Creating The Horns Of Prophecy (Daniel)

As the Trump administration prepares to revise its controversial entry restrictions, a sampling of quotes from officials around the region indicates that certain provisions will be a hard sell abroad.
President Trump’s January 27 executive order on “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” drew much ire at home and around the world. The order’s provisions — which bar entry by all refugees for four months, by all visitors from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen for three months, and by all applicants from Syria indefinitely — spurred massive protests at airports where people were being detained. Following a Seattle federal court decision halting implementation, the president stated that he will issue a revised order targeting the same seven countries; the new text will reportedly try to sidestep further legal challenges by permitting entry to nationals from those countries who already have permanent green cards or visas.
Whatever the case, foreign leaders overwhelmingly condemned the original order, including some stinging comments from officials in the targeted countries. Yet certain leaders responded with passive acceptance, while major authorities in Somalia declined to comment.
“We will not do anything of the sort [referring to the possibility of a reciprocal ban]. We are studying decisions but we are in a battle and we don’t want to harm the national interest.” (Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, Al Jazeera, January 31, 2017)
“It would be arrogance for you to freely enter Iraq and other countries while barring them from entering your country…Therefore you should get your nationals out.” (Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr,, January 29)
“We thank this new guy in the White House, since he largely did the job we had been trying to do in the past decades: to divulge the true face of the United States. We had been working to show the world the depth of corruption in the U.S. government and…the ruling elite; Trump did it in a few days after coming to the White House. Their claims to human rights are no longer tenable.” (Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, Mehr News, February 7)
“[Trump] is new to politics. He has been in a different world…It will take him a long time and will cost the United States a lot, until he learns what is happening in the world. Today is not a time for separating nations by walls.” (President Hassan Rouhani, Reuters, February 1)
The Muslim ban will be recorded in history as a great gift to extremists and their supporters. Collective discrimination aids terrorist recruitment by deepening fault lines exploited by extremist demagogues…The Muslim ban shows the baselessness of Washington’s claim that it wants friendship with the Iranian people and that it only has issues with the government. While respecting Americans and differentiating between them and hostile U.S. policies, Iran will take reciprocal measures to protect its citizens. (Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, Twitter, January 29)
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs…regrets the inclusion of Sudanese citizens in the executive order…Recently, economic and financial institutions, bankers, and workers from the two countries have initiated communication, launching investment and trade projects to harness the tremendous human, natural, and economic resources of both countries…The [recent] decision to lift U.S. sanctions on Sudan…is the result of extensive bilateral engagement between the two countries, particularly in the area of combating terrorism…Sudan calls for the immediate removal of its name from the U.S. list of State Sponsors of Terrorism and its designation as a Country of Particular Concern…The Ministry of Foreign Affairs…affirms Sudan’s policy of constructive bilateral relations and will continue its dialogue with the U.S. government and cooperation with relevant official bodies. (Foreign Ministry website, January 28)
“The Foreign Ministry said that attempts to classify Yemen or its citizens as a possible source of terrorism are illegal and illegitimate…The ministry…is aware that such action is a sovereign right of the United States…[but] it needs more assessment and revision. The ministry called on the United States to deal with Yemeni citizens in accordance with the standard process adopted with all…friendly countries, and not to consider them as a source of concern or risk or affect their interests or legal status inside or outside U.S. territories.” (Summary of Foreign Ministry statement, Yemen News Agency, January 30)
“The ban…should be lifted for dual nationals, Yemenis with business interests or family ties, and for students in the United States…Yemen is suffering, like other countries, from terrorism and making efforts to confront and eradicate terrorism.” (President Abdu Rabu Mansour al-Hadi, direct and indirect remarks during a meeting with U.S. ambassador Matthew Tueller, as reported by al-Monitor, February 2)
“[This is] an unjust decision [that should be reviewed]…These actions represent racial discrimination on the basis of religion and are incompatible with human rights.” (Government of National Accord foreign minister Mohamed Siala, Libya’s Channel, February 1)
“It’s against the terrorists that would infiltrate some of the immigrants to the West. And that happened…in Europe, mainly in Germany. I think the aim of Trump is to prevent those people from coming. It is not against the Syrian people.” (President Bashar al-Assad, Europe 1 radio, February 16)
This compendium was prepared by Yousif Kalian.
Originally Posted on February 22, 2017
©2017 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Reprinted with permission.

