Category: Israel

Israel: Iran to Go Full Nuclear by December

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz January 15, 2020 , 1:53 pm

” When the righteous become great the people rejoice, But when the wicked dominate the people groan.” Proverbs 29:2 (The Israel Bible™)

IDF intelligence reported that Iran will have enough uranium for a nuclear warhead by the end of year but President Trump is leading a multinational effort to prevent this from happening.

An article published in Haaretz on Tuesday reported that Israeli military intelligence estimated that by the end of the calendar year,  Iran will have 40 kilograms of 90% enriched uranium; enough needed to produce a single nuclear bomb. But the same IDF report notes that Iran is still two years away from developing a missile capable of delivering a nuclear payload. 

Last week, President Trump challenged this timeline when, in the midst of confrontations with Iran, he stated simply, “As long as I am President of the United States, Iran will never be allowed to have a nuclear weapon.” The president criticized the Iran deal set in place by his predecessor as enabling, rather than curtailing, Iran’s nuclear aspirations and its “destructive and destabilizing behavior in the Middle East and beyond.”

President Trump has been a maverick, breaking from the pack of world leaders in rejecting the Iran deal. Former President Barack Obama implemented the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, in 2015. The agreement lifted long-standing economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for a shift in Iran’s nuclear program, delaying its production of a nuclear weapon for ten years. 

Known as the P5+1, it included the participation of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council—China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, United States—plus Germany together with the European Union. The agreement was criticized for containing inadequate measures for verifying Iranian compliance. The JCPOA required Iran to cease its program for intercontinental ballistic missiles which Iran refused to do, claiming its ICBMs were for defensive purposes. 

In May 2018, President Trump announced the U.S. withdrawal from the JCPOA. 13 months later, Iran announced its uranium had exceeded limits set by the agreement.

Ten days ago, in the aftermath of the Baghdad Airport Airstrike that targeted and killed Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, Iran declared that it would no longer abide by the limitations of the deal.

The bond between the U.S. and Israel was highlighted on Tuesday when Prime Minister Netanyahu echoed Trump’s vow.

“We know exactly what is happening with the Iranian nuclear program. Iran thinks it can achieve nuclear weapons. I reiterate: Israel will not allow Iran to achieve nuclear weapons. I also call on all Western countries to impose snapback sanctions at the UN now.”

Trump had another supporter in newly elected British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

“From the American perspective, it’s a flawed deal… plus it was negotiated by President Obama,” the Johnson said to the press on Tuesday. “Let’s replace it with the Trump deal. That’s what we need to see. President Trump is a great dealmaker by his own account, and by many others. Let’s work together to replace the JCPOA and get the Trump deal instead.”

In fact, the JCPOA does seem to be crumbling. The foreign ministers of the U.K., France, and Germany announced Tuesday that they are lodging a formal complaint that Iran is not meeting its commitments.

“Our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran,” the diplomats explained in a joint statement released Tuesday, explaining that their hope was to retain the agreement. “Our hope is to bring Iran back into full compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10330

The Ottomans are back – what does that mean for Israel?

Tracing regional dynamics over the last century is vital to understanding the combustible situation today.

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN  

The Ottomans are back (photo credit: OMAR SANADIKI/REUTERS)

JANUARY 1, 2020 20:10

The Ottomans are back

In late November, Turkey set its sights on a new goal.

In Libya, a long-forgotten civil war was raging. The government in Tripoli, often called the Government of the National Accord, was losing ground to the Libyan National Army, led by a man named Khalifa Haftar, whose forces were based in eastern Libya.
Turkey supports Tripoli; Egypt supports Haftar. It is part of a much wider struggle that represents Turkey’s attempt to revive influence not seen since the end of the First World War. A century ago, the European powers thought that the Ottoman Empire could be easily chopped up and its territories given away.

Today Turkey is back, moving into areas like northern Iraq, northern Syria, Libya and even the Gulf and Somalia.

The Paris Peace Conference that ended in January 1920, 100 years ago, helped the stage for many of the issues still facing the Middle East. It is hard to remember now, but much of what we take for granted regarding the borders of the Middle East is in some ways arbitrary. They were decided on partly after World War I in a series of treaties, such as the Treaty of Sevres of 1920 and Treaty of Lausanne of 1923.

Why is Hatay province, once called Alexandretta, in Turkey, when it could have been in Syria? Why is Mosul in Iraq and not in Turkey, as Turkey once claimed it? Why do the Kurds lack a state? The recent tensions in the Middle East, the unresolved questions from Lebanon to Iraq, Libya, Turkey and Gaza, are all part of this.

LET US begin where Turkey now ends its recent ambitions – in Libya. Libya was once the setting for a quiet proxy war that reflects divisions in the Muslim world between the Muslim Brotherhood, which Turkey’s ruling party has roots in, and countries that oppose the Brotherhood.

Turkey’s ruler President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has increasingly global ambitions. Embattled Libya could be a key to them, thought Turkish leaders around Erdogan. Turkey was already sending drones and armored vehicles to Tripoli. But they had not stemmed the tide. Haftar vowed in November to take Tripoli and rid the country of “terrorists” and “militias.” Turkey responded that the “warlord” Haftar would have to be stopped.

But Turkey wanted something in return for helping to stop him. It wanted rights to the Mediterranean between Turkey and Libya.

If you draw a line from Libya to Turkey, you run into Greek islands like Crete. But if you draw a line from eastern Libya, there is a passage between Cyprus and the Greek islands that narrowly links Turkey to Libya. It is here that Turkey made a bold chess move. In exchange for sending some fighters to bolster the Tripoli government, Turkey would get an exclusive economic zone that splits Cyprus from Greece by sea and gives Turkey rights to explore for natural gas. It also sinks the dreams of Greece and Cyprus to invite companies like ENI to explore for natural resources under the sea.

