Quakes remind us of the Sixth Seal: Revelation 6

EDITORIAL: Quakes remind S.C. of history, potential threat

The Times and Democrat

As 2021 ended and 2022 began, a series of minor earthquakes affected South Carolina’s Midlands.

Elgin, a community of fewer than 2,000 residents near the border of Richland and Kershaw counties, has been the epicenter of the seismic activity, starting with a 3.3-magnitude earthquake on Dec. 27. That quake clattered glass windows and doors in their frames, sounding like a heavy piece of construction equipment or concrete truck rumbling down the road.

In January, more earthquakes have been recorded nearby, ranging from 1.5 to a 2.6 in magnitude. No injury or damage was reported.

Now it’s May – and the quakes are back.

In the early hours of May 9, a 3.3 magnitude earthquake shook the ground in Elgin. The earthquake was followed by two back-to-back earthquakes an hour later registering 1.6 and 1.8 magnitudes.

The three quakes pushed South Carolina’s 2022 earthquake tally to 23, with 19 happening within 35 miles of Columbia. Historically, 70% of earthquakes in the state happen along the Coastal Plain, but because the state isn’t considered a hot spot for earthquake activity, the recent midstate quakes are a bit of a mystery.

According to the South Carolina Emergency Management Division, the state typically averages up to 20 quakes each year. Clusters often happen, like six small earthquakes in just more than a week in 2021 near Jenkinsville, about 38 miles west of the most recent group of tremors.

Though quakes are nothing new to South Carolina, many people in the state are not affected. According to emergency management officials, about 70% of South Carolina earthquakes are located in the Middleton Place-Summerville Seismic Zone, about 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) northwest of Charleston.

Every year South Carolina has a week devoted to earthquake preparedness. And there is good reason for awareness.

Aug. 31, 2021, was the 135th anniversary of the largest earthquake to occur in the eastern U.S. In the late evening on that day in 1886, a magnitude 7 earthquake struck near Charleston, causing the loss of more than 100 lives. Many buildings collapsed or were heavily damaged, with economic losses estimated at more than $100 million in today’s dollars.

The quake was felt throughout much of the eastern and central U.S., with people reporting feeling it as far north as New York and as far west as Illinois and Missouri.

In 1999, retired T&D Publisher Dean B. Livingston wrote about what is recorded locally about that “unscheduled” occurrence that had a lot of people singing “Nearer My God To Thee.”

“The area was pounded for a week by quake shocks from four to 12 times a day. The Times and Democrat wrote of the earth’s rumblings: ‘This earthquake frightened many of the inhabitants into deep religious complex, such as was never known before, bringing about a great religious revival in the churches. …’

“One person wrote that ‘many thought the end of the world had come.’ Some terror-stricken citizens in Rowesville ‘ran to and fro exclaiming: ‘The great Judgment Day is at hand. Lord have mercy on me.” A T&D article noted that ‘many people prayed during the past two weeks who never prayed before.’

“A Sawyerdale citizen reported that ‘the flood of accessions to our various churches is almost unparalleled.’

“Residents of the city of Orangeburg were awakened when the first jolt hit. People in brick homes could hear the bricks ‘grinding together as the forces of the shocks increased.’ Many people complained of a nauseous sensation. Chimneys were shaken down, the Baptist church steeple was damaged and for several nights many families slept in the open, under sheds or in small buildings.

“As late as Oct. 14, The T&D reported that ‘shocks have become so common now that people soon throw off the peculiar feeling that they inspire, and go along as if nothing unusual had occurred. There is no telling when they (shocks) will end. …’

“Over in Vance, the quake was described as a ‘sound, a deep, muffled sound … resembling the distant thunder … the earth was one tremendous oscillation. Buildings creaked … poultry squawked, dogs howled, birds chirped; in fact, everything was completely aroused and powerfully demoralized … from 10 to 11 p.m., nine successive shocks were felt.’

“Two Orangeburg men were fishing on the Edisto River when the first big shock hit. They said the first noise sounded like a loud clap of thunder. ‘This was followed by the usual rumbling which was also very loud and deep. The course of the shake was distinctly marked by the falling of the berries and acorns from the trees as it passed.”

While they have no stories comparable to 1886, people of The T&D Region periodically experience tremors. With a large fault in the earth extending from Charleston into the region, when another major quake will come is unpredictable — but practically certain.

