Pressure Mounts Against North Korea

  • US ‘ready to respond with rapid, lethal and overwhelming force’
  • Japan vows to put ‘heaviest possible pressure’ on North
  • China warns launch violates UN Security Council resolutions
  • Trump derides Chinese response in tweets: ‘They do NOTHING for us with North Korea’

The US has flown two bomber jets over the Korean peninsula in a show of force after recent North Korean missile tests, according to a US Air Force statement.

Saturday’s move came after North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike the US mainland, drawing a sharp warning from President Donald Trump.

The flight of B-1B bomber jets was in direct response to the missile test and the previous July 3 launch of the “Hwansong-14” rocket, the US statement said.

The bombers took off from a US airbase in Guam, and were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets during the exercise, according to the statement.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said. “If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing”.

The US has in the past used similar flights as a show of force in response to North Korean missile or nuclear tests.

Pyongyang: Entire US in range

The Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un expressed “great satisfaction” after the Hwasong-14 reached a maximum height of 3,725 kilometres and travelled 998 kilometres, before accurately landing in waters off Japan.

The agency quoted Kim as saying that the launch reaffirmed the reliability of the country’s ICBM system and ability to fire at “random regions and locations at random times”, with the “entire” US mainland now within range.

Analysts estimate that the North’s first ICBM in early July could have reached Alaska, and said that the latest missile appeared to extend that range significantly.

Trump condemned the test as a threat to the world, and rejected North Korea’s claim that nuclear power ensures its security.

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said he held telephone talks with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and agreed on the need to put “the heaviest possible pressure” on North Korea.

“We confirmed that we will closely cooperate in adopting a fresh [UN Security Council] resolution, including severe measures, and working on China and Russia,” Kishida told reporters.

China, the North’s main ally, said that it opposed North Korea’s missile launches, which it said violate UN Security Council resolutions designed to curb Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programmes.

“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

However, Trump said he was “very disappointed in China”.

In messages on Twitter, he wrote: “Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet…

“…they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!”

Kiyul Chung, professor at China’s Tsinghua University, said China has few options and is doing all it can.

“Chinese participation in UN sanctions against [North Korea] has been [significant],” he told Al Jazeera. “What Trump says doesn’t mean much.”

He explained that besides pressuring China, the US has few options.

“I don’t think China will do more, because there is nothing more it can do,” he said.

Growing concern

Washington and its allies have watched with growing concern as Pyongyang has progressed towards its goal of having all of the US within range of its missiles, to counter what it labels as US aggression.

There are other hurdles, including building nuclear warheads to fit on those missiles and ensuring reliability.

But many analysts have been surprised by how quickly Kim has developed North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes, despite several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions that have squeezed the impoverished country’s economy.

North Korea is not believed to have yet developed the technology to miniaturise a nuclear weapon to fit in a missile’s warhead.

Source: AP news agency

The US Will Soon War With Iran (Daniel 7-8)

President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)The mask is off: Trump is seeking war with Iran

+972 Blog

By Trita Parsi

President Donald Trump speaking at CPAC, Maryland, February 24, 2017. (Gage Skidmore, CC 2.0)

Something extraordinary has happened in Washington. President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October — the facts be damned. In short, the fix is in. Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. His advisors have even been kind enough to explain how they will go about this. Rarely has a sinister plan to destroy an arms control agreement and pave the way for war been so openly telegraphed.

The unmasking of Trump’s plans to sabotage the nuclear deal began two weeks ago when he reluctantly had to certify that Iran indeed was in compliance. Both the US intelligence as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency had confirmed Tehran’s fair play. But Trump threw a tantrum in the Oval Office and berated his national security team for not having found a way to claim Iran was cheating. According to Foreign Policy, the adults in the room—Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster — eventually calmed Trump down but only on the condition that they double down on finding a way for the president to blow up the deal by October.

Prior to the revelation of Trump’s Iran certification meltdown, most analysts and diplomats believed that Trump’s rhetoric on Iran was just that — empty talk. His bark was worse than his bite, as demonstrated when he certified Iran’s compliance back in April and when he renewed sanctions waivers in May. The distance between his rhetoric and actual policy was tangible. Rhetorically, Trump officials described Iran as the root of all problems in the Middle East and as the greatest state sponsor of terror. Trump even suggested he might quit the deal.

In action, however, President Trump continued to waive sanctions and admitted that Iran was adhering to the deal. As a result, many concluded that Trump would continue to fulfill the obligations of the deal while sticking to his harsh rhetoric in order to appease domestic opponents of the nuclear deal — as well as Trump’s allies in Saudi Arabia and Israel.

