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Jerusalem Surrounded

April 2, 2014
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Israel’s Enemies Align with Prophetic Battle Plan

Jerusalem skyline SeanPavonePhoto/Shutterstock.com

So much has happened…so fast. For a time, it looked as though the moderates would sweep to victory in the Middle East. Dictators were dead or deposed, Al-Qaeda was on the run, and Iran was under crippling sanctions for their nuclear program. Iran’s top ally, the Syrian regime, was facing a growing rebellion—threatening to cut off Hizbullah from the needed weapons and supplies of their Iranian sponsors. Then, to cap it all off, a so-called “moderate” won the presidential election in Iran. It seemed the pieces were aligning for utopia. But that final nail falling into place for peace—new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani—has turned out instead to be the first domino to fall in an Iranian takeover of the Middle East. And instead of harmony, the stage is being set for the most terrifying battle described in biblical prophecy.

An Unholy Alliance

Ezekiel 38 and 39 discuss the War of Gog and Magog. The prophet Ezekiel is told that an array of nations will all come together in a massive assault on Israel from the north. While the identities of the nations attacking Israel are somewhat unclear, as times and countries have changed since Ezekiel’s days, author Joel Rosenberg lists the nations he believes will be participating, based on historical analysis of the biblical names. Essentially, the league of villains looks something like a semi-circle of nations stretching from the north of Africa through Turkey in the Middle East and over to Iran, with Russia as the great ringleader of the group.

While Russia has long been influential in the Middle East, the other nations are only now beginning to really line up with the biblical prophecy. And the nation that seems to be the most responsible for that anti-Israel alliance is Iran. Thanks to a long-lasting political, economic and terror-driven plot, Iran is in place not only to take a leading role in the Middle East, but they also appear to be heading up the Middle East and African nations that will someday assail Israel in unison. While that’s remarkable in and of itself, what really stands out about this is that just 18 months ago, it appeared the Iranian axis was falling apart. Yet now Iran is resurrecting its power and emerging stronger than ever.

A Deadly Resurrection

Syria President Bashar al-Assad www.wikipedia.org/Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

Not long ago, Iran was in deep trouble. Years of economic sanctions over their illegal nuclear program were taking their toll. An oil embargo by Europe and crippling oil and banking sanctions imposed by the US were shattering Iran’s economy. The “Arab Spring” revolutions were driving out dictators and spreading democracy in their place, endangering long-time anti-Israel dictators in Libya and Syria. Eventually, Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi was deposed and killed, while Syrian President Bashar Assad was losing control of his country to rebels backed by Saudi Arabia and the West. Turkey, which had been developing a relationship with Iran and Syria, abandoned both to support the Syrian rebels. Iran’s friends were dwindling and on the run. But then a couple of crucial circumstances changed and Iran leapt to take advantage.

First, the war in Syria took an unexpected turn. Al-Qaeda bounced back in northern Iraq and spread into Syria. Taking advantage of chaos and desperate revolutionary fervor, Al-Qaeda affiliates and other Islamic terror groups took the lead in the Syrian revolution. Better armed and far more brutal than the West-supported rebels, the terrorists in Syria not only threatened Assad, they started outstripping the “moderate” rebels as well. That one turn of events—the re-emergence of Al-Qaeda in Syria—opened the door in Iran’s favor for the host of changes that have occurred since then. First, it decreased the West’s opposition to Assad. As much as the West disliked the brutal Assad, no one wanted to help a resurgent Al-Qaeda. As a result, the West was less inclined to bomb Syria after Assad used chemical weapons on his own people. And after an apparent “victory” for diplomacy saw Assad promise to surrender his chemical weapons, the West was also much more interested in putting an end to Middle East conflict in general, including their nuclear dispute with Iran.

Iran President Hassan Rouhani www.wikipedia.org/www.rouhani.ir

Meanwhile, Iran helped itself politically. Rouhani, one of the candidates allowed by the regime to run for Iran’s presidential election, made an effort to portray himself as a moderate. It’s a sham that Israel tried to expose, but the West didn’t listen. Rouhani spoke in warm tones, smiled plenty, and even re-established Iranian conversation with the Americans. With the war-weary West open to compromise, Rouhani helped establish a nuclear deal that has saved Iran’s economy while only partially freezing their nuclear program. The Israel Project has cited news report after news report showing that the Iranian nuclear deal has not led to a full halt of Iran’s nuclear and missile programs, while also demonstrating that Iran’s economy has bounced back, thanks to the deal.

Suddenly, the tables have turned. Assad is doing better in Syria as the rebels have turned on each other. Iran’s economic troubles are disappearing as nation after nation tries to take advantage of the relaxing sanctions on Iran which came about as part of the nuclear deal. And years of developing friendships—either through coercion or cooperation—have seen Iran build a friendship with Iraq. Together with their friends in Lebanon and Syria, Iran has a sizable arc of influence stretching from the north to the east of Israel. Iran is now leading a group of nations against the West and Israel, and their force is growing in power and prestige. According to Joel Rosenberg, some of the main villains in the War of Gog and Magog are Libya, Sudan, Iran and Turkey. While Sudan has long been associated with the Muslim extremists in Iran—and Libya’s instability may be setting them up to rejoin that faction—Turkey has been a critical holdout. A crucial ally of the US, and even friendly to Israel, Turkey just didn’t fit the biblical model. But now, that’s changing. Perhaps forever.

