Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11

Undated photo of Layan al-Shaair
Layan al-Shaair was killed in an Israeli strike on a Palestinian Islamic Jihad military camp

Gaza’s children are used to the death and bombing’

16 August 2022

Hala didn’t know that danger was coming when she took her children to the beach. Her nine-year-old daughter Layan had asked to play on the sand and cool off in the waves. 

As the family sped there in a tuk-tuk, they passed by a military camp run by the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ). At that exact moment, it was targeted by Israeli fire. 

A shell fragment pierced Layan’s neck, and she slumped, bleeding, onto the floor. A week of treatment in an East Jerusalem hospital couldn’t save her life.

“I’m desperate,” Hala told me. “I’m supposed to be strong because I’m the mum of a martyr, but the wars I’ve seen have hugely impacted me and my family. All this made me hate living in Gaza.” 

As we spoke, she held a small cuddly toy close. It had been a special present, given to her daughter for performing in a Palestinian dabke dance show.

I asked her if she thought Layan’s death would make a difference. “No, I don’t think so, because many were killed before her and there’s been no change,” she replied. “This has never influenced decision-makers here. As if it’s become normal.” 

After an escalation, death is all around in Gaza. This time, the ministry of health there says 35 civilians were killed. 

Israel’s Prime Minister, Yair Lapid, said it took special precautions to protect civilians. “The State of Israel will not apologise for using force to protect its citizens,” he said, “but the death of innocent civilians, especially children, is heart-breaking.”

The Israel Defense Forces said it was “devastated by [Layan’s] death and that of any civilian”.

I followed Layan’s funeral procession from the mosque to the cemetery. 

Crowds ran, waving militant flags to the sound of gunfire. As her body was lowered into the ground, men surrounded the grave, scaping the sand and dirt over it with their hands and placing a rough headstone.

People gather around the grave of Layan al-Shaair
Layan al-Shaair’s mum, Hala, said the many wars had made her hate living in Gaza

The same small graves appeared in Jabalia refugee camp too. 

This time, it was five boys who’d been playing in a cemetery when there was an explosion. Israel said it was the result of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad rocket falling short. The militant groups blamed Israel.

Social media videos showed the horrific aftermath, as the boys’ lifeless bodies were scooped up and taken to hospital in a desperate hope they could somehow be saved. 

One of them, Mohammed, was just 17. He wanted to be a police officer, his mum explained. 

“They were just kids playing. Suddenly, we heard the blast. Dads ran to the scene and carried away their dead sons,” she said. “Our children got used to killing and death and bombing. They are different to others around the world, who lead a good life and go to parks – not cemeteries – to play.”

In the hours after the explosion in the cemetery, a video started to go viral on TikTok. Khalil Alkahlout had run straight there to check on his own children. 

As bodies were collected around him, he started to shout, and beat his chest. A friend next to him began filming. “All this for Islamic Jihad to be happy,” Khalil raged. “Why is that? Because it wants Bassem Saadi to be released. This comes at the expense of blood of our little ones.”

The man he mentions – Bassem Saadi – is a leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad who had been arrested by Israeli troops in the West Bank days earlier. It was the spark for the latest escalation. 

Khalil Alkahlout said the video of him criticising militant groups “hit a nerve with the people”

The likes on Khalil’s online video started to grow, reaching thousands. 

Public criticism of militant groups by people in Gaza is extremely rare. “People liked my video because it was spot on,” he explained to me. “It hit a nerve with the people. People don’t want war, don’t want death, don’t want children to get killed. 

“When I spoke out I said the timing and the escalation were not right. Everyone sees me in the streets and tells me I’ve spoken what is in their hearts, what they could not say. They tell me ‘Well said’ and ‘Well done’.”

Israel started its attack on Gaza late on a Friday afternoon. 

It says it had information that militants from Palestinian Islamic Jihad were planning fresh strikes on Israeli civilians. Two of the group’s leaders were killed by Israeli forces.

Across the weekend, about 1,000 Palestinian rockets were fired towards Israel. Several Israelis sustained minor injuries.

The impact of each conflict stretches beyond the deaths and injuries.

