Mid East Update

A Bible Study by Jack Kelley

Recently several events in the Middle East have taken place that should be putting students of prophecy on high alert.

In Syria, the opposition is fragmenting as newly arrived Taliban fighters from Afghanistan have joined with alQaeda in what looks like an attempt to hijack the Free Syrian Army’s rebellion against the Assad government. In the short term this means the Syrian opposition is focused more on the infighting among its own factions than on defeating the government forces. The Taliban and alQaeda alliance seems to be gaining the upper hand, which means any hope for a “moderate Muslim” government to replace Assad is quickly evaporating.

A report that Israel is considering going it alone in an effort to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear arms development is also in the news. According to high ranking officials, Israel is concerned that because of North Korean help Iran is about to cross Prime Minister Netanyahu’s famous red line, and could be only months away from having a “nuclear device”. According to them that means a warhead or bomb is less than a year away. These officials are saying that something must be done before the end of 2013 to stop Iran. It has been reported that a majority of Israel’s security cabinet is now prepared to vote for war with or without help from others.

Accordingly, Israeli officials have begun preparing the world to expect some kind of action against Iran later this year. PM Netanyahu pledged on national television that he will not wait until it’s too late to act.

Also, upon learning that Russia had agreed to supply Syria with advanced anti-ship and anti-air missile systems, PM Netanyahu met with Russian Pres. Putin on May 14 in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the transaction. Netanyahu reportedly told Putin that Israel would destroy these systems if they arrived in Syria. Putin responded that if they did Russia would retaliate.

A few days earlier, Israel had secretly destroyed a shipment of Iranian arms meant for Hizbollah in an air strike near Damascus. Upon learning from Washington that Israel was responsible, Syrian, Iranian, and Hizbollah officials said another such attack would bring an immediate reprisal.

Then on July 5 air strikes against an arms depot in Latakia, a port city in Syria, destroyed another big cache of arms, supplied mostly by Russia. Of the three arsenals destroyed, one contained components of the very weapons systems Netanyahu and Putin had discussed in May. Another held advanced weapons the Russians knew were intended for use by Hizbollah.

As with the previous raid, neither Syrian nor Russian radar detected the attacking aircraft so it was not known from whence they came. But once again, the US disclosed to the media that the attack had been carried out by Israel.

The question now is how and when Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hizbollah will make good on their threats to immediately respond to these Israeli attacks.

Why Did You Do That?

You might ask why the US would let the world know it was the Israelis who pulled off these two daring strikes. Well, it looks like this was Pres. Obama’s way of telling Israel not to try going it alone against Iran, and especially not to “cozy up” to any other Middle Eastern countries in the process.

He was making a reference to Saudi Arabia. It turns out that the King of Saudi Arabia and former Egyptian Pres. Mubarak are close friends. When the Obama administration was instrumental in Mubarak’s ouster in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood a year ago, it upset the Saudi King and he determined to get even for the shabby way in which his friend was being treated. His chance came when the Egyptian Army decided to throw the Brotherhood out of office last month. He sent a high ranking subordinate to help them plan and execute the overthrow.

When Obama officials saw they couldn’t dissuade the Egyptian Army from acting, they threatened to “review” the $1.2 billion in annual aid that was the army’s primary source of income. The Saudi King immediately offered to cover any shortfall, and in a single day transferred $8 billion in cash into the army’s account. When you add gasoline credits and cash contributions from other Arab countries the total assistance came to $12 billion. The Egyptians were thus emboldened to ask the US whether they really wanted to jeopardize losing Egypt as an ally by making such a threat. So much for Obama’s power play.

The Brotherhood, of which Hamas is part, has begun to retaliate against the Egyptian army, using the Sinai desert as its battleground. This presents a threat to Israel because whenever Muslim forces are at odds, one side or the other will usually attack Israel. So in a move that’s surprising to say the least, Israel has been helping the Egyptian army with intelligence and drone support and has given permission for the Egyptians to move tanks and soldiers into the Sinai. In return the Egyptian army has cut off the Sinai supply routes and for the first time in recent memory most of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels that connect the Sinai with Gaza have been blocked.

The Obama administration is afraid that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and some other Arab states are setting up an independent block of Sunni Muslims to oppose the Shiites. They are concerned that Israel will turn to this block for help in taking out their common enemy, Shiite Iran. Tipping off the Russians is Obama’s way of telling Israel, “If you want to go your own way, we can go our own way too, and you won’t like outcome.”

War In The Sinai

As you read this, the Egyptian Army has begun a campaign to clear the Sinai of Bedouin and Palestinian fighters who have joined with the Brotherhood in their attempt to regain control of Egypt. Israeli forces along the Egyptian and Gaza borders are on high alert and their drones and sattelites are scouring the area from above to provide Egypt with real time battlefield intelligence.

Having had its bluff on the aid issue successfully called, the US has stationed two amphibious helicopter carriers nearby with 2,600 US Marines aboard to make sure Suez Canal traffic isn’t disrupted, and is also supplying the Egyptian Army with sattelite intelligence on troop movements in the Sinai. Egypt has vowed not to end this campaign until the Sinai has been cleared of the Brotherhood and its allies.

Looking Ahead

Let’s summarize what we could be looking at in the second half of 2013. Israeli leaders are concerned that there are few if any real alternatives to attacking Iran, who with North Korea’s assistance, is about to cross the red line. They’re are running out of hope that war with Iran later this year can be avoided.

Iran and Syria have made no secret of their willingness to arm Hizbollah with the latest weaponry. Now Russia has been discovered doing the same thing. Israel’s preventive attacks against these efforts has brought promises of swift retaliation from everyone involved. This would most likely be done through Hizbollah with Russia, Iran and Syria coordinating an attack on Israel’s northern border by Hizbollah forces.

It’s hard to believe that Russia will let Israel’s destruction of its weaponry go unanswered, especially after Putin promised to retaliate. Iran could see this as a chance to pre-empt Israel’s clear intention to destroy their nuclear program by attacking first. And it’s obvious that Hizbollah has been looking for the go ahead to open a northern front against Israel. Syria will also benefit from this, because it will distract the rebel forces from their goal of bringing down the government. Islamic “freedom fighters” in Syria will not miss the chance to strike a blow against Israel.

In the south, Israel’s cooperation with the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood and its allies could easily provide the rationale for an attack on Israel’s southern border by the several Islamist groups in Gaza. Having the Israelis working with the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood and its allies presents an intolerable situation that will have to be addressed.

The bottom line is this may just be too good an opportunity for Israel’s enemies to pass up. If there’s any such thing as a perfect storm in Middle East warfare, The one that’s brewing now could be it. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 07-20-13