Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Lebanon is sliding into the abyss of a “failed state”

 Aug 4, 2020 @ 11:02 Economic collapseHizballahLebanon failed stateSaudi Arabia

When he quit as Lebanon’s foreign minister on Monday, July 3, Nasser Hitti said his country was close to becoming a “failed state” due to “conflicting interests” and its weakened ties with the “Arab community” – a dig at the Shiite Hizballah’s iron fist on government as Iran’s tool.

Lebanon’s woes are the result of a compendium of troubles: a cold shoulder from oil-rich Sunni Arab friends, a collapsed economy, popular discontent that transcends sectarian divides, government corruption and ineptitude, and the disastrous spinoff from the Syrian civil war – all aggravated by the coronavirus outbreak. Last year, as Lebanon plunged deep into debt, Hizballah fighters came marching home from a successful campaign on Iran’s behalf in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Its leader Hassan Nasrallah, riding high, deepened his grip on government and parliament, after forging an alliance with President Michel Aoun.

Lebanon’s formerly strong ties with Arab nations were soon derailed, especially with Saudi Arabia. They bitterly resent the Iranian Lebanese proxy’s growing role in furthering Tehran’s ambitions in its country and region and interference in its conflicts.

Hizballah’s increased clout in Beirut also tipped the scales of the fragile power-sharing arrangement among the country’s three main sects, based on a Christian president, a Sunni Muslim prime minster and a Shiite Muslim Parliament Speaker. They form the elite which maneuvers tirelessly for the high ground in Beirut and plum jobs for their cronies.

Not long ago, Beirut was the free-and-easy playground of well-heeled Arabs who kept the town buzzing and its banks swimming in abundant dollars. Today, Lebanon’s public debt-to-gross domestic product is the third highest in the world, unemployment is rife and a third of the population had sunk to below the poverty line. Transfers have dried up from the large Lebanese diaspora. The drop in remittances from Gulf-based Lebanese nationals and decline in oil prices keep on pushing Lebanon further into debt and widening the gap between the Lebanese pound and the dollar in a thriving black market.

The country’s weakness is further exacerbated by the added burden of 1,5 million Syrian displaced refugees displaced to Lebanon at the height of the war.

Furious protests starting last year over the breakdown of basic services – power cuts, shortages of clean water and public healthcare – spilled over in October when the government levied a tax on tobacco, petrol and the Whatsapp messaging service. This plan was scrapped but the protests continued against the ruling elite, which continues to be blamed for feathering their nests while failing to carry out essential reforms. Tens of thousands of angry Lebanese forced the Western-backed Sunni prime minister Saad Hariri to resign and his unity government to fall, bringing the country to a standstill.

The protesters will not have forgotten or forgiven Hizballah goons for wielding sticks to break up their demonstrations last year.

The current Prime Minister Hassan Diab subsequently announced that Lebanon would default on its foreign debt for the first time in its history, saying its foreign currency reserves had hit a “critical and dangerous” level and that those remaining were needed to pay for vital imports.

By the time the coronavirus restrictions began to be lifted in May, the prices of some foodstuffs had doubled, and Lebanon was at risk of a major food crisis. At a time of hyperinflation, meat, fruits and vegetables have become unattainable luxuries for most Lebanese; some can’t even buy bread. Hours after Hitti resigned, President Michel Aoun and Diab signed a decree appointing Charbel Wehbe as the new foreign minister.

Hitti’s resignation was the biggest blow yet to Diab’s six-month-old government, which has struggled to make good on promises to implement wide-ranging reforms following the massive anti-establishment protests last year.  Diab’s cabinet has already seen two high-profile resignations from a team negotiating with the International Monetary Fund for a bailout. Both had cited the same lack of will to reform due to the interests of the country’s political-financial elite.

Hitti’s prediction that “If they don’t’ come together, then the ship will sink with everyone aboard.” is close to being realized. “Everyone” also includes Hizballah, whose response to this dire fate is keenly watched from neighboring Israel.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10793

The China-Iran Deal: A Trial Balloon with a Clear Message

By Dr. James M. Dorsey July 22, 2020

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BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,655, July 22, 2020

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Hobbled by harsh US sanctions and a global economic downturn, Iran has discovered a new weapon: hot air in the form of a cooperation deal with China that carries messages to its opponents. China, albeit far less economically impaired, sees virtue in this arrangement too.

A proposed 25-year humongous China-Iran cooperation deal has proven to be good business. Reams of articles, analyses, and commentary by pundits are ensuring that the two countries’ messages are delivered loud and clear.

Beijing and Tehran have provided evidence to keep the story alive: Numerous agreements signed by Presidents Xi Jinping and Hassan Rouhani during the Chinese leader’s visit to the Middle East in 2016 would, if implemented, expand economic relations between the two countries by a factor of 10 to $600 billion and significantly enhance military cooperation.

