Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago
It happened before, and it could happen again.
By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg
Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM
On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.
The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.
According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.
The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.
A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:
“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”
The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.
The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.
“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”
The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.
“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.”
The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.
“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”
Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”
There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.
In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”
It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.
In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”
If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Europe Can Never Be Secure While the Russian Nuclear Horn Has Nuclear Weapons

Europe Can Never Be Secure While Russia Has Nuclear Weapons | Opinion

On 7/06/22 at 1:09 PM EDT

Kjell Magne Bondevik , former prime minister of Norway

Russia has threatened to use nuclear weapons. Not in defense, not to maintain stability, but to coerce and intimidate: to facilitate its invasion of Ukraine, to constrain the international community’s ability to respond, and to provide a cover for war crimes. In the lead up to last month’s NATO summit in Madrid, Russian President Vladimir Putin talked about placing nuclear weapons in Belarus. These actions are not something we should tolerate or shrug off. They constitute an immediate and appalling threat to all of us.

Any use of nuclear weapons in Europe—in Ukraine or anywhere else—would have catastrophic and wide-ranging consequences. A single nuclear detonation would likely kill hundreds of thousands of civilians and injure many more. Radioactive fallout could contaminate large areas across multiple countries. Medical and emergency response capacities would be immediately overwhelmed. Widespread panic would trigger mass movements of people and severe economic disruption. Multiple detonations would of course be much worse.

Russia’s threats have lowered the threshold for use of nuclear weapons and greatly increased the risk of nuclear conflict and global catastrophe. The speculation about the possibility of Russia using a tactical nuclear weapon in Ukraine, and about possible nuclear responses, is only eroding the taboo against the use of these weapons.

And Russia’s actions have turned our understanding of nuclear deterrence on its head. NATO has long viewed nuclear weapons as a crucial means of preserving peace and stability; NATO’s recent Strategic Concept stated, “The fundamental purpose of NATO’s nuclear capability is to preserve peace, prevent coercion and deter aggression.” But we are faced right now with the fact that nuclear weapons are being used as tools of coercion, against which NATO’s own nuclear deterrent has proved to be useless. NATO’s nuclear weapons do nothing to allow NATO members (or anyone else) to intervene in the Ukraine crisis. French President Emmanuel Macron claimed in February 2020that France’s nuclear weapons ensured its freedom to take action and prevented adversaries from using intimidation and blackmail to achieve their ends. Only two years later, Russia has proved him wrong.

The Ukraine crisis has shown us that nuclear deterrence is a ridiculously cumbersome tool for dealing with contemporary security challenges. Confronted with the invasion of a European country by a nuclear-armed aggressor, NATO’s strategic choices essentially boil down to watching in impotent horror, or ending the world. More, newer, smaller or differently-deployed nuclear weapons would do nothing to change this.Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks in Moscow.Contributor/Getty Images

Regardless of what NATO does, Europe can never be secure while Russia has nuclear weapons. European security therefore depends on Russian nuclear disarmament; there is no alternative. Any resolution of the current security crisis will only endure if it involves the total elimination of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Lifting of sanctions could be linked to Russia’s engagement in a negotiated and verified program for the reduction and ultimate removal of its nuclear arsenal.

Any realistic approach to eliminating Russia’s nuclear weapons implies a negotiated elimination of all nuclear weapons, worldwide. This is entirely appropriate; Russia’s nuclear coercion could be replicated at any time by any nuclear-armed state—by China in the South China Sea, for example, or by North Korea. While any state has nuclear weapons, no state is safe.

NATO, Europe, and the entire international community must therefore urgently renew and reinvigorate serious multilateral efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons completely—in Russia and worldwide. This means action, not more platitudes and window-dressing. It means implementing long-neglected commitments made under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It means urgent steps to raise the threshold and reduce the risk of nuclear weapons use.

Most immediately, it means dropping opposition to the U.N. Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), and actively supporting that treaty’s mission. At their first meeting, held in Vienna last month, the parties to that treaty condemned unequivocally “any and all nuclear threats, whether they be explicit or implicit and irrespective of the circumstances.” They adopted a plan of 50 specific actions to pursue the treaty’s goals of stigmatizing and de-legitimizing nuclear weapons, reducing the risks of nuclear war, and ultimately eliminating the weapons. This is by far the strongest and most practical response by any multilateral body to Russia’s nuclear threats. In contrast, the NPT has—so far—done precisely nothing.

