On the Edge of the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

On the edge of extinction

January 31, 2019

IT has been predicted by the nuclear scientists that in the event of war between Pakistan and India, as an un-intended consequence, the atomic smoke (radio-active fall-out) will cover the entire earth within two weeks rising to the altitude of 20 to 50 miles above the earth which will stay there for several years. Due to severe lack of temperature, the world would be deprived of 30 to 40% of wheat, corn and rice for years. Nearly two billion people are expected to die of starvation across the globe. With temperature plunging below ice age conditions, no crops will grow and 90% population will starve to death within a few years of war. Hence a full-scale nuclear war in future even between smaller countries will spell disaster of the entire world and, perhaps, extinction of the human race.

It is an irony that world’s eyes are focused more on North Korea, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq and South China Sea as flashpoints for future nuclear war, but little notice is taken of the severe tension between Pakistan and India, both neighbours and nuclear powers (laced with atomic war-heads 70 times stronger than those dropped on Japan) who have more than once engaged in full scale wars, and even today Kashmir dispute has the potential to escalate nuclear conflagration on any grave or flimsy provocation. Military skirmishes are a daily routine, and one never knows which move may spark off the nuclear war. The irony is that both countries are non-signatories to CTBT and are answerable to none but to their conscience and to their people. If, God forbid, any insane step is taken by any of the leaders driven more by sentiments and less by rational considerations, the resulting escalation will lead to total annihilation where nobody will know who won and who lost.

War has been admitted as an evil throughout the history. It is built in human psyche to fight for one’s rights. In ancient times, despite regarding war as an evil, its justification has been found under certain conditions even by the most moralist of prophets, sages and philosophers. The three major divisions in the ethics of war are: the realist, the pacifist and the just war theory. The realists believe that war is essential to preserve the morals and ethics of a society. Machiavelli, Thucidided and Hobbes were the exponents of this school. Pacifism however, maintains that a moral evaluation of war is possible, and that war is always found to be immoral, since war causes more damage and results in killing of human beings. Such believers advocate pacifistic diplomatic methods instead of war. Advocates of non-violence hold that war is always found to be immoral. Mohandas K Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Leo Tolstoy were all famous advocates of power of truth, lawfulness, soft power, non-violent resistance and civil disobedience methods as weapons instead of war.

Just war theory, along with pacifism, holds that morals do apply to war. However, unlike pacifism, according to just war theory it is possible for a war to be morally justified. The concept of a morally justified war underlies much of the concept of International Law, such as the Geneva Conventions. Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, St Aquinas etc, who are among the philosophers who have espoused some form of a just war philosophy. One common just war theory evaluation of war is that war is only justified if (1) Waged in a state or nation’s self-defence, or (2) Waged in order to end gross violations of human rights. Einstein was a lifelong pacifist. With his characteristic humour he once said, “ I do not know with what weapons World War-III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” By which he meant that WW-III will obliterate human civilization.

All philosophers and political thinkers are one in saying that war is an abominable evil but have at the same time justified it under certain conditions. In recent days we have seen that the War on Terrorism and the Iraq War begun by the United States have often been justified under the doctrine of pre-emption and to prevent further attacks such as those of September 11, 2001. The horrific tragedy of America dropping two atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945 sent a wave of terror across the world which abruptly changed the traditional concept of war, and alerted all nations to avoid war at any cost. There have been tremendous fear and hatred of war after the first atomic war. Modern war and its gruesome consequences do provide a deterrence against the war.

Most people argue that nuclear weapons have made the world relatively safer, with peace through deterrence. It has also been argued that nuclear weapons have created a nuclear peace, and further nuclear weapons proliferation might even help avoid the large scale conventional wars that were so common prior to the end of World War-II. The modern two notable philosophers ie. Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky are also opposed to war, but they justify the ‘just wars.’ Russell is a utilitarian and considers that war is justified if it is for the good of mankind as a whole and if it could lead to peace. He even justified colonization by the British on this principle. Noam Chomsky is opposed to war because it results in innocent killings. All nuclear disarmament and anti-proliferation Treaties initiated during President Reagan’s time with Russia and other countries have fairly reduced the chances of spread of nuclear race among countries but have not helped reduction of nuclear warheads of those countries who had already gained nuclear capability. Through these treaties the nuclear powers have only retained their hegemony over non nuclear powers. But the fear of future atomic war still looms large as before.

