New York earthquake: City of the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Published 30th April 2018

Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.

Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.

The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.

Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.

EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors

But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.

The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.

What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.

The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.


THE BIG APPLE: An aerial view of Lower Manhattan at dusk in New York City


RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS

“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher

“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.

Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.

But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.

“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.

In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.

“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.

On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.


FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said

NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.

“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.

“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

China’s Growing Nuclear Horn (Revelation 7)

China could unveil new weapons at the parade celebrating 70 years of the People’s Republic of China ( AP )

China ‘poised to unveil new nuclear missile’ at military parade in warning to Trump

Many weapons ‘will be shown for the first time’, says Ministry of Defence

Joe McDonald

A parade by China’s secretive military will offer a rare look at its rapidly developing arsenal, including possibly a nuclear-armed missile that could reach the United States in 30 minutes, as Beijing gets closer to matching Washington and other powers in weapons technology.

The Dongfeng 41 is one of a series of new weapons Chinese media say might be unveiled during the parade marking the ruling Communist Party’s 70th anniversary in power.

The parade will highlight Beijing’s ambition to enforce claims to Taiwan, the South China Sea and other disputed territories – and to challenge Washington as the region’s dominant force.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA), the world’s biggest military with 2 million men and women in uniform and the second-highest annual spending after the United States, also is working on fighter planes, the first Chinese-built aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines.

“There are quite a lot of observers, including the US military, who say ‘this is getting close to what we do’ and they are starting to worry,” said Siemon Wezeman of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).

The parade on Tuesday will include 15,000 troops, more than 160 aircraft and 580 pieces of military equipment, according to Ministry of Defence spokesman.

Many new weapons “will be shown for the first time,” Maj Gen Cai told reporters last week. Asked whether that would include the Dongfeng 41, he said: ”Please wait and see.”

The ability to project power is increasingly urgent for Chinese leaders who want to control shipping lanes and waters also claimed by Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, the Philippines and other governments.

“China has developed nuclear, space, cyberspace and other capabilities that can reach potential adversaries across the globe,” the US Defence Intelligence Agency said in a report in January.

Last year’s spending on the PLA rose 5 per cent to $250bn (£228bn), or about 10 times its 1994 level, according to Sipri. The United States, with a force of 1.3 million, was far ahead at $650bn, or more than twice China’s level.

Beijing is regarded, along with the United States, as a leader in drone aircraft, which it sells in the Middle East.

“In unpiloted aerial vehicles, China has made a lot of progress in recent years and has a vast array of systems under development,” said Harry Boyd of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London.

No details of the Dongfeng 41 have been released, but the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington says it may have the world’s longest range at 15,000km.

China’s state media releases footage of armed police in Hong Kong anti-demonstration drill

Analysts say the DF-41, flying at 25 times the speed of sound, might be able to reach the United States in 30 minutes with up to 10 warheads for separate targets – a technology known as MIRV, or multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles.

China’s current mainstay missile, the Dongfeng 31, has a range of more than 11,200 km which puts most of the continental United States within reach.

Photos circulated on Chinese social media of parade preparations show blurry images of a possible attack drone dubbed “Sharp Sword” and another drone, the DR-8 or Wuzhen 8.

The parade also might give more subtle signs of China’s plans, said Mr Wezeman.

Airborne tankers or marines in amphibious vehicles could “indicate the importance of long-range intervention”, he said. Air defence missiles might show Beijing is preparing for war with the United States or another advanced opponent.

War with US would be a disaster, China says

Analysts want to know about Chinese software, electronics and wireless control networks, said Mr Wezeman.

“Ten vehicles full of antennas may give an indication that is something that is becoming more important for China,” he said.

If mobile launchers for nuclear missiles are displayed, that might help to shed light on how Beijing sees “the challenge of maintaining credibility with their nuclear deterrent”, Mr Boyd added.

China has about 280 nuclear warheads, compared with 6,450 for the United States and 6,850 for Russia, according to Sipri. Beijing says it wants a “minimum credible nuclear deterrent” but will not be the first to use atomic weapons in a conflict.

Mobile launchers “would make it more difficult for any potential enemy to do a first strike,” said Mr Boyd.

Satellite photos show China is increasing the number of launchers for DF-41 and DF-31 missiles from 18 to as many as 36, Mr Boyd said.

