Tag Archives: Treaty of Paris

IMMINENT MISSILE ATTACK ON SYRIA

“Behold, Damascus will cease from being a city, And it will be a ruinous heap. (Isaiah 17:1) 

By an amazing coincidence, I have been reading a book on “Munich” while the current crisis in Syria has been building up.

At Munich in 1938, Hitler and Chamberlain met to discuss Hitler’s claims on German Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia.   Chamberlain famously gave in to his demands. The former British PM described Nazi Germany’s annexation of the area of German-speaking Czechoslovakia in 1938 as “a quarrel in a faraway country between people of which we know nothing.”

Similar words could be spoken today about Syria.

At the time of writing this article, President Trump is deciding on how to react to Syria’s use of chemical weapons on its own people. If the US does nothing, nobody else will.   In 1938 Neville Chamberlain, as British Prime Minister, was the leader of the western world; today it’s President Trump.   Less than a year after Chamberlain’s famous appeasement toward Hitler, Britain and Germany were at war.   It had become all too clear, even to Chamberlain, that Hitler was intent on global conquest.

There’s been plenty of evidence that Russia has similar territorial designs.   The Russians took control of part of Georgia a few years ago; this was followed by the conquest of Crimea and of eastern Ukraine.   Domination of Syria makes them the most powerful voice in the Middle East.  This role is growing – last month, Putin met with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in Ankara.  These three are now in a de facto alliance while Turkey remains officially in NATO.

Geoffrey Wawro, a professor at the University of North Texas, wrote a book called “Quicksand” (2010), on “America’s pursuit of power in the Middle East.”   Reviewer Rick Atkinson sums the book up well, writing that Wawro reveals “how an extraordinary tale of idealism, politics, force and miscalculation began and unfolded over the last century.”

The more the US got involved, the more the US was sucked in; hence the title “Quicksand.”   Why should we expect any other outcome following action in Syria?   Could US intervention lead to war with Russia?

“There was no reason for war in 1914, beyond the murder of an archduke in Bosnia.   As AJP Taylor said of 1914:   “Nowhere was there a conscious determination to provoke a war.   Statesmen miscalculated [and] became prisoners of their own weapons.   The great armies, accumulated to provide security and preserve the peace, carried the nations to war by their own weight.”   I wonder what Taylor would have said of Trump’s “Get ready, Russia” tweet.” (“Look at Syria and you can see all the elements that have led to world wars,” Simon Jenkins, The Guardian, April 12th.)

A miscalculation now could be fatal for the US, Russia and Syria.

SYRIAN COMPLEXITIES

Syria is a perfect illustration of the complexity of modern warfare and the geopolitics that complicate everything.

Syria was established after World War One and the fall of the Ottoman Empire.   After “the war to end all wars,” the Treaty of Paris carved out a number of new countries from the ruins of the Turkish ruled empire.   The treaty was aptly described as “the peace to end all peace” by a British general who saw a future of never-ending conflict in the region.   A century later nothing has improved.

Before World War One, Mesopotamia was a sleepy backwater of no interest to anyone.   The same could be said of Syria.   Bible students know that this had to change to fulfill apocalyptic prophecies about Israel (the Jews) and its neighbors.   The prophesied Jewish national homeland was established exactly seventy years ago, in May 1948.

Syria was a Mandated territory of the League of Nations.   France was given the mandate; Britain was given Iraq and Jordan to administer, again under a Mandate from the League.   Palestine was also a League of Nations mandated territory, given to the British.

After World War Two, the French left Syria.   It soon fell under the Soviet sphere of influence.   From 1970 Syria has been the home of a Russian naval base, the only one Russia has on the Mediterranean. The Russians are not going to give it up.   And they will support President Assad as long as it is in their interest to do so.

The US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 helped Russia to gain further influence in the region.   By removing Saddam Hussein from power and arranging an election in Iraq, the majority Shi’ites came to power, altering the balance of religious and political power in the Middle East.   Iran is the leading nation of Shia Islam.   An arc of Shia Islam now exists, from Iran through Iraq to Syria and Lebanon, roughly the same territory of the ancient biblical King of the North. Russia is heavily involved with the Iranians and Syria.   Turkey is now also with them, wanting to stop its Kurdish minority from breaking away.   The Turks are not Arabs, so this does not present a conflict for them.

Syria is not majority Shia.   Assad’s support comes mostly from his Alawite clan, a branch of Shia Islam, which amounts to only 11% of the population.   The Sunnis do not want to be ruled by Assad. Neither do the Sunnis in Iraq want a Shia government over them.  This is why ISIS formed, to “protect” Sunnis from Shi’ites.

It’s all very complicated.

No wonder the president is taking his time.

If he does nothing, he will be seen as weak against Syria and the Russians.  If he does something, innocent lives will be lost, but Assad will remain in power and Russia will continue as its benefactor.

A further complication came today when the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, announced that Moscow has “evidence” the video of the gas attack was performed by actors.   How does the West prove the film was real?

It seems like a no-win situation for the United States.

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European Immigration:   Nuns Out, Terrorists In                                                          by Douglas Murray, April 13, 2018 (Gatestone Institute)

  • When the same Home Office that forbade Sister Ban even to enter the country discovered that the young male Iraqi was in Britain, he explained clearly that he had been trained by ISIS.  He told the Home Office officials that the group had trained him to kill.   The Home Office promptly found him a place to live and study, and treated him as the minor he said he was but most likely was not.   He subsequently told a teacher that he had “a duty to hate Britain.”
  • Last year the Institute of St. Anselm (a Catholic training institute for priests and nuns, based in Kent) closed its doors because of problems it had getting the Home Office to grant visa applications for foreign students.   One nun last year was apparently denied entry to the UK because she did not have a personal bank account.
  • So, those who flee ISIS are turned away, while those who are trained by ISIS are welcome.

