Events in the Middle East continue to move quickly as the region is being reshaped in a dramatic manner, moving towards the situation described by the Hebrew prophets many centuries ago and expected by students of Bible prophecy. For Bible in the News this week we will consider a number of interconnected events in the Middle East.
The Russian Airliner Crash in the Sinai Peninsula
The results of the tragic crash of a Russian airliner in the Sinai today remain to be seen. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the downing of the aircraft, but there are many questions as to whether they would be able to achieve this. Who or whatever ends up being responsible for the tragedy, we can expect Egypt to intensify its operations against terrorist groups operating in the Sinai and for Russia to step up its operations against ISIS in Syria. The terrorist groups who are a major threat to Israel are being dealt with by other forces and fighting each other. This is a further “drying up” of the Euphrates power and could help lead to the peaceful, secure situation described in Ezekiel 38 before Gogs invasion. Whatever the outcome the incident demonstrates how quickly events can change or war can break out and extend to other regions.
Putin Could Spark a Syria-Turkey War
How could Turkey get involved in the current war between Russia and the rebel groups in Syria? Quite easily says the National Post in Canada. “How dangerous is Vladimir Putin?” they ask. Here is their answer: “Putin says he got a positive response when he asked Syria’s Bashar al Assad if he’d be willing to work with Kurdish groups against ISIL. The trick is that Turkey violently objects to Kurdish aspirations for greater autonomy, or independence. If you want to see a real Mideast war, like maybe Turkey versus Syria, with the US and Russia supporting opposite sides, just let Syria go ahead and bolster the Kurds.” A few weeks ago on the Bible in the News I considered the significance of the then possibility, of a Russian move into Syria as Syria is the original territory of the “little horn of the goat”, or the Roman power that arose from the Greek empire in that region. By its bold move into Syria, Russia has strengthened its claim to the title of the “king of fierce countenance” or the little horn of the goat. While the original territory of the little horn of the goat is Syria, later the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire was Constantinople or Istanbul as it is named today in modern day Turkey. There is no doubt that Russia has its eyes on Constantinople, not only for its historical significance to the empire building Russian mentality, but also for its strategic command of the only entrance from the Black Sea which leads into the Mediterranean. Concerning this “little horn power” known as the “king of the north” or the "king of fierce countenance”, the prophecy of Daniel 11:40 says, "And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over.”
Saudi Arabia's King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud will pay a visit to Moscow
According to Dr. Mordechai Kedar writing on the Israel National News website, the visit of Saudi Arabia’s king to Russia was reported widely in the Arab world but missed by the west. The Saudis objectives are the opposite of the Russian’s. They want to see the end of the Assad regime in Syria, they strongly object to Russia strengthening Iran and Iran’s objective to obtain nuclear weapons. The Saudis are Sunni Muslim whereas Assad, Hezbollah and Iran are all Shite Muslims. Also noteworthy is the fact that the Saudis largely control the oil market which has recently devastated the Russian economy. The high level visit demonstrates Russia’s new importance in the Middle East. The Saudi king will want to influence the Russian objectives in Syria and their alliance with Iran. The Russians would no doubt love to convince the Saudis to cut oil production and raise the oil prices. Prophetically Saudi Arabia is a key part of the “king of the south”, the Saudis feel let down by the United States for letting the deal go through with Iran. The visit also send a strong message to the Americans, if the want Saudi Arabia as an ally they need to step up and act like one. At the time of the end there is a "king of the north" and a "king of the south”. While the Americans have tried to detach themselves from the Middle East and have removed their forces from Iraq, events could quickly force them to move back into the Middle East, support their allies and take on the role laid out for them as the “king of the south”.
Hussein Ibish commenting on the Russian initiative in the Middle East in The New York Times on October 19, has an interesting comment which describes the rift in the Middle East and those nations affiliated with the King of the North.
"Even worse, viewed through a broader regional framework, American acquiescence to this Russian initiative would ultimately mean an accommodation with a major reshaping of the strategic order in the Middle East. Moscow is clearly trying to accomplish the creation of a powerful alliance with Iran, Iraq, Hezbollah, “Little Syria” and others. To secure this new compact, Russia is willing to risk not only confrontation with the West, but also its recently improved relations with other regional powers like Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
"There’s no good reason Washington should go along with any of this. Russia is manifestly less powerful militarily, economically and diplomatically than the United States. But it’s no longer a matter of capabilities; it’s become a matter of will. On paper, Russia is in no position to barge into the Middle East and throw its weight around. But after the interference in Ukraine, the annexation of Crimea and the Syrian chemical weapons debacle, Putin correctly judged that nobody would stop him."
Refugees from Syria continue to flood into Europe. The background of these refugees is interesting. While there is not information regarding where these refugees came from in Syria it is noteworthy that there were many “Palestinian refugees” in Syria that had been kept in refugee camps and used as political pawns in the Arab Israeli conflict since 1948. These would be included in those referred to in Palestinian / Israeli peace negotiations as having a “right or return” to Israel. Israel is of course very much against this as the country would be flooded with Palestinian Arabs and the country would cease to exist as a Jewish state. It is hard to imagine that these refugees that had been denied citizenship in Syria by the Syrian government have not moved en masse to Europe. It seems the “right of return” maybe to Europe and not to Israel. When the dust settles it will be interesting to see whether this major stumbling block for a peace settlement has disappeared.
The "King of the North" continues to assert himself in the Middle East and is in a position that could lead to war with Turkey. The “King of the North's” new power and influence in the Middle East is in turn putting pressure on the “King of the South” power to protect their assets and influence in the Middle East. Meanwhile Israel’s enemies continue to destroy each other, as the river Euphrates powers “dry up” and the refugees that had a so called “right of return” to Israel are on their way to Europe. It is fascinating seeing the scene being set for that “great day of God Almighty” and it should increase our faith in the word of God and the “sure word of prophecy”. Join us again next week, God willing as we continue to study the signs of the times - the Bible in the News. This has been David Billington with you.