That suggests planners believe that minimum nuclear force “needs to be larger”, he said. “It needs to have more advanced systems with MIRV capability to remain credible, in their eyes.”

Associated Press

Billions to be Killed in the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Don’t Sleep on India’s Nuclear Weapons (They Could Kill Billions)

Michael Peck

The National Interest

September 29, 2019, 2:21 PM UTC

Key Point: India has 130 to 140 nuclear warheads—and more are coming, according to a new report.

“India is estimated to have produced enough military plutonium for 150 to 200 nuclear warheads, but has likely produced only 130 to 140,” according to Hans Kristensen and Matt Korda of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists. “Nonetheless, additional plutonium will be required to produce warheads for missiles now under development, and India is reportedly building several new plutonium production facilities.”

In addition, “India continues to modernize its nuclear arsenal, with at least five new weapon systems now under development to complement or replace existing nuclear-capable aircraft, land-based delivery systems, and sea-based systems.”

Unlike the missile-centric U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, India still heavily relies on bombers, perhaps not unexpected for a nation that fielded its first nuclear-capable ballistic missile in 2003. Kristensen and Korda estimate India maintains three or four nuclear strike squadrons of Cold War-vintage, French-made Mirage 2000H and Jaguar IS/IB aircraft targeted at Pakistan and China.

“Despite the upgrades, the original nuclear bombers are getting old and India is probably searching for a modern fighter-bomber that could potentially take over the air-based nuclear strike role in the future,” the report notes. India is buying thirty-six French Rafale fighters that carry nuclear weapons in French service, and presumably could do for India.

India’s nuclear missile force is only fifteen years old, but it already has four types of land-based ballistic missiles: the short-range Prithvi-II and Agni-I, the medium-range Agni-II and the intermediate-range Agni-III. “At least two other longer-range Agni missiles are under development: the Agni-IV and Agni-V,” says the report. “It remains to be seen how many of these missile types India plans to fully develop and keep in its arsenal. Some may serve as technology development programs toward longer-range missiles.”

Preparing for Iran’s Destruction

Iran could be ‘destroyed overnight in a massive shock and awe attack’ says leaked US ‘war plan’

Patrick Knox

IRAN would be blitzed to bits by the US in a colossal “shock and awe” attack which destroy the regime over night, leaked documents show.

Codenamed Theatre Iran Near Term (TIRANNT), the war plan is believed to be the blueprint for a strike that would pave the war for crushing the country’s powerbase within 24 hours.

The attacks would resemble to 2003 ‘shock and awe’ strikes against IraqCredit: EPA

Barrage upon barrage of Tomahawk missiles would rain down

B-52s would saturate the country’s key sites with tens of thousands of tons of bombsCredit: Getty Images – Getty

Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei would face the same fate as Saddam HusseinCredit: EPA

A war on Iran has been on the drawing board on the Pentagon for more than ten years.

But rising fears of an imminent conflict after Terran’s missile and drone strike on Saudi oil plant attacks, the leaked plans have reemerged and are viewed by experts as how a US attack would unfold.

Almost certainly Iran’s nuclear plants and facilities would be destroyed first.

And while conventional weapons would be used instead of nukes, the attack would nonetheless crush Iran’s military strength with little more than a day.

Under TIRANNT, cruise missiles would be unleashed from ships in the Gulf and bombs dropped from formations of B52 Stratofortress as well as B2 stealth warplanes

More than 10,000 targets would be pummelled.  

The US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s weapons of mass destruction, nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state and economic infrastructure within days if not hours

US study conclusion

Planes could fly from the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, Saudi Arabia, and the United Kingdom.

Presently there is only one US Navy aircraft carrier deployed to the Gulf, the USS Abraham Lincoln.

But the plan highlights how six aircraft carrier groups can be dispatched off the coast of Iran at a month’s notice.

The sheer intensity of the air raids would mirror the 2003 “shock and awe” attacks in Iraq.

This quickly saw that country’s defences crumble before an invasion swept dictator Saddam Hussein from power.


The Islamic Revolutionary Guard would be hammered flat in the open hours of the massive attackCredit: Reuters

The war plan, which also involves NATO and Israeli forces, was leaked by William Arkin, a former US intelligence analyst in 2007.

The blueprint was subsequently examined by Dr Dan Plesch and Martin Butcher.

