US Drone Strike Puts Middle East on High Alert
The US assassination of Qasem Soleimani has thrown the world into disarray with fears of World War III heralded by many.
Saturday, January 04, 2020
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The New Year burst onto the scene with fireworks in Iraq. The American Embassy was besieged by the soldiers of the Kataib-Hezbollah on New Year’s Eve and looked like it would be overrun. With memories invoked of the 1979 fall of the US embassy in Iran and the ensuing hostage crisis, also the fall of the US Embassy in Tripoli in 2012, which resulted in the death of Ambassador, America was not going to stand by.
President Trump responded decisively with a missile attack, which killed the leader of Iran’s Quds Force, Qasem Soleimani, along with Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, the deputy head of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Force.
President Trump stated the following:
“Last night, at my direction, the United States Military successfully executed a flawless precision strike that killed the number one terrorist anywhere in the world, Qasem Soleimani.
Soleimani was plotting imminent and sinister attacks on American diplomats and military personnel, but we caught him in the act and terminated him. Under my leadership, America’s policy is unambiguous to terrorists who harm or intend to harm any American. We will find you, we will eliminate you, we will always protect our diplomats, service members, all Americans and our allies.
For years the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its ruthless Quds force, under Soleimani’s leadership has targeted, injured and murdered hundreds of American civilians and servicemen. The recent attacks on US targets on Iraq, including rocket strikes that killed an American and injured four American servicemen very badly, as well as a violent assault on our Embassy in Baghdad, were carried out at the direction of Soleimani.
Soleimani made the death of innocent people his sick passion, contributing to terrorist plots as far away as New Delhi and London. Today we remember and honor the victims of Soleimani’s many atrocities and take comfort in knowing that his reign of terror is over….
We took action last night to stop a war. We did not take action to start a war…
We do not see regime change. However, the Iranian regime's aggression in the region, including the use of proxy fighters to destabilize its neighbours must end, and it must end now….
The United States has the best military, by far, anywhere in the world. We have the best intelligence in the world. If Americans anywhere are threatened, we have all of those targets already fully identified. I am ready and prepared to take whatever action is necessary. That particularly refers to Iran…
The nations of the world are reeling, and their hearts are failing for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth (Luke 21:26). Governments around the world are shaken. Some world leaders are celebrating, while others are mourning and breathing out threatenings and slaughter.
While the political heavens are reverberating in shock, we search the scriptures for the significance of these events. Iran is the modern name for the biblical nation of Persia, the empire symbolized by the chest and arms of silver in Nebuchadnezzar’s nightmare image, which stood for the kingdoms of men. This mountain of flesh stands against the kingdom of God until the time of the end when we read:
“Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth.” (Daniel 2:34–35)
Persia, or Iran, is “broken in pieces together” with the rest of the kingdoms of men. Iran is the latter-day representative of Persia, which will stand in the latter-day with Russia. This detail was emphasized by the prophet Ezekiel when he described the alliance that would invade Israel:
“Son of man, set thy face against Gog, the land of Magog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal, and prophesy against him… I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet: Gomer, and all his bands; the house of Togarmah of the north quarters, and all his bands: and many people with thee. 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 38:2–7)
Persia is part of the Gogian confederacy, part of the great image empire that stands in the latter days, part of the company of nations that will align itself against Israel. The news we are seeing today is proof of that very fact.
Many are asking who Soleimani was, and how this airstrike will affect Iran? Soleimani was head of the Quds forces, the elite unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The name Quds is very telling, named after al-Quds, the Muslim name for Jerusalem. Soleimani was head of the Jerusalem Corp, the elite unit charged with liberating Jerusalem and other cities in the name of Islam.
