Tag Archives: Hizbollah

A CALL FROM SINGAPORE

Nestled in the heart of Southeast Asia and just at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula, the island country of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian and Western cultures. The Lion City is one of the world’s most dynamic, vibrant and prosperous nations.

A friend from Singapore called me at the weekend.   Amongst other things we discussed President Trump’s visit to the region, which is now taking place.   He told me that Singaporeans (mostly ethnic Chinese) believe that America is on the way down and China is on the way up.   In other words, the most powerful nation in Asia and the Pacific is now NOT the US, but China.   Every nation in the region is having to come to terms with Chinese domination.

My friend, who is over 80, remembered the events of 1942 that led Singaporeans to realize the British Empire was on its way down.   One of the greatest military defeats in British history was the fall of Singapore on the 15th of February in 1942.   The story is told of Lee Kwan Yew, the first prime minister of Singapore.   While he was a student, the British blew up the causeway that linked the city to the mainland, to delay Japanese forces.   The sound of the explosion could be heard across the island.   When Mr. Lee’s British headmaster came out of the school building and asked him what the noise was, Mr. Lee responded: “It is the sound of the British Empire falling.”

Effectively, it was.   The fall of the British built and developed city started a series of events that led to American domination of Asia and the Pacific.   Now, China’s economic success means Beijing has greater clout in the area than Washington — many nations are looking to Beijing rather than Washington, to secure their future.

I posted an article to my blog in February to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the first time anybody realized that the US had overtaken the United Kingdom as the world’s pre-eminent nation.   It’s all recounted in the book “Picking up the Reins,” by Norman Moss.   It wasn’t until the following year that the term “Leader of the Free World” was applied to the US.   Seventy years later, we find people openly talking about China overtaking the United States. Chinese resentment at US domination is illustrated by an item on today’s BBC World News website.   Apparently, the Chinese use the term “Boss of the World” to describe America.

China isn’t the only power center trying to take over from America. The European Union is also determined to provide an alternative to American hegemony, with Germany’s Angela Merkel now often labeled “the Leader of the Free World.”   Bible students will not be surprised at these developments.

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IRAN – SAUDI STRUGGLE

Keep an eye on the growing Sunni-Shia struggle in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia leads the former and Iran the latter.   The two countries are fighting a proxy war in Yemen.   The latest development was a missile attack on the Saudi capital, fired by Houthi rebels, who are backed by Iran.

Iran also supports Hizbollah in Lebanon, whose prime minister resigned on Friday out of fear that he, like his father, will be assassinated.

From Monday’s Jerusalem Post:  “Saudi Arabia said on Monday that Lebanon had declared war against it because of attacks against the Kingdom by the Lebanese Shi’ite group Hezbollah.”

Syria is also caught up in the Sunni-Shia conflict.   Iran supports the Syrian president, Bashir Assad.

The West is solely focused on ISIS, a Sunni Islam group which is fighting Iranian backed forces in Iraq and Syria.   ISIS is re-grouping in a number of countries, claiming to represent and defend Sunnis from the Shi’ite heretics.

It’s all very complicated.   Not at all as simple as TV news depicts.

A new area of conflict is in the Sahara, where the US lost four military personnel last month.   Most attention was focused on President Trump’s call to the young wife of one of the men who died. Little attention has been given to the wider problem of a growing conflict right across the Sahel.

The West seems to think ISIS has been defeated; the reality is that the organization has dispersed and formed new radical terrorist groups in a number of different countries.  ISIS fighters have also been returning home to western nations – we should expect more terrorist attacks following the “defeat” of ISIS.

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WALL STREET’S BREXIT WARNING

Big banks are worried about Brexit.   A group of large financial institutions with big London operations, including JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and HSBC, has told US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross that Britain’s unstable government and slow progress in Brexit planning may force them to start moving thousands of jobs out of  the City in the near future.   The lack of clarity over a transition deal is making them nervous.

