Middle East at the Boiling Point
Tensions in the Middle East have reached the boiling point with war being possible at any moment as Iran continues to provoke the USA and threaten world oil exports.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
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Iran has shot down a US drone, attacked six international oil tankers, shot rockets at the US Embassy in Iraq, and fired missiles at a Saudi International airport – all events which have lead to increased tensions and stinging sanctions. The sanctions are causing divisions between Europe and the USA – and the cementing alliances that are predicted in the prophecies of the Bible events come closer to gathering of the nations for Armageddon.
During the past month tensions have been steadily growing in the Gulf. The US and its Gulf allies have experienced multiple provocative attacks. On June 13, Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo addressed the recent Iranian attacks, in and around the Gulf, and his press conference give us a good idea of what has been taking place:
It is the assessment of the United States government that the Islamic Republic of Iran is responsible for the attacks that occurred in the Gulf of Oman today. This assessment is based on intelligence, the weapons used, the level of expertise needed to execute the operation, recent similar Iranian attacks on shipping, and the fact that no proxy group operating in the area has the resources and proficiency to act with such a high-degree of sophistication.
This is only the latest in series of attacks instigated by the Islamic Republic of Iran and is surrogates, against American and allied interests. This should be understood in the context of 40 years of unprovoked aggression against freedom loving nations.
On April 22nd, Iran promised the world that it would interrupt the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz. It is now working to execute on that promise.
In early May, the Revolutionary Guard Corps attempted the covert deployment of modified boats capable of launching missiles.
On May 12, Iran attacked four ships in the Straight of Hormuz.
On May 14, Iran back surrogates attacked by armed drones struck strategically reported oil pipelines in Saudi Arabia.
On May 19, a rocket landed near the US embassy in Baghdad.
On May 31, a car bomb in Afghanistan wounded four US service members, killed four Afghan civilians, and wounded bystanders.
Yesterday, Iranians surrogates, fired a missile into Saudi Arabia, striking the arrivals terminal of an international airport, inuring 26 people.
Taken as whole these unprovoked attacks present a clear threat to the international peace and security, a blatant assault on the freedom of navigation, and an unacceptable campaign of escalating tension by Iran.
Prime Minister Abe made a trip, an historic trip to Iran to ask the regime to de-escalate and enter into talks. Iran’s supreme leader rejected Prime Minister Abe’s diplomacy today by saying he has no response to President Trump and will not answer.
The Supreme Leader then insulted Japan by attacking a Japanese Oil tanker, just outside of Iranian waters, threatening the lives of the entire crew, creating a maritime emergency.
Iran’s Foreign Minister today responded to these attacks. He said, sardonically, “Suspicious does not begin to describe what likely transpired this morning.”
Foreign Minister Sharif may think this is funny, but no one else in the world does.
"Iran is lashing out because the regime wants our successful maximum pressure campaign lifted. No economic sanctions entitle the Islamic republic to attack innocent civilians, disrupt global oil markets, and engage in Nuclear Blackmail.
The international community condemns Iran’s assault on the freedom of navigation, and the targeting of innocent civilians.
Today I have instructed our UN Ambassador Jonathan Cohen to raise Iran attacks in the UN Security Council meeting, later this afternoon.
Our policy remains an economic and diplomatic effort to bring Iran back to the negotiating table at the right time. To encourage a comprehensive deal that a encompasses a broad arrange of threats. Threats today apparent to all the world to see, to peace and security.
Iran should meet diplomacy with diplomacy, not terror, bloodshed and extortion.
The United States will defend its forces, interests and stand with our partners and allies to safeguard global commerce and regional stability.
We call upon all nations threatened by Iran’s provocative acts to join us in that endeavour.
This statement by the United States government gives us clear indication of the seriousness of the situation developing in the Gulf.
As Bible students we watch this closely because we are looking for the development of the alliances spoken of in the Bible to form.
Tensions have continued to grow during the past few weeks – with the shooting down of an American military drone. Following the attack, Trump ordered a strike on Iran, and then chose to opt for sanctions as Newsweek reported:
In response to the drone's destruction, Trump initially ordered strikes against targets in Iran, but suspended the command at the last minute, later explaining that he felt the estimated 150 casualties of such an operation was not "proportionate" to the loss of an unmanned surveillance craft. He instead opted for new sanctions against the Islamic Republic, targeting its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
America came razor close to launching attacks on Iran, which would no doubt have had worldwide consequences. The entire world has been watching events going on, and seeing how they will play out.
President Trump signed an executive order on Iran instituting sanctions. Here are some of his comments:
In a few moments, I'll be signing an executive order imposing hard-hitting sanctions on the Supreme Leader of Iran and the Office of the Supreme Leader of Iran, and many others.