Iran already has a Nuclear Bomb: Daniel 8

Iran claims “technical ability to build a nuclear bomb”

July 18, 2022 / 7:20 AM

Tehran — Iran has the technical capacity to build a nuclear weapon but has not taken a decision to do so, an official told the Al Jazeera broadcaster on Sunday. Iran “has the technical ability to build a nuclear bomb” said Kamal Kharrazi, who heads an advisory board linked to Iran’s leadership.

But Tehran has “not made a decision to build an atomic bomb,” he added.

The comments come after U.S. President Joe Biden visited the Middle East this week and signed a security pact with Israel vowing to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. It also comes as efforts to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and world powers remain stalled.

Kharrazi, a former foreign minister, also told Al Jazeera that Tehran had carried out extensive drills to be able to strike deep inside Israel “if sensitive (Iranian) installations are targeted.”

He did not specify when the drills took place.

The 2015 nuclear deal offered Iran sanctions relief in exchange for imposing limits on its nuclear program and sought to guarantee Tehran could not develop a nuclear weapon, something it has always denied wanting to do.

Full interview: Family of Emad Shargi, American held in Iran, appeals to President Biden to “do anything” in his power

The United States withdrew from the agreement in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump and reimposed biting sanctions, prompting Tehran to step away from many of its own commitments under the deal.

Iran has held direct talks with remaining parties to the accord — and indirect talks with the United States — in a bid to restore the deal, but negotiations have been at an impasse since March.

The new security pact signed this week by Israel and the United States commits Washington to “never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon,” stating that the U.S. “is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.”

Asked on Thursday how long the U.S. was prepared to give efforts to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, Mr. Biden said, “we’re not going to wait forever.”

Tehran earlier Sunday accused Washington of provoking tensions in the Middle East, after Biden vowed that the United States would not “tolerate efforts by any country to dominate another in the region through military buildups, incursions, and/or threats”, in a transparent reference to Iran.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said earlier this month that Tehran had started “feeding… a cascade of… centrifuges” at a fuel enrichment plant.

The techniques facilitate the process and would make it easier for Iran to switch to a different level of enriching uranium.

In January 2021, Iran said it was enriching uranium to 20% at that facility, a level well beyond the 3.67 percent agreed under the 2015 deal, before later saying it had enriched to 60% at another facility, still short of the 90% required for military grade uranium, but a short technological step away from that level of enrichment.

“It’s no secret that we have become a quasi-nuclear state. This is a fact. And it’s no secret that we have the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb, but we don’t want that, and there has been no decision to do that,” Kharrazi told Al Jazeera. “In the past, and within just a few days, we were able to enrich uranium up to 60%, and we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium. But what we want is a Middle East without any nuclear weapons.”

Plagues Upon Plague: Revelation 6

Gabriel Morales faced terrible pain after contracting the monkeypox virus but had trouble finding treatment.
Gabriel Morales faced terrible pain after contracting the monkeypox virus but had trouble finding treatment.Amir Hamja for The New York Times

For Monkeypox Patients, Excruciating Symptoms and a Struggle for Care

As New York City and the federal government strain to supply enough vaccines, patients face a private battle to find treatment and relief from serious symptoms.

July 18, 2022Updated 9:53 a.m. ET

Although he was covered with lesions, it took four hours of phone calls, and then five hours in a Harlem emergency room, for Gabriel Morales to be tested for the monkeypox virus earlier this month. And that was just the beginning of his wait.

Mr. Morales was sent home and told the Department of Health would call with his results in less than a week. The call never came.

He spent the next eight days alone in his apartment in what he described as excruciating pain, trying to find someone to prescribe him pain medication and a hard-to-access antiviral drug.

As time passed, the disorganization in the public health response disturbed him more and more: the city’s vaccine website glitches; a vaccine rollout that seemed designed to reach the privileged and that turned him away; an opaque process to access medicine that he believed could help, but that he couldn’t find.

When he received a $720 bill for his emergency room visit, it felt like more than incompetence. It felt like a lack of compassion.

“I understand that this is new — but it is urgent,” said Mr. Morales, 27, who was eventually prescribed the antiviral drug to help with his symptoms. His test, he found out after 10 days, had never been picked up from the hospital. “It was just the worst pain I’ve experienced in my life.”

While monkeypox can sometimes result in mild symptoms, it is turning out to be unexpectedly severe for a substantial number of patients infected in this outbreak, according to doctors, public health officials and patients in New York City, the epicenter of the nation’s cases.

