The Shia Horn Rises With Great Rage (Daniel 8:4)

By Ben Brumfield, Yousuf Basil and Catherine E. Shoichet, CNN
Updated 6:01 PM ET, Sun January 3, 2016 | Video Source: CNN
Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister said Sunday that his country is severing ties with Iran. Iranian diplomats in Saudi Arabia have 48 hours to leave the country, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters.
The two countries have long been at odds, but Saudi Arabia’s execution of Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr Saturday kicked off a new round of sparring between them that analysts say could mark a dangerous shift in an already volatile region.
“I think you’re going to see a period of very harsh rhetoric, and the cutting of diplomatic ties comes at a very bad time. … This is Saudi Arabia saying, ‘The gloves are off,’ ” said Bobby Ghosh, a CNN global affairs analyst and managing editor of Quartz.
That attack came after Saturday’s execution of al-Nimr, a fervent dissident against the Sunni Muslim Saudi royal family who called for their deposal during the Arab spring uprisings in 2011.
Later that night, in predominantly Shia Iran, Molotov cocktails smashed into the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Protesters shouted as it caught fire. Some went inside and ransacked offices.
Saudi anti-terror coalition challenges U.S. role in Middle East
Severing ties was a last resort, a source familiar with Saudi Arabia’s decision said, because Saudi Arabia views Iran’s behavior as unacceptable and feels no country is doing anything to counter it.
“This was the Saudis saying, ‘Enough. We’ve had it,’ ” the source said.
Iran: ‘Divine revenge’
Earlier, the Iranian government had summoned the Saudi ambassador to condemn al-Nimr’s execution. Saudi Arabia returned the slap, summoning the Iranian ambassador in Riyadh to vehemently object to Iran’s condemnation.
In Iran, the last word belongs to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. And on Sunday, he tweeted, “Doubtlessly, unfairly-spilled blood of oppressed martyr #SheikhNimr will affect rapidly & Divine revenge will seize Saudi politicians.”
Al-Nimr was an outspoken critic but nonviolent, Khamenei said.
The supreme leader also posted to his website a critical illustration that compared a Saudi Arabian executioner to an ISIS Jihadi preparing to behead a victim. The illustration calls them “white ISIS” and “black ISIS” and asks, “Any differences?”
After the embassy attack, police donned riot gear and arrested 40 people.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani condemned al-Nimr’s execution in Saudi Arabia but also blasted the attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran and on a Saudi consulate in another Iranian city.
“In no way is this justifiable & foremost disrespects #Iran. All Iranian officials are fully committed to confront these illegal acts,” he said in a tweet.
Saudi Arabia and Iran are already bitter rivals. And current regional conflicts have stoked animosity between them.
In Yemen, Saudi Arabia is fighting against Houthi rebels, who are allied with Iran. And in Syria, Saudi Arabia advocates the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad, who is an ally of Tehran.
Iraq: ‘Topple the Saudi regime’
In Iraq, a Shia icon directed followers to protest in front of the Saudi Arabian embassy in Baghdad. Cleric and politician Muqtada al-Sadr also called on Shia-dominated government to shut the embassy down.
The 47 condemned were either shot by firing squad or beheaded. Though the Saudi government did not say how al-Nimr died, beheading has a special meaning to Shiites, as it was the fate of a historic cleric, Imam Husayn.
Al-Sadr made the assumption that al-Nimr had suffered the same fate. “He was executed with a sword, the same way ISIS scoundrels (do it),” he said.
Iraqi Vice President Nuri al-Maliki castigated the Saudi royal family with the dead dissident’s own wishes. “The crime of executing Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr will topple the Saudi regime,” he said.
In Lebanon, which also suffers from the Shia-Sunni divide, the Shiite militia Hezbollah called al-Nimr’s death sentence corrupt and said his execution amounted to assassination.
Lashings, beheadings: Saudi’s ‘cherished’ justice system
Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general, said in televised remarks that the execution was shocking, Iranian state media reported.
“Any hope for Saudi rational behavior has ended,” Nasrallah said, according to sate-run Press TV. “When a regime loses its mind, that means it has reached the abyss.”
Who was Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr?
Al-Nimr died on Saturday alongside 46 terrorism convicts. He was the imam of a mosque in a majority Shiite area of eastern Saudi Arabia, where people have long complained of discrimination at the hands of the Sunni majority.
Iran’s rise as a regional power in the Middle East has exacerbated those tensions, resulting in what human rights advocates call a systematic crackdown on minority Shiites in the kingdom.
When the Arab Spring uprisings rolled around in 2011, al-Nimr ardently supported anti-government protests in Saudi Arabia. He wanted the Saudi royal family deposed but publicly advocated peaceful protests over violence.
“The weapon of the word is stronger than bullets, because authorities will profit from a battle of weapons,” he told the BBC.
On Sunday, Al-Nimr’s brother, Mohammed al-Nimr, called for the cleric’s supporters to protest against his execution and to do so peacefully.
“I am calling on people not to get dragged into violence and to practice restraint and avoid bloodshed,” he told CNN.
What was he convicted of?
In 2012, Saudi Arabia accused al-Nimr of fleeing authorities, ramming a security forces vehicle and resisting arrest. His family and critics have disputed the government’s account.
Authorities shot al-Nimr in the leg during the arrest, and his family said that he had been denied proper treatment for his wounds during his imprisonment — much of which Amnesty said was spent in solitary confinement.
A Saudi court convicted al-Nimr in 2014 after what Amnesty International described as a “deeply flawed” trial marked by numerous irregularities. The sheikh was not allowed to prepare a proper defense, Amnesty said.
“Eyewitnesses, whose testimonies were the only evidence used against him, were not brought to court to testify. This violates the country’s own laws,” Said Boumedouha of Amnesty International said.
U.S. criticizes Saudi Arabia
Human rights activists saw al-Nimr not as an insurgent but as a dissenter and were appalled at the sentence.
Amnesty International said the case against him was part of a systematic effort by the majority Sunni government to crush Shia voices.
His execution prompted the U.S. State Department to call on Saudi Arabia to respect human rights and permit peaceful dissent.
“We are particularly concerned that the execution of (al-Nimr) risks exacerbating sectarian tensions at a time when they urgently need to be reduced,” spokesman John Kirby said.
In response to the Saudi foreign minister’s announcement severing ties with Iran on Sunday, Kirby said the United States believes diplomatic engagement is essential and “will continue to urge leaders across the region to take affirmative steps to calm tensions.”
European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini said al-Nimr’s case raised “serious concerns regarding freedom of expression and the respect of basic civil and political rights.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was “deeply dismayed” by the executions and called again for an end to the death penalty. He called on leaders in the region to prevent an escalation of sectarian tensions.

