The Little Horn Is Finally Crushed (Daniel 8)

Mosul Liberated as Islamic State Faces Total Defeat in Iraq

Caroline Alexander and Donna Abu-Nasr 3 hrs ago

 

An Iraqi federal police member waves his country's national flag as he celebrates in the Old City of Mosul on July 9, 2017 after the government's announcement of the 'liberation' of the embattled city.© AHMAD AL-RUBAYE/AFP/Getty Images An Iraqi federal police member waves his country’s national flag as he celebrates in the Old City of Mosul on July 9, 2017 after the government’s announcement of the ‘liberation’ of the embattled city. (Bloomberg) — Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi traveled to Mosul to declare it liberated from Islamic State, three years after the city’s abrupt fall to the jihadists alerted the world to the group’s growing strength, territorial ambitions and barbarity.

Abadi congratulated the Iraqi people and fighters on a “great victory” as the last pockets under Islamic State control were being retaken, according to a tweet from his media office.

The campaign to free Mosul from Islamic State entered its final phase in the narrow streets of the Old City in mid-June, eight months after thousands of Iraqi troops and Kurdish fighters backed by U.S.-led airstrikes began their offensive. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition, has described it as the toughest urban warfare he has seen in 34 years of service.

Retaking Mosul marks a major blow against Islamic State, whose leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first speech as self-proclaimed caliph from one of the city’s mosques in 2014. The group is now diminished, having lost much of its territory spanning northeastern Syria and northwestern Iraq. Its ability to attract foreign fighters is also dented, although it continues to inspire militants abroad who have staged terrorist attacks from London to Tehran. For Abadi, whose government has struggled to overcome political and sectarian challenges and rebuild an economy stripped of oil revenue, it’s a major success.

There have been scenes of jubilation as Iraqi forces have slowly taken back control of Mosul, removing the black banners of the jihadist group. The United Nations says as many as 150,000 residents were trapped in the Old City when the battle there began, with illness and disease spreading as clean drinking water, food and medicine ran low. Islamic State used those who stayed as human shields, according to the UN. Over the last few months, it has massacred hundreds who attempted to flee the city in an attempt to deter others from doing the same.

Brutal Punishment

In one of its final acts of defiance, Islamic State blew up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri on June 22. The monument, whose iconic leaning minaret is pictured on Iraq’s 10,000-dinar note, once towered above the historic city center. It was there that Baghdadi made his first sermon as self-proclaimed caliph and called on the world’s Muslims to obey him, dressed in a black robe and turban to signify his claim of descent from the Prophet Muhammad.

As the group sought to entrench its strict interpretation of Islam, it meted out brutal punishments to those who opposed it. Children were trained to be fighters. It also destroyed ancient sites it said were heresy to its ideology — apart from the Great Mosque, Mosul also lost the Tomb of Jonah. Its museum was ransacked.

Lightning Assault

Mosul was Islamic State’s most important bastion along with Raqqa in Syria, its self-styled capital. It featured in its propaganda videos, many filmed in the style of television news reports. British hostage John Cantlie appeared in at least five that sought to portray the city as an example of utopian governance with a bustling economy. In reality, residents described shortages and struggles to cope with rising prices for basic foods and fuel.

An estimated 2.4 million people lived in Mosul before the war, making it northern Iraq’s largest city. Hundreds of thousands fled after it was captured and as operations began to retake it in October 2016, with many seeking refuge in the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and camps nearby.

Islamic State evolved from al-Qaeda in Iraq, which U.S. troops and Sunni militias defeated after its powers peaked in 2006 to 2007 in a campaign that was known as the Awakening. It was able to expand in 2013 in Syria, where a civil war has raged for more than six years, attracting fighters from Chechnya, Afghanistan, North Africa and Europe.

The extremists took advantage of the poor military performance of Iraqi troops — portraying themselves as a champion of Sunni Arabs who felt alienated by a Shiite-led government — in a lightening assault across northern Iraq in the summer of 2014. The group then headed south toward Baghdad, triggering fears of the country’s breakup as ethnic and sectarian tensions surged.

Last Stronghold

Iraqi forces and militias supported by Iran had pushed Islamic State into reverse with months-long battles in key cities such as Fallujah and Ramadi, before moving on to Mosul. The air power, artillery, and intelligence provided by a U.S.-led coalition helped secure the city’s eastern neighborhoods in January. Residents returned to their homes, children went back to school, and shopkeepers reopened stores, free to sell whatever they choose.

Battlefield progress then slowed as fighting moved deeper into the Old City, as Iraqi forces entered dense neighborhoods and faced persistent counterattacks. With the offensive from the south stalling, Iraqi troops repositioned to begin a new offensive from the north in May.

While Mosul was Islamic State’s last main urban center in Iraq, it still controls several areas in the west and northeast part of the country, including Hawija near Kirkuk.

