Nations Continue to Fight Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

 © Provided by Al Jazeera The protest was the first mass women’s demonstration to take place in the strip since March 30 [Adel Hana/The Associated Press]


At least 134 Palestinians have been wounded by Israeli gunfire as thousands of Palestinian women demonstrated along the heavily fortified fence with Israel in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Ashraf al-Qudra, spokesperson for Gaza’s healthy ministry, said in a statement on Tuesday that media representatives covering the event were among those who were injured at the scene, east of the enclave.

The protest was the first mass women’s demonstration to take place in the strip since popular protests calling for Palestinians’ right of return began on March 30 in the strip.

Palestinians in the strip have taken part in the protests, dubbed the Great March of Return, calling for their right of return to the homes from which they were expelled from in 1948 during a violent ethnic cleansing campaign that forcibly expelled more than 750,000 Palestinians from their towns and villages.

They have also been demonstrating against the Israeli-Egyptian land, sea and naval blockade that has been in place since 2006, when Hamas – the party governing the strip – came to power.

Women on Tuesday arrived in buses from across the port city, home to more than two million people, many accompanied by their children.

They moved in groups to within 50 metres of the fence, AFP reported.

“I came to finish the march that my daughter had started,” Rim Abu Irmana said, waving a picture of her 15-year-old daughter, Wasal, who was killed by live Israeli ammunition on May 14 – the same day more than 60 other Palestinians were also killed.

May 14, which commemorated the 70 years since the Nakba, coincided with the controversial US embassy move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“These demonstrations are peaceful. We are only defending our land and our rights,” said Irmana, holding the hand of her young son.

Since the protests began on March 30, Israeli forces killed at least 138 Palestinians.

A Lack Of Vigilance Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6) Underlying Exercise Vigilant Guard

Story by: (Author NameStaff Sgt. Raymond Drumsta – 138th Public Affairs Detachment

Dated: Thu, Nov 5, 2009

This map illustrates the earthquake fault lines in Western New York. An earthquake in the region is a likely event, says University of Buffalo Professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

TONAWANDA, NY — An earthquake in western New York, the scenario that Exercise Vigilant Guard is built around, is not that far-fetched, according to University of Buffalo geology professor Dr. Robert Jacobi.

When asked about earthquakes in the area, Jacobi pulls out a computer-generated state map, cross-hatched with diagonal lines representing geological faults.

The faults show that past earthquakes in the state were not random, and could occur again on the same fault systems, he said.

“In western New York, 6.5 magnitude earthquakes are possible,” he said.

This possibility underlies Exercise Vigilant Guard, a joint training opportunity for National Guard and emergency response organizations to build relationships with local, state, regional and federal partners against a variety of different homeland security threats including natural disasters and potential terrorist attacks.

The exercise was based on an earthquake scenario, and a rubble pile at the Spaulding Fibre site here was used to simulate a collapsed building. The scenario was chosen as a result of extensive consultations with the earthquake experts at the University of Buffalo’s Multidisciplinary Center for Earthquake Engineering Research (MCEER), said Brig. Gen. Mike Swezey, commander of 53rd Troop Command, who visited the site on Monday.

Earthquakes of up to 7 magnitude have occurred in the Northeastern part of the continent, and this scenario was calibrated on the magnitude 5.9 earthquake which occurred in Saguenay, Quebec in 1988, said Jacobi and Professor Andre Filiatrault, MCEER director.

“A 5.9 magnitude earthquake in this area is not an unrealistic scenario,” said Filiatrault.

Closer to home, a 1.9 magnitude earthquake occurred about 2.5 miles from the Spaulding Fibre site within the last decade, Jacobi said. He and other earthquake experts impaneled by the Atomic Energy Control Board of Canada in 1997 found that there’s a 40 percent chance of 6.5 magnitude earthquake occurring along the Clareden-Linden fault system, which lies about halfway between Buffalo and Rochester, Jacobi added.

Jacobi and Filiatrault said the soft soil of western New York, especially in part of downtown Buffalo, would amplify tremors, causing more damage.

“It’s like jello in a bowl,” said Jacobi.

The area’s old infrastructure is vulnerable because it was built without reinforcing steel, said Filiatrault. Damage to industrial areas could release hazardous materials, he added.

“You’ll have significant damage,” Filiatrault said.

Exercise Vigilant Guard involved an earthquake’s aftermath, including infrastructure damage, injuries, deaths, displaced citizens and hazardous material incidents. All this week, more than 1,300 National Guard troops and hundreds of local and regional emergency response professionals have been training at several sites in western New York to respond these types of incidents.

