Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake: Revelation 6

Quakeland: On the Road to America’s Next Devastating Earthquake

Roger BilhamQuakeland: New York and the Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

Given recent seismic activity — political as well as geological — it’s perhaps unsurprising that two books on earthquakes have arrived this season. One is as elegant as the score of a Beethoven symphony; the other resembles a diary of conversations overheard during a rock concert. Both are interesting, and both relate recent history to a shaky future.

Journalist Kathryn Miles’s Quakeland is a litany of bad things that happen when you provoke Earth to release its invisible but ubiquitous store of seismic-strain energy, either by removing fluids (oil, water, gas) or by adding them in copious quantities (when extracting shale gas in hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, or when injecting contaminated water or building reservoirs). To complete the picture, she describes at length the bad things that happen during unprovoked natural earthquakes. As its subtitle hints, the book takes the form of a road trip to visit seismic disasters both past and potential, and seismologists and earthquake engineers who have first-hand knowledge of them. Their colourful personalities, opinions and prejudices tell a story of scientific discovery and engineering remedy.

Miles poses some important societal questions. Aside from human intervention potentially triggering a really damaging earthquake, what is it actually like to live in neighbourhoods jolted daily by magnitude 1–3 earthquakes, or the occasional magnitude 5? Are these bumps in the night acceptable? And how can industries that perturb the highly stressed rocks beneath our feet deny obvious cause and effect? In 2015, the Oklahoma Geological Survey conceded that a quadrupling of the rate of magnitude-3 or more earthquakes in recent years, coinciding with a rise in fracking, was unlikely to represent a natural process. Miles does not take sides, but it’s difficult for the reader not to.

She visits New York City, marvelling at subway tunnels and unreinforced masonry almost certainly scheduled for destruction by the next moderate earthquake in the vicinity. She considers the perils of nuclear-waste storage in Nevada and Texas, and ponders the risks to Idaho miners of rock bursts — spontaneous fracture of the working face when the restraints of many million years of confinement are mined away. She contemplates the ups and downs of the Yellowstone Caldera — North America’s very own mid-continent supervolcano — and its magnificently uncertain future. Miles also touches on geothermal power plants in southern California’s Salton Sea and elsewhere; the vast US network of crumbling bridges, dams and oil-storage farms; and the magnitude 7–9 earthquakes that could hit California and the Cascadia coastline of Oregon and Washington state this century. Amid all this doom, a new elementary school on the coast near Westport, Washington, vulnerable to inbound tsunamis, is offered as a note of optimism. With foresight and much persuasion from its head teacher, it was engineered to become an elevated safe haven.

Miles briefly discusses earthquake prediction and the perils of getting it wrong (embarrassment in New Madrid, Missouri, where a quake was predicted but never materialized; prison in L’Aquila, Italy, where scientists failed to foresee a devastating seismic event) and the successes of early-warning systems, with which electronic alerts can be issued ahead of damaging seismic waves. Yes, it’s a lot to digest, but most of the book obeys the laws of physics, and it is a engaging read. One just can’t help wishing that Miles’s road trips had taken her somewhere that wasn’t a disaster waiting to happen.

Catastrophic damage in Anchorage, Alaska, in 1964, caused by the second-largest earthquake in the global instrumental record.

In The Great Quake, journalist Henry Fountain provides us with a forthright and timely reminder of the startling historical consequences of North America’s largest known earthquake, which more than half a century ago devastated southern Alaska. With its epicentre in Prince William Sound, the 1964 quake reached magnitude 9.2, the second largest in the global instrumental record. It released more energy than either the 2004 Sumatra–Andaman earthquake or the 2011 Tohoku earthquake off Japan; and it generated almost as many pages of scientific commentary and description as aftershocks. Yet it has been forgotten by many.

The quake was scientifically important because it occurred at a time when plate tectonics was in transition from hypothesis to theory. Fountain expertly traces the theory’s historical development, and how the Alaska earthquake was pivotal in nailing down one of the most important predictions. The earthquake caused a fjordland region larger than England to subside, and a similarly huge region of islands offshore to rise by many metres; but its scientific implications were not obvious at the time. Eminent seismologists thought that a vertical fault had slipped, drowning forests and coastlines to its north and raising beaches and islands to its south. But this kind of fault should have reached the surface, and extended deep into Earth’s mantle. There was no geological evidence of a monster surface fault separating these two regions, nor any evidence for excessively deep aftershocks. The landslides and liquefied soils that collapsed houses, and the tsunami that severely damaged ports and infrastructure, offered no clues to the cause.

“Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about present-day vulnerability.” The hero of The Great Quake is the geologist George Plafker, who painstakingly mapped the height reached by barnacles lifted out of the intertidal zone along shorelines raised by the earthquake, and documented the depths of drowned forests. He deduced that the region of subsidence was the surface manifestation of previously compressed rocks springing apart, driving parts of Alaska up and southwards over the Pacific Plate. His finding confirmed a prediction of plate tectonics, that the leading edge of the Pacific Plate plunged beneath the southern edge of Alaska along a gently dipping thrust fault. That observation, once fully appreciated, was applauded by the geophysics community.

Fountain tells this story through the testimony of survivors, engineers and scientists, interweaving it with the fascinating history of Alaska, from early discovery by Europeans to purchase from Russia by the United States in 1867, and its recent development. Were the quake to occur now, it is not difficult to envisage that with increased infrastructure and larger populations, the death toll and price tag would be two orders of magnitude larger than the 139 fatalities and US$300-million economic cost recorded in 1964.

What is clear from these two books is that seismicity on the North American continent is guaranteed to deliver surprises, along with unprecedented economic and human losses. Previous earthquakes provide clear guidance about the present-day vulnerability of US infrastructure and populations. Engineers and seismologists know how to mitigate the effects of future earthquakes (and, in mid-continent, would advise against the reckless injection of waste fluids known to trigger earthquakes). It is merely a matter of persuading city planners and politicians that if they are tempted to ignore the certainty of the continent’s seismic past, they should err on the side of caution when considering its seismic future.

Iranian Parliament condemns statement of Iraqi Prime Minister & Antichrist on the “Arab Gulf”

Iranian Parliament condemns statement of Iraqi Prime Minister & al-Sadr on the “Arab Gulf”

NNA – Representatives of the People’s Assembly (the Iranian Parliament) today, Sunday, condemned the statements of the Iraqi Prime Minister, Muhammad Shia’ al-Sudani, and the leader of the Iraqi Sadrist Movement, Muqtada al-Sadr, for their use of the term “Arabian Gulf,” according to “Russia Today” news agency.

The Iranian deputy, Waliullah Bayati, pointed out that “the recent statements made by Muqtada al-Sadr, the leader of the Sadrist movement in Iraq and the prime minister of this country, who used in a strange manner the fake term “Arabian Gulf” instead of the original term “Persian Gulf”, which carried this name throughout the ages and eras, and so it will stay forever.”

Bayati stressed that “the relations between Iran and Iraq are rooted in history,” explaining that the Iraqi people are not satisfied with the launch of such vocabulary.

He added, “I recommend Mr. al-Sadr and the Prime Minister of Iraq to review the stage of the sacred defense (the war between Iraq and Iran 1980-1988) when Saddam attacked Iran and occupied part of it, but the zealous youths on the war fronts did not allow the enemy to occupy a single inch of the homeland.”

The Iranian parliamentarian called on the leader of the Sadrist movement and the Iraqi prime minister to apologize.


The Iranian and Pakistani Nuclear Horns Join: Daniel 7

A picture taken on November 10, 2019, shows an Iranian flag in Iran’s Bushehr nuclear power plant, during an official ceremony to kick-start works on a second reactor at the facility. – Bushehr is Iran’s only nuclear power station and is currently running on imported fuel from Russia that is closely monitored by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency. (Photo by ATTA KENARE / AFP) (Photo by ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images)

Iran determined to form joint military working group with Pakistan: Cmdr

January 8, 2023

TEHRAN: Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Baqeri has called for forming a joint military working group between Tehran and Islamabad.

General Baqeri made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Pakistan’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Sahir Shamshad Mirza. Over the phone, Baqeri congratulated General Shamshad Mirza on his appointment as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee of Pakistan.

Baqeri said that the armed forces of Iran and Pakistan have had cordial ties, especially in ensuring security in joint borders.

Launch of border markets is an effective step towards deepening security in the joint border crossings, General Baqeri underlined.

For his part, the Pakistani general said there is no obstacle to development of bilateral interactions. Shamshad Mirza termed the Pakistan-Iran joint border as the border of peace and friendship.