Many news services have been examining the bold move by Trump. A fascinating fact was the company Soleimani was keeping when at the time of his assassination. Republican Congressman Michael Waltz had the following to say to Fox News:
“This is a bold, decisive, and frankly long overdue move on the part of the United States, to take down Soleimani. Just so everyone knows, he is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers, thousands, if now tens of thousands of people across the Middle East. He is the equivalent of Iran’s CIA and special forces that runs all of their militias and proxies across Syria and Iraq…
“He was in Iraq and was with the head of Kataib-Hezbollah, that just rocketed our base, and killed an American, and then staged this attack on our embassy. Soleimani was with them. The head of Kataib-Hezbollah said he was Soleimani soldier. So there is another piece to realize here, that the Israelis have said for years, in a number of reports, that they have wanted to take action against him, and the Obama administration declined it.” (Republican Congressman Michael Walz)
Soleimani was a leader, not just of Quds but of the Hezbollah, and regional terrorist leaders reported to him. He made himself an enemy of Israel by working through the various terror groups surrounding it. His influence was not limited to Iran and Iraq. Consider what former US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North stated:
“The bottom line is Soleimani was the purveyor of more terrorism than any individual since Osama Bin Laden. Congressman Waltz is absolutely right, he has killed more Americans than anybody else since then…. If we did indeed get Soleimani, we have reduced the number of terror attacks dramatically. Here’s the bottom line. There are two governments in Baghdad. One is the pro-American government that is calling on us to continue to train and assist their military and provide information that is very important to countering terrorism and protecting their country. The other one is the Iraqi government that is beholding to the Iranians. The Iranians have long wanted a free access going all the way from the Iraq-Iran border, all the way into Syria, and then, of course, the Bekaa Valley and attacking Israel.” (Former US Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North)
The strategy of Iran’s Quds Corps leader was to create a corridor between Iran, through Iraq and straight to Syria’s Bekaa Valley - giving it easy access to Israel. All of a sudden, this assassination takes on more considerable significance. We know at the time of the end, Iran (or Persia) will be with the king of the North (or Russia) when it makes its grand move against Israel.
This is the underlying theme that seems to come up with many of the commentators. Listen to Pete Hegseth, co-host of FOX News Channel's FOX & Friends.
“This is an escalation, I think it is proportional, I think he is right. But to kill the top commander of the Quds forces, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, this is the designated terrorist organization of the Iranian State. They are not just in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan – they are with Hamas, with Hezbollah, they are surrounding Israel. This is the top anti-American, anti-Israel, anti-Western force in the world.
This would be like during the Iraq surge, when I served in Iraq and shortly thereafter, the insurgents killed General Patraeus. I mean, this would be the equivalent of Swarzkopf, or McArthur, in a conflict. It doesn’t mean we are inclined to have to do more or go to war with Iraq. What it means is they are reminded today, like they are every day under the Trump administration, that the Americans are the top dog. That we can find you where you are. We can find you at the Baghdad International Airport when you think you are safe, because you think you control the Iraqi regime, you think that is your back yard. Nah, nah, nah, nah, we got intel, we got weapons, we have intel and we can touch you anywhere…. (Pete Hegseth, co-host of FOX News Channel's FOX & Friends Weekend and former Army National Guard officer)
It isn’t lost on Israel’s leadership either. Netanyahu cut short his visit to Greece to rush home and handle the potential fallout from the strike in Iraq. Listen to what Netanyahu had to say:
Just as Israel has the right of self-defence, the United States has exactly the same right. Qasem Soleimani is responsible for the deaths of American citizens, and many other innocent people. He was planning more such attacks. President Trump deserves all the credit for acting swiftly, forcefully, decisively. Israel stands with the United States in its just struggle for peace, security and self-defence. Thank you.
As a side note here, the reason Netanyahu was in Greece was to strike a deal with Greece and Cyprus. AFP reported the following on January 2nd:
Israel, Greece and Cyprus on Thursday signed an agreement for a huge pipeline project to ship gas from the eastern Mediterranean to Europe despite Turkey’s hostility to the deal.
The 2,000-kilometer (1,200-mile) EastMed pipeline will be able to carry between nine and 12 billion cubic meters of gas a year from offshore reserves held by Israel and Cyprus to Greece, and then on to Italy and other southeastern European countries.
The EastMed alliance “is of enormous importance to the state of Israel’s energy future and its development into an energy power and also from the point of view of stability in the region,” Netanyahu said in a statement issued as he left Israel for Greece Thursday.
Mitsotakis said the pipeline was of “geostrategic importance” and would contribute to regional peace.
Turkey and Russia have both expressed concerns at this development which would enrich Israel, and potentially lead to competition in the European Gas Market, an issue Netanyahu tried to play down.
