Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Satellite firm says images of bombed Iraqi site indicate it was hit in airstrike

Israel’s ImageSat International releases pictures of weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia; attack has been blamed on Israel

By Judah Ari Gross and Adam Rasgon 14 August 2019, 8:01 pm 2

An Israeli satellite imaging firm on Wednesday released photos of a weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia that was hit in an alleged Israeli airstrike earlier this week.

ImageSat International said that damage characteristics identified from the photos show “it is probable that the blast was caused by an airstrike, followed by secondary explosions of the explosives stored in the depot.”

On Tuesday, a former Iraqi deputy prime minister appeared to blame Israel for the massive explosion on Monday.

 “We believe they are weapons we were holding onto for a neighboring state and they were targeted by an oppressive colonial state on the basis of a treasonous Iraqi act,” former deputy prime minister Baha al-Araji wrote on Twitter.

Satellite photo of a weapons depot in southern Baghdad controlled by a pro-Iranian militia that was hit in an alleged Israeli operation on August 12, 2019. (ImageSat International)

An unnamed security source on Wednesday told Asharq al-Awsat, an Arabic-language newspaper published in London, that Israel was behind the strike.

“All indications point to Israel, perhaps with the support of the United States, completing what it started in Syria in terms of targeting sites with Iranian forces,” the source said.

The Israel Defense Forces has not commented on the reports.

According to foreign reports, Israel has been increasingly active in carrying out airstrikes against Iran-backed militias in Iraq, shifting its focus after years of reported raids aimed at keeping Tehran from gaining a foothold in Syria.

Israeli officials have identified Iraq as a likely growing base of operations for Iran-backed efforts against the Jewish state.

“It is clear that we are in the midst of a real battle between Israel and the United States against Iran and its allies in Iraq. It is clear that the two sides chose Iraq to be the place for their unannounced battle,” the unnamed security source told the Saudi-owned newspaper.

The blast occurred Monday in the Saqr military base in the southern section of the Iraqi capital, which is ordinarily used by the country’s Federal Police and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a state-sponsored umbrella group of militias, some of which are supported by Iran, according to Iraq’s Interior Minister Saad Maan.

Local media reported that the weapons storehouse was controlled by the Sayyid of Martyrs Battalions, an Iraqi Shiite militia supported by Iran.

In contrast to the opinion of the unnamed defense source, Adel al-Karawi, spokesman for the Ansar Allah al-Awfiya in the PMF, said that “the data regarding a fire breaking out at the Saqr base, near the al-Dura area south of Baghdad, indicates the base was subject to a bombardment by an American [drone] carrying missiles.”

The explosion set off some of the munitions stored on the base, sending projectiles into surrounding neighborhoods.

According to Maan, 13 people were injured in the blast, including two federal policemen and four PMF members. It was not immediately clear if the injuries were caused by the initial blast or the projectiles that were launched following the blast.

Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi said one person was killed in the Monday incident and that civilians were also wounded. Mahdi ordered an investigation into the blast along with “integrated safety measures at all military bases and armed forces’ storage facilities to prevent it from occurring again,” he wrote on Twitter.

But the unnamed security official said the results of the investigation — as well as investigations into previous cases of bombings at pro-Iranian militia bases — would likely never be publicized as doing so “will bother the Iranians.”

“[Tehran has] adopted a strategy to not announce Israeli and American targeting of their sites in Syria and later in Iraq,” the source added.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10000

US pulls out of Reagan-era arms treaty, saying Russia ‘made no efforts’ to comply

By Lukas Mikelionis | Fox News

Retired Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin says the president made the right decision to pull out of the INF treaty because Russia was not complying.

A historic arms-control treaty signed three decades ago by President Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was scrapped after President Trump decided to withdraw Friday.

The move to scrap the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty comes amid the administration’s assessment that Russia was in “material breach of the treaty” and made no effort to “come back into compliance” with the agreement, a senior White House official said.

Russia was given a six-month period, in accordance with the treaty, as a “final opportunity to come back into compliance” with the agreement, but the government headed by President Vladimir Putin “has made no efforts to do that,” the official added.

The end of the treaty sparks of a new global arms race between the two countries, which possess the world’s largest nuclear arsenals.

The Trump administration stressed it was Russia’s fault the treaty came to an end, pointing out that Moscow has been developing and fielding weapons that violate the treaty and threaten the U.S. and its allies, particularly in Europe.

“Russia alone is to blame for this situation,” the senior official said. “We have taken every opportunity — dozens and dozens of opportunities across two administrations – to bring Russia back into compliance.”