Their study concludes: “The US has made military preparations to destroy Iran’s WMD (weapons of mass destruction), nuclear energy, regime, armed forces, state apparatus and economic infrastructure within days if not hours.

“Any attack is likely to be on a massive multi-front scale but avoiding a ground invasion.”

US and Iran – a troubled history

• Before the 1979 Iranian revolution, Iran was one of America’s biggest allies in the Middle East and was led by the US-backed Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.

• However, since the seismic revolt, Iran has been led by murderous Islamic fundamentalists and tensions with Washington have remained ever since.

• On November 4, 1979, the Iranian regime took 52 US diplomats hostage in response to President Carter’s administration allowing Iran’s deposed former leader into America.

• The hostage crisis lasted for 444 days and also included a failed rescue mission which cost the lives of eight US soldiers.

• In April 1980, the US ended diplomatic relations with Iran – a break which lasted for more than 30 years.

• In April 1983, Washington blamed the Iranian-funded terror group Hezbollah for carrying out a bombing attack on the American embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

• The assault, carried out amid a brutal civil war in Lebanon, killed 17 Americans.

• In November of that year, two truck bombs in Beruit killed 241 US peace keepers. The US again blamed Hezbollah for the incident.

• The Clinton White House, in 1995, placed a total embargo on Iran meaning US companies could not trade with the country.

• And in 2002, George W Bush included the Islamic Republic in his famous “Axis of evil” speech along with North Korea and Iraq.

Although 10,000 targets may be selected, these sites would be on the top of the list

The document does not, however, mention the use of cyber-attacks on power stations and government offices, which would almost certainly be used alongside bombs and missiles in a bid to bring the country to its knees.

But Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said today the US has already started a cyber-war with his country.

In an interview on NBC, he said: “There is a cyber war going on.”

The Iranian official cited Stuxnet, a computer virus that is widely believed to be a joint creation of the US and Israel and is blamed for disrupting thousands of Iranian centrifuges in an effort to damage its nuclear program.

He said: “The United States started that cyber war, with attacking our nuclear facilities in a very dangerous, irresponsible way that could’ve killed millions of people.”

He added: “So there is a cyber war … and Iran is engaged in that cyber war.

“But the United any war that the United States starts, it won’t be able to finish.”

The US is already strangling the religious regime with sanctions in a bid to halt the country’s nuclear weapons development.

But genuine fears an all out war have been growing since Iran was proved to be behind the drone and cruise missile attacks on Saudi oil plants, the world’s largest source of fuel, on September 14.

Iran’s president warns the West to ‘stay away’ and unveils long-range missiles that could strike US bases

7,000 Arabs Riot Outside the Temple Walls (Revelation 11)

7,000 Arabs riot along Gaza border, one killed

Palestinian Arab killed as rioters throw firebombs and explosives at IDF soldiers along Gaza border. Two military vehicles damaged.

About 7,000 Palestinian Arabs protested on Friday on the Israel-Gaza border as part of the weekly “March of the Return” demonstrations.

The rioters threw firebombs and makeshift explosives at IDF soldiers. There were no injuries, but the explosives and firebombs caused minor damage to two military vehicles.

The IDF responded by using riot dispersal means.

The Hamas-run “health ministry” in Gaza reported that at least 63 demonstrators were injured, 32 of them by live fire. One of them died of his injuries on Friday evening.

Last Friday, about 9,200 Palestinian Arabs protested in the weekly demonstrations which have been going on every Friday since March of 2018.

The rioters threw rocks, explosives and firebombs at IDF soldiers. The IDF responded with riot dispersal means.

Three weeks ago, two Palestinian Arabs were killed by Israeli fire in the weekly clashes. Hamas threatened to retaliate for the deaths, saying that Israel will “bear full responsibility for this crime.”

A week earlier, an IDF soldier was lightly injured during the violence.

(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)

The Pakistani Nuclear Nightmare (Daniel 8 )

Key point: An unstable country in a dangerous neighborhood.

Loose Nukes: Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Are A Nightmare for 1 Reason

September 28, 2019, 1:00 PM UTC

Sandwiched between Iran, China, India and Afghanistan, Pakistan lives in a complicated neighborhood with a variety of security issues. One of the nine known states known to have nuclear weapons, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and doctrine are continually evolving to match perceived threats. A nuclear power for decades, Pakistan is now attempting to construct a nuclear triad of its own, making its nuclear arsenal resilient and capable of devastating retaliatory strikes.