Samir’s granddaughter, Tuta, with her teddy in his destroyed home

I climbed in through the blown-open wall of Samir’s destroyed kitchen to speak to him. His three-year-old granddaughter Tuta picked her way through the rubble as we talked. 

He described how the Israeli army had called him and told him to gather his neighbours and leave, because an attack was coming. They walked to the beach and from there heard the bombs fall and explode. When Samir came back, large parts of his home were lying in ruins. 

“We are psychologically unwell,” he said, “We want peace, we don’t want wars.”

Samir doesn’t know how he’ll rebuild his house. It’s a pattern reflected across Gaza. Building materials are hard to come across. Their import is restricted in case they’re diverted for use by militants to help stage attacks on Israel.

A land and sea blockade of Gaza has been imposed by Israel and Egypt since the militant group Hamas seized full control of the tiny territory from the Palestinian Authority in a bloody internal battle in 2007, a year after it won the last general election. 

The blockade has crippled the economy, but Israel says it’s necessary for security reasons. It means that the physical scars of conflict often don’t heal. 

The UN said more than 1,700 housing units in Gaza were damaged during the escalation

Destroyed tower blocks stay flattened, with only their twisted foundations visible. Other buildings are cleared out but left empty and hollow, with little chance of reconstruction. It’s another reason for Gazans to fear each new escalation. 

Hamas runs the Gaza Strip. The group is designated a terrorist organisation by the US, UK and others. It says its aim is to end the Israeli occupation by any means possible, including armed struggle. It has a large stock of weapons, which it uses, firing them mainly towards border cities in Israel.

But this time it didn’t join in with the fighting, though Israel and most observers would say nothing happens without their consent. 

All of the rockets fired from Gaza came from Palestinian Islamic Jihad, a smaller group with less sophisticated equipment. Several of their rockets misfired, falling back into Palestinian communities and causing deaths and injuries. 

The fact that Hamas stayed out of the fighting meant this latest escalation stayed contained, lasting for three days before a ceasefire was agreed. If it had joined in, the impact would have been far greater, potentially triggering a new war.

Israel said Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s rocket fire threatened not only Israeli civilians, but Gazan civilians as well

So why didn’t Hamas attack this time? 

“I think we have to take some lessons from this, this round of confrontation,” said Ghazi Hamad, the group’s spokesman. “I think we have good co-operation with Islamic Jihad and we have had deep discussions with them. We have to work together as Palestinian factions. And by this way I think we can reduce the number of the mistakes, we can reduce the damage and the harms among the Palestinians.” 

I pressed him about the attacks on Israeli civilians carried out by Hamas, and the indiscriminate firing of rockets into civilian areas, from which Israel says it must defend itself. Targeting civilians is a war crime. 

He replied: “We don’t fight against anyone, just the occupation. Israel could have the ability to avoid the civilians, but I think if they want to kill someone as a fighter, they kill all the people around him in order to kill him.”

After the ceasefire, Mr Lapid said he wanted to “speak directly to the residents of the Gaza Strip and tell them: There is another way.” He added: “We know how to protect ourselves from anyone who threatens us, but we also know how to provide employment, a livelihood and a life of dignity to those who wish to live by our side in peace.”

Gaza has one of the youngest populations in the world. Most of its children have only known a life of conflict. It affects their whole lives, and colours their dreams. 

Besan Abdalsalam is about to graduate as an engineer. Along with many others her age, she heads to the beach when the day is over. Sipping mango juice as the sun sinks over the horizon, she wondered how her future will look. 

“It’s hard to imagine how our life would be if this ended. People would stop going to bed with tears in their eyes from losing a father, or mother, or sister. Our entire life would change,” she said.

“Why can’t we do as people do outside Gaza? We watch YouTubers and they are happy and do nice things. We hope for the blockade to be lifted, so we can live like them.”

Did Trump Nuclearize the Saudi Horn: Daniel 7

Trump, Classified Nuclear Files, Saudis: What We Do Know, What We Don’t

By Tom Norton On 8/12/22 at 3:10 PM EDT

Claims that FBI agents who searched Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate were looking for classified documents concerning nuclear weapons have heated up speculation about the bureau’s extraordinary investigation into the former president.