Those agreements, which signaled a potential Chinese tilt toward Iran, were concluded at a time when a significant easing of US sanctions against Iran was anticipated as part of the 2015 international agreement, which curbed Iran’s nuclear program.

Those hopes were dashed when President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018 and re-imposed crippling sanctions. China has since by and large abided by the US restrictions.

Iran appeared this month to put flesh on the skeleton of a Beijing-Tehran deal by leaking a purported final draft of a sweeping 25-year partnership agreement that envisions up to $400 billion in Chinese investment to develop Iran’s oil, gas, and transportation sectors. The problem is that there is nothing final about the draft. It is little more than a trial balloon.

That is just fine as far as Tehran and Beijing are concerned, even if both would like to cooperate on a far grander scale if geopolitical circumstances permitted it. For now, there remains a long negotiation path to the conclusion of an agreement. It is certainly not yet ready for implementation.

That does not mean that there is no upside to be had immediately, however.

By fueling talk of an imminent agreement, Iran is signaling Europe and a potential Biden administration after the US November presidential election, American and European policies might drive the Islamic Republic into Beijing’s arms. It also allowed Iran to take a swipe at Saudi Arabia by suggesting that when the chips are down, it will be Tehran, not Riyadh, to which China will turn.

China capitalized on Iran’s hot air by amplifying its messages toward the US and the kingdom. Officially, China limited itself to a non-committal on-the-record reaction and low-key semi-official commentary.

FM spokesman Zhao Lijian, an exponent of China’s newly adopted more assertive approach to diplomacy, was exceptionally tactful in his comment. “China and Iran enjoy traditional friendship, and the two sides have been in communication on the development of bilateral relations. We stand ready to work with Iran to steadily advance practical cooperation,” Zhao said.

Writing in the Shanghai Observer, a secondary Communist party newspaper, Middle East scholar Fan Hongda argued that an agreement, though nowhere close to implementation, highlights “an important moment of development” at a time when US-Chinese tensions have allowed Beijing to pay less heed to American policies.

In saying this, Fan was echoing China’s warning that the US was putting much at risk by ratcheting up tensions between the world’s two largest economies and could push China to the point where it no longer regards the potential cost of countering US policy as prohibitively high.

China’s response also amplified its message to the Gulf States. Scholars with close ties to the government have suggested that the economic downturn, which affects China’s economic ties to the region, could persuade Beijing to further limit its exposure if the Gulf States fail to find a way to come to grips with Iran in a way that would dial down tensions.

“For China, the Middle East is always on the very distant backburner of China’s strategic global strategies … COVID-19, combined with the oil price crisis, will dramatically change the Middle East. [This] will change China’s investment model in the Middle East,” said Niu Xinchun, director of Middle East Studies at China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), widely regarded as China’s most influential think tank.

In July, in an interesting twist that could signal China’s appetite to play the Iranian card soon, Iran dropped India as a partner in the development of a rail line from its Indian-backed deep-sea port of Chabahar because of delays in Indian funding. The Trump administration had exempted Chabahar from its sanctions regime.

Iranian transport and urban development minister Muhammad Eslami recently inaugurated the track-laying for the first 628 kilometers of the line, which will ultimately link Chabahar to Afghanistan. Iranian officials said Tehran would fund the rail line itself, but both China and Iran have expressed an interest in linking Chabahar to Gwadar, the Chinese-backed Arabian Sea port, some 70 kilometers down the coast in Pakistan. The economic downturn as a result of the pandemic has revived doubts about the viability of Gwadar, a crown jewel of the approximately $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), China’s single largest BRI-related investment.

In an indication that the US does not see a potentially game-changing China-Iran deal as imminent, the Trump administration has stuck to its long-standing policy so far.

“The United States will continue to impose costs on Chinese companies that aid Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism,” said a US State Department spokesperson.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10762

At least 7 Iranian ships in flames at Bushehr port. New US warning

 Jul 15, 2020 @ 16:46 7 Iranian ships on fireUS Gen. Kenneth McKenzie

The types of the seven vessels on fire on Wednesday, July 15, and what caused the blazes were not revealed in the first official report from Tehran. The incident followed a string of mysterious explosions at Iran’s nuclear, military and missile production sites ongoing since late June.

DEBKAfile: If this suspected campaign of sabotage has been extended to encompass Iran’s navy, it would be a serious escalation, amounting to a threat to Iran’s claim to control the Persian Gulf and its waters.

Bushehr province is also home to Iran’s only nuclear power plant.


A day earlier, on Tuesday, US Central Command Chef Gen. Kenneth McKenzie warned Tehran that “any malign activities in the Gulf would bear a high cost.” In an interview sponsored by the State Department, he reminded Iran of “the events of January” when a US drone killed top Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. “So we are postured and will continue to be postured in the region, working closely with all our partners, all our friends n the region, to ensure that we’re ready and Iran sees very clearly what would be the high cost of any malign activity on their part,” the US Centcom chief stressed.