Jacobi called Exercise Vigilant Guard “important and illuminating.”

“I’m proud of the National Guard for organizing and carrying out such an excellent exercise,” he said.

Training concluded Thursday.

Brace Yourselves for the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6) was r

Brace Yourselves, New Yorkers, You’re Due for a Major Quake

A couple of hundred thousand years ago, an M 7.2 earthquake shook what is now New Hampshire. Just a few thousand years ago, an M 7.5 quake ruptured just off the coast of Massachusetts. And then there’s New York.

Since the first western settlers arrived there, the state has witnessed 200 quakes of magnitude 2.0 or greater, making it the third most seismically active state east of the Mississippi (Tennessee and South Carolina are ranked numbers one and two, respectively). About once a century, New York has also experienced an M 5.0 quake capable of doing real damage.

The most recent one near New York City occurred in August of 1884. Centered off Long Island’s Rockaway Beach, it was felt over 70,000 square miles. It also opened enormous crevices near the Brooklyn reservoir and knocked down chimneys and cracked walls in Pennsylvania and Connecticut. Police on the Brooklyn Bridge said it swayed “as if struck by a hurricane” and worried the bridge’s towers would collapse. Meanwhile, residents throughout New York and New Jersey reported sounds that varied from explosions to loud rumblings, sometimes to comic effect. At the funeral of Lewis Ingler, a small group of mourners were watching as the priest began to pray. The quake cracked an enormous mirror behind the casket and knocked off a display of flowers that had been resting on top of it. When it began to shake the casket’s silver handles, the mourners decided the unholy return of Lewis Ingler was more than they could take and began flinging themselves out windows and doors.

Not all stories were so light. Two people died during the quake, both allegedly of fright. Out at sea, the captain of the brig Alice felt a heavy lurch that threw him and his crew, followed by a shaking that lasted nearly a minute. He was certain he had hit a wreck and was taking on water.

A day after the quake, the editors of The New York Times sought to allay readers’ fear. The quake, they said, was an unexpected fluke never to be repeated and not worth anyone’s attention: “History and the researches of scientific men indicate that great seismic disturbances occur only within geographical limits that are now well defined,” they wrote in an editorial. “The northeastern portion of the United States . . . is not within those limits.” The editors then went on to scoff at the histrionics displayed by New York residents when confronted by the quake: “They do not stop to reason or to recall the fact that earthquakes here are harmless phenomena. They only know that the solid earth, to whose immovability they have always turned with confidence when everything else seemed transitory, uncertain, and deceptive, is trembling and in motion, and the tremor ceases long before their disturbed minds become tranquil.”

That’s the kind of thing that drives Columbia’s Heather Savage nuts.

New York, she says, is positively vivisected by faults. Most of them fall into two groups—those running northeast and those running northwest. Combined they create a brittle grid underlying much of Manhattan.

Across town, Charles Merguerian has been studying these faults the old‐fashioned way: by getting down and dirty underground. He’s spent the past forty years sloshing through some of the city’s muckiest places: basements and foundations, sewers and tunnels, sometimes as deep as 750 feet belowground. His tools down there consist primarily of a pair of muck boots, a bright blue hard hat, and a pickax. In public presentations, he claims he is also ably abetted by an assistant hamster named Hammie, who maintains his own website, which includes, among other things, photos of the rodent taking down Godzilla.

That’s just one example why, if you were going to cast a sitcom starring two geophysicists, you’d want Savage and Merguerian to play the leading roles. Merguerian is as eccentric and flamboyant as Savage is earnest and understated. In his press materials, the former promises to arrive at lectures “fully clothed.” Photos of his “lab” depict a dingy porta‐john in an abandoned subway tunnel. He actively maintains an archive of vintage Chinese fireworks labels at least as extensive as his list of publications, and his professional website includes a discography of blues tunes particularly suitable for earthquakes. He calls female science writers “sweetheart” and somehow manages to do so in a way that kind of makes them like it (although they remain nevertheless somewhat embarrassed to admit it).

It’s Merguerian’s boots‐on‐the‐ground approach that has provided much of the information we need to understand just what’s going on underneath Gotham. By his count, Merguerian has walked the entire island of Manhattan: every street, every alley. He’s been in most of the tunnels there, too. His favorite one by far is the newest water tunnel in western Queens. Over the course of 150 days, Merguerian mapped all five miles of it. And that mapping has done much to inform what we know about seismicity in New York.

