Saudis One of the Ten Horns (Daniel 7)

In Saudi Arabia, Trump turns Sunni

The Editorial Board | USA TODAY

Change of tone is welcome; favoring an Islam sect over another is not: Our view

President Trump’s speech in Saudi Arabia on Sunday came with a much needed change of tone in his descriptions of Islam’s relations with the West.

A candidate who called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States” now, as president, wants to reach out to the Islamic world. In his speech, he called for a partnership with Muslim nations, one “based on shared interests,” to drive out extremism.

Nothing wrong with that, but Trump’s welcome shift in tone only partially obscured a troubling departure on policy. He drew an explicit line between good and evil — and a more implicit line between Saudi Arabia and the Sunni sect of Islam on the one hand, and Iran and the rival Shiite sect on the other.

U.S. support for the Sunni camp was made clear by the fact that Trump made Riyadh his first foreign stop as president, by his willingness to sell the Saudis $110 billion in military equipment, and by his repeated criticisms of Iran during his speech.

Why the United States would want to tilt toward either side in the Sunni-Shiite divide is mystifying. These two sects have been at odds for centuries, with no signs of a detente.

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The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, the world’s most dangerous terrorist organization, is Sunni. The same goes for al-Qaeda, the group founded by Osama bin Laden that brought down the World Trade Center on 9/11.

The bulk of the 9/11 terrorists were Saudi citizens. And the Saudi government has long supported an ultra orthodox form of Islam known as Wahhabism, which has been a kind of gateway drug to radical Islam.

To be sure, much of the reason that Sunni extremism dominates the world of terrorism is that it is the much larger of the two predominant sects. But radical Sunnis have been more aggressive than militant Shiites, such as Hezbollah, in attacking Western homelands.

Iran, home to the world’s largest Shiite population, is a nasty theocracy in which ultimate power resides in the hands of an autocratic supreme leader. Yet it does have an elected president who has increasingly come to speak for a population yearning for better ties with the West. Indeed, as Trump arrived in the conservative kingdom of Saudi Arabia — a nation where women are still not allowed to drive — Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, was re-elected in a landslide.

President Obama rightly saw Iran as a country worth cultivating, and did so with a deal that rolled back sanctions in return for a suspension of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Obama, in a 2009 speech in Egypt, also cited the human rights abuses and lack of economic opportunity that help make Arab nations a breeding ground for extremism.

Trump was notably silent on those issues Sunday, signaling to Sunni leaders that they wouldn’t be called out for repression. Perhaps he calculates that a policy popular with Israeli leaders (who, like Saudi Arabia, were staunchly opposed to efforts to engage Iran) is a good way to keep Jews and evangelical Christians within his base.

Whatever the reason, Trump, like Obama, appears destined to discover that one speech in the heart of the Muslim world, no matter how well received, is hardly sufficient to alter ancient enmities.

USA TODAY’s editorial opinions are decided by its Editorial Board, separate from the news staff. Most editorials are coupled with an opposing view — a unique USA TODAY feature.

To read more editorials, go to the Opinion front page or sign up for the daily Opinion email newsletter. To respond to this editorial, submit a comment to letters@usatoday.com.

Originally Published 5:43 p.m. ET May 21, 2017

Updated 49 minutes ago

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.

US and Saudis to Join Horns (Daniel 8:8)

The summit will be one of three forums held during a visit by Trump, who is making Saudi Arabia his first overseas stop since assuming office in January.

Salman told a cabinet meeting in the Red Sea city of Jeddah that the meeting “comes in light of the challenges and sensitive situations that the world is going through”.

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, “he expressed his hope that this historic summit will establish a new partnership in the face of extremism and terrorism and spreading the values of tolerance and coexistence” while enhancing security.

Trump has frequently been accused of fueling Islamophobia but aides described his decision to visit Saudi Arabia as an effort to reset relations with the Muslim world.

US President Donald Trump and Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman shake hands before lunch at the White House in Washington, DC, on March 14, 2017
NICHOLAS KAMM (AFP/File)

Trump’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster said in a press briefing on Friday that the US president’s visit to Saudi Arabia “will lead the first steps towards a strong partnership with the Muslim world.”

“We expect our allies to take a strong stand against those who have a perverted interpretation of their religion,” McMaster said.