Pakistan’s nuclear program goes back to the 1950s, during the early days of its rivalry with India. President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto famously said in 1965, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own.”

The program became a higher priority after the country’s 1971 defeat at the hands of India, which caused East Pakistan to break away and become Bangladesh. Experts believe the humiliating loss of territory, much more than reports that India was pursuing nuclear weapons, accelerated the Pakistani nuclear program. India tested its first bomb, codenamed “Smiling Buddha,” in May 1974, putting the subcontinent on the road to nuclearization.

Pakistan began the process of accumulating the necessary fuel for nuclear weapons, enriched uranium and plutonium. The country was particularly helped by one A. Q. Khan, a metallurgist working in the West who returned to his home country in 1975 with centrifuge designs and business contacts necessary to begin the enrichment process. Pakistan’s program was assisted by European countries and a clandestine equipment-acquisition program designed to do an end run on nonproliferation efforts. Outside countries eventually dropped out as the true purpose of the program became clear, but the clandestine effort continued.

The Shi’a Horn Aligns (Daniel 8:8)

Iran Releases ‘Never Seen’ Photo of Khamenei With Hezbollah Chief


Tehran, Sept 28, 2019 (AFP) –

Iran has released a “never before seen” photo of supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei alongside Hassan Nasrallah, leader of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah.

The photo published on the supreme leader’s official website shows Nasrallah with Khamenei on his right and Qassem Soleimani — the commander of Iran’s elite Qods Force — on his left.

The three men are shown in front of what appears to be a door covered by a curtain and surrounded by shelves stacked with books — decor associated with Khamenei’s Tehran office.

Before a 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon, Nasrallah often openly visited the Iranian capital, but since then his public appearances have been limited.

Iran’s support for Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad are an enduring feature of the Islamic republic’s foreign policy.

The photo — first published on Wednesday and still available on Sunday — has received little coverage in other Iranian media.

The picture will make the inaugural cover of a new magazine — Massir (the Path) — soon to be launched by, the supreme leader’s website said, while noting that the issue will publish elements of a “five hour interview” with Nasrallah.

The text references “a never before seen photo”, but does not confirm the date or place where it was taken.

An advertisement on the supreme leader’s website says that Massir will publish “for the first time… images of meetings” between Nasrallah and Khamenei.

The website also published around a dozen photos of Nasrallah taken “during an exclusive discussion” with officials from the supreme leader’s office, again without detailing the place and timing of the pictures.

One of the photos shows Nasrallah sitting in an armchair in front of portraits affixed to a wall of the supreme leader and his predecessor Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

Two other pictures show the Hezbollah leader in conversation with two unidentified men.

Authorities Expecting The Sixth Seal? (Revelation 6:12)

New York Times


JULY 17, 2014

Here is another reason to buy a mega-million-dollar apartment in a Manhattan high-rise: Earthquake forecast maps for New York City that a federal agency issued on Thursday indicate “a slightly lower hazard for tall buildings than previously thought.”

The agency, the United States Geodetic Survey, tempered its latest quake prediction with a big caveat.

Federal seismologists based their projections of a lower hazard for tall buildings — “but still a hazard nonetheless,” they cautioned — on a lower likelihood of slow shaking from an earthquake occurring near the city, the type of shaking that typically causes more damage to taller structures.

“The tall buildings in Manhattan are not where you should be focusing,” said John Armbruster, a seismologist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University. “They resonate with long period waves. They are designed and engineered to ride out an earthquake. Where you should really be worried in New York City is the common brownstone and apartment building and buildings that are poorly maintained.”

Mr. Armbruster was not involved in the federal forecast, but was an author of an earlier study that suggested that “a pattern of subtle but active faults makes the risk of earthquakes to the New York City area substantially greater than formerly believed.”

He noted that barely a day goes by without a New York City building’s being declared unsafe, without an earthquake. “If you had 30, 40, 50 at one time, responders would be overloaded,” he said.

The city does have an earthquake building code that went into effect in 1996, and that applies primarily to new construction.