A Washington Post story, which relied on unnamed sources, followed earlier statements published in Newsweek that agents were seeking “national defense information,”according to two senior government officials.

Meanwhile, an exclusive report by Newsweekcited sources in the U.S. intelligence communitythat said the top secret materials could contain documents dealing with intelligence sources and methods—”including human sources on the American government payroll.”The search warrant issued to Donald Trump to search his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida is expected to be unsealed. Above, Trump greets supporters during a rally on August 5 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regardless, after the FBI raided the former president’s Florida residence on Monday, it has remained tight-lipped about its investigation.

That may be about to change, with details of the warrant expected to be released later on Friday, after Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday the Department of Justice (DOJ) was seeking to unseal it.

In the days following the raid, Trump has urged the DOJ to release the warrant immediately, even though he has refused to do so himself.

Whether the DOJ does release the warrant—and whether other revelations come out—Newsweekhas investigated what information could be revealed, Trump’s history on nuclear technology and the protocol surrounding the FBI search.

According to former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, Trump would have received a search warrant with “the list of the statute or statutes that they’re looking at” and a list of items that were taken from Mar-a-Lago.

He said: “He’s been given a copy, it’s not sealed, there’s no court order that says you can’t divulge it. Donald Trump has the absolute right to tell the whole world what the documents say. So he could do that right now.”

However, Rossi said, there could be implications if he released the warrant, the list of seizures or both.

“It could hurt Trump politically [if he released the list of seizures] because the public would then know what was taken from his house and there could be incriminating items,” he said.

“The first page in a warrant could list more than one statute that they think was violated, and that could include, possibly, insurrection, rebellion, obstruction of a congressional proceeding. It could be a lot of things other than just a records violation.

“So politically, that’s probably why he hasn’t done it now,” Rossi said.

He continued, “Legally, if it’s unsealed and exposed to the world, in the event that he is charged, and we don’t know yet, but if he is ever charged, it could affect the jury pool when he goes to trial.

“Potential jurors will read in the paper that they executed a search warrant on his home, they see certain individual items. That can be all prejudicial in the minds of potential jurors.

“And the other thing is, although embarrassment doesn’t seem to be something that he is always concerned about, it’s embarrassing to let the world know exactly what they took out of your house,” Rossi said.Donald Trump leaves Manhattan’s Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawyers for a deposition on Wednesday.James Devaney/GETTY

The search warrant itself would have little information on it, with a list of the statute or statutes and the date when the warrant was approved.

Rossi said that a judge could still publish these documents “even if Trump doesn’t agree.”

The speculation that Trump may have withheld documents relating to nuclear secrets appeared to raise questions about his administration’s links to the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, Senate Democrats said the administration had approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia on at least two occasions following the killing of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly at the hands of a Saudi-linked kill squad, in Turkey.

These transfers were not revealed to Congressby Trump Cabinet officials until months after they took place.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has accepted responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi (although he says he was not directly to blame), said in March 2018 that the kingdom would create a nuclear weapon to counter a perceived nuclear threat from Iran.

Republican staff of the House Oversight Committee said in July 2019 that there was no wrongdoing in the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Democrats previously alleged the Trump administration may have broken federal laws and guidelines in its numerous transfers of U.S. nuclear technology to the Middle Eastern country and was “rushing” the transactions.President Donald Trump holds up a chart of military hardware sales as he meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office on March 20, 2018.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images/Getty

A GOP report concluded that the Trump White House was “not rushing nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” “not conflicted from deliberations to transfer nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” and has “not skirted requirements for congressional notification about nuclear energy technology transfers to Saudi Arabia.”

Trump’s links to the Saudi elite were reestablished—and came under scrutiny—recently when he held the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

This was not the only major decision on nuclear technology or armaments that Trump is connected to. There was also the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Trump pulled the United States out of during his time in office.

The INF, signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan, banned missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles.

Before the withdrawal from the INF, Russia said it had plans to launch 4,000 war games in preparation.

Addressing the U.S. withdrawal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I think it was a mistake…and that they could have gone a different path.”

