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

New York earthquake: City at risk of ‚dangerous shaking from far away‘
Joshua Nevett
Published 30th April 2018
SOME of New York City’s tallest skyscrapers are at risk of being shaken by seismic waves triggered by powerful earthquakes from miles outside the city, a natural disaster expert has warned.
Researchers believe that a powerful earthquake, magnitude 5 or greater, could cause significant damage to large swathes of NYC, a densely populated area dominated by tall buildings.
A series of large fault lines that run underneath NYC’s five boroughs, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Staten Island, are capable of triggering large earthquakes.
Some experts have suggested that NYC is susceptible to at least a magnitude 5 earthquake once every 100 years.
The last major earthquake measuring over magnitude 5.0 struck NYC in 1884 – meaning another one of equal size is “overdue” by 34 years, according their prediction model.
Natural disaster researcher Simon Day, of University College London, agrees with the conclusion that NYC may be more at risk from earthquakes than is usually thought.
EARTHQUAKE RISK: New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from far-away tremors
But the idea of NYC being “overdue” for an earthquake is “invalid”, not least because the “very large number of faults” in the city have individually low rates of activity, he said.
The model that predicts strong earthquakes based on timescale and stress build-up on a given fault has been “discredited”, he said.
What scientists should be focusing on, he said, is the threat of large and potentially destructive earthquakes from “much greater distances”.
The dangerous effects of powerful earthquakes from further away should be an “important feature” of any seismic risk assessment of NYC, Dr Day said.

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

RISK: A seismic hazard map of New York produced by USGS
“New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances” Dr Simon Day, natural disaster researcher
This is because the bedrock underneath parts of NYC, including Long Island and Staten Island, cannot effectively absorb the seismic waves produced by earthquakes.
“An important feature of the central and eastern United States is, because the crust there is old and cold, and contains few recent fractures that can absorb seismic waves, the rate of seismic reduction is low.
Central regions of NYC, including Manhattan, are built upon solid granite bedrock; therefore the amplification of seismic waves that can shake buildings is low.
But more peripheral areas, such as Staten Island and Long Island, are formed by weak sediments, meaning seismic hazard in these areas is “very likely to be higher”, Dr Day said.
“Thus, like other cities in the eastern US, New York is susceptible to seismic shaking from earthquakes at much greater distances than is the case for cities on plate boundaries such as Tokyo or San Francisco, where the crustal rocks are more fractured and absorb seismic waves more efficiently over long distances,” Dr Day said.
In the event of a large earthquake, dozens of skyscrapers, including Chrysler Building, the Woolworth Building and 40 Wall Street, could be at risk of shaking.
“The felt shaking in New York from the Virginia earthquake in 2011 is one example,” Dr Day said.
On that occasion, a magnitude 5.8 earthquake centered 340 miles south of New York sent thousands of people running out of swaying office buildings.

FISSURES: Fault lines in New York City have low rates of activity, Dr Day said
NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the city was “lucky to avoid any major harm” as a result of the quake, whose epicenter was near Louisa, Virginia, about 40 miles from Richmond.
“But an even more impressive one is the felt shaking from the 1811-1812 New Madrid earthquakes in the central Mississippi valley, which was felt in many places across a region, including cities as far apart as Detroit, Washington DC and New Orleans, and in a few places even further afield including,” Dr Day added.
“So, if one was to attempt to do a proper seismic hazard assessment for NYC, one would have to include potential earthquake sources over a wide region, including at least the Appalachian mountains to the southwest and the St Lawrence valley to the north and east.”

Political Turmoil Before the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Pakistan Imran Khan rally

Failed assassination of Imran Khan may push Pakistan’s US-backed coup regime to tipping point

First Washington supported a soft coup against Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan. Then the unelected regime banned his speeches, charged him with “terrorism,” and banned him from politics. Now a failed assassination attempt may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

ByJunaid S. Ahmad

Pakistanis have been out on the streets protesting in the millions over the past few months. Even though the country has been afflicted by the horrific floods, the political momentum for radical change has not abated.

An assassination attempt on former Prime Minister Imran Khan this November has brought matters to a tipping point. Today, Khan’s popularity as a political leader and public figure is at its peak – a fact even his detractors will concede.

And this is precisely what has got him into trouble.

Khan was ousted in a regime-change operation at the beginning of April. We can now conclusively say that the group responsible for the ouster included virtually the entire corrupt feudal-dynastic political class, the chief of army staff and some of his cohorts in the military high command, and of course the godfather overseeing it all: the United States.

It was a classic case of a “color revolution,” which unfolded within just a few weeks. Elite sections of civil society, including the ostensibly more “progressive” ones, as well as the entire mainstream media, set the stage for the powerful to do their dirty work through lawfare.

With political support from Washington, they organized a bogus vote of no confidence, with the help of huge sums of money coming from both inside and outside Pakistan to buy off members of Khan’s own party, the Movement for Justice (PTI).

What has followed has been nothing less than historic. Pakistan has seen many civilian politicians deposed unceremoniously, but the bulk of ordinary people have been fairly indifferent to such elite intrigues.

Imran Khan Pakistan rally

Imran Khan address a rally in Lahore, Pakistan in October

Imran Khan’s PTI broke the two-party dictatorship

The curse of the country has been that sometimes the civilian politicians in power, and their blatant plundering of the country, have actually made military rule seem better – or at least no different.

The ouster of Imran Khan engendered sadness and anger among large segments of the population, who believed that the “Khan experiment” was now dead.

But the former prime minister demonstrated an indefatigable resolve to fight back, which is frankly miraculous in a country where wealth and power are so obscenely monopolized by civilian and military elites who despise Khan.

From one city to the next, all across the country, Khan has held major rallies. His speeches have aroused a population that otherwise thought they would just have to live in despair, with the ancien régime coming back to power.