“Russia alone is to blame for this situation. We have taken every opportunity — dozens and dozens of opportunities across two administrations – to bring Russia back into compliance.”

— A senior administration official

“It is clear that they are in material breach of the INF Treaty, which is, of course, not its only arms control violation. They are a serial violator of arms control agreements,” the official added, noting that “This violation, however, represents a direct security threat to the United States and our allies.”

The U.S. has long complained that the treaty was no longer fair and actually doesn’t stop the arms race as intended as Russia was openly violating it, while China, which is a non-signatory, is free develop weapons that would otherwise be prohibited.

The Trump administration said, for example, Russia has produced and fielded multiple battalions of the 9M729 ground-launched cruise missile throughout Russia, which is a violation of the treaty. Some of the missiles have “the ability to strike critical European targets.”

“This violation, which has been underway for many years, is a critical threat to American and Allied security now. That is why this action has become unavoidable,” a senior official said.

Another White House official pointed out that Russia has been deceptive about its military buildup, particularly denying the development of a ground-launched cruise missile in 2014 that is now fielded and poses a security risk to Europe.

 “Throughout the process, they lied about the existence of the missiles at both the expert level and, finally when confronted with the evidence, came clean for this in the past several months,” the official said.

European powers came out to criticize Russia for not complying with the INF treaty amid the U.S. announcement of withdrawing from the agreement.

“We regret the fact that Russia has not done what was necessary to save the INF treaty,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.

“Now we call all the more on Russia and the U.S. to preserve the New START treaty as a cornerstone of worldwide arms control,” he added. “Nuclear powers such as China must also face up to their responsibility on arms control — they have more weight in the world than at the time of the Cold War.”

“We regret the fact that Russia has not done what was necessary to save the INF treaty.”

— German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

Both the U.S. and Russia will have to decide whether to extend or replace the larger New START treaty when it expires in early 2021, a treaty that imposed limits starting in 2018 on the number of U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear warheads and launchers.

Trump hasn’t committed to extending the treaty and even once calling it as “just another bad deal” concocted by the predecessor, the Obama administration.

The 1987 INF treaty was responsible for the elimination of 2,692 U.S. and Soviet Union nuclear and conventional ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles. The treaty also banned land-based missiles with a range between 500 and 5,500 kilometers (310 to 3,410 miles).

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9971

Russia and China romance runs into friction in Central Asia

US strategists call for driving wedge between the traditional rivals

HIROYUKI AKITA, Nikkei commentator July 29, 2019 15:03 JST

TOKYO — China and Russia are cozying up ever closer as they find a common enemy in Washington.

During Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Russia in early June, the two countries signed a joint statement pledging to deepen their ties, as well as around 30 economic agreements.

Xi’s Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, has criticized the U.S. for leveling trade and technology sanctions against China and pledged to cooperate with it to resist U.S. pressure. The two countries are also pushing back against U.S. objectives regarding North Korea and Iran.

While analysts puzzle over whether the romance between China and Russia has peaked or will grow still more fervent, it seems clear they need each other more than ever.

Laboring under U.S. and European sanctions, Russia’s economic growth is forecast to slow to around 1% this year. That will encourage it to lean more heavily on China. For Xi, Russia is a useful tool in countering Washington’s increasingly hard-line policies against China.

But despite their growing closeness, China and Russia must deal with frictions.

Russia “is feeling a potential threat” from China, according to an expert on the Russian military. The difference in the two countries’ power continues to widen: China’s gross domestic product is roughly eight times larger than Russia’s and its population is 10 times larger. Russia is especially nervous about the possibility of Central Asia — much of which was once part of the Soviet Union and is seen by Russians as their backyard — falling under China’s sway.

That is already happening economically. In 2018, China became the largest trading partner of three former Soviet republics: Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kyrgyzstan. According to official data released by Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, China is the largest source of foreign direct investment in the two countries. China has also overtaken Russia as the fourth-largest investor in Kazakhstan.

Russia tolerates China’s economic advance in Central Asia because its stands to benefit from infrastructure improvements and regional development that the flood of Chinese investment will bring. Security, however, is another matter. Moscow will not want China encroaching on its turf.

In Uzbekistan, in mid-June, cabinet ministers, senior officials and experts from the U.S., Europe and neighboring countries gathered to discuss the regional situation. China’s activities loomed large during the meeting.

The strategic environment began shifting a few years ago as China began secretly deploying troops in Tajikistan, according to local experts. Although the Chinese Foreign Ministry has denied its troops are in the area, a person familiar with the matter said there are similar indication in Afghanistan.