Today's action follows a series of aggressive behaviors by the Iranian regime in recent weeks, including shooting down of U.S. drones. They shot down the drone. It's -- I guess everyone saw that one. And many other things. They've done many other things aside from the individual drone. You saw the tankers, and we know of other things that were done also, which were not good and not appropriate.
The Supreme Leader of Iran is one who ultimately is responsible for the hostile conduct of the regime. He's respected within his country. His office oversees the regime's most brutal instruments, including the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
Sanctions imposed through the executive order that I'm about to sign will deny the Supreme Leader and the Supreme Leader's Office, and those closely affiliated with him and the office, access to key financial resources and support. The assets of Ayatollah Khamenei and his office will not be spared from the sanctions.
These measures represent a strong and proportionate response to Iran's increasingly provocative actions. We will continue to increase pressure on Tehran until the regime abandons its dangerous activities and its aspirations, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons, increased enrichment of uranium, development of ballistic missiles, engagement in and support for terrorism, fueling of foreign conflicts, and belligerent acts directed against the United States and its allies.
Trump’s position on Iran is a complete break with Obama’s position years ago, that had Israel and its Arab neighbours mortified.
During Obama’s Presidency, a deal was struck with Iran, Europe and the USA which Trump swiftly pulled America out of upon coming to office. This move was praised by both Israel and Saudi Arabia.
However, this latest move of imposing new “sanctions” has pitted the European Union against the USA. Newsweek reported the following:
The European Union has officially launched a special trade vehicle designed to allow limited trade with Iran while at the same time avoiding sanctions from the United States.
Following a meeting of the remaining parties to the 2015 nuclear deal that the U.S. abandoned last year, European External Action Service released a statement Friday saying that the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges (INSTEX) "had been made operational and available to all EU Member States and that the first transactions are being processed." The EU pledged to accelerate "cooperation with the Iranian corresponding entity (STFI)."
This is a direct challenge to the United States policies on Iran and its position during the current crisis. Brian Hook, the U.S. special representative for Iran stated the following in a news conference:
The Revolutionary Guard Corps controls much of the Iranian economy, and the money that goes into the private sector finds its way in proxy warfare campaigns. And we have educated the businesscommunity about the dangers of doing business in Iran, because if you are doing business in Iran, you never know if you are facilitating commerce or terrorism. We have seen more nations recognize the risks, reputational risks, of doing business in Iran. I think that is part of the reason you have seen a decline in investment. Certainly, our sanctions, we have made clear that you cannot do business with the United States and Iran. Everyone has chosen the United States over Iran for a number of reasons.
America has drawn a line in the sand. This line is causing a re-organization of nations. Not surprisingly, Europe is pulling in a different direction than America.
Britain will be going its own way, and will have to re-think it’s foreign policy in this regard as well, but it will no longer be shackled to the European Union.
From a Biblical perspective this is to be expected as Europe is part of the confederacy that aligns with Russia as the nations assemble to Armageddon. It is comprised by the areas called Magog and Gomer in Ezekiel 38:1,6
“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him… Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee.” (Ezekiel 38:2,6)
These nations come and invade the Middle East and specifically Israel, as is recorded by Ezekiel, Daniel, Joel and Zechariah. It is not surprising to see the different alliances outlined in the scripture as pulling together and away from the “allies” they have had since the end of the Second World War and during the Cold War.
CNN Reported that the US is sending 1000 more troops to the Gulf in response to the growing tensions in the area:
The US will send 1,000 additional US forces and more military resources to the Middle East amid tensions with Iran, the Pentagon announced Monday.
"In response to a request from the US Central Command for additional forces, and with the advice of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and in consultation with the White House, I have authorized approximately 1,000 additional troops for defensive purposes to address air, naval, and ground-based threats in the Middle East," acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in a statement.
"The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region," Shanahan said, adding that the "United States does not seek conflict with Iran."
This answers is the call of the prophet to all the nations:
“Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near; let them come up: Beat your plowshares into swords, And your pruninghooks into spears: Let the weak say, I am strong. Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, And gather yourselves together round about...” (Joel 3:9–11)
There will be two sides to this conflict, and the Lord will sort between the nations and separate them as the wheat from the chaff, but many nations will be gathered to the area.
It is also interesting to note the RAF is active in the region. Not only active, but working with America and Israel, as BICOM reported on June 27:
The UK’s newest and most advanced fighter jet, the Lightning F-35B, has completed its first operational mission over Syria and Iraq, the Ministry of Defence (MOD) said yesterday.
According to Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt, the first F-35B operational sorties were flown on Sunday 16 June in support of Operation Shader, the UK contribution to the Global Coalition’s counter-ISIS mission in Iraq and Syria. The two aircraft conducted a patrol over Syria, and UK F-35s have flown 12 sorties since then.
