The Antichrist Unites The Horns (Revelation 13)

A New Era Of Saudi-Shia Iraqi Relations
A recent meeting between Saudi Arabia’s new crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and Iraqi Shia leader Muqtada al-Sadr has sparked a fresh reproach to relations between the countries.
For a long time, Iraq’s majority Shia inhabitants were not on the best terms with their Saudi neighbors. Sectarian tension and the ongoing conflict in the region made relations rigid during Iraq’s post-Saddam era, and it seemed as if with Iraq’s majority Shia population juxtaposing a Sunni Saudi Arabia, future affairs between both nations would continue to be apprehensive. But a meeting between Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Saudi crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman on July 30th invalidated that notion, as it seems both countries are heading towards a closer and more amicable relationship.
A closer relationship between the two has indeed been growing in recent years, exemplified by ongoing meetings between public officials, including a 2017 visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abbadi. But what makes this recent visit more significant than the ones that came before it is the fact that al-Sadr is not himself an Iraqi official. Instead, he is a Shia cleric that holds significant political sway in the form of his Islamist nationalist “al-Sadr movement”, as well as his leadership of a prominent Shia militia group by the name of Saraya al-Salam (translated literally as Peace Companies). His reputation and following in Iraq has made him a significant figure in the country’s political arena and it comes as no surprise that the leader would find himself meeting with another nation’s dignitaries. In fact, Al-Sadr previously visited Saudi Arabia in 2006, albeit with less of an impact following his trip. Following the trip, Sadr has returned to Iraq intent on making a few new changes that will no doubt strengthen relations between Iraq’s Shia community and Saudi Arabia.
Al-Sadr after the meeting
When Muqtada came back to Iraq, one of the first things he did was call for the end of all Iranian backed Shia militias. Sadr spoke against the Hashed al-Shabbi, an organization that boasts 12,000 troops and is made up of militias backed up by Iran. Although this decision may stem from a want to hinder Iran from having an overwhelming influence on Iraq’s domestic affairs, the timing of the announcement was too coincidental to be independent of the Saudi Arabia visit. Iraqi Prime Minister Abadi later rejected the proposal and its call to merge groups with the army, but the gesture behind the announcement is enough to warrant approval from Riyadh. Furthermore, in an explicit move to gain favor with the country, Sadr gave an order to remove all anti-Saudi material in Iraqi streets, including any images, posters, or banners with an anti-Saudi sentiment. This obvious move to gain favorability from Saudi Arabia signals a changing relationship between the neighbors. It seems that Sadr sides with Saudi Arabia in the regional cold war between the kingdom and Iran, and is more than willing to exert the influence he has to fortify relations between Baghdad (or rather Najaf) and Riyadh. Nevertheless, his will, Sadr’s meeting with Saudi Arabia and the subsequent measures he has taken since the visit marks a new and perhaps prosperous relationship between Shia Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia, a country that seems to be evolving under its new crown prince, may indeed see itself in a gainful position if Iraq’s Shiites choose to embrace the country, and perhaps Sadr himself will gain from a stronger relationship with the desert kingdom. What is known in the present is that the two are growing closer and closer, and Iran must watch out for this new era of Iraqi- Saudi relations.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8:4)

Another country with nuclear aspirations is watching the North Korean standoff closely

