What Iraq court ruling means for the Antichrist

moqtada sadr
Moqtada Al Sadr has come out with a series of conditions to put an end to the crisis that began over cabinet formationImage Credit: AP

What Iraq court ruling means for Moqtada Al Sadr

According to Supreme Court, parliament must dissolve itself, which no lawmaker wants

Published:  September 21, 2022 08:05Sami Moubayed, Correspondent

Earlier this month, Moqtada Al Sadr ordered his supporters out of the Green Zone of Baghdad, ending a stand-off that cost the life of no less than thirty Iraqis. The Sadrists obeyed his command, tentatively defusing a crisis that could have spiralled into a mini-civil war within the country’s Shiite community.

Moqtada has since come out with a series of conditions to put an end to the crisis that began over cabinet formation and has since snowballed on into who has the upper hand in Shiite politics.

Moqtada’s conditions include calling for early elections and dissolving the current chamber of deputies, which had been voted into office as recently as October 2021.

The 7 September Ruling

Iraq’s top court just put a damper on both conditions, however, putting Moqtada in difficult waters. On 7 September it came out with a statement saying that that it was constitutionally incapable of dissolving the chamber of deputies, adding that if Sadr’s condition were to be met, then parliament had no choice but to dissolve itself.

No answer could have been more worrying for Moqtada and his team. For starters, it shows that although he has proven — rather ultimately — that he and only he controls the streets of Baghdad, he is still far, from controlling strategic sectors like the Iraq judiciary, without which he can never rise to become a pan-Iraqi leader.

During the first few years of the post-Saddam era, Moqtada made claims to the ministries of education and health, packing schools and hospitals with his people, but failing to make similar advance into Iraqi courts. He is seen as someone who respects the rule of law, making it more difficult for him to challenge verdicts of the Supreme Court.

No dissolving of parliament means no new elections. Iraqis will have to keep their current chamber, from which Moqtada withdrew all his MPs last June in an arms-twisting move, aimed at pressuring his opponents into a political compromise.

The October 2021 parliamentary elections had originally been hailed as a great victory for the Sadrists, who managed to sweep 73 out of 329 seats in Parliament.

That was 92 seats short of the 165 needed for any majority vote. Sadr ordered them to resign collectively, hoping that this would either make his opponents accept his choice for premier, or else, run the risk of bringing down the entire chamber.

Lessons from Lebanon

It actually had the opposite effect. Shiite opponents in the Iran-backed Coordination Framework (CF) hurried to name their own premier, claiming that they were no longer obliged to negotiate names with Moqtada, who was technically, no longer represented in parliament.

Sadr did the same mistake committed by Lebanese politician Samir Gagegea in the aftermath of the 4 August 2020 port explosion in Beirut. Gagegea had won an impressive 15 seats in the 2018 parliament, making him leader of the second largest Christian bloc in Parliament.

He ordered them to resign — one after the other — objecting to state negligence that led to the port explosion, wrongly believing that his move would bring down the Chamber of Deputies. It also had the exact opposite effect.

The chamber stayed on for another three years, with Gagegea absent. When it was time to form a government, first by Saad Al Hariri and then by Najib Mikati, both were technically freed from the burden of accommodating Gagegea, since he was no longer commander of a parliamentary bloc.

According to a norm established in 2016, every four parliamentarians in Lebanon are entitled to one seat in cabinet. That would have given Gagegea four seats in government but he is now represented with not a single minister.

There may be no turning back for Moqtada’s 73 MPs. It would be far easier for him to call for new elections, than to withdraw their resignations. Until the supreme court ruling last week, Moqtada hoped to increase his share up from the 73 MPs.

The big conundrum

Western pundits who highlighted the 73 MPs in October fail to realise that this number was actually less than what Moqtada had promised his followers. He had originally aimed for 100+ and feels that now is the time to achieve that goal.

According to the Supreme Court, parliament must dissolve itself, which none of the remaining MPs want, certainly not after Sadr’s bloc withdrew from the chamber last June.

They fear that new elections would mean more seats for Moqtada and even less for Badr Organization, the Victory Alliance, or the Popular Mobilization Units (aka Al Hashd). A delegation of CF is due to meet with Moqtada in Najaf.

