Trump Is Already Too Late (Daniel 8:4)

President Trump insisted Monday that Iran must “never, ever” come close to acquiring nuclear weapons, and called on Israel to join the U.S. in resisting a nuclear Iran shortly after his arrival in Jerusalem for his first visit to Israel as president.
“The United States and Israel can declare with one voice that Iran must never be allowed to possess a nuclear weapon, never ever, and must cease its deadly funding, training and equipping of terrorists and militias, and it must cease immediately,” Trump said during a joint appearance with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem.”There is a growing realization among your Arab neighbors that they have common cause with you in the threat posed by Iran, and it is indeed a threat, there is no question about that,” Trump added.Israel strongly opposed the nuclear agreement that the Obama administration negotiated with Iran. The finalization of that deal in 2015 dealt a blow to U.S.-Israeli relations.

Trump has already delivered harsh criticism to Iran and its destabilizing activities throughout the region on the first few days of his trip. On Monday, he told Rivlin that Iran’s aggression has caused other countries in the Middle East to gravitate toward Israel.

After his joint appearance with Rivlin, Trump and the first lady, Melania Trump, headed to a visit at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, a historic church in the Old City of Jerusalem. Trump is also slated on Monday to visit the Western Wall, a Jewish holy site that is also located in the Old City.

Iran Steps Up Hegemony In Middle East (Daniel 8:4)

Bahrain’s rulers have long sought confirmation from Washington that their country faces a terrorist threat sponsored by Iran. In March, the US finally validated them by sanctioning two Bahraini individuals as Specially Designated Global Terrorists. One of those sanctioned individuals evidently resides in Qom, the ideological center of Iran’s revolutionary regime.

The US designation comes amid increasing evidence showing that Tehran’s regional terrorist network is targeting the island kingdom, which hosts America’s most important naval base in the Middle East.

The State Department announced the sanctions on Mar. 17, describing the two individuals as linked to the Ashtar Brigades, a Bahraini group that it said has carried out terrorist acts targeting Bahraini, Saudi, and Emirati security officials. As such, the sanctions were also an important signal of support to Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, whose leaders visited Washington just three days before the State Department’s announcement.

The designations are even more important given a Washington Post report last month that Western intelligence agencies believe Iran has attempted to smuggle into Bahrain enough C-4 explosives to sink a warship, as well as equipment to manufacture explosively formed penetrators  that can tear through tank armor.

Mortada al-Sanadi’s Radical Politics

The State Department was relatively terse in its description of the two newly designated terrorists, merely calling the more prominent one “an affiliate” of the Brigades, which it said receives money and other support from the government of Iran.

However, by validating Manama’s argument that this individual, Mortada al-Sanadi, is linked to the Brigades and confirming the group’s Iranian sponsorship, the US significantly bolstered Bahrain’s narrative about Sanadi, the Brigades, and the broader terrorist threat it faces.

Sanadi is spokesperson and a central committee member of the Islamic Loyalty Movement (ILM), a radical Bahraini political faction. The Movement is virulently anti-American, with its recent messages on social media calling the US “the mother of terrorism,” setting fire to images of President Donald Trump and the American flag, and displaying a cartoon of crosshairs targeting the Capitol Building. (The image can be seen above.)

In 2016, Bahrain’s government accused Sanadi and the ILM of having links to the Bahraini terrorist cell called the Basta Group, which ILM denied. According to Bahraini authorities, Basta also had ties to the Ashtar Brigades and Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. Bahrain’s government alleged that Basta’s leadership constituted the ILM’s armed wing, with terror capabilities under Sanadi’s command.

By accusing a leader of the ILM of links to terrorism, the recent US action seems to confirm that some of Bahrain’s more radical political opposition is also complicit in acts of violence against the state.

Disrupted Terrorist Plots

If Bahrain’s claims about Sanadi’s activities are correct – which the new US action appears to at least partly corroborate – then he is a key leader in the country’s terrorist insurgency.

Ten days after the US sanctioned Sanadi, Bahraini authorities accused the cleric of co-directing a terrorist cell linked to a February bus bombing that injured five police officers. That bombing came shortly after Sanadi’s announced that his movement was “beginning a new stage” by “seizing the public square and grasping the trigger.”

Manama alleged that the cell’s fourteen members plotted political assassinations and traveled to Iran nearly 70 times in three months. Six cell members are accused of receiving IRGC training in Iran, and five others are accused of being trained in Iraq by the US-designated, Iranian-proxy terrorist group Kata’ib Hizballah. According to Reuters, the Brigades announced an alliance with Kata’ib Hizballah earlier this year.