Along with the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), at least 18 other Muslim nations have been invited to the summit, including Turkey, Azerbaijan, Niger and Indonesia, which has the world’s largest Muslim population.

Saudi Arabia’s regional rival Iran is not invited.

Trump is to also hold a bilateral summit with Saudi Arabia and talks with the GCC on Saturday.

Saudi King Salman talks to the media during a meeting with US President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington on September 4, 2015
Yuri Gripas (AFP)

Washington and Riyadh have a decades-old relationship based on the exchange of American security for Saudi oil.

Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter, has long been a major ally of the US, but the relationship soured over Obama’s initial reluctance getting involved in Syria and other regional problems, as well as the signing of a landmark nuclear accord and lifting of international sanctions against their regional rival, Shiite Iran.

The Saudis have found a more favorable ear in Washington under Trump, who has denounced Iran’s “harmful influence” in the Middle East.

From Saudi Arabia, Trump will travel next to Israel before continuing to the Vatican.

The Smaller Horn Stops Supporting Iran (Daniel 8)

Image result for iranian hegemony

Ynetnews Opinion – Iranian expansion in Middle East is coming to an end

In recent years, we have heard a lot of Iranian arrogance and Israeli concern in light of Iran’s ambition to become a regional power. Up until a while ago, the Islamic Republic seemed to be heading in the right direction. In the past two years, however, despite Iran’s huge investment and the achievements it boasted about, it has been losing fighters and influence. As much as one can talk about the future, Iran’s political horizon appears gloomy.

The Iranians’ hopes were driven by the power void created in the Middle East. After the Soviet state disintegrated, Russia began keeping a low profile in the Middle East and there were no signs indicating that it planned to return. The United States, under the leadership of Barack Obama, turned its back on its Arab allies and signed a nuclear agreement with Iran, which eased the economic pressure that has been increasingly suffocating the country in recent years. And while world powers minded their own business, the “Islamic State” (ISIS) monster appeared, causing old enemies to team up against it. As a result, Iran and its allies turned into legitimate partners in the battle against a group of murderers exporting terrorism across the world.

The world powers’ disappearance coincided with the growing chaos in two key countries of the Fertile Crescent—Iraq and Syria. After the Americans destroyed the old Saddam Hussein regime and left Iraq alone, the government gates were opened to the Iraqi Shiites and the Iranians trying to pull their strings. At the same time, the Arab unrest undermined Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime, and the Iranians, which have traditionally helped the Alawite regime, entered that arena as well.

The chaos in Iraq and Syria, and the world powers’ absence, created a challenge for Iran: Would it be able to establish a new Middle Eastern order, which would serve its interests and reflect its ambitions and the evaluation of its power and its networks of influence?

The answer, in short, is no. Iran failed, and now its situation is deteriorating.

The first point of failure was apparent in Iraq. About two years ago, after Haider al-Abadi rose to power, he began working to restrain Iran’s influence and reinforce the presence of its enemy—the US. One of the opposition leaders, Muqtada al-Sadr, who had used to do whatever Iran said, began speaking ill of Tehran too. These two Shiite politicians are refusing to serve Iran’s interests, and as a result of their growing power, the Iranian influence system seems to have suffered a serious blow.

In Syria, the situation is even worse. About a year and a half ago, the Russians returned to the Middle East at Syria’s invitation. Over time, it became clear to experts on Middle Eastern politics that the Russians were here to stay. Entering Syria was a critical step in Russian President Vladimir Putin’s broad plan to restore his country’s status as a world power. In order to establish its power in the Middle East, however, Russia must maintain good diplomatic relations with a variety of forces: Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and others. Furthermore, it must maintain channels of dialogue and decide on areas of influence with the US. In other words, it must a compromise in Syria which will reduce Assad’s power or destroy him, along with the power of his Iranian patrons. The importance of creating the new order in Syria will likely become clear soon, once ISI is destroyed and we will be able to talk about the new political order in the Middle East.

Another complication in the Iranian expansion plan is America’s possible return to its old role—the Arabs’ ally and a determined enemy of Iran. US President Donald Trump’s political U-turn will narrow the Iranians’ leeway even more.