NATO members can and should be part of the TPNW program. By supporting and—where possible—joining the TPNW, Europe can more effectively confront Russia’s nuclear threats, and begin a renewed effort to reduce and eliminate nuclear weapons in Russia—and in the eight other nuclear-armed countries.

Russia’s actions have shown that nuclear disarmament is not some idealistic goal to be pursued in a distant time of peace and plenty, but a pressing and immediate security imperative. Europe’s future depends on it.

Kjell Magne Bondevik was prime minister of Norway. He is president of the Oslo Centre for Peace and Human Rights.

The views expressed in this article are the writer’s own.

Hamas Influence Grows Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Hamas is more popular than Fatah and its popularity keeps growing

Jul 4, 2022

Itamar Marcus and Maurice Hirsch, Adv.  |

  • Hamas rules the Palestinian street, despite costly Western efforts to bolster Fatah  

One of the backbones of Israeli, American and European policy vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority over years has been to attempt to encourage Palestinian popular support for Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party, and reduce Palestinian support for Hamas, an internationally designated terror organization.

However, the results of Palestinian public opinion surveys over the last four years, show the steady growth in popularity of Hamas, and its leaders, at the expense of Fatah and its leaders.  

Every quarter, the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) releases a poll, inter alia, looking at the relative popularity of Fatah and Hamas. Comparing the results of the June polls for the last 4 years shows the steady and consistent growth of Palestinian support for the Hamas terror organization: 

  • In the June 2022 poll, if elections for the position of PA chairman were held the result would be a major win for Hamas with Ismail Haniyeh receiving 55% and Mahmoud Abbas only 33%. This result represents a major reversal and substantial rise in the popularity for Hamas. In 2019, Abbas would have defeated Haniyeh 48% – 42%.
  • Another indicator of Palestinian support for terror, is that the only way a Fatah candidate could defeat the Hamas candidate would be if Fatah were to run a convicted terrorist prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, who is currently serving five life sentences for his part in the murder of four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox priest.
  • In polls comparing preferences for the Palestinian parliament (PLC) in 2019, Fatah was more popular by 9% than Hamas (39%-30%) but in 2022 Hamas now wins by 1% (36%-35%). However, as Palestinian Media Watch has already shown, prior to the PLC elections that were scheduled for May 2021, Fatah fell apart dividing into three parties, each claiming to represent the “real Fatah.” Accordingly, the 35% support for “Fatah” in the recent poll, is actuality far greater than the true support for any single Fatah party.

The following chart presents the results of the polls over time: 

The results of the polls clearly show that support for Hamas and terror among Palestinians is solid. Indeed, Hamas’ highest showing by far in the 4 polls, when it led Fatah by 11%, was in June 2021 right after Hamas launched 4300 rockets and missiles into Israel.  

Israel and the international community, not wanting the Palestinian Authority to be run by an internationally designated terror organization, have been taking steps in an attempt to strengthen Abbas/Fatah over his Hamas rivals.  

Some of the steps taken by Israel over the last 4 years to bolster Abbas/ Fatah have included:  

  • Providing the PA with a 800 million shekel loan to help the PA combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • Providing the PA with an additional 500 million shekels;
  • Approving thousands of requests for registering Palestinians who had migrated into Judea and Samaria and Gaza;
  • Allowing Palestinian building in area C.
  • Granting tens of thousands of additional work permits for Palestinians to enter Israel, both from Judea and Samaria and from the Gaza Strip.

These measures and those taken by the US administration, such as renewing US aid to the Palestinians and to UNRWA, also appear to have had little effect in swaying the Palestinian views from support of terror and Hamas.   

There might be simple explanations for Hamas increased popularity.  

First and foremost, there are no fundamental policy differences today between Fatah and Hamas vis-à-vis Israel: both teach that Israel and Jews have no history in the land and therefore Israel has no right to exist; both present Jews as a menace to all humanity who brought Antisemitism upon themselves; both present the conflict with Israel as an Islamic war for Allah; both present all of Israel as “occupied Palestine” with the goal to eliminate Israel; both reward terrorists; both see terrorists’ dying in the act of attacking or killing an Israeli as the highest Muslim achievement of Shahada – Islamic Martyrdom.

Second, there is strong support among the Palestinians for “armed struggle,” a PA euphemism for terror, against Israel.  In the recent poll 55% of Palestinian expressed support for a return to “armed confrontations” as compared to 34% in 2019. This adds support for Hamas because there is a general perception that Hamas has been more successful in its terror against Israel than Fatah.  