The play by Turkey has muscle behind it. Ankara has been sending its navy out to conduct drills around Cyprus, showing the flag and its power. Turkey has new sea-based missiles. It is buying new drilling ships. Cyprus thought it was ahead of the curve, signing deals with Egypt in 2003, Lebanon in 2007 and Israel in 2010. But Turkey has thrown down a gauntlet.

One should understand Turkey’s treatment of the Greeks and Cypriots historically. Turkey invaded Cyprus in 1974 claiming to help protect members of the Turkish minority. Turkey has stayed ever since, recognizing Northern Cyprus as a country. No one else recognizes it, but Turkey says Northern Cyprus has widespread rights to explore for gas around Cyprus. Turkey has sent drones to Cyprus to show that it will police those waters it claims.

For Turkey, the Cyprus operation was a way to show it would not be removed from more islands in the Mediterranean – for instance, the Dodecanese Islands, near Rhodes, were taken by Italy during a war with the Ottoman Empire in 1912. Rhodes also was held by Italy, then by Germany during World War II, and finally became part of Greece in 1947. Turkey today says that these islands, even though they are part of Greece technically, cannot be used by Greece to determine its rights to the waters off the islands. Instead, the continental shelf that extends from Turkey gives Erdogan’s country rights to the sea.

TURKEY’S DECISION to revive its claims to the sea and send forces to Libya should be seen in light of a century of Turkey’s policies since the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The Ottomans lost Libya to the Italians in 1912. Now, the Turks are back.

Turkey has flirted with various policies since the end of the Ottomans. For a few years in the 1920s, it looked like the country would be dismantled. However, Turkey pushed the Greeks out of modern-day Turkey and embarked on a campaign of Turkish nationalism and secularism that supplanted European rule in Istanbul and created the current borders. But Ankara was never entirely satisfied. It felt that its formerly powerful role had been reduced.

During the Cold War, Turkey was an ally of the US and also suffered its own internal troubles and coups. At the time, Turkey’s neighbors seemed to be advancing. Syria under Hafez Assad, father of the current embattled president, was trying to be an Arab socialist paradise. Borrowing heavily from secular nationalist traditions of European fascism blended with socialism and Arab nationalism, the Assadist regime was brutal to dissenters, but treated loyalists decently. It wanted to modernize and look like an eastern European state, with the Communist-style brutalist high-rises and lots of Soviet tanks and other assorted accoutrements. It left to fester the questions that arose after 1920. For instance, what about the Kurds in eastern Syria? The Assadist Ba’athist regime treated them like they didn’t exist, suppressing them and denying many citizenship.

The Assad regime also ignored large Arab tribes along the Euphrates. Those tribes sometimes looked to Saddam’s Iraq across the border for cultural relations with other tribes in Anbar province. Saddam Hussein, like the Assads, was a product of the Arab nationalist revolutionary era. All these regimes, from Assad to Saddam to Nasser’s Egypt, were products of a reaction against the colonial era of the British and French mandates. They had replaced the old system of kings and colonials and sheikhs. They wanted modernity.

In some way, they were reactions also against the Jewish nationalism of Zionism, which they hated, and also the secular Turkish nationalism of Ataturk. If there were to be Jewish and Turkish states, so there would be an Arab nationalist group of states as well.
Iraq never worked out the problems the British colonials had saddled it with. The British wanted to include Mosul in Iraq so there would be more Sunni Arabs to support the Hashemite king they had chosen. The king was from what is now Saudi Arabia and a brother of the king of Jordan at the time. But for Iraq, he became the first Iraqi.

That didn’t mean much to Kurds in the north, who also wanted freedom and independence. It is sometimes forgotten that a brief independent Kurdish state called the Republic of Mahabad had arisen in 1946 after World War II. Like the changeover in power of Rhodes, or the question of whether Hatay would be part of Turkey, this republic was a byproduct of unresolved questions from the 1920s.

Kurds wanted freedom and rights. Instead, they were forced to be part of states that didn’t recognize or want them. They were told to be Arab nationalists or Turkish nationalists, not Kurds. For the colonial powers, this didn’t matter. For the nationalist regimes, they were a headache. For the US and Soviets in the Cold War, they were tools to be used and discarded.

This system that arose in the 1920s and then in the 1960s revolved around questionable states like Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Egypt was an ancient state, but Damascus had its own ambitions. At one point, the Arab Revolt had sought to hold Damascus as part of a greater Arab state. The British and French said no to that. Instead, the Kingdom of Jordan became a Bedouin kingdom. The kingdoms that were created in the 20th century may have seemed weak at the outset, but they had more staying power than the nationalist regimes. Instead, the regimes – from Gaddafi in Libya to Saddam in Iraq and Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen – were overthrown. The Nassserist regime, too, fell apart in 2011 when the Arab Spring broke out. Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia was also forced out. So too the Algerian regime.

Why did some of the monarchies survive and not others? The British helped shepherd to power the kingdom of Egypt of Farouk. King Idris of Libya appeared a more formidable ruler, but he was pushed from office in 1969 while away for medical treatment in Turkey. The Gulf monarchies, by contrast, and the Moroccan and Jordanian monarchies, have survived. Likely because their states are either more homogenous or because of their traditions of rule, they have had more success.

THE PAST 10 years have witnessed an extraordinary reversal, as most of the Arab countries have been torn apart from within. Where monarchies or Arab nationalism failed, a rising religious extremism preyed on weak states. But even this Islamist terrorist rise did not supplant the new states.