Previously, Bahraini authorities have accused Sanadi of playing a prominent role in terrorist plots in 2015. One was a July 2015 bombing that killed two policemen and injured six others. Bahrain’s Interior Ministry identified him as one of the plotters, calling him a religious leader for several Bahraini terrorist groups, and asserted that he receives monthly payments from the IRGC. Weeks earlier, Manama described Sanadi as one of the IRGC’s coordinators for a plot to smuggle explosives from Iraq into Bahrain, and from there into Saudi Arabia.

Tehran’s Ideological and Military Fingerprints

The ideology of Sanadi’s Islamic Loyalty Movement reflects Iran’s efforts to export its revolution. For example, Sanadi told a pro-Hizballah Lebanese newspaper in 2014 that the ILM’s ideology is modeled after that of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and first supreme leader of the Islamic Republic. The ILM website features 30 statements from Khomeini’s successor Ali Khamenei that are described as “golden commandments for a jihadist administration.” The group also promotes a book by Lebanese Hizballah’s deputy leader, which teaches its approach to military jihad and vilayat-e faqih, the Iranian regime’s draconian system of clerical rule.

In speeches delivered in Qom in 2015 and 2016, Sanadi himself embraced vilayat-e faqih and recognized Khamenei as amir al mu’minin, or leader of the faithful. He also authored an anti-American article on Khamenei’s official website in December 2016. Other than a brief appearance in the Iraqi city of Karbala in late 2013, virtually all of Sanadi’s public appearances for propaganda purposes seem to have been made from Qom, including as recently as March of this year.

Last year, Sanadi gave a lecture on Bahrain to the Masoumieh Religious Seminary, a top institution for training clerics to serve in Iran’s military and security services, including the IRGC. According to Reuters, Sanadi was even allowed in September 2016 to deliver a Friday sermon at the most prestigious mosque in Qom. His activities in Qom highlight the overlap between Iran’s extremist ideology and his Bahrain-oriented activism.

Iran has been known to host other IRGC-backed violent extremists in Qom, including Abu Dura, an Iraqi national designated by the US Treasury who was known as “the Shiite Zarqawi,” a reference to former al-Qaeda in Iraq chief Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Laith Khazali, an Iraqi who was imprisoned on charges of leading an operation that killed five American soldiers in the Iraqi city of Karbala, reportedly was hosted in Qom immediately upon his release in 2009. Another suspected leader in the 2007 Karbala attack, Azhar al-Dulaimi, purportedly received his training beforehand from Lebanese Hezbollah under IRGC supervision near Qom.

Militarily, the Ashtar Brigades appear linked not just to the IRGC but also other IRGC terrorist proxies throughout the region.

Manama claims Sanadi co-directed Bahraini terror cells in 2015 and 2017 with Qassim Abdullah Ali, who it said is based in Iran and Iraq, where he allegedly coordinates the training of Bahraini terrorists by Kata’ib Hizballah. Manama also asserts that leaders of the Ashtar-linked Basta Group received $20,000 from Lebanese Hizballah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah to support the ILM and launch attacks in Bahrain.

Bahrain’s broader landscape

As these allegations suggest, Sanadi is not the only Bahraini individual Manama accuses of playing a top role in the Ashtar Brigades, and the group is not the only Bahraini extremist group aligned with Iran.

For example, the State Department indicated in its 2013 Country Reports on Terrorism that Manama intercepted a speedboat with arms and explosives linked to Iran and thought to be bound for the 14 February Youth Coalition, a radical Shiite opposition faction that has praised Khamenei.

Other Bahraini groups such as the Saraya al-Karar and the Revolutionary Struggle Organization have used imagery based on the IRGC logo of a hand reaching up to grasp a Kalashnikov rifle, according to Caleb Weiss. Weiss adds that another Bahraini terrorist group, Saraya al-Mokhtar, has demonstrated support for numerous IRGC proxies inside Iraq.

When the State Department sanctioned Sanadi, it took care to discourage Manama from perceiving its action as carte blanche for a domestic crackdown on the country’s Shiites, who form the majority of the population but are marginalized by its Sunni monarchy. Indeed, the announcement urged Bahrain’s government “to clearly differentiate its response to violent militia groups from its engagement with peaceful political opposition.”

This is particularly relevant given that the head of Bahrain’s main opposition party, al-Wefaq, is serving a four-year prison sentence for acts the US describes as “peaceful expression.” However, the State Department could undermine its own message if it moves ahead with its plan to drop human rights conditions from a proposed $2.8-billion sale of US fighter jets to Bahrain.