Most importantly, he says, it provided the first definitive proof of just how many faults really lie below the surface there. And as the city continues to excavate its subterranean limits, Merguerian is committed to following closely behind. It’s a messy business.

Down below the city, Merguerian encounters muck of every flavor and variety. He power‐washes what he can and relies upon a diver’s halogen flashlight and a digital camera with a very, very good flash to make up the difference. And through this process, Merguerian has found thousands of faults, some of which were big enough to alter the course of the Bronx River after the last ice age.

His is a tricky kind of detective work. The center of a fault is primarily pulverized rock. For these New York faults, that gouge was the very first thing to be swept away by passing glaciers. To do his work, then, he’s primarily looking for what geologists call “offsets”—places where the types of rock don’t line up with one another. That kind of irregularity shows signs of movement over time—clear evidence of a fault.

Merguerian has found a lot of them underneath New York City.

These faults, he says, do a lot to explain the geological history of Manhattan and the surrounding area. They were created millions of years ago, when what is now the East Coast was the site of a violent subduction zone not unlike those present now in the Pacific’s Ring of Fire.

Each time that occurred, the land currently known as the Mid‐Atlantic underwent an accordion effect as it was violently folded into itself again and again. The process created immense mountains that have eroded over time and been further scoured by glaciers. What remains is a hodgepodge of geological conditions ranging from solid bedrock to glacial till to brittle rock still bearing the cracks of the collision. And, says Merguerian, any one of them could cause an earthquake.

You don’t have to follow him belowground to find these fractures. Even with all the development in our most built‐up metropolis, evidence of these faults can be found everywhere—from 42nd Street to Greenwich Village. But if you want the starkest example of all, hop the 1 train at Times Square and head uptown to Harlem. Not far from where the Columbia University bus collects people for the trip to the Lamont‐Doherty Earth Observatory, the subway tracks seem to pop out of the ground onto a trestle bridge before dropping back down to earth. That, however, is just an illusion. What actually happens there is that the ground drops out below the train at the site of one of New York’s largest faults. It’s known by geologists in the region as the Manhattanville or 125th Street Fault, and it runs all the way across the top of Central Park and, eventually, underneath Long Island City. Geologists have known about the fault since 1939, when the city undertook a massive subway mapping project, but it wasn’t until recently that they confirmed its potential for a significant quake.

In our lifetimes, a series of small earthquakes have been recorded on the Manhattanville Fault including, most recently, one on October 27, 2001. Its epicenter was located around 55th and 8th—directly beneath the original Original Soupman restaurant, owned by restaurateur Ali Yeganeh, the inspiration for Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi. That fact delighted sitcom fans across the country, though few Manhattanites were in any mood to appreciate it.

The October 2001 quake itself was small—about M 2.6—but the effect on residents there was significant. Just six weeks prior, the city had been rocked by the 9/11 terrorist attacks that brought down the World Trade Center towers. The team at Lamont‐Doherty has maintained a seismic network in the region since the ’70s. They registered the collapse of the first tower at M 2.1. Half an hour later, the second tower crumbled with even more force and registered M 2.3. In a city still shocked by that catastrophe, the early‐morning October quake—several times greater than the collapse of either tower—jolted millions of residents awake with both reminders of the tragedy and fear of yet another attack. 9‐1‐1 calls overwhelmed dispatchers and first responders with reports of shaking buildings and questions about safety in the city. For seismologists, though, that little quake was less about foreign threats to our soil and more about the possibility of larger tremors to come.

Remember: The Big Apple has experienced an M 5.0 quake about every hundred years. The last one was that 1884 event. And that, says Merguerian, means the city is overdue. Just how overdue?

“Gee whiz!” He laughs when I pose this question. “That’s the holy grail of seismicity, isn’t it?”

He says all we can do to answer that question is “take the pulse of what’s gone on in recorded history.” To really have an answer, we’d need to have about ten times as much data as we do today. But from what he’s seen, the faults below New York are very much alive.

“These guys are loaded,” he tells me.

He says he is also concerned about new studies of a previously unknown fault zone known as the Ramapo that runs not far from the city. Savage shares his concerns. They both think it’s capable of an M 6.0 quake or even higher—maybe even a 7.0. If and when, though, is really anybody’s guess.

“We literally have no idea what’s happening in our backyard,” says Savage.

What we do know is that these quakes have the potential to do more damage than similar ones out West, mostly because they are occurring on far harder rock capable of propagating waves much farther. And because these quakes occur in places with higher population densities, these eastern events can affect a lot more people. Take the 2011 Virginia quake: Although it was only a moderate one, more Americans felt it than any other one in our nation’s history.