ISIS came and went. Even the Muslim Brotherhood, briefly rising in Gaza and even in Tripoli or other areas, and seeking election in Tunisia, Jordan and other places, has not been the success that some thought. Political Islam is not winning.

What has happened is that the historically powerful periphery states, Turkey and Iran, have risen to grab influence throughout the Middle East. These states, as the Ottoman Empire and Persian Empire, were weakened in 1920 and European powers supplanted their historic role. But now, with Europe looking more insular, these countries are rising again.

Turkey’s expedition to Libya is just one symbol of that new world order in the Middle East.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10307

America? We Are Being Warned That Sleeper Cells “Can Hit Targets On U.S. Soil At Anytime Without Warning”

January 3, 2020 by Michael Snyder

There has never been a greater threat of terror attacks on U.S. soil than there is right now.  In the aftermath of the killing of Iranian military chief Qassem Soleimani, top Iranian leaders are vowing revenge.  Many of the talking heads on television are speculating that Iran may hit American targets in the Middle East, but what they are forgetting is that Iranian-backed terror groups already have a substantial presence in North America.  In particular, Hezbollah has been involved in the North American drug trade for a very long time.  Over the years, the mainstream media gave Al-Qaeda and ISIS a lot of attention, but the truth is that Hezbollah is far better funded and far better armed than either of those groups ever were, and now the man at the top of the military food chain that gave Hezbollah their marching orders has been killed by the United States.  If Hezbollah sleeper cells are ever going to be unleashed in the United States, now is the time when it will happen. 

Of course U.S. officials clearly understand that there is a threat.  As Paul Joseph Watson has noted, authorities in New York and Los Angeles are both ramping up security…

The threat posed by Iran-backed Hezbollah sleeper cells embedded in major American cities has once again come to the fore following the killing of Iran’s Quds Force General Qasem Soleimani.

Following last night’s assassination of the Iranian military leader, authorities in both New York and Los Angeles announced that they were ramping up security in readiness for possible revenge attacks on U.S. soil.

This is because Iran is known to have placed Hezbollah terrorist sleeper cells throughout not just Europe but the United States too.

And one former CIA officer is warning that we need to be operating under the assumption that Hezbollah sleeper cells “can hit targets on U.S. soil at anytime without warning”

Former CIA operations officer, Sam Faddis, warned that Hezbollah sleeper cells were hiding in the U.S. and potentially had targets in its sights.

‘It is more than possible that Hezbollah has sleeper cells in the United States ready to strike,’ Faddis told DailyMail.com.

‘Based on what we know we must assume they do and that they can hit targets on U.S. soil at anytime without warning.’

Up until now, Iranian leaders such as Soleimani have always held back their proxies from committing terror attacks on U.S. soil because the Iranians knew that it would potentially spark a full-blown war with the United States.

But now that Soleimani is dead and war is virtually a certainty, there would appear to be no reason to hold back any longer.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rarely makes any sense at all, but for once I have to agree with him.  During a press conference on Friday, he told reporters that we are “in a de facto state of war”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said they would be protecting key locations from ‘any attempt by Iran or its terrorist allies to retaliate against the U.S.’

‘We have to assume this action puts us in a de facto state of war,’ he told a press conference on Friday.

It comes amid fears that the Iran-backed Hezbollah militant group, which has been designated by the U.S. government as a foreign terrorist organization, may have sleeper cells in the U.S. that are ready to retaliate.

And he is right.

In particular, the Iranians and their proxies are going to be looking for high value targets to strike, and there are certainly a lot of them in New York.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that something will happen there, but it is definitely a possibility.

And we do know that Hezbollah has previously “plotted to attack U.S. interests inside the country”

Last year, the criminal prosecution and conviction in New York of the Hezbollah operative Ali Kourani revealed that the terror outfit has already plotted to attack U.S. interests inside the country and is ready to activate if it considers the existence of either Hezbollah or Iran to be at stake.

Following the arrest of Kourani and another Hezbollah operative named Samer el-Debek, the U.S. intelligence community reversed its belief that Hezbollah was unlikely to attempt attacks within the U.S.

“It’s our assessment that Hezbollah is determined to give itself a potential homeland option as a critical component of its terrorism playbook,” said National Counterterrorism Center Director Nicholas Rasmussen.

Unfortunately, a lot of Americans don’t understand the seriousness of what we are potentially facing.

Hezbollah is made up of the most radical Shiite terrorists on the entire planet.

These are the guys that ISIS and Al-Qaeda are afraid of.

Of all the terror groups in existence, Hezbollah is the most competent and the most frightening of them all.

In addition to terror attacks, it is being reported that the Trump administration is also deeply concerned about the possibility of cyberattacks.

The Iranians and their proxies are probably not as advanced in this area as Russia, China and North Korea are, but we do know that they have been building up a “cyber army”

Analysts believe Tehran has stepped up its capacity to attack key Western cyber infrastructure and has even built up a so-called “cyber army” that pledges allegiance to the Islamic Republic.

Loic Guezo, head of French information security group Clusif, said Iran’s cyber attacks above all sought to damage industrial targets such as dams or power stations.

“What is feared here is the impact on society — electricity cuts, poisoning, gas leaks, explosions, transport chaos and hospitals,” he told AFP.

So at some point your power may go out, and you may not even realize that the Iranians are behind it.

If and when the Iranians and their proxies start hitting us, it is going to cause a lot of panic.  America is totally unprepared for what is coming, and our enemies are going to take full advantage of that fact.