Over the past few months, in the scorching heat of the summer and through the devastating floods, Khan has not budged an inch on his simple core demand: elections to determine who should be governing the country.

But what seems like a fairly banal demand is anathema to the traditional mainstream political parties, especially the two which have played musical chairs in impoverishing the country, the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) and the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP).

PML-N in particular, with its current unelected Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has gone into panic mode, because it has always been accustomed to dominating the most powerful and populous province of the country, Punjab.

The most fascinating and encouraging aspect of Khan’s PTI is that it is perhaps the first national political party that has constituencies and support in all of Pakistan’s provinces.

This is no small feat for a young political party that has broken the stranglehold of the two-party duopoly that has dominated Pakistani political life for the past three decades.

Surely, it seems to strongly indicate that Pakistanis desperately wanted political change – and a lot of it.

rally Lahore Pakistan Imran Khan

A rally in support of Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan in October

Pakistan’s military is internally divided

While Imran Khan was giving speeches at massive demonstrations throughout the country for the simple demand of elections to take place, it seemed like the new PDM (Pakistan Democratic Movement) regime was just interested in concocting ridiculous tricks to indict Khan.

The unelected government has tried pretty much everything: It sought to outlaw voting by overseas Pakistanis (who it knows overwhelmingly support Khan). It hit Khan with absurd “terrorism” charges. And it used its Electoral Commission to disqualify Khan from contesting elections.

Rather than addressing the gargantuan social and economic problems that Pakistan is confronting at the moment, it was obvious to any person that the regime is fixated on destroying Khan and quashing his overwhelming support among the population.

But of course the current government is not alone in this saga, nor is it perhaps the principal player. There are two national security states, one deep and another even deeper, involved in the attempts to crush Khan.

For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the majority of the armed forces, the middle and junior ranks of the officers, and especially the soldiers, support and believe in Khan much more than their chief of army staff and other sections of the top brass.

This is unprecedented. And this is why a heavily militarized national security state like Pakistan’s has been so reluctant to repress these popular mobilizations. Top General Qamar Javed Bajwa knows fully well that if he did implement such orders, the officers’ and soldiers’ guns may turn the other way – and a potential rebellion within the military could take place.

These are the same armed forces that for the past 20 years have been forced to sacrifice and die for America’s “War on Terror.” It seems fairly obvious that, by this point, they are more attracted to Khan’s pledge that he will be a friend with America in peace but not in war than they are to any new orders the military high command comes up with in connivance with Washington.

Khan knows this sentiment among the armed forces very well. In fact, a barrage of retired soldiers and officers, in addition to ordinary Pakistanis, are volunteering full-time as Khan’s security detail. The government “protection” that former prime ministers receive is more a threat to Khan than managing his welfare and safety.

Washington’s hand behind the scenes

It is in this context that Chief of Army Staff Bajwa has gone in full panic mode. Both he and the United States can see that the buffoons in charge of Pakistan have completely ruined their plans of eliminating Khan from the political scene.

Their regime change, in short, has blatantly backfired.

To relieve his stress and receive some “wise counsel,” General Bajwa made a trip to Washington for meetings with high-ranking US officials. This was highly unusual, as the chief of army staff (COAS) was expected to retire in just a few weeks.

Bajwa met with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and the second-in-command of the State Department, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

According to media reports and statements by multiple officials, including Pakistan’s ambassador to the US, four principal issues were underscored in those meetings:

  1. The next COAS, to be determined by the end of November, should be pro-Washington and restart security cooperation, approving drone attacks and American military bases in Pakistan.
  2. Pakistan must start distancing itself from its age-old ally, Beijing, by reducing CPEC (China-Pakistan Economic Corridor) initiatives, especially in the port of Gwadar; and it should not interfere with terrorist actions undertaken by the extremist ETIM (East Turkestan Islamic Movement) from Afghanistan or Pakistan.
  3. Islamabad should “normalize” relations with the Israeli apartheid regime, manufacturing consent with a massive psyops media campaign.
  4. No elections should be held until Khan’s popularity decreases in some way or the other.

Perhaps feeling emboldened and empowered by his meeting with the mafia don in Washington, General Bajwa granted some authority to the military-intelligence apparatus to openly speak against Khan. That was a fatal mistake.

In a very foolish and infantile press conference by the Director-General (DG) of the ISI (Pakistan’s military intelligence, perhaps second only to the COAS himself in terms of power in the country), the DG went wild and loose with criticisms of Khan.

General Bajwa has maintained all along that the military is completely “neutral” in the country’s political process. This press conference demolished that myth.

Then, in another unprecedented move, Khan hit right back at the DG of the ISI, scathingly shaming him.

Messing with the DG of the ISI is just not done. Yet Khan did it.

Most importantly, and extraordinarily, this has led to widespread condemnation of the top echelons of the military-intelligence apparatus by ordinary Pakistanis.

This is despite the fact that the regime threatened people who criticize the military on social media with seven years in prison.

The genuine fear that Pakistanis have of their national security state seemed to have vanished overnight.

Meanwhile, the political parties in government, which in the past showcased themselves as being at the forefront in the struggle against the military establishment, are not only silent but complicit in what that establishment is doing to critics.

Illegal detentions, torture, and murders are happening on this government’s watch. High-profile journalist Arshad Sharif, who had exposed corruption in the regime, was murdered in strange circumstances after he fled to Kenya.

But the PDM government, the so-called “anti-establishment” forces, are simply watching this all happen.

The only positive outcome of this is that these political groups have been thoroughly exposed for their hypocrisy, lies, and opportunism.

China makes rare criticism of Pakistan

After General Bajwa made his trip to reassure Washington that its demands would be met, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited China in a period of unusual friction between the two countries.