The talks are being sponsored by Hadi Al Amiri of the Fateh Alliance, a ranking member of the CF, who wants to keep the Shiite family united. Working with him to reach middle-ground are Kurdistan President Nechirvan Barzani and Parliament Speaker Mohammad Al Halbousi, and head of the Sunni Al-Siyada Alliance Khamis Khanjar.

They are eying a deal that gives him a lion’s share of sovereignty seats, in exchange for naming a consensus prime minister who is seen acceptable both to the Sadrists and the CF.

For that deal to pass, Moqtada would have to drop his unilateral claim to naming a prime minister, accept the court ruling, and abandon his calls for a parliamentary dissolve and new elections.

— Sami Moubayed is a Syrian historian and former Carnegie scholar. He is also author of Under the Black Flag: At the frontier of the New Jihad.

U.S. pulls Australia Horn deeper into its plans for war against China

U.S. pulls Australia deeper into its plans for war against China

U.S. pulls Australia deeper into its plans for war against China

September 20, 2022 10:55 AM CDT  BY BEVAN RAMSDEN

Australia’s Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond speaks to personnel from the Australian Submarine Force during a visit to Fleet Base West and HMAS Stirling in Rockingham, Western Australia. The placement of new nuclear submarines in Australia is Part Two of a U.S. plan to expand its military influence throughout Asia and thereby threaten China. Part One of the U.S. plan was to expand NATO to the borders of Russia where it has placed dangerous nuclear capable weapons. | CPOIS Yuri Ramsey/Royal Australian Navy via AP

SYDNEY, Australia—The indicators that preparations are being made for war are coming thick and fast.

Previous governments have committed close to one-quarter of a billion dollars on so-called defense, but the items suggest war preparations coordinated with the U.S. and aimed at containing or confronting China militarily. Here are some of these commitments:

  • Upgrading the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tindal aircraft runway to take U.S. B1 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
    Cost: $1.1 billion;
  • Building a huge fuel site in the NT to power U.S. fighter jets.
    Cost: unknown;
  • Acquiring 135 U.S. M-1A2C Abrams Tanks.
    Cost: $3.5 billion;
  • Producing/acquiring high-speed, long-range missile defense systems.
    Cost: $9.3 billion.

Acquiring eight nuclear-powered submarines at a cost, which experts predict, will blow out to $170 billion; these hunter-killer subs are designed for operation at long distances from Australia and are too large to be effective in the relatively shallow coastal waters of Australia.

$10 billion is to be spent building a port on the east coast of Australia to service nuclear-powered submarines, and we are told it will be made available to the U.S. and U.K. for servicing their nuclear-powered and probably nuclear-armed submarines.

Seventy-two, F-35 fighter bombers are to be purchased from the U.S. at a cost of $10 billion, or more, if the predicted blowout on costs occurs.

Australia is purchasing nine frigates at the cost of $35 billion.

The cost to Australia of having over 2,000 U.S. marines stationed in NT each year is unknown as questions by the Independent and Peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) to the Minister for Defence evoked the answer: “It is a matter of national security and cannot be divulged.” These foreign troops stationed on our soil are not under the control of the Australian government. They take their orders from the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, which has recently established a regional HQ in Darwin.

Every second year, the Talisman Sabre military war exercises are carried out mainly by the ADF working in an integrated way with the US military. This is a land and sea operation involving aircraft, warships, landing craft, and land-based vehicles and missiles. Recent war exercises have had a clear aim of practicing for war aimed at China.

These military preparations and expenditures have been backed by war talk by ex-Defense Minister Dutton and government advisory “think tanks” such as Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Former Defense Minister Peter Dutton bluntly warned on ANZAC day this year of the prospect of war with China over control of Taiwan. He said it cannot be ruled out but said it was ultimately a question for China. Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott was reported as supporting Dutton, saying that the battle for Taiwan could start quite soon and cited recent statements by US military commanders to that effect.

The strongest indicator of preparation for war has been Australia joining with the US and UK in what appears to be a war pact called AUKUS whose aim is to contain and confront China militarily. This new alliance was entered into without any parliamentary or public discussion and has been imposed dictatorially upon the Australian people.

The change of government has not seen, as yet, any change in this general thrust to prepare for war. The Albanese Government supports AUKUS. And while Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong have sought to use more moderate language towards our neighbors on their recent overseas tours in an attempt to heal relations broken by the previous government, the thrust of their foreign policy has not changed.