Their concerns are unlikely to be assuaged by the latest chaos in Theresa May’s cabinet.   Mrs. May is under pressure to strip two more cabinet ministers of their jobs following separate fiascos involving Priti Patel and Boris Johnson.   And the EU has warned that the UK has less than a month to make concessions on a divorce settlement.   The FT’s editorial outlines how the British government’s flailing at home is translating into weakness abroad: “Allies are increasingly wondering whether Mrs. May’s government has the focus or ability to play Britain’s traditional global position — let alone the enhanced role pledged by Brexit.”   (Financial Times, 11/8)

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TEXAS CHURCH ATTACK

26 people were shot dead in church Sunday, following a man’s argument with his mother-in-law.   Twenty others were injured, some very seriously.

This was the 307th incident of mass murder in the US this year. Today is the 310th days of the year, so, in effect, the US is experiencing an average of one mass attack per day.   A mass murder incident is defined as the murder of four or more people.

No other nation in the world sees so much violence.   Yemen, in a civil war between Shia and Sunni Muslims (see segment above), has the second highest incident rate.   Statistically, you would be safer living in Yemen, than in the United States.

I’ve always believed that people have a right to defend themselves, a right that goes back at least to the time of Henry II in the 12th century and perhaps goes back to the ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom prior to the Norman ascendancy.  The second amendment of the US constitution guarantees that right.   After an attack in London a few weeks ago, I pointed out that if one member of the public, just one, had been carrying a weapon, the terror attack might have been thwarted.

President Trump raised the issue of mental health in the context of mass shootings at a press conference in Tokyo.   Mental health is certainly a major issue.   But easy access to guns, especially by the mentally ill, is also a factor and needs to be addressed.   It’s time for that presidential commission of inquiry into mass gun violence.   Let the public have their say.   They are the ones that are dying, even in church.

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100-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF RUSSIAN REVOLUTION

November 7th is the anniversary of the Russian Revolution that brought the communists to power.   Not surprisingly, Russians are not enthused about the anniversary.   They rejected communism over 25 years ago.

There is still talk of a restoration of the monarchy, though most people do not seem to be in favor and do not expect it to happen.

There are lessons here from both France and Spain, two countries that were once dominated by their respective leaders, Charles de Gaulle and General Franco.   Both were strong men, who were vain enough to think that nobody could possibly replace them after their deaths.   Both men thought that the best way to preserve their nations in the future was through the restoration of their national monarchies.

De Gaulle was a close friend of the Comte de Paris, the descendant of the Orleanist monarch, Louis Phillipe, who ruled France from 1830-1848.   The Comte was aware of de Gaulle’s desire to restore the monarchy.

In 1968, France was rocked by student riots and violence across the country.   DeGaulle presented constitutional reforms (not including a restoration) that were rejected, leading to his resignation as President of France in April, 1969.   He died one year later.   De Gaulle, the inspiration behind the Fifth Republic in 1958, need not have worried  — the Fifth Republic remains to this day.

General Franco of Spain, a fascist dictator, had more time to think about the Spanish succession, proclaiming that his heir and successor was to be Juan Carlos, of the Bourbon line of monarchs. As soon as Franco died in 1975, Juan Carlos was proclaimed king.   Rather than continuing Franco’s conservative ideology, the new King dedicated himself to protecting Spanish democracy, thereby at the same time preserving the monarchy.   He even had the respect and support of Spanish communists.

Vladimir Putin may be thinking along the same lines.   He’s been a very strong leader, with a 90% approval rating at times.   He must be fearful of Russia’s future after he leaves the scene.

The restoration of the Romanov dynasty along Spanish lines, may be just what he’s thinking.   He’s already reviving Russian culture, and has helped the church take center stage.

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SYRIA SIGNS UP TO PARIS ACCORD

The US is now the only country in the world that has not signed up to the Paris climate treaty.   Syria was the only other holdout, but has now signed.

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PARADISE PAPERS SCANDAL

The Anglo-Saxon world loves its scandals, especially when its leaders are exposed.   In this regard, the Paradise Papers did not disappoint.

While TV audiences are focused on who has what and why, it should be emphasized that absolutely no one “exposed” broke the law.  They simply took advantage of legal tax loopholes, just as most people do, only theirs is on a much bigger scale than the average citizen.

The only law-breaking going on here was by the German newspaper Suddeutsche Zeitung, which somehow gained access to private financial information.   The paper’s partners in this enterprise included the British Guardian newspaper and the New York Times.  No surprises there.