Third, Palestinians see Mahmoud Abbas and Fatah as very corrupt. In the recent poll of June 2022, 77% of the Palestinians want Abbas to resign, up from 57% in 2019, with 86% defining his administration as corrupt.  

Since there are very small differences in goals and policy vis-à-vis Israel between Hamas and Fatah, Palestinians have shifted their support to the party they see as more successful at terror against Israelis and less corrupt against Palestinians.

Warning from the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

U.S., South Korea launch warning missiles as North Korean nuclear threat looms

A timeline of the escalating tension between North Korea and surrounding countries

Early this morning, South Korea and the U.S. launched eight missiles into the East Sea in their first combined move since 2017, reports the South Korean Yonhap News.

This demonstration lasted around 10 minutes and was conducted in response to weapons tests carried out by North Korea. Tension in the region has been escalating rapidly; here is a brief timeline of events leading up to the latest show of firepower.


  • September 2017 — North Korea’s sixth and largest nuclear test at the Punggye-ri facility registers as a 6.3 on the Richter scale. The bomb tested was likely a two-stage thermonuclear device, reports the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
  • April 2018 — Kim Jong-un announces an end to nuclear tests. According to the BBC, the Korean Central News Agency claimed the tests were unnecessary because “nuclear weaponization” has been accomplished.
  • May 2019 — The New York Timesreports short-range ballistic missiles launched for the first time since 2017.
  • October 2020 — In a parade celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Workers’ Party, North Korea shows off one of the largest ballistic missiles in the world, per CNN.
  • August 2021 — The International Atomic Energy Agency releases an annual reportstating North Korea has restarted its Yongbyon reactor, a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

2022

  • Jan 11 — 38North reports a hypersonic missile test reached a velocity 10 times the speed of sound.
  • Jan 30 — North Korea conducts the largest missile test launch since 2017, per the BBC.
  • March 24 — An intercontinental ballistic missile is tested, landing in Japanese waters though questions about the accuracy of reports remain, according to The New York Times.
  • May 24 — Russia and China fly warplanes near Japanese airspace as Tokyo hosts U.S. President Joe Biden. Eight warplanes from the two countries also enter South Korean airspace, according to Reuters.
  • May 25 — North Korea launches three missiles into the sea hours after Biden leaves Tokyo. One is suspected to be an ICBM, per NPR.
  • May 26The Associated Press reports the U.S. proposed increased sanctions on North Korea at a U.N. Security Council but was vetoed by China and Russia.
  • May 27 — The U.S. treasury releases a press statement announcing sanctions on an individual, two Russian financial institutions, and a trading company for “their support to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) development of weapons of mass destruction.”
  • June 3 — North Korea gains presidency of the U.N. Conference on Disarmament, as it alphabetically rotates between 65 members. Marc Finaud, from the Geneva Centre for Security Policy said “this can only highlight the irrelevance of the (Conference on Disarmament) in the current context,” according to Reuters.
  • June 4 — The U.S. ends a three-day naval exercise with South Korea off the Japanese island of Okinawa, per PBS.
  • June 5 — North Korea fires short-range missiles into the sea as a response to U.S. naval exercise, in what The Associated Press calls a “provocative streak in weapons demonstrations.”
  • June 6 — South Korea and the U.S. fire eight surface-to-surface missiles into the sea, though allies have called this a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions according to CNBC.

AUKUS Submarines: Beasts of the Australian Nuclear Horn

AUKUS Submarines: Beasts of Nuclear Proliferation

Binoy Kampmark

When faced with the option of acquiring nuclear technology, states have rarely refused. Since the splitting of the atom and the deployment of atomic weapons in war, the acquisition of a nuclear capacity has been a dream. Those who did acquire it, in turn, tried to restrict others from joining what has become, over the years, an exclusive club guarded by self-justified psychosis.

Members of the nuclear club engage in an elaborate ceremonial in claiming that their nuclear weapons inventory will eventually be emptied. Non-nuclear weapons states allied to such powers go along with appearances, taking comfort that nuclear weapons states will offer them an umbrella of security.

This insane hypocrisy underlines such arrangements as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Central to the document is the discouragement of non-nuclear weapons states from weaponizing nuclear technology as long as members of the nuclear club pursue “good-faith” disarmament negotiations. While it is true to say that the NPT probably prevented a speedier, less infectious spread of the nuclear virus, it remains a constipated regime of imperfections that has merely delayed proliferation.