The general was asked if the Iranian regime was truly deterred by the killing of Soleimani or whether, before making its move, it was waiting out the upcoming UN Security Council vote on extending the arms embargo or the US presidential election. He replied that Washington had established “red lines” that might not have been visible before. The UN vote was a factor, he said, adding “But to be honest with you, it’s very hard to know and understand exactly what Iran’s thinking is.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10738

Damage to Natanz centrifuge production may be irreparable

Iran is caught in a dilemma between hiding the true scale of damage caused to its nuclear program by the Natanz explosion and fire and the urge to punish the culprit.  On July 10, Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi warned of “consequences” to foreign elements proved to be involved. He also hedged it round by saying it was “too early” to judge “the main cause and reason for the blast.”. He criticized media reports attributing the explosion to Israel for “portraying Israel as powerful.”

Tehran knows perfectly well the exact cause and reason for the Natanz blast on July 2 (which occurred less than a week after an explosion at a secret underground tunnel system and missile production site east of Tehran.) They may not admit this, but they know that the damage to the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center (ICAC) at the Natanz enrichment center was “extensive, severe and possibly irreparable,” according to analysts David Albright, Sarah Burkhard, and Frank Pabian of the Institute for Science & International Security.

The ICAC, inaugurated in 2018, was critical to the mass production of advanced centrifuges, in particular the assembly of rotor assemblies and its key component, the rapidly spinning part. An annex to the building was intended to assemble electrical components, including motors.

Enriched uranium is essentially used for both civil nuclear power generation and military nuclear weapons. Iran’s new advanced uranium centrifuges at Natanz were intended to accelerate its ability to produce enough enriched uranium to make a bomb in the short term.

Satellite imagery further shows that the damage appears to have been caused by a large single point detonation, possibly creating a crater that is centered at the northwest corner of the ICAC. That explosion, evidently causing or coinciding with a fire, may well have involved an explosives device.

The true extent of the damage was publicly withheld by Iran.  It was not until commercial satellite imagery became available that the true nature of the damage could be observed. It is clear from the imagery of Airbus/CNES and Planet Labs that a major explosion took place, destroying nearly three quarters of the main centrifuge assembly hall, generating a fire that blackened a major portion of the building, the blackening visible where the roof had been blown away by the explosion. Although we had originally concluded, based on the ground imagery, that the explosion and fire had most likely occurred in the northeast corner of the building in an area of the building that likely contained auxiliary diesel generators, it is now clear from the overhead satellite imagery that the explosion was actually centered at the northwest corner.  

Unlike the northeast corner, which was blackened by fire and exhibited signs of some structural damage, the northwest corner of the ICAC building, including a large portion of a brick-walled annex, was completely obliterated. Moreover, a debris field of building materials (primarily roofing panels) is also distributed in a roughly radial pattern, extending to a radius of over half a football field, from that same point. What we perceive might be a crater, roughly 10 meters in diameter, that is visible in the center of that circular pattern. What appears to be some gray concrete throw-out material is also visible in the area where the corner of the building had been. That center-point of the possible crater is located just outside the building, which would be accessible by vehicle, suggesting that a vehicle-borne explosives device cannot be ruled out at this time. 

The centrifuge assembly building was said to be intended to mass produce IR-2m, IR-4, and IR-6 centrifuges. Mass production translates to the combined production of thousands of such centrifuges per year. Iran placed next-generation uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Natanz enrichment facility as part of a program it could tap to produce a nuclear weapon. Under its 2015 nuclear deal with six powers, Iran agreed to install no more than 5,060 of its oldest centrifuges at Natanz until 2026. Last year, Tehran began rolling back its commitments to the accord in reprisal for US withdrawal. And by November, Iran had doubled the number of advanced centrifuges operating at Natanz.

Although the explosion and fire at the Iran Centrifuge Assembly Center does not eliminate Iran’s ability to deploy advanced centrifuges, such as the IR-2m’s, its destruction must be viewed as a major setback to Iran’s ability to deploy advanced centrifuges on a mass scale for years to come. Some estimates say that the Islamic Republic nuclear weapons program has suffered a delay of up to two years.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10725

CHINA BAILS OUT IRAN TURNING ISLAMIC REPUBLIC INTO CHINESE COLONY

Enraged at Balaam, Balak struck his hands together. “I called you,” Balak said to Balaam, “to damn my enemies Numbers 24:10, (The Israel BibleTM)

by David Sidman | Jul 13, 2020 | Terror Watch

An 18-page document written up by the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs entitled the ‘Iran-China 25-year Comprehensive Partnership Document’ was leaked to IranWire last week. In the agreement, China has agreed to invest $400-600 billion in Iranian infrastructure in exchange for dominion over Iran’s natural resources for a 25 year period.