Bahrain’s regime has yet to address its serious domestic challenge from nonviolent Shiite opposition groups and a disaffected Shiite-majority public. But it also faces a genuine security threat from violent extremists. Washington’s recent counterterrorism sanctions against Sanadi and its confirmation of Tehran’s support for the Ashtar Brigades confirms one of the pivotal pieces in the Bahraini government’s narrative about Iran’s role sponsoring terrorism inside the kingdom. But if Bahrain’s rulers don’t find a constructive outlet for legitimate Shiite dissent, then they risk driving more of the opposition into Iran’s arms.

David Andrew Weinberg is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He specializes on Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Islam Controls Iran (Daniel 8)

Khamenei: It does not matter who will become president, the winner is the regime

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said that it is not important who will become president after Iran’s presidential election on Friday. He believed it was only important that Wilayat al-Faqih system should win by raising the level of voter participation in the ballot.

According to Iran’s Tasnim news agency, Khamenei stated in a speech on Wednesday, “In the end, a candidate will get a majority of votes and win, but the real winner in this process, regardless of who wins the majority of votes, are the Iranian people – and the main winner is the regime of the Islamic Republic.”

“The Iranian leader criticized the attack of candidates on each other during the debates and how they exposed corruption files, considering that, “some of the things that were said are not appropriate to the Iranian people,” stressing that, “everyone has to observe the law and be disciplined in the electoral process.”

Khamenei warned of unrest during the election, saying, “It is likely that someone will try to violate the law, but we trust in the capacity of our security system. We have to be careful, for the Iranian people have so many enemies.”

The Iranian leader often saw the elections as a renewal of allegiance by the people to Wilayat al-Faqih, even though there is no candidate who comes from the popular groups, that is, outside the system of the regime and its political groups.

In spite of this atmosphere, many officials of the Iranian regime fear the recurrence of the events of 2009, when millions of people protested, initially against what was said to be a falsification of the results of the Iranian elections, but soon turned into a popular uprising against the entire regime. The uprising was brutally suppressed by the Revolutionary Guard, the Basij, and the security and intelligence services.

Iran is Controlled by Esau (Genesis 28)


Iran’s presidential election next week presents a false choice to their restive people. There are two main candidates in the race, both of whom are rubber-stamped by the mullahs in Tehran. They are fighting over a very narrow sliver of turf. No matter who wins, count on Iran remaining viciously repressive, destabilizing to the region and ever-eager to attain nuclear weapons.

In a recent survey of Iranians in 15 provinces, by the International American Council on the Middle East and North Africa, 79 percent of those asked said they don’t believe the outcome of the election will make any difference in their lives. Faces change, but policies remain the same.

The vitality and diversity of the Iranian people’s politics is well-known. There are religious conservatives of course, but the streets teem with young people who hold secular, democratic views. There are savvy entrepreneurs, environmentalists and everything in between. Much of the body politic remains disaffected and disenfranchised by the unrealized economic gains that were promised after the end of nuclear sanctions with the rush of cash that filled Tehran’s coffers.

According to U.S. intelligence estimates and the analysis of Iranian opposition groups, the “nuclear accord dividend” has been siphoned off by the state’s instruments of violence and repression, including a huge budget increase to the brutal Iranian Revolutionary Guard, massive expenditures in ballistic missile development and ongoing interference in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the lot of the Iranian people remains dire as wages stagnate, needed investments in infrastructure are deferred and corruption runs rampant. These grievances have no real outlet and no real hope for redress. The greatest danger in a theocracy is that all state actions are sanctified by an authority for whom there is no higher appeal. Democracy is but a mirage under the theocracy.

Still, the Iranian people have no alternative but to boycott the elections and call for genuine regime change. There is a real Iranian opposition; they are jailed, hunted and murdered by the score, or otherwise pushed into exile. So, the mullahs have stacked the deck, offering their own alternative: current President Hassan Rouhani, who, of course, played a key role in suppressing a 1999 uprising of the people and bragged about lying to U.N. nuclear weapons inspectors.

His rival, the midlevel cleric Ebrahim Raisi is a close ally of the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The other notable candidate, Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, who withdrew from the race in favor of Raisi, was a commander of the notorious Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps before becoming Tehran’s mayor.

The candidates are approved by the unelected watchdog body, the Guardian Council, as are all the candidates in the election. This includes a process that entails complete acceptance of the Supreme Leader’s ideology and policy “suggestions,” which explains why only six out of 1,636 candidates were allowed to run.

