divide and it’s an anniversary commemorated across the Shiite world with massive processions featuring paroxysms of grief and self-flagellation accompanied by chants, of which, “Labaik ya Hussein” is a central, rallying cry.

Over the centuries, tomes of theological discourse have been devoted to parsing and interpreting that cry of supplication. In a 2009 speech, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah kicked off a fiery discourse on the signature Shiite chant proclaiming, “The Americans don’t understand what ‘Labaik ya Hussein’ means. They pass over the meaning without knowing the significance of it,” he roared.

But this time, for once, the stupid Americans actually got it. In what is perhaps the biggest understatement of the current anti-ISIS campaign, Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren expressed disappointment at the operation’s codename, calling it “unhelpful”.

Unhelpful? You bet.

A red rag for a wounded bull

Let’s be clear: Sunnis at large are not anti-Hussein. He is, after all, the grandson of the Prophet. They just don’t revere him as much as the Shiites. In the gentler, more tolerant old days — before Saudi-funded Wahabism spread its austere, uncompromising tentacles across the Muslim world — this codename would have been okay.

But today, it’s not — and certainly not in today’s Iraq.

Naming an operation by saber-rattling Shiite militias into the disgruntled Iraqi Sunni heartlands “Labaik ya Hussein” is like waving a red rag at a bull. And this bull, I fear, could charge straight into ISIS’s arms.

ISIS –- or IS or ISIL or Daesh -– of course styles itself as the savior of marginalized Sunnis against the Iran-backed Shiite (and therefore apostate) powers in Baghdad and Damascus. That’s the prime ISIS recruitment card, especially in Iraq. For months now, US military officials having been desperately trying to win back the support of the Sahwa (Awakening) Sunni sheikhs who helped expel al Qaeda before the US pullout from Iraq.

Well, good luck to that effort. Convincing Iraq’s Sunni sheikhs to join “Operation Labaik ya Hussein” is like convincing the IRA to join an Orange march through Northern Ireland.

From great Arab armies to great Arab militias

When he replaced the disastrous Nuri al-Maliki as prime minister last year, Haider al-Abadi represented the hope that his predecessor’s sectarian way of doing business would end and that the new chief would be able to draw his disgruntled Sunni citizenry into the national fold.

But poor Abadi is looking more like the Viceroy of Baghdad than the prime minister of Iraq these days. Of course he would have preferred to rely solely on the Iraqi security forces. But let’s not waste time on that so called, once-great Arab army. US Defense Secretary Ash Carter was dead right in his assessment of the Iraqi security forces showing no will to battle ISIS, White House damage control notwithstanding. I haven’t seen a great Arab army winning any wars in my lifetime. But I hear, from history books, that they once roamed this earth.

These days, we have great Arab militias, which become even more powerful and even more destabilizing with time and battlefield victories.

And that, for Abadi — a suave civilian politician raised in Baghdad’s affluent Karada district by his mother of Lebanese origin before moving to Britain to start an engineering business — is a ticking bomb. The militias could present a threat to Abadi’s authority and if they do, all bets are off on how he will manage or weather that storm.

If Operation Labaik ya Hussein does succeed in liberating Ramadi and other ISIS-held regions, the Hashd al-Shaabi groups could well get even more cocky and triumphant. And we only have to look to Libya to see what happens when cocky, triumphant armed men believe they are national saviors and refuse to go gently into the night.

Maliki, the spoiler of Baghdad

Abadi’s position is further enfeebled by the presence of his predecessor playing spoiler in political and influential Shiite circles.

As journalist Borzou Daragahi noted in the Financial Times, “Abadi may be prime minister of Iraq, but he still does not live in the palace designated for him in the capital’s fortified Green Zone. That is because his predecessor, Nouri al-Maliki, has refused to move out.”

A “high-ranking member of Abdadi’s cabinet” told Daragahi that, “Maliki is opposed to every step the government makes…Deep down he [Maliki] feels he is being betrayed and he has been treated unfairly by everybody.”

This has alarming shades of the power play in another embattled Arab capital being ripped by the increasingly dangerous Sunni-Shia divide.

In the Yemeni capital of Sanaa, ousted autocrat Ali Abdullah Saleh has gone to bed with his old enemy, the Shiite Houthis, in a bid to undermine an already undermined Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is currently cooling his heels in exile in Saudi Arabia.

The longstanding political myth in the Arab world has been that it takes a strongman to govern and hold together these nations. When he was president, Saleh famously defined his job description as “dancing on the heads of snakes”. Hadi has proved to be a lumbering dancer. If Abadi is not able to rein in the Shiite militias and comes off as a well-meaning, urbane nice guy incapable of dancing on snakes or riding the Shiite militia tiger, this does not bode well for the security of Iraq as we once knew it.

As for Hezbollah’s ‘Labaik ya Zainab’

Meanwhile, in neighboring Syria, Hezbollah militants helping President Bashar al-Assad cling to power regularly chant, “Labaik ya Zainab” at the funerals of fellow fighters killed in Syria.

Zainab was Hussein’s sister, who was captured during the Battle of Karbala and taken to Damascus, then seat of Umayyad power and currently home to a magnificent shrine dedicated to the Prophet’s granddaughter. The defense of this Damascene shrine is an important propaganda chip in Hezbollah’s efforts to paint their support for Assad as a pan-Shiite resistance against the Sunnis.

Slogans like “Labaik ya Zainab” and Labaik ya Hussein” are redolent with textual and sub-textual meaning in the Muslim world — as clerics like Hassan Nasrallah and Moqtada al-Sadr know all too well.