He added, “I do understand the U.S. concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the U.S. have tied their own hands with this treaty. However, I still believe it was not worth ruining the deal. I believe there were other ways out of the situation.”

Trump followed up by saying that Putin should back a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to restrict a nuclear arms race.

An extension to START was later approved by President Joe Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Crucially, however, the details of the search warrant would not have information about whether the FBI’s search was related to security risks surrounding nuclear weapons. That information would be contained in the affidavit that accompanied the warrant, which is likely to remain sealed for some time.

Rossi told Newsweek that if Trump faces a trial following the search, the court would likely unseal the affidavit “because before trial…he would have the opportunity to move to suppress the search warrant because it violated the Fourth Amendment.”

According to a Cornell Law School article, the Fourth Amendment “originally enforced the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle,’ secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.” It also “protects against arbitrary arrests and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance.”

Rossi said, “Even then, the judge may say, I’m going to unseal it only for the purpose of allowing the defendant to file a motion to suppress the search warrant, and he may issue a protective order even then, to prevent disclosure to the public.”

Backlash against the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago has led many Trump supporters to question whether the bureau’s actions were too heavy-handed or even warranted.

Notwithstanding that no details of the search have been formally revealed, Rossi said that if there were fears that the former president had material that could threaten national security, authorities would “probably” need less probable cause to get a search warrant.

“I would suspect that if they had reason to believe that he was continuing to withhold, allegedly, nuclear secrets, military secrets, I think a judge would have an easier time to approve that search warrant,” Rossi said.

He went on, “But I have to stress, this affidavit that they submitted to the judge, I would be very surprised if it was not incredibly detailed, deep in evidentiary foundation and filled with corroborating documents and witnesses to support the search warrant.

“In other words, they’re not going to go in there with a five-page affidavit and say, ‘Hey, we guess we’re speculating. We don’t have to do beyond a reasonable doubt…[but] Judge, approve it.

“I think they probably submitted a 100- to 200-page affidavit that was incredibly comprehensive and detailed,” Rossi said.

So the search warrant is unlikely to contain a great amount of detail and is very unlikely to contain any information that would corroborate the claims made in the Washington Post report.

We also don’t know whether Trump’s reasoning for not releasing the warrant himself is wholly truthful, as there may be either political or legal implications associated with it.

We won’t know until later whether the DOJ will unseal both the warrant and the list of seized items, although the latter may be less likely.

And, of course, there’s the affidavit, which is unlikely to be released unless Trump is indicted. Even then, sections of it may be redacted or otherwise withheld from the public.

In any case, it’s a remarkable conclusion to a week filled with allegations, rumors and speculation that is unlikely to end anytime soon.

Newsweek has examined a number of the claims and narratives surrounding the Mar-a-Lago search, as well as Trump’s possible motivation for pleading the Fifth Amendment, allegedly more than 440 times, during his deposition Wednesday before lawyers from the New York attorney general’s office in connection with another investigation.

The ‘inevitable’ path of the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Is South Korea on an ‘inevitable’ path to nuclear arms possession?

Is South Korea on an ‘inevitable’ path to nuclear arms possession?

South Korea’s president says he has no plans to pursue own nuclear deterrent, despite the North’s growing threat. Some observers believe otherwise. Insight finds out.

North Korea tested what were suspected to be inter-continental ballistic missiles earlier this year. (Image: AFP/KCNA VIA KNS)

10 Sep 2022 06:15AM (Updated: 10 Sep 2022 06:01AM)

SEOUL: “Simple” and “childish” was how Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, described South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol last month for his offer of aid in exchange for denuclearisation.

Calling Yoon’s offer the “height of absurdity”, she said in a statement carried by the North’s state news agency KCNA: “To think that the plan to barter ‘economic cooperation’ for our honour, (our) nukes, is the great dream, hope and plan of Yoon, we came to realise that he is really simple and still childish.”

“No one barters its destiny for corn cake,” she added.

This week, the North passed a law making its nuclear status irreversible. Kim Jong Un said he would never surrender the weapons even if the country faced 100 years of sanctions.