The Hate Triangle

Jim Vallee/Shutterstock.com

A common tool in the plots of films and books, a love triangle, typically involves two guys competing for the same girl. Unstable and uncertain, the girl flitters between the two guys as they vie for her affection. In the Middle East today, something similar is taking place—but considering its sinister direction, let’s call it a “hate triangle.” The girl, in this situation, is the nation of Turkey. After falling out of love with the West, Turkey looked to be heading towards Iran and other Muslim extremists. But then Syria changed everything and Turkey courted anti-Assad rebels. Now, Syria is changing things again, and Israel is in more trouble than ever.

Syria President Bashar al-Assad www.wikipedia.org/Fabio Rodrigues Pozzebom/ABr

Turkey’s relationship with Syria, and therefore Iran, was shattered by the brutal Assad regime crackdown on Syrian protesters. Turkey’s leadership, realizing that the Arab Spring was sweeping the region, chose to back the rebels in Syria in an effort to lead a new Middle East. It was a dangerous and risky move, but it seemed to be working at first. In Egypt, Turkey’s ideological allies—the Muslim Brotherhood—took the lead after the revolution there. And with help from Saudi Arabia and the West, the rebels in Syria were winning as well. Turkey was a major regional player and appeared to be the new face of the post-dictatorship Arab world.

But the Muslim Brotherhood experiment in Egypt imploded last summer and Turkey lost a key ally. Then, sizable protests in Turkey and a devastating political corruption scandal have shaken the Turkish leadership. As it turns out, rather than lead the Middle East, Turkey’s leadership is fighting to keep its own country. In the meantime, Turkey’s friends in Syria are on the decline. The “moderate” rebellion is struggling and Turkey is losing on every side. To make matters even worse, analysis from Al-Monitor has pointed out that Turkey faces a new and terrifying enemy in Syria: Al-Qaeda.

The Al-Qaeda affiliates ended up being based in northern Syria, not far from the Turkish border. With a long history of battling terrorists, Turkey is understandably concerned by this turn of events. They’ve seen how Al-Qaeda took over Afghanistan and then made inroads into neighboring Pakistan. The last thing Turkey wants is a new terror war with Al-Qaeda affiliates in Syria. So after backing the rebels and fighting Assad, Turkey has found itself facing some of the same enemies of Assad. And as the saying goes, the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

All these factors together have set the stage for Turkey to re-establish ties with Iran. After multiple conversations between the two nations’ diplomatic teams, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited Iran in late January. Not surprisingly, the Iranian media highlighted the fight against terrorism—Read: mutual Al-Qaeda enemies in Syria—as the new arena for Turkey–Iran cooperation. The Fars News Agency quoted Erdogan as saying, “We will widen our cooperation shoulder-to-shoulder with Iran in combating terrorist groups.” Similarly, Iranian President Rouhani said of his nation and Turkey, “We share common views about crucial regional issues, including [the] campaign against terrorism and extremism.”

As a result, it’s even possible that the issue that shook the Iranian–Turkish relationship, the Syrian civil war, could end up being a link between them. Hinting at this, Rouhani said in January that “Iran–Turkey cooperation on other regional issues, especially those related to neighbors’ security which are among the two countries’ common concerns, should develop as well.”

So after years of violently opposing Iran and its allies, it now looks as though Turkey is ready to be friends again. Al-Monitor ran a report highlighting that despite their differences, the Turkish–Iranian relationship was never severed. But with Syria no longer a point of disagreement between them, Iran and Turkey are ready for much greater cooperation economically. During his January visit, Erdogan noted that Iran’s natural gas resources were much needed by Turkey. The Fars News Agency quoted Erdogan as saying, “Given the fact that Turkey’s industries are making progress on a daily basis and rapidly, we direly need energy products, especially Iran’s natural gas, and we should take joint win-win steps.” In addition, the nations are creating a joint political, economic and cultural committee with the goal of deepening relations in all those fields. Fars reported that Erdogan said he wants that Iranian–Turkish committee to increase cooperation to the point it is “as if the two countries’ ministers worked and cooperated in a single cabinet.”

“Win-win steps” and a “single cabinet” sound like a potentially robust Iranian–Turkish relationship. It’s one of the last major links needed to set up Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog prophecy, and it’s one of the last pieces needed to surround Israel from the north. With Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Turkey and Iran all working together, Israel has no friends for miles to the north. And if Russia works with them as well, Israel would easily face its most terrifying array of opponents in history.

A Prelude to Drama

The realignment of Turkey to Iran, coupled with Iran’s resurrection, should have Israel concerned. Turkey and Iran have two of the largest militaries in the entire region and represent roughly 150 million people just by themselves. Coupled with key allies across the Middle East and Africa, a Turkish–Iranian alliance would put Israel in an almost helpless situation. Of course, that’s looking at it from a merely human perspective. Ezekiel reminds us that the King of the Universe is not only predicting the War of Gog and Magog, He’s going to win it as well. When all seems lost, He will rescue His people Israel. But in the years prior to that dramatic battle, the dominoes must fall into place to set things up. Right now, they’re falling in rapid succession, and one can only wonder what the West will do in response. After all, Israel’s hope is assured by the Bible, but that of America and Europe is not. Will they see the collapsing dominoes and take precautions? Or will they remain naïve and be taken in the Iranian flood?

Source: By Joshua Spurlock, The Mideast Update

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