China has, up to now, refrained from involving itself in regional security issues out of consideration for Russia. But its actions in Tajikistan, part of its effort to keep Islamist militants from entering the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, indicate a change in Beijing’s thinking.

In light of Tajikistan’s lax border controls, China may have sent troops to help it shore up security, one expert said. China is likely to have received a green light to do so from Moscow. But local diplomats said Russia is growing concerned about China’s military moves.

Russia’s largest military base outside its borders is in Tajikistan. The base is scheduled to remain until 2042, under a bilateral agreement. Given that it has around 8,000 troops at the base, it is unthinkable that the Russian and Chinese forces will both stay in the country without friction over the long term, according to one security strategist in Central Asia.

China’s objective is to play a larger security role in Central Asia as part of its counterterrorism strategy without irritating Russia. That is easier said than done. Russia also seems anxious about U.S. ambitions in the region.

Leaders of the five Central Asian countries had planned to hold their second summit meeting in March. But the conference was canceled due a sudden change in Kazakhstan’s president. So far, no new meeting has been scheduled. Whatever the official reason given for calling off the summit, a local diplomatic source said the real reason was that the participants were worried about provoking a backlash from Russia.

“Many in Russia still maintain an empire mentality. They consider the former Soviet Union to be their own sphere of influence,” said Dr. Farkhod Tolipov, a political scientist who heads Knowledge Caravan, an independent education and research institution in Tashkent. “Russia wrongly believes that if the Central Asia region integrates it will gradually lean toward the United States and eventually enter U.S. sphere,” he said.

If a rift develops between China and Russia, the implications for global politics would be significant. A weakening of the Sino-Russian axis would be favorable to the West and Japan. It would also help the international community increase pressure on North Korea.

At a public-private strategic dialogue between the U.S. and Europe in the Polish capital, Warsaw, in June, an idea was floated for how to drive a wedge between China and Russia to give the West an edge in its strategic competition with Beijing.

It may be impossible for Europe to reconcile with Putin, given Russia’s annexation of Crimea, according to military strategists in Washington. But they argue the U.S. should try to ease tensions with Moscow after Putin’s term of office ends in 2024 to encourage Russia to keep China at arm’s length.

China and Russia share a border of more than 4,000 km. And although they are unlikely to repeat their military clashes of 1969, it also seems unlikely that their current love affair will last forever, given their historical geopolitical rivalry.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9967

Second Israeli attack on Iranian targets in E. Iraq reported by Iraqi sources

A second Israeli attack in 10 days on Iranian Guards’ and Iraqi militia forces in eastern Iraq was claimed on Sunday, July 28 by Iraqi military sources. They described one or more Israeli Air Force jets striking Camp Ashraf in Diyala Governorate, some 80km from the Iranian border and 40km north of Baghdad. The Iraqi sources reported that the Israeli aircraft struck a consignment of ballistic missile launchers transferred a short time ago from Iran to Iraq. as well as the missiles themselves and the living quarters of Guards officers and personnel of the pro-Iranian Iraqi Badr Brigades militia. Some sources reported up to 40 dead in the attack.

Camp Ashraf is described by DEBKAfile’s military sources as one of the largest military compounds in eastern Iraq, with room to house more than 4,000 troops and their weapons systems. It also holds a big complex of subterranean facilities storing missiles, tanks and heavy artillery. Camp Ashraf is the address of the main base and command headquarters of the Badr Brigades, the largest pro-Iranian militia in Iraq, This militia has become heavily engaged in Tehran’s new drive to transform Iraq into a frontline base of operations.

Israel’s first purported target in Iraq on July 19 was another Badr Brigades facility in eastern Iraq, outside the town of Amerli in the province of Salahudin. That one housed the 52nd Brigade of the Hash Shaab militia.  

On July 24, Israel was reported by the Syrian military to have conducted a surface missile attack – this one to demolish an intelligence station just constructed by the Iranians at Tal al-Harara in southern Syria for a broad overview of northern Israel and parts of the eastern Mediterranean.

If all three Israel attacks are confirmed, it would indicate a radical escalation of its operations against Iran’s new, ongoing initiatives to set up a new front-line military presence in Iraq and southern Syria.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu responded to the successful Arrow 3 tests in Alaska against exo-atmosphere ballistic targets at the Sunday cabinet meeting by saying: “They were successful beyond imagination, Each a perfect hit. This means that Israel could send ballistic missiles into Iran.”