So, when Sadr issued a statement Wednesday acknowledging that the latest operation codename “is going to be misunderstood, there is no doubt,” someone should have listened to him.

Sadr even offered alternate mission names such as “Labaik ya Salaheddin” or “Labaik ya Anbar”.

By late Wednesday, the Hashd al-Shaabi had heeded Sadr’s call, if not his alternate brand suggestions. Following complaints of sectarianism from local Anbaris who loudly proclaimed their distrust in paramilitaries that pursue “an Iranian agenda,” the Hashd finally announced a new codename.

Iraqi state TV said the paramilitaries had renamed the campaign “Labaik ya Iraq” with Hashd al-Shaabi spokesman Karim al-Nouri breezily declaring the old and new codenames had “the same meaning.” The matter, according to Nouri, had been settled. “Now we have opted for ‘Iraq’ and there is no problem,” he declared.

Alas, the problem hasn’t disappeared. The name change came too late to assure too many already suspicious Iraqi Sunnis, the damage has been done.

As I said, when the likes of Sadr represent the voices of moderation and inclusion, you know you’re in trouble. Especially since Sadr’s own paramilitary force, Saraya al-Salam, is involved in the Shiite militia fight against ISIS. This in turn underscores the precarious nature of the Hashed al-Shaabi alliance. Right now, there are signs of some competition between the groups. But, as Wednesday’s late name change shows, the alliance is holding together for the most in the joint fight against ISIS. If that cohesion starts to crumble though, and Iraqi Sunni disaffection only mounts, ya Hussein, we’re in for a very bloody period indeed.

The US Should Worry More Than India About ISIS (Dan 8)

India concerned ISIS may get access to Pakistan’s nuclear arms

Singh said if Pak develops technology that enables its submarines to carry nuclear warheads, ‘it would just be a step further in arming its defense services’

Hong Kong: India is concerned that extremist groups such as Islamic State may get their hands on nuclear arms from Pakistan, minister of state for defence Rao Inderjit Singh said.

“With the rise of ISIS in West Asia, one is afraid to an extent that perhaps they might get access to a nuclear arsenal from states like Pakistan,” Singh said on Saturday on the sidelines of the Shangri-La regional security conference in Singapore.

Terrorism has killed more than 50,000 people in Pakistan since 2001 and given rise to concern about the security of its armaments. Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world, according to the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, with an arsenal of 100 to 120 warheads, compared with China’s 250 and India with 90 to 100.

Singh said if Pakistan develops technology that enables its submarines to carry nuclear warheads, “it would just be a step further in arming their defense services.”

India ranked 23rd out of 25 countries in the NTI Nuclear Materials Security Index, only above Iran and North Korea. Pakistan ranked 22nd. Bloomberg

West Coast Prone To Nuclear Attacks (Dan 7)

