Tag Archives: President Putin

RUSSIA AND THE MIDDLE EAST

putin

While US media has been focussed on alleged Russian hacking of the US electoral process, Vladimir Putin’s Russia has strengthened its role in the Middle East.

The morning that America suffered a major setback in the Middle East, American news networks led on two deaths – those of actresses Carrie Fisher and her mother, Debbie Reynolds.   Tragic though these deaths were, developments in the Middle East put America where Great Britain was exactly six decades ago.

Before World War Two, the British Empire was the dominant power in the region.   Britain withdrew from Israel in May of 1948. Immediately, the Jewish nation was invaded by five neighboring Arab nations.   Miraculously, Israel survived. In those early days, it was not helped by the United States.

In 1952, as a direct consequence of defeat against Israel, Egypt’s King Farouk was overthrown by the military.   The new leaders soon seized the Anglo-French Suez Canal.   Together with Israel, these countries invaded Egypt but were soon stopped by US President Eisenhower.   This single event led directly to the dismantling of the British Empire.   In 1958 the pro-British King of Iraq was overthrown.   Britain was losing its remaining influence in the area. The country fought a war against rebels in Aden, withdrawing from the protectorate in 1967.

It was a gradual decline, with one setback after another.   Now, the UK does not play any major role in the Middle East.

Since Britain, America has been the dominant power in the region. During the time of the Soviet Union, the US and the USSR were rivals in the area, with Moscow backing Egypt and Syria.   Later, Egypt switched sides and allied itself with the United States, but Moscow retained its influence in Syria.   Iran was in the US sphere of influence until the Shah was overthrown in 1979.

The region has seen never-ending turmoil since the fall of the Ottoman (Turkish) Empire after World War One.   That turmoil shows no sign of ending.

The recent war in Iraq has left a big mess in the region.   At its root is the almost 1,400 year sectarian conflict between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. Until the US invasion of Iraq, the country was dominated by Sunni Muslims, even though the majority of people were Shia Muslims (the reverse is the case in Syria).   Following the US backed election in Iraq, the majority Shia now rule the country. This development has altered the religious balance in the region and is causing repercussions everywhere.   ISIS was formed to protect Sunni Muslims from the now dominant Shia.

In Syria, Sunnis have been trying to overthrow the Alawite (Shia) minority regime of President Assad for five years.   Enter Moscow. Russia’s backing of the Syrian president has enabled Assad to win. The US showed a great deal of weakness, refusing to get involved even when the Syrian government crossed the line and used chemical weapons on its own citizens.   Now, after months of fighting in Aleppo, the biggest city of the country, Assad is firmly in power and Russia is sponsoring “peace talks” with the rebel factions in the country.   The US is not invited to the peace talks. Russia now controls Syria.   To accomplish this, the country needs Turkey’s help. The two are pushing for peace in the country. Turkey, the second most powerful military power in NATO, is now working with the Russians to bring peace to the Middle East.

That’s two set-backs for Washington in just a few days.

A third set-back is in Israel.   The outgoing administration in Washington did not veto the latest UN vote against Israel, condemning the country for building new settlements for Jewish settlers in the West Bank.   Friction between the US and the only western style democracy in the region is unsettling, to say the least. This set-back may only be temporary as a new President takes over in the US in just three weeks, but that gives a few days for further negative developments.   Even the British have criticized America’s condemnation of Israel.   The State Department seems set on causing rifts with US allies in the final days of the current Administration.

Keep in mind, too, that Syria borders Israel on the Golan Heights.   What happens in Syria may affect Israel.   Perhaps that’s why Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu went to Moscow in June, the fourth time in a year that he sat down with President Putin to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

The tables have been turned once again in the region.   Over sixty years ago, the UK was the dominant power in the region; since then, it’s been the US.   But now Russia is arguably the dominant power in the area.   The Russians are in alliance with the Shi-ite Muslims in Iran and Syria; they are also working with Sunni Turkey, which ruled the whole area prior to 1919.   At the same time, it seems that Israel’s prime minister is more comfortable with Putin than with Obama, with whom he’s had a serious exchange of heated words in recent days.

There’s even a fourth development that puts Russia ahead. Following the hacking scandal, President Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats from the US; President Putin made it clear that he will not expel any Americans. This is a triumph for Putin in the propaganda war with America.

What lies ahead?   Remember that the Middle East is the primary focus of Bible prophecy with Jerusalem at the epicenter.