Beyond the very public shortcomings in the government’s vaccination efforts are the private struggles of the men infected with the disease who have found care hard to come by. Internal lesions in the anus, genitals and mouth can be particularly painful, and there is growing concern that they may cause debilitating scarring.

“What many of us learned in medical schools is that monkeypox is a mild, self-limiting illness,” said Dr. Mary Foote, medical director of the office of emergency preparedness and response at the city’s Department of Health, speaking at a Thursday briefing hosted by the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “But the reality on the ground is that a lot of people with this infection are really suffering.”

What’s also striking, she said, about this outbreak, is “how many of these patients have had difficulty getting the care they need to treat these symptoms.”

What to Know About the Monkeypox Virus


What is monkeypox? Monkeypox is a virus endemic in parts of Central and West Africa. It is similar to smallpox, but less severe. It was discovered in 1958, after outbreaks occurred in monkeys kept for research, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

What to Know About the Monkeypox Virus


What are the symptoms? Monkeypox creates a rash that starts with flat red marks that become raised and filled with pus. Infected people may also have a fever and body aches. Symptoms typically appear in six to 13 days but can take as long as three weeks after exposure to show, and can last for two to four weeks. Health officials say smallpox vaccines and other treatments can be used to control an outbreak.

What to Know About the Monkeypox Virus


How infectious is it? The virus spreads mainly through body fluids, skin contact and respiratory droplets, though some experts suggest that it could occasionally be airborne. Typically it does not lead to major outbreaks, though it has spread in unusual ways this year, and among populations that have not been vulnerable in the past.

What to Know About the Monkeypox Virus


Should I be worried? The likelihood of the virus being spread during sexual contact is high, but the risk of transmission in other ways is low. Most people have mild symptoms and recover within weeks, but the virus can be fatal in a small percentage of cases. Experts say that monkeypox is unlikely to create a pandemic scenario similar to that of the coronavirus.

What to Know About the Monkeypox Virus


What’s the situation in the United States?Experts say that the rapid spread of monkeypox across the country and the government’s sluggish response raise questions about the nation’s preparedness for pandemic threats. Tests will not be readily available until later this month and vaccines will be in short supply for months. Official case counts, now in the hundreds, are likely a gross underestimate.

Monkeypox, endemic in parts of Africa for decades, has been spreading globally since early May through networks of men who have sex with men, probably sparked by transmission at one or more raves in Europe, researchers believe. The disease, which mostly transmits though intimate, skin-to-skin contact, has resulted in fatalities in Africa, but no one has yet died of the disease in the United States.

The first American case was recorded on May 18. There have now been more than 1,800 cases, affecting almost every state. Experts are concerned that if the outbreak is not contained, the virus will persist and spread more widely.

In New York City, cases have nearly tripled over the past week to 461 total cases on July 15, up from 160 on July 8. While some of that increase stems from expanded testing capacity and awareness, the spread of the disease in the city is “exponential,” said Dr. Foote, and is likely to continue for a while.

The unexpected severity of symptoms is making patients’ encounters with an overburdened health care system that was not prepared for this outbreak even more difficult. Interviews with six recent and current monkeypox patients in New York City, and three in other cities across the country, suggest that the public health response has been slow and underresourced at every level, from testing to treatment to vaccination.

Another of those patients, Sebastian Kohn, 39, felt exhausted and feverish through much of the July 4 weekend and had painful, swollen lymph nodes. Then the rash started. 

Mr. Kohn, who lives in the Flatbush neighborhood of Brooklyn, has private health insurance, so he went to a local urgent care to get tested while dizzy with a 103-degree fever. But he was not prescribed anything stronger than Tylenol for the pain. “The most painful thing are the anal rectal lesions,” he said. “They are just excruciating.”

Ultimately, he said, lidocaine helped, but for a week, no one prescribed it to him.

Both Mr. Morales and Mr. Kohn are sexually active gay men, as are most patients so far in the outbreak in New York and beyond. Within that group, privilege and know-how has helped some people find care faster than others.

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A lawyer who asked to be identified by his initial, M., to protect his medical privacy, said he went into full litigator mode after a sexual partner called him on June 15 to tell him he had monkeypox.

M. was able to get a first vaccine dose at Bellevue, the city’s main public hospital and a hub of its monkeypox response, by showing up and insisting. After he tested positive despite the dose, he was able to get the sought-after antiviral drug, TPOXX, which relieves symptoms but requires special approval for each patient, because one medical practice helped.

“It was still horrible but I was lucky,” he said. “I’m just worried about everybody else.”