— The writer is freelance columnist based in Lahore.

Babylon the Great Escalates Nuclear War

Nuclear war WARNING: Creation of US’ ‘low-yield’ nukes makes conflict MORE likely

THE US has begun manufacturing ‘low-yield’ nuclear warheads which, while not as powerful as the main weapon, are far more likely to be used by the Trump administration.

By Sean Martin 12:35, Tue, Jan 29, 2019 | UPDATED: 12:42, Tue, Jan 29, 2019

Doomsday Clock: Nuclear risk is ‘greater than ever’ says expert

President Donald Trump ordered the creation of low-yield nuclear warhead for its Trident missiles last year, and the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has announced the process has now begun at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Texas. The first batch of an unspecified number of warheads, called the W76-2, will be ready by the end of September. A spokesman for the NNSA said: “NNSA is on track to complete the W76-2 Initial Operational Capability warhead quantity and deliver the units to the Navy by the end of Fiscal Year 2019.”

W76-2 is a modification of the existing nuclear weapon, the W76, but with a reduced amount of tritium.

This will reduce its explosive power from 100 kilotons of TNT to just five kilotons, making it around a third as powerful as the nuclear bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

A 2018 nuclear posture review said that low-yield weapons “help ensure that potential adversaries perceive no possible advantage in limited nuclear escalation, making nuclear employment less likely”.

However, others disagree with this sentiment.

The move has been met with criticism, with claims the missiles could lower the threshold for nuclear war, which has been simmering through President Trump’s tenure.

Stephen Young, a senior Washington representative of the Union of Concerned Scientists, said: “As best we can tell, the only requirement is to replace the existing secondary, or second stage, with a dummy version, which is what they do every time they test fly a missile.

The missiles could lower the threshold for nuclear war some claim (Image: GETTY)

“There are many other scenarios, especially with a president who takes pride in his unpredictability and has literally asked: ‘Why can’t we use our nuclear weapons?’”

Hans Kristensen of the Federation of American Scientists told the Guardian: “Frankly, mission creep is my greatest worry.

“To what extent does this signal a new willingness on the part of the U.S. to start using strategic nuclear weapons in a tactical and very limited way early in a potential conflict?”

Missiles Ready Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

‘Missiles from Gaza and Lebanon are ready to be fired at Israel’

Top Iranian official addresses for the first time the espionage episode involving ex-Israeli minister, makes new threats against Israel.

General Ali Shamkhani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran, referred for the first time to the espionage affair involving former minister Gonen Segev, whom he called “the Israeli cabinet minister who became a source of intelligence information.”

The Iranian Desk of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs published the statements of Shamkhani, who added, “While the affairs of corruption are about to suffocate the Israeli prime minister, whose cabinet ministers have become a source of information for Iran and under whose feet hundreds of kilometers of tunnels have been dug, he creates unnecessary noise and still claims that his regime enjoys intelligence superiority. ”

Accurate missiles are in the strong hands of the resistance fighters in Gaza and Lebanon, and they are ready to fire at Israel if it commits an act of stupidity. The shooting of the missiles can make their lives hell,” Shamkhani said, threatening Israel.

He added that Iran would not accept any threat to the realization of its plans to increase the range and accuracy of its missiles.

Babylon the Great’s Foreign Policy Disaster

Trump chastises intel chiefs after they contradict him on Iran and claims of foreign policy success

By Eli Watkins, CNN

Updated 11:53 AM EST, Wed January 30, 2019

Washington (CNN) President Donald Trump chastised his own intelligence officials Wednesday morning for being soft on Iran a day after they contradicted numerous administration claims of foreign policy success.

On Tuesday, the nation’s top intelligence official, who was appointed by Trump, told Senate lawmakers that the US intelligence community does not believe Iran is currently undertaking “key activities” needed to produce a nuclear bomb — an assessment at odds with longtime administration claims that Iran is an immediate nuclear threat.

Trump, in a remarkable rebuke that was reminiscent of his past criticisms of law enforcement officials, said the intel chiefs were “extremely passive and naive” on the matter.