But now, assessments are changing. The tangible danger of Trump’s malice on the Iran deal — as well as the danger of the advice of the “adults in the room”  —became further clarified this week as tidbits of the reality TV star’s plans began to leak.

How to Wreck a Deal

An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)An IAEA expert demonstrating how the safeguards Next Generation Surveillance System (NGSS) works, March 20, 2015. (Photo: Dean Calma / IAEA)

 

Recognizing that refusing to certify Iran would isolate the United States, Trump’s advisors gave him another plan. Use the spot-inspections mechanism of the nuclear deal, they suggested, to demand access to a whole set of military sites in Iran. Once Iran balks — which it will since the mechanism is only supposed to be used if tangible evidence exists that those sites are being used for illicit nuclear activities — Trump can claim that Iran is in violation, blowing up the nuclear deal while shifting the blame to Tehran.

Thus, the advice of the adults in the room — those who we are supposed to restrain Trump — was not to keep the highly successful nuclear deal that has taken both an Iranian bomb and war with Iran off the table. Rather, they recommended killing it in a manner that would conceal Trump’s malice and shift the cost to Iran.

According to The New York Times, the groundwork for this strategy has already been laid. Senate Foreign Relations Chair Bob Corker (R-TN) calls this strategy “radical enforcement” of the deal. “If they don’t let us in,” Corker told The Washington Post, “boom.” Then he added: “You want the breakup of this deal to be about Iran. You don’t want it to be about the U.S., because we want our allies with us.”

This is a charade, a rerun of the machinations that resulted in the Iraq war. It doesn’t matter what Iran does or doesn’t do. If it were up to Trump, he’d never have accepted that Iran was in compliance in the first place. He admitted as much to the Wall Street Journal. “If it was up to me, I would have had them [the Iranians] non-compliant 180 days ago.”

Sounding supremely confident of the “radical implementation” strategy, Trump added that “I think they’ll be noncompliant [in October].” In so doing, he further confirmed doubts that the process is about determining whether Iran is in compliance or not. The administration is committed to finding a way to claim Iran has violated the accord, regardless of the facts—just as George W. Bush did with Iraq.

Potential for Backfire

But Trump’s confidence may be misplaced on two levels. First, abusing the inspection mechanisms of the deal may prove harder than Trump has been led to believe. The inspections are the cornerstone of the deal, and Iran’s ability to cheat on the deal is essentially non-existent as long as the integrity and efficiency of the inspections remain in tact. But if Trump begins to abuse the mechanism to fabricate a conflict, he will end up undermining the inspections regime and actually enhance the ability of those in Iran who would like to pursue a covert nuclear program. Precisely because of the commitment of Europe and others to non-proliferation, they are likely to resist Trump’s efforts to tinker with the inspections.

Second, by revealing his hand, Trump has displayed his duplicity for all to see. That includes the American public, whose anti-war sentiments remain strong and are a key reason they supported the nuclear deal in the first place.

The American public knows the Iraq playbook quite well. Trump’s own supporters remain enraged by the disastrous war with Iraq. They know how they got played. It’s difficult to imagine why they would allow themselves to get played again by a president who has left little doubt about his intent to deceive.

Trita Parsi is the president of the National Iranian American Council and author of Losing an Enemy – Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy. This article was first published in LobeLog.

History Warns New York Is The Sixth Seal (Revelation 6:12)

History says New York is earthquake prone

New York Earthquake 1884

New York Earthquake 1884

Friday, 18 March 2011 – 9:23pm IST | Place: NEW YORK | Agency: ANI

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

If the past is any indication, New York can be hit by an earthquake, claims John Armbruster, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory.

Based on historical precedent, Armbruster says the New York City metro area is susceptible to an earthquake of at least a magnitude of 5.0 once a century.

According to the New York Daily News, Lynn Skyes, lead author of a recent study by seismologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory adds that a magnitude-6 quake hits the area about every 670 years, and magnitude-7 every 3,400 years.

A 5.2-magnitude quake shook New York City in 1737 and another of the same severity hit in 1884.

Tremors were felt from Maine to Virginia.

There are several fault lines in the metro area, including one along Manhattan’s 125th St. – which may have generated two small tremors in 1981 and may have been the source of the major 1737 earthquake, says Armbruster.

There’s another fault line on Dyckman St and one in Dobbs Ferry in nearby Westchester County.

“The problem here comes from many subtle faults,” explained Skyes after the study was published.

He adds: “We now see there is earthquake activity on them. Each one is small, but when you add them up, they are probably more dangerous than we thought.”