As of June, North Korea has tested an unprecedented 31 ballistic missiles this year.

Satellite images showed in March it was reactivating its Punggye-ri nuclear weapons test site. Three months later, the United States warned that North Korea could conduct its seventh nuclear test – and its first since 2017 – at “any time”.

Last month, it fired two cruise missiles towards the Yellow Sea after Seoul and Washington started preliminary joint drills in preparation for their long-suspended live field training exercise Ulchi Freedom Shield.

China and Russia round out the nuclear-armed trio at South Korea’s doorstep.

Such neighbours and the increased threat of war are why artificial intelligence engineer Shin Changho believes his country should have nuclear weapons.

“I feel that if South Korea were to possess nuclear weapons, North Korea’s military and diplomatic direction towards us would definitely change,” Shin told the CNA programme Insight.

Not only would the North be stripped of a key advantage; South Korea is also “way ahead” when it comes to conventional weapons, he said. “So I think North Korea would be more careful about armed conflicts than they are now.”

Shin may well belong to the majority of South Koreans, going by a survey published by the think tank Chicago Council on Global Affairs earlier this year.

Of a representative sample of 1,500 adults surveyed last December, 71 per cent favoured South Korea developing its own nuclear weapons, while 56 percent supported a deployment of US nuclear weapons in South Korea.

Participants vastly preferred an independent arsenal (67 per cent) over US deployment (9 per cent).

Kim Dong-yub, an assistant professor at the University of North Korean Studies, believes the North’s recent tests are not simply for “diplomatic or negotiation purposes”.

“Rather, it seems to serve a more practical purpose of refining their technology,” he said, noting that the North seems to be developing warheads that would allow a single missile to carry multiple explosives at once.

“By refining their technology, they can unite their country, easing the worries of their citizens on the country’s security,” he said.

Jang Seyul, president of the National Association of North Korean Defectors, agrees that Kim Jong Un’s “obsession” with nuclear development is a method of defending his regime.

“It seems like they are expanding their military to give their citizens some kind of pride and hope,” said Jang, who escaped to the South in 2007 and previously worked at North Korea’s intelligence unit.

Assistant professor Kim’s view is that Pyongyang has shelved its expectations of the US and South Korea after two summits between Kim Jong Un and former US president Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019 resulted in naught.

At the second summit in Hanoi, the North Korean leader had offered to dismantle the Yongbyon nuclear research and production facility in return for the lifting of all sanctions against his country, which the US was not prepared to offer.

“(Kim Jong Un) expressed that he wants the US-South Korea joint exercises and hostile policies to be terminated,” said assistant professor Kim.

“From Singapore to Hanoi, he returned both times empty-handed… I believe it hit him hard. He is basically saying, ‘I’ve been tricked by you once, I will not be tricked a second time.’”

South Korean president Yoon said last month his government has no plans to pursue its own nuclear deterrent despite the growing threat from the North.

He has, however, ordered an update of the military’s operational plans and backed preemptive strikes against the North’s missiles and, possibly, its senior leadership in the face of an imminent attack. 

The North’s new law apparently takes aim at these plans, allowing for preemptive nuclear strikes if an imminent attack by weapons of mass destruction or against the country’s “strategic targets”, including its leadership, is detected, Reuters reported.

This goes beyond existing provisions for the use of nuclear weapons to repel invasion or attack from a hostile nuclear state and make retaliatory strikes.

Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Centre for North Korean Studies at The Sejong Institute, a think tank, believes it is “inevitable for South Korea to possess its own nuclear weapons”.

He cited two reasons: To achieve a balance of power with North Korea, and questions over whether the US would “guarantee South Korea’s security through extended deterrence”.

Both South Korea and Japan come under the US’ nuclear umbrella — its promise to protect them with its nuclear weapons in the event of a nuclear attack.

But with North Korea’s possession of inter-continental ballistic missiles that have the potential of reaching New York, Cheong’s view is that “the possibility of the US protecting South Korea at the expense of its own citizens’ safety is very low”.

Although both South Korea and Japan are part of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Robert E Kelly, a political scientist at Pusan National University, observed in a recent opinion piece in Foreign Policy magazine that the US “does not pressure friendly nuclear weapons states, including itself, to meet NPT requirements”.