He further said his country has always been a supporter of the Islamic Republic in the international arena, in the issue of nuclear energy in particular. He went on to say that Pakistan prioritizes formation of a joint military working group between the two countries.

The Pakistani official also appreciated the Islamic Republic’s stance on the issue of Kashmir. Once, Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei had said “Kashmir is an issue of humanity.”

Biden is finishing the Iranian Disaster that Obama started: Daniel 7

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The RealignmentIn the Middle East, Biden is finishing what Obama started. And his top advisers are all on board.


As protests continue to rage in Iran, with more than 2,000 demonstrations in over three months across all of Iran’s provinces and Iranians demanding regime change and “death to the dictator,” the place to start to answer the question of how we got ourselves into this mess is an earlier Iranian uprising: the 2009 Green Revolution. Then, the fraudulent reelection of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in an even more blatant act of election manipulation than had been common in the Islamic Republic, led to massive pro-democracy demonstrations in Tehran.

The 2009 demonstrations were bigger in size than anything since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, including the current protests. The Green Revolution had clear leadership with support inside some elements of the regime itself; it arguably represented a more cohesive and threatening political opposition to the regime than this year’s leaderless street demonstrations. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself said that the 2009 protests had taken the clerical regime “to the edge of the cliff.” So why did the 2009 Green Revolution fail?

The key to the regime’s successful campaign of repression in 2009 was America’s decision to appease the Islamic Republic at the expense of the Iranian people. The demonstrators were clearly looking outward with the expectation of Western support, especially from the young, supposedly idealistic, newly elected American president. When Obama instead took pains to reassure the Iranian leadership of his commitment to engagement, he made it clear to the demonstrators that they were on their own against their jailers. Within a few weeks, the would-be revolution collapsed.

In the moment, many people outside Iran cut Obama considerable slack. It was just the beginning of his presidency, and his focus was clearly on getting out of Iraq, as he had promised. Yet, in retrospect, there is something disturbing about what Obama did in 2009 that looks even more troubling from the vantage point of Syria, Crimea, and the Donbas, and America’s continuing inability to forget about the JCPOA.

Why did Obama so comprehensively and demonstratively turn his back on the Iranian democracy protesters in 2009, in what was his first major foreign policy decision as president? It is a deep question, especially since Obama himself, after bipartisan and European support swung behind the 2022 protests, has belatedly acknowledged that his lack of support for the Green Revolution was a mistake.

The first set of answers again lies in the familiar area of realpolitik: Obama didn’t want any distractions in getting the United States out of Iraq, and he saw Iran as the keystone to a smooth withdrawal. Angering the Iranian leadership would only lead to greater American casualties, which could cause a political firestorm, with Obama blamed for getting U.S. soldiers killed. That would force him to surge in more troops to Iraq to assuage the Pentagon and Congress, rather than withdrawing them.

Yet Obama had a problem in carrying out his withdrawal from Iraq: Congress was passing tough sanctions on Iran over the objections of the White House. In response, he wrote letters to Iran’s supreme leader offering an end to U.S.–Iranian hostilities and greater political and economic engagement. As the regime took Obama’s messaging as a green light to rapidly increase its influence in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Gaza, even as America’s Sunni allies warned of a “Shiite crescent” that threatened their own stability, Obama did little to confront Tehran.

Yet Obama’s strategic priority in 2009 was not to cement a U.S. deal with Iran at any cost. It was to engage with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who was seen as the commander of the Sunni Muslim Brotherhood. Obama characterized Erdogan as the type of moderate Muslim leader that could help him stabilize a turbulent Middle East. Turkey was a NATO member and major Middle Eastern military power. Engaging with Erdogan and the Muslim Brotherhood also meant taking out Egypt’s authoritarian president Hosni Mubarak, who had repressed the Brotherhood, and stood in the way of the Arab Spring.

It is possible from one angle to see Obama’s support for the Arab Spring as support for democracy in the Middle East. Yet as his decision to turn his back on the Iranian pro-democracy protesters suggests, Obama was hardly a supporter of regional democrats. Nor was he particularly interested in supporting Iraq’s struggling democracy, which he saw as a tar pit that would only prolong U.S. engagement in the region—which he strongly opposed. In place of U.S. engagement, Obama supported anti-Western, “one election” Islamists who, like the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Erdogan in Turkey, and Khamenei in Iran, used and abused democratic mechanisms to gain and keep power. His preference was not for democrats per se, but for anti-imperialists who overthrew or sought to overthrow autocratic U.S. allies.