“Considering population density and the condition of the region’s infrastructure and building stock, it is clear that even a moderate earthquake would have considerable consequences in terms of public safety and economic impact,” says the New York City Area Consortium for Earthquake Loss Mitigation on its website.

Armbruster says a 5.0-magnitude earthquake today likely would result in casualties and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage.

“I would expect some people to be killed,” he notes.

The scope and scale of damage would multiply exponentially with each additional tick on the Richter scale.

Nuclear Winter Will Come Soon (Revelation 16)

In a March 23 news story in The New York Times, the general in charge of our nuclear arms arsenal, Jack Weinstein, called for “…a strengthened and modernized nuclear deterrence force in this country.” Why? Because nuclear deterrence has worked in the past and it will work in the future. On that premise, General Weinstein said, “I sleep very well at night.”

Many of us don’t. We recall that four or five times during the Cold War, when the U.S. and the Soviet Union had over 60,000 nuclear missiles on hair-trigger alert, there were accidents that came close to triggering a catastrophic exchange of nuclear missiles. For example, in 1979, North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) computers showed that 200 Soviet missiles were streaking towards U.S. targets. “It took us several days to ascertain that an operator had mistakenly installed a training tape in the computer, “ said William Perry, in his book My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.

The unavoidable fact is, no plan of defense is perfect and the leadership of any country is not always reliably rational. What’s more, the belief in failsafe deterrence does not take into account the lightening fast response required in the face of a perceived nuclear missile attack—with only 15 minutes to decide whether to respond.

Nine countries now have nuclear weapons, and that in itself makes the current risk of mishap or misbehavior even higher than it was during the Cold War. What if an unstable commander in chief is seized by a maniacal sense of humiliation, depression, fury? History is replete with unlikely events spinning out of control. For example, the assassination of an Austro-Hungarian prince in 1914 triggered a concatenation of events that exploded into the horror of World War One-–a horror magnified because all countries were armed to the teeth. .

Contrary to General Weinstein, nuclear deterrence does not mean we can sleep more peacefully. It means rather that we had better start taking a closer look at the possibility of nuclear winter.

Recall that nuclear winter was the subject of a major scientific paper called TTAPS published in Science Magazine in December of 1983, so-named for the initials of the authors on the project, Robert Turco, Owen Toon, Thomas Ackerman, James Pollack, and Carl Sagan, the most famous of the group. Although there was a flurry of media for a short time, the subject evoked a vigorous backlash from industrial and military interests, and then vanished from attention once the Cold War collapsed at the end of the decade. Between 1990 and 2003 no new scientific papers on the subject were published.

However, after 9/11 and our headlong plunge into a misbegotten “war on terror” came a resurrection of interest . A number of leading climatologists and physicists returned to their laboratories to re-investigate the subject, only this time with new computers and advanced modeling tools, including NASA’s latest climate models. Within the last decade or so these scientists have produced at least five notable scientific papers in prestigious scholarly journals, each of which has been subject to peer review by reputable scientists. These studies not only confirmed the soundness of the basic physics but also showed a nuclear war could be even more devastating than previously thought.

One of the most riveting examples was a scientific paper published by the American Geophysics Union in the journal Earth’s Future in April, 2014. Four scientists, Drs. Owen B. Toon, Michael J. Mills, Julia Lee-Taylor, and Alan Robock studied the likely effects of a regional nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan, assuming each side would detonate 50 bombs of the same size as the one dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The immediate result would be 20 million deaths. This would be followed by massive firestorms which would send millions of tons of smoke and black carbon into the stratosphere, higher than the cleansing effects of rain, where a layer of particles would then form and circle the globe. The earth’s temperature would drop to the coldest average surface levels in the last 1000 years—and killing frosts would reduce growing seasons by 10 to 40 days, producing a 30 to 40 percent reduction in agricultural yield over five years and cause massive human starvation.

What’s more, the bombs used in this computer study were only 15 kilotons, whereas the actual bombs in the present nuclear arsenal are seven to eight times more powerful. Dr. Steven Starr, director of clinical laboratories at the University of Missouri, declares that “Nuclear Winter would cause most humans and large animals to die from famine in a mass extinction event similar to the one that wiped out the dinosaurs.”

These scientists are saying, in effect, that a war fought with nuclear weapons is a game of Russian roulette with bullets in all chambers. Nuclear war, in short, is tantamount to mass suicide. If we choose to believe this science has any credence at all, and if we wish to bequeath a habitable planet to our offspring, then we had better start mounting a much louder cry to abolish these dreadful weapons.