Another concern is this:   the revelations are the latest “scandal” to undermine our institutions.   As if the Harvey Weinstein and other sexual revelations are not enough, we now have nightly reports that Queen Elizabeth II (and others) have been protecting their assets by moving them beyond the control of national governments.

Times have certainly changed.   Fifty years ago, royal tour-guides would proudly announce that the British monarch was the richest woman in the world.   Now, she’s not even in the top 500 wealthiest people in Britain (J.K. Rowling heads the female list), and people are getting riled about it.

The amount involved was only 10 million pounds ($13 million).

Exactly 100 years after the class warfare of the Russian Revolution, people have learned nothing.   All socialism brought was “equal shares of misery for all” (Margaret Thatcher’s definition).   Do we really want to embrace it again, naively thinking it will improve all our lives?

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UP TO DATE ON ISLAM

Islamic History Month

On 9-11, I felt for sure that this would wake Americans up to the serious threat posed by Islam.

It didn’t.

The attacks came on a Tuesday.  Three days later, the liberal Establishment had put together an inter-religious memorial service at the National Cathedral.  Not an inter-denominational service, but an inter-religious service that included a Muslim imam, a Hindu priest, a Buddhist monk and a Jewish rabbi, as well as a Catholic priest.

I also remember reading, a few months later, that sales of the Koran had jumped significantly.   Printing presses could not keep up with demand.

So it should not have come as a surprise that, seven years later, the country elected its first president with a Muslim name and definite Muslim connections.

The Obama Administration is staffed by a number of Muslims. Valerie Jarrett, the president’s chief adviser, is a Shi’ite Muslim from Iran; the head of the CIA, John Brennan, converted to Islam while in Saudi Arabia.  There are others, too, in highly influential positions.   It’s no wonder they are panicked at the thought of Donald Trump and his promise to suspend Islamic immigration.

Now, another seven years later, the same president has just declared that March every year will be Muslim History Month. Millions of dollars will be frivolously added to the national debt to pay for it.   In the years to come, we will be hearing many lies, witnessing a re-write of American history, as Muslims did not contribute anything to America for the first 350 years (from 1607).

It should be noted that Muslim History Month follows Black History Month.   Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, that came to prominence in the 1960’s, would never have believed that this could happen.   But it is happening, right before our eyes.   The media will now follow with programs to show just how it was Islam, not protestant Europeans, that gave birth to this land and made it the most prosperous country in the world.

Fifteen years after James Town, the English settlers had less of a presence on American soil than Muslims do today, less than 15 years after 9-11.

Is there any wonder Americans are flocking to Trump?

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Muslims continue to dominate the news in other parts of the world.

Saudi Arabia has announced the creation of a 34-nation alliance of Sunni Muslims to fight terrorism.   Before you jump for joy, keep in mind that ISIS and Al-Qaeda are also both Sunni Muslims, the latter staging 9/11.   Members were heavily influenced by the Wahabbi sect of Islam, which is the official state religion of Saudi Arabia. They are the most extreme form of Islam.   When mosques are built in western countries, they are often paid for by Saudi Arabia; after completion the country will generously send a Saudi Wahabbi Imam to the mosque to spread the faith.   They also provide imams to work as chaplains in American prisons.   These men work at converting prisoners and are paid by the Federal government.

When the Saudis were criticized for not taking in Muslim refugees during the mass migration to western Europe last summer, they “generously” declared that they would help by building 200 mosques in Germany, once again dispatching the imams needed.

And so we see the progressive spread of Islam into western democracies.   Instead of embracing freedom, they will spread their pernicious religion, which means “submission” or “surrender,” the exact opposite of what America was.

Our children and our grandchildren will never forgive us!

Some Christians get excited about all this, believing that the Saudi led alliance is the prophesied “king of the south,” mentioned in Daniel chapter 11.   Verses 40-44 show that immediately prior to Christ’s return, the “king of the south” pushes at the “king of the north” and the Holy Land gets invaded.

Let’s not be too hasty here to jump to conclusions.