Yet the Arab Spring turned out very differently than Obama expected. When the Arab Spring in Egypt led to the takeover by the Muslim Brotherhood, the Egyptian military, backed by many secular Egyptians who had demonstrated against Mubarak, launched a coup to restore secular authoritarian rule. In Syria, a democratic uprising led to a brutal crackdown by Bashar Assad, with support from Iran-backed ground troops.

The failures of the Arab Spring meant the collapse of Obama’s vision for a Middle East led by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates. It was only after that vision collapsed that Obama sent his advisers Jake Sullivan and Bill Burns to Oman in 2013 to explore nuclear negotiations with the Iranians—in the hopes of finding another Middle Eastern power aside from Turkey that could “stabilize” the region in the wake of America’s withdrawal from Iraq.

Unsurprisingly, Iran often seemed to exist for Obama not as a threat to U.S. interests but as a historical victim of Western imperialism, which supposedly overthrew a “democratically elected” Iranian prime minister and installed the shah. Iran’s repressive theocratic regime seemed less notable for its blatant offenses against its own people, or its efforts to destabilize neighboring states, than for its role as the bête noire of warmongering neoconservatives in the United States, who supported a regional structure that put America on the side of troublemakers such as Israel and Saudi Arabia. Faced with the choice between the Islamic Republic and its enemies, Obama found it surprisingly easy to take the side of the mullahs—putting himself and the United States crossways both to U.S. interests and the hopes and dreams of the Iranian people.

Obama’s big Iran play, which continues to shape U.S. regional policy to this day, was therefore neither “values-driven” nor purely pragmatic. His apparent goal was to extricate the United States from a cycle of endless conflict—one of whose primary causes, as he saw it, was Western imperialism. In doing so, Obama sought to be the first anti-imperialist American president since Dwight Eisenhower, who had backed Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser against the British, French, and Israelis in the 1956 Suez war. (Eisenhower later admitted that backing Nasser and abandoning the United States’ traditional allies had been one of the biggest mistakes of his presidency.)

Yet the Iranians were not, in fact, powerful enough to play the “balancing” role Obama envisioned for them, as their failure to stabilize Syria proved. He therefore stood aside, willingly or not, as the Russians intervened on the Iranian side to bomb the Syrian resistance. For rescuing the Islamic Republic and its allies in Syria, Putin was allowed to invade Crimea and the Donbas with minimal opposition from the Obama administration.

Anti-imperialist narratives were clearly important to Obama, and make sense as products of his unique upbringing. The fact that they utterly failed to correspond to regional realities caused multiple problems on the ground in the Middle East. Obama’s policy of trying to put the United States on the side of his own preferred client states created a slaughter in Syria that in turn led to multiple other slaughters throughout the region. The rise of ISIS was fueled partly in response to vicious Iran-backed attacks against Iraqi and Syrian Sunnis. The shocking rise of the Islamic State required Obama to send U.S. troops into Syria and back into Iraq. It also emboldened Putin, who invaded Ukraine for the third time in 2022.

Obama’s ongoing and catastrophic policy failure, which has blocked the Biden administration from developing any kind of workable strategic vision for dealing with current realities in Iran and throughout the region, demonstrates that substituting American narratives about purity and guilt for hard-power realities is a dangerous business. Ideologically driven anti-Western narratives led the United States to place dangerous and wrongheaded bets on Sunni Islamists and Shiite theocrats at the expense of our own interests and friends. Poorly executed policy led to a fatally flawed nuclear agreement that continues to bedevil the Biden administration and America’s European and Middle Eastern allies. The JCPOA was a big mistake. The longer we refuse to admit that, the higher the price we will continue to pay.

How Obama Spurned the Iranian Horn: Daniel 7

Mark Makela/Getty Images

‘In life, as in politics, incompetence can often explain more than bad ideas’MARK MAKELA/GETTY IMAGES

Obama’s Anti-Imperialist Fantasy Bears Bitter Fruit

The longer we refuse to acknowledge the mistakes of the Iran deal, the greater a price we pay



JANUARY 08, 2023

The eventual fall of the Islamic Republic of Iran will reveal the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement to have been one of the worst unforced strategic errors in the history of U.S. foreign policy. At home, the Islamic Republic is the enemy of perhaps 80% or more of its own people, who see it as a criminal entity that murders them in the streets. Abroad, the clerical regime sows further chaos and bloodshed, threatening the United States and its allies and earning the hatred of peoples across the Middle East. Locking the United States in a nearly decadelong embrace of a failing theocratic totalitarian state is a policy disaster of unrivaled proportions, driven by no apparent external necessity. So why is the Biden administration finding it so difficult to move on?