A well-maintained building would probably survive a magnitude 5 earthquake fairly well, he said. The last magnitude 5 earthquake in the city struck in 1884. Another is not necessarily inevitable; faults are more random and move more slowly than they do in, say, California. But he said the latest federal estimate was probably raised because of the magnitude of the Virginia quake.

Mr. Armbruster said the Geodetic Survey forecast would not affect his daily lifestyle. “I live in a wood-frame building with a brick chimney and I’m not alarmed sitting up at night worried about it,” he said. “But society’s leaders need to take some responsibility.”

Who Is The Antichrist? (Revelation 13:11)

Who is Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr? The Iraqi Shia cleric making a comeback in Baghdad


Baghdad protests

Supporters of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr burn a US flag during a protest demanding the government prevent the entry of U.S. troops into Iraq at Al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad, September 20, 2014.REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Images from last Friday’s demonstrations in Baghdad, where thousands of people gathered outside the so-called Green Zone, may have reminded some observers of the protests that took place in a number of Arab countries in 2011. But during the Arab Spring people were not guided by political leadership, whereas recent demonstrations in Iraq have been promoted and led by one man in particular; Iraqi Shia leader Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr.

Al-Sadr was born in 1973 to a family of high-ranking Shia clerics. Both his father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, and his father-in-law, Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, were important religious authorities who enjoyed large support among their co-religionists, a key factor in why there were tensions between them and the Baathist regime.

The latter was arrested and executed in 1980, while the former was assassinated in 1999 at the hands of regime agents. Muqtada al-Sadr, a junior and unknown cleric at the time, inherited his father’s legacy and popular support (primarily among working class Shia families in the South and the now ubiquitous Sadr City in Baghdad).

While he opposed the Baathist regime, his rise to prominence came with his resistance to the Anglo-American occupation after 2003, founding a militia known as the Mahdi Army, which was involved in the post-invasion insurgency, and accused of sectarian violence. Being able to count on both large popular support and a powerful military force, he soon became one of Iraq’s leading political and religious figures.

Sadr’s stance with regards to Iraqi politics has been rather ambiguous, leading some to describe him as “a hybrid of anti-establishment positions while being part of the establishment himself.” His involvement in the country’s public life has seen him make moves and take positions which are sometimes in contrast with the Shia ruling majority’s orientations. He is a steadfast opponent of sectarian politics, although some members of his bloc, the Sadrist Movement, have held, and continue to hold, positions in governments based on quota-sharing.

Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

A common thread since 2003 has been the opposition to foreign interference in Iraq, regardless whether it comes from the West (US, UK) or the East (Iran). His disenchantment as to the possibility of pursuing an alternative to sectarian politics was one of the reasons that led him to suddenly announce his withdrawal from political life in 2014, as one of his movement’s officials stated.

Since then, things have evolved in Iraq. The rise of Islamic State (Isis) in which sectarian politics undoubtedly played a role has posed a serious threat to the stability of the country, exacerbated by the political tensions of Maliki’s government at the time. Despite enormous difficulties (the constant threat of extremism, the recent fall of oil prices), his successor Haidar al-Abadi has managed to keep the country afloat as the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMU) and the Security Forces have regained territory from Daesh.

Abadi has been able to ease tensions with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), to take some anti-corruption measures, and to purge the army of inefficient officials. Some issues which have taken root in Iraq have not yet been entirely solved, such as poor public services, corruption, lack of transparency, and sectarianism.

These are the plagues that Sadr has vowed to fight against, on the base of a populist vision of national unity in which religiosity and patriotism are often conflated, as the slogan “Love for one’s country is part of the faith” suggests. The Shia leader supported Abadi’s pledge to carry out a government reshuffle, aimed at installing a technocratic cabinet, as well as to fight corruption, restore services, and implement public accountability.

People in Iraq are getting more and more frustrated at Abadi-led government’s inability to move forward in the reform process — which some elements in the ruling majority actually oppose, seeing it as a threat to their interests. As talks between political factions have not led to concrete results so far, Sadr has seen an opportunity to mobilise the Iraqi masses and push for more audacious measures.

After having a member of his own political bloc, Baha al-A’raji (PM deputy), arrested on corruption and embezzlement charges, he disavowed the corrupt officers in his movement and is currently going to investigate how they have caused corruption.