By DAVID WILLMAN contact the reporter
Two serious technical flaws have been identified in the ground-launched anti-missile interceptors that the United States would rely on to defend against a nuclear attack by North Korea.
Pentagon officials were informed of the problems as recently as last summer but decided to postpone corrective action. They told federal auditors that acting immediately to fix the defects would interfere with the production of new interceptors and slow a planned expansion of the nation’s homeland missile defense system, according to a new report by the Government Accountability Office.
As a result, all 33 interceptors now deployed at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County and Ft. Greely, Alaska, have one of the defects. Ten of those interceptors — plus eight being prepared for delivery this year — have both.
Summing up the effect on missile-defense readiness, the GAO report said that “the fielded interceptors are susceptible to experiencing … failure modes,” resulting in “an interceptor fleet that may not work as intended.”
The flaws could disrupt sensitive on-board systems that are supposed to steer the interceptors into enemy missiles in space.
The GAO report, an annual assessment of missile defense programs prepared for congressional committees, describes the problems in terse, technical terms. Defense specialists interviewed by The Times provided more detail.
The interceptors form the heart of the Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, GMD for short. Four of the massive, three-stage rockets are stationed at Vandenberg and 29 at Ft. Greely.
They would rise out of underground silos in response to an attack. Atop each interceptor is a 5-foot-long “kill vehicle,” designed to separate from its boost rocket in space, fly independently at a speed of 4 miles per second and crash into an enemy warhead — a feat that has been likened to hitting one bullet with another.
The GMD system was deployed in 2004 as part of the nation’s response to Sept. 11, 2001, and a heightened fear of attack by terrorist groups or rogue states. It has cost taxpayers more than $40 billion so far and has been plagued by technical deficiencies.
One of the newly disclosed shortcomings centers on wiring harnesses embedded within the kill vehicles’ dense labyrinth of electronics.
A supplier used an unsuitable soldering material to assemble harnesses in at least 10 interceptors deployed in 2009 and 2010 and still part of the fleet.
The same material was used in the eight interceptors that will be placed in silos this year, according to GAO analyst Cristina Chaplain, lead author of the report.
The soldering material is vulnerable to corrosion in the interceptors’ underground silos, some of which have had damp conditions and mold. Corrosion “could have far-reaching effects” because the “defective wiring harnesses” supply power and data to the kill vehicle’s on-board guidance system, said the GAO report, which is dated May 6.
When Boeing Co., prime contractor for the GMD system, informed government officials of the problem last summer, they did not insist upon repair or replacement of the defective harnesses, according to the report.
Instead, Missile Defense Agency officials “assessed the likelihood for the component’s degradation in the operational environment as low and decided to accept the component as is,” the report said.
The decision minimized delays in producing new interceptors, “but increased the risk for future reliability failures,” the report said.
Chaplain told The Times that based on her staff’s discussions with the Missile Defense Agency, officials there have “no timeline” for repairing the wiring harnesses.
The agency encountered a similar problem with wiring harnesses years earlier, and the supplier was instructed not to use the deficient soldering material. But “the corrective actions were not passed along to other suppliers,” according to the GAO report.
L. David Montague, co-chairman of a National Academy of Sciences panel that reviewed operations of the Missile Defense Agency, said officials should promptly set a schedule for fixing the harnesses.
“The older they are with that kind of a flawed soldering, the more likely they are to fail,” Montague, a former president of missile systems for Lockheed Corp., said in an interview.
The second newly disclosed defect involves a component called a divert thruster, a small motor intended to help maneuver the kill vehicles in flight. Each kill vehicle has four of them.
The GAO report refers to “performance issues” with the thrusters. It offers few details, and GAO auditors declined to elaborate, citing a fear of revealing classified information. They did say that the problem is different from an earlier concern that the thruster’s heavy vibrations could throw off the kill vehicle’s guidance system.
The report and interviews with defense specialists make clear that problems with the divert thruster have bedeviled the interceptor fleet for years. To address deficiencies in the original version, Pentagon contractors created a redesigned “alternate divert thruster.”
The government planned to install the new version in many of the currently deployed interceptors over the next few years and to retrofit newly manufactured interceptors, according to the GAO report and interviews with its authors.
That plan was scrapped after the alternate thruster, in November 2013, failed a crucial ground test to determine whether it could withstand the stresses of flight, the report said. To stay on track for expanding the fleet, senior Pentagon officials decided to keep building interceptors with the original, deficient thruster.
The GAO report faulted the Missile Defense Agency, an arm of the Pentagon, for “omitting steps in the design process” of the alternate thruster in the rush to deploy more interceptors. The skipped steps would have involved a lengthier, more rigorous vetting of the new design, defense specialists said. The report said the omission contributed to the 2013 test failure.
All 33 interceptors now deployed have the original, defective thruster. The eight interceptors to be added to the fleet this year will contain the same component, GAO officials told The Times.
The missile agency currently “does not plan to fix” those thrusters, despite their “known performance issues,” said the GAO report.
Contractors are continuing to work on the alternate thruster, hoping to correct whatever caused the ground-test failure. The first test flight using the alternate thruster is scheduled for late this year.
The GAO had recommended that the Pentagon postpone integrating the eight new interceptors into the fleet until after that test. Defense Department officials rebuffed the recommendation, the report said.
In a response included in the report, Assistant Secretary of Defense Katharina G. McFarland wrote that delaying deployment of the new interceptors “would unacceptably increase the risk” that the Pentagon would fall short of its goal of expanding the GMD system from 33 interceptors to 44 by the end of 2017.
Asked for comment on the report, a spokesman for the Missile Defense Agency, Richard Lehner, said in a statement that officials “have in place a comprehensive, disciplined program to improve and enhance” the GMD system “regarding the issues noted by the GAO.”
“We will continue to work closely with our industry partners to ensure quality standards are not only met, but exceeded,” the statement said.
Boeing declined to comment.
The GMD system is designed to repel a “limited” missile attack by a non-superpower adversary, such as North Korea. The nation’s defense against a massive nuclear assault by Russia or China still relies on “mutually assured destruction,” the Cold War notion that neither country would strike first for fear of a devastating counterattack.
GMD’s roots go back to the Clinton administration, when concern began to mount over the international spread of missile technology and nuclear development programs. In 2002, President Bush ordered “an initial set of missile defense capabilities” to be put in place within two years to protect the U.S.
To accelerate deployment, then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld exempted the missile agency from the Pentagon’s standard procurement rules and testing standards.
Engineers trace the system’s difficulties to the breakneck pace at which components were produced and fielded. In precisely scripted flight tests above the Pacific, interceptors have failed to hit mock-enemy warheads about half the time.
As a result, the missile agency projects that four or five interceptors would have to be fired at any single enemy warhead, according to current and former government officials. Under this scenario, a volley of 10 enemy missiles could exhaust the entire U.S. inventory of interceptors.
The Obama administration, after resisting calls for a larger system, pledged two years ago to increase the number of interceptors to 44. Both Republicans and Democrats in Congress have pushed for further expansion. The House this month passed a bill authorizing $30 million to plan and design a site for interceptors on the East Coast. The White House called the move “premature.”

Playing Cards With Esau (Genesis 28)

Kerry and Iranian Policy

Kerry and Iranian Policy

Why the Long-Term Fate of an Iran Nuclear Deal Rests With . . . IranBy STEPHEN SESTANOVICH

May 29, 2015 3:59 PM

When 47 Republican senators wrote to Iran’s supreme leader in March, warning that future Congresses and presidents could reverse a deal between Iran and the Obama administration, many people criticized their letter. For some, it was bad taste; for others, bad politics. But was it bad analysis? Politico has published a related piece by two former George W. Bush administration officials, Eric Edelman and Robert Joseph, and my Council on Foreign Relations colleague (and fellow WSJ Think Tank contributor) Ray Takeyh. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei should read what they say. With just a month left for negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program, the long-term viability of any agreement could depend on it.

Mr. Edelman, Mr. Joseph, and Mr. Takeyh look to history to explore how and when U.S. presidents renounce arms-control deals that their predecessors negotiated. They find three relevant cases: the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty (from which George W. Bush withdrew in 2001), the 1979 SALT-II treaty (which Ronald Reagan said in 1986 that he would stop observing), and the 1994 Agreed Framework With North Korea (which the U.S. repudiated in the face of Pyongyang’s cheating in 2002).