In a speech recently in the U.S., Defense Minister Richard Marles called for the integration of our ADF with the U.S. military rather than interoperability, which was the policy of the previous Australian government. This would mean loss of sovereign control of our own ADF to the U.S.

Congratulated the Albanese government

Indeed, ex-Prime Minister Tony Abbott has congratulated the Albanese government for providing seamless continuity in foreign policy with the previous government, telling ABC radio: “One of the things that encourages me about the new government is that they are very much continuing the line of the former Morrison government when it comes to Australia’s defense and strategic policy. […] Good on you Richard Marles and Anthony Albanese for doing so.”

Respected defense analyst Dr. Hugh White has issued a warning in his article, appearing in Quarterly Essay entitled “Sleepwalk to War; Australia’s Unthinking Alliance with America.” In this hard-hitting essay, Dr. White writes that:

“The spirit of AUKUS and the logic of the Morrison government’s position make it close to inevitable that Australia will be entangled in detailed U.S. war planning for a conflict with China if that has not already happened […]. The danger is that once we allow U.S. military staffs to build Australian forces into their war plans, it becomes harder for us to make an independent decision about going to war when a crisis occurs.”

In commenting about possible war with China over Taiwan he said:

“The best way out of this predicament for America is to abandon ambiguity and acknowledge frankly that it cannot and will not defend Taiwan with armed force. And the best path for Australia is to urge America to do this and tell the Americans that we will not support them in a war over Taiwan.”

Former Prime Minister Paul Keating has previously said the same thing. Reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Nov.10, 2021, he warned the federal government not to be drawn into a military conflict over Taiwan, saying the fate of the self-ruled island is “not a vital Australian interest” and played down the prospect of a Chinese military invasion.

All this war talk and massive spending on war preparations have not gone unnoticed in the Australian community. It has provoked a response which is rapidly spreading that our foreign policies are taking us into an unnecessary and avoidable war, and not towards security and peace.

A recent Lowy Institute poll showed that just over half the Australian population is opposed to Australia going to war against China. The city councils of both Newcastle and Wollongong are united in opposing the establishment in their cities of port facilities for nuclear powered submarines and the Brisbane city council has reaffirmed its commitment to a nuclear free city.

A number of trade unions have strongly condemned AUKUS and the planned acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines. These are: the Electrical Trades Union Queensland branch, National Maritime Union of Australia, the NSW Teachers Federation, Unions NSW, ACTU Retired Unionists Network, Retired Manufacturing Workers in Qld, Retired Rail, Tram and Bus Workers, and the National Tertiary Education Union.

Community organizations including Friends of the Earth, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, the Australian Conservation Foundation, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Pax Christi, the Campaign for International Cooperation and Disarmament, Australians for War Powers Reform and IPAN, have condemned AUKUS and the acquisition of nuclear submarines.

A petition raised by IPAN in conjunction with the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign has received 25,500 signatures. The petition is headed: “No Nuclear-Submarines; End U.S. dominance; Healthcare not warfare” and reads in part: “The Australian Government must withdraw from AUKUS, stop the development of nuclear submarines, and end integration into the U.S. military.”

Community, trade unions, faith and peace groups, and individuals have united to form the Australian Anti-AUKUS Coalition, the AAAC, to campaign nationally against preparations for war against China, to oppose nuclear submarines, and oppose the AUKUS war pact with public anti-AUKUS protests in Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Wollongong, Sydney, Newcastle, Brisbane and Darwin with more planned in the coming months.

The AAAC is currently coordinating the gathering of hundreds of signatures from individuals and organizations for a national newspaper advertisement which reads as follows:

“We call on the Government of Australia in the interests of peace and security for the Australian people and the region:

  • To advise its AUKUS partners that Australia will not be involved in a war against China over Taiwan or disputed territorial waters in the South China Sea, or any other country, and will not allow the use of Australian territory for that purpose;
  • To sign and ratify the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons;
  • To cancel military spending for AUKUS war preparations, including cancellation of the acquisition of nuclear-propelled submarines, so that urgent domestic social needs (climate change mitigation, education, health including public hospitals and housing) can be better addressed.”

Every stop should be pulled out to prevent Australia from being drawn into yet another disastrous U.S. war and the peace movement is growing rapidly to do its best to prevent that from happening.