The document highlights the shared interests of both countries which include the supply of crude oil, renewable energy, civilian nuclear energy and petrochemical products. From an infrastructure perspective the deal involves the construction of railways, highways, maritime connections, and banking cooperation with regards to local currencies.


According to the deal, China will “rescue” the Islamic Republic from the economic crisis it is now embroiled in by investing in seaports, trains, smart cities and other vital infrastructure. One of the main benefits that China will enjoy is Iranian oil throughout the 25-year agreement period.

The deal, according to various sources, also features an appendix of military cooperation whose nature is unclear. However it does seem to focus on ” a joint commission for military industries, investment, joint design, development and production of armaments and an exchange of experience in asymmetric warfare.”

The agreement offers Iran unprecedented support from a world power and could, according to Washington’s concerns, dramatically lighten the impact of US sanctions on Iran.


This agreement is being touted as highly beneficial for China as it offers a great economic deal for Bei Jing and a significant foothold in an area featuring geopolitical advantages. Certainly, the hostility and defiance of the US also plays a role.

The agreement has yet to be put to a vote in the Iranian parliament. Many opponents of the regime are concerned that the ayatollahs will sell out Iran’s future for a “bowl of Chinese rice noodles.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10719

NEW DEFENSE CONTRACT INDICATES AN ISRAELI STRIKE ON IRAN IN 2 YEARS

“Ah, land in the deep shadow of wings, Beyond the rivers of Nubia!” Isaiah 18:1, (The Israel BibleTM)

by Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz | Jul 13, 2020 | IDF

In March, the US State Department approved the sale of KC-46 state-of-the-art refueling planes to Israel but apparently the Israeli military has a pressing need for long-distance airstrikes, leading them, to request a hurry-up date of delivery.

The State Department approved the sale of eight Boeing KC-46 Pegasus military aerial refueling and strategic military transport aircraft at an estimated cost of $2.4 billion, which was first delivered to the US Air Force last year. The new planes will be purchased as part of a $3 billion US defense aid package. Israel currently uses Boeing 707s, which have been modified by Israel Aerospace Industries, for aerial refueling. The sale can still be blocked in Congress. The delivery of the airplanes was scheduled to take place in four years. 

Channel 12 News reported Wednesday that Israel has requested that the aircraft be delivered within two years. For this to happen, the US Air Force will need to give up two production slots for the 179 KC-46 airplanes being built for the American defense department. Sources at the Boeing Corporation estimate that the first refueling tanker will be delivered to Israel in 2022 or 2023.

The announcement has led to conjecture that the urgency for in-flight refueling comes as a result of concern of an Iranian reprisal to a wave of explosions targeting military and nuclear sites in Iran. One of the planes that can be serviced by the KC-46 is the F-35 stealth fighter. The Israeli Air Force currently has 16 of the stealth fighters, named Adir. Israel became the first country in the world to use the F-35 in combat during recent clashes with Iran in Syria. Israel 

Following threats against Israel by senior Iranian officials last year, Prime Minister Netanyahu warned that Israel’s F-35 fighter jets can reach “anywhere in the Middle East.” 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. Delivery of the KC-46 would allow in-flight refueling of the F-35 Adir, adding a significant impact to Netanyahu’s threat.

The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said Israel’s having its own KC-46s would help back up the US military’s own, “potentially freeing US assets for use elsewhere during times of war.”

Israel is considering other aviation purchases from the US as essential to defense, including the Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey vertical takeoff and landing tri-rotor aircraft. The V-22 is used to transport special units “very fast for long distances.”

In a related development, the US government this week agreed to sell Israel 990 million liters of special  JP-8  jet fuel worth about $3 billion.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10716

Does A Series Of “Mystery Explosions” Inside Iran Mean That The Next Big Middle East War Is About To Begin?

July 7, 2020 by Michael Snyder

Over the past several weeks, a series of “mystery explosions” has happened at very strategically sensitive locations inside Iran, and it has become obvious that what we are witnessing is not just a bunch of random accidents.  For years, the Israeli government has pledged that the Iranians will never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons, and several of the sites where the mystery explosions have taken place have direct connections to Iran’s nuclear program.  For example, there was a very large explosion at Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment facility on July 2nd, and it is being reported that some officials believe that this explosion was caused by a “powerful bomb”.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

Israel was behind an explosion and fire at Iran’s Natanz nuclear complex caused by a “powerful bomb,” a Middle Eastern intelligence official with knowledge of the incident told The New York Times on Monday.

A member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps confirmed to the Times that an explosive was used in the incident as well. Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

Of course there have been several other “mystery explosions” as well, and there is speculation that “computer viruses similar to the Stuxnet virus” may have been involved in at least some of the blasts…

Five recent explosions in Iran may have been caused by computer viruses similar to the Stuxnet virus that disabled Iranian centrifuges in 2010.