Clearly, the United States does rethink the pros and cons of existing agreements. But the real lesson for Ayatollah Khamenei is not that Washington is an unreliable partner. It’s that the fate of a deal depends primarily on Iran—and whether it is a reliable partner.

Look at what finally undid these agreements. Reagan didn’t like the SALT-II treaty but observed it for more than five years. Ultimately, Soviet cheating gave opponents of the treaty a trump card. Mr. Bush, too, would have stuck with a North Korea deal that he didn’t like, but Kim Jong Il made that impossible. In the late 1990s, Russian negotiators rejected a stream of U.S. ideas to adjust the ABM treaty to a world of new ballistic-missile threats. Had Moscow reacted differently, there might still be a treaty.

The message for Iran’s supreme leader? As he tells his diplomats how to handle the last phase of talks, he should know that the one factor most likely to trigger U.S. withdrawal, now or later, is doubt about the other side’s good faith. Washington can live for a long time with agreements it doesn’t like, but fears of cheating are hard to put to rest. (That’s why Saddam Hussein is no longer running Iraq.)

News reports suggest that Iranian negotiators have been instructed to haggle endlessly about what inspectors will be allowed to do and see. Tehran may well make it easier to keep some things hidden. But if it does, chances are that somewhere down the road an American president is going to reconsider the deal.

Stephen Sestanovich, a professor at Columbia University and senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, is the author of “Maximalist: America in the World From Truman to Obama.” He is on Twitter: @ssestanovich.

The connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons


Two connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons

Dot Sulock, OPINION
8 hours ago

Nuclear fission can produce heat to boil water, produce steam, turn a turbine and make electricity. Nuclear fission occurs when a neutron splits an atom into smaller atoms, releasing extra neutrons. These extra neutrons, under the right circumstances, can split other nearby atoms, causing a chain reaction to occur. This process is controlled in a nuclear reactor and the heat released from fission boils the water instead of boiling the water by burning coal or natural gas. The fission process is better for the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels.

Using nuclear fission to produce electricity has a few problems that won’t be discussed today: Chance of catastrophic accident, risk of terrorist attack on a reactor, risk of attack on a reactor in war, heavy need for water for cooling, high costs, and waste disposal issues connected to the long-lived, lethally radioactive waste produced during the fission process.

Today I want to point out that exporting nuclear power to other parts of the world may make money for America’s nuclear corporations, but is a bad idea if we are seeking a sustainable world. The reason exporting nuclear power is a bad idea is that nuclear power is always connected to nuclear weapons in two ways.

First is the input connection. The isotopes that fission in ordinary reactors are U-235. U-235 has three less neutrons than U-238 and it fissions, whereas U-238 does not fission. Uranium in the ground is more than 99 percent U-238 and less than 1 percent U-235. But ordinary reactors need about 5 percent U-235 in their fuel to make the fission go.

Something called “enrichment” is done producing reactor fuel. Enrichment increases the 1 percent U-235 in mined uranium to 5 percent U-235 reactor fuel. So far so good.

But here’s the bad news. If a nation keeps enriching, it can increase the percentage of U-235 to 80 percent or so and now the material will fission so quickly that it is an atomic bomb. The atomic bomb that we exploded over Hiroshima, Japan, had highly enriched uranium as its explosive material. So a nation that can enrich to reactor fuel levels can enrich to weapons grade.

The second connection between nuclear power and nuclear weapons is the output connection. The other fissile material that can be used for atomic bombs is plutonium. Plutonium doesn’t exist naturally. Plutonium is produced in nuclear reactors. When the reactor fuel no longer fissions well after several years, the spent fuel is removed and fresh fuel is put into the reactor. Each commercial nuclear reactor producing electricity has produced enough plutonium for about 45 atomic bombs every year. This plutonium is in the spent fuel of the reactor and can be removed from it. Removing the plutonium from the spent fuel is called “reprocessing.” Reprocessing must be done by robots because the spent fuel is deadly radioactive for humans. The atomic bomb that we exploded over Nagasaki, Japan, had plutonium as its explosive material.

So nuclear power doesn’t make clean, green electricity. Nuclear power is dangerous, expensive, and always connected to nuclear weapons. Why, then, do so many nations seek nuclear power? Perhaps because of the nuclear power/nuclear weapons connections. Right now the Nonproliferation Treaty prohibits the nations that belong to it from developing nuclear weapons if they don’t already have them. But if this treaty falls apart some time in the future, nations with nuclear technology already in place will be able to develop nuclear weapons quickly. And the treaty permits nations to withdraw from it, as North Korea has already done. So if a nation decides to use its “peaceful” nuclear technologies to develop nuclear weapons, it can withdraw from the Nonproliferation treaty.

In parting I would like to point out that the mission of the International Atomic Energy Agency should be changed. The IAEA promotes nuclear power around the world, which ultimately endangers human civilization. The mission of the IAEA needs to be changed.

Dorothy Sulock lives in Asheville.

The Nuclear House of Saud (Dan 7:7)


Nuclear Saudi Arabia: Rising ambitions of the House of Saud

Catherine Shakdam is a political analyst, writer and commentator for the Middle East with a special focus on radical movements and Yemen.

Get short URL Published time: May 29, 2015 10:51

Saudi Arabia’s seemingly ever-expanding ambitions threaten now to draw the region and the world
closer to the edge of a dangerous precipice as it seeks to buy out Pakistan’s nuclear power.

Just as Iran and the P5+1 are set to finalize a tentative nuclear deal by June’s end, offering the world a much-needed respite from talks of war and aggravated political tensions, Saudi Arabia is stretching its nuclear ambitions.