Netanyahu, who also serves as defense minister, did not elaborate on this comment, but it evidently carried a message, that while Israel has the capacity to intercept and destroy the ballistic missiles that Tehran has begun transferring to Iraq and Syria, it has no defense against Israel’s long arm and its ballistic missiles.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9964

War Drums: Europe Readies A Naval Task Force As Iran Threatens To “Secure” The Strait Of Hormuz

July 23, 2019 by Michael Snyder

It is funny – for decades we have never had any problems with commercial ships passing through the Persian Gulf, but all of a sudden it has become a major flashpoint.  As you will see below, the Iranians are now warning that they plan to “secure” the Strait of Hormuz, and meanwhile a plan for a European-led naval task force to confront the Iranians is rapidly coming together.  The seizure of a British tanker a few days ago really rattled British officials, and they are determined to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.  Of course the more the Persian Gulf region becomes saturated with military assets, the more likely it is that a “mistake” will happen, and it sure won’t take much of a spark to start World War 3 at this point.

Today, close to 20 percent of all the oil produced in the entire world passes through the Strait of Hormuz, and that makes it an exceedingly important waterway.  U.S. and European officials continue to stress the importance of freedom of navigation through the area, and they appear to be losing patience with the Iranians.

But Iran does not intend to back down one bit.  On Tuesday, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said that his country “will use its best efforts” to secure the Strait of Hormuz.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

“Iran will use its best efforts to secure the region, particularly the Strait of Hormuz, and will not allow any disturbance in shipping in this sensitive area,” Araqchi told French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, IRNA reported.

So what does that mean exactly?

Do the Iranians plan to keep grabbing oil tankers whenever it suits them?

The seizure of the Stena Impero pushed us dangerously close to war, and the British government is still hoping that negotiations will result in the release of that tanker.

However, the British also plan to flex their military muscles in order to keep such an incident from happening again, and they are calling for other European nations to join them

France, Italy and Denmark gave initial support for a British plan for a European-led naval mission to ensure safe shipping through the Strait of Hormuz, proposed after Iran’s seizure of a British-flagged tanker, three senior EU diplomats said on Tuesday.

The cautious backing at a meeting of EU envoys in Brussels contrasts sharply with the lukewarm response shown by European allies to a similar American call first voiced at NATO in late June, when countries feared they could make U.S.-Iranian tensions worse.

Could this be the very beginning of a “coalition of the willing”?

According to Reuters, this task force would likely include “aircraft too”, and that is definitely raising some eyebrows…

British foreign ministry and defense officials have also discussed a possible mission, which would likely involve not just ships but aircraft too, directly with their Italian, Spanish, French and German counterparts.

A senior German diplomat in Berlin said Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was in close contact with his British and French counterparts, Hunt and Jean-Yves Le Drian, to “contribute to the security” of the Gulf including on maritime security.

Meanwhile, the U.S. military is making headlines as well.  In an interview with CBS News, CENTCOM Commander General Kenneth McKenzie claimed that U.S. forces may have actually shot down at least two Iranian drones last week…

The U.S. believes it may have brought down two Iranian drones last week, rather than just the one that has been reported, CENTCOM Commander Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told CBS News’ David Martin in an interview Tuesday aboard the USS Boxer, the ship that took action against the drones. Asked by Martin whether it was “only one drone,” McKenzie revealed that he believed the Boxer had engaged two drones “successfully” and perhaps even more.

“As always it was a complex tactical picture, we believe two drones. We believe two drones were successfully — there may have been more that we are not aware of — those are the two that we engaged successfully,” said McKenzie.

We should be very thankful that there is no more shooting for the moment, but that could change at any time.

And even if things stabilize in the short-term, the truth is that it is going to be exceedingly difficult to stop the countdown to war at this point.  The U.S. and Israel have both made it exceedingly clear that they will never allow the Iranians to develop their nuclear program past a certain level, and the Iranians have been racing to move their program forward ever since the U.S. left Obama’s nuclear agreement.

Unless there is some sort of crazy miracle and another nuclear agreement happens, it appears that war is on the horizon.

Also, I wanted to mention that we just witnessed a very alarming “incident” off the coast of South Korea on Tuesday…

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff issued a statement claiming they had fired more than 300 warning shots at a Russian A-50 command and control military aircraft early Tuesday morning after it had twice violated the country’s airspace, the first such incident between the countries.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9957

Patriot Missile Batteries Being Installed As Pentagon Reactivates Key Saudi Military Base Used To Stage All Previous Middle East Wars In The Gulf

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. military abandoned Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, but now they are back.  Hundreds of U.S. troops are already there working hard to get the base operational, and as you will see below, a tremendous amount of new construction is planned.  The base covers “well over a hundred square miles”, and so it has more than enough room to serve as a central hub for a new Middle East war. 

by Geoffrey Grider July 23, 2019

The U.S. military is following many of the exact same patterns that we witnessed during our previous wars in the Middle East, and that even includes setting up shop at a key military installation Prince Sultan Air Base deep in the heart of the Arabian peninsula.