Given the sad reality that not much will change, no matter who is elected, what does the future look like?  Well, what is past is prologue. Rouhani, the “moderate” presided over a record number of state executions that far outpaced his predecessor, the firebrand Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Raisi has been part of the judiciary of the regime since its establishment and has made a reputation for himself as a brutal personality. As a member of a “death commission” in 1988, he authorized the execution of 30,000 political prisoners — men, women and even children, mostly belonging to the main opposition, the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK), as “enemies” of the state. There is little differentiation between the whip and the hand that holds it.

Today, the regime is more vulnerable than ever, from its internal divisions, its failure to wipe out all of my fellow dissidents in Iraq (who were successfully transferred to Europe) and the Trump administration’s vow to review its Iran policy. All of these developments point to an unprecedented opportunity for the opposition to play a significant role in wresting control from the Mullahs and reshaping the country’s future.

Regardless of when that would happen, millions of disgruntled Iranians may prove to be a force to be reckoned with for the regime in the near future and the true partners of the United States.

Soona Samsami is the Representative in the United States for the National Council of Resistance of Iran, which is dedicated to the establishment of a democratic, secular republic in Iran.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill. 

Iran Continues To Build Its Nuclear Program (Daniel 8:4)

Iran Furiously Building Nuclear Program Because Obama Treaty Protects Them From Scrutiny

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Daniel Coats, America’s top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran’s ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

Iran continues to make critical technological strides in its efforts to perfect an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons over great distances, efforts that violate international prohibitions, according to the director of national intelligence, who informed Congress this week that the Islamic Republic “would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons.”

The disclosure comes just days after Iranian leaders announced the upcoming launch of two new domestically produced satellites. Iran has long used its space program as cover for illicit missile work, as the know-how needed to launch such equipment can be applied to long-range ballistic missile technology.

Daniel Coats, America’s top spymaster, informed Congress this week in an intelligence briefing that Iran’s ballistic missile work continues unimpeded and could be used by the Islamic Republic to launch a nuclear weapon, according to unclassified testimony.

Turns out Obama’s “historic deal” was actually a cover for Iran to build nuclear weapons faster:

Iran’s ballistic missile work, particularly its focus on ICBMs, runs counter to United Nations resolutions barring such activity, though it remains unclear if the Trump administration plans to pursue new sanctions on Iran.

Iran continues to perform key research and development on nuclear missile capabilities despite the landmark nuclear agreement with Western powers, according to the last U.S. intelligence assessments.

“Iran is pursuing capabilities to meet its nuclear energy and technology goals and to give it the capability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so” Coats wrote in his written testimony to the Senate intelligence committee.

U.S. officials are unsure if Iran will build nuclear weapons, but it is likely this intention would dictate Tehran’s future adherence to the nuclear deal, which the administration of former President Barack Obama framed in such a way as to leave out the issue of ballistic missiles.

The reality of Obama’s Iranian Nuclear Deal:

The United States assesses that Iran remains about a year away from a functional nuclear missile if it decides to build one in violation of the nuclear deal.

Iranian military leaders claim their missile work is unrelated to the nuclear agreement and permissible under it. The country’s refusal to abandon this work has caused concern on Capitol Hill, as well as among U.S. national security insiders who view the work as related to Iran’s aspirations for regional dominance.

The U.S. intelligence community maintains that Iran—which has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East—likely would use this technology to launch a nuclear weapon.

“We judge that Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them,” according to Coats. “Iran’s ballistic missiles are inherently capable of delivering WMD, and Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East.”

“Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM),” Coats wrote, referring to Iran’s covert missile work. “Progress on Iran’s space program could shorten a pathway to an ICBM because space launch vehicles use similar technologies.”

Iran “continues to leverage cyber espionage, propaganda, and attacks to support its security priorities, influence events and foreign perceptions, and counter threats—including against U.S. allies in the region,” Coats testified.

This includes cyber attacks “directly against the United States,” such as in 2013, when an Iranian hacker penetrated the computer systems of a U.S. dam.

Iran also is pursuing a massive buildup of its military, which observers have described as unprecedented.

The U.S. intelligence community has confirmed that Iran is developing “a range of new military capabilities to monitor and target U.S. and allied military assets in the region, including armed UAVs [drones], ballistic missiles, advanced naval mines, unmanned explosive boats, submarines and advanced torpedoes, and anti-ship and land-attack cruise missiles,” according to Coats.

