The mass rally was organized in the centre of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip in support of Al-Aqsa Mosque and in solidarity with the Palestinians in occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, amid a wave of violence by the Israeli forces.
The mass rally started from all mosques in the city after Friday prayers, and the participants raised banners praising the martyrs of the West Bank and the sacrifices of the people of Jerusalem.
Mosheer said, “The enemy should realize that blowing the trumpet, harming Al-Aqsa, storming it, desecrating it, is a provocation to our people and our nation, and that means a revolution for our people.”
He praised the “pullers of the trigger from all the resistance factions in the West Bank” stressing that “the wave of resistance proves that all attempts to domesticate minds, and the attempt to create the new Palestinian, have failed”.
Mosheer warned the occupation against harming Jerusalem, stressing that Al-Aqsa Mosque is a thunderbolt for all revolutions and uprisings, starting with the Al-Buraq revolution and not ending with the Jerusalem uprising today.
The two mosques, Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron (south of the West Bank) are subjected to violations by the occupation forces and settlers, who storm them in hundreds daily.
It should be noted that the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem have witnessed, since the beginning of the year, a clear increase in guerrilla operations and acts of resistance, especially in the areas of Jenin and Nablus, in the north of the occupied West Bank.
The escalation comes in response to the occupation’s violations against Palestinians, and its continuous attacks on their holy sites.
Since the beginning of this year, at least 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, including 51 Palestinians during the three-day Israeli offensive on Gaza in August, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry.
The movement led by Iraqi cleric Muqtada al Sadr, considered the country’s strongman, has announced that it will boycott the process of forming a new government entrusted to Mohamed Shia al Sudani by the newly elected Iraqi president, Abdelatif Rashid.
The unofficial spokesman of the movement, Sali Mohamed al Iraqi, announced this past Saturday in a communiqué “the categorical, clear and explicit rejection” of the Saderist movement in this new government which, in principle, will be dominated by the pro-Iranian political forces of the so-called Coordination Framework, declared enemy of Saderism.
“None of us, nor anyone affiliated with the movement will take part in this new government,” Al Iraqi has warned in a statement published on his Twitter account and picked up by the Kurdish news agency Rudaw.
“We recommend,” he added, that “Iraq should not become a puppet of international plans, that its weapons should not fall into idle hands, and that the people’s money should not fall into corrupt banks and pockets.”
Iraq is in political paralysis as a result of the early legislative elections of October 2021, in which the Saderist movement won, only to end up withdrawing from the hemicycle in protest against the lack of political will to form a government.
The Iraqi presidency has been held by Kurdish politicians for two decades, within the framework of a power-sharing agreement that includes that the prime minister must be a member of the Shiite community and the speaker of parliament, a Sunni
Biden made the apparently off-the-cuff remark late on Thursday while talking about US foreign policy during a private Democratic party fundraiser in California, but the White House later published a transcript of his comments, which provoked outrage in Pakistan.
Washington’s relations with Pakistan have soured since last year, when the US ended a two-decade war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan provided crucial logistical access, but US officials believe Islamabad’s powerful military and intelligence apparatus also aided the Taliban, which swept back to power as foreign troops pulled out.
Hours after the transcript of his address was posted, Pakistan summoned the US ambassador, Donald Blome, to the foreign office in Islamabad.
“I have discussed it with the prime minister, and we have summoned the ambassador of the United States … for an official demarche,” Pakistan’s foreign minister, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, said during a press conference in Karachi.
“I am surprised by the remarks of President Biden. I believe this is exactly the sort of misunderstanding that is created when there is lack of an engagement.”
Later, Pakistan’s prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, tweeted that Pakistan was a “responsible nuclear state”.
“We are proud that our nuclear assets have the best safeguards … We take these safety measures with the utmost seriousness. Let no one have any doubts,” he said.
“We should allow them an opportunity to explain this position. I don’t believe that this should negatively impact the relations between Pakistan and the United States.”
The US is wary of Pakistan’s close partnership with China, as Beijing pushes ahead with a $54bn (£48bn) “economic corridor” that will build infrastructure and give Beijing an outlet to the Indian Ocean.
Washington has repeatedly said China will reap most of the benefits, leaving Pakistan with unsustainable debt.
The warnings by the US – which considers China its pre-eminent global competitor – have repeatedly been brushed aside by Pakistan.
In this file photo taken on August 2, supporters of Iraqi cleric Moqtada Sadr (image), protest against a rival bloc’s nomination for prime minister, in the capital Baghdad’s high-security Green Zone (AFP photo)
The announcement came two days after lawmakers elected Abdul Latif Rashid as Iraq’s new president, and he swiftly named Sudani as prime minister in a bid to end a year of political gridlock since October 2021 elections.