Unfortunately Trump Is Not Bluffing

When President Donald Trump assumed office, Iranian leaders were cautious about issuing critical announcements against the new American administration or the US. Even Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who is known for his inflammatory speeches against the US or the “Great Satan,” did not mention the new administration for a few weeks after Trump’s inauguration.
President Trump’s statements through his campaign, with regard to countering Iran’s ideological and hegemonic ambitions, made the Iranian leaders wary. Iranian leaders began their work to feel out the new administration, to see whether Trump was serious in his promises to hold Iran accountable and to ally with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).
But soon, Iranian leaders made a tactical shift to view the US intentions to counter Iran as trivial and unreal. Based on the latest developments from Iran’s state-owned newspapers and Iranian leaders’ speeches and announcements, the Islamic Republic is increasingly becoming confident that the Trump administration is not serious about countering Iran. Several Iranian officials, including Ali Akbar Velayati, who is a close adviser to Khamenei, have stated that the Trump administration is bluffing with regard to its Iran policy.
Iran has transformed this belief into action. It tested a medium-range ballistic missile, and confirmed that it has conducted missile and radar tests. Following that, the Islamic Republic held a military exercise that took place in the Semnan Province. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) made it clear that these actions are to project Iran’s military power as well as to respond to and dismiss President Trump’s words. Soon after, Iran began a naval drill near the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
A message to the Trump administration
Iranian leaders across the political spectrum believe that it is a tactically and strategically intelligent move to conduct such military operations since the Trump administration is not serious about countering Tehran. Since Tehran does not observe any tangible pressure, Iranian leaders also find it necessary to send a message to the Trump administration and regional powers that Tehran will not alter the core pillars of its foreign and regional policy.
As part of its pursuit of regional hegemonic ambitions, the Islamic Republic is showcasing its military and hard power in an attempt to assert regional preeminence and superiority. Iran’s military believes that its showcasing of military and hard power is working; as a result it is also attempting to push the US and its allies into pursuing appeasement policies with Tehran.
These messages have also been echoed by top IRGC leaders. Maj. Gen. Mohammad Ali Jafari stated previously: “US officials know that threats against Iran are not only useless, but also harmful… The greatest achievement of the Islamic Revolution is (the US) confession of the splendor and greatness of the revolution.”
Tehran is confident the US is not serious in its threats — and if this is not addressed it will become increasingly difficult to counter Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The IRGC deputy commander, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami, shrugged off the previous statements by the Trump administration: “America’s power is declining as a result of its wrong and interventionist policies. Its threats have continued, though, and its economic war against Iran will not end,” he is reported as saying. “As (America’s) political and geopolitical power has declined, its breathing space — especially at strategic points in the Muslim world — has tightened.”
Esmail Kowsari, another leading IRGC officer and former MP, also said: “Based on their consultations with their advisers, American presidents utter slogans but do not have the ability to attack Iran militarily… If Americans had the ability to attack Iran militarily, they would not delay a moment to do so.”
The moderates hold similar views to the hard-liners when it comes to disregarding the US warnings. President Rouhani stated: “(Trump) is new to politics. He has been in a different world. It’s a totally new environment to him… It will take him a long time and will cost the United States a lot, until he learns what is happening in the world.”
For Iranian leaders to take the US seriously or to recalculate their military adventurism, several developments need to occur. Iran views geopolitical, diplomatic, economic and military pressures as signs of determination and seriousness. In addition, Tehran takes broad sanctions, which mainly affect its export of oil and the IRGC’s trades, seriously. These can be carried out by an alliance between regional powers, which are concerned about Iran’s destabilizing behavior, and President Trump.
If the Trump administration and regional powers do not adequately and proportionately respond to Iran’s military adventurism, Tehran will further view this as sign of weakness. Subsequently, Iran will continue to escalate its military adventurism and expansionism to further tip the regional balance of power in its favor.
The later that Iran’s military adventurism is countered by the Trump administration and regional powers, the harder it will be to counter Iran’s regional hegemonic ambitions — and the harder it will be to make Tehran take the US or regional powers seriously.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated, Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. He can be reached on Twitter @Dr_Rafizadeh.