Sadr urges Iraqis to oppose U.S., but peacefully
Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr Reuters

Given Sadr’s huge influence both as a political and military leader — his military wing known as the Peace Brigades has participated in the liberation of the Leine area west of Samarra — his moves could turn out to be a destabilising factor, which is not the first time Sadrist intervention has disrupted the political process.Looking at the causes that may have led Sadr to such a steadfast return to public life, it has been suggested that he hopes to prevent other Shia groups from asserting their influence in the country, on both a political and a military level. After a government reshuffle was proposed, factions have been in disagreement over how this is to be done: while one side prefers the ministries to be chosen by political parties, another side, led by Sadr, asserts that parties should not interfere.

Sadr has also threatened the current government with a vote of no-confidence if no agreement is reached within 45 days. It is also worth noting that Sadr does not oppose Abadi, but he thinks he should take the chance to promote reforms before it’s too late.

How is Sadr’s comeback to be evaluated? This week, the third demonstration led by the Shia leaexpected to be held, which threatens to storm the Green Zone in the Iraqi capital. There are mixed feelings in the Iraqi street regarding Sadr’s role. Some support his push for change, frustrated at Abadi government’s poor performance in terms of reforms.

Others, however, are afraid that if a breach in security occurs during the protests, it will undermine the rule of law and set a precedent that Sadr is taking the law into his own hands. This is why some of the Green Zone residents have allegedly left the area lest the situation gets out of control.

Despite being characterised by some clearly populist motifs, Sadr’s pledge to fight against corruption and for the sake of the most vulnerable classes of Iraqi society can function as an incentive for the large-scale reforms proposed by Abadi. At the same time, though, Sadr’s uncompromising stances may lead to political stalemate in a country that still needs to recapture the remaining areas under Daesh control.

His call for a more transparent and efficient administration, then, can be beneficial as long as his long-term vision does not hinder the current government’s activity, given the delicate stage the country is going through.

Stefano Freyr Castiglione is an Arab media analyst at Integrity UK

Iranian Hegemony in Iraq

Logo of the Hashd Al-Sha’abi militias, image via Wikipedia

The Al-Hashd al-Sha’bi Militias at a Crossroads

By Dr. Doron Itzchakov

September 27, 2019

BESA Center Perspectives No. 1,301, September 27, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The recent assaults on the militia bases of al-Hashd al-Sha’bi raise questions about Iraq’s future. Despite the Iraqi PM’s ultimatum demanding that the militias, which operate under the Iranian umbrella, integrate into the Iraqi military apparatus, a number of them are not complying, which could have implications for Iraqi sovereignty.

The al-Hashd al-Sha’abi (Popular Mobilization Forces) militia bases in Iraq, which are largely supported by the Islamic Republic, operate separately from the Iraqi army. These militias were founded in response to the crisis in the Iraqi army that followed the conquest of Mosul by ISIS in June 2014. The catalyst for their formation was an advisory opinion (al-wajib al-kifai) issued by Ayatollah Ali Sistani, a senior Iraqi Shiite cleric. His fatwa called for the establishment of popular mobilization forces to protect Iraq, and the Shiite community in particular, from danger.

In February 2016, the Iraqi Parliament approved a decree ordering al-Hashd al-Sha’bi to integrate into Iraq’s armed forces, with its members instructed to disengage from any political party, but this order was not implemented. The war against ISIS led to a triangular collaboration between the Iraqi army, the Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and the al-Hashd al-Sha’bi militias, which remained under independent Iranian command.

When the fighting came to an end, the al-Hashd al-Sha’bi militias were faced with two alternatives: integrate into Iraq’s security forces, or disarm and integrate into Iraq’s sociopolitical system. Both were anathema to Tehran, which is concentrating its efforts on strengthening its political and military power.  But things have changed: ISIS has been largely expelled, and Iraq is in the process of restoring its sovereignty.

Elections for the 329-member Iraqi parliament were held in May 2018. The election campaign was a golden opportunity for Iran to implement its plan to turn the militias operating under its umbrella into an influential political axis in Iraq. To this end, a new political mechanism was established called the Fatah Coalition. Led by Hadi Ameri, the coalition included representatives of the Iranian Shiite militias, including the Badr organization, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq, Kata’ib Hezbollah, and Kata’ib al-Imam Ali.

Once the votes were counted, the Fatah Coalition stood in second place with 48 seats in the new parliament. The Saairun Alliance, led by Muqtada al-Sadr, came in first with 54 seats. In third stood the Al-Nasr Coalition, led by Haider Abadi, with 42.