“We stress our firm and clear refusal for any of our affiliates to participate… in this government formation,” Mohammed Saleh Al Iraqi, a close associate of Sadr, said in a statement posted on Twitter.
The 52-year-old Shiite former minister Sudani has the backing of Sadr’s Iran-backed rivals, the Coordination Framework, which controls 138 out of 329 seats in the Iraqi legislature.
In June, Sadr had ordered the 73 lawmakers in his bloc to resign, leaving parliament in the hands of the Framework, which includes representatives of the former paramilitary Hashed Al Shaabi.
The prime minister-designate also promised to provide young Iraqis “employment opportunities and housing”.
Sadr, who has the ability to mobilise tens of thousands of his supporters with a single tweet, has repeatedly demanded early elections, while the Coordination Framework wants a new government in place before any polls are held.
Tensions between the two rival Shiite camps boiled over on August 29 when more than 30 Sadr supporters were killed in clashes with Iran-backed factions and the army in Baghdad’s Green Zone, which houses government buildings and diplomatic missions.
The Engels air base houses Russia’s only strategic bombers stationed near Ukraine and is home to the 121st Heavy Bomber Aviation Regiment, which flies the Tu-160s and Tu-95s.
It comes amid mounting fears the Russian dictator might carry out his threats and unleash nuclear Armageddon.
NATO held a closed-door meeting yesterday as the alliance pressed ahead with plans for a nuclear exercise.
And meanwhile, Russia issued further apocalyptic warnings to both the West and Ukraine.
Putin is facing military disaster on the ground as his forces are pushed back across the frontline. But that has stoked fears he could do something stupid – and potentially even make good on his threats go nuclear.
Ukraine has formally applied to join NATO, something which infuriated Russia.
In these circumstances, feeling on edge is only natural. But in reporting on nuclear threats over the years, I have learned the pitfalls of assigning undue weight to rhetorical shiny objects. In 2017, for example, when Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un were calling each other “Little Rocket Man” and a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and warning of all manner of nuclear apocalypse, experts advised me to peer past the bombast and look for clues of impending war, such as the evacuation of American noncombatants from South Korea. Those clues never materialized. Nor did the apocalypse.
In a similar spirit, I asked several experts to share the indicators they’re watching most closely to determine whether Russian nuclear use in Ukraine is imminent—and to help us all separate the signal from the noise.
“I do believe that we are at least several steps away from” Russian nuclear use in Ukraine, Pavel Podvig, an expert on Russian nuclear forces, told me.
Below is a breakdown of what those remaining steps could look like.
Despite Putin hinting recently that threats to Russian “territorial integrity” could spur the Kremlin to use nuclear weapons, Podvig maintained that the Russian president and other top officials have nevertheless largely been consistent in articulating a defensive doctrine, in which the Russian government would consider using nuclear weapons only if it were to sustain an attack that threatened the existence of the Russian state.
Podvig is looking out for a shift away from that doctrine, which could involve Russian leaders more explicitly threatening to use nuclear weapons to halt Ukrainian advances on the battlefield. Matthew Kroenig, a nuclear strategist and my colleague at the Atlantic Council, served up a scenario: Imagine that Putin, seeing the lands he recently annexed about to slip from his grasp, declares, “‘I warned the world that these four regions are Russian territory. I warned Ukraine not to attack Russian territory. They’ve not heeded these warnings. They need to evacuate these areas immediately, or else I’ll consider nuclear weapons. This isn’t a bluff.’” That’s the kind of more specific statement that would put Kroenig on higher alert.
“We will know it when we see that,” Podvig said of a possible rhetorical shift. “My take is that, so far, we haven’t seen it.”
As a dictator who controls the media, Putin could spin any partial Russian win in Ukraine as a victory, Kroenig reasoned. But if Ukrainians are on the verge of taking back all of their territory, Putin could conceivably turn to nuclear weapons to reverse his military misfortunes and avoid a humiliating defeat.
Kroenig, who served in the Department of Defense and the intelligence community in the Bush, Obama, and Trump administrations, is relatedly tracking “Putin’s strength at home,” because “if we saw more Russian elites turning against him or publicly criticizing him,” Putin “could seek nuclear use as a way to gamble for resurrection, change the conversation, [and] show that he’s a strong leader.”
This is one of the core conundrums in this confounding war: The United States and its partners are rightly supporting Ukraine’s campaign to regain all the territory it has lost to Russia’s illegal and abhorrent aggression. But investing in Ukraine’s unequivocal success, and thus Putin’s utter defeat, may come with the greater risk of a desperate Putin unleashing nuclear war.