ISIS, which imposed chaos on the region in the past, is expected to grow weaker. Along with the world powers’ return to the Middle East’s power struggles, this brings us pretty close to the “old politics” of the Middle East. In this balance of powers, Iran has many enemies—including Shiites—and few partners. Moreover, the world powers will clip Iran’s wings without flinching. It seems, therefore, that if these trends continue, the years of expansion of Iranian influence in the Middle East are coming to an end.

Prof. Nimrod Hurvitz and Prof. Dror Ze’evi are members of the Forum for Regional Thinking and lecturers at Ben-Gurion University.

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 Korean Horns Will Unify

South Korea’s new president promises to help end nuclear crisis

Clifford Coonan in Seoul
Updated: Wed, May 10, 2017, 15:10

South Korea’s new president Moon Jae-in has pledged to do everything in his power to bring peace to the region and, in his first act as commander-in-chief, called the country’s top general for a briefing on the nuclear crisis.

A former commando and human rights lawyer, Mr Moon of the Democratic Party secured 41 per cent of the vote in Tuesday’s election, according to the National Election Committee. Although not quite a landslide, it is a strong mandate for the liberal’s conciliatory approach to North Korea and his pledge to rejuvenate the economy.

His election comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear programme. The country is believed to be preparing a sixth nuclear test.

In his inaugural address, Mr Moon pledged to end the Korean nuclear crisis by establishing a northeast Asia peace regime.

I will solve the security crisis promptly. I will go anywhere for the peace of the Korean Peninsula. If necessary, I will fly straight to Washington. I will go to Beijing and Tokyo and under the right circumstances go to Pyongyang as well,” he said.

After a phone call with South Korean general Lee Sun-jin, Mr Moon visited Seoul’s national cemetery to pay his respects to his late predecessors and war heroes, Yonhap news agency reported.

The White House was quick to send a message of congratulation to Mr Moon. His conciliatory attitude to North Korea runs counter to the more robust approach favoured by US president Donald Trump, who favours increasing pressure on North Korea with tougher sanctions.

Informal talks

There were reports from Oslo that North Korean officials began informal talks with a group of American experts, amid speculation that Washington may seek dialogue with Pyongyang.

Mr Moon’s election to the presidential residence, the Blue House, ends months of turmoil in South Korea following the impeachment and detention of conservative former president Park Geun-hye over an influence peddling and corruption scandal. Conservatives have been in power in South Korea for the past decade.

“I sense a heavy responsibility endowed by the people. My heart is full of passion for building a country that we have never had,” he said in his speech.

Mr Moon will need to build coalitions and alliances with the other political parties to get legislation through the single-chamber, 299-seat National Assembly.

He has promised a more open style of government, with direct press briefings on major issues, and also efforts to meet and greet the citizens in the markets and squares.

He was due to meet with the leaders of all five parliamentary parties, starting with the conservative party, Liberal Korea Party, which is now the main opposition party. Later he will attend a scaled-down inauguration ceremony at the National Assembly.

“The conflict between conservatives and liberals should end. I will talk directly with you. Opposition parties are my companions in the administration of state affairs. I will regularly talk and frequently meet with them,” he said.

He has appointed Lee Nak-yon, governor of South Jeolla province, as the new prime minister and Im Jong-seok, his top secretary during his election campaign, as his first chief of staff.

Why North Korea Is Not A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Image result for north south korea unifySouth Korea’s new president wants to reverse its North Korea…
5-6 minutes

SEOUL (CNN) – Seoul’s policy on North Korea is about to get a major overhaul.

Liberal reformer Moon Jae-in was sworn in Wednesday after winning a snap election to replace impeached President Park Geun-hye.

Moon has advocated dialogue with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in stark contrast to Park’s approach of tough sanctions and aggressive rhetoric.

Speaking at his swearing in ceremony, Moon promised to “resolve the security crisis as soon as possible.”

“If it is necessary, I will fly immediately to Washington and also visit Beijing and Tokyo,” he said.

“Under the right conditions, I will also go to Pyongyang. For peace on the Korean Peninsula, I will do everything that I can do.”

Moon also vowed to further strengthen the alliance between South Korea and the US.

While he was elected largely on concerns about corruption and the economy, North Korea loomed large after weeks of rising tensions in the region.

Return to sunshine?

A former special forces soldier and human rights lawyer, Moon came in for criticism during the campaign from hardline conservatives who saw him as weak on North Korea.