Experts warn senators of Russia, China nuclear horns: Daniel 7

Experts warn senators of Russia, China nuclear programs

by: Raquel Martin

Posted: Sep 20, 2022 / 01:41 PM HST

Updated: Sep 20, 2022 / 01:41 PM HST

(NEXSTAR) – Nuclear security experts are sounding the alarm over China and Russia’s rising nuclear programs.

On Tuesday, at a Senate hearing, they warned the U.S. could be underprepared without new investments.

Experts are urging Congress to quickly address what they call growing threats from the two countries.

“The doomsday clock tool is now set to 100 seconds to midnight – in contrast, at the end of the Cold War,  the clock setting was 17 minutes to midnight,” said Madelyn Creedon, research professor at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs.

The panel of experts warned senators that both China and Russia have dramatically increased their nuclear capabilities.

“The world is very different now,” said Franklin Miller, a foreign policy and nuclear security expert with The Scowcroft Group. Miller, who also served as a special assistant to former President George W. Bush, said that as Russia and China continue a more aggressive global strategy, the U.S. must proactively prepare for how to respond if those two countries unite.

“Our goal must be a secure and effective deterrent,” Miller said. 

The experts emphasized that creating such a deterrent would require the U.S. to modernize its technology, recruit more talent and pursue updated treaties with both countries.

“It is urgently needed,” said Rose Gottemoeller, who served as deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. “Going forward I think we should be looking at all different instruments.”

Michigan Democratic Senator Gary Peters says he’s also concerned about what happens if China or Russia develop autonomous nuclear weapons.

“Because clearly, this is coming – this is not if, this is when,” Peters said. “If we go that route we have to make sure that we can respond.”

Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inhofe says a bipartisan group of lawmakers are working together right now to ensure the country’s defenses do not fall behind.

“It’s clear we are not prepared for this reality,” Inhofe said.

Nuclear Alliance Between China and Russian Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

Growing Wary of Nuclear Alliance Between China and Russia

Bill Gertz The Washington Times September 20, 2022

AP

The growing ties between China and Russia are sparking new fears among U.S. war planners that the nuclear powers will soon pose a unified nuclear threat, the Air Force general nominated to head the nation’s nuclear deterrence arsenal told Congress.

Gen. Anthony J. Cotton, currently commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command and nominee for Strategic Command commander, told a Senate confirmation hearing in response to repeated questioning that a China-Russia nuclear axis would require stronger U.S. nuclear deterrent forces and new thinking on how the U.S. would respond to a nuclear challenge.

US Does Not Expect Another Iran Obama Nuclear Deal

US Does Not Expect Breakthrough on Iran Nuclear Deal at UN

Tuesday, 20 September, 2022 – 17:30

US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan speaks to the media during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 20 September 2022. (EPA)

Asharq Al-Awsat

The United States does not expect a breakthrough on reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal at this week’s UN General Assembly but Washington remains open to both sides resuming compliance with the accord, a top US White House said on Tuesday.

“I don’t expect a breakthrough in New York,” White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters.

He said President Joe Biden would reiterate that “the United States has been prepared for a mutual compliance-for-compliance return … and if Iran is prepared to be serious about fulfilling its obligations and accepting that formula, we could have a deal.”