Oddly, or not, the answers—or nonanswers—to this mystery seem to reveal as much about the unique psyche of the American president at the time, Barack Obama, as they do about the decadelong policy debate on Iran that continues to consume Washington. Yet for some of his supporters and detractors, Obama was simply a practioner of fact-based geopolitics—even if the facts in the end were against him. In this view, Obama as president understood the Islamic Republic as posing a severe threat to American interests and forged a limited agreement to constrain a regime that would be even more dangerous with nuclear weapons. To these critics, he pursued the right goals, but was just remarkably bad at achieving them. A more experienced bargainer might have achieved a better deal.

Alternatively, to others, the explanation of what went wrong is rooted in the unique character and upbringing of the American leader himself. According to this reading, Obama’s choices were rooted in a personal distaste for Western imperialism and American power that was not shared by many of the deal’s supporters or its detractors. It was Obama’s own picture of the world, not any broader consensus view of how American power should be employed or conserved in the Middle East, that led him into a delusional engagement with anti-Western Sunni and Shiite actors, notably the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic Republic, and into a strategic realignment that strengthened these American adversaries against America’s traditional allies, notably Saudi Arabia and Israel.

In life, as in politics, incompetence can often explain more than bad ideas. In this reading, Obama deserves more blame for his negotiating ineptitude with the mullahs than he does for some ill-conceived scheme of Middle East realignment that supercharged Persian regional power. The 2015 deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, was simply a bad deal that wouldn’t stop Iran’s nuclear weapons programs, not a bad idea rooted in anti-Western theories from the American faculty lounge, where Obama had spent considerable time. But then why are we still stuck backing such an obvious loser? 

Even as the clerical regime publicly disintegrates, JCPOA supporters continue to argue for the merits of a limited agreement that would even temporarily put Iran’s nuclear program “back in a box,” as Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, put it. Opponents counter that, more than seven years later, a return to the 2015 agreement would be even more wrongheaded than the original deal. Sunsets kick in over a few short years, and the regime would receive a windfall of an estimated $245 billion in sanctions relief in the first year, and over $1 trillion by 2030 when Iran’s nuclear program would be free and clear from meaningful limitations—rescuing a tottering, ill-intentioned and widely hated regime by pumping it full of cash that it would use to build nuclear weapons and sow regional chaos. The arms control paradigm, in which supporters and critics argue back and forth over what would constitute “a better deal,” is preventing a clear acknowledgement of Obama’s failure—and blocking the development of a workable strategy for dealing with current developments in Iran and throughout the region.

The faults of the JCPOA have been covered many times, including by this author. The Obama administration abandoned its negotiating leverage, provided mainly by a bipartisan Congress which passed biting economic sanctions on Iran between 2009 and 2012 over the objections of the Obama White House. The administration concluded a flawed interim nuclear agreement in 2013, and an even worse final agreement in 2015. The eventual deal trashed decades of bipartisan U.S. policy and multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions calling on Iran to cease enriching uranium or reprocessing plutonium on its soil. While it temporarily delayed Iranian nuclear expansion, the deal ceded the right to develop nuclear fissile material to the Islamic Republic and contained a series of sunset provisions under which nuclear restrictions disappeared. These sunsets permitted Tehran to develop, over time, an industrial-size enrichment program, near-zero nuclear breakout capability, and an advanced centrifuge-powered sneak-out capacity, as even Obama himself acknowledged after the deal was concluded.

Many critics of the deal argued that a longer, stronger, and broader agreement was possible if Obama had maximized the pressure on the regime, including through a credible threat of military force. Indeed, the Trump administration came into office promising to do exactly that. Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018, imposed crushing sanctions that ravaged the Islamic Republic’s finances, and dealt a serious blow to Iranian regional power with the joint Mossad-CIA killing of Qassem Soleimani, Iran’s most competent military strategist and most feared battlefield commander.