He has called for a combination of negotiations and economic cooperation alongside military and security measures.

“I am confident to lead the diplomatic efforts involving multiple parties, which will lead to the complete abandonment of the North Korean nuclear program, and bring the relationship between South and North to peace, economic cooperation and mutual prosperity,” Moon said in an April 25 debate.

His stance has been compared to the so-called “Sunshine Policy” of the liberal governments of 1998 to 2008. By no coincidence, he was a key adviser to those administrations.

During the Sunshine Policy, Seoul actively engaged Pyongyang, which led to closer relations on both sides of the border and saw two South Korean Presidents visit the North Korean capital. However, the approach ultimately failed to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
Weapons testing

Moon, who takes office Wednesday, is unlikely to get a long honeymoon when it comes to North Korea.

Experts have been predicting an imminent nuclear test, North Korea’s sixth, for weeks now, as the country ramps up missile testing and saber rattling.

On Sunday, Pyongyang announced it had detained a US citizen on suspicion of “hostile acts” against the regime, days after it accused Seoul and Washington of plotting to assassinate North Korean leader Kim Jong Un using “biochemical weapons.”

During the campaign, Moon advocated for engagement with North Korea — particularly on the economic front — as the best method to work towards a denuclearized Korean Peninsula.

Such measures have not historically been popular with conservative administrations in the US, however President Donald Trump has vacillated between tough, militaristic talk on the North Korea issue and suggesting he could sit down with Kim himself.
Washington ties

The US and South Korea have a decades-long military and political alliance and Washington is by far Seoul’s most important bilateral partner.

Facing criticism from the right that his party is anti-American, Moon has played up Trump’s apparent willingness to meet with Kim, saying he is on the “same page” as the US leader.

However, one area where they firmly not in agreement is over the deployment in South Korea of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system.

The caretaker administration which took over after Park’s impeachment accelerated the THAAD roll-out, despite widespread criticism from Moon and others on the left, who have argued its deployment should be contingent on a vote in the country’s National Assembly.

Last week, Washington and Seoul announced that THAAD was partially up and running, and analysts have warned Moon may be able to do little to prevent its full deployment.

But analysts warn perceptions that the US ignored South Korean input on its own security issues — compounded when Trump called both Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to discuss North Korea, but the caretaker government in Seoul — have left a key relationship strained before it has even begun.

Washington was left in a delicate position after Park’s ouster, with several high-ranking administration officials — including Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence — visiting Seoul to shore up the alliance amid tensions with North Korea.

During their visits however, the US officials only met with caretaker President Hwang Kyo-ahn, who had already declared he would not stand to replace Park, and avoided any of her potential successors.

Copyright 2017 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Trump To Empower The Saudi Nuclear Horn (Daniel 8)

Exclusive: Saudi Arabia, U.S. in talks on billions in arms sales – U.S. sources

Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Washington is working to push through contracts for tens of billions of dollars in arms sales to Saudi Arabia, some new, others in the pipeline, ahead of U.S. President Donald Trump’s trip to the kingdom this month, people familiar with the talks told Reuters this week.