Detractors of the NPT also argue that existing nuclear weapons states and non-signatories like North Korea can continue to develop their arsenal, leaving signatories at a disadvantage.

And to AI developer Shin, possessing nuclear weapons would put South Korea “truly” on par with other developed countries.

Meanwhile in Japan, discussion on nuclear weapons has also grown louder but the Japanese public is largely against the weapons of mass destruction. A study published in 2020 reported that 75 per cent of over 1,300 Japanese surveyed believe that their country should join the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

The country also adheres to the three non-nuclear principles of not possessing, producing or allowing the introduction of nuclear weapons to Japanese soil. While an important national policy, it is “not sacrosanct” and the country should consider international security circumstances, said Ryozo Kato, a former Japanese Ambassador to the US.

Said another observer, Tsuneo Watanabe, a senior fellow at the Sasakawa Peace Foundation: “For example, if North Korea succeeds in experiments to make a long-distance missile that reaches the US and nuclear warheads that can be mounted on it, then Japan’s direction will change a lot. Or if we get into a situation where China is putting a lot of pressure, I think Japan will feel it has to stand up to it.”

For now, in spite of disputes such as over the Senkaku or Diaoyu islands, Japan and China are “some distance from a full-blown military showdown”, noted Indo-Pacific security analyst Lin Ying-yu of Taiwan’s Tamkang University.

What’s more certain is Japan’s increase in defence spending, which looks set to double to 2 per cent of its gross domestic product within the next five years.

An arms race in East Asia seems inevitable.

China’s 2022 defence budget of 1.45 trillion yuan (S$292 billion) is 7.1 per cent higher than the previous year. With cross-strait tensions at a high, Taiwan has proposed a record T$586.3 billion (S$26.6 billion) defence budget for 2023, a 13.9 per cent increase from this year.

“This military competition is a two-way street. In a way, everyone will worry that your safety is my threat; it is a safety dilemma (and) will lead to an escalation of competition,” said Su Tzu-yun, a research fellow and director at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research in Taiwan.

“But history tells us (that) ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’.”

Russia is About to go Nuclear: Daniel 7

Could Russia’s Sudden Ukraine Retreat Mean A Tactical Nuclear Weapons Strike Is Coming?

ByMichael Rubin

How the Situation in Ukraine Could Get Far More Dangerous: After days of a withering Ukrainian counteroffensive, the Russian defense ministry announced that it was withdrawing its forces from two areas in Ukraine’s Kharkiv region. In a video statement, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky quipped, “The Russian army in these days is demonstrating the best that it can do — showing its back.” Ukrainians celebrated, and rightly so. While Russian spokesmen said that Russian forces were “repositioning” ahead of a new offensive, reporters on the ground cast doubt on such pronouncements both because they mirror Russian statements as it abandoned its drive toward Kyiv and also because Russian forces left in such great haste that they left numerous arms and equipment behind.

Western officials are understandably happy. “This [Ukrainian progress] shows the bravery, skills, and determination of Ukrainian forces, and it shows that our support is making a difference every day on the battlefield,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said at a September 9 press conference. Reflecting on his recent trip to Ukraine, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken observed at the same press conference, “Even as President Putin threw as much as he could against Ukraine earlier this summer, Ukraine absorbed the blow and now is pushing back.”

While it is right to celebrate the Russian rout, the war may be entering a far more dangerous phase.

Consider: If Russian President Vladimir Putin tired of attrition and decided to use tactical nuclear weapons, how would Russian behavior—a rapid withdrawal and even leaving key equipment behind—be different? The answer: It would not be.

The Biden administration allowed fear of Russian nuclear weapons to self-deter and to limit deliveries of the weaponry that Ukrainian forces needed in the first weeks of the war. Fortunately, against the backdrop of Ukrainian perseverance, they recognized how unbecoming a policy governed by fear and weakness could be. That does not mean, however, that the United States and NATO should not have a contingency plan both to head off Russian use of nuclear weapons and respond to their use should Putin now cross the line.