Though soundbites of being “all-weather friends” were regurgitated, President Xi Jinping, in a highly unusual fashion, stated that Pakistan needs to do more to protect Chinese workers.

“President Xi expressed his great concern about the safety of Chinese nationals in Pakistan, and conveyed his hope that Pakistan will provide a reliable and safe environment for Chinese institutions and personnel working on cooperation projects there,” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry reported.

This kind of public criticism had never been done before. It seems to indicate that Beijing knows very well how Islamabad is concerning itself with improving ties with Washington, rather than retaining the deep ties it has held over decades with China.

China Pakistan Xi Jinping Shehbaz Sharif

A series of terror attacks have killed and wounded Chinese citizens in Pakistan, especially targeting geostrategic infrastructure projects that are part of the Belt and Road Initiative.

Beijing has asked for permission to send its own security detail to protect their citizens, but Islamabad has apparently taken Washington’s orders to reject this request.

Pakistan is arguably China’s most powerful ally, but we are seeing tensions emerge now that were never witnessed in the past.

Despite Prime Minsiter Sharif’s reassurances, Beijing knows very well that the real power lies in the hands of General Bajwa and the military high command. And the latter’s renewed love affair is with Washington, not Beijing.

Failed assassination of Imran Khan backfires

A gunman tried to murder Iman Khan on November 3 as he marched through Wazirabad in a protest.

The would-be assassin fired several shots; one hit Khan in his shin; one killed a PTI official; and several others were injured.

Khan himself claimed he had information from supporters inside the intelligence agencies that showed Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and his allies ordered the assassination attempt.

At this point, one can only speculate about the thinking behind this atrocity. Many Pakistanis believe that, if a trained shooter from the intelligence agencies wanted to kill Khan, then he could have.

But General Bajwa is due to retire in just a few weeks, and is not too keen about the possibility of setting off a civil war, or at least significant social unrest.

Many observers believe the shooting was a warning to Khan and his supporters.

But this explanation seems weak because, by now, the whole world knows that Khan is as hard as a rock, and virtually nothing has deterred him from openly confronting the powers that be – be they in Islamabad or Washington.

This assassination attempt may, once again, backfire badly.

The grotesque action took place in the midst of the “long march” called by Khan, starting in Lahore and ending in Islamabad.

It is important to note that not only has Khan forcefully emphasized that his rallies and marches must remain peaceful, but that indeed these tens of millions of Pakistanis who have come out have been incredibly disciplined and peaceful in their protests.

This fact should silence Western orientalists who propagate the idea that large “Mozlem” crowds engage in frenzied violence when let loose.

The myth that Imran Khan was the military’s puppet

The routine mantra that has been repeated ad nauseum is that Imran Khan had previously been a darling of the military establishment, but that he later had a falling out with the high command at the end of 2021, and that is what led General Bajwa and his colleagues to dump Khan and punish him.

This line of thinking stems from the very useful term of propaganda employed to describe Khan’s ascent to power: the so-called “hybrid regime.”

Though it is virtually impossible to find a consistent definition of what this term actually meant, we can surmise that it was a liberal smear implicating Khan as a puppet of the military, who would obediently follow its script.

While it is undoubtedly true that the Pakistani military wanted to punish the other two political parties by reminding them who is really in charge of national security policy in the country, it is simultaneously true that Imran Khan was the most popular politician in the country – and by a long shot.

It is completely erroneous to claim that the army’s top brass felt like it was getting its puppet into power. In fact, the military needed Khan more than Khan needed it, given that Khan and his political party were the only ones popular enough for the army to retake power.

The important detail is that the military high command knew it was a gamble to empower a fiercely independent Imran Khan – but it was a risk they felt they had no choice but to take.

At the very least, the military top brass knew that Khan would not engage in conspiratorial plots with the Americans to undermine the military, as the other parties had done.

Lahore Pakistan rally Iman Khran

A rally in support of Imran Khan in Lahore, Pakistan

The fact that both Khan and the military had similar views on ending the war in Afghanistan hardly qualified Khan to be called a puppet.

In fact, well before the tussle between Khan and General Bajwa over who should be the next director general of the ISI at the end of 2021, the military and their friends in the Persian Gulf were irritated by Khan’s constant reference to the Chinese way of eliminating poverty and the need for a welfare state, as he spoke to crowds of rich Arabs in the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

On top of this, Khan’s unflinching and vocal support for the Palestinians and his consistent condemnation of apartheid Israel led the establishment to consider him a “loose cannon” who could not be controlled, a civilian politician who would not simply take orders on issues of national security.

If the term “hybrid regime” simply meant civilian politicians unwilling to defy the military-intelligence apparatus of their states – or deep states – then virtually every US administration can be described as a hybrid regime.

The one American leader who did try to defy the consensus of the national security state during the Cold War was John F. Kennedy – and we know the price he paid for it.

Thus, this entire narrative was farcical. If anything, so-called hybrid regimes existed all throughout the 1990s and afterward in Pakistan.

The “progressive” government of the late Benazir Bhutto, for instance, was plundering the country along with her husband at home, while allowing the military establishment to fully support the rise to power of the Taliban in Afghanistan. That sounds like a hybrid regime more than anything under Khan.

Pakistan’s role in the US new cold war

It is difficult to write about these political developments that are unparalleled in the history Pakistan.

The sheer audacity of Imran Khan and the tens of millions of protestors who detest the current regime and sections of the top brass of the military is rather extraordinary.

Nevertheless, we must not lose sight of the larger geopolitical power plays at work here.

We have seen how Washington has been humiliated by its own former puppets, like Saudi Arabia and India, which have refused to go along with this “new cold war” that the US is waging against China and Russia.

In such conditions, it seems that Washington wants to resuscitate its old Cold War relationship with the formidable Pakistani military.