Two of the blasts took place at power plants, one at a missile research, development and production site, one at a new uranium enrichment centrifuge center, and the last (if it can be considered part of the attacks) in downtown Tehran at a medical facility that could have been a cover for nuclear operations such as a hidden command center.

It has become clear that the Trump administration does not intend to take military action to stop Iran’s nuclear program, so the Israeli government has been forced into a position where it must make a very tough choice.  Either Israel must be willing to accept Iran as a nuclear power or Israel must do something to stop it from happening.

At this point, it has been confirmed that the “industrial shed” that was destroyed during the explosion at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility “was in fact a new site for assembling centrifuges”, and that would definitely be a logical target for the Israelis to hit. When asked about the “mystery explosions”, the following is what Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz had to say about them

When Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz was asked if Israel had anything to do with “mysterious explosions,” he reportedly told Israel Radio: “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

“All those systems are complex, they have very high safety constraints and I’m not sure they always know how to maintain them,” he said, according to Reuters.

Obviously that is not a denial.

Meanwhile, it is also being reported that the Mossad has “thwarted a series of planned Iranian attacks on Israeli embassies”

Israeli spy agency Mossad claims it has recently thwarted a series of planned Iranian attacks on Israeli embassies around the world.

The intelligence bureau has halted ‘terrorist’ plans in Europe and elsewhere, according to a report by Hebrew-language broadcaster Channel 12 which said that Israel’s arch-enemy Iran was behind the plots.

The Iranians are becoming increasingly frustrated by the success of Israeli covert operations, and they want to find ways to strike back.  Embassies are typically easy targets, but thankfully the Mossad has apparently been one step ahead of all Iranian efforts to target embassies so far.

Needless to say, all of this is happening at a time when tensions in the entire region are rapidly coming to a boil.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu keeps insisting that he is about to move forward with his plan to to annex portions of Judea and Samaria, and if that happens there will inevitably be a violent response by the Palestinians.

In fact, the Times of Israel is reporting that “Fatah and Hamas are in agreement that there should be a popular uprising if the controversial plan goes ahead”…

An adviser to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned Saturday there was a possibility of a third intifada if the Israeli government goes ahead with its plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

The Kan public broadcaster reported that Nabil Shaath told the Arabic-language arm of the France 24 network that Palestinian rivals Fatah and Hamas are in agreement that there should be a popular uprising if the controversial plan goes ahead.

And the truth is that rocket fire has already started.  On Sunday, Israeli planes hit targets in the Gaza Strip after “a barrage of rocket fire into southern Israel”

Israeli aircraft struck targets in the northern Gaza Strip on Sunday following a barrage of rocket fire into southern Israel. No casualties were reported on either side. In a statement, the Israeli military said attack helicopters and fighter jets struck “underground infrastructure” belonging to Gaza’s ruling Hamas terrorist group.

Earlier Sunday, the army said three rockets were fired by Gaza terrorists toward Israel, setting off air-raid sirens. It said one of the rockets was intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system; according to Channel 12 TV the other two landed in open areas. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rocket fire. A number of armed terrorist groups operate in Gaza.

The bottom line is that the Middle East has been on the precipice of a major war for years, and it certainly isn’t going to take much to push things over the edge.

If the Iranians do not stop their nuclear program, the Israelis are going to continue to hit them, and that will eventually spark a war.

And if Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu goes ahead with his plan to annex portions of Judea and Samaria, that is almost certain to spark a war too.

We have reached such a critical moment, and it appears to be just a matter of time before a great conflict erupts.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10711

Five Mysterious Explosions Cripple Iran’s Nuclear Capability: Israel Responds

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz July 5, 2020 , 1:43 pm

Of David. Blessed is Hashem, my rock, who trains my hands for battle, my fingers for warfare; Psalms 144:1

A series of explosions in Iran including several at problematic nuclear sites has left the regime giving conflicting answers to difficult questions. It also graphically illustrates that even the most secure Iranian facilities are open to foreign attacks.

On June 25, a huge explosion rocked Parchin military base about 20 miles southeast of the capital Tehran. Defense ministry spokesman Davoud Abdi told state TV the blast happened at a gas storage facility in a “public area” of Parchin rather than the military base

It was later revealed that the explosion was the result of a cyberattack, possibly carried out by Israel. 

In July 2015, there were claims based on satellite imagery that there was activity in the Parchin military complex associated with nuclear weapons. UN and international inspectors were denied access to the site and Iran denied the claims saying the satellite photos were fabricated. 

In 2014, the New York Times reported that a large explosion at the site was a case of sabotage by foreign intelligence agencies. In 2018, Israeli intelligence captured an archive in Tehran with proving the Parchin site was a key part of Iran’s ongoing nuclear weapons research and development program. This archive contained documentary evidence that in 2003 Iran was operating a nuclear weapons program, codenamed the AMAD Plan, which aimed to build five nuclear weapons and prepare an underground nuclear test site. Parchin was a key part of that program, used for a specialized, difficult to develop, neutron initiator to start the chain reaction in a nuclear explosion. Some of the equipment is believed to be held ready for later use, potentially when Iran’s 2015 nuclear accord with the six world powers expires.