Iran Increases Its Ballistic Rhetoric (Daniel 8:4)

Obama administration preparing new sanctions
Updated Dec. 31, 2015 2:37 p.m. ET
Mr. Rouhani’s comments, made on his official Twitter account Thursday, cast fresh doubts on the prospects for the U.S. and Iran to successfully implement the landmark nuclear agreement reached last July.
The Obama administration has said it could begin removing sanctions on Tehran as early as January since Iran has begun taking steps to roll back its nuclear program.
But the U.S. is concurrently preparing to impose new sanctions on Iranian defense firms and officials in the wake of two ballistic missile tests staged by Tehran over the past three months, according to senior U.S. officials.
Mr. Rouhani said Thursday such sanctions are illegal and that Tehran will take steps to retaliate, including accelerating the pace of its missile program.
“If U.S. continues its illegitimate interference with Iran’s right to defend itself, a new program will be devised to enhance missile capabilities,” the Iranian president said. “We have never negotiated regarding our defense capabilities including our missile program and will not accept any restrictions in this regard.”
The Obama administration has long said that the nuclear agreement doesn’t prevent the U.S. from imposing sanctions on Iranian entities allegedly involved in missile development, as well as those that support international terrorism and human-rights abuses.
The U.S. Treasury Department is preparing to blacklist nearly one dozen companies and individuals in Iran, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates for their alleged role in supporting the Iranian missile program.
“We’re not going to respond to every comment from Iranian officials,” a State Department official said Thursday. “We have long taken actions to counter the threats from Iran’s missile program and will continue to do so, including working closely with our allies in the region to bolster their defenses against such threats.”
The missile-related sanctions would be the first since the July agreement was reached. U.S. and European officials said they were optimistic Tehran wouldn’t take any radical steps to blow up the deal.
During the nuclear negotiations the U.S. and its partners sought to construct the deal in a way that would allow a range of lighter sanctions for smaller breaches of the accord.
However critics of the deal have argued that Iranian hardball tactics would force the U.S. to chose between repeatedly overlooking smaller infractions or risking a major confrontation with Tehran that could cripple the deal.
Iran is expected to gain access to as much as $100 billion of its oil revenues that have been frozen in overseas bank accounts in the early stages of the nuclear agreement. Western diplomats said they were doubtful Tehran would put this at risk.
“The first reaction of any country submitted to sanctions is posturing,” France’s ambassador to Washington, Gerard Araud, said on Twitter. “The real one comes later and discreetly.”
The U.S. wasn’t alone in its push for a response to Iran’s recent ballistic missile tests.
French officials said in December they were very attentive to Iran’s actions. France, the U.K. and Germany in October backed the U.S. call for the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions committee to take action over the missile test.
One European diplomat said Thursday the tests clearly breached two existing U.N. resolutions, including July’s Security Council decision endorsing the nuclear deal. “I just hope that it will not jeopardize the rest” of the deal, the diplomat said.
In theory, the EU could match the U.S. moves on sanctions, but diplomats said that was unlikely. There was no official response from the EU on the U.S. plans.
Iran has raised the possibility in recent days that it would take the U.S. to an international body empowered by the U.N. Security Council, called the Joint Commission, to arbitrate disputes that emerge as part of the nuclear agreement.
Iranian diplomats have specifically cited new U.S. visa legislation as a violation of the nuclear agreement. It requires all foreign nationals who have visited Iran, as well as Syria, in the past decade to obtain a visa before entering the U.S.
“If this law is applied, we will put forward a request to the Joint Commission, because the law goes against the nuclear accord,” Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi, said this month.
The recent Iranian missile tests and the U.N. ruling that they violated Security Council resolutions threaten what had already been a fragile rapprochement between the U.S. and Iran in the aftermath of the nuclear deal.
In a further sign of recent tension, a U.S. Central Command spokesman said Wednesday that the naval forces of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards had recently conducted a test of unguided rockets about 1,500 yards from the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman in the Strait of Hormuz. The Guards issued a denial on Thursday, however, saying Iranian ships weren’t conducting tests in the area.
“Publication of such false reports under the current circumstances is more a psychological operation and is questionable,” Revolutionary Guards spokesman Ramezan Sharif said Thursday, according to the Guards’ official news website
Tests, military exercises and detentions of vessels around the crucial Strait of Hormuz have often taken place during times of heightened tensions between Iran and the U.S. About a third of the world’s oil trade goes through the narrow passageway.
Despite signs of political strain—and repeated denunciations of U.S. policy by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—the substantive steps Iran and other countries committed to under the nuclear deal have progressed on schedule.
The International Atomic Energy Agency in mid-December issued a report on the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program, determining that scientists had done research on nuclear weapons until 2009.
Iran also made some headway on several steps it must take to secure sanctions relief, including decommissioning thousands of enrichment centrifuges, removing the reactor core at its Arak nuclear facility near Tehran and reducing its stockpile of low-enriched uranium.
Mr. Kerry said this week that Iran had shipped about 25,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium to Russia, including almost all of its 20%-enriched uranium. Iranian officials said they received about 140 tons of minimally processed yellowcake uranium from Russia in exchange.

