“Unpredicted Outcomes” of the Arab Spring
As Bible students are aware, some of these, “unpredicted outcomes” are not as “unpredicted”!
December 21, 2013 - Audio, 12.25 MIN
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This week, the BBC ran a feature entitled “Arab Spring: 10 unpredicted outcomes”, by its Middle East correspondent Kevin Connolly. However, as Bible students are aware, some of these, “unpredicted outcomes” are not as “unpredicted” as Connolly imagines.
Hello, this is Nick Barnes, with the December 20th Bible in the News.
The first of his “unpredicted outcomes” is that “The royal families of the Middle East have had a pretty good Arab Spring so far – rather better than some of them might have feared”, he says. And so while the governments of Tunisia, Libya and Egypt have been toppled and that of Syria teeters in bloody civil war, the monarchies of Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait and, of course, Saudi Arabia have largely escaped unscathed.
His second “unpredicted outcome” is that the “US no longer calls the shots”. And he states “America is still a superpower of course but it doesn’t dictate events in the Middle East anymore”. And indeed there has been a catastrophic loss of influence for America in this vital region.
The United States has enjoyed dominance in this crossroad of the World, at the expense of Russia, for 40 years. Before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, Russia was the arsenal of most Arab countries; Israel was surrounded by Migs, T55 & T62 tanks, Sagger anti-tank missiles and SA-2s, SA-3s and SA-6 surface to air missiles, all provide by the USSR. And in exchange, these client states bent their wills to the foreign policy aims of the Soviets.
However from the time of that war, Russia rapidly lost traction; so that by the end of the war, Russia was forced to back down from its declared intention of unilaterally intervening on the behalf of Egypt. And in 1974, Russia was actually expelled from Egypt, by President Anwar Sadat. Instead Sadat realigned Egypt as a client of the USA, and soon became the recipient of billions of dollars of US aid – both economic and military.
Likewise Saudi Arabia and the various small Gulf states have, in recent decades, relied on the US for their security umbrella, and even Libya, under Colonel Gaddafi, eventually came into the western camp; and, of course, Israel has been a firm strategic ally, with the United States, since about 1970.
But in Obama’s presidency, all of these countries have been alienated; largely because of a loss of trust. He has demonstrated a willingness to abandon, and even support the enemies of, long-time, strategic allies (in particular Hosni Mubarak, but also Colonel Gaddafi). He has then allowed the democratically elected replacement, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, to be ousted, with scarcely a whimper, because the US did not like his policies, and yet Obama has subsequently failed to support the new government also.
The US government has left, the Middle Eastern monarchies, in little doubt that the US would betray their trust too, if they needed help, despite all the support they gave the Western Allies against Saddam Hussein and in the War on Terror.
Which brings us to the fourth “unpredicted outcome” which is “Iran a Winner”. Kevin Connolly writes
“No-one would have predicted at the beginning of the Arab Spring that Iran would gain from it. At the beginning of the process, it was marginalised and crippled by sanctions imposed because of its nuclear ambitions. Now it's impossible to imagine a solution in Syria without Iranian agreement, and with its presidency under new management its (sic) even talking to the world powers about that nuclear programme.
Saudi Arabia and Israel are both alarmed by America's readiness to talk to Tehran - anything that puts those two countries on the same side of an argument has to be pretty historic.”
And the US has further embittered its Middle Eastern allies – namely Israel, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states – through this deal with Iran. The Saudi government is reported as saying that it endangers the “stability and security of the Middle East”, and its ambassador to London said that his country "will not stand idly by in the face of the danger posed by the Iranian nuclear program if the US, the UK and the other major powers fail to stop this program". In Israel, premier Netanyahu said “What was reached in Geneva is not a historic agreement, it is a historic mistake”.
Weakness, in this group of allies, is predicted in the prophet Ezekiel and chapter 38. We read in v13
Eze 38:13 Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, shall say unto thee, Art thou come to take a spoil? hast thou gathered thy company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?
The Sheba and Dedan are the ancient inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula. Today’s equivalents are Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. These we see are allied with “the Merchants of Tarshish” and all its “young lions”. The latter-day Tarshish is Britain as shown briefly in the Bible in the News of 18th Jan 2013, and more fully in a Bible Class series on “Britain in Bible Prophecy” available at
The “young lions” are the nations which grew from Britain’s colonies, in the days of its empire; countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India and, of course, the United States of America.
But these allies are to have become so weak, it appears from Eze 38v13, that they will have become unable or unwilling to stand against the invasion, by Gog, of the Middle East, and in particular of the land of Israel. This passage indicates that the US will no longer have the reach to impose its will in the Levantine theatre, and will be powerless to prevent those who have “gathered thy company to take a prey” “ to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil”.
In contrast, Iran and Russia will be in that great confederacy, inflicting their will, by force of arms, on Israel and Egypt, as their allies stand by helpless. We read in Ezekiel 38:2-4 in the NKJV:
"Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I [am] against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company [with] bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords.
These names Rosh, Meshech and Tubal are echoed in the lands in which these people settled. The land of the Rosh is Russia, the land of Meshech is Muscovy and that of Tubal is Tubolsk (the historic capital of Siberia). Together these names indicate the Russia of today. And in v5 we find that Iran (Persia) is one of those who will join Russia in this venture. We read
"Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them [with] shield and helmet;"
And this confederacy will come into being, in the latter days, in a period when the people of Israel have been brought back to their land, and in particular to the mountains of Israel (the West Bank), after a long period of dispersion.
"…In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”
The Israelites have only returned to this area of the land, in the time since the 1967, Six Day War; and only in very recent months and years have we seen the sharp decline in the power of the USA, that would explain why “Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish” would be unable to prevent such an outrageous and destructive incursion through the Levant into Egypt.
However, the desperate state to which Israel is reduced, will induce them to turn, in truth, to the one power who can save them. And we read in Ezekeil 38v18
“And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” says the Lord GOD, “that My fury will show in My face. For in My jealousy and in the fire of My wrath I have spoken: ‘Surely in that day there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel, so that the fish of the sea, the birds of the heavens, the beasts of the field, all creeping things that creep on the earth, and all men who are on the face of the earth shall shake at My presence. The mountains shall be thrown down, the steep places shall fall, and every wall shall fall to the ground.’ I will call for a sword against Gog throughout all My mountains,” says the Lord GOD. “Every man’s sword will be against his brother. And I will bring him to judgment with pestilence and bloodshed; I will rain down on him, on his troops, and on the many peoples who are with him, flooding rain, great hailstones, fire, and brimstone. Thus I will magnify Myself and sanctify Myself, and I will be known in the eyes of many nations. Then they shall know that I am the LORD.”
So as we see the continuing decline in the influence of the United States, we can be sure that the “outcomes” are not “unpredicted”, but are revealed to us in God’s Word.
Thank you for listening. Join us again next week, God Willing, for another edition of Bible in the News.
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