Iran Continues To Develop Nuclear Weapons (Daniel 8:4)

The annual report released Thursday notes that if Iran “chooses to do so its pursuit of these goals will influence its level of adherence to the JCPOA. We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”

The World Threat Assessment also notes that “Iran continues to be the foremost state sponsor of terrorism and, with its primary terrorism partner, Lebanese Hizbailah, will pose a continuing threat to US interests and partners worldwide.”

The report states that U.S. intelligence believes “Tehran would choose ballistic missiles as its preferred method of delivering nuclear weapons, if it builds them.” Ballistic missiles are the delivery vehicle for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has violated international sanctions on a multitude of occasions by carrying out ballistic missiles tests.

“Tehran already has the largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” the World Threat Assessment’s report states. “Tehran’s desire to deter the United States might drive it to field an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).”

The report also notes that Iran’s progress in its space program could expedite its path to an ICBM since space launch vehicles use similar technologies.

Last year’s report similarly stated that while the United States does not know whether the Iranian government will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons, but added that “Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA, however, has extended the amount of time Iran would need to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon from a few months to about a year.”

It has been well over a year since the JCPOA was implemented. On July 14, the JCPOA will reach its two-year mark.

Last month, a report — which included alleged satellite imagery and intelligence said to be provided by informants working covertly inside the Iranian military — indicated the Iranian regime is secretly, and illegally, developing weapons at its “off-limits” Parchin nuclear site.

Also last month, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated, in a letter addressed to House Speaker Paul Ryan, that Iran has remained compliant with the 2015 nuclear deal. In that same letter, Tillerson noted, “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods.”

Follow Adelle Nazarian on Facebook and Twitter.

Completing The Shia Horn (Daniel 8)

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Iranian militia leader talks of full Middle East dominance

JEDDAH: A notorious sectarian leader in Iraq has claimed that the Shiite project of encircling and dominating the Middle Eastern states is on track.

Delivering a speech in Arabic, at a graduation ceremony of Shiite clerics in Iraq on Thursday, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia commander Qais Al-Khazali said: “The reappearance of Imam Mahdi will mark the completion of the Shiite project. Iranian Revolutionary Guards, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Asaib Ahl Al-Haq and the Houthis are working hard to make the ground fertile for Imam Mahdi.

Al-Khazali was referring to the Shiite belief that Imam Mahdi — the 12th and last Shiite imam who disappeared in the 9th century — will one day appear in order to bring justice to earth.

Asaib Ahl Al-Haq, which Al-Khazali leads, is one of the most violent Shiite militias in Iraq. It is aided and abetted by Iran. Al-Khazali reportedly said: “We’ll continue to work toward our project of a Shiite full moon, not a Shiite crescent as our enemies say.”

The phrase “Shiite crescent” was first coined by King Abdallah of Jordan 10 years ago. At that time, he meant Iranian control over Lebanon via Hezbollah, Syria via the Bashar Assad regime, and Iraq through the new Iran-allied government in Baghdad. Al-Khazali is now talking of a “Shiite full moon.”

“They (Iran and its allied militias) are looking for complete regional dominance,” said political analyst and former US diplomat Ali Khedery.
Talking to Arab News on Thursday, Khedery explained the background of Al-Khazali and the implications of his statement.

“Al-Khazali is the commander of Asaib Ahl Al-Haq. It used to be part of Muqtada Al-Sadr’s Jaish Al-Mahdi but then splintered off. It was specially cultivated by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ special forces unit, the Al-Quds Force.

“Asaib Ahl Al-Haq is one of the most violent Shiite militias that has operated in Iraq alongside, for example, Kata’ib Hezbollah and the Badr Corps, and they report directly to Al-Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani,” said Khedery.

According to Khedery, Al-Khazali was responsible for the kidnapping and then the killing of five American soldiers from a joint Iraqi-American Operations Center in 2007 in Karbala.

“As a result of that kidnapping and murder operation, US forces arrested him and held him for several years in a facility called Camp Cropper — the same high-value detainee facility where the Americans held Saddam Hussein. Al-Khazali was later released at Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki’s personal request,” Khedery told Arab News.

He said during the Iraq war, the Asaib Ahl Al-Haq militia was responsible for killing and wounding hundreds, if not thousands, of US soldiers and then also kidnapping or killing probably thousands of Iraqis.

“After the rise of Daesh, it became very active again and is now part of Al-Hashd Al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) to which the Iraqi government pays billions of dollars annually. It is now a virtual extension of the Iraqi Army,” he said.

Khedery said he would advise the international community against doubting the words and statements of these militia leaders.