That’s the thing about the East Coast: Its earthquake hazard may be lower than that of the West Coast, but the total effect of any given quake is much higher. Disaster specialists talk about this in terms of risk, and they make sense of it with an equation that multiplies the potential hazard of an event by the cost of damage and the number of people harmed. When you take all of those factors into account, the earthquake risk in New York is much greater than, say, that in Alaska or Hawaii or even a lot of the area around the San Andreas Fault.

Merguerian has been sounding the alarm about earthquake risk in the city since the ’90s. He admits he hasn’t gotten much of a response. He says that when he first proposed the idea of seismic risk in New York City, his fellow scientists “booed and threw vegetables” at him. He volunteered his services to the city’s Office of Emergency Management but says his original offer also fell on deaf ears.

“So I backed away gently and went back to academia.”

Today, he says, the city isn’t much more responsive, but he’s getting a much better response from his peers.

He’s glad for that, he says, but it’s not enough. If anything, the events of 9/11, along with the devastation caused in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy, should tell us just how bad it could be there.

He and Savage agree that what makes the risk most troubling is just how little we know about it. When it comes right down to it, intraplate faults are the least understood. Some scientists think they might be caused by mantle flow deep below the earth’s crust. Others think they might be related to gravitational energy. Still others think quakes occurring there might be caused by the force of the Atlantic ridge as it pushes outward. Then again, it could be because the land is springing back after being compressed thousands of years ago by glaciers (a phenomenon geologists refer to as seismic rebound).

“We just have no consciousness towards earthquakes in the eastern United States,” says Merguerian. “And that’s a big mistake.”

Adapted from Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake by Kathryn Miles, published by Dutton, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2017 by Kathryn Miles.

North Korea Nuclear Program Done In One Year


White House national security adviser John Bolton said on Sunday he believed the bulk of North Korea’s nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programmes could be dismantled within a year.

Bolton told CBS’s Face the Nation that Washington has devised a programme to dismantle North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programmes in a year.

“If they have the strategic decision already made to do that and they’re cooperative, we can move very quickly,” he said. “Physically we would be able to dismantle the overwhelming bulk of their programmes within a year.”

He said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will likely discuss that proposal with the North Koreans soon. The Financial Times reported that Pompeo was due to visit North Korea this week but Reuters has not been able to confirm his travel plans.

North Korea agreed at the summit to “work toward denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” but the joint statement signed by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and US, President Donald Trump gave no details on how or when Pyongyang might surrender its nuclear weapons.

Pompeo told reporters the day after the Singapore summit on June 12 that Washington hoped to achieve “major disarmament” by North Korea within Trump’s current term, which ends on January 20, 2021.

Bolton said the United States was going into nuclear negotiations aware of Pyongyang’s failure to live up to its promises in the past.

“We know exactly what the risks are – them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programmes and ballistic missiles,” he said.

“There’s not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this,” he said. “We’re well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.”


Later, appearing on Fox News, Bolton defended Trump’s decision to hold a summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this month as a way to get beyond the “political noise” that has consumed Washington over the ongoing investigation of Russian election interference.

Bolton said the summit would be “somewhat unstructured” especially during the leaders’ one-on-one time, to avoid “the pressure of immediate deadlines or crises”.

“He wants to understand the Russian position, but, more importantly, he wants Putin to understand our position,” Bolton said. “Let them discuss these issues and see exactly where there might be room for progress or where we find there is no room at all.”

Trump is scheduled to meet with Putin on July 16, several days after he stops in Brussels for a Nato summit. The president has been critical of Nato, suggesting that other member nations do not contribute enough to the alliance and that the United States carries too much of the burden.

Bolton dismissed a question about whether Trump has been more willing to criticise US allies than authoritarian leaders of rival nations, including Putin and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un. Trump feuded with G7 leaders during a summit in Canada last month over trade, abruptly dropping support for a routine joint statement. The president also suggested that Russia, which was kicked out of the group after it annexed Crimea in 2014, be invited back into the organisation.

“I don’t read the way he conducted these meetings the same way,” Bolton told Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace. “I don’t think anybody ought to have a case of the vapours over discussions we have in Nato or the G7 versus discussions we have with Putin or Kim Jong-un. They’re very, very different; the president treats them differently. He understands what the strategic interests are, and that’s what he’s trying to pursue.”