Mr. Kohn also eventually received TPOXX, but only after an exhausting process.

The urgent care center where he had been tested told him to call the Department of Health. The Department of Health told him he had to be referred by his primary care doctor. His doctor’s office told him to speak to the health department.

Eventually, he received a call back from a sexual health clinic affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, which said someone at the health department had referred him. “It’s just no coordination at all,” he said. “It’s just not fair to have patients who are severely ill run in circles to organize their own care.”

TPOXX, or tecovirimat, which was originally developed in case of a smallpox bioterrorism incident, is only available for monkeypox treatment through a compassionate-use protocol, which requires submitting hours of paperwork to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for each patient. It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of monkeypox, though anecdotally it is showing positive results, clinicians say.

Providers and local health officials are pushing the federal government to open up access to the drug.

“This is not a mild disease, for a percentage of people it is much more worse than I would have anticipated,” said Dr. Jason Zucker, an infectious disease specialist at the NewYork-Presbyterian clinic.

His clinic has given the antiviral to 26 patients so far, he said. Citywide, 70 prescriptions have been written, Dr. Foote said.

“As a city and a system, we are still really struggling to meet the demand,” she said.

Sergio Rodriguez, 39, is a queer trans man who lives on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Because he was already a patient at Callen-Lorde, a well-known sexual health clinic, he was able to quickly get an appointment to be swabbed there for lesions on July 5. But his results never came back, either.

A week after his test, he did receive a call from the Health Department — but it was a contact tracer telling him he had been exposed to someone else with the virus. Mr. Rodriguez told the tracer he was living with his immunocompromised, 76-year-old father, and that he desperately needed him vaccinated.

Finally, on July 15, the department called his father to arrange for his vaccination.

Mr. Rodriguez was frustrated with the response. “In my experience, especially as a trans Latino person in New York City, my health and my concerns are not going to be emphasized,” he said. “Things are going to go to people that have more access and that have more strings to pull and also who are of a different socioeconomic class.”

Dr. Foote said the Health Department is well aware of the difficulties people are having in accessing care. City health officials are trying to push the federal government for more vaccines and access to TPOXX and are concerned about equity in distributing it. Mayor Eric Adams recently wrote a letter to President Biden asking for more vaccines.

In recent weeks, aspects of the response have improved. Testing capacity has grown after LabCorp, a commercial lab, began offering tests. Vaccines have begun to flow into the city in greater numbers, though demand still far outstrips supply. On Friday, 9,200 vaccine appointments were booked in seven minutes, the city said.

The city has also been working to improve its vaccine rollout system, reserving some doses for distribution through community providers and developing a mass vaccination plan. And education among health care providers, though still uneven, has been growing: L.G.B.T.Q. health organizations have held webinars, and the city has issued treatment guidance to providers.

Eli, 28, a Chelsea resident who works in nightlife and asked to be identified by his nickname to protect his medical privacy, was among the first in New York to test positive for monkeypox. He came down with a fever on June 22 and began noticing anal pain the next day, as did three friends he had been sexually active with on Fire Island.

The next day, he went to the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, where he was told by two providers that he most likely had a different sexually transmitted disease, not monkeypox.

By Sunday night, the pain had increased so much that he and his friends went to an urgent care clinic in Union Square. The doctor at first refused to test him for monkeypox, he said, but eventually agreed to submit photos of his lesions to the Department of Health.

He said the Health Department called five days later with his results, and that, after he pushed, the contact tracer gave him the cellphone number for the Department of Health’s head of bioterrorism. That connection helped him obtain shots for 26 close contacts — friends and people he works with in nightlife who he knew were at high risk.

Though his own case was relatively mild, Eli said he has found it very upsetting to watch the government flub its virus response. He has known from the beginning, he said, that it probably wasn’t going to go well. 

“‘Y’all are being dumb about this,’” he recalled yelling at the Health Department tracer. “‘This is going to be bad.’”

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Six Palestinians Outside from the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Israeli Soldiers Abduct Six Palestinians In Jerusalem, One In Ramallah

On Sunday afternoon, Israeli soldiers abducted six Palestinians, including one woman, in occupied Jerusalem, and one Palestinian near Ramallah, in the West Bank.

Media sources said the soldiers abducted two Palestinians from Jerusalem’s Old City, Haitham al-Jo’ba and Rami Baraka.

The soldiers also abducted Sami Abu al-Halawa and Mahdi Jaber from Silwan town, south of the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

Also in Silwan, the soldiers summoned for interrogation Zoheir Rajabai and his son, Hamza, from the Batn al-Hawa neighborhood, in addition to storming several shops and confiscating surveillance recordings.