The Iranians and their proxies don’t fight clean and their don’t fight fair.

Getting into a fight with them won’t be pretty, and when it erupts a whole lot of people are likely to end up dead.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10304

Why Is Iran Flying A Blood Red Flag Over A Famous Mosque That Is Directly Associated With The Mahdi?

January 6, 2020 by Michael Snyder

For the first time ever, a blood red flag is being flown over the famous Jamkaran Mosque in the Iranian “holy city” of Qom.  If you have not see it yet, you can watch it being raised right here.  And as I will explain below, the fact that this mosque is directly associated with the Mahdi makes this symbolic gesture doubly significant.  The hoisting of this flag was broadcast on Iranian state television, and it was obviously intended to send a message to Shiites all over the globe.  So precisely what was that message?  Well, we are being told that according to Shiite tradition a red flag represents both “blood spilled unjustly” and a call for revenge…

Red flags in Shiite tradition symbolise both blood spilled unjustly and serve as a call to avenge a person who is slain.

It is the first time in history that the red flag has been hoisted on top of the Jamkaran mosque in the Iranian city and comes after warnings of harsh retaliation against the US.

Red flags have also been spotted flying at anti-U.S. demonstrations in Tehran over the past few days.

Clearly, the Iranians want blood.  They will never, ever forgive us for the killing of Qassem Soleimani, and their faith requires that he be avenged.

There is also a message inscribed on the blood red flag that is now flying above the Jamkaran Mosque, and apparently it is a reference to the death of the grandson of Muhammad

The flag, inscribed with the words “Those who want to avenge the blood of Hussein,” was hoisted above the mosque’s shrine for what local reports claimed was the first time in history, according to the Daily Mail.

The grandson of Muhammad, Hussein was decapitated in A.D. 680 during the Second Islamic Civil War, when Muslims were fighting over who was the proper successor to their prophet. The act was met with bloody retaliation from Muslims who considered Hussein’s death unjust and sought to avenge him.

Obviously the Iranians are viewing this as something much bigger than simply extracting sufficient revenge for the death of a deeply loved national leader.

Rather, they seem to be using this moment as a call to wage jihad against all of the enemies of Shia Islam.

And as I mentioned above, the fact that this flag was raised over this particular mosque is a very big deal.

The Jamarkaran Mosque is considered to be one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam, and it is also associated with the future reappearance of the Mahdi.  In fact, as the flag was being hoisted there was a direct reference to the Mahdi

As the flag was raised in Qom, the mosque speakers called, ‘O Allah, hasten your custodian reappearance,’ a reference to the end-times reappearance of the Mahdi.

In Iran today, most of the national leaders believe that the 12th imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, was born in Iraq in 869 and never died.  Just before judgement day, the Mahdi is supposed to reappear along with Jesus during a time of war and chaos “to bring peace to the world and establish Islam as the ruling faith across the globe”.  It is also commonly believed that the Mahdi is coming very soon, and so that explains why so many top Iranians seem to relish the thought that war could be coming.  They need war to come first in order for the Mahdi to appear, and since the Mahdi is supposed to return during the coming apocalyptic war and establish Shia Islam as the faith of the entire planet, they aren’t exactly too concerned about the threats that President Trump is making.

It is so important to understand the mindset of these radical Shiites.

If they die as martyrs, they will be rewarded as such in the afterlife.

If they live through the coming holy war, they will get to see the coming of the Mahdi, and they will help to institute the global rule of Shia Islam.

So in either case, they believe that they can’t lose.

At this point, what they want is blood.  In fact, even the daughter of Qassem Soleimani is asking for vengeance.  Just check out what she just asked Iranian President Hassan Rouhani…

‘Who is going to avenge my father’s blood?’ One of the commander’s daughters asked.

In response, Rouhani promised her that ‘everyone will take revenge’ and assured her as she wept, ‘we will, we will avenge his blood, you don’t worry.’

There is no question that Iran is going to strike back.

And it won’t just be a one time deal.  They are going to hit us repeatedly, and they have already identified 35 potential targets

IRAN today pinpointed 35 “key US targets” for revenge after its top general was assassinated – with America expecting retaliation “within weeks”.

Hours later, rockets were fired near the US Embassy in Baghdad and at an airbase housing American troops, according to reports.

Unfortunately, we didn’t have to wait long for the violence to begin.  In fact, the Green Zone in Baghdad has been targeted by rockets for two days in a row

At least three explosions were reported Sunday inside the heavily-fortified Green Zone — which houses the U.S. Embassy, Balad Air Base and Iraqi government buildings — in the second attack of its kind after the U.S.-led airstrike that killed Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani.

A total of six Katyusha rockets — three inside the Green Zone and three in the nearby Jadriya area — hit Baghdad, according to a statement by Iraq’s military, as Reuters reported.

Of course President Trump is not going to put up with this, and he has warned the Iranians that he has identified 52 Iranian targets that could potentially be hit…

Showing no signs of seeking to ease tensions raised by the strike he ordered that killed Soleimani and Iranian-backed Iraqi militia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis at Baghdad airport on Friday, Trump issued a threat to Iran on Twitter. The strike has raised the specter of wider conflict in the Middle East.

Iran, Trump wrote, “is talking very boldly about targeting certain USA assets” in revenge for Soleimani’s death. Trump said the United States has “targeted 52 Iranian sites” and that some were “at a very high level & important to Iran & the Iranian culture, and those targets, and Iran itself, WILL BE HIT VERY FAST AND VERY HARD.”