Two Centuries Before The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

The worst earthquake in Massachusetts history 260 years ago
It happened before, and it could happen again.
By Hilary Sargent @lilsarg
Boston.com Staff | 11.19.15 | 5:53 AM
On November 18, 1755, Massachusetts experienced its largest recorded earthquake.
The earthquake occurred in the waters off Cape Ann, and was felt within seconds in Boston, and as far away as Nova Scotia, the Chesapeake Bay, and upstate New York, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Seismologists have since estimated the quake to have been between 6.0 and 6.3 on the Richter scale, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
While there were no fatalities, the damage was extensive.
According to the USGS, approximately 100 chimneys and roofs collapsed, and over a thousand were damaged.
The worst damage occurred north of Boston, but the city was not unscathed.
A 1755 report in The Philadelphia Gazette described the quake’s impact on Boston:
“There was at first a rumbling noise like low thunder, which was immediately followed with such a violent shaking of the earth and buildings, as threw every into the greatest amazement, expecting every moment to be buried in the ruins of their houses. In a word, the instances of damage done to our houses and chimnies are so many, that it would be endless to recount them.”
The quake sent the grasshopper weathervane atop Faneuil Hall tumbling to the ground, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
An account of the earthquake, published in The Pennsylvania Gazette on December 4, 1755.
The earthquake struck at 4:30 in the morning, and the shaking lasted “near four minutes,” according to an entry John Adams, then 20, wrote in his diary that day.
The brief diary entry described the damage he witnessed.
“I was then at my Fathers in Braintree, and awoke out of my sleep in the midst of it,” he wrote. “The house seemed to rock and reel and crack as if it would fall in ruins about us. 7 Chimnies were shatter’d by it within one mile of my Fathers house.”
The shaking was so intense that the crew of one ship off the Boston coast became convinced the vessel had run aground, and did not learn about the earthquake until they reached land, according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In 1832, a writer for the Hampshire (Northampton) Gazette wrote about one woman’s memories from the quake upon her death.
“It was between 4 and 5 in the morning, and the moon shone brightly. She and the rest of the family were suddenly awaked from sleep by a noise like that of the trampling of many horses; the house trembled and the pewter rattled on the shelves. They all sprang out of bed, and the affrightted children clung to their parents. “I cannot help you dear children,” said the good mother, “we must look to God for help.”
The Cape Ann earthquake came just 17 days after an earthquake estimated to have been 8.5-9.0 on the Richter scale struck in Lisbon, Portugal, killing at least 60,000 and causing untold damage.
There was no shortage of people sure they knew the impretus for the Cape Ann earthquake.
According to many ministers in and around Boston, “God’s wrath had brought this earthquake upon Boston,” according to the Massachusetts Historical Society.
In “Verses Occasioned by the Earthquakes in the Month of November, 1755,” Jeremiah Newland, a Taunton resident who was active in religious activities in the Colony, wrote that the earthquake was a reminder of the importance of obedience to God.
“It is becaufe we broke thy Laws,
that thou didst shake the Earth.

O what a Day the Scriptures say,
the EARTHQUAKE doth foretell;
O turn to God; lest by his Rod,
he cast thee down to Hell.”
Boston Pastor Jonathan Mayhew warned in a sermon that the 1755 earthquakes in Massachusetts and Portugal were “judgments of heaven, at least as intimations of God’s righteous displeasure, and warnings from him.”
There were some, though, who attempted to put forth a scientific explanation for the earthquake.
Well, sort of.
In a lecture delivered just a week after the earthquake, Harvard mathematics professor John Winthrop said the quake was the result of a reaction between “vapors” and “the heat within the bowels of the earth.” But even Winthrop made sure to state that his scientific theory “does not in the least detract from the majesty … of God.”
It has been 260 years since the Cape Ann earthquake. Some experts, including Boston College seismologist John Ebel, think New England could be due for another significant quake.
In a recent Boston Globe report, Ebel said the New England region “can expect a 4 to 5 magnitude quake every decade, a 5 to 6 every century, and a magnitude 6 or above every thousand years.”
If the Cape Ann earthquake occurred today, “the City of Boston could sustain billions of dollars of earthquake damage, with many thousands injured or killed,” according to a 1997 study by the US Army Corps of Engineers.

Israel foils Hamas plot to launch series of bomb attacks outside the Temple Walls: Revelation 11 2

 Members of the Al-Qassam Brigades take part in a military festival organized by Hamas to honor the dead Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in Gaza City, on October 4, 2021 (photo credit: ATIA MOHAMMED/FLASH90)

Israel foils Hamas plot to launch series of bomb attacks against Jews

Seven West Bank suspects recruited by Hamas to carry out attacks on Israelis were captured by the Shin Bet and the IDF.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF

Published: SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 15:43

Updated: SEPTEMBER 19, 2022 19:33

Members of the Al-Qassam Brigades take part in a military festival organized by Hamas to honor the dead Palestinians who were killed by the Israeli army in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in Gaza City, on October 4, 2021

Israeli security forces earlier this month arrested a group of Hamas-affiliated suspects in the West Bank who were planning bombing attacks against Israeli forces and civilians, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) announced on Monday.

Seven Palestinians from Hebron and Nablus were arrested and interrogated in the operation, led by the Shin Bet and the IDF.