The UK Permanent Joint Headquarters added yesterday that UK F35s joined US and Israeli F35s for the first time in a joint training exercise to further develop the capabilities of the new aircraft.
The article went on to state:
In September, the Israeli Air Force will participate for the first time in the Combat Warrior exercise hosted by RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire.
A closer connection between Britain, America and Israel is what is expected, as Ezekiel depicts an alliance that protests Russia’s eventual invasion of the land:
“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?” (Ezekiel 38:13)
So it was also no surprise to read of Australia’s involvement with America against Iran. The Guardian Newspaper reported Pompeo’s statement while at the G20 summit in Osaka Japan:
Before the G20 summit in Osaka, Pompeo called on Australia to join what he described as a “global coalition” against Iran, which last week shot down a US surveillance drone. Iran has said the drone was in its airspace.
“I think Australia is an important player here,” he told the Australian. “I think they carry a lot of weight in the sense that they, like many nations, suffer from the fact the world’s largest state sponsor of terror continues down the path of building its missile program in a way that threatens not only the Middle East but the entire world.
“Australia is an ¬important economic player so the imposition of more autonomous sanctions would be welcomed as well.”
According to the Weekend Australian, the Prime Minister would take any requests from the US seriously:
Mr Morrison said the Australian government would continue to work closely with the US and deal with any request in the “normal way”.
“We would deal with any request from an ally such as the United States seriously and on its merits.”
Today, CNN reported the “US sends F-22 fighters to Middle East amid tensions with Iran.”
The United States Air Force has dispatched top-of-the-line F-22 stealth fighters to Qatar for the first time as it beefs up its forces in the Middle East amid escalating tensions with Iran.
A statement and photos from US Air Forces Central Command said the stealth jets arrived at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Thursday. The Air Force did not give the total number of F-22s deployed, but a handout picture showed at least five the warplanes over the base.
"These aircraft are deployed to Qatar for the first time in order to defend American forces and interests in the US Central Command area of responsibility," the Air Force said.
The F-22 movement comes a week after an Iranian surface-to-air missile shot down a US drone over the Strait of Hormuz. Iran said the drone was in its airspace, but Washington claims it was over international waters.
So the military buildup continues, as calls for a coalition go out. The F-22’s are believed have been moved to the area to deal with the surface to air missile capabilities of Iran should a strike be made.
And no surprise in the new “great game” – Russia has placed its support behind Iran, as BICOM reported:
The US and Russian national security advisers clashed over Iran at the first-ever trilateral meeting between US, Russian and Israeli national security advisers in Jerusalem yesterday.
Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, rejected the US and Israeli view that Iran represents “the main threat to regional security,” arguing instead that: “Iran is contributing a lot to fighting terrorists on the Syrian soil and stabilising the situation there.” Patrushev said Moscow is aware of Israel’s security concerns over Iran’s military presence in Syria and was working to address the issue with Tehran, but added that Israeli airstrikes in Syria were “undesirable”.
As far as the shooting down of the American drone, the Russian position mirrors the Iranian one as Newsweek also reported of the same Jerusalem meeting:
Moscow has recently weighed in on Tehran's side of the debate, with Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev telling his U.S. and Israeli counterparts Tuesday in Jerusalem that the Russian Defense Ministry had information to prove the U.S. drone violated Iran's sovereignty. Many other international powers have simply called for an immediate de-escalation to tensions running exceptionally high in the Persian Gulf.
This is not surprising when we consider the role mapped out for Russia in Ezekiel 38:
“Be thou prepared, and prepare for thyself, thou, and all thy company that are assembled unto thee, and be thou a guard unto them.” (Ezekiel 38:7)
The word “guard” is defined by the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament coming from a root meaning “to exercise great care over”, and has the idea of maintaining a “guard post.” This is the role Russia is currently playing with Iran (the Biblical Persia).
So as the waters around the Middle East begin to come to boil with new hostilities, we watch the Bible in the News. The angels are preparing the nations under the direction of the Lord Jesus Christ – and preparing for the great day of God almighty. May Christ’s return be soon, when those who would lift their hand against the great work the Lord has been doing in restoring Israel to the land will be silenced, the kingdom will be set up, and all nations will go up to Jerusalem, not for war but to learn of God’s ways:
“And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations Which came against Jerusalem Shall even go up from year to year To worship the King, the LORD of hosts, And to keep the feast of tabernacles.” (Zechariah 14:16)
Let us continue to Watch the Bible in the news so we will not be caught by the Lord’s coming as a thief in the night – as we are exhorted by our King:
“Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.” (Revelation 3:3)
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.