Following that tweet, many on the left harshly criticized Trump for potentially targeting cultural sites, but Trump subsequently doubled down on that threat

“They’re allowed to kill our people, they’re allowed to torture and maim our people, they’re allowed to use roadside bombs and blow up our people and we’re not allowed to touch their cultural site? It doesn’t work that way,” Trump told reporters.

“If they do anything there will be major retaliation.”

Does anyone see a way that war with Iran can be avoided at this point?

Because I certainly don’t.

The Trump administration and the Iranians will both keep escalating things until a full-blown cataclysmic war erupts in the Middle East, and it will be a war that will inevitably involve Israel as well.  This Middle East war will greatly accelerate the development of “the perfect storm” that I keep talking about, and none of our lives will ever be the same again.

Those that think that this is a crisis that will blow over in a few days or a few weeks are not being rational.

The Iranians will never, ever, ever forgive what Trump has done, and Soleimani’s successor is assuring everyone that we will soon “see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East”

Esmail Ghaani, the successor to slain Iranian general Qassem Soleimani, threatened the US Friday following his appointment to head the Revolutionary Guards’ foreign operations arm.

“Be patient, and you will see the bodies of Americans all over the Middle East,” Ghaani said.

There is no stopping this now.

War is coming, and the death and destruction it will bring will shock the entire planet.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10300

Iran vows ‘harsh retaliation’ after US airstrike kills Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani

By Danielle Wallace | Fox News

Fox News contributor Dan Hoffman reacts.

President of Iran Hassan Rouhani had words of praise for Iranian Gen. Qassem Soleimani early Friday morning, hours after the top military general was killed in an airstrike in Iraq ordered by President Trump, and he promised to “take revenge for this heinous crime.”

Rouhani also said Iran would “raise the flag” of Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, “in defense of the country’s territorial integrity and the fight against terrorism and extremism in the region.”

The Pentagon confirmed Thursday evening that Trump had ordered the attack that killed Soleimani and other military officials at Baghdad International Airport. Iran’s top “shadow commander” was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American and coalition service members and the wounding of thousands more, the State Department said.

The U.S. State Department issued a security alert Friday morning urging all U.S. citizens to “depart Iraq immediately” due to heightened tensions in the region.

“Due to Iranian-backed militia attacks at the U.S. Embassy compound, all consular operations are suspended. U.S. citizens should not approach the Embassy,” the alert said. The agency also shared phone numbers people concerned about U.S. citizens and other loved ones in Iraq could call toll free for information.

The State Department said the airstrike “was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans.”

“General Soleimani was actively developing plans to attack American diplomats and service members in Iraq and throughout the region… The United States will continue to take all necessary action to protect our people and our interests wherever they are around the world.”

Brigadier General Esmail Ghaani, who served as Soleimani’s deputy commander since 1997, will now take over the helm as head of the Quds Force, Reuters reported, citing Iranian state media.

Officials in New York City and Los Angeles announced they’re taking precautionary measures in anticipation of a possible retaliatory attack. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday he’d spoken with top NYPD officials about immediate steps the department could take “to be vigilant against this threat for a long time to come.” LAPD said it was monitoring the situation in Iran but affirmed there has been no credible threat to the city.

Tens of thousands of people have taken to the streets of Tehran Friday to protest Soleimani’s killing, chanting “Death to America” and holding up posters bearing his image, AFP reported. Similar demonstrations were held in a number of other Iranian cities, it added, citing state media.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also tweeted a video that he claimed showed Iraqis taking to the streets to celebrate the death of Soleimani. It was not immediately clear where or when the footage in the tweet was recorded.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also warned “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the U.S.

The Iranian foreign minister warned that the U.S. would bear all the consequences of the “foolish” military attack, claiming Soleimani’s assassination would only escalate tensions in the region given that he was “THE most effective force” fighting terrorism carried out by the Islamic State.

Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Islamic Republic of Iran, said on Twitter that “The US’ act of international terrorism, targeting & assassinating General Soleimani—THE most effective force fighting Daesh (ISIS), Al Nusrah, Al Qaeda et al—is extremely dangerous & a foolish escalation.”

Many Democrats admitted that no Americans would mourn Soleimani’s death but also raised concern that the escalation will put the U.S. on a crash course for a new conflict in the Mideast. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a statement saying that Trump ordered the airstrike “without the consultation of Congress.”

 “American leaders’ highest priority is to protect American lives and interests,” her statement said. “But we cannot put the lives of American service members, diplomats and others further at risk by engaging in provocative and disproportionate actions. Tonight’s airstrike risks provoking further dangerous escalation of violence.”

An adviser to Rouhani also quickly warned Trump of retaliation from Tehran.

“Trump through his gamble has dragged the U.S. into the most dangerous situation in the region,” Hessameddin Ashena wrote on the social media app Telegram. “Whoever put his foot beyond the red line should be ready to face its consequences.”

Soleimani is the military mastermind whom Pompeo had deemed equally as dangerous as Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In October, Baghdadi killed himself during a U.S. raid on a compound in northwest Syria, seven months after the so-called ISIS “caliphate” crumbled as the terrorist group lost its final swath of Syrian territory in March.

The overnight attack occurred amid tensions with the U.S. after an Iran-backed militia attacked the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, which was targeted Tuesday by angry mobs who were protesting recent U.S. airstrikes. The two-day siege outside of the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad came to an end Wednesday afternoon after dozens of pro-Iran militiamen and their supporters withdrew from the compound.

Soleimani was the long-running leader of the elite intelligence wing called Quds Force – which itself has been a designated terror group since 2007, and is estimated to be 20,000 strong. Considered one of the most powerful men in Iran, he routinely was referred to as its “shadow commander” or “spymaster.”