The Bible is clear about the relationship between Iran and Russia. Russia is to be a protector of Iran and other nations under its shield. We read in Ezekiel 38:7:
“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 phrase “be thou a guard unto them” implies they are under Russian hegemony. Some translations place the emphasis on Russia being their commander and taking charge of them. It is, therefore, no surprise, when we see the Russian reaction to the death of this terrorist, as posted on the website for The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian
On January 3, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov had a telephone conversation with United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
The parties discussed the situation in connection with the killing by the US military of Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Commander Major General Qasem Soleimani in an airstrike on Baghdad airport.
Sergey Lavrov stressed that targeted actions by a UN member state to eliminate officials of another UN member state, and on the territory of a third sovereign country without its knowledge grossly violate the principles of international law and deserve condemnation.
The Russian Minster pointed out that this act by the United States is fraught with grave consequences for the regional peace and stability, does not facilitate efforts to find solutions to the complicated issues that have built up in the Middle East but, on the contrary, leads to a new round of escalation. Moscow urges Washington to give up illegal military actions to achieve its goals on the international arena and to settle all problems at the negotiating table.
It is interesting that Russia appeals to international law in this case, but completely disregards it when it comes to invading Georgia, annexing the Crimea, or sending its troops to operate in Syria and Libya. Obviously, it is a power that has its own interests in mind, and not the peace and security of the region or the world – but then the Bible tells us of its devious plans:
“Thus saith the Lord GOD; It shall also come to pass, that at the same time shall things come into thy mind, and thou shalt think an evil thought…” (Ezekiel 38:10)
As Bible students, what we have anticipated for years is an alliance to form between the Gulf States, Jordan, Egypt and Israel – under the shadow of Britain and America. The Bible requires it. Ezekiel speaks of a group of nations opposing the latter-day invasion:
“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)
Sheba and Dedan are ancient nations that lay within the territory of modern-day Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
Daniel speaks of nations that are spared from the King of the North’s invasion - meaning they are not allied with it:
“He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, even Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians shall be at his steps.” (Daniel 11:41–43)
Edom, Moab and Ammon are nations than inhabited the region of modern-day Jordan. They “escape” or are delivered out of the hand of the King of the North, meaning they are not with him. Egypt is a target of the attack, meaning it is not allied with the Russian confederacy either.
Yet the Middle East has been rife with Arab wars against Israel since its Israel’s founding. As Bible students, we have looked for a change in this regard.
This attack by America has been quietly hailed by the Arab nations in the region, who live in fear of Iran and its proxies. Listen to the words of Fox News’s Sean Hannity when interviewed by former Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz about the events that have unfolded:
The great intelligence victory here is… we have to remember that Hezbollah, one of the things Iran is known for is that they fund all these terror groups, and fight proxy wars, as they have been doing in Yemen and around the world. We know the Iranians were responsible, Quds forces, in particular, were responsible, for the killing of many Americans in Iraq during the latest conflict, the latest war there, and they have been sowing discord in the entire region.
One of the outcrops of that, that probably has created a moment in history that we may be able to look back on, Iran has singlehandedly, the fear of Iranian hegemony, has single headedly created an alliance that might have been impossible just a few short years ago. That is you have the Israelis, the Americans, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the Saudi’s all in unison against Iranian potential nuclear capability and their military aggression...
Look, your years in Congress, you never would have imagined an alliance between American, the Israelis, the Jordanians, the Egyptians, and the Saudi’s. The only reason that alliance, the intelligence sharing, the strategizing at a level that nobody ever thought possible is happening is that of a real clear, present danger that is posed by Iran, and the possibility of course, and their desire to acquire nuclear weapons, which if that ever happens presents a great danger to the world….
The events in Iraq, and through the Middle East this week have the world media reeling, politicians scrambling for contingency plans, and many people holding their breath wondering what happens next. As Bible students, we have confident anticipation of what is coming. It is not arrogance; it is faith - a firm belief that what God has promised he is able to perform, following the faith of Abraham:
“He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform.” (Romans 4:20–21)
We have waited for years to see the things that are currently going on take place. God encourages us through his prophets to have patience:
“And the Lord answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, That he may run that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, But at the end it shall speak, and not lie: Though it tarry, wait for it; Because it will surely come, it will not tarry. Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: But the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:2–4)
While it has taken years for these events to drop into place, true to God's word, they have come to pass. Now we wait for the rest of the vision to speak, the return of the Lord Jesus Christ, which will surely come, it will not tarry. So reading these things, let us gird up our loins and run – preparing for the Lord's return, living by faith and not by sight.
For the Bible in the News, this has been Jonathan Bowen joining you.