New York Quake Overdue (The Sixth Seal Rev 6:12)

New York City Is Overdue For Large Earthquake: Seismologist

New York Earthquake Overdue

New York Earthquake Overdue

New York City could start shaking any minute now.

Won-Young Kim, who runs the seismographic network for the Northeast at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, said the city is well overdue for a big earthquake.

From Metro New York:

The last big quake to hit New York City was a 5.3-magnitude tremor in 1884 that happened at sea in between Brooklyn and Sandy Hook. While no one was killed, buildings were damaged.

Kim said the city is likely to experience a big earthquake every 100 years or so.

“It can happen anytime soon,” Kim said. “We can expect it any minute, we just don’t know when and where.”

New York has never experienced a magnitude 6 or 7 earthquake, which are the most dangerous. But magnitude 5 quakes could topple brick buildings and chimneys.

Seismologist John Armbruster said a magnitude 5 quake that happened now would be more devastating than the one that happened in 1884.

“Today, with so many more buildings and people … we’d see billions in damage,” Armbruster said. “People would probably be killed.”

Iranian Hegemony Courtesy of Obama

Two Years after Nuclear Deal, Iran Seeking Regional Dominance

By Keyvan Salami

New York – July marks the second anniversary of the controversial nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).A deal which not only did not stop Iran’s nuclear program, but it only delayed it and at the same time provided billions of dollars to the regime to pursue its destructive policies in the region.

The Obama Administration and other advocates of the appeasement policy claimed that this agreement would bring serious changes to Iran’s behavior, including its actions in the Middle East. Two years on, it is increasingly evident that these claims, hollow and baseless on some levels, have fallen short.

The deal and the misguided policy that it influenced have emboldened Iran in many areas, especially its malign regional activities. The agreement not only failed to improve the Iranian people’s economic status, but it actually granted the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) billions of dollars to pursue its destructive policies in the region.

After spending the billions in windfall from the nuclear deal, Iran has begun meddling with its neighboring countries. Superficially, Iran has become a regional power, but what is the reality? Is Iran truly a regional powerhouse, and is there an ulterior motive behind the involvement in other countries’ affairs?

A quick look at Iran’s modern history suggests that its current actions in the region might actually signal that it possesses less power than is thought. Since the start of their rule, the mullahs based their regime on two pillars: crushing any domestic opposition and creating crises abroad. The adoption of such polices embodies the very nature of this regime. The mullahs’ regime is a backward-minded regime belonging to the Middle Ages which opposes social liberties and developments.

The system is based on Velayat-e Faqih (custodianship of the clergy) and it places all religious and legal authority in the hands of the Supreme Leader. What this means, in both theory and in practice, is that the Ali Khamenei (like Ruhollah Khomeini before him) plays a direct role in all the country’s affairs; and no individual, group, or committee in the country has the right to question or hold him accountable.

By contrast, Iranian society is a sizable demographic of young, highly educated citizens seeking increased development and more social liberties. This regime cannot match the contemporary society’s needs and considers force and suppression to be the only methods of maintaining their grip on power.

To perpetuate the systematic and widespread suppression inside the country, the mullahs rely on external crises to divert public attention. As a result, the “export of revolution”—more precisely the “export of terrorism”—and “creating crises outside of Iran” became Tehran’s official policy. There are numerous examples of the consequences of this policy.

The Iran-Iraq war, for example, lasted eight years, leaving millions on both sides either dead or injured, and many more displaced. Hundreds of cities and villages were destroyed, and damages were estimated at $1 trillion for Iran alone. It also contributed to the establishment of Hezbollah and general interference in Lebanon’s internal affairs, the rise of Houthis in Yemen, the ascendancy of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad and the subsequent Syrian Civil War.

Former regime Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini described the war as “God’s blessing.” During the war, Tehran brutally crushed its opposition through mass executions; in the summer of 1988 alone, 30,000 political prisoners were massacred across the country. The victims were mainly members and supporters of the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI-MEK).

Other international crises have served the regime in the same way. Tehran has brought carnage and suffering to thousands of innocent people in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and other Arab countries with their attempts to maintain their power.

Senior Iranian officials argue, “One reason we have been in Syria… and Iraq, and carried out these measures, is that instead of fighting the enemy in the streets of Tehran, Kermanshah, Arak, Qum, Sanandaj and Tabriz, we have taken the fight to Deir ez-Zur, Raqqa, Aleppo, Homs and Mosul….”

Iran’s tactics and daliances in other countries affairs are not due to the nation’s inherent strength. supporting regime change is the only real policy to stand against their export of terrorism.