In the Bible, the nation of Iran is called Persia, is mentioned 29 times and figures prominently in end times prophecy, and at the moment it seems that the United States is preparing for war with them on a fairly large scale. The Pentagon has reactivated the Prince Sultan Air Base, and is filling it right now with hundreds of troops and massive firepower. This is the same air base that the United States has previously used in every Middle East campaign. Add to that Britain announcing plans Monday to develop and deploy a Europe-led “maritime protection mission” to safeguard shipping in the vital Strait of Hormuz, and you got the recipe for another Gulf War.

“In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing was true, but the time appointed was long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision.” Daniel 10:1 (KJV)

At this point, it is fairly obvious that the United States and possibly the UK is about to launch strikes against Iran, with that possibly developing an all-out Gulf War. The US has sent far too many troops and too much equipment for this all to be sabre-rattling. Everything points to the US reestablishing a long-term military presence in the region, just as it did at the start of the Iraq war in 2003. The unknown factor is how much will Russia involve themselves with their ally Iran should hostilities break out, but I cannot imagine them sitting passively on the sidelines if it does.

The U.S. Is Staging Troops At A Key Saudi Military Base That It Used During All Of Our Previous Middle East Wars

FROM THE ECONOMIC COLLAPSE: After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, the U.S. military abandoned Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia, but now they are back.  Hundreds of U.S. troops are already there working hard to get the base operational, and as you will see below, a tremendous amount of new construction is planned.  The base covers “well over a hundred square miles”, and so it has more than enough room to serve as a central hub for a new Middle East war.  Tensions with Iran have escalated dramatically over the past few weeks, but apparently somebody anticipated that the U.S. would need to use this base even before then, because according to NBC News U.S. troops were already arriving back in June…

In June the U.S. military began moving equipment and hundreds of troops back to a military base in Saudi Arabia that the U.S. deserted more than 15 years ago, according to two U.S. officials familiar with the deployment.

Over the coming weeks the deployment to Prince Sultan Air Base, intended to counter the threat from Iran, will grow to include fighter jets and Patriot long-range missile defense systems, the officials said. The Patriots have already arrived at the base and should be operational in mid-July, while the aircraft are expected to arrive in August.

And it turns out that the U.S. military has used this base during all of our previous wars in the Middle East.

For example, according to Air Force Magazine the U.S. military first occupied Prince Sultan Air Base for a few months during Operation Desert Storm…

The US Air Force first occupied the sprawling base in two frantic months from November 1990 to January 1991, then departed. Five years later, USAF and coalition forces moved back into the base. It quickly became a massive facility, home to a state-of-the-art air operations center and serving as the hub for air activity in the region.

Then later on, the base played a key role during the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan.  The following comes from the Military Times

Starting with the January 1991 air war against Iraq after its invasion of Kuwait the previous summer, the U.S. flew a wide range of aircraft from Prince Sultan air base, originally known as al-Kharj. Supported by an all-American array of creature comforts like fast-food restaurants and swimming pools, U.S. forces there flew and maintained Air Force fighters and other warplanes.

The base also served as a launch pad for the December 1998 bombing of Iraq, code-named Operation Desert Fox, which targeted sites believed to be associated with Iraq’s nuclear and missile programs. In 2001, the base became home to the U.S. military’s main air control organization, known as the Combined Air Operations Center, which orchestrated the air war in Afghanistan until it was relocated in 2003 to al-Udeid air base in Qatar.

But U.S. activity at the base didn’t reach a crescendo until Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.  Here is more from Air Force Magazine

Other delicate negotiations came down to the wire just before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom. “We’ve had very productive meetings regarding military cooperation with Saudi Arabia in the event of military action against Iraq,” State Department official Richard Boucher announced Feb. 26, 2003.

That day, newspapers reported that the Saudis granted formal permission for PSAB to be used in the war against Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom began March 19.

Once again, PSAB pulled its weight in the air campaign. Fuel was a metric showing just how far PSAB had come since 1996. Prince Sultan Air Base operated at maximum rates during major combat operations in Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 19 to May 1, 2003. During that time, the 363rd Fuels Management Flight issued more than one million gallons per day. Officials had previously expanded the fuel storage capacity at Prince Sultan from two million to more than 15 million gallons.