The Divide Between Iran And Saudi Arabia Widens (Daniel)

ON 01/03/16 AT 5:20 AM
Saudi Shiite women hold placards bearing portraits of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr during a protest in the eastern coastal city of Qatif against his execution by Saudi authorities, on Jan. 2, 2016 PHOTO: STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that Saudi Arabia would face “divine revenge” over its execution of a top Shiite cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Khamenei also called the execution a political mistake by the Saudi government, according to media reports.
“The unjustly spilt blood of this martyr will have quick consequences,” Khamenei told clerics in Tehran, after Iranian protestors attacked the Saudi Arabia’s embassy in the city Saturday. According to reports, demonstrators ransacked set the Embassy in Tehran on fire, and crowds broke furniture and smashed windows before being cleared out by police.
Iranian officials said that 40 people have been arrested following the attack.
“The Saudi government supports terrorist movements and extremists, but confronts domestic critics with oppression and execution,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hossein Jaber Ansari reportedly said, warning that the Saudi will have to “pay a high price for following these policies.
Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia’s foreign ministry spokesman Mansur al-Turki called Iran’s reaction “irresponsible” and summoned Iran’s envoy to protest the burning of the country’s embassy.
On Saturday, Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, including top Shiite cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr for reasons ranging from joining terrorist organizations to adopting the radical “takfiri” ideology. The country denied discriminating against Shiites and blamed Iran for stirring up unease in the kingdom.
Nimr had long been regarded as the most vocal Shiite leader in the oil-rich kingdom, willing to publicly criticize the ruling family and call directly for elections.

Babylon The Great Created ISIS (Ezekiel 17)

By Tom LoBianco and Elizabeth Landers, CNN
Biloxi, Mississippi (CNN)Donald Trump on Saturday said the policies of President Barack Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton created ISIS,” the furthest the GOP front-runner has gone in tying the Obama administration’s policies to the rise of the terror group.
Trump offered no evidence for his claim here at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, in which he also said escalating tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia were signs that the Islamic Republic wanted to take over the longtime U.S. ally in the Middle East.
He couched his hit in a brief discussion of the Iranian protests outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran, which erupted after Saudi Arabia executed 47 people, including a dissident Shiite cleric.
Tehran, they’re burning down the Saudi embassy, you see that?” Trump said as he opened his remarks. “Now, what that is is Iran wants to take over Saudi Arabia. They always have. They want the oil, OK? They’ve always wanted that.”
Trump has blamed both Democrats and former President George W. Bush when talking about unrest in the Middle East, particularly citing the 43rd president’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. In recent weeks, he’s been particularly aggressive in going after Clinton, the Democratic presidential front-runner, and her record leading the State Department.

History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History says New York is earthquake prone

New York Earthquake 1884

New York Earthquake 1884
Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. 
If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.
According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.
A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.
Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.
“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.
He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”
Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.
“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.