The Antichrist Tries to Unify Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq — With the fight progressing to retake Mosul from the Islamic State (IS), the Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr presented Initial Solutions, a national reconciliation proposal for shaping post-IS Iraq. The initiative, announced Feb. 20, consists of 29 points. Sadr’s various proposals are seemingly incompatible with the orientation of the Shiite parties of the National Alliance, and in direct conflict with the vision of Ammar al-Hakim, head of the alliance, but Sunni blocs, to which the proposal extends bridges of trust, have voiced support.
Among the initiative’s proposals are establishing a UN-sponsored fund to support reconstruction and forming a UN-supported entity focusing on human rights and minorities to deal with and prevent sectarian and ethnic conflicts and violations. It also calls for dialogues among politicians, tribal leaders and social elites to ease factional and sectarian tensions.
Sadr, spiritual leader of the al-Ahrar bloc and the Sadrist Movement, proposes that the predominantly Shiite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), although made an official fighting force in November, be dissolved. He contends that the Iraqi army and security forces alone should be responsible for protection in areas liberated from IS and any disputed territories.
Instead of the PMU standing separately, Sadr called for “striving to integrate disciplined PMU [fighters] into the security forces, in such a way to preserve the independence and sovereignty of the national security forces.” He suggests that the PMU militias, including his Saraya al-Salam (Peace Brigades), turn their headquarters into cultural, civil, social or humanitarian institutions and centers.
Commenting on why Sadr wants to shut down the armed factions’ offices, Ibrahim al-Jabiri, director of Sadr’s office in Baghdad, told Al-Monitor, “The initiative aims to strengthen the official security forces … through their integration into the military and security establishment.”
The most significant item of the initiative is its call for the Iraqi government to expel all “occupying and even friendly forces from Iraqi territory,” to preserve the stature of the state. This means the expulsion of US and Iranian troops and advisers. The Iraqi government, however, has a security agreement with the United States, and US forces will be needed in the long-term to train and assist Iraqi troops. Baghdad is also not ready to shed its Iranian ally, these days represented in Iraq by Qasem Soleimani, the Quds Force commander, who also oversees PMU operations.
Jabiri said, “After the country’s liberation from IS control, the Iraqi government will no longer need any outside help. Therefore, the presence of any foreign forces after the liberation of Mosul will no longer be justified.”
Jabari added, “When he said the ‘occupying’ forces, Sadr meant the American troops and those who cooperated with them in occupying Iraq in 2003. As for the ‘friendly’ forces, he meant all the forces that came to Iraq to provide assistance after IS took over the country’s northern and western areas in 2014.” Concerning so-called friendly forces, Jabiri said, Sadr’s proposal includes the expulsion of Turkish troops deployed to Bashiqa, near Mosul, ostensibly as trainers, as well as non-Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga who entered the country for the battle against IS.
Jabiri said Sadr wants to form a committee to represent him and pursue implementation of his initiative with the government and political parties in the hope of persuading committee members to introduce and approve his proposals. He said that some parties will, of course, oppose the initiative, noting, “It is in direct conflict with their interests and their keenness for preserving the status quo.”
The State of Law Coalition, led by Vice President Nouri al-Maliki, was the first to criticize the initiative. Coalition representative Alia Nassif said in a Feb. 21 statement that internationalizing the initiative, for example, by engaging the United Nations and contracting with foreign companies in reconstruction efforts, would “mean advancing the interests of other countries.” Nassif said, “It is wrong to commit to all its terms.”
Al-Mowaten, the bloc headed by Hakim, said, “All Shiite alliances signed the national reconciliation project [proposed by Hakim and the National Alliance], which represents a road map for post-IS Iraq. Sadr’s initiative falls within this framework.” In short, the bloc’s position is that there is no need for Sadr’s initiative given the National Alliance’s Historical Settlement, the proposal announced Oct. 31. Sadr’s plan, however, addresses more long-standing Sunni demands than the alliance’s.
Meanwhile, Sunni parties have welcomed Sadr’s initiative, namely, the Mutahidoun Bloc, headed by Vice President Osama al-Nujaifi, and the Pan Arab Project, led by Khamis Khanjar, which did not support the Historical Settlement. In a statement Feb. 20, Khanjar said his party supports most of Sadr’s initiative, noting that Iraq has a historic opportunity to carry out comprehensive reforms. The Sunnis also like that its call for dialogue among sect and tribal leaders, including that Shiite leaders visit Sunni leaders in their communities. It also appears that Sadr is considering approaching Sunnis as potential allies in future elections.
Although some of Sadr’s proposals seem practical and attractive, such as dialogues toward reconciliation, ending sectarian tensions and international funding and support, the initiative is unlikely to go anywhere. Other items, such as the expulsion of foreign forces and the abolition of the PMU, are far-fetched. Given the competing forces, the initiative is likely to remain shackled by political conflict.