The most violent, reactionary and arguably most oppressive regime, in not just the region but the world, is now has ambitions to rise to a nuclear power. It is actually much worse than that – the very state which interpretation of Islam, Wahhabism, has inspired an entire generation of radical wannabe jihadists is vying for access to nuclear weapons.

If Iran’s alleged nuclear race was mainly the expression of western political posturing – even Mossad agreed that both Washington’s and Tel Aviv’s concerns have been largely over-hyped and over-played – Riyadh’s ambition is no laughing matter, especially when the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) leadership boasted a similar desire.

Although the kingdom has yet to officially verbalize its nuclear intentions, enough breadcrumbs have been left in the media to spell the writing on the wall. In true PR fashion, Saudi Arabia has planted a sufficient amount of stories on its “covert” nuclear program and military aspirations in the press to prove how serious its officials are about conditioning public opinion and driving the narrative.

The main axis of Riyadh’s campaign has been and will be to justify going nuclear on the basis that Iran stands a regional threat – however unfounded and ludicrous this logic may be, wars have been fought over less sophisticated allegations. We’re still looking for those weapons of mass destruction.

Beyond this clever media stunt, one truth remains – unless stopped Saudi Arabia will become the next world nuclear power, joining Israel (believed to possess nukes) in this potentially-apocalyptic arm race.

Rumors of a forthcoming Saudi nuclear race first surfaced in November 2013 in a report by Mark Urban for the BBC. The article read, “Saudi Arabia has invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects, and believes it could obtain atomic bombs at will, a variety of sources have told BBC Newsnight.”

If developing a nuclear arsenal remains a complicated and time consuming endeavor, notwithstanding the technological prowess that entails, leeching on another power’s capability – Pakistan in this case – could prove as simple as wiring money to an offshore account. What Saudi Arabia lacks, it will buy. There is literally nothing Al-Saud’s petrodollars cannot acquire: from political support to moral blank checks, the kingdom moves immune to all criticism and legal hindrance, cloaked under America’s exceptionalism.

After Western powers took so much pain in demonizing Iran and its leadership, painting the Islamic Republic as a devilish warmonger, a destroyer of world which only seeks to indoctrinate the Middle East, how will Washington and Europe’s capitals react to a nuclear Riyadh? They simply won’t!

Unlike Iran, Saudi Arabia remains a useful and ever so rich western ally, and therefore it will be allowed the means of its ambitions. Whatever rumors and reports are circulating today have long been known to the intelligence community. The US actually anticipated Riyadh’s move long before Iran’s own program became such a contentious matter.

For almost a decade now, the Saudis have more and more openly staked their claim, pushing their pawns across the chess game without bothering to cover their tracks.

In 2007, the US mission in Riyadh noted they were being asked questions by Pakistani diplomats about US knowledge of “Saudi-Pakistani nuclear cooperation.”  By 2012, Saudi officials went to the Times warning, “it would be completely unacceptable to have Iran with a nuclear capability and not the kingdom.”

From that point on, Riyadh has worked toward that goal, using Iran as both an excuse and an alibi.

Reportedly, Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi defense minister and deputy crown prince, is currently visiting Pakistan to iron out the details of this covert nuclear deal. In hindsight, Yemen’s war proves a perfect and all too suspiciously timely distraction.

And though a Saudi Defense Ministry official dismissed in comments to CNN on May 19 that the kingdom intends to purchase Pakistan A-bombs, experts like Stephen Lendman, a veteran political analyst and acclaimed author are not biting.

Looking at developments in the region, Saudi Arabia’s nuclear aspirations are not a figment of the imagination, but rather an affirmation of the kingdom’s new hawkish stance vis a vis foreign policy. Unlike his predecessor, King Abdullah ibn Saud, King Salman ibn Saud is no longer waiting for Washington to call the shots – it is drawing its ally in.

If the last ‘missed’ meeting at Camp David is anything to go by, it appears rather evident that Salman’s snub was more than just a political play; it could prelude deeper ideological divergences, especially where foreign policy is concerned. Syria remains a sour point the kingdom has yet to get over.

Where it could not intervene militarily as it wished against Syrian President Bashar Assad, Saudi Arabia might seek to compensate vis a vis Iran by acquiring the weapon of all weapons.

In any case and whatever rationale Riyadh is following, a nuclear arm race in the Middle East can only end in more bloodshed and violence, especially when the IS army is planning its second expansionist wave.

Suspicious minds would even argue that Saudi Arabia’s nuclear timing oddly overlaps with IS’ allegations that it’s now “infinitely” closer to buying a nuclear weapon. In an article titled ‘The Perfect Storm’, in the latest issue of ISIS’ monthly English propaganda magazine, Dabiq, the terror group presents the idea that IS could purchase nuclear weapons from corrupt Pakistani officials, by way of militants in Islamic State’s affiliated Pakistani militia group.