Although US intelligence officials have stated unequivocally that Russian agents sought to influence the 2016 presidential election, Trump has continued to cast doubt on those conclusions. Last summer, during his first one-on-one meeting with Putin, in Hamburg, Trump said that he questioned him about the interference accusations and that the Russian leader denied it.

The End of the Iran Nuclear Deal

The Financial Action Task Force—an international group that monitors money laundering worldwide—avoided a decision to return Iran to its blacklist of countries not doing enough to combat money laundering. Iran’s continued litany of financial crime failings further undermines the future of the country’s nuclear deal with Western governments.

For some, the day Donald Trump was elected U.S. president sounded the death knell for the Iran nuclear deal (or the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, JCPOA, as it is formally known). For others, despite the bluster, posturing and quixotic legislative activity by European partners to keep the deal alive, the JCPOA died on 8 May, when President Trump announced that the U.S. would withdraw from the arrangement. But, for those who still believed that the JCPOA might be saved despite the actions and messaging of Trump and his administration, last Friday’s damning statement by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) almost certainly rendered its resuscitation beyond hope.

Since the JCPOA was implemented in January 2016 it has formed the basis for the gradual reintegration of Iran into the global economy. Trade and finance, previously suspended under a range of sanctions regimes aimed at reversing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, recommenced. Trusting in the survival of the deal, corporates made investments, manufacturers signed production deals and banks reconnected financial services. This economic re-engagement formed an important part of the JCPOA, stating as it does that ‘The United States will make best efforts in good faith to sustain this JCPOA and to prevent interference with the realisation of the full benefit by Iran of the sanctions lifting’.

Once he entered office in January 2017, President Trump continued to rail against the JCPOA. He failed to certify the deal in October 2017 and in May withdrew the U.S. from the deal, announcing that the U.S. would “begin reinstating …nuclear sanctions on the Iranian regime [and] will be instituting the highest level of economic sanction.”

For the European partners to the JCPOA, despite Trump’s obstinate attitude toward the deal, the U.S. withdrawal seemed to come as a surprise. Or at least the failure of European leaders to prepare for a U.S. withdrawal suggests that his actions were not anticipated and as such, there was no Plan B to hand. Believing that Iran has continued to comply with its obligations under the deal, the European Commission stated that it would take steps to “preserve the interests of European companies investing in Iran and demonstrate the E.U.’s commitment to the … JCPOA – the Iran nuclear deal.” Since the deal was signed, French exports to Iran—driven by the sale of aircraft and car parts—have doubled; exports of German goods to Iran have risen to €3 billion ($3.5 billion) with 10,000 companies trading with Iran.

Yet, as E.U. leaders made their statement, companies and financial institutions were already announcing their plans to discontinue engagement with Iran. European giants such as Total (gas), Maersk (shipping) and Peugeot (cars) have all made it clear that their commitment to the Iranian economy would lapse in the face of the threat posed by the return of U.S. sanctions. The rhetoric emanating from Trump and his administration makes it unlikely that the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the U.S. sanctions body, will issue the waivers and licences needed to protect companies that have re-established business connections with Iran.

The E.U. cannot, of course, throw in the towel in the face of Trump’s actions; the Iranians are pressuring Brussels to show leadership and commitment. The E.U. has updated the 1996 Blocking Regulation, which aims to remove, neutralize, block or otherwise counter the threat posed by the laws and regulations of a third country (E.U.-speak for non-member states) to the interests of the E.U., and its natural and legal persons.

In principle, this regulation provides protection against, and counteracts the effects of, the extra-territorial application of any law, such as secondary sanctions reimposed by the U.S. related to Iran. It also prohibits any E.U. national from complying with such regulations and approves the imposition of penalties by the home countries on any entity that does comply. But this regulation is untested. It will also make E.U. companies operating with Iran choose between being shut out of the U.S. financial system or being exposed to the well-known and considerable enforcement powers of U.S. authorities, and the lacklustre willingness of the E.U. to challenge the extra-territorial application of U.S. sanctioning powers. Most likely, those companies that are faced with this dilemma will take advantage of the Blocking Regulation’s provision for companies to seek exemptions should non-compliance with extra-territorial regulations threaten the company in question.

The letter sent to U.S. Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo by France, Germany and the U.K. (the so-called E.U. 3 signatories to the JCPOA) underlined the powerless position of the E.U. in the face of reintroduced U.S. sanctions.

The war of words that has followed Trump’s announcement has been intense. French finance minister Bruno Le Maire questioned whether Europe wanted to be “a vassal that obeys and jumps to attention”; in return, U.S. Ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell tweeted “advice” that “German companies doing business in Iran should wind down operations immediately” drawing fierce criticism.