At about the same time as the explosion at the Parchin facility, a large explosion at the local power station left half of the city of Tehran without electricity. 

But that was not the end of Iran’s woes. Four days later, an explosion from a gas leak in the Sina Athar Medical Center in northern Tehran killed 19 people. Video posted online appeared to show more than one explosion.

On Thursday, a fire and explosion damaged a centrifuge production plant above Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility at around 2:00 AM local time. Initially, Iranian officials claimed the destruction was inconsequential, damaging an “industrial shed.” At the same time, the government claimed the “industrial shed” was the target of sabotage by enemy nations such as Israel and the US.  An unnamed Middle Eastern intelligence official later told the NY Times that damage to the facility was caused by an explosive device placed inside the building.

Natanz nuclear facility is generally recognized as Iran’s central facility for uranium enrichment with over 19,000 gas centrifuges currently operational and nearly half of them being fed with uranium hexafluoride. Between 2007–2010 Natanz nuclear power plant was hit by a sophisticated cyberattack that was carried out by German, French, British, American, Dutch and Israeli intelligence organizations. The attack used a Stuxnet worm which hampered the operation of the plant’s centrifuges and caused damage to them over time.

Disaster hit Iran yet again on Saturday as an explosion ripped through the Zargan power plant in the Iranian city of Ahvaz. Iran’s IRNA news agency later reported that the blaze was ignited when a transformer exploded.

A few hours later on Saturday, IRNA said a chlorine gas leak at a Karun petrochemical center in the city of Mahshahr in southeast Iran. 70 workers.were reported hospitalized in the incident.

Some of the mystery behind the explosions was alleviated in an interview on Sunday with  Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz. When Israel Army Radio asked whether Israel had anything to do with the spate of explosions in Iran, Gantz answered enigmatically, “Not every incident that transpires in Iran necessarily has something to do with us.”

“All those systems are complex, they have very high safety constraints and I’m not sure they always know how to maintain them,” Gantz 

Three Iranian officials who spoke to Reuters said they thought cyber sabotage had been involved at Natanz, but offered no evidence. Two said Israel could have been behind it.

An article by Iran’s state news agency IRNA addressed what it called the possibility of sabotage by enemies such as Israel and the United States, although it stopped short of accusing either directly.

Cyberwarfare between Israel and Iran has been carried out for some time with terrifying implications. An unprecedented Iranian cyberattack targeted six facilities in Israel’s water infrastructure on April 24-25 nearly dumped lethal levels of chemicals into the Israeli civilian water system. Fortunately, the attack impacted some systems but did not cause any disruption in the water supply or waste management. The computer system was breached but the cyberattack was blocked before any damage could be done. 

Cyber attacks typically target databases or websites. But this attack was the first of its type, attempting to attack a civilian population.

Israel responded in kind, targeting Iran’s largest port, paralyzing the main economic ingress for several days.  All navigation systems of the ships were severely disrupted and everything had to be stopped to avoid collisions between incoming and outgoing vessels. 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10701

Iran, Turkey could Unite to Wage War Against Israel warns Mid-East Experts

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz June 28, 2020 , 1:30 pm

“O mortal, turn your face toward Gog of the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal. Prophesy against him.” Ezekiel 38:2)

The notion of a joint Iran-Turkey invasion of Israel is a realistic scenario according to several Middle East experts.

Seth Franzman

According to Jpost correspondent Seth Franzman‘s analysis, both Ankara and Tehran have been cooperating in various Middle East conflicts including their opposition to American involvement in Syria as well as battling Kurdish dissident groups. And the once rivals also now share a hatred of Israel combined with the support of Hamas which could translate into a united front in a potential war against Israel.

Franzman notes a high-level meeting between Iran’s foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Turkish officials where the former asked that Ankara help his country fight against sanctions. In exchange, Tehran would support Turkish efforts in Libya to secure offshore oil drilling rights.

Other coordinated incursions between the two Muslim countries include a joint strike against Kurdish rebel groups in Northern Iraq. The IRGC, who Washington considers to be a terrorist organization, is currently coordinating with Turkey to fight “terrorist” threats from the “Iraqi Kurdistan region” according to Iran’s Tasnim News.

But the joint Iran-Turkey efforts in Iraq could now be redirected towards Israel, warns Franzman. One example is how Turkey’s Religious Affairs Ministry has threatened to mobilize the Muslim community against Israel to protect Jerusalem against annexation. Similar sentiments have been heard from Tehran as Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, called for “armed resistance” (against Israel) on May 21.

Franzman also notes how Hamas is currently funded by Turkish-backed Qatar and the two maintain very close diplomatic ties.