From the suspects’ interrogations, the Shin Bet revealed they had been recruited to the Gaza-based terrorist organization by a Hamas operative named Yahya Amer Muhammad Abu

How seven West Bank Palestinians were recruited by Hamas

The 26-year-old Abu Sayfan, a resident of the Nuseirat refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, is responsible for the recruitment of Palestinian youths to the terrorist group and the dissemination of anti-Zionist and antisemitic incitement on social media.

Abu Sayfan instructed and guided the recruited suspects on how to make explosive devices, in addition to ordering them to carry out the attacks.

The suspects received money to purchase weaponry, explosives and other equipment and substances that were all confiscated by the Israeli security forces.

The suspects were named as Massab Himouni, Ahmad Abu Dawid, Aziz a-Din Al-Zin, Amad Abu Khalaf, Abdullah Quwasma and Maamoun and Khamel Hanani. Indictments for “severe security violations” were brought against most of the suspects, with more charges set to be filed in the coming days, the Shin Bet said.

The arrests highlight Hamas’s efforts to destabilize the West Bank and incite violence by recruiting Palestinian youths, the Shin Bet said, and that the Israeli security establishment will “continue to thwart attempts by Hamas to promote terrorist attacks against Israel.”

Israel has been facing an increased wave of terror in recent months. Due to the situation, and particularly shooting attacks against IDF troops and Israeli civilians in the West Bank, the IDF has decided to reduce the number of troops taking furlough in the Judea and Samaria Division.

According to data released by the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), there were at least 23 shooting attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in August, an increase of more than 50% from the 15 that took place in July. In addition, there were 135 Molotov cocktail attacks compared to only 75 in July (an 80% increase) and 39 pipe bombs in August vs 27 in the previous month (44% more).

India And Pakistan Will Eventually Abandon Peace Efforts: Revelation 8

Flags of India and Pakistan

India And Pakistan Can’t Afford To Abandon Peace Efforts – OpEd

Flags of India and Pakistan

By Saad Hafiz

For the last seventy-five years, the deep-set hostility between India and Pakistan has posed a grave danger to peace and security in South Asia. Religious, ideological, and cultural divides have hardened into a dangerous confrontation. The troubled relationship has cast a long shadow over a vast region facing abject poverty, extreme deprivation, and the prospect of nuclear Armageddon.

The bloody partition of India in 1947, subsequent wars and conflict over Kashmir, and Pakistan’s deep resentment over India’s support in the break-up of Pakistan and the creation of Bangladesh in 1971 have left a bitter legacy challenging to overcome. Today, many Indians and Pakistanis view each other negatively. And domestic constituencies that could drive peace and reconciliation are virtually non-existent. As journalist Tim Marshall contends, “India and Pakistan can agree on one thing: neither wants the other around.”

The tit-for-tat nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in 1998 were seen domestically as a way to assert greatness. But the international reaction rightly was very unfavorable. Undoubtedly, the nuclear tests sped up the arms race between enemies in a self-defeating cycle of escalation and were a recipe for horrific disaster.

Since 1998, the threat of nuclear exchange has risen as both countries have developed comparable and formidable atomic arsenals. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Yearbook 2022, Pakistan has 165 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 160 warheads. The yearbook states that India and Pakistan appear to be expanding their nuclear arsenals and continue to develop lethal weapon delivery systems. Still, it is a conflict that neither side can win decisively without suffering grievous damage.

Significantly, the political leadership in India and Pakistan hasn’t shown statesmanship, maturity, and vision. It ignores the critical point that India-Pakistan cooperation is central to South Asia’s future. Instead of reducing tensions, encouraging confidence-building mechanisms, and conflict reduction, the leadership has fostered mutual antipathy between the countries through mindless jingoism and ceaseless propaganda. It has also failed to manage spoilers who have derailed previous India-Pakistan peace efforts.  

Leaders are reluctant to take risks avoiding the inevitable setbacks and violent opposition involved in a sustained peace process. Expressing support for peace and reconciliation is a surefire strategy for political oblivion. A recent example is the refusal of the Pakistani leadership to consider a potential offer of Indian food imports in the wake of the devastating floods in Pakistan. It missed yet another opportunity to start a thaw in the frozen relationship.