Andrew Harnik - Pool/Getty Images

Tablet Magazine; original photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images; Atta Kenare/AFP via Getty Images

Who is the Antichrist? (Revelation 13)


Who is Moqtada Al Sadr?

At the height of the US occupation of Iraq there were few figures American troops loathed more.
As a Shiite preacher, Moqtada Al Sadr used Friday sermons to rail against the invaders who deposed Saddam Hussein. “The little serpent has left and the great serpent has come,” he told a western journalist in 2004.
It led to him being labelled a firebrand cleric and, eventually, almost three years of self-imposed exile in Iran.
It has not been the easiest journey but the shape-shifting 44-year-old, whose political alliance appears to have won the highest number of seats in Iraq’s election, is on the verge of a remarkable transformation.
The corruption that plagues Iraq appears to have created his political opening.
Cultivating an outsider image, Al Sadr has navigated shifting allegiances, military
Embracing an Iraqi nationalist identity, staunchly against foreign influence, made him stand out in a field of post-invasion leaders at one time or another seemingly beholden to foreign states.
He is now a potential king-maker.
Born in the religious city of Najaf, the young cleric came to prominence after 2003 by raising an insurgent army, leveraging his influence as the son of a revered Grand Ayatollah killed for opposing Saddam.
Armed with Kalashnikov rifles and improvised explosives, the Mahdi Army led the Shiite resistance against the American invasion.
During Iraq’s brutal sectarian war in 2006-2007, the militia was accused of running death squads, seeking to remove Sunnis from areas of Baghdad.
The Pentagon once declared that the group had “replaced Al Qaeda in Iraq as the most dangerous accelerant of potentially self-sustaining sectarian violence.”
Al Sadr later fell foul of the Iraqi government following violence between his militiamen and the rival Shiite group, the Badr Organisation.
It wasn’t until the Iraqi army cracked down on the Mahdi army in 2007 – years after an arrest warrant had been issued against Al Sadr – that the heat finally got too much.
He fled to Iran – studying to become an ayatollah at the preeminent Shiite religious centre in Qom – before returning in early 2011.
The Mahdi army remobilised as the Peace Companies in 2014 to fight against ISIS but today Al Sadr’s influence rests more on his ability to rouse his followers.
In 2016, he reasserted his political relevance when his supporters stormed Baghdad’s fortified Green Zone in protests demanding better services and an end to corruption.
He drew upon that same support base and anger to mobilise voters last weekend.

Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr visits his father's grave after parliamentary election results were announced, in Najaf, Iraq on May 14, 2018. Alaa Al Marjani / Reuters Photo
Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr visits his father’s grave after parliamentary election results were announced, in Najaf, Iraq on May 14, 2018. Alaa Al Marjani / Reuters Photo

Campaign slogans such as “corruption is terrorism” resonated across Iraq, but particularly in neglected areas of Baghdad such as the sprawling working class neighbourhood that bears his family name.
Sadr City was once Saddam City but was renamed in memory of the protests which were crushed there following Al Sadr‘s father’s murder in 1999. Uncollected rubbish piles and open sewers fuel resentment at the lack of development.
Like most Iraqis, his “Sadrist” followers want change, lacking faith in the post-invasion political elite to deliver.
But whereas many Iraqis stayed home on Saturday, either as a boycott or from apathy – turnout was only 44.5 per cent – the Sadrists voted in force, believing in his determination to tackle corruption.
He had earlier cleaned house within his own ranks, banning current MPs – accused of corruption – from running.
Instead, Al Sadr formed an alliance with Iraqi communists and secularists, allowing him to inject new faces and complete his move from sectarian militia leader to Iraqi nationalist.

Iraqi supporters of Sairun list celebrate with Iraqi flags and a portrait of Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr after results of Iraq's parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad, Iraq May 15, 2018. Thaier Al Sudani / Reuters Photo
Iraqi supporters of Sairun list celebrate with Iraqi flags and a portrait of Shi’ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr after results of Iraq’s parliamentary election were announced in Baghdad, Iraq May 15, 2018. Thaier Al Sudani / Reuters Photo