In its crusade to halt the progress of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, to prevent the expansion of BRICS, and in general to impede Eurasian integration, Washington wants the new Pakistani chief of army staff to play old Cold War games of subversion, terrorism, and hybrid warfare.

Khan is no revolutionary socialist. But one doesn’t need to be a revolutionary socialist to believe your country has the right to have its own independent foreign policy.

And because Khan is committed to that, be it in defense of his relationship with China and Russia and especially his robust defense of Kashmiris and Palestinians, he will remain an impediment for the godfather in Washington.

The outcome of this chaotic situation in Pakistan is deeply uncertain. But there is one thing that is crystal clear: the political battle is between Khan and the overwhelming majority of Pakistanis on the one side; and the powerful and wealthy civilian and military Pakistani elites and their sponsor, Washington, on the other.

Despite legitimate criticisms of how Khan governed when in power, progressives clearly ought to be able to figure out where they stand now.

The China and Russian Horns Line Up: Daniel 7

Pentagon: Xi and Putin ‘edging toward an alliance’

By Joe Gould

 Nov 8, 04:48 PM

Chinese President Xi Jinping, right, and Russian President Vladimir Putin talk during their meeting in Beijing, China, Friday, Feb. 4, 2022. With Russia’s military failings in Ukraine mounting, no country is paying closer attention than China to how a smaller, outgunned force has badly bloodied what was thought to be one of the world’s strongest armies. (Alexei Druzhinin, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, File)

WASHINGTON ― The Pentagon says Russia and China appear to be “edging toward an alliance” at a time when Western nations are seeking to isolate Moscow over its war on Ukraine.

Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of defense for policy, told reporters on Tuesday that “we should expect the Russia-China relationship to deepen.” Nine months ago China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin signed off on their so-called “no limits” strategic partnership just days before Russia invaded Ukraine.

“They’ve really been much more willing to signal this thing is edging towards an alliance as opposed to a superficial partnership,” Kahl said, pointing to their joint military exercises ― which involved more than 50,000 troops for a week in early September.

China appears to view Russia as a counterweight to the U.S., while Russia, hemmed in by Western sanctions and export controls, “increasingly has nowhere else to go” and could depend more and more on China “economically, technologically and potentially militarily,” Kahl said.

In what’s been seen as Xi’s most direct criticism yet of the Kremlin and the war, the Chinese leader warned against using nuclear weapons over Ukraine during a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Beijing last week. Xi didn’t call out Russia by name, but a month earlier Putin threatened Ukraine with a nuclear attack.

On Tuesday, Kahl didn’t bring up that meeting but said he believes the partnership does have some limits. China is wary of baiting U.S. sanctions itself and, for now, “doing too much too openly in terms of openly supporting Russia militarily,” he said.

“Despite it being a relationship without limits, I think China is nervous about that relationship, at least about that too many aspects of that relationship being public,” Kahl said.

Kahl said the National Defense Strategy and National Security Strategy, which view China as near-peer competitor and Russia as as an acute challenge, recognize the growing relationship as a new feature of the geopolitical landscape.

Also, the potential for a three-player contest between nuclear powers presents a strategic problem for the United States, but China’s limited arsenal prevents it from being a true peer. Kahl said the U.S. should for now continue to deter a nuclear attack by maintaining the ability to retaliate with its own nuclear attack ― and not entering into an “endless arms race” based on quantity.

“This isn’t contest where the kid who dies with the most toys wins,” he said. “We shouldn’t think about it that if Russia has 2,000 nuclear weapons and China as 1,000 nuclear weapons, the United States needs 3,001.”

About Joe Gould

Challenges and Prospects Facing the New Government in Iraq without the Antichrist

Challenges and Prospects Facing the New Government in Iraq

Nov 8, 2022 Rend Al-Rahim

Twelve months of high drama in Iraqi politics finally ended on October 27, with the investiture of a new government headed by Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani. Two weeks prior, the Iraqi parliament elected Abdul Latif Rashid as the country’s president following his nomination by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) to succeed Barham Salih of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). These two events came after a year of chaos, sudden reversals, and dangerous confrontations that brought Iraq to the brink of civil conflict. However, both Iraq and its incoming prime minister face daunting challenges born of disagreements between elites and political parties, of endemic corruption and malfeasance, and of unresolved disputes between the central government and the country’s autonomous Kurdish region.

A Dramatic Political Reversal

In a move that most observers regard as a strategic blunder of historic proportions, members of the Iraqi Parliament belonging to Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr’s political movement submitted their resignation from the chamber in June 2022. Their list had won the largest number of seats in the country’s October 2021 elections, which entitled them to form a government with their allies, the KDP and the Sunni Sovereignty Alliance, led by Speaker of Parliament Mohammed al-Halbousi.

Most of the seats vacated by the Sadrists were captured by runners-up from the Iran-friendly Coordination Framework (CF), chief among them Sadr’s main nemesis, former Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. With a stroke of the pen, the CF—a coalition made up of Shia parties and elements of the paramilitary Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF)—suddenly held 138 seats, becoming the largest bloc in parliament. The political upset was thus a victory for Shia hardliners allied with Iran and signaled the demise of the notion of a cross-sectarian, ethnic majority government, which Sadr had previously proposed.

The Sadrists’ resignation from parliament was a victory for Shia hardliners allied with Iran and signaled the demise of the notion of a cross-sectarian, ethnic majority government, which Sadr had previously proposed.

Members of the CF, mindful of Sadr’s influence over a wide segment of Iraq’s Shia population and holding fresh memories of both the Sadrists’ occupation of parliament in August 2022 and the intra-Shia confrontations that led to scores of casualties, expressed their hope that he would join them in a new, all-inclusive government. However, Sadr was adamant that he would not. These efforts at outreach revealed fissures between relative peace-makers within the CF, represented by head of the Badr Organization Hadi al-Amiri, who wanted Sadr on board, and hardliners led by al-Maliki and Qais al-Khazali, head of the Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq militia, who seized this opportunity to remove Sadr from the political scene.