Yet, Pakistan needs peace more to halt a downward slide heavily linked to the human and material cost of the ruinous rivalry with India. Policymakers in Pakistan are finding it increasingly difficult to counter India’s widening economic, political, and military advantage. An exploding population, rudderless political system, sick economy, vulnerability to climate change disasters, and terrorist threats have heightened Pakistan’s woes.

On the other hand, global powers and investors consider India a much better bet than Pakistan and a valuable counterweight to China. India has embarked on a strategy of attrition against Pakistan that may succeed but at the cost of delaying its unfulfilled desire to rise to the world stage.

India and Pakistan have poor human development indicators (per capita income, health, and education). Unsurprisingly, India and Pakistan are rated 130 and 150 on the global Human Development Index (HDI). It reflects the skewed priorities of both countries. For instance, while annual defense spending for India and Pakistan is around $77 billion and $12 billion, in contrast, health and education are allocated $25 billion and $79 billion in India and a mere $3 billion and $8 billion in Pakistan annually. But Pakistan is steadily losing ground to India even in HDI terms, particularly in education. 

The roadmap for India and Pakistan is to compromise through engagement and dialogue. Both sides should set aside territorial disputes that need time to resolve (Kashmir, Siachen Glacier, and Sir Creek). Instead, India and Pakistan must cooperate on trade ties, cross-border terrorism, and climate change. It is not a quick way to reach an agreement but a dependable one.

Saad Hafiz is an analyst and commentator. He can be reached at shgcci@gmail.com

Putin escalates Ukraine war, issues nuclear threat to West: Revelation 16

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes an address in Moscow

September 21, 20223:56 AM MDTLast Updated 3 hours ago

LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia’s first mobilisation since World War Two and backed a plan to annex swathes of Ukraine, warning the West he was not bluffing when he said he’d be ready to use nuclear weapons to defend Russia.

In the biggest escalation of the Ukraine war since Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion, Putin explicitly raised the spectre of a nuclear conflict, approved a plan to annex a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary, and called up 300,000 reservists.

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will without doubt use all available means to protect Russia and our people – this is not a bluff,” Putin said in a televised address to the nation.

Citing NATO expansion towards Russia’s borders, Putin said the West was plotting to destroy his country, engaging in “nuclear blackmail” by allegedly discussing the potential use of nuclear weapons against Moscow, and accused the United States, the European Union and Britain of encouraging Ukraine to push military operations into Russia itself.

“In its aggressive anti-Russian policy, the West has crossed every line,” Putin said. “This is not a bluff. And those who try to blackmail us with nuclear weapons should know that the weathervane can turn and point towards them.”

The address, which followed a critical Russian battlefield defeat in northeastern Ukraine, fuelled speculation about the course of the war, the 69-year-old Kremlin chief’s own future, and showed Putin was doubling down on what he calls his “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In essence, Putin is betting that by increasing the risk of a direct confrontation between the U.S.-led NATO military alliance and Russia — a step towards World War Three — the West will blink over its support for Ukraine, something it has shown no sign of doing so far.

Putin’s war in Ukraine has killed tens of thousands, unleashed an inflationary wave through the global economy and triggered the worst confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when many feared nuclear war imminent.

MOBILISATION

Putin signed a decree on partially mobilising Russia’s reserves, arguing that Russian soldiers were effectively facing the full force of the “collective West” which has been supplying Kyiv’s forces with advanced weapons, training and intelligence.

Speaking shortly after Putin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said that Russia would draft some 300,000 additional personnel out of some 25 million potential fighters at Moscow’s disposal.

The mobilisation, the first since the Soviet Union battled Nazi Germany in World War Two, begins immediately.

Such a move is risky for Putin, who has so far tried to preserve a semblance of peace in the capital and other major cities where support for the war is lower than in the provinces.

Ever since Putin was handed the nuclear briefcase by Boris Yeltsin on the last day of 1999, his overriding priority has been to restore at least some of the great power status which Moscow lost when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

Putin has repeatedly railed against the United States for driving NATO’s eastward expansion, especially its courting of ex-Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Georgia which Russia regards as part of its own sphere of influence, an idea both nations reject.

Putin said that top government officials in several unnamed “leading” NATO countries had spoken of potentially using nuclear weapons against Russia.

He also accused the West of risking “nuclear catastrophe,” by allowing Ukraine to shell the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant which is under Russian control, something Kyiv has denied.