Another Bush Lie: The Surge (Rev 13:18)


Jihad, the Failed ‘Surge,’ and the Abandonment of Iraq’s Non-Muslim Minorities

Don’t just blame Obama’s Iraq withdrawal. Even post-“Surge,” support for the slaughter of “infidels” was as strong as ever.

by Andrew G. Bostom
May 29, 2015 – 8:18 am

General Daniel P. Bolger’s Why We Lost — A General’s Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars is a sobering read. Bolger went from a one- to a three-star general in Iraq and then Afghanistan, and once commanded 20,000 troops in Baghdad. He served eight years in these war zones, between 2005 to 2013. Bolger characterized (on p. 256) the much ballyhooed 2007 Iraq “surge,” at its tactical conclusion, thusly:

The casualty and hostile attack rates went down in the fall of 2007, never again to rise to their previous heights, at least during the remaining years of the American campaign. But the fighting never stopped either. It lingered, a third of the previous rate, but that was no comfort to those who fell, killed or wounded, or to their families. Al-Qaeda in Iraq, unrepentant Sunni rejectionists, surly Sadrists [Shiite followers of Muqtada al-Sadr], and Iranian handlers all kept their pieces on the board. As long as the occupiers remained, there would be attacks. As long as Iraq was Iraq, violence remained part of the picture.

Gen. Bolger elaborated on these sentiments in a November 2014 op-ed, while exploding the standard mythical trope about how the alleged “decisively victorious” troop surge — with irony, repeatedly dubbed “fragile and reversible” by its putative architect, General Petraeus — was “squandered” by the Obama administration’s policies:

Here’s a legend that’s going around these days. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq and toppled a dictator. We botched the follow-through, and a vicious insurgency erupted. Four years later, we surged in fresh troops, adopted improved counterinsurgency tactics and won the war. And then dithering American politicians squandered the gains. It’s a compelling story. But it’s just that — a story.

The surge in Iraq did not “win” anything. It bought time. It allowed us to kill some more bad guys and feel better about ourselves. But in the end, shackled to a corrupt, sectarian government in Baghdad and hobbled by our fellow Americans’ unwillingness to commit to a fight lasting decades, the surge just forestalled today’s stalemate. Like a handful of aspirin gobbled by a fevered patient, the surge cooled the symptoms. But the underlying disease didn’t go away. The remnants of al-Qaida in Iraq and the Sunni insurgents we battled for more than eight years simply re-emerged this year as the Islamic State, also known as ISIS.

With sad predictability, one never sees General Bolger on Fox News, nor is it likely he will be advising any of the burgeoning group of Republican contestants for the 2016 presidential nomination. But there are a litany of even more important topics for discussion regarding the ongoing sectarian Iraq morass that are never broached by either Fox News or the Republican presidential hopefuls.
When President George W. Bush announced the “surge” in 2007, he maintained the overall objectives for this great expenditure of precious U.S. blood and treasure were to establish a “unified, democratic federal Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and sustain itself, and is an ally in the War on Terror.”

Any rational post-mortem indicates none of those goals were achieved, from either an Iraqi or U.S. perspective, even in the near term, let alone chronically. Before the surge wound down in June 2008 — but at the height of its alleged “success” — a March 2008 poll from Iraq found that 42% of Iraqis labeled attacks on U.S. forces acceptable, and only 4% believed that U.S. forces were responsible for the transient decline in violence.

The poll also indicated that 63% (total) maintained that the presence of U.S. troops in Iraq was actually worsening (26%), or had not improved (37%) the security situation.

In July 2008, both Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki and Iraqi National Security Advisor Muwaffaq Al-Rubaie sought a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops. As Gen. Bolger’s lucid account reminds us, the November 17, 2008 Bush administration “Agreement Between the United States and the Republic of Iraq on the Withdrawal of U.S. Forces from Iraq and the Organization of Their Activities During Their Temporary Presence in Iraq” made requisite the full U.S. withdrawal by December 31, 2011, and an interim removal of American units from city and village localities by June 20, 2009.

Furthermore, this same Bush administration-negotiated SOFA (status of forces agreement) with our “Iraqi allies,” per Article 27, paragraph 4 (“Iraqi land, sea and air shall not be used as a launching or transit point for attacks against other countries.”) prohibited the U.S. from attacking, for example, Iranian nuclear production facilities or improvised explosive device factories from Iraqi bases and airspace.

A cursory, incomplete tally of murderous sectarian Sunni-Shiite car bombings in Iraq for the four years after the surge — June 2008 through June 2012 – reveals at least 65 attacks leaving 2000 dead and two- to threefold that number injured, many seriously. More importantly, then Iraqi President Talabani attended an Orwellian counter-terrorism conference in Tehran (June 25–26, 2011), just six months before the withdrawal of U.S. forces.

Our Iraqi “ally” failed to object to the conference agitprop of their Iranian hosts “defining” the United States and Israel as the primary sources of global terrorism. Further:

In his meeting with Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, [Iran’s Supreme Theocrat Leader] Khamenei said that U.S. power in the Middle East had declined, and that this fact should be taken advantage of against the U.S. Talabani replied that the Iraqis were united in their opposition to the ongoing U.S. pres­ence in their country, and likewise asked for Iranian assistance.

On August 14, 2007, when the surging U.S. had 166,000 troops on the ground in Iraq — not the mere one-fifth (or one-tenth) residual numbers pined for by those who insist the failure to secure a 2011 status of forces agreement with the al-Maliki regime sealed the undoing of Iraq’s “stability” — 796 Yazidis were slaughtered and another 1562 wounded in one day during four gruesomely synchronized jihadist bombings. (See here and here, and here for U.S. Army confirmation of the death toll.) Veteran Middle East journalist Tom Gross provided this characterization of the events:

[T]wo tons of explosives detonated in four coordinated explosions in the northern Iraqi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera on August 14, 2007, the target was Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic and religious minority. 796 people died and over 1,500 were wounded as a fireball led to the collapse of mud and stone buildings on families trapped inside; many were then burned alive.