Most tellingly of all, most non-nuclear-weapon states have complied with their undertakings. Nuclear weapons states have not, disregarding serious multilateral nuclear disarmament. Nor do they have an incentive to alter current arrangements, given that any changes to the NPT can only take place with the unanimous support of the three treaty depositories: Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

The NPT supporters pour scorn at alternative approaches to nuclear weapons, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons(TPNW), which had its first meeting of state parties in Vienna from June 21 to 23. While the Albanese government did send Susan Templeman MP to the meeting as an observer, Canberra has remained consistently opposed to the TPNW as a threat to the accepted disarmament and NPT framework. Dated and spurious concepts such as extended nuclear deterrence and the interoperability of Australian and U.S. military systems tend to be common justifications.

The AUKUS security partnership that was announced in September 2021 by Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom, has muddied the pool of non-proliferation. A central component of the agreement is a promise to share nuclear propulsion technology with Australia, enabling it to acquire eight nuclear submarines to be supposedly built in Adelaide, South Australia. While much of this is wishful thinking (Australia has no expertise in the field, and will have to rely wholeheartedly on expertise from the other two), the glaring problem in the arrangement is what it does to non-proliferation arrangements.

While the previous Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison was ignorantly confident that the agreement would comply with Australia’s own non-proliferation commitments, such confidence is misplaced. For one thing, Article III of the NPT exempts naval reactors from nuclear safeguards, which threatens a pillar of the regime, namely, limiting the production and use of highly enriched uranium (HEU) which can be used, in turn, to make nuclear weapons.

Non-proliferation experts have not been enthusiastic with these promised new beasts for the Royal Australian Navy. Daryl G. Kimball, director of the Arms Control Association, notes the salient difference between deepening defence cooperation on the one hand with allies and proliferating “sensitive HEU nuclear propulsion tech in contravention of the U.S. and global nonpro principles.”

Hans Kristensen, director of the Nuclear Information Project at the Federation of American Scientists, greeted AUKUS with much gloom when it was announced. Its provisions on nuclear technology would “further intensify the arms race in the region and the dynamics that fuel military competition.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency’s Director General Rafael Grossi is visiting Australia to discuss the issue of safeguards regarding nuclear material used for naval propulsion. This is nothing short of problematic, given that IAEA inspectors are unable to inspect such material for extended periods of time when the vessel is at sea.

Grossi, in mild understatement, calls this “quite complex,” though is keen to accommodate Australian commitments to non-proliferation alongside the acquisition of nuclear technology. “There is a period of 18 months which was given by the three partners – the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia – to define how the project is going to be implemented but, already we have started this interaction, this joint work of technical levels so that we can reconcile both things.”

In a statement made prior to Grossi’s visit, Foreign Minister Penny Wong reiterated Australia’s “longstanding” support of the “IAEA’s mission to harness the peaceful use of nuclear technology in areas like medicine, industrial processes, and environmental monitoring, as well as upholding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

This world as described by Senator Wong is distinctly pre-AUKUS. Despite promises of “open and transparent engagement with the IAEA on nuclear safeguards,” the whinnying horse of proliferation has bolted from the stable. Assurances to avoid the future development of an Australian nuclear weapons capability or a national nuclear fuel cycle also ring hollow.

The precedent of permitting Australia to be the only non-nuclear weapons state with HEU-propelled technology is also seismic on another level. There will be nothing stopping China and Russia from doing what the United States and the UK promise to do: proliferate naval reactor technology and long-range missiles with a nuclear capability

Europe and the US feel there will be no return to Iran deal: Daniel 8

Lapid: Europe and the US feel there will be no return to Iran deal

Lapid: Europe and the US feel there will be no return to Iran deal

PM says he told Macron there must be credible threat against Tehran, presented intelligence on Hezbollah attacks

By Lazar Berman

PARIS — In his meeting Tuesday with France’s President Emmanuel Macron, Prime Minister Yair Lapid stressed the importance of a credible military threat in order to push Iran into a nuclear deal that is acceptable to Israel.

“Our claim is that if Iran won’t agree to this deal, they won’t agree to anything without a credible military threat,” Lapid told Israeli reporters in Paris after the meeting.

There is also a growing acceptance, the prime minister claimed, that there won’t be a return to the 2015 JCPOA deal.