“I take Iranian generals or the supreme leader or the militia commanders at their word because they have always — almost always — followed through on their threats. So, for example, when the Iranian supreme leader promises to wipe out Israel or when the Iranian defense minister threatens Saudi Arabia, or when Qassem Soleimani promises to change the regime in Bahrain or when Al-Khazali, in this case, promises to complete the Shiite crescent and make it a moon, I take them at their word,” said Khedery. “They are intent on exporting (former Iranian leader Ruhollah) Khomeini’s revolution across the Middle East.”

Since King Abdallah’s coinage of the phrase “Shiite crescent” 10 years ago, “the Iranians have unfortunately consolidated their grip over Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and the Iranian forces (have) further expanded into Pakistan and Afghanistan. Now they take Pakistani and Afghan recruits and send them to wage Khomeinist jihad in places like Iraq and Syria,” said Khedery. “They want to keep going with the export of the Khomeinist revolution. So their next targets are Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and then probably eventually Qatar and the UAE. And obviously, the Iranian-allied Houthis have taken control of Sanaa.”
Harvard scholar and Iranian affairs expert Majid Rafizadeh echoed Khedery’s words and said Asaib Ahl Al-Haq was an Iranian-backed Shiite militia, which has reportedly received significant financial, military and political support from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps.

“Al-Khazali’s statement highlights three critical issues,” Rafizadeh told Arab News. “First of all, Iran and its proxies’ political agenda is anchored in sectarianism: Shiite versus Sunni. Second, although Iran views itself as leader of all Muslims, Tehran has been working effortlessly to export its particular version of Shiite ideology and revolutionary ideals. Third, Iran is determined to export its Shiite ideology through any possible means, including supporting many militias and designated terrorist groups.

The Hypocrisy of Obama (2 Chronicles 36)

Image result for obama prideWarren ‘troubled’ by $400,000 Wall Street speaking fee for Obama

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren gently criticized former president Barack Obama Thursday for his decision to accept $400,000 from a Wall Street firm to speak at a health care conference this fall.

Warren was asked about the controversy during an interview about her new book on the SiriusXM radio show, “Alter Family Politics.”

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“I was troubled by that,” she said.

That was the extent of her comments aimed directly at Obama. She quickly launched into a broader discussion of her views of the corrupting influence of money in Washington.

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“I describe it as a snake that slithers through Washington. And that it shows up in so many different ways here in Washington,” she said, referencing her just-published book, “This Fight Is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class.”

“The influence of dollars on this place is what scares me,” she continued. “I think it ultimately threatens democracy.”

While Warren’s critique was a far cry from the withering criticism some on the left have leveled at Obama, it’s rougher than anything she said during the 2016 campaign about former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s acceptance of hefty speaking fees from Wall Street firms.

Unlike Obama, Clinton was considering running for office when she gave her controversial speeches, while the former president’s days in elected public office are behind him.

Warren stayed neutral — and mostly silent — throughout the bitter primary contest between Clinton and Vermont independent Bernie Sanders, despite, as she writes in her book, coming under intense pressure from both sides to endorse her preferred candidate. “I didn’t want to undermine either of our candidates or to short-circuit any part of that debate,” she writes.

When Warren finally did endorse Clinton, after the New York Democrat had secured enough primary votes to clinch the nomination, the Globe asked whether Clinton should release the transcripts of paid speeches she gave to Goldman Sachs, an issue Sanders had hammered on the campaign trail.

“That’s for her to decide — there will be a whole lot of issues to talk about over the next several months,” Warren said.

In the SiriusXM interview, Warren said one of her reasons for writing the book is that she wanted to talk about how liberals can fight back against the money and power wielded by the rich and powerful.

“There are more of us than there are of them. And we’ve got to use our voices and our votes and fight back,” she said.

News leaked earlier this week that Obama had agreed to a $400,000 speaking gig, with the check being written by investment bank Cantor Fitzgerald. The decision to accept such a large payday from one of the very establishments of the “fat cat bankers” Obama derided in office sparked chatter in Washington. (The sum is also nearly twice as large as the fees commanded by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton when she spoke to Wall Street audiences.)

Obama’s spokesman Eric Schultz defended the former president in a statement Wednesday.

“With regard to this or any speech involving Wall Street sponsors, I’d just point out that in 2008, Barack Obama raised more money from Wall Street than any candidate in history — and still went on to successfully pass and implement the toughest reforms on Wall Street since FDR,” Schultz said.