The Palestinian father and his son were interrogated for several hours and were released after being ordered to pay a five thousand Shekels bail.

Also, the army abducted one woman, Khadija Khweiss, near one of the gates of the Al-Aqsa Mosque after preventing her from the holy site.

It is worth mentioning that Khadija was repeatedly abducted and detained by the army and the police in the last several years and received several orders banning her from entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque for several months each time for protesting the constant invasions and provocative tours of Israeli colonizers into the holy site.

The soldiers also detained Mohammad al-Abbassi, from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and interrogated him for several hours before releasing him.

In Sur Baher town, southeast of Jerusalem, the soldiers abducted a former political prisoner, Awa Hamada, 42.

In related news, the soldiers abducted Abdul-Khaled Iyad Burnat, from Bil’in town west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah, after stopping him at a military roadblock near the illegal Modi’in colony.

IDF Uses Bunker Busters on Hamas Weapons Factories Outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

IAF Uses Bunker Busters on Hamas Weapons Factories After Gaza Rocket Fire

18 Tammuz 5782 – July 16, 2022

Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash 90A ball of fire and smoke rises during Israeli airstrikes in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip, August 16, 2020.

Israeli military forces attacked two Hamas rocket manufacturing sites on Saturday in response to rockets fired at southern Israel from Gaza earlier in the day. The attack blew up 16 tons of underground explosives. Laser guided bunker buster bombs were used for the attack on Hamas, according to a Mako report.

Combat pilots targeted a Hamas underground facility in central Gaza used to produce rocket materials and a ground-level rocket manufacturing site.

The IAF air strikes, carried out “in response to rocket launches and machine gun fire from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory,” were aimed at degrading the terrorists’ ability to manufacture rockets, the IDF said.

Just a few hours after President Joe Biden departed for Saudi Arabia from Ben Gurion International Airport, Gaza terrorists fired four rockets at Israel in two separate attacks.

There were no reports of physical injuries or damage in either attack. Two Ashkelon residents were treated for severe anxiety.

Two of the rockets, launched at around 1 am Saturday, were aimed at the southern coastal city of Ashkelon, and two others were aimed at the Lachish Regional Council district.

One of the rockets aimed at Ashkelon was intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system, indicating it was headed to a populated area. The other landed in an open area.

At around 5 am, as Israeli forces were responding to that initial attack, Gaza terrorists launched the second round of rockets, triggering Red Alert incoming rocket sirens in Moshav Ahuzam, near Kiryat Gat. Both missiles landed in open areas.

“In response to the rockets fired from Gaza at Israel … we targeted one of Hamas’ most significant rocket production sites in Gaza,” the IDF said in a statement.

“This strike will significantly impede Hamas’ force-building capabilities. We will continue to defend Israeli civilians from Hamas’ terrorism,” the IDF added.

Antichrist calls his followers to Strengthen the nation’s prestige and renounce dependency

A supporter of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr lifts a placard depicting him during a collective Friday prayer in Sadr City, east of Baghdad, July 15, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
A supporter of Iraqi Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr lifts a placard depicting him during a collective Friday prayer in Sadr City, east of Baghdad, July 15, 2022. (Photo: AFP)

Sadr calls his followers to Strengthen the nation’s prestige and renounce dependency

“To stand against corruption in a centralized manner, not with personal actions.”

   2022/07/16 22:17

ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Sadrist Movement leader Muqtada al-Sadr on Saturday announced a list of regulations and goals for his followers.

A day after Friday’s mass prayer, Sadr announced a list of goals for his followers to achieve, including working on unifying the Iraqis and rejecting sectarianism.

“To stand against corruption in a centralized manner, not with personal actions,” read Sadr’s statement. “Strengthening the nation’s prestige and renouncing dependency.”

Sadr advised his followers to prepare to sacrifice their lives to defend Iraq against the “Occupiers.” And stand against normalizing relations with Israel.

“To stop violence against minorities and stand against terrorism,” read Sadr’s statement.

On Friday, Sadr organized a million-prayer event in Baghdad’s Sadr area. More than two million Shiite Iraqis from all over Iraq attended the mass prayer.

Through this mass gathering, Sadr sent a strong political message to his political rivals, including that he has the Iraqi street with him and that he can practice pressure on the incoming Iraqi government if it didn’t do well.