In April 2019, the State Department announced Iran was responsible for killing 608 U.S. troops during the Iraq War. Soleimani was the head of the Iranian and Iranian-backed forces carrying out those operations killing American troops. According to the State Department, 17 percent of all deaths of U.S. personnel in Iraq from 2003 to 2011 were orchestrated by Soleimani.

As recently as 2015, a travel ban and United Nations Security Council resolutions had barred Soleimani from leaving Iran.

Friday’s Baghdad strike also killed Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy commander of Iran-backed militias known as the Popular Mobilization Forces, a source told Fox News. In all, at least seven people were killed and at least three rockets were fired, officials told The Associated Press. An official with the Popular Mobilization Forces said its airport protocol officer, Mohammed Reda, also died.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10294

Will It Be War? U.S. Airstrikes Hit Iranian-Backed Militias As The Pentagon Warns More Military Action May Be Coming

December 30, 2019 by Michael Snyder

A lot of people seem to have forgotten that we were literally on the brink of war with Iran earlier this year.  Back in June, President Trump cancelled a major U.S. bombing mission against Iran at the last minute, and things seemed to settle down quite a bit since that time.  But now tensions are rising once again.  On Sunday, U.S. airstrikes targeted Iranian-backed militias in Iraq and Syria that U.S. officials believe have been behind recent rocket attacks against U.S. forces.  Of course those Iranian-backed forces never would have launched such attacks in the first place if they did not have permission from Tehran itself.  The Iranians love to hide behind proxies, and for now the U.S. is only conducting airstrikes against those proxies.  But at some point President Trump’s patience is likely to run out, and at that point we could start hitting Iran itself.  Over the past six months, the U.S. has sent 14,000 more troops to the Middle East, and it is being reported that “the Pentagon is considering deploying additional forces to the region”.  The drumbeats of war are starting to get louder again, and many believe that eventually one side is likely to push the other side a bit too far.

The attacks that we just witnessed were supposed to send a very strong message to Tehran.  According to the Daily Mail, five separate targets were hit, and at least 19 people were killed…

US air strikes left 19 people dead in Iraq and Syria on Sunday in retaliation against an Iranian-backed militia group blamed for a rocket attack two days earlier that killed an American contractor.

F-15 Strike Eagles hit five targets associated with Kataib Hezbollah, the Iranian-sponsored Shiite militia group, said Defense Secretary Mark Esper.

These airstrikes were launched to directly retaliate for the casualties that U.S. forces suffered from a rocket attack on one of their bases in Iraq on Friday

Officials with the U.S.-led mission to defeat ISIS said Friday that a U.S. civilian contractor was killed and several American troops were wounded in a rocket attack targeting an Iraqi base in Kirkuk.

The attack, which occurred Friday around 7:20 p.m. local time in Iraq, also wounded several Iraqi personnel, officials with Operation Inherent Resolve told Military Times in an emailed statement.

But of course that attack was just the latest in a series of rocket attacks that have targeted U.S. forces lately

U.S. officials believe Iranian-backed militias are behind a recent spate of rocket attacks that have targeted U.S. bases and interests in Iraq over the last couple months.

A U.S. official told Military Times that Iran-backed militias are now using more lethal and longer range 122 mm rockets in their attacks.

Friday’s attack on Kirkuk is at least the eleventh rocket attack targeting an outpost housing American forces in the last two months.

I am certainly not a fan of military conflict, but if I am sitting in the White House and someone keeps lobbing rockets at my troops I wouldn’t wait two months to hit them back.

So why did President Trump wait so long?

As I noted earlier, these Iranian-backed militias wouldn’t be doing anything without approval from Tehran.  If Trump really wants these rocket attacks to stop, Iranian leaders need to be sent a message that will be clear and unmistakable.

And it appears that U.S. officials may be starting to lean in that direction.  In fact, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper told the press on Sunday that more military action “could be warranted”

Pompeo, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and General Mark Milley, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, appeared briefly in a club ballroom to comment on the airstrikes.

Esper termed the offensive “successful,” but said that Trump was informed that a further military response could be warranted.

Personally, I don’t know what the Iranians are thinking.

Perhaps they believe that if they use their proxies to make things uncomfortable enough for U.S. forces that Trump will eventually pull them out of the region.

But if that is what they are really thinking, they have badly miscalculated.

Meanwhile, Iran continues to get cozy with Russia and China.  In fact, the three nations are currently conducting “their first-ever joint naval drills”

This weekend, China, Iran, and Russia began their first-ever joint naval drills in the Indian Ocean and the Gulf of Oman. The training exercises were announced by China’s defense ministry on Thursday, as all three nations continue to have strained relations with the United States and its allies.

The Russians have developed a very strong military presence in the Middle East in recent years, and Russia and China have both warned about what a war between the U.S. and Iran would mean for the entire region.

A major war in the Middle East would have very serious implications for the entire globe, and it would risk sparking a much wider conflict.

Right now our relations with Russia are already the worst that they have been since the end of the Cold War, and they just continue to deteriorate.

Most Americans don’t spend too much time thinking about a potential war with Russia, but over in Russia there is lots of talk about a possible military confrontation.  In fact, Russia’s top general recently warned that the western powers are preparing for a “large-scale military conflict”

Russia’s top general has warned a big war is coming in a chilling prediction amid ongoing tensions with NATO.

Valery Gerasimov, the chief Vladimir Putin’s general staff, has said he believes the West are preparing for a “large-scale military conflict”.

He was speaking at a senior briefing for the military – saying that the West has assigned “adversary status” to Russia.

Ultimately, one of the big reasons why Trump may have been so hesitant to be more aggressive with Iran is because he realizes that it could potentially spark World War 3.