“The Intelligence people seem to be extremely passive and naive when it comes to the dangers of Iran. They are wrong!” Trump tweeted. “When I became President Iran was making trouble all over the Middle East, and beyond. Since ending the terrible Iran Nuclear Deal, they are MUCH different, but a source of potential danger and conflict. They are testing Rockets (last week) and more, and are coming very close to the edge. There economy is now crashing, which is the only thing holding them back. Be careful of Iran. Perhaps Intelligence should go back to school!”

In a series of tweets, Trump also touted “tremendous progress” against ISIS, a recently announced framework for talks with the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan and his attempt at a rapprochement with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Notably, Trump said Wednesday there was a “decent chance of denuclearization” on the Korean Peninsula, a step back from his previous demands that the longtime US foe end its nuclear program.

Trump made no mention of Russia, which was specifically mentioned by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats on Tuesday as likely to target 2020 elections. Also left unmentioned was a response to intelligence officials’ warnings about the threat of climate change.

Trump was scheduled to receive an intelligence briefing later Wednesday morning.

In announcing last May that the US would withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement, Trump argued that remaining in the 2015 pact would lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

But more than eight months later, US intelligence officials testified that there is no indication Iran is currently attempting to develop a nuclear weapon and told lawmakers that Tehran remains in compliance with the agreement despite the US withdrawal.

“While we do not believe Iran is currently undertaking the key activities we judge necessary to produce a nuclear device, Iranian officials have publicly threatened to push the boundaries of JCPOA restrictions if Iran does not gain the tangible financial benefits it expected from the deal,” Coats said Tuesday.

Officials contradicted Trump

Coats’ remarks were made as he released the intelligence community’s 2019 worldwide threat assessment and appeared before the Senate Intelligence Committee along with the heads of key intelligence agencies.

At the hearing, the Trump-appointed officials suggested the President’s assertions about ISIS, Iran, North Korea and climate change were off base. Coats warned further that Russia and other foreign countries would seek to target the US political system in 2020.

Trump said Wednesday morning that the “caliphate” would “soon be destroyed,” a step back from his claim last month that the US had already “won against ISIS.” Coats testified on Tuesday that “ISIS is intent on resurging and still commands thousands of fighters in Iraq and Syria.”

Trump’s comments on ISIS also compared progress against the terror group under his tenure favorably to the end of the Obama administration — at one point he claimed Wednesday that “ISIS was out of control in Syria” when he took over — though by the time Trump’s presidency began, ISIS was already on the decline, with the US declaring 75% of ISIS fighters killed by December 2016.

Trump’s defense on Wednesday also serves to push back against wider criticism of some recent major foreign policy decisions.

US intelligence chiefs reveal gulf with Trump on North Korea, Iran and ISIS

Earlier this week, the US special representative for Afghanistan said the US and the Taliban had agreed in principle for a framework to talks that could end the nearly 20-year war. The plan has been criticized by some who call for a different approach or sustained US presence there, and former US ambassador Ryan Crocker wrote a Washington Post op-ed saying the framework for talks had “delegitimized” the government of Afghanistan. In a rare break with Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled an amendment on Tuesday rebuking Trump’s attempts to pull the military away from both Afghanistan and Syria, where Trump’s claims of ISIS’s defeat have been the subject of widespread skepticism since abruptly announcing the US withdrawal last month.

On North Korea, Trump has made no secret about his optimistic view of his approach to Kim and recently announced a second summit with the dictator in a bid to negotiate nuclear disarmament. Intelligence officials, however, said Tuesday that they believed North Korea was “unlikely to completely give up its nuclear weapons and production capability.” Coats said likewise that they had observed activity “inconsistent with full denuclearization.”

Trump’s direct rebuke of his intelligence officials echoed his past criticism of his top appointees on Twitter, including his regular mocking of former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, condemnation of former high-ranking FBI officials and conflicting statements about the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and whether any of his associates conspired with Moscow. Trump has vehemently denied any connections and has frequently called the investigation a “witch hunt.”

And Wednesday’s tweets are not the first time he’s used harsh words against US intelligence officials.

Days before he took the oath of office, Trump lashed out at the intelligence community under the Obama administration after CNN first reported he was briefed on potential Russian efforts to blackmail him.

“Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to ‘leak’ into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?” he tweeted in January 2017.

Trump also clashed with Coats on the intelligence community’s assessment of Russia last July, when Coats issued a statement reaffirming the conclusion that Russia attempted to interfere in the 2016 election. Trump had earlier said he doubted the assessment while standing alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin, though he later chalked up his statements to misspeaking.