Victoria McGrane can be reached at victoria.mcgrane@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @vgmac.
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Iran And The Shia Horn (Daniel 8:4)

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Tehran Backs Syria, Iraq to Ensure Regional Stability

The foreign policy advisor to the Leader of Islamic Revolution said Iran’s efforts to defend regional countries, including Syria and Iraq, are in line with the policy of promoting regional stability.

Ali Akbar Velayati was also quoted as saying by ISNA on Saturday in a meeting with German State Secretary Markus Ederer that if terrorism succeeds, “another Libya could take shape”.

“The Islamic Republic has always resisted [destabilizing forces] in the region and such moves [to support regional states] have obviously been made for the sake of peace and stability in the international arena and fighting terrorism,” he said.

He said regional states and the wider international community should not allow terrorists present in Syria and Iraq to repeat what they did to Libya.

Libya has been in complete chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi by western-backed forces, with two rival administrations and armed groups fighting for control of the country.

Velayati referred to Iran’s role in protecting the Middle East from the extremism and stressed that any country that attaches importance to global peace should follow the same path.

“We consider defending Syria and Iraq and their leadership as defending ourselves since preventing their disintegration is the key to maintaining regional stability,” he said.

The senior official explained that the Islamic Republic’s military advisory support to Iraq and Syria in their campaign against terrorism has been offered at the request of the two countries’ governments.

Iraq and Syria have been facing the growing threat of terrorism, mainly posed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group that made swift advances in much of northern and western Iraq in mid-2014, after capturing large swaths of northern Syria.  Backed by their allies, the two Arab countries have in recent months made significant gains in the fight against terror and violence.

Velayati called Germany a major player in the global arena, especially in Europe, and said, “We hold great respect for Germany’s position in  the European Union and this can have a great impact on [Iran-Germany] bilateral ties.”

Ederer pointed to longstanding relations between the two states, which could help deepen ties. He also voiced Berlin’s positive stance on Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with major powers and looked forward to improvement of the country’s relations with the global community.

Germany was among the major powers that helped conclude the nuclear accord with Iran, which led to sanctions relief in exchange for Tehran scaling down its nuclear activities.

The Unstoppable Iranian Horn (Daniel 8:3)

ANALYSIS: The Iranian regime’s unstoppable path to nuclear weapons

By Tony Duheaume Thursday, 4 May 2017

It matters not where any national leader stands as far as the Iran deal is concerned, the greatest concern to the international community should be why Iran has been seeking the capability to build nuclear weapons for more than two decades.

During the early 1990s, the Israeli secret service reportedly obtained Iranian government documents, stating that Iran had acquired several nuclear warheads from the former Soviet Union. The documents were authenticated by experts in the US, all of which were said to be correspondence between officials in the Iranian government and leading commanders of the IRGC, verifying that the missiles had been successfully acquired. Although these weapons were no longer operational due to age, they were still useful to nuclear scientists as a blueprint for a future weapon.

It is now believed that during the 1980s, when Iranian boffins were struggling to master nuclear technology, Iran obtained the know-how to overcome its problems in the more difficult aspects of nuclear technology, and from then on, the two countries shared future technological advances.

Since the founding of the Islamic Republic, Iran has been working all out to become the Middle East’s most powerful military nation, so with it its constant confrontational policies concerning the export of terrorism, and its meddling in the politics of neighboring countries, it has led to it having to face many foes throughout the region.

So adding that to the fact that a number of its near neighbors are armed with nuclear weapons, including its arch enemy Israel, it made perfect sense to the regime’s hawks to arm Iran in a similar manner.

It was in 1985, Iran began its gas-enrichment program, and when this was discovered many years later, the regime went on the defensive, claiming that its nuclear program was solely for it wanting to become self-sufficient in its energy needs, and for the purpose of medical isotopes.

When questioned as to why it had kept its nuclear program a secret, the leadership claimed it was under no obligation to declare it under the terms of the IAEA safeguards agreement. The agreement stated that it only had to inform the IAEA of the existence of its facilities, six months before any nuclear material was actually being produced and so as far as the Iranian administration was concerned any infringements were minor.

During the time of its secret nuclear sites being discovered, when questioned about its refusal to answer many crucial questions on its program, the regime claimed it hadn’t spoken out due to it being an intrusion of its rights. This was in addition to the fact that it didn’t want commercial secrets being leaked to its opponents, and also the fact that it wanted to safeguard the security of the sites in question.

Energy self-sufficiency

Then when it came to the need for such a program, the regime’s claims for it to be solely for self-sufficiency in its energy needs, and medical purposes just didn’t hold up under scrutiny. Even with the Bushehr reactor up and running, which it wasn’t at the time, it would only result in the production of 3 percent of Iran’s electricity needs, and that the rest of the facilities that were in action or in the pipeline, was not feasible for civilian use.