Firstly, we should remember that the old “king of the south,” the Ptolemaic dynasty of ancient Egypt, did not include Saudi Arabia or most of the other nations in alliance with Riyadh.   The kingdom was ruled from Alexandria, the capital of ancient Egypt.   Egypt is home to roughly 50% of all Arabs.  Egypt is more likely to be the leader of the king of the south.

Saudi Arabia is still a prominent player in the Middle East. Another is Iran.  These two countries are involved in proxy wars in both Yemen and Syria.  Whereas the Saudis are mostly Sunni Muslims, the Iranians are Shi’ites.   The two sects of Islam hate each other with a passion.  You would have to go back to the Thirty Years War (1618 to 1648) to see anything comparable in the Christian world.

At least one church organization that emphasizes Bible prophecy has been claiming dogmatically for over twenty years that Iran is the King of the South.  This is not very likely when you consider that Iran (formerly Persia) was a part of the King of the North prior to the Christian era.   The biblical king of the North was ruled from Antioch to the north of Jerusalem.

The two powers, the kings of the south and of the north, both born out of the rubble of Alexander’s empire, regularly came to blows. Each time they did, Jerusalem, the epicenter of Bible prophecy, was negatively affected.

It is also highly unlikely that Shi’ite Iran will lead a Sunni alliance.

So, who are the “kings of the north” and of the “south”?

Maps give you a good idea.

The following maps are of the two powers about 200 years before Christ, a little over a century after the death of Alexander and the division of his empire.

first_punic_war_results

Now look at this contemporary map, showing the worlds of Shia and Sunni Islam.  The red shows Shia Islam which is basically the old King of the North plus territory to the east.  Blue shows Sunni Islam which includes the territory once ruled by the King of the South.

October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva
October 15, 2015 by Rodrigo Silva

The West has been caught up in a growing Shia-Sunni conflict.   We can’t be blamed for the animosity itself, as it began in the seventh century AD, but we must bear some responsibility for the rapid acceleration toward a major war between the two.   Western intervention in Iraq 13 years ago led to the downfall of Sunni ruled Iraq and its replacement with Shia Iraq.  This has led to the development of an arc of Shia Islam, comprising Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The Shi’ites are now dominated by Iran.   President Assad’s Syria is also led by Shi’ites, who also dominate Lebanon.   This could all have been avoided if we’d known what we were doing, but we didn’t, so now we see the threat of major war between the two branches of Islam.

We still talk about democracy, but liberal democracy is irrelevant in the Middle East.   Only Israel has a real democratic system.

This conflict is only going to get worse.

So, are Shia and Sunni Islam the kings of the north and south?

That’s certainly a possibility.  But, in 60 BC, the King of the North fell to the Roman Empire. 29 years later, so did the King of the South when Cleopatra killed herself.   After those two conquests, Judea and Samaria were also conquered by the Romans.

The two powers ceased to exist and are not mentioned again until “the time of the end.”   Why do they suddenly appear again?

Remember that prophecy revolves around Israel.   There was no Jewish nation from the time of the Roman Empire until it was restored in 1948.   The lengthy prophecy in Daniel 11 is not about the kings of the north and south, so much as their impact on the Jewish people.   Now that the Jewish people have been restored by God to their ancient homeland, any major threat to them from the North or South, or both, has once again become very relevant.

The principal threat right now is from Shia Islam. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has regularly warned the West about the threat from Iran.   Events in Syria could also affect Israel.  Shi’ite Hizbollah in Lebanon remains a constant threat.

As the US has turned against Israel, the country has been seeking closer working relationships with Sunni Islamic nations, like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. (I wrote about this recently in a blogpost.)

The Saudi alliance is looking at getting involved in Syria, ostensibly against ISIS, but likely more against Assad.   A Saudi-led intervention there would partially fulfill the prophecy about the King of the South pushing against the King of the North. But it could also be a side-war, another proxy war between the two branches of Islam.

So, again, let’s not get too excited.   A lot could still happen before we see the fulfillment of Daniel 11: 40-44.

“At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through.  He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon.   He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape.   He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels.”   But news from the east and the north shall trouble him; therefore he shall go out with great fury to destroy and annihilate many.

One thing is for sure and that is the need to watch the Middle East, as events there are often far more important than the events that get reported on our national news programs.