CNN’s Zachary Cohen and Kevin Liptak contributed to this report.

The Sixth Seal: More Than Just Manhattan (Revelation 6:12)

New York, NY – In a Quake, Brooklyn Would Shake More Than Manhattan

By Brooklyn Eagle

New York, NY – The last big earthquake in the New York City area, centered in New York Harbor just south of Rockaway, took place in 1884 and registered 5.2 on the Richter Scale.Another earthquake of this size can be expected and could be quite damaging, says Dr. Won-Young Kim, senior research scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University.

And Brooklyn, resting on sediment, would shake more than Manhattan, built on solid rock. “There would be more shaking and more damage,” Dr. Kim told the Brooklyn Eagle on Wednesday.

If an earthquake of a similar magnitude were to happen today near Brooklyn, “Many chimneys would topple. Poorly maintained buildings would fall down – some buildings are falling down now even without any shaking. People would not be hit by collapsing buildings, but they would be hit by falling debris. We need to get some of these buildings fixed,” he said.

But a 5.2 is “not comparable to Haiti,” he said. “That was huge.” Haiti’s devastating earthquake measured 7.0.

Brooklyn has a different environment than Haiti, and that makes all the difference, he said. Haiti is situated near tectonic plate.

“The Caribbean plate is moving to the east, while the North American plate is moving towards the west. They move about 20 mm – slightly less than an inch – every year.” The plates are sliding past each other, and the movement is not smooth, leading to jolts, he said.

While we don’t have the opportunity for a large jolt in Brooklyn, we do have small, frequent quakes of a magnitude of 2 or 3 on the Richter Scale. In 2001 alone the city experienced two quakes: one in January, measuring 2.4, and one in October, measuring 2.6. The October quake, occurring soon after Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, “caused a lot of panic,” Dr. Kim said.

“People ask me, ‘Should I get earthquake insurance?’ I tell them no, earthquake insurance is expensive. Instead, use that money to fix chimneys and other things. Rather than panicky preparations, use common sense to make things better.”

Secure bookcases to the wall and make sure hanging furniture does not fall down, Dr. Kim said. “If you have antique porcelains or dishes, make sure they’re safely stored. In California, everything is anchored to the ground.”

While a small earthquake in Brooklyn may cause panic, “In California, a quake of magnitude 2 is called a micro-quake,” he added.

Through Iran’s Lies Many Shall Die

Iran admits it lied to Obama’s Iran Deal interlocutors

January 30, 2019

By Hassan Mahmoudi

Remember the Iran Deal?

Suddenly the truth about the whole sham is coming out.

On Jan. 22, 2019, Ali Akbar Salehi, the nuclear chief of the Iranian theocracy, acknowledged that Iran had fooled the 5+1 and IAEA group of foreign ministers – these were U.S. and European foreign ministers who negotiated the Iran Deal, – into signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. That was the deal President Obama signed with other leaders and touted to the U.S. public. President Trump scrapped it.

 In an unprecedented confession, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the mullah regime’s Atomic Agency, acknowledged that the mullahs had lied in nuclear negotiations with the five world powers at the Arak nuclear site and had in fact hidden some of the banned equipment.

“As for the tubes we had, the tubes through which the fuel passes, we had bought similar tubes before, but I couldn’t declare them at the time. Only one person in Iran knew this,” he said on Jan. 22 in an interview with the 4th Channel of State Television, IRIB about uranium enrichment tubes that were blocked by cement in the presence of IAEA inspectors (International Atomic Energy Agency).

Only the highest authority of the regime [Ali Khamenei] was aware of this and no one else… His Holiness [Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei] had said that you should be careful with these people, they are not trustworthy and do not keep their promises. Well, we had to work smart, and not burn the bridges behind us. We also had to build a bridge that would allow us to move faster if we had to resume our nuclear activities,” he admitted.

 “It was a tube two or three centimeters in diameter and three or four meters long… We had purchased the same quantity of similar tubes. We were told to butcher them with cement, so we poured cement into these tubes… but we didn’t say we had other tubes,” explained the Iranian nuclear chief, before adding, “We will use them now.”

These confessions reveal that during the nuclear negotiations with the 5+1 that led to the July 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Global Action Plan (JCPOA), Tehran’s sole intention was to fool the world powers to buy time, without interrupting its nuclear arms race.