The White House and U.S. intelligence community may feel confident that they will have forewarning should Putin give the order to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. They may believe that satellite photographs, signals intelligence, and human intelligence will provide a clear picture.  The nature of intelligence, however, is that there is always doubt and deception. Just as late Al Qaeda leader Usama Bin Laden used old-fashioned messengers rather than email or cell phones, so too might some core Russian commanders. During its 2006 war with Israel, Hezbollah successfully demonstrated the ability to conceal long-range missiles, thanks both to diversions designed to be discovered as well as other underground facilities, all built by North Korean engineers. This is not to suggest a North Korean angle to Ukraine, but certainly, Russian strategists look at lessons learned from every conflict.

Nor is it necessarily true that Putin would try to hide in advance tactical nuclear warhead use. In 2012, President Barack Obama drew a “redline”around the use of chemical and biological weapons in Syria. When Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces subsequently used chemical weapons against a Damascus suburb, Obama stood down. Partisans subsequently questioned the existence of a redline. This was disingenuous as senior Obama officials had supplemented press reporting at the time with background press calls to think tankers and opinion leaders to enunciate how serious Obama was about his redline. When that wordplay did not work, many opposed to enforcing the redline shifted tack and argued that from the perspective of the bombs’ victims, it mattered little whether their death came from gas or explosive maiming. After all, the result was the same. Lost was any appreciation for what the end to the stigma associated with chemical weapons might mean for future warfare.

Putin might count on proponents fearful of any robust reaction to resurrect the post-chemical redline arguments in the aftermath of a tactical nuclear strike. He might calculate that Washington and Brussels will always look for a reason not to act or escalate and that both will be willing to engage in logical somersaults to do so. Simply put, Putin might calculate that Washington will paralyze itself until the danger of retaliation passes.

It is for this reason that the White House and NATO should make clear upfront that this will not work. They should detail the pain Russia will suffer should withdrawal be a feint ahead of tactical nuclear use against Ukrainian forces and cities. Such pain should not only include truly crippling sanctions rather than cosmetic half-measures but also include enhancing the ability of Ukraine to expand the zone of hostility to the entirety of Russia, from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean. They should also detail the eventual financial and territorial reparations owed to Ukraine and all countries downwind from any radioactive exposure as well as those countries long victimized by the Russian informal empire.

The free world owes Zelensky a debt of gratitude for refusing White House advice to evacuate ahead of the initial Russian invasion. Biden, to his credit, overcame that mistake and allowed Ukraine’s president to do more than any leader since Winston Churchill to defend freedom and democracy in the face of evil. Zelensky deserves the Nobel Peace Prize.

The policy decisions now looming for Biden may be as great. Celebrations may be premature if Putin seeks to achieve through nuclear weapons what he could not with manpower. To remain silent now, downplay the threat that Russia might use its tactical nuclear weapons, or let fear govern policy will mean the end of the post-World War II liberal order.

As the Ukraine war enters a crucial new phase, it is time both to step up deterrence and plan for what comes after Russian first use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine.

Now a 1945 Contributing Editor, Dr. Michael Rubin is a Senior Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Dr. Rubin is the author, coauthor, and coeditor of several books exploring diplomacy, Iranian history, Arab culture, Kurdish studies, and Shi’ite politics, including “Seven Pillars: What Really Causes Instability in the Middle East?” (AEI Press, 2019); “Kurdistan Rising” (AEI Press, 2016); “Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes” (Encounter Books, 2014); and “Eternal Iran: Continuity and Chaos” (Palgrave, 2005).

Iraq: Antichrist’s Request Met with Sunni Silence, Kurdish Conditions

Iraq: Sadr’s Request Met with Sunni Silence, Kurdish Conditions

Sunni and Kurdish allies of Muqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite cleric who is the leader of one of Iraq’s most powerful parties, are yet to respond to his request to leave parliament.

Sadr on Thursday has asked each of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance to finally take a stance on dissolving the parliament or withdrawing from it.

While the Sovereignty Alliance, led by Parliament Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi, has not issued a formal position on Sadr’s request, the KDP said that a joint decision must be taken on the matter.