So as you can see, every time the U.S. has decided to go to war in the Middle East, Prince Sultan Air Base has played a leading role. And now after all this time we have suddenly returned.

This time around, it appears that the U.S. is planning for a very long stay.  According to NBC News, existing roads and runways will be reinforced and expanded, and the U.S. military is even going to “build a medical facility”…

While Prince Sultan Air Base is an active facility, portions of the base will need an upgrade to accommodate the U.S. military, including reinforcing and expanding roads and runways, one U.S. official said. Base housing will also need updating, the official said, and the U.S. will build a medical facility. Many of the U.S. service members deployed there over the past few weeks are engineers preparing the base for the new mission.

Apparently whoever is in charge of making these sorts of decisions is not very optimistic about peace with Iran.

A tremendous amount of money and effort is required for a project like this, because it is basically the equivalent of putting up a small American city in the middle of nowhere.  The base covers “well over a hundred square miles”, and all the way back in 2002 Wolf Blitzer called it “a little sliver of America in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula”

“By the time the base complex was completed in 1999, it had cost the government of Saudi Arabia more than $1 billion and covered well over a hundred square miles,” found Air Force historian Daniel L. Haulman.

Food was also a priority. Baskin-Robbins ice cream set up shop as did other popular vendors such as Pizza Inn and Burger King. In time, the exchange provided a small haven of food, shopping, and diversion. “It’s a little sliver of America in the middle of the Arabian Peninsula,” enthused CNN’s war correspondent Wolf Blitzer, who visited the base in December 2002 as forces there prepared for intensifying action against Iraq.

I suppose that the Saudis want us to be as comfortable as possible if we are going to fight a war that will greatly benefit them.

After all, the Saudis and the Iranians have been engaged in a proxy war for many years, and so the Saudis would be absolutely thrilled to see the U.S. military bomb the living daylights out of them.

And Saudi Arabia’s minister of state for foreign affairs actually sounds quite eager for the action to start

“Any attack on the freedom of navigation is a violation of international law,” Adel Aljubeir said in a Twitter post.

“Iran must realise its acts of intercepting ships, including most recently the British ship, are completely unacceptable. The world community must take action to deter such behaviour,” he added.

But as I discussed in a previous article, if the American people truly understood what a war against Iran would be like, there would be millions of protesters in Washington D.C. right now trying to stop it from happening.  It would be a horrible, bloody, apocalyptic war that would set the entire Middle East ablaze, and it would set the stage for the sort of nightmare scenarios that I have been relentlessly warning about.

Unfortunately, so far only a very small portion of the U.S. population seems alarmed about any of this. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is rapidly preparing for war, and Prince Sultan Air Base is now buzzing with U.S. military activity for the very first time since the invasion of Iraq.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9953

UAE oil tanker missing in Strait of Hormuz after drifting into Iranian waters

By Lucia I. Suarez Sang | Fox News

What is the Strait of Hormuz, and why is it so important to the global oil market?

An oil tanker traveling through the tiny strip of water located in the mouth of the Persian Gulf stopped transmitting its location more than two days ago when it drifted into Iranian waters.

It is not clear what happened to the Panamanian-flagged oil tanker – which is based in the United Arab Emirates – on Saturday night as it traveled through the Strait of Hormuz, but its apparent disappearance has raised concerns amid heightened tensions between Iran and several Western nations.

The Riah, a 190-foot oil tanker, typically made trips from Dubai and Sharjah on the UAE’s west coast before going through the strait and heading to Fujairah on the UAE’s east coast.

However, something happened to the vessel after 11 p.m. on Saturday when it stopped transmitting its location with tracking data shows its last position pointing toward Iran.

Capt. Ranjith Raja of the data firm Refinitiv told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the tanker hadn’t switched off its tracking in three months of trips around the UAE.

“That is a red flag,” Raja said.

Oil tankers have previously been targeted as the Persian Gulf region took center stage in a crisis over Iran’s unraveling nuclear deal with world powers.

Recently, Iran has inched its uranium production and enrichment over the limits of its 2015 nuclear deal, trying to put more pressure on Europe to offer it better terms and allow it to sell its crude oil abroad.

However, those tensions also have seen the U.S. send thousands of additional troops, nuclear-capable B-52 bombers and advanced fighter jets into the Mideast. Mysterious attacks on oil tankers and Iran shooting down a U.S. military surveillance drone has added to the fears of an armed conflict breaking out.