Movements of Russian tactical nuclear weapons from storage to the field
The general consensus among experts is that if Putin were to reach for his nuclear weapons in the course of his war in Ukraine, he wouldn’t select the kind of long-range, city-destroying, “strategic” nuclear weapons that were so prominent during the Cold War. Instead, he’d likely opt for one or several of the country’s roughly 2,000 tactical nuclear weapons—less explosive, shorter-range arms intended for use on a battlefield.
Podvig has sketched out how a move to tap into this arsenal could play out. In the event of order to raise Russia’s state of readiness, the defense ministry’s 12th Main Directorate, the custodian of the country’s nuclear arsenal, would remove the selected weapons from storage and put them on specialized trucks, which would bring them to a designated point where they would be taken out of their storage containers and paired with their delivery systems (loading a nuclear bomb onto an aircraft at an air base, for instance, or installing a nuclear warhead on a missile).
Private researchers poring over open-source intelligence would, conversely, be less likely to catch this activity. But the broader public might quickly find out about it anyway. Just as it did in novel ways in the lead-up to the war in Ukraine, the Biden administration might disclose classified intelligence—through either leaks to the media or public statements—to expose Putin’s plans and marshal international pressure, including from more Russia-friendly nuclear-armed states, such as China and India, as a means of deterrence.
In such circumstances, “I think President Biden and other officials would”—publicly and privately—“signal very aggressively to the Russians to dissuade them from escalating the conflict with nuclear weapons,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear-nonproliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told me.
The experts I consulted also agreed that Putin himself would probably want to telegraph to the world in subtle or blatant ways that he’s making these moves—in part because he could never be fully confident of taking these steps without his adversaries detecting them, but also because, as Lewis put it, he would want “to see if he could get what he wants for free.”
If Putin can “frighten” Ukraine’s allies into standing down without actually using nuclear weapons, “that’s the best outcome for him,” Kroenig said. Kroenig could even envision the Kremlin “ostentatiously” recording video of Russian troops removing tactical nuclear weapons from storage facilities and Putin deliberately leaking it, with a message to the world like “‘We’re moving them to the front lines. We’re getting ready to use them. I’m serious. Back off now, or else this is coming.’”
Intercepted communications suggesting forthcoming nuclear use and corresponding movements of Russian forces or military assets
If Russia were preparing to use nuclear weapons, Podvig said, it would likely “raise the level of readiness of a portion of forces,” which “generates a certain footprint,” such as orders and additional communication through both Russia’s nuclear command-and-control systemand other military channels. Russia has practiced these processes during past military exercises, so the U.S. government has a sense of the patterns to watch for. One recent assessment estimated that “tens of thousands” of Russian soldiers would ultimately need to be involved in the complex logistical operation of transferring tactical nuclear weapons from storage to the battlefield.
“I would expect to see alert levels rise throughout Russia’s nuclear forces before any nuclear use, no matter how small,” Lewis said, particularly because the country’s generals will need to gird those forces for escalation that could result from any U.S. or NATO retaliation following Russian nuclear use. Moving Russian nuclear forces to a higher state of readiness could involve not just activity at storage sites for nuclear warheads, but also “submarines going out to sea” or “mobile missiles leaving their bases.”
Although open-source researchers such as Lewis don’t yet have the capabilities to monitor Russian communications, here, too, the U.S. government could choose to publicly release any intelligence it gathers on Russian military orders that signal nuclear use is in the offing.
A particular challenge with reading the Kremlin’s tea leaves is that Russia has nearly two dozen“dual use” delivery systems, some already being used in the war in Ukraine, which can carry conventional or nuclear warheads. U.S. intelligence could “assume they have conventional warheads on them, but actually they don’t,” because Putin has “switched them out somewhere and we didn’t detect that,” Kroenig noted. “So it is possible, I guess, that we just start seeing mushroom clouds in Ukraine, but I think that’s less likely than that we’d get some kind of warning.”
In recent weeks, U.S. and allied officials haverepeatedlystated that they have not detected signs of imminent Russian nuclear use. And the experts I consulted mostly concurred, although Kroenig noted that because Putin is beginning to lose the war and sharpen his threats, “we are already in the danger zone.”
“There is always some background level of activity with [Russia’s] nuclear forces,” as there is in any nuclear-armed country, Lewis noted. But so far, he has “not seen anything in Russia” that he “would characterize as unusual.”
When I asked Podvig whether he’d seen any of his top indicators for looming Russian nuclear use, he hesitated and then replied, “Not yet.” A message of great reassurance this was not. But I’ll take it over the latest runaway speculation on Twitter.