Faced with Sadr’s continued obduracy, the CF declared itself the largest parliamentary bloc and nominated one of its own, Mohammed Shia’ al-Sudani, for prime minister. Sudani, an agricultural engineer, is a former member of the Dawa Party and the former governor of Iraq’s Maysan Governorate. He has also served as minister of human rights and of labor and social affairs, and is said to be close to al-Maliki.

The CF had earlier formed an alliance with the PUK and al-Azm (a small Sunni party headed by Muthanna al-Samarrai), but it needed a broader coalition to form a national consensus government and to bolster its national legitimacy. Hardliners in the CF also sought to isolate and neutralize Sadr further by including his allies, the KDP and al-Halbousi’s Sovereignty Alliance, in a national coalition. This was not easily accomplished, as the CF had previously antagonized both of these actors. Initially reluctant, the KDP and the Sovereignty Alliance eventually accepted the overtures of the Coordination Framework.

Government Formation

The CF declared the formation of a comprehensive umbrella for all parties, the State Management Coalition (SMC), with the CF at its core. This was a useful vehicle for the CF to claim that it has brought everyone into the fold. But without creating a formal agreement or a declaration of principles, the SMC remains a nebulous entity without cohesion. Unlike in their former alliance with Sadr, the KDP and the Sovereignty Alliance do not appear particularly committed to the SMC.

The CF declared the formation of a comprehensive umbrella for all parties, the State Management Coalition, with the CF at its core. This was a useful vehicle for the CF to claim that it has brought everyone into the fold.

The CF itself suffers from its own political discords. The coalition includes armed factions and civic political parties; political hardliners, moderates, and pragmatists; and powerful militia groups that have close relations with Iran and other parties that do not. The decision of whether to include or exclude Sadr further exacerbated existing tensions. Disputes over strategic ministries and posts became public, and amid the melee al-Maliki and parties representing armed militias aligned with Iran gained the upper hand.

Within two weeks of his nomination Sudani presented a cabinet for a vote in parliament. Negotiations among political parties for ministerial allocations exposed rivalries and general ill-will within the Shia, Sunni, and Kurdish camps. Within the CF, the ministry of oil was the subject of competition between al-Maliki and the head of the Fatah Alliance, Hadi al-Amiri, but eventually went to al-Maliki. Meanwhile, Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq fought with Kata’ib Hezbollah over the leadership of the national security and intelligence agencies. In the Sunni camp, al-Halbousi and al-Samarrai of al-Azm fought over the ministry of defense, which al-Azm then won. The KDP and the PUK, meanwhile, argued about the number of ministries allotted to them, with the PUK contending that since President Rashid was the KDP’s choice he should not be counted against their allocation.

Although this may be routine jockeying for position, such acrimonious competition has exposed the fissures within each sectarian/ethnic group. The CF repeatedly said that it would allow Sudani the ultimate choice of ministers from lists provided to him by constituent parties, but ministries ultimately proved too valuable to be left to his independent choice, since they provide  an important source of leverage and revenue for political parties, gained through nepotism, patronage, and corruption.

The 21-member cabinet voted in by parliament on October 27 included 10 CF-nominated ministers, in addition to one ministry for a Christian member of the PMF, six for the Sunnis, and four for the Kurds, of which two are still contested by the KDP and the PUK. Two critical ministers, those of finance and of interior, were chosen by Prime Minister Sudani. The biggest winners in the cabinet’s distribution were al-Maliki, with three ministries, including that of oil, and al-Halbousi, with three ministries, including that of industry. The government formation process thus reverted to the longstanding system of collective government and power-sharing (in Arabic, al-muhasasa), in which all major parties (with the exception of Sadr’s movement) have a share, and in which there is no clear locus of responsibility and therefore limited likelihood of accountability for any future failures or malfeasance.

The biggest winners in the cabinet’s distribution were al-Maliki, with three ministries, including that of oil, and al-Halbousi, with three ministries, including that of industry.

Although the infighting demonstrated the cracks in the country’s ethnic/sectarian groups, the past year’s political turmoil has resulted in a victory for Shia hardline groups and their dominance not only over moderate Shia but over the entire political process. The ascendancy of the hardliners is a victory for Iran, which has succeeded in reviving and holding together the “Shia house,” despite the absence of Sadr.

Prospects for the New Government

Prior to presenting his cabinet for a vote, Sudani submitted his proposed government program, an ambitious document that addressed every possible topic. It promised to improve public services, grow the economy, create jobs, revitalize agriculture and industry, and fight corruption. It also pledged to reduce dependence on oil revenue to 80 percent within three years. And Sudani promised to strengthen the capacities of security agencies and institutions, including of the PMF. On foreign policy, he called for balance and non-interference. But significantly, the program did not call for the immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq. An even more disturbing omission is the absence of any reference to much-needed political and institutional reform, a key demand of Iraq’s 2019 Tishreen protest movement that was also championed by Sadr.

Meanwhile, a six-page addendum to the government program titled “Political Parties’ Agreement” (and lacking party signatures) requires parliamentary elections within one year, and makes other stipulations. However, Sudani’s program makes no mention of early elections, and indeed reads as though it is at least a four-year program. It is not clear whether the extensive agreement is an integral part of the government program, and to what extent Sudani will be bound by it.

Sudani is reputed to be capable, serious, and energetic. He has the backing of the CF’s principal Shia parties and has at least been given the benefit of the doubt by other parties that contributed to forming this new government. The international community also appears well-disposed toward him. If Sudani is not thwarted by the vested interests of political parties, he can potentially achieve a great deal in a four-year term, especially in the sector of service delivery and in improving governmental efficiency. It will be to the advantage of political parties to use Iraq’s considerable surpluses to improve health services and educational facilities, to increase electricity generation, to expand job opportunities, and to raise the standard of living, especially given the staggering 31 percent rate of poverty recorded in 2021.