The endless critiques of Obama administration policy failures in Iraq last summer (see Krauthammer on Fox News; Hegseth in National Review Online) revealed a glaring lacuna in honest, self-critical discourse by omitting all discussion of the “mid-surge” Yazidi catastrophe. Such warped analyses were pathognomonic of a broader, much more disturbing ethical and intellectual travesty: ongoing attempts by mainstream conservatives to rationalize their uninformed, witless adherence to the utopian “(Bernard) Lewis doctrine”-inspired “Islamic democracy” fiasco in Iraq.

The successful post-World War II paradigm of neutralizing Japan’s bellicose, religio-political creed of Shintoism has been turned on its head with regard to Islam and the theocratic Islamic legal code Sharia, which is imbued with jihad and completely antithetical to modern human rights constructs.

Despite the proven, concrete success of the post-World War II reforms in Japan, past intellectual honesty on Shinto was replaced by craven, politically correct ignorance on Islam in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, as championed by a callow American pseudo-scholastic apologist for Islam’s Sharia, who evangelized for “Islamic Democracy,” Sharia-compliant Iraqi and Afghan constitutions were crafted (and of course extolled by this same “scholar,” here and here).

Born of willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of the Petraeus “COIN” theory, a see-no-jihad, see-no-Islam military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.

Antichrist’s Men Advance On Ramadi (Rev 13:18)

Shiite Fighters Advance on ISIS Millitants in Ramadi, Iraq

May 24, 2015 11:12 AM

Shi’ite Muslim militiamen and Iraqi army forces launched a counter-offensive against the so-called Islamic State insurgents near Ramadi on Saturday, a militia spokesman said, aiming to reverse potentially devastating gains by the fake jihadi militants.

The fall of Ramadi, the Anbar provincial capital, to the so-called Islamic State on May 17 could be a shattering blow to Baghdad’s weak central government. The fake jihadis now control most of Anbar and could threaten the western approaches to Baghdad, or even surge south into Iraq’s Shi’ite heartland.

Anbar provincial council member Azzal Obaid said hundreds of Shi’ite fighters, who had assembled last week at the Habbaniya air base, moved into Khalidiya on Saturday and were nearing Siddiqiya and Madiq, towns in contested territory near Ramadi.

Two police officers later said that the pro-government forces, which they said included locally allied Sunni tribesmen, had advanced past those towns to within one kilometer of Husaiba al-Sharqiya, an ISIS-run town 7 kilometers (4 miles) east of the Ramadi city limits.

One officer said the Shi’ite-led forces exchanged fire with ISIS but there was no immediate word on casualties.

Jaffar Husseini, spokesman for Shi’ite paramilitary group Kataib Hezbollah, said more than 2,000 reinforcements had joined the pro-government advance and they had managed to secure Khalidiya and the road linking it to Habbaniya.

“Today will witness the launch of some tactical operations that pave the way to the eventual liberation of Ramadi,” he told Reuters by telephone.

At the same time, ISIS units have been pushing toward Fallujah to try to absorb more territory between it and Ramadi that would bring them closer to Baghdad, the Iraqi capital, around 80 km (50 miles) to the east.

ISIS has controlled Fallujah for more than a year.

Ramadi’s loss is the most serious setback for Iraqi forces in almost a year and has cast doubt on the effectiveness of the U.S. strategy of air strikes to help Baghdad roll back ISIS, which now holds a third each of Iraq and adjacent Syria.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, a Shi’ite, sent Shi’ite paramilitary groups out to Anbar to try to retake Ramadi despite the risk of inflaming tensions with the province’s aggrieved, predominantly Sunni population.

But he had little choice given the poor morale and cohesion within government security forces.

A U.N. spokesman said on Friday that some 55,000 people have fled Ramadi since it was stormed by ISIS earlier this month, with most taking refuge in other parts of Anbar, a vast desert province that borders on Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

In Syria, ISIS fighters raised their flag over an ancient citadel in the historic city of Palmyra, pictures posted online overnight by the group’s supporters showed.

The militants seized Palmyra, known as Tadmur in Arabic and strategically significant with nearby natural gas fields and roads leading southwest to Damascus, on Wednesday after days of heavy fighting with the Syrian army.

“Tadmur citadel under the control of the caliphate,” read a caption on one picture posted on social media sites. In another, a smiling fighter is shown carrying the group’s black flag and standing on one of the citadel’s walls.

It was not possible to verify the images’ authenticity.

U.S.-led coalition forces have conducted a further 22 air strikes on ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria since Friday, including near Ramadi and Palmyra, the U.S. military said.

Palmyra is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site, and Syria’s antiquities chief has said the insurgents would destroy its 2,000-year-old ruins, including well-preserved Roman temples, colonnades and a theater, if they took control of them. While hundreds of statues have been taken to safe locations, there are fears for larger monuments that cannot be moved.

The so-called Islamic State destroyed ancient monuments and antiquities they see as idolatrous in areas of Iraq they captured last year.

Supporters have also posted videos they say show the group’s fighters going room to room in government buildings in Palmyra searching for government troops and pulling down pictures of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his father.

Some activists have said more than 200 Syrian soldiers died in the battle for the city in the center of Syria.

Axis Of Evil? (Dan 8)


A dissident group says Iran and North Korea are forging nuclear ties


MAY 28, 2015, 3:29 AM 494 1

PARIS (Reuters) – An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday a delegation of North Korean experts in nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles visited a military site near Tehran in April amid talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program.

The dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz and a heavy water facility at Arak in 2002. But analysts say it has a mixed track record and a clear political agenda. Iran says allegations of nuclear bomb research are baseless and forged by its enemies.

Iran and six world powers are trying to meet a self-imposed June 30 deadline to reach a comprehensive deal, but issues remain including the monitoring and verification measures to ensure Iran could not pursue a clandestine nuclear weapons program.