Change to: Iran is not a regional power and its meddling in other countries affairs is not a sign of their dominance, but on the contrary it’s a smoke screen to hide their internal instability and weakness. As a result, the only real policy to stop Iran’s export of terrorism is a change in the government and regime in Iran.

The annual Iranian Resistance gathering on July 1 clearly demonstrated how regime change is within reach. Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, was the keynote speaker of the conference. She emphasized that the only way to liberate the Iranian people from religious tyranny and to establish peace and tranquility in the region is to overthrow the Velayat-e faqih (absolute clerical rule).

The overthrow of this regime is necessary, feasible and within reach, and that a democratic alternative and an organized resistance exists to topple it, she underscored.

The parties behind the democratic alternative are working to establish freedom and democracy in Iran. Their plans will bring harmony to various ethnic groups, end discord and divide between Shiites and Sunnis, and eliminate tensions between Iran and its neighbors, Mrs. Rajavi concluded.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent any institution or entity.

© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

The Smaller Horn of the Antichrist Grows

Iraq’s Shiite leaders shrugging off Iran? Don’t bet on it

Sami Moubayed

A handful of Iraqi Shiite leaders have been trying – with very limited success – to shrug off long-held stereotypes that they are stooges of the Iranian regime. In April, the powerful cleric Muqtada al-Sadr called on Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad to step down, raising speculation that he was ready to part ways with the mullahs, given the amount of support Tehran has shown its Syrian ally since 2011.

Sadr, who commands a powerful parliamentary bloc and runs a militia bearing his name, was formerly a firm friend of Damascus and a 2012 recipient of the Syrian Order of Merit. His words were seen as a “soft defection” from the Iranian orbit; yet three months later, they seem like more of a trial balloon, as he remains firmly allied to Tehran and Damascus.

This month, heavyweight Shiite leader Ammar al-Hakim walked out on the Iran-funded Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, an all-Shiite party established by his uncle and father back in 1980. Hakim set up a new “independent” party called the National Wisdom Movement that denounces the “militarization of Iraqi society,” conveniently ignoring the fact that, for decades, his family operated a deadly militia that fought alongside the Iranians during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War and commanded death squads on the streets of Baghdad post-2003.

Hakim claims that his new party is not a vehicle for Iranian influence in Iraq, saying that it welcomes membership from Iraqi Sunnis, Christians, and ethnic Kurds. The influential Saudi daily, al-Hayat, sees this as a clear break from Iranian influence, hailing Hakim’s audacity and claiming that he is now seen as “moderate and acceptable” throughout the wider Arab and Muslim worlds.

In late July, a third heavyweight, Vice-President Nuri al-Malki, also hinted that he too was distancing himself from the Iranians, even though during his tenure as prime minister in 2006-2014, he was one of Iran’s staunchest allies in the Arab World. Almost single-handedly, Malki steered Iraq fully into the Iranian orbit, using his Dawa Party to infiltrate the Iraqi civil service and armed forces with Shiite affiliates. Under his premiership, Shiite militias executed Saddam Hussein and, six years later, entered the Syrian battlefield, fighting alongside Hizbullah.

Whether these overtures are sincere or synchronized and fake remains to be seen from how distant these three figures start becoming from Iran

However, Malki recently wrapped up a visit to St Petersburg – where he met Foreign Minister Serge Lavrov and President Vladimir Putin – by asking the Russians to play a greater role in Iraqi affairs. If that happens, it would be at the expense of Iranian influence. Some are speculating that Malki is upset with Iran for failing to protect him when he was ousted and replaced by the current premier Haidar Abadi, accused of failing to protect Iraqi towns and cities when they were overrun by the Islamic State in the summer of 2014. Now Malki is saying that he wants to achieve a “balanced policy,” one that “doesn’t allow a foreign political entity” to exert tutelage over Iraq — another veiled reference, it seems, to the Iranians.

Malki discussed revisiting an outstanding US$4.2 billion arms deal with Moscow that has been put on hold due to massive corruption and profiteering in the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. He asked to buy T-90 battle tanks from the Russians, a contract that could potentially reach US$1 billion.

Whether these overtures are sincere or synchronized and fake remains to be seen from how distant these three figures start becoming from Iran. The fact that all of them have been on Iranian payroll since the 1980s and 90s makes it difficult to take their new positioning seriously. Indeed, they would all be political nobodies had it not been for solid Iranian political backing: Iran financed their rise to power, arming militias to protect them and cement their rule on the streets of Baghdad. In return, they willingly played the bridge for Iranian influence, helping to transform the country into an Iranian satellite from 2003 onwards.