Noureddin Qablan, vice chairman of the council in Nineveh province, whose capital is Mosul, said by phone on July 3 from the city that Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish leaders have met to prevent the eruption of sectarian or nationalist conflicts. “There are possibilities, but they are weak,” he said, citing the absence of violence in parts of the city freed months ago.

Territory Losses

Keeping the peace won’t be easy, said Kamran Bokhari, a fellow with George Washington University’s Program on Extremism. Local leaders need to prevent the spiraling of tensions over sectarian differences and the region’s political and economic plight, which Islamic State would look to exploit, he said. “But will they be able to?”

As Islamic State’s territory has shrunk, the group has shifted its emphasis from state building and governance to survival, and analysts say battlefield losses don’t spell the end of its ideology. A cappella hymn, or nasheed, released this month insists the jihadist group won’t vanish despite the setbacks: “Oh people of error, it (the state) is remaining, not vanishing, Anchored like the mountains.”

The message is “clearly addressing the current losses faced by the Islamic State amid the coalition campaign against it,” said Aymenn Jawad Al-Tamimi, an analyst at the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, who translated the nasheed.

“Military defeat and the loss of territory in Syria and Iraq will be insufficient to sway the views of Islamic State supporters,” IHS Markit, a London-based information and analytics group, said in a June 29 report. “The group’s video productions have declined in frequency, suggesting that it is less capable of disseminating its messages. However, it has already prepared its followers for the loss of territory.”

(Updates with comment from local official in 15th paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Caroline Alexander in London at calexander1@bloomberg.net, Donna Abu-Nasr in Beirut at dabunasr@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alaa Shahine at asalha@bloomberg.net, Mark Williams, Ros Krasny

©2017 Bloomberg L.P.

The Iranian Nuclear Horn Via Korea (Daniel 8:4)

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NORTH KOREA AND IRAN: COMRADES IN ARMS?

Professor Jonathan Adelman

Over two dozen countries have aspired to become nuclear powers in the post-1945 era but the majority have not succeeded. Former Soviet republics such as Ukraine and Belarus already had thousands of nuclear weapons from the Soviet era but seeking to integrate into Europe, lacking the money or technical expertise to maintain these expensive weapons, and not possessing a strong state identity, these new states forfeited their nuclear weapons in favor of becoming players in the post-Soviet era.

Taiwan and Japan, dependent on American and Western support against a far bigger China, essentially yielded to pressure from its allies. Egypt, Syria and Algeria all went part of the way down the road before succumbing to the huge costs and lack of technical capabilities so necessary for a nuclear power. Iraq’s capabilities, developed under Saddam Hussein, were stopped by an Israeli attack on the nuclear facilities in 1981 and the Second Persian Gulf War in 2003. Libya’s nuclear program under Muammar Qaddafi was stopped by his fear of the American triumph in 2003. South Africa, having created several atomic bombs under its white-dominated regime, yielded to the rise of a black majority country. Latin American countries, such as Brazil and Argentina, started down the road but eventually abandoned their efforts.

Eight nuclear powers have emerged in the post-war era. Russia, the United States and China emerged as they developed as major powers, while European countries (England and France) and emerging Asian states (India and Pakistan) went nuclear.

In the second decade of the 21st century, North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran have emerged — one as a nascent nuclear power (North Korea) and the other as an aspiring nuclear power (Iran).

Both were part of the “axis of evil” of three countries (the third was Saddam Hussein’s Iraq) that, in President Bush’s words, meant they were rogue pariah states.The two countries share a number of common factors: disdain for international law, insecure neighbors, weak economic development, common enemies, dislike for Western powers and ideologies (democracy, rule of law, popular election), a willingness to destroy other countries and stress on development of nuclear weapons.

Each state also has serious enemies inside and outside their region. Both North Korea and Iran saw significant threats to their existence, led by the United States, their superpower enemy. Each faces regional enemies as well. North Korea faces a far richer South Korea and Japan (but without nuclear weapons) as well as an ambivalent Chinese policy. Too, Iran desperately needs North Korean nuclear and technical capability to be a serious player and threat in the region.

As for Iran, it faces a militarily strong Israel with 100 nuclear weapons, a more modern military and more sophisticated air force with 700 planes. Israel also has the most modern anti-ballistic missile missiles developed with the United States: Iron Dome , David’s Sling and Arrow 3. In addition, the Sunni world — Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates — while traditionally anti-Israel, has now embraced Israel in the spirit of the Indian view from 2,400 years ago: “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.” They now see Iran as the Shiite menace to their Sunni power.

Today the Iranians have, with North Korea’s help, duplicated the miniature submarines Yono-class and the BM-25 Musudan class ICBMs that are capable of travelling 2,500 miles and could hit Hawaii. The relationship between North Korea and Iran has become so tight that nuclear weapons and missiles in North Korea would rapidly be duplicated in Iran.