Franzman, notes other commonalities between Turkey and Iran which include a shared antipathy towards Israel and Saudi Arabia. Both are allied with Qatar and Hamas. They both want a downgraded US role in Syria. Tehran has agreed that in exchange for support in opposing sanctions against them, the Islamic Republic would pressure Kurdish dissidents in Iran while coordinating with Turkey in Iraq.

Noting that both Turkey and Iran need another cause to rally popular support both at home and in the region, a bullseye on Jerusalem could be next.

Dr. Mordechai Kedar

Dr. Mordechai Kedar, a senior lecturer in the Department of Arabic at Bar-Ilan University,  noted that Turkey and Iran were diametrically opposed due to their religious differences with Iran being strongly Shia and Turkey being strongly Sunni.

“Sometimes, Sunni and Shia cooperate against a common enemy,” Dr. Kedar said, noting that Iran, fanatically Shia, funds  Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, fanatically Sunni, against Israel, the small devil, and the US, the great devil.”

Dr. Kedar emphasized that Russia was a major player in this complicated game. 

“Russia is allied with Khalifa Haftar in Libya,” Dr. Kedar said. “This pits Turkey against Russia since Erdogan is working to depose him. Erdogan is also helping the rebels in Syria who are trying to depose Bashar al Assad, who Russia supports.”

“Erdogan has really put himself in a difficult position regarding Russia because he thinks he is stronger than Putin. For a similar reason, Erdogan has antagonized the US by buying Russian military hardware and making overtures to Putin, despite being a NATO member. Erdogan sees all the internal strife in the US and thinks this is the opportunity to thumb his nose at Trump and take advantage since Trump cannot deal with anything except what he has on his plate right now.”

“Turkey and Iran see themselves as a powerful unified front that can stand against any other country in the world right now, whether it is Russia, the US, Israel, or Saudi Arabia.”

Dr. Kedar noted that Libya plays a key role in this Iran-Turkey alliance.

“In one word; gas,” Dr. Kedar said. “Two months ago, there was an agreement between Turkey and Libya regarding the natural gas under the Mediterranean. The Turkish agreement attempts to obviate the agreements between Israel and Cyprus and Egypt which have already agreed on the division of the same gas reserve. This gas reserve is huge and the political implications are even bigger.”

“Keep in mind that the biggest players in the world’s natural gas market today are Iran, Qatar, and Russia. There are two separate and opposing coalitions with interests and agreements about the one gas reserve.”

“So even if Iran and Turkey don’t like each other, they share a common interest in the gas. But as soon as they are together on the common interest of the gas reserves, a global concern, this alliance can be used for other ‘smaller’ interests like Jerusalem and Israel.”

Dr. Efrat Aviv

Dr. Efrat Aviv, a senior lecturer in the Dept. of Middle Eastern Studies at Bar Ilan University and an expert on Turkey, suggested that it would be misleading to describe the relationship between Turkey and Iran as an alliance. 

She noted that the Ottoman Empire, the previous incarnation of Turkey, and the Persian Empire, the previous incarnation of Iran, were at war for over 300 years, finally laying down their arms in the 1820s. The conflict between these two huge countries who share a sliver of a border began under the rule of Ismail I who unified Iran as a Shia empire creating what might seem an irreconcilable conflict with the Sunni Ottomans to the west.

“These borders and differences still exist today,” Dr. Aviv said. “They always were and are still in conflict over the hegemony of the region and of the Islamic world. While Saudi Arabia is the leader of the Sunni world in its right, Turkey and Iran are both Muslim but are not Arab. They each have about 82 million people and large militaries. This puts them in direct conflict. This also sets them at odds with Israel; the only other non-Arab entity in the region.”

“Despite their differences and their history, the two countries have occasionally had good relations, depending on their vested interests at the time.”

“For economic and trade, Iran and Turkey can get along quite well,” Dr. Aviv said. “In Turkish culture, there are no ‘friends’. There are only common interests. This is especially true of foreign powers. They have an expression that there is no friend for a Turk other than another Turk. There are agreements, agendas, and goals but no real alliances. This allowed Turkey to stay out of World War II until the very end. This allows them to be a member of NATO but still buy Russian military hardware when it suits them.”

“Even after hundreds of years of war with Iran, they can agree to work with Iran against a common enemy.”

“What this means for the US, Israel, and other countries is that even if Turkey is not an enemy, even if they are working with you right now, if their interests suddenly demand, they can become an enemy overnight.”. 