Their defection, therefore, is more of a re-branding stunt than an actual rebirth, and aimed at polishing their image in non-Shiite circles. Hakim lost his parliamentary majority during the elections of 2010 because ordinary Iraqis wrote him off as an Iranian stooge, while Malki was hissed at on the streets of Baghdad in 2011 because of his submissiveness to Iranian hegemony. Instead of inventing new leaders, Tehran may have decided to give the existing ones a face-lift with an eye on upcoming Iraqi parliamentary elections in April 2018.

Instability in the Pakistani Horn

 Why the ousting of the Pakistan prime minister is such a big deal

Stockbyte | Getty Images

Luke Graham 

Pakistan is likely to face serious political and economic instability after the country’s three-time Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is ousted from power by the Supreme Court following a corruption investigation into his family’s wealth.

“He is no more eligible to be an honest member of the parliament, and he ceases to be holding the office of prime minister,” Judge Ejaz Afzal Khan said in court, Reuters reported.

But the nuclear-armed country is now set for political uncertainty with no clear successor in place.

Why has Nawaz Sharif resigned?

Pakistan’s Supreme Court ruled on Friday morning to disqualify Sharif, along with the country’s finance minister Ishaq Dar, from power. Sharif also faces a corruption trial after investigators said his family could not account for its wealth. Sharif resigned shortly after the ruling.

The allegations relate to the 2015 “Panama Papers,” which revealed three of Sharif’s children had links to offshore companies which owned properties in London, according to BBC reports.

The court’s decision is a victory for the rule of law, according to Timothy Ash, emerging markets senior sovereign strategist at BlueBay Asset Management.

“Politicians have been brought to account in Pakistan – can the same be said for many emerging markets, e.g. Ukraine and South Africa. On the latter we talk a lot about the strength of South African institutions, but have any major politicians been brought to account for stuff that is not dis-similar, even worse, than this?” he said in an email to CNBC.

Ash said the ruling is a credit to Pakistan, even though it raises questions over the country’s political stability.

Will this affect the U.S.?

The ruling will make it more difficult for the U.S. to find a solution to the war in Afghanistan, says Wali Aslam, senior lecturer in international security at the University of Bath.

“High-ranking military and civilian officials in Washington have recently been reiterating the significance of Pakistan in resolving the conflict. In his recent visit to the region, Senator John McCain said, ‘We will not have peace in the region without Pakistan,'” he said in a press statement.

Aslam warns Pakistan’s relations with the U.S., China and India could be disrupted now Sharif is gone.

Who will take over from Sharif?

Sharif has been prime minister of Pakistan three times: from 1990 to 1993; from 1997 until 1999; and since July 2013. Pakistan’s prime minister is the chief executive of the country, with the power to form a cabinet, assign government ministers and control the country’s nuclear weapons.

Sharif’s party, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), will get to choose the next prime minister, at least until the elections in the summer of 2018, according to Daniel Salter, head of equity strategy and head of research for Eurasia at Renaissance Capital. There may be infighting within the party, he warns.

“Nawaz’s daughter, Mariam Nawaz Sharif, who was being groomed as potential successor was also caught up in the (corruption) case: local sources seem to assume the army may have given its support to this ruling, perhaps to prevent the Sharif dynasty becoming overly powerful,” Salter said in a note.

With Sharif’s daughter compromised, Salter says the most likely successors are Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, speaker of the national assembly; Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, minister of petroleum; Khurram Dastgir Khan, commerce minister; and Khawaja Muhammad Asif, defense minister. He adds that Sharif may try to guide the party from the background.

The defence minister or railway minister Khawaja Saad Rafique are the most likely successors, says Asad Ali, Asia country risk analyst at IHS Markit, but he warns there’s risk of a split within the party.

“An official split in the PML-N ahead of the election would fracture the party’s vote bank in Punjab,” he told CNBC via email.

What does this mean for the economy?

Sharif’s ousting will weaken PML-N’s chances of winning the election in 2018. The party is Pakistan’s most investment-friendly and pro-business party, according to Ali.

“Since it came to power in 2013, Pakistan’s key economic indicators have gradually improved due to better economic management while foreign investment has slowly picked up”, Ali said.

Pakistan’s all-share stock exchange fell sharply on the news, falling by 1.6 percent, but bounced back to finish up 44 points on Friday.

The country’s currency is also vulnerable, according to Daniel Salter.

“The Pakistani rupee has been vulnerable in recent months, overvalued on our REER (real effective exchange rate) metric. The currency had a mini sell off in early July which was quickly reversed and the central bank governor replaced,” he said.

“The current account has been worsening, FX reserves falling and exports contracting. We had assumed the government would keep the currency supported and allow weakening post-election.”