All this leaves the United States and its allies in a difficult position. The road to peace is unclear. A strong nuclear arsenal in North Korea and Iran by 2020 or 2025 could threaten the very existence of American allies in the Middle East and East Asia and even threaten part of the United States itself. Another agreement with North Korea like that reached under President Clinton or the nuclear deal reached with Iran under President Obama could be fatal to the ultimate cause of peace.

What to do? The only thing worse would be to allow these anti-democratic harsh and hostile regimes to grow their nuclear arsenals to the point that they could dominate these vital areas. Only one thing is clear: the threats to peace in key areas of the world are worse than any time since 1991 and even possibly 1945.

Too Late To Prevent The Spill: The Sixth Seal

Indian-Point-Power-Plant

WATCH: ‘The beginning of the end of NY’s nuclear power?’

 

 

Has the endgame begun for Indian Point? Sure looks that way.

Riverkeeper is fighting on every legal front to stop this dangerous, aging plant from operating, and there’s no doubt we are closing in.

Riverkeeper has raised awareness about the hazards posed by this plant – including the 2,000 tons of toxic nuclear waste that are stored onsite, on the banks of the Hudson River, with no solution in sight. Our commissioning of reports by Synapse Energy Economics helped document the availability of replacement power once the facility is decommissioned. And our attorneys wrapped up arguments that will deny Entergy, the plant’s owner, a means to renew the licenses it needs to continue operating.

Even Entergy seems to have gotten the memo. The plant’s owners are saying openly that it’s time to reach a deal with New York State about the the plant’s closure: An industry publication quotes CEO Leo Denault that Entergy “would be willing to strike a ‘constructive’ agreement with New York officials on early closure of the controversial Indian Point nuclear plant, provided that Entergy received ‘certainty’ and proper compensation for near-term operation … to meet grid reliability and environmental needs while the state pursues a major revamp of its electricity system.”

The state has already signaled its confidence that New York can do without Indian Point’s power. The state Public Service Commission ruled in November 2013 that New York can count on other sources of safe, reliable, affordable energy.

The transformation is already happening, with energy supplies and transmission lines that are in some cases built, in other cases breaking ground. The future is arriving sooner, perhaps, than Entergy thought it would.

– See more at: http://www.riverkeeper.org/blog/watchdog/watch-the-beginning-of-the-end-of-nys-nuclear-power/#sthash.fJtko3g0.dpuf

Too Little Too Late (Revelation 15)

More than 120 nations adopted the first international treaty banning nuclear weapons on Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The initiative—led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand—was approved by 122 votes, with only the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. The nine countries generally recognized as possessing nuclear weapons—the U.S., Russia, Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea, and Israel—were noticeably absent from the negotiations, as were most members of NATO.
Despite being a victim of atomic attacks in 1945, Japan also boycotted the meeting. Nevertheless, the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki informed Friday’s dialogue—and the conversation thereafter. “It’s been seven decades since the world knew the power of destruction of nuclear weapons,” the president of the UN conference, Elayne Whyte Gómez, told The Guardian. The agreement, she added, “is a very clear statement that the international community wants to move to a completely different security paradigm that does not include nuclear weapons.”
Friday’s ten-page treaty is extensive in its demands, prohibiting signatories from developing, testing, manufacturing, possessing, or threatening to use nuclear weapons. Nations are also prohibited from transferring nuclear weapons to one another. Having now been approved by the UN, the treaty will be open for signatures on September 20, at which point it will need to be ratified by 50 states before entering into international law.The major obstacle, of course, is that many prominent members of the international community—and their allies—remain vocally opposed. In a joint statement on Friday, the UN ambassadors for the U.S., Britain, and France said they had no intention of joining the treaty, arguing that it “clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment.” Of particular concern, they said, was the fact that the treaty failed to address of the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. Earlier this week, North Korea claimed to have tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts say may be capable of striking Hawaii and Alaska. The nation has also conducted five nuclear tests since 2006—and could be preparing for its sixth.Rather than ban nuclear weapons and risk vulnerability to a North Korean attack, the U.S., Britain, and France hope to strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), which provides nations other than the five original nuclear powers—the U.S., Russia, Britain, France, and China—from pursuing nuclear programs. In exchange, the five powers have pledged to make steps toward nuclear disarmament and give non-nuclear states access to nuclear technology for producing energy.

But many nations have criticized the NPT for failing to elicit a speedy disarmament. At the very least, Friday’s treaty introduces the concept of a nuclear-free world, and could even put pressure on nuclear powers to adopt a new set of standards. “The key thing is that it changes the legal landscape,” Richard Moyes, the managing director of Article 36, a U.K.-based organization that aims to prevent harm caused by nuclear weapons, told Agence France-Presse. As Moyes sees it, the newly-approved treaty “stops states with nuclear weapons from being able to hide behind the idea that they are not illegal.”