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10685

Rumors Of Wars: China, India, North Korea, South Korea, Israel And Turkey All Move Toward War

June 16, 2020 by Michael Snyder

As if we didn’t have enough already going on in 2020, now we are facing the possibility that several regional wars may erupt.  China and India had both been pouring troops into a disputed border region, and now there has been an incident where they were actually killing each other.  On the Korean peninsula, North Korea just blew up “a joint liaison office” that it had used for talks with the South Korean government.  And in the Middle East, Turkey is warning of grave consequences if Israel goes ahead with a plan to annex portions of Judea and Samaria.  If a major regional war erupts at even one of these flashpoints, it will be another devastating blow for a global economy that is already imploding, and there is a very strong probability that the U.S. and other major western powers could be drawn into the conflict.

Right now, most Americans are focused on our internal problems, and so they are paying very little attention to the growing crisis on the border between China and India.

Both nations had sent substantial contingents of troops to an area of the border that has long been disputed, and a meeting that was supposed to defuse tensions actually resulted in soldiers killing one another

Chinese state media described the incident Monday night in the Galwan River valley where both countries have deployed troops in recent weeks as “the most serious clash between Chinese and Indian soldiers so far,” confirming casualties but offering no further details about them. Indian government sources speaking on the condition of anonymity told The Times of India that 20 Indian army personnel had died in the fighting.

American intelligence believes 35 Chinese troops died, including one senior officer, a source familiar with that assessment tells U.S. News. The incident took place during a meeting in the mountainous region between the two sides – both of which had agreed to disarm – to determine how the two militaries would safely withdraw their presences from the region.

This is the very first time in decades that Chinese and Indian troops have killed each other, and apparently very little shooting was involved

The meeting grew tense and resulted in a physical confrontation between the troops. According to the assessment, all of the casualties were from the use of batons and knives and from falls from the steep topography, the source says.

That sounds like a scene from an overly gory Hollywood war movie, but reportedly this actually happened.

Hopefully the leaders of the two nations will be able to cool tensions for a while, but the Chinese have a very long history of very bitter border disputes with their neighbors, and without a doubt China will continue to make attempts to exercise sovereignty over this area.

Meanwhile, tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen to a level that we haven’t seen in many, many years.  On Tuesday, North Korea actually blew up a building that had been used for negotiations with South Korea

North Korea has blown up a joint liaison office used for talks between itself and South Korea, the latest sign that ties between the two longtime adversaries are rapidly deteriorating.

North Korean state media reported that the four-story building, which is located in the town of Kaesong just north of the demilitarized zone that divides the two Koreas, was “completely destroyed by a “terrific explosion” at 2:50 p.m. local time.

That is certainly one way to make a statement.

And this comes just days after Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, had issued a very ominous warning

In a cryptic statement late Saturday, Kim Yo Jong vowed her country would “soon take a next action” against South Korea — a move she suggested would be carried out by the country’s military.

“By exercising my power authorized by the Supreme Leader, our Party and the state, I gave an instruction to the arms of the department in charge of the affairs with enemy to decisively carry out the next action,” Kim said in the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

All of a sudden, North Korea’s approach to relations with South Korea has dramatically shifted, and that shift has coincided with Kim Yo Jong taking a much more prominent role in national affairs.

I believe that there is much more going on in North Korea than we are being told, and Kim Yo Jong appears to favor a much more militant approach than what we have become accustomed to in recent years.

Over in the Middle East, the Times of Israel is reporting that the IDF is gearing up for a “state of war” as Israel prepares to annex portions of Judea and Samaria…

Just over two weeks before a possible Israeli annexation of some as-yet unspecified portion of the West Bank, the Israel Defense Forces is preparing for a wide range of scenarios for potential regional fallout — up to and including a large-scale wave of terror attacks — while still not being told exactly what the government has in mind.

The military is gearing up for possible massive unrest, Channel 12 reported Sunday evening, including what it is calling a potential “state of war” characterized by a Second Intifada-style onslaught of suicide bombing attacks.

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again made it clear that he does not intend to alter his plans, and that means that the process of annexation could start as soon as the beginning of July.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an entire article about how this could potentially spark a major war in the region, and Arab leaders continue to make it clear that there will be “consequences” if Israel goes through with this…

Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty to the Jordan Valley, and parts of Judea and Samaria, will “destroy all hopes” for lasting peace in the Middle East, Turkey’s top diplomat said on Wednesday.

“If the occupying power [Israel] crosses the red line, we [Muslim countries] must show that this will have consequences,” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said during a special meeting of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation Executive Committee, according to Turkey’s Anadolu Agency.

We shall see what happens.

I think that Netanyahu is convinced that Donald Trump is probably going to lose in November, and so that means that he probably believes that he only has a window of a few months in which he could annex portions of Judea and Samaria with U.S. support.

It appears that Netanyahu is absolutely determined to move forward, and it also appears that Israel’s Arab neighbors are prepared to respond very forcefully.

In just a few weeks, missiles could start flying back and forth, and the entire Middle East could erupt in flames.

This is such a critical time, and let us pray for peace.

But without a doubt we are living during a time of “wars and rumors of wars”, and it certainly isn’t going to take much to unleash a major conflict.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10662