Jason Gewirtz
As the world turns its attention to reports that North Korea has mastered a key component to making a nuclear missile, experts warn that the White House must also keep its eye on Iran.
The concern, some say, is that Tehran will see that if North Korea can get away with building a nuclear weapon in spite of U.S. protests, then it can, too.
Matt Levitt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy said North Korean progress may lead Iran to try to become the next nuclear power. “It’s a human and emotional response, but also logical,” he said of Tehran’s possible goals.
Adding to worries Iran will try to take advantage of the U.S. focus on North Korea, a top aide to supreme leader Kim Jong Un is on a 10-day trip to meet with Iranian leaders in Tehran, according to official North Korean news reports. The reports say top officials from North Korea’s army, navy and air force are part of the trip.
Alireza Nader, an expert on Iran for the global policy think tank RAND Corp., said the meetings aren’t surprising. “Iran and North Korea cooperate on many fronts but mostly on defense,” he said.
Nader added that “most of the North Korean relationship with Iran centers on missile systems. North Korea was helping Iran, but now Iran is helping North Korea with technology for inter-continental ballistic missiles.”
The Iran-North Korea relationship
Despite colliding ideologies, the relationship between the Islamic Republic and communist-atheist North Korea began to blossom during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. Iran sold oil to North Korea to raise cash for military supplies. Iran still ships some oil to North Korea, but that’s limited because North Korea doesn’t have much to trade in return for the fuel. “The relationship is really more military than anything” according to Nader.
Levitt cautioned, however, that the North Korean crisis and the situation in Iran are not entirely parallel: “Iran is not a closed economy that is entirely blocked off from the rest of the world, while North Korea largely is.”
Iranian President Hasan Rouhani, right, meets with a top North Korean leader, Kim Yong Nam, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, Aug. 3, 2013.
That is, Tehran has more to lose from breaking the 2015 international nuclear deal that eased sanctions on the country, while North Korea is a true rogue nation. In fact, French automaker Renault earlier this week struck a deal to build cars in Iran, and energy giant Total recently reached a deal with the Iranians.
Estimates show that more than 90 percent of all trade conducted by North Korea goes through China, whereas Iran is seen as a regional power in the Middle East.
But, Levitt added, “when one situation goes wrong it is inevitable that you think about the other.” Still, he said, President Donald Trump’s administration right now has no choice but to focus most of its attention on North Korea.
Dealing with multiple trouble spots
Former U.S. ambassador Ed Walker disagreed. Walker, who served in Egypt, Israel and the United Arab Emirates, said it’s crucial that the Trump team focuses on both issues at the same time.
“As soon as you start distracting U.S. efforts to contain Iran, that frees up space for Iran to move forward with its nuclear program,” he said.
Walker also said that if the Trump administration can’t keep both issues in check at the same time, “they should quit and go home.”
“President Trump has put himself at a terrible disadvantage by leaving key posts at the State Department unfilled and by not hiring qualified staff fast enough,” said Walker, who served under Presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
In an interview with CNBC’s “Squawk Box” last week, Michael O’Hanlon, a Brookings Institution specialist in defense strategy, warned that Iran is watching what’s happening on the Korean Peninsula closely and using it as a test. He asked rhetorically, “What lessons will Iran draw if North Korea gets away with not only getting a bomb, but building up continuously with China and Russia tolerating it?”
While the North Korean nuclear front is clearly escalating, tensions with Iran are hardly dissipating. After the White House said it wants inspections of Iranian military facilities, a spokesman for Iran’s foreign ministry mocked the push, reportedly calling it “possibly something that a satirist wrote up.”
RAND’s Nader said the Trump administration would be wise to not push for more inspections of Iran just for the sake of testing the nuclear deal.
“If there is true suspicion of Iranian cheating or violating the accord, then the U.S. should increase inspections,” said Nader. But, he added, the North Korea crisis is a great example of why the current deal is so important. “Iran is under a heavy inspections regime, North Korea was not.”

The Inevitability Of Prophecy (Revelation 15)

Yes, nuclear weapons WILL be used.
Here’s why – Politics & Policy – News – Catholic Online
The future use of nuclear weapons is inevitable.
How many nuclear weapons are there in the world? 14,995 according to the US Defense Intelligence Agency. Up to 60 of those could be in the hands of North Korea.
‘The sword itself incites to violence.’ -Homer
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) — A new tally from the US Defense Intelligence Agency states there are 14,995 nuclear weapons is the world as of July 2017. North Korea holds about 60 of those weapons, which is at odds with a Swedish survey that also claimed in July the reclusive North only has 10-20 weapons.
It should come as no surprise to people that the world is awash in nuclear weapons, which are considered to be the ultimate, most powerful weapons on the planet. A single nuclear weapon can destroy an entire city in just seconds. And nuclear warheads can be fitted on long-range missiles that can deliver them to any point on Earth in under 30 minutes.
North Korea has been perfecting its rocket technology to deliver a nuclear weapon to the United States. Their goal is to threaten the U.S. into diminishing its alliance with South Korea and to deter the nation from invading its shores to effect regime change. Although there are no signs the U.S. intends to invade North Korea, the country isn’t taking chances after seeing U.S. interventions across the Middle East.
While North Korea is developing their weapons, President Trump has ordered a $1 trillion modernization program for America’s nuclear arsenal. Just what this entails is uncertain.
Russia still has the most nuclear weapons of any nation, at 7,000. The US has 6,800, and France is a distant third with 300. China is fourth with 270. Next comes the UK with 215, Pakistan with 140, India with 130, Israel with 80, and North Korea with 60.
Of these weapons, most are stored in some kind of facility. Only about 6,000 are deployed and ready for use on short notice. The vast majority of ready-to-use weapons are under U.S. or Russian control. As long as the U.S. and Russia do not start shooting at one another, the world is safe from full-scale nuclear annihilation.
But small scale nuclear wars, confined to regional conflicts still threatens billions of people. A nuclear war between India and Pakistan could easily result in hundreds of millions of casualties.
There’s also the risk of a miscalculation, or a technical malfunction that results in an accidental launching of nuclear weapons.
Finally, there’s the threat of political miscalculation, the escalation of tensions out of control, or the insanity of a madman who commands loyal officers that obey without question.
As long as nuclear weapons exist, there will be a temptation to use them. There will always be the risk of accident. Indeed, we have already used them twice in 1945.
War is destructive insanity, and we have always engaged in its pursuit. This is our fatal flaw. Unfortunately, we have industrialized killing and found novel ways to make it incredibly efficient. Sooner or later, nuclear weapons will be used again. The ancient Greek poet Homer predicted as much when he described human nature thus: “The sword itself incites to violence.” When we have a weapon, we are naturally inclined to use it. We have never not used any technology for the purpose of war. We would be naive to assume nuclear weapons will be any different.