PEACE IN OUR TIME

obama+chamberlain

President Obama’s peace deal with Iran brings to mind Neville Chamberlain’s visit to Munich in 1938.   That was when he met with “Herr Hitler” and came back waving a piece of paper, proudly proclaiming “peace in our time.”   One year later he had to declare war on Hitler.   A broken man, he died a few months after that.

When hearing assurances of peace in our time, I am not only reminded of Neville Chamberlain.  I also remember the words of the Apostle Paul in I Thessalonians 5:3.  “For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman.   And they shall not escape.”

Whether or not this verse is applicable specifically to the Iran peace treaty remains to be seen.  The Middle East is a very volatile region and the West seems unable to keep its collective nose out of it, so further conflicts are inevitable.

However, involvement by the West is not an essential component of any Mideast conflict.  Regional powers are quite capable of warring amongst themselves.

A root cause of conflict in the region is the Sunni-Shia divide within Islam.  Iran is the leader of the Shi’ite camp, fighting ISIS in Iraq, which is now ruled by Shia Muslims, thanks to western intervention in the country.   Syria’s Assad is another proxy of Iran. Tehran is also supporting Houthi rebels in Yemen against the Saudi backed Sunni Muslims.

The fear of Iran amongst the Sunnis is palpable.   Fear of an Iranian nuclear bomb is inevitably going to lead to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey trying to acquire the same.   Turning to al-Qaeda for help against ISIS is another.  Yes, that’s right – these three countries, allies of the US, are now backing al-Qaeda against the Islamic State! The British  Spectator  magazine has a really good article on this latest development in the current issue.   (“The enemy’s enemy:  how Arab states have turned to al-Qa’eda” by Ahmed Rashid, 18th July).

The other major conflict in the Middle East is the more familiar one between the Jews and the Palestinians.   In modern history this predates Israel’s independence in May, 1948.   The never-ending conflict saw its latest flare up last year when Hamas (supported by Iran) lobbed thousands of missiles at Israeli settlements.   When Israel retaliated to defend itself, world opinion inevitably turned against Israel.

The dispute is not over.  It will flare up again.   As will problems with Lebanese based Hizbollah (also Iranian backed) and the Palestinians on the West Bank.

This can also escalate into a religious dispute.   According to the Israeli Video Network, the Israeli Minister of Housing and Construction, Uri Ariel, called on Friday for the construction of a Third Temple in place of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on the Temple Mount.

“The first Temple was destroyed in 586 BCE, the second Temple in 70 CE, and ever since the Jewish People have been mourning its loss.”

“‘He then went on to say “Al-Aqsa Mosque is currently in place of the temple, despite the temple being much holier than it.   Al-Aqsa Mosque is only the third most holy mosque in Islam.”   “Now that Israel has once again become a Jewish sovereign state, the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger”, he added.”

Excavations under the Al-Aqsa led to violent demonstrations by Palestinians a few years ago.  Any attempt to replace the Al-Aqsa with a new Temple building would likely provoke World War III!

This does not mean to say that nothing will happen.   As Mr. Ariel said, “the desire to rebuild the Temple is growing stronger and stronger.”

Jerusalem has been fought over more than any other city.   It’s not over yet.   ”When you shall see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that it’s desolation is near” (Luke 21:20).   Jesus said this in response to His disciples asking about future events that would precede His second coming.

These two disputes go back centuries.  Nothing we do today is going to resolve them.   Between them, they daily threaten Mideast peace. If both flare-up at the same time, the whole world could be engulfed in a never-ending conflagration.

A further potential conflict, made more likely by the peace deal with Iran, is a war between Israel and Iran.  Israel’s prime minister has reacted very negatively to the peace treaty.  He is now working on the US Congress to try to get that body to reject the peace treaty.  If that fails, his last option will be to bomb Iran.  An alternative to that is to wait until Iran actually has the bomb and can then attack Israel.

In addition to the three major conflicts that can quickly escalate, there are “minor” conflicts like the civil war in Syria, continuing anarchy in Libya and the possibility of war between Turks and Kurds.

World leaders should be careful proclaiming “peace and safety” (“peace in our time”), lest “sudden destruction “ should come upon them.