ANNEXATION

Putin gave his explicit support to referendums that will be held in coming days in swathes of Ukraine controlled by Russian troops — the first step to formal annexation of a chunk of Ukraine the size of Hungary.

The self-styled Donetsk (DPR) and the Luhansk People’s Republics (LPR), which Putin recognised as independent just before the invasion, and Russian-installed officials in the Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions have asked for votes.

“We will support the decision on their future, which will be made by the majority of residents in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson,” Putin said.

“We cannot, have no moral right to hand over people close to us to the executioners, we cannot but respond to their sincere desire to determine their own fate.”

That paves the way for the formal annexation of about 15% of Ukrainian territory.

The West and Ukraine have condemned the referendum plan as an illegal sham and vowed never to accept its results. French President Emmanuel Macron said the plans were “a parody.” Kyiv has denied persecuting ethnic Russians or Russian-speakers.

But by formally annexing Ukrainian territories, Putin is giving himself the potential pretext to use nuclear weapons from Russia’s arsenal, the largest in the world.

Russia’s nuclear doctrine allows the use of such weapons if weapons of mass destruction are used against it or if the Russian state faces an existential threat from conventional weapons.

“It is in our historical tradition, in the fate of our people, to stop those striving for world domination, who threaten the dismemberment and enslavement of our Motherland, our Fatherland,” Putin said.

“We will do it now, and it will be so,” said Putin. “I believe in your support.”

Iran wants another Obama Deal: Daniel 8

 Iran to open UN fight to free billions frozen in US

Iran to open UN fight to free billions frozen in US

A public hearing in 2006 at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, where Iran will argue its case that billions of dollars in US assets should be unfrozen

The Hague – Iran opens its legal battle before the UN’s top court Monday to unfreeze billions of dollars in US assets, which Washington says must go to victims of terrorist attacks blamed on Tehran.

The case before the International Court of Justice comes as hopes fade of reviving a landmark deal — which former US president Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018 — that sought to tame Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Tehran took Washington to the Hague-based ICJ in 2016 after the US Supreme Court ordered some $2 billion in Iranian assets to be frozen, ordering the cash to go to survivors and relatives of attacks blamed on the Islamic republic.

These included the 1983 bombing of a US Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 299 people including 241 US soldiers, and the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing in Saudi Arabia which left 19 dead.

Iran, however, said the freezing of the funds breached the 1955 Treaty of Amity with the United States, an agreement signed before Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution severed relations between the countries.

Tehran argued the United States had illegally seized Iranian financial assets and those of Iranian companies — and with Iran’s clerical regime facing economic difficulties after sanctions and runaway consumer prices, resolving the case is crucial.

In turn Washington had unsuccessfully tried to disqualify the lawsuit by arguing that Iran’s “unclean hands” — a reference to Tehran’s suspected backing of terrorist groups — should disqualify its lawsuit to recover the $2 billion of assets. 

The US announced in October 2018 that it was pulling out of the Treaty of Amity after the ICJ in a separate case ordered Washington to lift nuclear-related sanctions on humanitarian goods for Iran.

The ICJ is the top court of the United Nations and was set up after World War II to resolve disputes between member states. Its rulings are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no means of enforcing them.

Monday’s hearing, to which US representatives are set to reply on Wednesday, comes as hopes fade to revive a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and the West which gives Iran sanctions relief in return for restricting its nuclear programme.

Former US President Donald Trump pulled out of what he called the “terrible” international nuclear agreement in 2018 and began reimposing sanctions, prompting Tehran to roll back its commitments made under the pact, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

Talks have been ongoing in Vienna since April last year, aimed at restoring the agreement by lifting sanctions on Tehran once again and pushing Iran to fully honour its obligations.

But European powers nine days ago raised “serious doubts” over Iran’s sincerity in seeking a nuclear agreement, adding that Tehran continued “to escalate its nuclear programme way beyond any plausible civilian justification.”

The statement by France, Germany and Britain came a day after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken assessed that Iran’s latest reply on the nuclear deal is a step “backwards”.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell — who had been coordinating talks over the past year and a half — told AFP last week that negotiations were in “stalemate.”

The disputes with Iran include Tehran’s insistence that the UN nuclear watchdog close a probe into three undeclared sites suspected of previous nuclear work.