Because once we go to war with Iran, the Iranians are going to start launching missiles directly at Israel, and Israel would undoubtedly strike back with overwhelming force.

Once the dominoes start falling, it could very easily set off a sequence of events that nobody is going to be able to control.

We definitely live at a time of wars and rumors of wars, and peace could be taken from the Earth very easily.

So let us hope that cooler heads prevail.

But if the Iranians keep pushing their luck, it is only a matter of time before Trump gets fed up, and when he decides to hit them directly he is going to hit them exceedingly hard.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10282

Greece says huge gas pipeline deal with Israel, Cyprus to be signed January 2

Burgeoning alliance comes as Turkey attempts to lay claim to eastern Mediterranean energy reserves

By AFP 22 December 2019, 10:07 pm

ATHENS, Greece — The Greek government said Sunday that it will sign an agreement for a huge pipeline project with Cyprus and Israel next month that is designed to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe.

The move comes amid tensions with Turkey over its own activities in the area and a contentious maritime deal with Libya, expanding Ankara’s claims over a large gas-rich area of the sea.

Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’s office said the agreement for the EastMed pipeline would be signed in Athens on January 2 with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades.

The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) pipeline will be able to transfer between nine and 12 billion cubic meters a year from offshore gas reserves between Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.

The discovery of hydrocarbon reserves in the eastern Mediterranean has sparked a scramble for the energy riches and a dispute between Cyprus and Turkey, which has occupied the north of the Mediterranean island since 1974.

The drilling vessel Fatih, which was deployed by Turkey to search for gas and oil in waters considered part of the EU state’s exclusive economic zone, in the Mediterranean Sea, off Cyprus, June 24, 2019. (AFP)

Turkey already faces European Union sanctions over ships searching for oil and gas off Cyprus, whose internationally recognized government in Nicosia is not recognized by Ankara.

The EastMed project is expected to make Cyprus, Greece and Israel key links in Europe’s energy supply chain and aims to stymie Turkey’s effort to extend its control to the eastern Mediterranean.

“It is really important that the countries showed they can react quickly against Turkey’s provocative stance,” Greek government spokesman Stelios Petsas said.

Greece responded angrily to the Turkey-Libya deal, expelling the Libyan ambassador and urging the UN to condemn it.

Part of the deal sets a maritime boundary between the two countries, which Greece says fails to take into account the island of Crete.

https://static.timesofisrael.com/www/uploads/2019/12/WhatsApp-Image-2019-12-02-at-12.58.57-1-e1575284643994-640x400.jpeg

The Leviathan natural gas platform off the shore of Israel. (Albatross)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said earlier this month that he envisaged joint energy exploration activities with Libya in the eastern Mediterranean.

Turkey already has ships searching for oil and gas off Cyprus, and says the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus — recognized only by Ankara — has the right to explore around the entire island.

“The EastMed pipeline agreement will go forward despite what Erdogan says,” Greek Energy and Environment Minister Kostis Hatzidakis said Sunday.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10276

Turkey Moves to Stop Israel From Building Undersea Gas Line to Europe

by Benjamin Kerstein

Turkey is attempting to stop Israel from laying a natural gas pipeline to Europe, Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported on Thursday.

According to the report, Turkey is claiming that the planned Israeli undersea pipeline infringes on an area claimed by Turkey under an economic agreement reached with Libya.

Turkey has officially asked the UN to recognize the agreement with Libya as a first step toward preventing Israel from building its own pipeline.

Kan reported that Turkey’s foreign minister commented that his country was prepared to respond powerfully against anyone who attempted to infringe Turkish sovereignty.

If successful, Turkey’s move would most seriously affect Greece and Cyprus, both allies of Israel, who, along with Italy, have signed a memorandum of understanding with the Jewish state on construction of the gas pipeline.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10262

In A Stunning End Times Turn Of Events, Jewish Prayer Has Returned To The Temple Mount As Talk Of Rebuilding The Temple Ignites Controversy In Israel

Jewish worshipers are able to pray on the Temple Mount with what appears to be the tacit consent of police forces at the site, The Jerusalem Post observed during a visit there on Thursday. Despite the insistence by Israel Police that there has been no change in the decades-old policy, Jews now pray – in full view of the police – in an unobtrusive and inconspicuous manner. A senior Wakf Department official said the final goal is to rebuild the Temple.

by Geoffrey Grider December 12, 2019

Senior Wakf official: Any change would spark strong response from Arabs and Muslims. Jewish activists: Final goal is to rebuild the Temple.

In a stunning exclusive today, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that Jewish prayer has returned to the Temple Mount, something that has been banned by the Supreme Court of Israel since 1970. The New York Times back in 1976 said “Government regulations permit Jews to enter the Temple Mount but not to hold, prayer services, owing to the sensitivity of the area and the strong feeling it might arouse among Moslems.” Today that appears to have changed, and with that change comes talk of a Third Temple.

“And it shall come to pass, when thy days be expired that thou must go to be with thy fathers, that I will raise up thy seed after thee, which shall be of thy sons; and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build me an house, and I will stablish his throne for ever.” 1 Chronicles 17:11,12 (KJV)

When I survey the end times prophetic landscape in the Middle East in general and Israel in particular, it appears to me that all the necessary elements are there for everything foretold in the scriptures of truth to take place. The Temple Mount in Jerusalem is the absolute true north epicenter of Bible prophecy. It’s like kernels of corn sitting in an oiled pan, just waiting for the heat to start popping. Today things just got a little hotter, and it almost sounds like things are starting to sizzle just a little. And hopefully more than a little.