The concealment of unauthorized equipment at the Arak site is the latest in a long series of deceptions by the clerical regime in its nuclear projects that are being carried out under the control of the regime’s leaders, in particular Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani, the President of the Islamic Republic who was the main negotiator of Iranian nuclear power with the world powers. This is an issue that the Iranian Resistance has been raising since 1991 and has warned against its threats.

Yes, the Iranian Resistance had most certainly warned these signatories.

Immediately after the signing of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi who leads the Resistance, warned that “this agreement does not close the mullahs’ path to deception and access to nuclear bombs.”

Earlier, on Nov. 24, 2013, after a temporary nuclear agreement with the 5+1, the President of the National Council of Iranian Resistance (CNRI) stated that “the Iranian regime’s compliance with its international obligations depends precisely on the degree of determination and firmness of the world community towards the regime’s bad intentions and its deceptiveness.”

“Any indulgence, hesitation, and concession on the part of the international community will encourage Khamenei to turn once again to the manufacture of the atomic bomb by resorting to deception and cheating. The mullahs’ regime has never volunteered to report its nuclear activities to the IAEA in accordance with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The Iranian Resistance was the first party to reveal the regime’s clandestine installations and nuclear deception,” the Iranian opposition leader added.

There have been precedents.

In his book “National Security and Nuclear Diplomacy”, Hassan Rouhani, the president of the clerical regime, writes: “In 2002, activities took place in a calm atmosphere, but the Mujahideen[PMOI or Persian, MeK] suddenly made much noise by making false accusations… Our Atomic Energy Organization has considered that the Natanz facility must be completed in order to confront the IAEA with a fait accompli….. In 2000, the Atomic Energy Organisation promised the[Iranian] authorities that by March 2003, by using 54,000 centrifuges, they would be able to produce 30 tonnes of fuel enriched to 3.5%.

On March 5, 2006, the Sunday Telegraph revealed: “In a speech delivered at an in camera meeting of prominent Islamic clerics and academics, Hassan Rouhani, who led talks with the European Troika until last year, revealed how Tehran played for a long time and tried to fool the West after its secret nuclear programme was discovered by the Iranian opposition in 2002.”

Iran Shall Respond With Fire (Daniel 8:4)

World War 3: Iran will respond with ‘HELLFIRE’ to Israeli attacks in Lebanon and Gaza

IRAN will respond to Israeli attacks in Gaza and Lebanon with “hellfire”, according to the country’s Supreme National Security Council Secretary Ali Shamkhani.

By Abbie Llewelyn 02:04, Wed, Jan 30, 2019 | UPDATED: 08:09, Wed, Jan 30, 2019

Israel: Tensions with Iran ‘rapidly escalating’ warns expert

The close aide of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei branded the attacks “acts of stupidity”. He claimed his country will continue supplying proxies with high-precision missiles, according to Ynetnews. Mr Shamkhani added that the slow discovery of Hezbollah tunnels brings “shame” on Israel’s “intelligence capabilities”.

The Israeli military is attempting to expose and destroy Hezbollah terror tunnels along its border with Lebanon.

He also referred to former Israeli minister, Gonen Segev, who was found guilty of spying for Iran and will serve 11 years in prison.

The top Ayatollah ally said: “There is no greater shame to the Zionist entity, which claims to have superior intelligence capabilities, than the fact that tunnels – hundreds of kilometres long – had been dug under this entity’s nose, and the fact that one of their ministers turned into an Iranian spy.”

He added: “Iran has no scientific or operational restriction for increasing the range of its military missiles, but based on a defensive doctrine, it is continuously working on increasing the precision of the missiles.”

Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council of Iran Ali Shamkhani (Image: GETTY)

His comments come after a massive air attack on Iranian targets in Syria last week.

The bombardment was in response to the surface-to-surface rocket launched at Israeli territory by Iranian Quds Force.

Mr Shamkhani made the bold statement at the National Conference on Space Technologies.

He said the accuracy of missiles is working to be improved upon, but there were no plans to increase range.

A picture taken on January 21 – Syrian air defence batteries responding to alleged Iraeli missiles (Image: GETTY)

Israel’s Iron Dome intercepts rockets launched from Gaza strip

In 2015, the Iran signed a nuclear deal that restricts their right to develop nuclear weapons.