“The feeling is that there won’t be a deal, and if there is no deal, then there needs to be something else,” said Lapid.

Having the Iranians believing there could be a military strike on their nuclear facilities and military assets is the key to creating that alternative, in Israel’s eyes.

“It’s part of the conversation, with both the E-3 countries, and with the Americans,” said Lapid.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid (R) embraces French President Emmanuel Macron at a press conference at the Elysee Palace in Paris, France, July 5, 2022. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Iran signed the JCPOA nuclear agreement along with the US, Russia, China, and the three largest European powers — the UK, Germany, and France.

The Donald Trump administration withdrew from the deal in 2018, and on-again, off-again talks held mainly in Vienna to find a way back to an agreement recently restarted in Qatar.

Lapid and Macron also spoke at length about Lebanon, and a recent drone incursion from Lebanese territory toward Israel’s gas rigs. The Israeli delegation presented intelligence to their French counterparts on Hezbollah activities in Lebanon.

“We will cooperate with them to prevent this from continuing so we won’t have to use military force,” said Lapid. “Israel will not hesitate to act in order to prevent attacks on our gas rigs.”

An Israeli Sa’ar Class 4.5 missile boat guards the Energean floating production, storage and offloading vessel at the Karish gas field, in footage published by the military on July 2, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Jerusalem considers strikes on its Mediterranean gas rigs as “attacks on Israel’s sovereign territory,” Lapid said.

“The French are extremely displeased” with the drone launch, he added.

Lapid and Macron agreed that the two countries would embark on a strategic dialogue, according to the prime minister. Israel will play a significant role in France’s military buildup in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war, especially in the cyber domain.

“The French are going to strengthen their army. We have plenty to offer on these issues.”

The two leaders spoke about the effects of the war, especially on energy and food security.

A senior Israeli official acknowledged Tuesday that Russia-Israel relations were deteriorating, but insisted this was not specific to Israel. “Russia’s relations with the West are deteriorating, and we are part of the West,” the official said.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron (L) and Prime Minister Yair Lapid speak at the Elysee Palace in Paris, July 5, 2022 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

The visit, especially its public elements, exuded an air of friendship, both between the two leaders — who communicate regularly by text — and between the countries.

But it was impossible to paper over significant differences on key issues. The French announcement about the visit, and Macron’s public statement, highlighted the war in Ukraine. Lapid’s focus, on the other hand, was on Iran’s nuclear program and armed proxy groups.

Macron did address the Iran nuclear talks, but stressed the importance of “defending this agreement.” But Israel wants to see the JCPOA scrapped permanently in favor of a new deal.

The French leader agreed that the JCPOA is insufficient on its own to “contain Iran’s destabilizing activities,” but said he was “more convinced than ever that an Iran on the nuclear threshold could carry out these activities in a more dangerous manner.”

Macron called for continued negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile program and support for regional terrorist groups.

While Lapid avoided speaking about the Palestinians in his public statements, Macron did so, saying there “is no alternative to a resumption of political dialogue.”

He offered to support Lapid in that process, which the Israeli leader indicated he is not about to advance in any way before the November elections.

A hot political summer awaits the Iraqi Horn

Sadr

A hot political summer awaits Iraq

Following the resignation in June of lawmakers loyal to Iraq’s Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, there are several looming scenarios that could play out over the coming months, including dissolving the parliament and forming an emergency government.

With Iraq entering the scorching heat of summer, the country’s politics are also hotting up. The anger of hungry and hopeless Iraqis wishing to see a new functioning government is expected to reach its climax this month as blistering temperatures lay bare the lack of basic services, including drinking water and permanent electricity.

Iraq held its first-ever early election on 10 October 2021, in which Muqtada al-Sadr’s bloc won a majority with 73 seats.

After nearly nine months, however, different Iraqi factions have yet to agree on naming a president and forming a government capable of making reforms amid increasing regional tensions and deteriorating political, economic, and social conditions at home.

Sadr had promised his supporters he would form a ‘national majority’ government to implement reforms and abandon the current power-sharing (muhasasa) system governing the country along ethno-sectarian lines between Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish groups.

Since 2003, when the US-led invasion toppled the former regime of Saddam Hussein, Iraq has been run through this proportional system. Corruption and mismanagement have prevailed ever since.