If Sudani is not thwarted by the vested interests of political parties, he can potentially achieve a great deal in a four-year term, especially in the sector of service delivery and in improving governmental efficiency.

Challenges will still abound. Even in non-controversial service sectors, such as electricity, Sudani will face entrenched financial and patronage interests that could impede his efforts. He will have to tread carefully if he ventures into areas that affect the power or revenues of important actors. The security sector and oil interests are cases in point. Al-Maliki fought hard to gain the lucrative oil ministry, which is the nerve center of Iraq’s finances, and big players in the CF, including al-Maliki and the PMF, are exerting pressure to control the country’s security agencies. Such a move is necessary to eliminate future challenges to their power, avoid accountability, and clip Sadr’s wings. These parties and groups may bicker over specific posts, but they will all band together to preserve their collective control over these agencies. Although Sudani succeeded in appointing his choice of interior minister, it is not clear that he will be able to prevent other security agencies from being captured by his main backers in the CF.

In his government program, Sudani pledged to “support and develop the professional capacities of the PMF and to build its institutions.” This is ominous, as it suggests that there will not be an effort to curb the growing strength and unchecked activities of Iraq’s paramilitary organizations. Combined with PMF efforts to capture state security agencies in the new government, any talk about bringing weapons under government control will be toothless. Indeed, the result may be the reverse, as militias will likely be in a position to dominate and manipulate formal security and defense agencies without check.

Sudani’s high-minded program also pledges to fight corruption. But much as his predecessor Mustafa al-Kadhimi, he can only arrest smaller fish, and is unlikely to bring to justice the larger sharks who are the real sponsors of the country’s corruption. For example, in Sudani’s first week in office, Iraqi security agencies claimed to have broken up a large oil-smuggling ring based in Basra that reportedly included army and security officers. The speed of the action raises the question of whether the move was initiated during his predecessor’s government or whether it was a trumped-up operation aimed at getting rid of unfriendly elements in Basra. In any case, oil smuggling on a massive scale can only occur with political complicity; but it will be difficult for Sudani to hold any political actors to account.

Sudani will have to handle disputes between several political players. Disagreements will quickly emerge between the federal government and the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) over oil contracts and revenue distribution. Some actors in the CF have taken a hard line against the KRG on the issue of oil, and it must certainly bring no comfort to Kurdish leaders that the new minister of oil is an al-Maliki appointee. Negotiations over the oil law and the constitutionality of KRG contracts will force Sudani to walk a tightrope between KRG interests and those of CF players. Similarly, the Sunni demand for the removal of PMF forces from Sunni areas that were liberated from the so-called Islamic State and for the curtailment of the PMF’s economic exploitation of these regions will place Sudani in the difficult position of mediating between his militia backers in the CF and Sunnis who gave him their vote of confidence.

Sudani will have to handle disputes between several political players. Disagreements will quickly emerge between the federal government and the Kurdish Regional Government over oil contracts and revenue distribution.

A final challenge for Sudani will be pursuing relations with Iraq’s neighbors and with the wider region. Relations with Arab countries that were first initiated by al-Abadi were subsequently expanded and deepened by al-Kadhimi, who established diplomatic and economic ties with GCC countries, Jordan, and Egypt, and who hosted rounds of dialogue between Iran and Saudi Arabia. In his program, Sudani proposes strengthening these ties, but the CF is suspicious of ties with Arab countries, which they fear will undermine Iran’s (and therefore their own) political and economic interests.

Much to Accomplish, Much to Overcome

Sudani appears eager to put his own stamp on the new government, and the transition from a Sadrist-controlled to a CF-controlled regime is rapidly taking shape. Within days of his tenure, Sudani dismissed officials appointed by al-Kadhimi to security and intelligence agencies, as well as staff in the office of the prime minister. The swift and wholesale nature of the action has been called “a purge” of the allies of al-Kadhimi and Sadr. There certainly is a whiff of vengeance in these proceedings, as the sweeping dismissals have been accompanied by a CF-led campaign calling for the detention of al-Kadhimi and his officials on charges of egregious corruption. While it is too early to measure the political repercussions of the dismissals, several of the announced replacements in the office of the prime minister are associated with the PMF and al-Maliki.

The grand coalition of the CF, Kurdish parties, and Sunni parties that together formed Iraq’s government is fragile and unstable. To succeed in his self-set tasks as prime minister, Sudani must be willing to resist pressure from hardliners in the CF and to juggle the interests of several partners in the political process, but as a pragmatist he may wish to avoid confrontations. Even with the best of intentions and the greatest of effort, Sudani will have his work cut out for him.

Iran and US are literally at a dead end

Iran and US at a dead end

Iran and US at a dead end

Manal Lotfy in London , Tuesday 8 Nov 2022

Relations between the US and Iran have reached a new low as a result of regional and international developments, threatening any new nuclear agreement with Tehran, writes Manal Lotfy

A protest over the murder of Mahsa Amini who was detained by the morality police almost two months ago

As the Iranian authorities struggle to suppress the widespread demonstrations in the country nearly two months after the death of Mahsa Amini, an Iranian-Kurdish woman who was arrested in Tehran for allegedly breaching strict dress rules for women and later died in police custody, they have been counting their losses.

These have taken the shape of a worsening relationship with Washington, deteriorating relations with Europe, and the reduced likelihood of a new nuclear deal with the West.

Domestically, Iran is also entering a difficult period. There is sharp political polarisation between conservatives and reformists and deep societal divisions, some of which are historical and some of which have been inflamed by the current demonstrations.