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.” Isaiah 2:2 (KJV)

As Bible believers we don’t get excited because of the coming Third Jewish Temple, for it will be the temple of Antichrist as the scriptures tell us. No, we get excited about talk of a Third Jewish Temple because the sooner that comes, the sooner that we get on Flight #777 on Titus213 Airlines in the Pretribulation Rapture of the Church. Let’s go!

Jewish prayer has returned to the Temple Mount

FROM THE JERUSALEM POST: Jewish worshipers are able to pray on the Temple Mount with what appears to be the tacit consent of police forces at the site, The Jerusalem Post observed during a visit there on Thursday. Despite the insistence by Israel Police that there has been no change in the decades-old policy, Jews now pray – in full view of the police – in an unobtrusive and inconspicuous manner.

A senior Wakf Department official said he was unaware of any change in the status quo on the Temple Mount, but warned that any change would lead to renewed protests and spark a strong response from Arabs and Muslims.

Led by Rabbi Eliyahu Weber and joyfully singing “Let us go up to the Temple,” a quorum of 10 Jewish men ascended the Temple Mount on Thursday morning at the beginning of non-Muslim visiting hours at 7:00 a.m. This reporter joined the group as it toured the compound.

The group began the typical counter-clockwise tour of the site accompanied as usual by several police officers. It began at the Mughrabi Gate and worked its way around the eastern side of the esplanade, stopping at various points and eventually leaving out of the Chain Gate on its western side into the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City.

Upon reaching the eastern gate of the Dome of the Rock shrine, Weber and the group of Jewish men, and two women, stopped for between five and 10 minutes to recite the cantor’s repetition of the central Amidah prayer, including the components for congregational participation.

A kohen, a member of the priestly line, gave the blessing to the worshipers that is part of the daily morning service. The prayers were recited in full view and the immediate proximity of the police officers escorting the group around the Temple Mount, and they afforded the worshipers the time they needed to complete their prayers.

The prayers were said in a deliberately unobtrusive manner without the genuflection that is usually performed in the Amidah prayer, and with Weber leaning against a stone step to avoid drawing attention. Weber said that he and his fellow worshipers deliberately conduct their prayers in a manner that is “not extroverted” or to “antagonize people,” and the police do not intervene when they do it in this way. If we would do this in the face of the Wakf officials, it would not be accepted, but that is not our goal.”

The service – a truncated version of the full morning prayer service – was conducted in a very discreet manner, but the worshipers were nevertheless clearly participating in a discernible Jewish prayer service.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10259

REPORT: Trump and Netanyahu Finalize Pact to Be Military Allies in Gog and Magog

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz December 4, 2019 , 10:48 am

“After a long time you shall be summoned; in the distant future you shall march against the land [of a people] restored from the sword, gathered from the midst of many peoples—against the mountains of Yisrael, which have long lain desolate—[a people] liberated from the nations, and now all dwelling secure.” Ezekiel 38:8 (The Israel Bible™)

The White House announced that on Sunday night, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the common threat from Iran. The discussion came at a key juncture; directly preceding a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in London that both leaders attended. Israel is not a NATO member but was granted Major non-NATO Ally status in 1989. 

Debka File, an English language Israeli military intelligence news site, reported that the dialogue between Netanyahu and Trump was to finalize a military cooperation pact whose details were worked out during meetings between U.S. and Israeli generals in recent months.

If true, this military pact would be a landmark. Though the U.S. provides Israel with significant military aid and the two countries participate in joint military maneuvers, the two countries have never cooperated militarily and there is no known pact between the two countries in which they promise to actively support each other in a military engagement. 

Trump has frequently questioned the current relevance of the 70-year-old NATO agreements and criticizes the disproportionate role the U.S. is required to take in monetizing the effort intended to combat the now-defunct Soviet Union. The presidential displeasure led to other NATO members pledging to substantially increase their military spending and commitments of military assets to the alliance.

But Netanyahu’s European grip is focused entirely on their support of Iran. On Sunday, Netanyahu released a video lambasting the six countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) that signed on to the INSTEX barter mechanism designed to circumvent US sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding the use of the dollar.

“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” Netanyahu said in the video.

Though Gog and Magog were mentioned in the Bible as specific individuals, the Prophets, most specifically Ezekiel, described them as leading many nations in the final pre-Messiah battle against Israel. 

Netanyahu is frequently criticized for having an obsession with Iran and though his focus on Iran is probably based on geopolitical considerations, the Bible explicitly identifies Iran’s role in the War of Gog and Magog against Israel.

I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed in splendor, a vast assembly, all of them with bucklers and shields, wielding swords. Among them shall be Persia, Nubia, and Put, everyone with shield and helmet; Ezekiel 38:4-5

Iran is the modern incarnation of Persia.

This anti-Israel alliance took on a new member last week when Iran announced it will for the first time be holding joint military maneuvers with Russia and China. The Mongols, an ethnic group that is the remnant of the Mongolian Empire, resides within regions of Russia, China, and North Korea. According to some reports, the Mongolian people claim Magog as their ancestor.

It should be noted that Netanyahu’s left-wing political rival, Benny Gantz who heads the Blue and White party, posted a tweet in which he said that his party will always oppose such a pact.

“Blue and White under my leadership will not support an international agreement that will limit Israel’s actions and the IDF’s ability to protect the country from the threats it faces,” tweeted Gantz. “I have deep respect for the strategic relationship with the US, our ally, with whom we share identical values and joint interests but there is a serious concern that a prime minister who is busy with himself will allow the hands of security forces to be tied, as opposed to the position expressed by the security establishment for decades.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10237