Looming scenarios

Sadr had formed a triple alliance with the Iraqi Sunni political blocs and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in a bid to form a “national majority” government and sideline pro-Iran Shia blocs organised under the Coordination Framework coalition.

But frustrated in his efforts to fulfil his promise to his supporters, Sadr ordered lawmakers from his bloc to resign, which all his 73 MPs did on 12 June.

“The scenario that is most probable is that the Coordination Framework tries to reach understandings with political forces, but eventually they should offer more concessions if they want to form a consensus government that would not be a weak one,” political analyst Ihsan al-Shammari, who heads the Iraqi Political Thinking Center in Baghdad, told The New Arab.

“However, another more probable scenario is that people take to the streets against the Iraqi parliament and the upcoming government. It is expected that Sadr’s followers along with civil and liberal movements – including supporters of the October 2019 protests – will try to bring about a new political alternative to the current political ruling class and the traditional parties.”

Al-Shamari stressed that the protests could lead to the formation of a transitional government in order to amend the current Iraqi constitution and rewrite a new one to be the basis for running the country’s affairs.

He indicated that Sadr’s supporters will no longer let the Coordination Framework and Iran-backed Shia armed groups corner their leader.

“The strategy of the Coordination Framework in the past period was to break Sadr politically, thus I think Sadr’s followers will react violently and would raid the Iraqi parliament, toppling it totally.”

Iraq Protests.jpg
In October 2019, widespread protests demanded better living conditions, amendments to the country’s election law, and holding early elections. [Getty]

Instability and chaos  

Public protests in October 2019 swept the southern and central provinces of Iraq. Protesters were demanding better living conditions, amendments to the country’s election law, and holding early elections.

More than 600 people were killed by Iraqi security forces and militias. Consequently, Iraq’s then-elected prime minister Adel Abdul Mahdi was forced to resign and Mustafa al-Kadhimi was appointed as PM to pave the way for snap elections that were held in October last year.

But it seems that Sadr will choose escalation and public protests in order to prevent his opponents from forming their own consensus cabinet.

Sadr in a statement on 22 June refuted allegations that he made the withdrawal decision under the direct threat of Iran, but he admitted for the first time that pro-Iran militia groups have been using Iraq’s judiciary as a political tool and pressuring non-Shia political blocs.  

Salih Mohmmed al-Iraqi, a controversial personality on Twitter thought to be close to Sadr, in early July first identified the reasons that made the Shia leader withdraw from Iraqi politics, mainly accusing parliament speaker Mohammed Halbusi and KDP leader Masoud Barzani of “treason” in what they promised Sadr.

“Sadr’s withdrawal needs to be deeply contemplated, what happened is the outcome of a multi-factor phenomenon that doing politics in Iraq has lost all aspects of democracy,” Sardar Aziz, a Kurdish political analyst told The New Arab.

“It is going in a direction where political actors cannot make concessions for each other, trust each other, and work together, but they are becoming more suspicious of each other with the intention of, if they could, destroying each other,” he added.

“This could lead to the danger that all Iraqi sides will reinforce themselves, consequently, corruption will prevail, and the system and the society’s elites will become weaker. In the short term, there is no solution, and Iraq’s political future will see more instability. In the long term, the current political deadlock will prolong, and the situation will complicate even further as the political stalemate continues.”

Aziz emphasised that the available options, for example dissolving the parliament and going into another early election, are also difficult, since Iraq needs at least one year to amend the election law and make needed preparations.

He indicated that Sadr wants to show that Iraq’s political process cannot go on without him, and will never tolerate opponent lawmakers replacing his MPs in the parliament.

“Sadr knows that if another early election is held in Iraq, his bloc would not secure more seats, because his political game is obvious to all,” Aziz added.

“Iraq’s politics is also related to what is expected in Iran, the conditions in Iran are unstable, the Iranians want to show that they can marginalise Sadr, but I think it is not an easy process.”  

As the world saw, angry protesters torchedLibya’s parliament building in Tobruk on 1 July in anger at a political deadlock and rising prices, and it is very likely Baghdad’s parliament could suffer the same fate.

In Iraq’s tense political scene, however, this could lead to wider bloodshed and even protracted fighting, unless the international community acts to prevent it. 

Dana Taib Menmy is an investigative freelance journalist from the Iraqi Kurdistan region writing on issues of politics, society, human rights, security, and minorities. His work has appeared in Al-Monitor, Al Jazeera English, Middle East Eye, The National, among many other outlets.