There is a deteriorating economic situation, with the crisis dragging Iran’s currency to new lows. The US dollar was selling for 362,100 riyals on the unofficial market this week, after it lost nearly 12 per cent of its value since the protests started, according to foreign-exchange website

There is also a ruling elite that feels isolated internally and internationally.

From previous experience, the more isolated the Iranian regime feels, the more it tends to use violence, silence dissenting voices, and close paths towards political reform and address the causes that have led to the unprecedented demonstrations.

The exchange of accusations this week between Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and US President Joe Biden was an indication that the demonstrations and the repression they have met with are reshaping strategic priorities in Washington and Tehran.

During an electoral rally in preparation for the US midterm elections, Biden backed the protesters in Iran by saying that “we’re gonna free Iran. They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.”

He did not specify what he meant, but conservatives and hardliners in Iran used Biden’s statement to argue that the demonstrations, the largest in Iran since 1979, are not spontaneous and are motivated by an external agenda. Those involved in them are agents of anti-Iranian forces, they said.

“The Americans and other enemies have sought to destabilise Iran by implementing the same plans as in Libya and Syria, but they have failed,” Raisi was quoted by Iranian news agencies as telling a group of students, accusing the US of trying to repeat the 2011 Arab uprisings in the Islamic Republic.

By contrast, Iranian cities were “safe and sound,” Raisi said, promising retribution for the unrest the country has seen.

Biden’s intervention was not appreciated by many Iranians, with many reformist voices inside Iran warning against issuing statements of support that are not backed by practical policies on the ground to push for the regime to change its ways.

“There are opposition voices abroad asking America to intervene. We, the protesters at home, do not need America’s intervention or support. Biden’s statements do more harm than good. America does not care about democracy, and its calculations are always to serve its own interests,” a young Iranian woman who participated in the demonstrations in Tehran told Al-Ahram Weekly.

“Protesters in Iran have repeatedly told the West, in the demonstrations of 2005, 2009, and 2017, that the best thing to do is keep silent. US or European support leads to a campaign of violent repression and quells the demonstrations before any reform demands are met,” she added.

After the Iranian Revolutionary Guards distanced themselves from interfering in the early days of the demonstrations, now the Guards, the most powerful military organisation in Iran, are involved in suppressing the demonstrators.

Over the past few weeks, the Guards have deployed forces in the streets and issued strongly worded statements threatening the demonstrators.

The tensions between Tehran and Washington over the demonstrations are not the only reason for pessimism about prospects for the success of the current nuclear negotiations between Iran and the West. Other regional and international variables will make reaching a nuclear agreement and lifting the sanctions on Iran in the coming months unlikely.

Regionally, there is a new government forming in Israel headed by Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is currently consulting with extreme right-wing parties to form a coalition government. Netanyahu’s hostility to the nuclear agreement between Iran and the world powers is well-known.

During the election campaign in Israel, he stressed that he would work to convince the US administration that Tehran does not deserve a nuclear agreement that would give it billions of dollars after the lifting of sanctions “to use them to destabilise the region”.

Regional allies of Israel in the Middle East have echoed this argument, and Netanyahu will likely press for an end to the negotiations.

Internationally, a new political reality is taking shape in the US itself. The Republican Party is on its way to achieving a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives if the opinion polls for the midterm elections are correct.

If the Republicans regain control of Congress, it will be difficult to pass the nuclear agreement, if it is reached, because the Republicans are sceptical about the feasibility of the agreement with Iran.

Many of them support the approach of former US president Donald Trump, who exited the US from the 2018 nuclear agreement.

In this case, the Biden administration would have one further option, which would be to ratify the nuclear agreement by executive order, similar to what former president Barack Obama did when he encountered opposition in Congress against the agreement in 2015.

But Biden will not be enthusiastic to do this after the crackdown on dissenting voices in Iran.

There is also controversy over Iran’s role in giving Russia drones to use in the Russian-Ukrainian war to strike military and civilian targets. Tehran’s military support for Moscow will make it difficult for the Biden administration to pass the nuclear agreement if it is reached.

Iran also does not seem to be eager to reach an agreement, and some European diplomats have blamed Tehran for stalling due to the additional conditions that it has put on the negotiating table, including removing the Revolutionary Guards from US sanctions lists and ensuring that Washington does not withdraw from the nuclear agreement again, regardless of who is in power.

This is a condition that the Biden administration could not abide by because of the impossibility of obligating future administrations.

Taking such factors into consideration, US-Iranian relations are back to square one, which is bad news for the Iranians, economically and politically, because it means more economic suffering as the prospects of lifting the sanctions decline.

It also means strengthening the grip of the regime. With the Biden administration imposing two rounds of sanctions on Iran in September and October over the nuclear programme and the suppression of the demonstrators, Tehran and Washington can be expected to enter a new cycle of hostility.

Extremely Ominous Warning About the China Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Extremely Ominous Warning About China From US Strategic Command Chief
U.S. Air Force photo by Airmen Alysa Knott

Extremely Ominous Warning About China From US Strategic Command Chief

Admiral Richard says “the big one” with China is coming and the “ship is slowly sinking” in terms of U.S. deterrence.






Russia’s war in Ukraine is a “warm up” to a protracted conflict with China for the U.S., the strategic forces commander suggests. 

Navy Admiral Charles A. Richard, has warned that the U.S. should anticipate, and prepare for, a protracted conflict with China in the near future – which could be triggered by further hostile actions toward Taiwan by Chinese forces. U.S. Strategic Command – one of the Defense Department’s (DoD) 11 unified combatant commands in the U.S. Department of Defense – is responsible for America’s nuclear triad.    

The remarks were given publicly by Richard at the Naval Submarine League’s 2022 Annual Symposium & Industry Update’s Awards Luncheon on November 3rd and were subsequently published by DoD.  