KDP Spokesman Mahmoud Mohammed said that dissolving the Iraqi Parliament is a joint decision that should be taken by the political forces and parties in Iraq.

Speaking to reporters about Sadr’s call for his Kurdish and Sunni allies to work to dissolve parliament and hold early elections, Mohammed said that no dialogue has been conducted on this issue yet.

“We prefer that such problems be solved through dialogue to reach a joint decision,” said Mohammed.

He pointed out that forming the next federal government and addressing the problems is the way to “end the current situation.”

“We have a special committee which plays its role. Such topics should be addressed through meetings so that decisions are made unanimously,” he said.

Mohammed reiterated his party’s position that they are ready for snap elections, as requested by Sadr, “but with a consensus and its results should be accepted.”

Earlier, Salih Mohammad al-Iraqi, who runs a Twitter account named “the leader’s advisor” and is widely believed to be Sadr’s mouthpiece, had announced that the Sadrist Movement categorically rejects returning to parliament.

Sadrists have held dozens of protests since the results of the vote were announced in October.

Recently, they stormed the parliament building and staged sit-ins there, and later they stormed the Republican Palace.

The protests turned violent late last month after the Sadrist Movement’s militia group clashed with armed groups close to the Coordination Framework.

Europeans doubt Iran’s Nuclear Intentions

Iranian flag is seen at the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in Tirana

Europeans doubt Iran’s intentions in nuclear talks

September 10, 202212:56 PM MDTLast Updated a day ago

PARIS/VIENNA, Sept 10 (Reuters) – France, Britain and Germany on Saturday said they had “serious doubts” about Iran’s intentions to revive a nuclear deal, comments that were rejected by Tehran and called “very untimely” by Moscow.

Iran earlier this month sent its latest response to the European Union’s proposed text to restore the 2015 agreement under which Tehran had restrained its nuclear programme in exchange for relief from U.S., EU and U.N. economic sanctions.

Diplomats have said Iran’s response to the EU coordinator was a step backwards, with it seeking to link a revival of the deal with the closure of investigations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) into uranium traces at three sites.

The IAEA’s Board of Governors meet on Monday, three months after adopting a resolution urging Iran to give credible answers to the watchdog on the issue. Ahead of that meeting the European parties to the deal vented their frustration.

“This latest demand raises serious doubts as to Iran’s intentions and commitment to a successful outcome on the JCPoA,” the three countries, known as the E3, said in a statement, referring to the deal’s full name, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

“Iran’s position contradicts its legally binding obligations and jeopardises prospects of restoring the JCPoA.”

Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nasser Kanaani said the statement was “unconstructive”, adding “the three European countries are advised to play a more active role in providing solutions to end the few disagreements that remain”, state media reported

“If such an approach persists, they (E3) should also take responsibility for its consequences,” Kanaani said without elaborating.

The European statement also prompted Russia’s envoy to the talks to respond on Twitter calling it “very untimely indeed”. He dismissed the perceived blockage as something that “was not a serious obstacle”.

Highlighting how entrenched positions are before next week, France’s negotiator, Philippe Errera, called out his Russian counterpart.

“There is no longer an active negotiation, since Iran’s last response – which you, unlike almost all your followers, have had access to,” he said on Twitter.

Ulyanov responded that at least they agreed that there was no active negotiation.

Then-U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in 2018 and re-imposed U.S. sanctions, prompting Iran to start breaching the deal’s nuclear curbs and reviving U.S., Arab and Israeli fears it may be seeking an atomic bomb. Iran denies having nuclear ambitions.

The IAEA said on Wednesday Iran’s stock of uranium enriched to up to 60%, close to weapons-grade, had grown to enough, if enriched further, for a nuclear bomb and that Tehran had still failed to explain the origin of the uranium particles.

“Given Iran’s failure to conclude the deal on the table, we will consult, alongside international partners, on how best to address Iran’s continued nuclear escalation and lack of cooperation with the IAEA regarding its NPT (non-proliferation treaty) safeguards agreement,” the E3 said.

It is unclear at this stage how the Western powers will respond, although diplomats said a new resolution at the IAEA was unlikely.