So much about Iran’s nuclear program just didn’t add up even with the fact that there was no evidence at the time that it was operating a reprocessing program meant little. The regime had been known to be seeking to acquire hot-cell heavy manipulators and lead glass shielding windows from a foreign state, which would be required should it be wanting to embark on such a program.

Suspicions arose as to why the regime would want to acquire such components, which it claimed was for the use of producing medical isotopes. However, after studying specifications for the project, which the IAEA had acquired from a foreign state, it showed that the hot cells being fitted out had walls of 1.4 metres in thickness, which were more suited to the handling of spent fuel, rather than for the purpose of radioisotope production, and pointed towards a military use rather than a medical one.

Then in the summer of 2002, the Iranian dissident group the MEK revealed the existence of a series of nuclear sites in Iran, and within a year it was discovered that Iran was in the process of conducting uranium enrichment at Natanz.

An unidentified IAEA inspector cuts the connections between the twin cascades for 20 percent uranium enrichment at the Natanz facility, some 322 kilometers south of Tehran on Jan. 20, 2014. (AP)

With suspicions beginning to be raised even further that Iran was at work developing nuclear weapons, this further heightened when it was discovered that the regime was mining uranium at Saghand as well as operating a yellow cake production plant in the vicinity of Ardakan, and with a pilot uranium enrichment plant up and running in Natanz, it was also operating a commercial scale enrichment facility close by.

To produce nuclear weapons, enriched uranium is essential, and it takes a full-blown nuclear program to produce it. Uranium ore is a natural element much like iron, often taken from the ground in open cast mining; but it needs to be processed to extract pure uranium from the base material.

Centrifuges are essential in processing of uranium. They are cylindrical tubes that whirl at great speed, separating out or purifying the desired uranium isotopes. Iran’s Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant was designed to hold around 3,000 centrifuges, producing in the region of 19.75 percent enriched uranium, which Iran claimed is part of the process to produce medical isotopes.

Where nuclear weapons are concerned, their design requires the use of weapons grade uranium to make them functional, and it takes 90 percent enrichment of uranium to take it to weapons grade, which would take only a matter of weeks to produce in Iran’s new and advanced centrifuges.

Doubling down on centrifuges

Back in August 2012, Iran was known to have doubled the number of centrifuges at its Fordow plant in just three months, increasing the number to 2,000. Until the time of the Iran Deal, the number had increased to 2,800, with Fordow running at full capacity.

During that period of time, Iran had increased its supply of a more purified form of enriched uranium, which was much easier to convert into weapon’s grade fissile material. But at this present time, with the regime now mass producing much more efficient centrifuges, with more than 10,000 installed at the Natanz facility alone, they had enough low-enriched uranium to produce at least six nuclear weapons.

Before the Iran Deal, with Iran having built at least five secret facilities, where work was believed to have been carried out on the development of nuclear weapons, it can only be said that the Iran deal has put this work on hold, as most of Iran’s nuclear program is still continuing in a limited capacity. Should the deal eventually collapse, it would only take Iran a matter of months to reinstate its nuclear activity, and the road to a bomb would be fast coming.

So with these nuclear sites carved into the side of mountains, with the regime protecting them with state of the art air defences throughout the country, it leaves them virtually immune to airstrikes. This made it difficult to completely halt Iran’s nuclear program through a bombing campaign would be near impossible, due to the regime’s instalment of the Russian S-300 long-range air defence system.

So adding this to the fact that Iran has already developed its own long-range air defense system, named the Bavar-373 (Bavar meaning “Belief) – and has claimed it is far superior to the Russian S-300, it also gives it the ability to operate both on and off roads. And with the system using Sayyed-3 missiles, which have been successfully tested, it utilizes target acquisition radar, target engagement radar, and phased array radar to direct the primary functions of the system. The system can strike mid-altitude targets with great accuracy, is able to down bombers as well as various other combat aircraft including drones and cruise missiles.

But as far as the Iran deal is concerned, the Iranian regime is in a win-win situation, because as far as an armed confrontation is concerned, it is fast heading toward becoming untouchable. So the only way to bring an end to its nuclear program, other than through a one-sided deal that only benefits its clerical leadership, would be through sanctions or hostilities.

But whatever option is chosen, a regime change would be needed at the end of it, in order to deter Iran from the nuclear path in the future, and at the moment, this seems to be a long way off.

Last Update: Thursday, 4 May 2017 KSA 08:28 – GMT 05:28