The current war in Ukraine, Richard stressed, constitutes a prelude to a “very long” conflict between China and the U.S., with the U.S. level of conventional and nuclear deterrence against the country slowly eroding. 

“This Ukraine crisis that we’re in right now, this is just the warmup,” Richard said. “The big one (i.e., a conflict with China) is coming. And it isn’t going to be very long before we’re going to get tested in ways that we haven’t been tested in a long time.”

Urgent rethinking of current U.S. defense strategies and deterrence capabilities is needed in order to prepare for the threat of conflict with China, Richard argued, as this would be a different caliber of conflict to Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, which began in February.

“We have to do some rapid, fundamental change(s) in the way we approach the defense of this nation (the U.S.),” he said. 

Overall, Richard offered a bleak assessment of America’s ability to deter China militarily in the near term:

“As I assess our level of deterrence against China, the ship is slowly sinking. It is sinking slowly, but it is sinking, as fundamentally they (China) are putting capability in the field faster than we are. As those curves keep going, it isn’t going to matter how good our (operating plan) is or how good our commanders are, or how good our horses are — we’re not going to have enough of them. And that is a very near-term problem.”

China has rapidly fielded and invested in high-end military technologies and equipment over the past few years – including massive investments in its Navy, new advanced drone concepts, modernized fighter jets as well as new missiles of all types. Virtually every facet of its military has seen significant overhaul over the last decade. For some time now, U.S. defense officials have warned against the threats to regional stability and the U.S. posed by China’s accelerated weapons and technology development, which has led to the country approaching parity, if not surpassing, the U.S. in certain areas of warfare. Moreover, significant operational challenges for U.S. forces, especially in terms of logistics, would manifest themselves should a major conflict with China arise. 

Of particular concern to Richard, as head of U.S. Strategic Command, is the U.S.’s ability to field effective nuclear deterrence against China – which could play a role in preventing the country from engaging in an all-out invasion of Taiwan. New nuclear threats from Russia and North Korea are “vividly illuminating what nuclear coercion looks like and how you, or how you don’t, stand up to that,” he claimed. 

Richard’s assessment suggests that the U.S. not only needs to bolster its own nuclear deterrence capabilities but prepare for continued threats of the use of nuclear weapons in future conflicts by its adversaries. For example, evidence that Russian military leaders have considered using tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine has alarmed U.S. officials, demonstrating that the Kremlin’s rhetoric on using nuclear weapons could be something more than mere hyperbole. Fears are also growing among U.S. officials that North Korea might be about to undertake a new nuclear test, while official U.S. reports indicate that China’s nuclear-capable ballistic missile arsenal is ballooning in size.    

Concerns have also been raised over the possibility that China and Russia are developing novel strategic weapons that might alter traditional deterrence thinking, which includes fractional orbital hypersonic capabilities and nuclear-powered long-range torpedoes.  

Beyond nuclear deterrence, and in order to modernize at pace with its competitors, the U.S. military must be able to develop and field new technologies and capabilities quickly, Richard stated.

“We used to know how to move fast, and we have lost the art of that … We have got to get back into the business of not talking about how we are going to mitigate our assumed eventual failure to get Columbia in on time, and B-21, and LRSO, and flip it to the way we used to ask questions in this nation, which is what’s it going to take? Is it money? Is it people? Do you need authorities? What risk? That’s how we got to the Moon by 1969. We need to bring some of that back. Otherwise, China is simply going to out-compete us, and Russia isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.”

Learning from the past in order to speed-up procurement could come as part of the solution, he noted. One example Richard cited concerns the introduction of the AGM-28 Hound Dog cruise missile, which was brought into service back in 1960.

“The Air Force went from a request, almost written on a napkin … when they figured out in the late 1950s that the Soviet integrated air defense systems were getting to the point that the B-52 just wasn’t going to make it in, and we needed a thing called a ‘cruise missile.’ And so, they envisioned what a standoff weapon looks like.”

In some areas, the U.S. still holds key advantages over China militarily, such as in its undersea capabilities. But even here, procurement delays and maintenance problems could pose longer-term issues that could see the gap between the two countries close. 

While the U.S.’s undersea capabilities might “still be the … only true asymmetric advantage we still have against our opponents,” Richard acknowledged, “unless we pick up the pace, in terms of getting our maintenance problems fixed, getting new construction going … if we can’t figure that out … we are not going to put ourselves in a good position to maintain strategic deterrence and national defense.”  

All told, Admiral Richard’s remarks are absolutely some of the most dire we have heard from a top U.S. official in regard to the threat posed by China’s growing military might. Some aspects of them we have heard from his predecessor, but the degree to which he proclaims the U.S. is losing its competitive advantage vis-a-vis China and that a war is coming is truly stunning. And yes, there always could be investment/budgetary motivations behind comments like these, but there is no outright indication of that being the primary driver here. His comments seemed startlingly frank, at least from his point of view, but everyone can judge them to their own standards.

If anything else, the Admiral’s words are another indicator that the strategic momentum continues to shift in China’s favor and it’s happening at a quickening pace.

Contact the author:

Rockets test-fired from outside the Temple Walls toward Mediterranean

Rockets test-fired from Gaza toward Mediterranean

By EMANUEL FABIAN 7 November 2022, 5:31 pm   

This picture taken from Gaza City shows a view of smoke trails from test rockets fired by Hamas, on August 10, 2020. (Mohammed ABED / AFP)

Hamas or another terror group in the Gaza Strip reportedly test-fired several rockets toward the Mediterranean Sea a short while ago.

Palestinian media outlets publish images of trails of smoke seen in the skies of Gaza.

Armed factions in Gaza frequently conduct tests of rockets, in a bid to improve their weapons.