In July of this year, Iraqi PM Adel Abdul-Mahdi issued an ultimatum – against Iranian resistance – demanding that al-Hashd al-Sha’bi finally integrate into Iraq’s security forces. The Shiite militia commanders do not appear to intend to implement this directive. The Liwa al-Muntadhar militia (operating in the Kurdish region) made headlines with its refusal to be evacuated from that battle-stricken area, despite American pressure on President Barham Saleh and PM Abdul-Mahdi.

From Iran’s point of view, turning Iraq into a client state is a vital step in implementing the “axis of resistance” conceived by the leader of the revolution. This conceptual pattern rests on four dimensions:

Penetrating through soft power; i.e., establishing cultural centers, providing welfare and Islamic guidance with the aim of recruitment, and creating sympathy for Ayatollah Khomeini’s “Vilayat-e Faqih” concept.

Establishing combat militias functioning under the guidance of the Revolutionary Guards, with the object of setting up a hybrid mechanism operating simultaneously with the Iraqi army.

Investing large resources in post-war restoration, with an emphasis on telecommunications infrastructure, industrial, and urban reconstruction.

Turning the militias into a powerful political force that is actively involved in formulating foreign and domestic policy, in line with Iran’s interests.

This conceptual pattern is intended to combine the military, political, and economic dimensions and to serve – no less importantly – as a cultural agent.

Tehran’s inroads into Lebanon (through its Hezbollah proxy) have served as a springboard from which to implement the same model in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Yet despite Iraq’s economic dependence on its neighbor to the east, the presence of Shiite militias under Iranian rule has been met with both domestic and foreign opposition. The recent round of attacks on the organization’s bases and ammunitions warehouses has created a renewed debate about the presence of al-Hashd al-Sha’bi militias on Iraqi soil, with voices objecting to their activities and expressing concern about the possible outcome of Iran’s violation of Iraqi sovereignty.

The attacks on the bases are seen as an attempt to disrupt Iran’s grip on Iraqi (as well as Syrian and Lebanese) territory, which Tehran needs to establish its long-sought ground corridor from the Iranian border to the Mediterranean basin. In the wake of the assaults, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis has been instructed to establish an air unit that will work alongside the militias’ forces. Interestingly, this order came from Muhandis himself, who acts as deputy chairman of the organization, and not from Falih Fayyadh, the organization’s chairman. This could indicate an internal debate regarding the fulfillment of instructions coming from Tehran.

In a move widely interpreted as a signal that Muqtada al-Sadr is under Iran’s sphere of influence, Tehran recently distributed an image of that influential cleric sitting between the Supreme Leader and the Quds Force commander at a ceremony marking the day of Ashura. The spectacle of Sadr in Iran fanned the flames of the internal argument in Iraq between supporters of the Iranian presence and those in opposition to it.

Some argue that Sadr’s presence in Iran will strengthen its sphere of influence and jeopardize Iraq’s independence. But others praise it, stating that it is natural for a Shiite leader to be present at mourning ceremonies commemorating Imam Hussein. They stress that Sadr enjoys good relations with all neighboring countries and claim that leaders throughout the region value his views.

It is worth noting that Sadr recently announced that he would implement the integration of the Sarayat al-Salam militia into the Iraqi military apparatus, in accordance with the ultimatum issued by the Iraqi PM. This stood in sharp contradiction to the position of Shiite militia commanders operating under Iranian auspices who oppose the move.

Ever since the establishment of the Islamic Republic in 1979, the regime has worked tirelessly to promote its revolutionary ideology throughout the Muslim world. The disintegration of Iraq following the removal of Saddam Hussein, in combination with Iraq’s demographic structure, provides fertile ground on which to advance this worldview.

The Iraqi PM, who faces a great challenge in integrating the militias, stands between the hammer and the anvil. On one side is Iran, which strives to exploit Iraq’s structural weaknesses to boost its leverage. On the other are the US and, to some extent, Saudi Arabia and Israel, which hope to counter Tehran’s aspirations to transform Iraq into a client state.

Dr. Doron Itzchakov is a Senior Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies and author of Iran-Israel 1948-1963: Bilateral Relations at a Crossroads in a Changing Geopolitical Environment.