US, Saudi Arabian Horns agree on stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons: Daniel 7

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US, Saudi Arabia agree on stopping Iran getting nuclear weapons

JEDDAH: The United States and Saudi Arabia agreed on the importance of stopping Iran from “acquiring a nuclear weapon”, during a visit by US President Joe Biden, a joint statement carried by the Saudi state news agency (SPA) said.

The statement said Biden also affirmed the United States’ continued commitment to supporting “Saudi Arabia’s security and territorial defence, and facilitating the Kingdom’s ability to obtain necessary capabilities to defend its people and territory against external threats.”

Tehran and Riyadh, the leading Shia and Sunni Muslim powers in the Middle East, severed ties in 2016 over backing opposing sides in proxy wars across the region, from Yemen to Syria and elsewhere.

Saudi Arabia and the United States underscored the need to further deter Iran’s interference in “the internal affairs of other countries, its support for terrorism through its armed proxies, and its efforts to destabilise the security and stability of the region,” the statement said.

Both sides stressed the importance of preserving the free flow of commerce through strategic international waterways such as the Bab al-Mandab and the Strait of Hormuz.

In 2015, Iran signed a deal with six major powers to limit its nuclear programme to make it harder to obtain a weapon in exchange for relief from economic sanctions. Iran says its nuclear programme seeks only civilian atomic energy.

In 2018, then-US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the pact, saying it was insufficient to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran has since ramped up some nuclear activities, putting a ticking clock on an attempt to return to a deal in talks between Western powers and Tehran in Vienna.

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabias Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at Al Salam Royal Palace, in Jeddah.

U.S. President Joe Biden participates in a bilateral meeting with Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, at Al Salam Royal Palace, in Jeddah. 

The US president will also hold bilateral talks with the leaders of Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq before taking part in the wider summit where he will “lay out clearly” his vision and strategy for America’s engagement in the Middle East, US national security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Friday.

“He’s intent on ensuring that there is not a vacuum in the Middle East for China and Russia to fill,” Sullivan said.

Biden will discuss energy supplies with Gulf oil producers, but Washington said it does not expect OPEC heavyweight Saudi Arabia to boost oil output immediately and will await the outcome of an OPEC+ meeting on Aug. 3.

Gulf states, who have refused to side with the West against Russia in the Ukraine conflict, are in turn seeking a concrete commitment from the United States to strategic ties that have been strained over perceived US disengagement from the region.

Riyadh and Abu Dhabi have been frustrated by US conditions on arms sales and for being excluded from indirect US-Iran talks to revive a 2015 nuclear pact that they see as flawed for not tackling regional concerns about Tehran’s missile programme and behaviour.

“The most important demand from the Saudi leadership and other Gulf leaders — and Arabs in general — is clarity of US policy and its direction towards the region,” said Abdulaziz Sager, chairman of Riyadh-based Gulf Research Center.

Israel, which shares their concerns over Iran, encouraged Biden’s trip to the kingdom, hoping it would foster a warming between Saudi Arabia and Israel as part of a wider Arab rapprochement after the UAE and Bahrain forged ties with Israel in US-brokered pacts that received Riyadh’s blessings.

‘Groundbreaking process’

In a sign of progress under what Biden described as a groundbreaking process, Saudi Arabia said on Friday it would open its airspace to all air carriers, paving the way for more overflights to and from Israel.

Washington and Riyadh also announced the removal of US and other peacekeepers from Tiran — an island between Saudi and Egypt in a strategic position leading to the Israeli port of Eilat. The troops have been stationed as part of accords reached in 1978 and which led to a peace deal between Israel and Egypt.

The US-Arab summit would discuss “tighter coordination and collaboration when it comes to Iran,” Sullivan said, as well as regional integration, including that of Iraq, where Tehran has built deep influence. Support by wealthy Gulf states for global infrastructure and investment will also be discussed.

The United States and Israel are also seeking to lay the groundwork for a security alliance with Arab states that would connect air defence systems to combat Iranian drone and missile attacks in the Middle East, sources have said.

Such a plan would be a hard sell for Arab states that do not have ties with Israel and balk at being part of an alliance seen as against Iran, which has built a strong network of proxies around the region including in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

Senior Emirati official Anwar Gargash said on Friday the idea of a so-called Middle East NATO was difficult and that bilateral cooperation was faster and more effective. Read full story

The UAE, he said, would not back a confrontational approach: “We are open to cooperation, but not cooperation targeting any other country in the region and I specifically mention Iran.”