Trump and the Nuclear Threat

In this month after becoming president, Donald Trump has conducted a series of phone calls to various heads of state. These calls are not ceremonial. In the case of Russia and the People’s Republic of China, President Trump must be able to converse directly with President Putin and President Xi. Not just because they run large countries that we have deemed superpowers, but because they possess nuclear weapons aimed at the citizens of the United States and with the capability of destroying our republic. The subject of nuclear weapons does not even need to be raised. Nuclear weapons are a permanent subtext in all superpower conversations.
This is made even more so since the United States does not possess a strategic ballistic missile defense capable of stopping Russian, Chinese, or Iranian ballistic missiles or the nuclear blackmail such weapons afford. The recent test of the advanced Chinese DF-5C missile and the Iranian missile test was a stark reminder for President Trump that the potential for thermonuclear war still exists. That the United States is in this strategically inferior and unenviable position is entirely unacceptable.
Americans will be shocked to learn that should a madman in Russia, China, Iran or elsewhere seek the nuclear destruction of the United States there is little an American president can do today except launch a retaliatory nuclear strike guaranteeing the Cold War policy of mutually assured destruction. There can be little satisfaction, however, in the mass slaughter of Russian, Chinese or Iranian subjects while American citizens would have suffered their own nuclear attack. The morality of MAD was always questionable. In a world where Iranian mullahs preach hatred of the United States and Israel while they continue their nuclear ambitions, it is absurd.
President Trump has pledged to build a national missile defense. Its strategic necessity is greater, if less well-understood, than the wall he will be building on our southern border. When completed, Trump will have done what no president, including Ronald Reagan, has done: ensure that the American people are not vulnerable to the strategic designs of a foreign power. Our freedom and our constitutional order cannot be guaranteed so long as a single command by a Russian or Chinese president or an Iranian mullah could mean the end of American civilization. It would be fair for President Trump to ask his generals how we have arrived in this position.
We know that the end of the Cold War brought a regrettable lack of seriousness to our strategic thinking. Although advanced forms of missile defense were within our technological ability, the reorganization of the Soviet Union removed all urgency. Successive U.S. administrations starting with George H.W. Bush treated missile defense as desirable but not a priority. After an explicit nuclear threat by the PRC in 1995, billions were spent on a limited, land-based system in Alaska that can stop a handful of North Korean missiles. Its main purpose, it would appear, was to give the illusion that we were defended.
Equally vexing, our paralysis continued despite the fact that U.S. intelligence knew the Russians had developed a primitive but effective missile defense of their own during the Cold War and that the Chinese were developing their own missile defenses to complement their growing nuclear arsenal.
Although one could register this failure to build missile defenses as mere incompetence, September 11 should have sharpened our strategic outlook. The world of Islamic terrorism had put the United States in its cross hairs. The 9/11 hijackers had been aided and abetted by Iranian intelligence, itself an act of war. With certainty, we knew that Iran was also building a nuclear capacity to match their advanced ballistic missiles. In this enterprise, the Iranians had the assistance of Russia, North Korea, and, by extension, Communist China. As we were constructing a homeland security super state, it would not have been crazy to include the building of a national missile defense using land, sea and space-based interceptors on the off chance that a future attack on America would be with nuclear missiles.
Underscoring this is the fact that the Iranians have practiced the launching of ballistic missiles from ships in the Caspian SeaIn such testing the Iranians simulated an Electro Magnetic Pulse attack that could, with the right nuclear warhead, destroy the electric infrastructure of the U.S. and, at its most severe, cause the deaths of hundreds of millions of Americans. The Iranian test on January 29th was of the same kind. The use of an EMP weapon is at the heart of Iranian strategic nuclear doctrine. It does not require thousands of nuclear warheads and missiles. It requires one highly advanced or several less advanced missiles. This latest test was, moreover, a message to President Trump that the Iranians are perfecting the means, and being aided by the world’s superpowers, to kill every last American man, woman and child. Subtle they are not.
For 15 years, our national security strategy has been consumed by war against Islamic terrorism including now ISIS. President Trump inherits a national security apparatus whose best minds have been preoccupied with irregular warfare, counterinsurgency strategy, democracy building and humanitarian exercises. Some of these were necessary for the task at hand. Others entirely misplaced. This has served, unfortunately, as a strategic distraction when it comes to the defense of our nation against nuclear ballistic missiles.
Leaving the United States vulnerable to the predations of our enemies, whoever that may be, is the height of immorality. We can defeat those enemies who mean us harm in the Islamic world whether it is ISIS or anyone else and build a national missile defense. President Trump is assembling the team now to fix this and make missile defense a reality. It can come none too soon.
Mr. Kennedy is President of the American Strategy Group and a member of the Independent Working Group on Missile Defense.

India Shows Her Power Against Pakistan

Indian missile launched

Nuclear destroyer missile launched by India in chilling warning to world

By Jamie Micklethwaite / Published 2nd March 2017
Defence officials in the country are developing a two-tier ballistic missile defence to protect against impending nuclear war.When fully operational, the defence system will be able to tackle missiles from more than 3,000 miles away.
A statement from India’s defence ministry said: “All the mission objectives were successfully met.”India has been locked in conflict with neighbours Pakistan, who recently fired a nuclear warhead which “obliterated its target”.

Nuke launched by pakistan
GETTYWAR: Pakistan has launched numerous missiles in warnings to India

India’s defence ministry’s statement continued: “The weapon system radars tracked the target and provided the initial guidance to the interceptor which could precisely home on to the target and destroyed it in the endo-atmospheric layer.”The complete event including the engagement and destruction was tracked by a number of electro-optical tracking systems using infrared imagery.