1884 A Forewarning Of The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The Coney Island earthquake of 1884

Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884

Seismograph of New York Earthquake 1884

January 20, 2010

New York City isn’t immune to earthquakes; a couple of small tremors measuring about 2.5 on the Richter scale even struck back in 2001 and 2002.
The quake was subsequently thought to have been centered off Far Rockaway or Coney Island.
Translation: We’re about 30 years overdue. Lucky for us the city adopted earthquake-resistant building codes in 1995.

Obama’s misguided hegemony in Syria (Ezekiel 17)

Dozens of US and Arab officials say the Obama administration communicated with Syrian counterparts for years. This follows other reporting that the US military indirectly sent intelligence to the Assad government to head off a calamitous regime change.
The White House’s policy in 2011 was to get to the point of a transition in Syria by finding cracks in the regime and offering incentives for people to abandon Assad,” an unnamed former senior Obama administration official told the Wall Street Journal, saying disgruntled Alawite military officers were targeted.
President Barack Obama’s first “Assad must go” public statement of the policy came in August 2011. Four years later, the exact policy remains unclear.
Earlier this week, Secretary of State John Kerry said the US “and our partners are not seeking so-called regime change” after meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. But on December 23, Obama told reporters, “Assad is going to have to leave in order for a country to stop the bloodletting and for all the parties involved to be able to move forward in a non-sectarian way.”
How Assad leaves before a negotiated cease-fire and subsequent national elections are held, without a US regime change policy, remains unclear. Events and conversations that led to this point, however, are slightly less blurry than they once were, now that officials from multiple countries have spoken to the Journal.
“We have had times where we’ve said: ‘You could create a better environment for cease-fires if you stop dropping barrel bombs,’” a senior US official said.
“There’s communicating on specific issues,” the official added. “It’s not like Cuba or Iran, where we thought that we would essentially, in a secret bilateral negotiation, resolve the issue.”
Those talks didn’t go far if anywhere at all, as the Assad regime reportedly gained legitimacy from simply having open lines of communication with Americans.
The former US ambassador to Damascus, Robert Ford, who has strongly supported arming Islamist rebel groups, said the Assad regime “is very supple politically. They’re very smart,” continuing, “They’re always testing for weaknesses and pushing the envelope.”
“Russia doubled down and Iran doubled down, and it didn’t really have an effect,” a former Obama administration official said, referring to ineffective rebel training effort.
By the summer of 2012, the White House directed warnings through Russia and Iran to Assad, telling him not to resort to chemical weapons. In August, Obama infamously told the world such an attack would cross a “red line,” prompting military action.
At the time, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, who retired in 2014, phoned Syrian foreign minister Walid al-Moallem twice to reiterate the warning, but come August 2013, sarin gas was used to kill some 1,400 people, and the US did not follow through on its threat.
Russian and US intelligence disagree on who the perpetrators of that attack are, and an open letter to each country’s top diplomats from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity calls on them to provide proof.
Still, in late 2013, communication lines between the US and Syria were not fully closed. On at least two occasions, Assistant Secretary of State Anne Patterson spoke with Syrian deputy foreign minister Faisal Mekdad regarding five Americans missing or detained in Syria.
After the “red line” posturing and the sarin attack a year later, the Obama administration again moved back towards negotiations with the Assad regime.
Come 2014, as the US increased its bombings against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, State Department officials would contact their Syrian counterparts, ensuring US warplanes weren’t attacked by Damascus. And currently, when the US sends its trained Syrian militants to attack Islamic State, Samantha Power, the US envoy to the UN, sends a deputy to the Syrian envoy, Bashar Jaafari. This is to prevent those fighters from being misidentified as rebels.
Another diplomatic route was through Khaled Ahmad, a businessman from Homs province who was the primary liaison for US diplomats and other Westerners like Joshua Landis, Syrian expert and director of the Center for Middle East Studies.
“Assad was looking for ways to talk to the White House,” Landis, also a University of Oklahoma professor, told the Journal.
In Geneva in late 2013, Ahmad met Robert Ford, at the time a special White House envoy on Syria, who relayed the administration’s desire to phase Assad out of power through political diplomacy.
In the spring of 2015, Ahmad arranged for Steve Simon, a former senior White House official who left last year, to meet Assad in Damascus. Ahmad and Simon had met twice previously, and Simon spoke with former colleagues in the National Security Council before and after his meeting with Assad. One of those colleagues was senior director Robert Malley.
Though Simon said his meeting with Assad was a personal one, not in official capacity, he pushed familiar talking points: Stop barrel bombing, fight the Islamic State as opposed to other rebel factions, and coordinate with the United Nations on local cease-fire efforts.
Assad, in similar fashion, spoke of his commitment to fighting terrorism, though he did express interest in cease-fires if they were on his government’s terms rather than the UN’s, according to two people with knowledge of the meeting, the Journal reported.
Hersh points out that though Kerry and Obama “are softening the line about Assad,” there is a catch.
“The reality is they always have a clause that says ‘but we don’t think that he can stay in power during the negotiations,’” Hersh said, calling their line of diplomacy “a game of cards.”