The Supreme Court ruling has increased uncertainty ahead of Pakistan’s next election, Salter cautions.

Follow CNBC International on Twitter and Facebook.

Iran’s Hegemony in Iraq

Tehran’s New Scheme For Iraq

In his visit to Moscow this week, Iraqi Vice President Nuri Al-Maliki peddled what he presented as his big idea: inviting Russia to build “a significant presence’ in Iraq to counter-balance that of the United States.

Since Maliki is reputed to be Tehran’s candidate as the next Iraqi prime Minister his “invitation” to Russia cannot be dismissed as a mere personal whim.

With ISIS driven out of Mosul and, hopefully, soon to be driven other pockets of territory it still controls in Iraq, the decks are being cleared for the forthcoming general election that would decide the shape of the next government in Baghdad. Fancying itself as the “big winner” in Iraq, the Tehran leadership is working on a strategy to make that fancy a reality.

That strategy has three key elements.

The first is to create a new, supposedly “liberal” and “non-sectarian” Shi’ite coalition to dominate the next parliament and, through that, the next government in Baghdad. That requires a reshuffling of political cards and the discarding of some old outfits.

In an editorial last Tuesday the Islamic Republic official news agency IRNA, argued that “old formations” that had come into being during the struggle against Saddam Hussein and the subsequent post-liberation crisis were no longer capable of dealing with “new realities in Iraq.”

It was on the basis of that analysis that Ammar al-Hakim, a leading politician-cum cleric announced his separation from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq and the formation of a new party named “National Wisdom Movement “(Tayar al-Hikmah al-Watani).

Hakim who hails from an old and respected dynasty of clerics originally from Shiraz argues that time has come to “break barriers of sects and ethnicities” in favor of the concept of “citizenship”. Tus he comes close to advocating the concept of “uruqah” (Iraqi-ness) that has long been a theme of such Iraqi Shiite politicians as Ayyad Allawi and Adel Abdul-Mahdi.

Tehran sources expect the “new model” to be adopted by other Shiite parties and groups. Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi is reportedly studying the creating of a new “secular” formation away from his original political home in the Ad-Da’awah (The Call) Party which has always been a clearly sectarian formation.

Talks are already under way for the merger of Abadi’s support base with the Sadrist Movement led by Muqtada al-Sadr, scion of another distinguished clerical dynast originally from Mahallat, southwest of Tehran. According to unconfirmed reports the new Abadi-Sadr coalition will be called “Freedom and Reconstruction”, a clearly non-sectarian identity.

Tehran’s hope is that Maliki will transform his wing of the Ad-Dawah into yet another “non-sectarian” outfit to support his bid for premiership, presumably with support from Hakim.

The apparent de-sectarianization of pro-Iran Shiite parties will make it difficult for Allawi and other genuinely non-sectarian Shiite politicians, who are hostile to Iranian influence in Baghdad, to appeal to the Shiite majority on the basis of citizenship and “uruqah”.

The new “de-sectarianization” gambit will also put pressure on Kurdish parties at a time some of them are campaigning for an “independence” referendum. It would be more difficult to sell the idea of an “independent” mini-state of Kurdistan to the international public opinion at a time that Iraq is seen to be moving towards a non-religious democratic and pluralist political system.

The gambit will also make it more difficult for Arab Sunni sectarians to garner support in the name of resisting a Shiite sectarian takeover of government in Baghdad. Salim al-Juburi, a leading Arab Sunni politician and Speaker of the Iraqi Parliament, is reportedly moving towards the creation of a non-sectarian party of his own.

The second element of the Iranian strategy is to almost oblige the clerical authority in Najaf (Marja’iyah) to endorse, even reluctantly, a Shiite political leadership clearly committed to Iran. Tehran knows that no government in Baghdad would have a chance of success without at least tacit blessing from Grand Ayatollah Ai-Muhammad Sistani.

Sistani has consistently refused to play the sectarian card and has advised politicians of all shades to think in terms of national rather than religious considerations. Thus, Tehran’s decision to “de-sectarianize” the Iraqi parties it supports will be a concession to Sistani.

Tehran is offering yet another concession to Sistani by abandoning its campaign to influence the Grand Ayatollah’s succession. The initial Iranian candidate for succession, Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahrudi, a former senior official of the Islamic Republic, has been quietly cast aside and is reported to be in declining health.

Without formally saying so, Iran now admits that the issue of Sistani’s succession must be sorted out by the “howzah” (seminary) in Najaf possibly with some input from Qom and certainly not through diktat from Tehran.

The third element of the strategy is to draw Russia into Iraq as a façade for Iranian influence.