Iranian officials have not said anything publicly about the ship, nor have officials in the UAE. The U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, which oversees Mideast waters, declined to immediately comment.

The ship’s registered owner, Dubai-based Prime Tankers LLC, told the AP it had sold the ship to another company called Mouj Al-Bahar. A man who answered a telephone number registered to the firm told the AP it didn’t own any ships.

Separately, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Tuesday his country will retaliate over the seizure of an Iranian supertanker carrying 2.1 million barrels of light crude oil. The vessel was seized with the help of British Royal Marines earlier this month off Gibraltar.

Khamenei called the seizure of the ship “piracy” in a televised speech Tuesday.

“God willing, the Islamic Republic and its committed forces will not leave this evil without a response,” he said.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said Saturday that Britain will facilitate the release of the ship if Iran can provide guarantees the vessel will not breach European sanctions on oil shipments to Syria.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9943

Netanyahu warns Iran that Israel’s F-35s can reach ‘anywhere in the Middle East’

By Judah Ari Gross, TOI staff and Agencies 9 July 2019, 5:46 pm 5

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Tehran on Tuesday that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets can reach “anywhere in the Middle East,” following threats against Israel in recent weeks by senior Iranian officials.

“Lately, Iran has been threatening Israel with destruction,” Netanyahu said, standing in front of an F-35 Adir jet during a visit to the Nevatim Air Force Base in the south. “It should remember that these planes can reach every place in the Middle East, including Iran, and of course also Syria.”

The F-35 stealth jet is not believed to have an effective range to reach Iran unassisted, but it could conduct operations there with in-air refueling, a capability possessed by Israel’s air force.

Netanyahu visit to Nevatim included meetings with IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi, Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, and the air force’s top command echelons.

Norkin last year said that Israel had used the fifth generation fighter jet in operations in the Middle East. At the time, Norkin did not specify in which countries the aircraft had been used.

Israel has long seen Iran as its greatest threat, while Iranian officials regularly threaten to destroy the Jewish state.

On July 1, a senior Iranian lawmaker said Israel would be destroyed rapidly if the United States attacked the Islamic Republic.

“If the US attacks us, only half an hour will remain of Israel’s lifespan,” said Mojtaba Zolnour, chairman of Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission, in comments carried by the Mehr news agency.

Similarly, in a June 20 interview on Iraq’s Alnujaba TV, translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) monitoring group and posted to social media Sunday, former Iranian defense minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan said Iran’s military could destroy US military bases in the region and annihilate Israel.

“Our missiles can totally obliterate those bases,” Dehghan said. “Israel knows that Iran will erase its entity and uproot it from existence in case of a war.”

Netanyahu has issued a series of statements against Iran in recent weeks.

They follow the Islamic Republic’s decision to begin breaching some commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and attacks in the Gulf that Israel and the United States blame on Iran.

On Sunday, Netanyahu called an announcement by Iran that it would exceed the uranium enrichment cap set by the troubled accord a “very dangerous step.” He urged European countries to sanction Iran in response.

On Monday, Iran breached the enrichment cap as it seeks to press other parties into keeping their side of the bargain under the nuclear deal.

Netanyahu opposed the accord and urged US President Donald Trump to withdraw from it, which he eventually did. Despite having opposed the deal, Netanyahu is now calling on European nations to enforce its parameters as he and the United States seek to further pressure Iran.

Israel has also carried out hundreds of strikes in neighboring Syria against what it says are Iranian and Hezbollah military targets. It has vowed to keep Iran, which has backed Syrian President Bashar aAssad in his country’s civil war, from entrenching itself militarily there.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9930

Tehran Imam threatens missile attack on Dimona nuclear power plant


By TZVI JOFFRE
07/07/2019  
Imam Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani also warned the US
against a military attack on Iran.

“If Iran decides to confront you, a missile strike on the Dimona reactor would be enough,” said Tehran’s Friday Prayer Imam Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi-Kermani in a sermon addressing the United States and Israel, according to a report by Radio Farda.

Movahedi-Kermani threatened that such an attack on the nuclear reactor in Israel’s Negev desert would “plow Israel 200 times.”

“You are living in a glass house. You’d better watch out,” said the Tehran-based Imam.

He also warned the US against a military attack on Iran, saying: “Think of an attack only if you want to change the color of the Persian Gulf waters from azure to red.”

The Imam also repeated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s warning about the nuclear deal.

“From July 7, we will enrich uranium at any grade and form, and in any amount we may deem necessary,” said Movahedi-Kermani.