The UN Security Council resolution pinned to it asked Tehran to stop working on ballistic missiles designed to deliver nuclear weapons for up to eight years.

However, Iran said the call was not binding and denied that its missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

The US also instructed that Iran should stop developing satellite-launching technology amid fears it could be used for nuclear weapons.

Babylon and Trump Build a Bigger Nuke

img_4133Trump Administration Reportedly Building New Nuclear Weapon To One-Up Russia

The low-yield weapon is being developed as the U.S. considers pulling out of a major arms treaty with Russia.

By Amy Russo

01/29/2019 07:34 AM E

The Trump administration has reportedly begun developing a new nuclear weapon, inching the U.S. closer to the possibility of a renewed arms race with Russia.

The low-yield weapon, called W76-2, is being built at the Pantex plant in Texas, according to NPR, which confirmed the Department of Energy’s work on the project via an email Monday. The weapon is a variation of the Navy’s submarine-launched W76-1.

The new weapon may yield from 5 kilotons to 7 kilotons, Hans Kristensen, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ nuclear information project, told NPR. That would be just under half the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, which yielded roughly 15 kilotons.

The development of the new nuke is especially significant, since President Donald Trump stated in October that he intends to pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 arms-control pact made with the then-Soviet Union. The U.S has accused Moscow of breaking the agreement by using ground-launched intermediate-range missiles, which are prohibited. Russia has denied allegations of non-compliance.

A decision to suspend U.S. obligations under the treaty could arrive by this weekend, according to a White House official who spoke to Bloomberg News. A pullout, if announced, would take place over a six-month period.

The Antichrist’s “New Iraq”

It remains to be seen whether this so called ‘new Iraq’ is as post-sectarian as some academics and journalists claim.

Iraqis protest against unemployment and lack of public services in Baghdad, 27 July 2018. Picture by Ameer Al Mohammedaw/DPA/PA Images. All rights reserved. Iraq arguably entered a new phase of ‘post-sectarianism’ since 2015. This was evident during the popular protests that began in the summer of 2015 and returned significantly in the summer of 2018 – when Iraqi political activism transformed from identity politics to being issue based. This showed that the protests are driven by frustration and demands for improving the poor public services and the high unemployment figures, rather than the usual politically led religious and ethnic differences. Specifically, the transition was motivated by the failure of the ethnic-sectarian political class in providing efficient public services, education, health care, security and development necessary for society. Is this enough to say that we are in an era of ‘post-sectarianism’?

What is ‘sectarian Iraq’?

Sectarian Iraq refers to post-2003 when the country fell to the US-led invasion and witnessed the installation of a political class which appoints its high-profile governmental posts and cabinet based on an ethnic-sectarian quota: a Shiite Arab Prime Minister, a Kurdish President and a Sunni Arab Speaker of Parliament, to satisfy the power determinations of the leading common political parties of the three largest communities.

The ethnic-sectarian quota-based governance in Iraq had a number of consequences throughout the years. It turned Iraq into a sectarian regional battlefield between Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Turkey when it comes to issues related to the Kurds and Turkmens. Furthermore, political parties used ethnic-sectarian differences to mobilize communities against one another, which directly harmed the Iraqi societal relations. This was mainly witnessed during the height of the sectarian conflict between 2006-2008 and during the 2014 fall of Mosul in the hands of the extremist group known as the Islamist State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or Daesh.

Apart from the failure of sectarian political parties in serving their own communities, they also failed to maintain unified fronts within their own communal political circles – and that in itself exposed how these sectarian political parties were motivated by political and not sectarian interests. A common and strong reflection of that are the internal divisions within the ethnic-sectarian political fronts. A good example would be the decades old Iraqi Kurdish rivalry between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party or even, the enmity between the former prime ministers Haider al-Abadi (2014-18) and Nouri al-Maliki (2008-14) following the Islamic Da’wa party’s breakup in 2014 when al-Maliki failed to gain an unconstitutional third term.