Russian Horn Expands Its Nuclear Regiment (Daniel 7)

Russian servicemen equip an Iskander tactical missile system at the Army-2015 international military-technical forum in Kubinka, outside Moscow, Russia. (Reuters)

Al-Arabiya News
Reuters, Moscow
Tuesday, 12 January 2016
Russia will create three new military divisions on its Western flank in 2016 and bring five new strategic nuclear missile regiments into service, Sergei Shoigu, the country’s defence minister, was quoted as saying by news agencies on Tuesday.
Shoigu’s announcement was consistent with a multi-billion dollar overhaul of Russia’s military, which is currently carrying out air strikes in Syria after helping annex Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014.
Shoigu did not explain the motivation for forming the new divisions, but said it would be one of the most important tasks for the defence ministry this year. He said every military district should also expect to undergo spot checks in 2016.
Our main effort should go into strengthening the potential of our strategic nuclear forces and of fulfilling the space defense program,” the RIA Novosti agency quoted Shoigu as telling a meeting.
“Five rocket regiments, equipped with modern rocket complexes, will enter active service in 2016.”
It was also necessary to steadily improve the infrastructure supporting the nuclear forces, he said, singling out the facilities where the country’s nuclear-armed submarines and long-range nuclear bombers were based.

How Obama Betrayed Democracy In Iran (Ezekiel 17)

green movementWSJ: White House Rebuffed Request to Assist Iran’s 2009 Pro-Democracy Protesters

The Obama administration ignored leaders of Iran’s pro-democracy Green Movement when they requested support from the United States in 2009The Wall Street Journalreported (Google link) on Friday. According to current and past U.S. officials, the decision was influenced by President Barack Obama’s reluctance to jeopardize future nuclear talks with the Iranian regime.
The Journal, which documented how hardliners backed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei have become stronger since Tehran reached a nuclear deal with world powers in July, wrote that the number of reformists in Iran has conversely diminished. “Many activists are angry at the Obama administration for failing to support them six years ago in a rebuff that hasn’t been previously reported,” it added.
Current and former U.S. officials who worked with the Obama administration on Iranian issues said that the pro-democracy protests “caught the White House off guard.” While some tried to convince Obama to publicly support the uprising, calling it the “most important democratic opening since the 1979 Islamic revolution,” the president preferred to “give it a few days.” According to one senior American official, the message was, “We should monitor, but do nothing.
In addition to maintaining silence about the Green Movement, the administration directed the CIA not to take any action that could help it.
“If you were working on the nuclear deal, you were saying, ‘Don’t do too much,’” said Michael McFaul, the current U.S. ambassador to Russia who served as a National Security Council official at the time.
Both current and past Obama administration officials said that the decision not to support the protesters was influenced by “the potential for talks with Iran.” In 2009, Obama was already “heavily invested” his outreach to Khamenei, having sent the Supreme Leader two letters prior to the controversial presidential election.

Pakistani Horn Threatens Iran (Daniel 8)

Pakistan Warns Iran Against Crossing Saudi Arabia

BY: Abraham Rabinovich
January 11, 2016 3:57 pm
JERUSALEM – The rapidly shifting colors of the geopolitical map of the Middle East projected a surprising new hue over the weekend when nuclear-armed Pakistan warned its nuclear-ambitious neighbor Iran against tangling with Saudi Arabia.
After meetings between the Saudi defense minister Mohammed bin Salman and Pakistan’s military leadership, the Pakistani army issued a statement Sunday asserting “that any threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity would evoke a strong response from Pakistan”.
The spiraling regional tension follows the execution by Saudi Arabia this month of dissident Saudi Shiite cleric, Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr, who was revered in Iran. A mob in Tehran retaliated by sacking the Saudi embassy. Saudi Arabia promptly severed diplomatic relations with Iran, as did other Sunni-dominant states in the Gulf region and elsewhere.
Pakistan normally enjoys good relations with Iran, with which it has commercial ties. As the Pakistani newspaper, Dawn, put it, “Iran is an important neighbor, possibly on the verge of an economic breakout” as Western sanctions are lifted. However, Islamabad has come under a diplomatic blitz from Saudi Arabia, which has been a generous benefactor in the past, to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with its fellow Sunni nations.
Last week, Adel al-Jubeir, the Saudi foreign minister, flew to Pakistan to meet with its leaders and was immediately followed by bin Salman. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan sought to avoid too tight an embrace after his meeting with the foreign minister, saying that Pakistan was willing to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran, but the statement by the generals after their meeting with the defense minister threatening a “firm response” was that of an ally, not a middle man. Sharif toughened his stance after his meeting with the 31-year-old defense minister, bin Salman, deputy crown prince of Saudi Arabia and favorite son of the aging King Salman. “The people of Pakistan will always stand with the people of Saudi Arabia,” he said. “Pakistan holds its defense ties with Saudi Arabia in highest esteem.”
Apart from its nuclear capability, Pakistan has a standing army of more than 500,000 troops as well as 500,000 reservists. More than any other Muslim nation it has the capacity to stand up to the Iranian armed forces. Although not actually part of the Middle East—it is considered part of South Asia or the Indian subcontinent—it has played a role in the region as a close neighbor and religious affiliate. It has stationed thousands of soldiers in Saudi Arabia in the past whenRiyadh felt threatened by Iraq’s Saddam Hussein. It has been Saudi Arabia that was the principal benefactor in this relationship. It has provided generous financial aid to Pakistan over the years and also employs 1.5 million Pakistanis whose remittances home are vital to the Pakistani economy.
Although it is a Sunni-majority country, Pakistan also has a sizeable Shiite minority. Violent clashes between the two sects in Pakistan have taken the lives of thousands in recent years, mostly Shiites.
Iran has for years been the most assertive nation in the Middle East as it attempts to attain regional hegemony. Its military presence is felt through proxies in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Gaza. However, its sense of manifest destiny has suddenly encountered bumps in the road it had not anticipated. Both its military and political leadership have expressed regrets at the sacking of the embassy.
Riyadh is therefore pressing its potential Sunni allies to rally to its side. Some of them would prefer not being pressed. As a senior Pakistani official put it to a Western journalist, his country was part of the Saudi-led Sunni coalition “but we will only act in our national interest.”