The Imam was one of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s representatives to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to Radio Farda.

He denied that Iran was seeking to develop a nuclear bomb.

“Iran will continue enrichment to generate electricity and conduct scientific research,” he said. “This enrichment is not for making a nuclear bomb, which Iran deems illegitimate and unnecessary.”

On Saturday night, an Iranian official told Reuters that Iran will announce on Sunday that it will raise its uranium enrichment level to 5%, a concentration above the limit set by its 2015 nuclear deal with six major powers.

Earlier in the day, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported that Iranian senior nuclear negotiator Abbas Araqchi will announce more cuts in its commitments to the pact on Sunday. Tehran warned last week that such a move could take place.

Under the deal, Iran can enrich uranium to 3.67% fissile material, well below the 20% it was reaching for before the deal and the roughly 90% suitable for a nuclear weapon.

Movahedi-Karmeni also told US President Donald Trump to “compare the authority of the United States with Iran’s.”

“Iran’s authority is marked by intelligence, creativity and humanity, while the United States’ authority is an embodiment of brutality, savagery and meanness!” he.

The Tehran Imam also addressed Trump’s decision to call off a planned strike on Iran after the Islamic Republic downed a US drone, saying, “You saw the corpses of US troops before your eyes, and told yourself they have hit the drone that was flying 65,000 feet above the sea. What will they do to a ship that is just in front of them?”

Last year, Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei changed his mind about appointing Karmeni as an interim chairman for the Islamic republic’s Expediency Discernment Council after a few weeks, according to Radio Farda. The Expediency Council decides arguments between the Iranian parliament and the Iranian Guardian Council, which is usually the final decision maker in most cases, according to Khamenei’s web page.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9927

War in Gulf Developing: US Marine Expeditionary Force Deploys off Coast of Iran

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz June 26, 2019 , 4:49 pm

And now I will tell you the truth: Persia will have three more kings, and the fourth will be wealthier than them all; by the power he obtains through his wealth, he will stir everyone up against the kingdom of Greece. Daniel 11:2 (The Israel Bible™)

The amphibious assault ship USS Boxer carried the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit and a combat helicopter squadron arrived in the region of the Strait of Hormuz. Also deployed were the amphibious transport dock, USS John P. Murtha, and the amphibious dock landing ship, USS Harpers Ferry. The U.S. 5th Fleet is currently tasked with ensuring the security of the Strait which is a vital oil-shipping route as well as U.S. interests in much of the Middle East. 

It appears the recent arrivals are replacing other naval assets led by the USS Kearsarge which have been in the region since April and are being rotated out of the region. 

“Our training and preparation to enter the 5th Fleet area of operations has all been designed to ensure we can be ready where it matters, when it matters,” said Col. Fridrik Fridriksson, the group’s Marine unit commander to Stars and Stripes.

The political situation was exacerbated two weeks ago when two Saudi oil tankers were attacked with limpet mines. The U.S. blamed Iran for the attack. An identical attack was carried out last week.

The U.S. was almost dragged into a shooting war after Iran shot down a $130 million Global Hawk surveillance drone on Thursday morning with a surface-to-air missile over the Strait of Hormuz. On Thursday evening, the president ordered strikes on Iranian military targets including radar and missile batteries. The NYT cited “officials” as saying that as late as 7:00 PM, “planes were in the air and ships were in position, but no missiles had been fired when word came to stand down.” Had they not been canceled, the U.S strikes would have taken place before dawn on Friday morning.

Rather than back down, the Iranian military leadership doubled down, threatening to shoot down more U.S. military assets. Iranian news reported on Monday that Commander of the Islamic Republic Army’s Navy Hossein Khanzadi told the Fars News Agency as saying, “The enemy dispatched one of the most advanced, intelligent and complex drones to the forbidden area and everyone witnessed its shoot-down,”  Commander of the Islamic Republic Army’s Navy Hossein Khanzadi told the Fars News Agency on Monday. “We dare to say this crushing blow can be alternatively repeated and the enemy knows it.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported on Monday reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is currently in Saudi Arabia to conduct talks with Saudi Arabian government about a global coalition. AP reported that Pompeo was scheduled to visit the United Arab Emirates.

“We’ll be talking with them about how to make sure that we are all strategically aligned, and how we can build out a global coalition, a coalition not only throughout the Gulf states, but in Asia and in Europe, that understands this challenge as it is prepared to push back against the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” Pompeo said about Iran to reporters in Washington prior to his departure, according to AP.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9906