Tehran leaders know that the vast majority of Iraqis resent the emergence of Iran as arbiter of their destiny. Russia, however, is seen as remote enough not to pose a direct threat to the internal balance of power in Iraq. Yet, because Russia has no local support base in Iraq, it would have to rely on Iranian guidance and goodwill to play a leading role there.

A new Baghdad government composed of “non-sectarian” Shiite leaders promising a better deal for Arab Sunnis and Kurds, and backed by Russia, will be a better cover for the spread and consolidation of Iranian influence in Iraq.

There is, of course, no guarantee that the new Tehran strategy will work. Many Iraqis, including some among those reputedly close to Iran, believe that Iraq itself can and must aspire after becoming a major player in the Middle East rather than playing Sancho Panza to the “Supreme Guide” in Tehran.

Iraqi leaders also see no logic in turning the United States and Arab states into enemies just to suit Tehran’s doomed empire-building project, especially at a time that the Islamic Republic seems to be heading for the choppy waters of Khamenei’s succession.

Remember:

The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Often go awry
And leave us nought but grief and pain,
For promised joy.

Amir Taheri

Amir Taheri was the executive editor-in-chief of the daily Kayhan in Iran from 1972 to 1979. He has worked at or written for innumerable publications, published eleven books, and has been a columnist for Asharq Al-Awsat since 1987. Mr. Taheri has won several prizes for his journalism, and in 2012 was named International Journalist of the Year by the British Society of Editors and the Foreign Press Association in the annual British Media Awards.

The Sixth Seal by Nostradamus (Rev 6:12)

The Sixth Seal by Nostradamus
To Andrew the Prophet
Completed February 5, 2008

Nostradamus and the New City

Nostradamus and the New City

Les Propheties
(Century 1 Quatrain 27)

Michel de Nostredame Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war, And then Arethusa will color a new river red.(And then areth USA will color a new river red.) Earth-shaking fire from the center of the earth.Will cause the towers around the New City to shake,Two great rocks for a long time will make war

There is recent scientific evidence from drill core sampling in Manhattan, that the southern peninsula is overlapped by several tectonic plates. Drill core sampling has been taken from regions south of Canal Street including the Trade Towers’ site. Of particular concern is that similar core samples have been found across the East River in Brooklyn. There are also multiple fault lines along Manhattan correlating with north-northwest and northwest trending neo-tectonic activity. And as recently as January and October of 2001, New York City has sustained earthquakes along these plates. For there are “two great rocks” or tectonic plates that shear across Manhattan in a northwestern pattern. And these plates “for a longtime will make war”, for they have been shearing against one other for millions of years. And on January 3 of 2010, when they makewar with each other one last time, the sixth seal shall be opened, and all will know that the end is near.

And then Arethusa will color a new river red.

Arethusa is a Greek mythological figure, a beautiful huntress and afollower of the goddess Artemis. And like Artemis, Arethusa would have nothing to do with me; rather she loved to run and hunt in the forest. But one day after an exhausting hunt, she came to a clear crystal stream and went in it to take a swim. She felt something from beneath her, and frightened she scampered out of the water. A voice came from the water, “Why are you leaving fair maiden?” She ran into the forest to escape, for the voice was from Alpheus, the god of the river. For he had fallen in love with her and became a human to give chase after her. Arethusa in exhaustion called out to Artemis for help, and the goddess hid her by changing her into a spring.But not into an ordinary spring, but an underground channel that traveled under the ocean from Greece to Sicily. But Alpheus being the god of the river, converted back into water and plunged downthe same channel after Arethusa. And thus Arethusa was captured by Artemis, and their waters would mingle together forever. And of great concern is that core samples found in train tunnels beneath the Hudson River are identical to those taken from southern Manhattan. Furthermore, several fault lines from the 2001 earthquakes were discovered in the Queen’s Tunnel Complex, NYC Water Tunnel #3. And a few years ago, a map of Manhattan drawn up in 1874 was discovered, showing a maze of underground waterways and lakes. For Manhattan was once a marshland and labyrinth of underground streams. Thus when the sixth seal is broken, the subways of the New City shall be flooded be Arethusa:the waters from the underground streams and the waters from the sea. And Arethusa shall be broken into two. And then Arethusa will color a new river red.

And then areth USA will color a new river red.

For Arethusa broken into two is areth USA. For areth (αρετη) is the Greek word for values. But the values of the USA are not based on morality, but on materialism and on wealth. Thus when the sixth seal is opened, Wall Street and our economy shall crash and “arethUSA”, the values of our economy shall fall “into the red.” “Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?’” (Revelation 6:15-17)