‘Post-sectarian Iraq’

Iraq’s post-sectarian phase could be noticed when the main attention of Iraqi politics moved from being about sectarian identity to becoming about demands and specific issues related to services and rights. There are several important incidents that must be noted when talking about the fragile post-sectarian Iraq. One such incident is the announcement by the Iraqi Army that all Iraqi cities were liberated from ISIL in 2017, and the second was the failure of the Kurdish independence referendum on September 25, 2017 and the Iraqi army’s retaking control of Kirkuk after years of Kurdish Peshmerga rule. Those two events among others provoked a sense of social hope and reconnected people to a unified and sovereign homeland. However, it should be noted that the Kurdish reaction differed towards the outcome of the referendum – as it consisted of more losses than gains. Apart from Kirkuk being the most strategic and disputed area between Erbil and Baghdad on the Kurdish issue – the Iraqi government also demanded re-control of the airports and the borders.

But it was the protests of 2018 that mark an era of a post-sectarian Iraq. The protests that began in the Southern province of Basra to then include the entire southern region until they reached the capital Baghdad in July 2018, reflected two new indicators of post-sectarianism. The first was that the protests took place in the Shiite-majority region despite the political class in Baghdad and most southern municipalities being dominated by Shiite political parties. It is crucial to note that this was different from the former protests that commonly erupted in Sunni majority provinces. The other indicator was that the protests were being driven by frustration at the government’s failure in improving the economy and in providing efficient public services such as education, health care, clean water and electricity, away from any sectarian-driven discourse.

Signs of social harmony during the protests arose when Sunni Arab tribes and Kurdish protesters also expressed cross-communal support and sympathy from across Iraq for the protests in the southern provinces as they “all suffer from the same pain of lack of basic services and entrenched corruption.”

Furthermore there was the formation of the trans-sectarian coalition Sairoon, between the nationalist Shiite leader Muqtada al-Sadr and non-religious parties including the Iraqi Communist Party. The coalition gained the most votes during the elections and for the first time since 2003, the Shiite Islamist Da’wa Party did not dominate the election results. Sairoon was considered the most popular and influential non-sectarian parliamentary coalition during the May 2018 elections – however, their inability to form a government or an opposition independently from any interferences from the classic ethnic-sectarian coalitions such as the Iranian-backed al-Fatah, showed how the ethnic-sectarian quota prevails and asserts its dominance.

What remains to be seen is whether this so called ‘new Iraq’ is as post-sectarian as some academics and journalists claim. The discourse has undeniably changed as we have witnessed a growing interest and attention towards issues that transcend identity politics. Nonetheless, the direct implications of a sectarian state are still significantly present in reality – ethnic-sectarian quotas remain in place, and the regional influences still drive most politicians. Most importantly, we are continuously witnessing a lack of governmental effort to improve the country’s economy and public services. While it might perhaps be too soon to speak of a new post-sectarian era, one thing is certain, that there is a new discourse that has appeared and destabilized the old sectarian reality of Iraq.

Palestinian critically wounded outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11:2)

Palestinian said critically wounded amid clashes on Gaza border

Army says 1,000 Gazans riot along security fence in northern Strip, but Hamas health ministry says injured man was not taking part

By TOI staff and Judah Ari Gross

Today, 5:35 pm

A Gazan man was critically wounded from Israeli fire during a violent protest on the border in the north of the coastal enclave, Palestinians said Tuesday.

Approximately 1,000 Palestinians rioted along the northern Gaza border, across from the Israeli community of Zikim, the Israeli army said.

The demonstrators threw stones at Israeli troops on the other side of the security fence. The soldiers responded with tear gas and, in some cases, live fire, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

At sea, approximately 20 boats made their way toward the limits of the permitted fishing zone in a weekly naval protest. They were being turned back by Israeli naval vessels, the army said.

The Hamas-run health ministry said a Palestinian man, 45, was seriously injured after he was shot in the knee by Israeli security forces.

The ministry said he was working land in the northern Gaza Strip and not taking part in the protests.

الحراك البحري شمال قطاع #غزة رفضاً للحصار. pic.twitter.com/C6HGXaRpZ2

شبكة قدس الإخبارية (@qudsn) January 29, 2019

Separately, the ministry in Gaza said Samir al-Nabaheen, 47, died Tuesday from wounds he sustained during clashes Friday with Israeli forces. He was the second fatality reported by the ministry during Friday’s riots.

Since last March, the Gaza border has seen large-scale weekly clashes on Fridays, and smaller protests along the northern Gaza border on Tuesdays as well as periodic flareups between the Israeli military and Palestinian terror organizations.

Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terror group sworn to Israel’s destruction.