Saudi Arabia is Trump’s first stop on his maiden international trip, a sign of his intent to reinforce ties with a top regional ally.The United States has been the main supplier for most Saudi military needs, from F-15 fighter jets to command and control systems worth tens of billions of dollars in recent years. Trump has vowed to stimulate the U.S. economy by boosting manufacturing jobs.Washington and Riyadh are eager to improve relations strained under President Barack Obama in part because of his championing of a nuclear deal with Saudi foe Iran.Lockheed Martin Co programs in the package include a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system with several batteries, the sources said. The THAAD system, like the one being made operational in South Korea, costs about $1 billion. Also being negotiated is a C2BMC software system for battle command and control and communications as well as a package of satellite capabilities, both provided by Lockheed.Combat vehicles made by BAE Systems PLC , including the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and M109 artillery vehicle, are also under consideration as part of the Saudi package, people familiar with the talks said. Both vehicles are in the Saudi inventory. British defense company BAE has 29,000 employees in the United States.The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the negotiations, which also include previously reported contracts or items under discussion for years. One such deal, an $11.5 billion package of four multi-mission surface combatant ships and accompanying services and spares, was approved by the State Department in 2015. Talks followed to hammer out capabilities, configuration and design for the complex warships but the deal has never gone to final contract.The next step for the ships is likely a letter of agreement between the two countries, the sources said.Versions of the ship used by the U.S. Navy, the Littoral Combat Ship, are built by Bethesda, Maryland-based weapons maker Lockheed Martin and Australia’s Austal Ltd . If a deal goes through, it would be the first sale of a new small surface warship to a foreign power in decades. Any major foreign weapons sale is subject to oversight by Congress. Lawmakers must take into consideration a legal requirement that Israel must maintain its qualitative military edge over its neighbors.Also, more than $1 billion worth of munitions including armor-piercing Penetrator Warheads and Paveway laser-guided bombs made by Raytheon Co are in the package, the sources said. The Obama administration suspended the planned sale because of concerns over the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen and civilian casualties.A U.S. administration official said the proposed Raytheon sale was still undergoing interagency review. Representatives for BAE and Raytheon declined to comment on the sales. A Lockheed representative said such sales are government-to-government decisions and the status of any potential discussions can be best addressed by the U.S. government.A representative for the Saudi embassy in Washington declined to comment.Shares of both Raytheon and Lockheed closed up 0.9 percent. Both stocks hit session highs following the Reuters report.

FLURRY OF ACTIVITY

One of the people with knowledge of the sales said that as planning for Trump’s trip to Saudi Arabia intensified in recent weeks, the arms negotiations also accelerated. Two U.S. officials said a U.S.-Saudi working group met at the White House Monday and Tuesday to negotiate the trip, as well as financing for military equipment sales and stopping terrorist financing.Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and other Saudi officials met with lawmakers at the Capitol on Thursday, including Senators Bob Corker and Ben Cardin on the foreign relations committee.The Pentagon declined to comment. White House and State Department officials said it was U.S. policy not to comment on proposed U.S. defense sales until they had been formally notified to Congress.The Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons. Most of the Obama-era offers, which are reported to Congress, became formal agreements though some were abandoned or amended.Washington also provides maintenance and training to Saudi security forces. (Reporting by Mike Stone in Washington; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed, John Walcott, Warren Strobel, Patricia Zengerle and Jonathan Landay; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and James Dalgleish)

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.

Saudi Arabia About To Become A Nuclear Horn (Daniel 7)

Image result for saudi nuclear weaponsSaudi Arabia to Obtain Arms, Nuclear Technology in McMaster-Orchestrated Deal

Saudi Arabia will obtain a massive weapons arsenal and missile defense system in a deal pushed by H.R. McMaster, Gary Cohn, and Dina Powell. Under this deal, which is set to be announced in May, Saudia Arabia will obtain technology to build civilian nuclear reactors.

President Trump has expressed skepticism of this deal despite continued pressure from McMaster, Cohn, and Powell.

Saudi Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, who has ties to terrorists, once called President Trump a “disgrace to all America.”

Sources suggest that McMaster, Cohn, and Powell seek the Saudi’s good graces as part of their larger plan to involve the U.S. in another ground war in Syria. “These guys want a ground war,” one person with knowledge about the matter said, “whether that’s in Syria or Iraq doesn’t matter. This is Petraeus’ second war.

Among the big winners in this Saudi arms deal would be former CIA director David Petraeus. Petraeus, who had his security clearance pulled after leaking classified information to his mistress, has nightly calls with McMaster. The nightly calls between Petraus and McMaster are facilitated by the White House situation room.

Sources close to situation room personnel reported that they are tired of “playing secretary” for McMaster, and that “Petraus had his clearance pulled. These calls are probably illegal.”

Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner, despite fake news reports about a feud, are against the McMaster-Cohn-Powell plan. Stephen Miller and Wilbur Ross also oppose arming the Saudis. Derek Harvey, Joel Rayburn, and other Petraeus proteges support the arms deal with Saudi Arabia.

Former employees from Harvey’s office, who were dismissed in early April, have complained about harassment.

One former employee has obtained legal counsel and is in the process of filing a harassment lawsuit against Harvey.

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Mike Cernovich is the journalist who broke the Susan Rice unmasking scandal and first reported that H.R. McMaster wants a massive U.S.-led ground force in Syria.