In the nineteenth century, there was no indication that the Jews were about to become an independent nation again.  Their period of self-rule ended with the Romans before the time of Christ.  Their rebellion against the Romans in the first century AD led to the Diaspora, a dispersion that scattered the Jewish people throughout the Roman Empire and left them scattered until fairly recently.   Bible prophecy showed that the Jewish nation would be restored and that happened in 1948.

Exactly a century ago, British and Australian forces entered Jerusalem in the continuing war with the Ottoman Turks.   At this point in time, a Jewish nation became possible.   The British were given a mandate to administer Palestine by the League of Nations.   This was an impossible task as Palestinians and Jews clashed repeatedly.   Eventually, the League’s successor, the United Nations, divided the territory up between Jews and Palestinians, the latter never accepting their loss of land.

 

 

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TODDLER ON THE BEACH

Turkish beach

The photograph of the three-year-old boy washed up on a Turkish beach has been seen across the world.   The picture is harrowing.  He could easily have been one of my grandchildren; like the policeman who carefully carried him from the beach, I wanted to pick him up and hold him.   This was no way to die.

His five-year-old brother also died, two in a party of eleven who all drowned while trying to get into Europe.   They were all from Syria.   It has been revealed tonight that the mother did not want to go on the journey.  It seems the family could have stayed behind in the Kurdish part of Syria, where they were quite secure.

The media is taking advantage of the death of the two boys to put pressure on western governments to take in more refugees.   Their thinking does not go very deep.

Incidents like this drowning are the result of illegal people-smuggling.  People smugglers charge as much as 3,000 euros ($3,450) per person to be taken a short distance into Europe, by boat, truck or train.   Hundreds or thousands have died when boats have sunk; dozens more have suffocated to death in trucks.   Governments have forced people off trains, insisting they follow international agreements that require them to register in the first country they enter.   They won’t because they want to get to Germany, the richest country, which emphasizes the blurring line between refugee and migrant.

Refugees, like the three-year-old toddler and his family, are fleeing war or persecution or both.   Migrants are moving to Western Europe in order to better themselves.   They could apply for a work visa like millions of their countrymen who have entered Europe legally.   But they are taking advantage of current chaos to get into what they consider paradise.

One report from Budapest this morning showed a train full of migrants.   They came from 67 different countries.   Only Syrians and, maybe, Iraqis and Libyans truly qualify as refugees at this time. Others are migrants.   They can and should be returned home.   They should not be allowed to become a burden on European tax-payers.

The Hungarian Prime Minister, Viktor Orban, wrote an article on the migrant crisis that appeared in a German newspaper today.   He warned that the migrant crisis threatens Christian Europe.   Donald Tusk, the Polish President of the European Council, responded by saying that the first duty of all Christians is to help those in need, regardless of race or religion.

Both men are correct.

Surely, the solution is simple.

  1. Return all migrants, those seeking a better life in Europe.  The EU has a high unemployment rate and a number of countries haven’t got the money to provide free healthcare, free education and welfare to all those arriving.   They can be sent home, where they can apply for legal entry into their country of choice.
  1. Establish a temporary, guest worker program for all refugees, providing them with peace and security and an opportunity to work for up to five years.
  1. Change the citizenship laws.  That’s the real problem here.   The Hungarian prime minister is correct when he says Christian Europe is threatened, though, frankly, Europe has not shown much Christianity down through the centuries.   What he means by this is that ethnic Hungarians, Germans, French, etc., could easily be overwhelmed and their countries could be taken over by peoples of an alien culture and religion.
  1. Go after the people-smugglers.  They have no respect for human lives, not even the lives of 3- and 5-year-old little boys!   Life in prison is too good for them!  Deal with it.  Sink their boats.  Close the borders effectively.
  1. Put pressure on other Arab countries to take in Syrian refugees.   They will have a much better prospect of assimilation in a neighboring country than in Europe or America.
  1. Increase pressure on Syria’s President Assad who is largely responsible for this mess.   The US President should have followed through with his “red line” to remove Assad when he used chemical weapons on his own people.   US policy toward Syria has been totally ineffective.   It’s not all Obama’s fault – President Putin, another leader who does not care about people, supports Assad.
  1. Advertise on television.  Yes, that’s right.   Satellite TV is encouraging this massive migration of peoples – they see television programs from the West and want to move to a western country.   This is attracting migrants from all over.   Western governments would do well to show that their own countries are not the paradise many think.
  1. Abolish the generous welfare systems that attract migrants. Scenes from Hungary shows them resisting efforts to make them register in poorer Hungary, knowing this will stop them from being able to enter richer and more generous Germany.   Those trying to cross the Channel Tunnel know well that the UK’s benefits are more generous than France’s.

If these measures are applied, Europe can be saved and so can the people of Syria.