The move worked, with his Sairoon bloc winning the nationwide popular vote with more than 1.3 million votes, and gaining an estimated 54 of parliament’s 329 seats.
“He has undergone a transformation – he is more mature now – but that’s also true of the atmosphere around him,” said Dr Muhanad Seloom, associate lecturer in international relations at the University of Exeter.
“I don’t think he’s a different beast as people say, he’s the same person, he still holds the same convictions, political and religious, but he’s a nationalist.”
Al Sadr immediately began negotiations to form a coalition government, another role he is familiar with. In 2010, after the Sadrist bloc won 39 seats in parliament, Al Sadr showed his ability to bury the hatchet, playing coalition partner to former enemy Nouri Al Maliki. The pact allowed Al Maliki to retain the premiership.
This time Al Sadr will be in a stronger position, though political office is not his aim. As he did not stand as a candidate himself, he cannot be named prime minister.
And as in previous elections, when prime ministers have been selected with the consultation of both the US and Iran, Al Sadr‘s bloc will have to contend with rivals.
The US will be wondering whether it can maintain influence with a man they once labelled a thug but may take solace in his strong stance against Iran.
Iran may be more inclined toward supporting Al Sadr‘s rivals, Shiite militia leader Hadi Al Ameri, and, once again, Al Maliki.
Ahead of the election, a senior Iranian official said: “We will not allow liberals and communists to govern Iraq,” a reference to Sadr’s allies in the Sairoon bloc.
Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, has given indications it would be willing to work with Al Sadr, who visited the kingdom last summer to meet Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi minister of state for Arab Gulf affairs and former ambassador to Iraq, Thamer Al Sabhan congratulated Iraq on its elections, tweeting: “You are truly on marching toward wisdom, patriotism and solidarity. You’ve made the decision for change towards an Iraq that raises the banners of victory with its independence, Arabism and identity.”
If Al Sadr were able to form a government, it could be a step in the right direction for Iraq, Dr Seloom believes: “He wants a technocratic government, he wants Iraq to be democratic and he wants to fight corruption.”

The Global Depression of Prophecy: Revelation 6:6

Is a Global Recession Coming?

A global recession was inevitable for three key reasons: inflation, interest rates and debt.

The Russia-Ukraine crisis has unleashed inflation around the world. Russia produces not only oil and gas but also foodgrains and commodities like nickel and copper. There are no alternative suppliers who can step in to fill the gap.

Rising inflation means an end to the Goldilocks economy of low interest rates that began in 1991. Then, the Soviet Union fell. In 1992, Deng Xiaoping’s Nanxun tour, the historic tour of South China, put China firmly on the market reforms path. As a result, China became the factory of the world. This entry of hundreds of millions of workers from the former communist and socialist economies dampened labor costs. Inflation declined dramatically, allowing low interest rates to prevail. Central banks failed to calibrate this dramatic shift in the new realities regarding inflation.

After the 2007-08 financial crisis, central banks did not only lower interest rates but also practiced quantitative easing. This policy is a modern way of printing money. This monetary easing, the unleashing of liquidity in the economy, led to asset market bubbles. This has parallels with the Spanish and Portuguese finding silver in modern day Latin America, a third of which found its way into China and led to the collapse of the Ming Dynasty.

That La La Land era of low inflation and low interest rates is now over. The Soviet collapse in 1991 caused a benign supply side shock. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022 has caused a malign supply side shock. Now, interest rates have to rise to keep the price of milk, bread, eggs and butter, if you can afford it, in check. However, rising interest rates will make life difficult for businesses and households with mortgages.

Debt has become more expensive and servicing the debt has become more difficult. Indebted households, companies and countries will now be in trouble. During the COVID era, fiscal loosening, i.e. spending more than earning, increased debts dramatically. Servicing these debts has just got more difficult.

On June 28, the World Bank observed that 58% of the world’s poorest countries are in debt distress. The danger is spreading to some middle-income countries too. In the words of the World Bank: “High inflation, rising interest rates, and slowing growth have set the stage for financial crises of the type that engulfed a series of developing economies in the early 1980s.”[small-newsletter-white]

China’s economic decline has lowered Chinese demand for commodities from suppliers from places like Latin America and Africa. These economies now have to pay higher bills at the same time as many face an earnings crisis. Their current account deficits are rising and so are their debts. Countries like Argentina, Turkey. Ghana and Sri Lanka are being called submerging economies.

Rising inflation, interest rates and debt are causing a massive squeeze on the global economy. After the heady days of fiscal loosening and quantitative easing, a prolonged global recession and a decade of low growth, if not stagnation, loom ahead. The chickens have come home to roost.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.