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said the seven person North Korean Defence Ministry team were in Iran for the last week of April. It was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

“The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems,” NCRI said.

There have previously been unconfirmed reports of ties between the two countries on ballistic missile cooperation, although nothing specific in the nuclear field.

The U.N. Panel of Experts that monitors compliance with sanctions on North Korea has reported in the past that Pyongyang and Tehran were regularly exchanging ballistic missile technology in violation of U.N. sanctions.

The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site controlled by the Defence Ministry, east of Tehran. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.

It said the delegation dealt with the Centre for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research and planning center called the Organisation of Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND), which is under United States sanctions. NCRI said the unit researches and manufactures interior parts of nuclear warheads.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process,” NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.

U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has been investigating alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. Iranian officials declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.

Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.

North Korean and Iranian officials meet regularly in general diplomatic activity, although on April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.

(Additional reporting by Louis Charbonneau at the United Nations, Parisa Hafezi in Ankara and James Pearson in Seoul; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

Republicans Want You to Forget Bush (Rev 13:10)


Republicans Want You to Forget Why Sending Troops Back to Iraq Is a Terrible Idea

Bob Burnett Berkeley writer, retired Silicon Valley executive

As the Republican presidential demolition derby continues, the 2016 GOP candidates have settled on two central themes: hatred for President Barack Obama and desire to send U.S. troops back to Iraq to fight ISIS. While Republicans suffer from short-term memory loss, there’s no reason the rest of us should forget what actually happened in Iraq and why sending troops back there is a terrible idea.

1. The Iraq War was a ghastly mistake.

Most political observers now believe the March 20, 2003, invasion of Iraq was the worst foreign policy decision in U.S. history.

The Bush White House had three reasons for invading Iraq. First, the invasion diverted the public’s attention from the failed campaign in Afghanistan, where Dubya’s people hadn’t captured Osama bin Laden or any of the others responsible for 9/11. In a March 13, 2002, news conference, Bush blurted, “I don’t know where [Osama bin Laden] is… I truly am not that concerned about him.”

Because the 2002 mid-term elections were coming, Republicans needed positive momentum on their “war” on terror. They shifted America’s focus from Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda in Afghanistan/Pakistan to Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

During the first quarter of 2002 the Bush White House decided to invade Iraq. Then Vice President Dick Cheney began asserting that Iraq had nuclear weapons. In June, Karl Rove and other GOP political operatives said the Republican mid-term election strategy was “war and the economy.” Dubya and his pals hated Saddam Hussein because he had once attempted to kill George Bush Senior. As a consequence, the Bush Administration fed Americans a series of lies about Iraq: Saddam Hussein was connected to Al Qaeda, had helped plan the 9/11 attacks, and had “weapons of mass destruction.”

2. The Iraq War cost $4 trillion plus.

The Bush Administration vastly underestimated the cost of the invasion. On September 16, 2002, White House adviser Lawrence Lindsey estimated an Iraq War would cost $200 billion. (On July 2, 2002, White House adviser Richard Perle observed, “Iraq is a very wealthy country [with] enormous oil reserves. They can finance… reconstruction of their own country.”) On November 8, 2002, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld predicted the length of an Iraq War: “Five days or five weeks or five months. It certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”

The Iraq War lasted more than eight years (from March 20, 2003, to December 18, 2011.) In March of 2008, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz released a study estimating war cost as more than $3 trillion. (In current estimates the war will cost “$4 trillion to $6 trillion.”) This includes not only the direct costs of the war but also the interest on the money borrowed to finance the war plus the “medical care and disability benefits to about 70,000 soldiers injured in the conflict.”

To put “$4 trillion to $6 trillion” in perspective, the U.S. debt is estimated at $18 trillion. Guaranteeing every American a basic income at the poverty level is estimated to cost $2.1 trillion annually. (The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of Obamacare over ten years [2016-2025] to be $1.2 trillion.)

3. The Iraq war was mismanaged.

It’s no secret that George W. Bush was a failed businessman. In the 2000 campaign, Republicans attempted to shield Dubya by claiming he would be surrounded by seasoned managers, such as Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld. But the reality is that Cheney and Rumsfeld were also failed managers, who made a series of awful decisions.

Not enough troops were sent into Iraq. As a result the immediate result of the fall of the Saddam Hussein government was widespread looting and unnecessary damage to the civil infrastructure. Instead of turning control of Iraqi civil society over to Iraqis, the Bush Administration formed the Coalition Provisional Authority. In May of 2003, L. Pail Bremer, CEO of the Provisional Authority disbanded the ruling Ba’ath Party (and banned members from future employment in the public sector — effectively firing all educated teachers) and the army. This alienated most Iraqis, particularly Sunnis.

4. A bad U.S. management team installed a bad Iraqi management team. 

Following the dissolution of the Coalition Provisional Authority, the U.S. installed a Shiite, Nouri al-Maliki, as prime minister (who served from 2006-2014). Al-Maliki, a Shiite, systematically repressed the already repressed Sunnis. He, in effect, spawned ISIS.

5. In 2011, the Iraqi management team we installed asked us to leave the country.

As Time magazine explained at the time: “ending the U.S. troop presence in Iraq was an overwhelmingly popular demand among Iraqis, and Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appears to have been unwilling to take the political risk of extending it.” Obama wanted to leave troops in Iraq but al-Maliki fought this by insisting on an unacceptable State of Forces agreement.

In summary, Republicans, and their progeny, are responsible for every piece of the Iraq debacle. Now they are asking us to forget that.