But step back from the sound and fury of those defending and opposing the JCPOA, and see that there has always been another, less widely acknowledged or understood threat to the deal.

The Financial Action Task Force—the global standard setter and watchdog for anti-money laundering and counterterrorist finance (AML/CTF) standards—has long warned its members and their financial institutions of the risks of engaging with Iran. Iran, together with North Korea, has found itself black-listed by the FATF for many years.

As part of the spirit of cooperation encouraged by the JCPOA and Iran’s commitment to improve its standards, in June 2016 the FATF suspended countermeasures against the country.

At its subsequent meetings, the FATF has reconfirmed this suspension, despite noting as recently as February that Iran had a raft of material outstanding deficiencies. Iran’s leadership has reportedly suggested that it is not necessary to follow international conventions against money laundering and terrorism.

And so to last Friday and the latest announcement from the FATF that “Iran’s action plan has expired with a majority of the action items remaining incomplete.” In what must amount to a final warning, the FATF gave Iran until October to implement necessary reforms, otherwise it will decide upon ‘appropriate and necessary actions’; a return to the FATF blacklist.

The view of the FATF is critical. To the extent the FATF warns of material failings in a country’s AML/CTF regime, regulated financial services—the lifeblood of international trade and fund flows—are unlikely to support economic engagement.

The FATF has shown extraordinary patience with Iran. But international banks and companies assessing their future commitment to the JCPOA will be less patient. Whether or not it has black-listed Iran, the FATF’s latest statement, albeit short of issuing its ultimate sanction, provides support for those seeking to undermine the JCPOA and isolate Iran from the global economy once again.

This analysis first appeared on, the website of the Royal United Services Institute. Read the original article here.

Hubris in Iraq: The Antichrist’s Men (Revelation 13)

Last December, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi was declaring that Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) had been driven from Iraq into Syria. It is hard to understand such hubris, since even if the claim were true, proclaiming it so triumphantly was like a red flag to the terrorist bull; the killers would have made a point of launching new operations in Iraq to prove Abadi a fool.

And so it has proved to be. In recent weeks a rising tide of violence, particularly in Salahuddin Province, has seen dozens of kidnappings and murders. Last week, the corpses of eight men seized earlier were discovered by a road. Clearly angered at the embarrassment of these murders, Abadi ordered the immediate execution of some convicted Daesh killers. Baghdad has not yet given any details but it appears a dozen terrorists of the hundreds already found guilty and sentenced to death were hanged.

The executions are certainly not going to deter Daesh and are unlikely to do anything for the reputation of Abadi’s government in its final days in office, a term which, apart from incompetence and corruption, has been characterized by a consistent lack of realism. This was best demonstrated by repeated premature announcements of total victory in the retaking of Mosul and later Tikrit from the terrorists. It was always clear that once the spurious statehood claims of the blasphemous Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi had been crushed on the formal battlefield, his killers would revert to the classic terrorist tactic of lurking in and striking from the shadows. It is a major government failing that there has been little preparation for a comprehensive counter-insurgency campaign.

This said, Abadi has had poor material to work with. For all its extensive US-equipment, the army is still a dubious resource. The large Mosul garrison cut and ran in the face of what appears now to have been merely a probing assault by the terrorists. Not only did the troops take to their heels, but they left behind hundreds of armored vehicles, thousands of weapons and mountains of ammunition. The army’s weakness lies in its poor training and lack of a cadre of professional officers. Under Abadi’s deeply discredited predecessor, Nouri Al-Maliki, military commands were handed out to incompetent political cronies.

And there is another problem. Much of the heavy lifting in the fighting to defeat Daesh was done by the Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Force (PMF), assisted by the now apparently-departed Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard under its top commander General Qasem Soleimani. Though these fighters protested that they were protecting the Sunni communities they had come to liberate from terrorist oppression, the reality is that their behavior has often been poor. All Sunnis were automatically suspected of being terrorists or Daesh supporters. A foreign journalist embedded with a Shia militia reported witnessing the brutal treatment of detained suspects and hearing of summary executions.

The PMF includes the Badr Brigade of Hadi Al-Amiri, which actually fought alongside the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, as well as Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Saraya Al-Salam militia, formerly the Mahdi Army. Sadr, who is avowedly anti-Iranian, and Al-Amiri triumphed in May’s election but have yet to form a coalition government. Tehran is doubtless pleased at the prospect of fresh conflict between Shia militias.