 

 

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GLOBAL HUMANITARIAN CRISIS

BBC World is an international news channel, based in London.   With more correspondents around the globe, it is certainly the best source of world news.  It’s nightly news program made especially for American audiences is shown on PBS channels across the country

Increasingly, it has become the best place to go for humanitarian news.   At a time when many people are tired of seeing disaster after disaster and weary of refugee news, the BBC is consistent in highlighting the sufferings of people around the world.   If it wasn’t for the BBC, most people would be unaware of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the continuing tragedy in South Sudan,  or the half a million Rohingya refugees, who have fled Myanmar (Burma) in the last few weeks, for the safety of neighboring Muslim Bangladesh. Thursday their nightly news program for American audiences had an in-depth report from the Democratic Republic of Congo, a major humanitarian  and worsening disaster.

The BBC is almost a century old, having been launched in London in 1922.   During World War II, it gained an unrivaled reputation as a reliable news source, even upsetting Britain’s wartime leader, Winston Churchill, who didn’t like its negative reports on the country’s war effort.

Undoubtedly, Burma’s most prominent politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner, Aung San Suu Kyi, once thankful for the BBC’s championing democracy in her native Burma, is now wishing the organization did not exist.  Why?   Because it has been relentless in trying to get her to condemn the “ethnic cleansing” of the country’s Muslim minority, the Rohingya.   For some reason, she refuses to do that.

A negative consequence of the BBC’s relentless coverage is that people in the West are made uncomfortable witnessing all the suffering.   Many react by donating to charities that help those suffering; more vocal and radical people will call for “resettlement” into their own countries, which will only add to ethnic tensions at home.

The nightly scenes of columns of “Syrian” refugees (many actually from African countries) marching through snow and rain to reach western countries, led to those nations opening their doors.   Some are now regretting it.   Not far from the BBC’s headquarters in London, an attempt was made to blow up a subway train recently by a Syrian refugee. Similar attacks are likely to follow.

The world has always had ethnic conflict, but, after decades of organizations like the BBC, the European Union and the United Nations, supporting globalization efforts, while glossing over ethnic conflict, and singing Kumbaya at international gatherings, the world is waking up to the fact that ethnic consciousness has not gone away and ethnic conflict is surfacing everywhere.

Christians, who have often been at the forefront of trying to bring ethnic groups together, should be aware that this problem is set to get worse.   Asked by His disciples what would be the signs of His (Second) Coming, Jesus said: “nation will rise against nation” (Matthew 24:7) and “kingdom against kingdom”.   A kingdom is a political unit, like the United Kingdom or the United States.   The word “nation” here is from the Greek ethnos, meaning ethnic group. Ethnic group will turn on ethnic group is what this verse is saying.

The Bible also helps us understand why.

In the Old Testament Book of Deuteronomy, written by Moses, we read:

“When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,   When He separated the sons of man,   He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the sons of Israel.”   The word “nations” here is a Hebrew word meaning “people”.   (Deuteronomy 32:8) “According to the number of the sons of Israel” is telling us that God wanted the Israelites to be separate from the pagan nations around them, so that they would not be encouraged to follow the pagan gods.

In the New Testament we read the following words spoken by the Apostle Paul, a Jew who was also a Greek and a Roman citizen: ” . . .  and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation.”  (Acts 17:26)

From these verses we can understand that God set boundaries between different ethnic groups, to help them avoid conflict.   This also meant that religious groups were separated.   The presence of Shi’ite Muslims in predominantly Sunni Yemen is the root cause of that country’s problems.   Little attempt is made to help people understand the depth of this animosity by organizations like the BBC that are always trying to promote multiculturalism and the idea that there is one faith, one God and that all worship Him in different ways.

Some are waking up to this reality.   It’s nothing new.   For centuries different religious and ethnic groups separated themselves from one another.   But now, after decades of increasing strife as groups were forced to mix, there are an increasing number of people questioning the whole idea.

Daniel Pipes is one of them.   Mr. Pipes is an American historian, writer and commentator.   He is also President of the Middle East Forum and publishes its Middle East Quarterly Journal.

In a recent interview, Mr. Pipes was asked by a German publication, Achse des Guten, for his solution to the problems caused by multiculturalism and specifically the attempt to assimilate millions of Muslims into German society:

What, then, is the answer?

The 100,000 permanent, almost-always empty tents in Saudi Arabia can hold 3 million migrants.

“Practically speaking, see the world in terms of cultural and geographic zones:   Westerners in need should stay in the West, Middle Easterners should stay in the Middle East, and so forth around the globe. Is it not strange that migrants from Syria and Iraq move to places like Germany and Sweden?   They would be better off going to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, where the climate, the language, the religion, and the mores are all like their own; plus, these countries are much closer to Syria.”

Cultures and customs change. Perhaps Muslims will adapt to European cultures if given the opportunity?

“In theory, yes;  in practice, no.   Experience shows that the first generation of Muslim immigrants to Europe is more adaptable than its children and grandchildren, as cultural separation increases over time. It is hard to find any place in Europe where Muslim immigrants have assimilated, leading me gravely to doubt that this will take place in the future. Chileans, Chinese, and Congolese fit better into European culture than do Muslims.”

Let’s be clear – Mr. Pipes is advocating the separation of the “Christian” West and the Islamic world.   Muslims should live in the Middle East; they should not be allowed to flee to western Europe when there are 22 Arab countries closer to them, some of them fabulously wealthy nations.

I would like to suggest we take it a step further.

Western nations need to urgently call for an international meeting of Islamic and western leaders.   The West needs to openly confess that it’s made a horrible mess of the Middle East since the Treaty of Paris a century ago.   Western leaders need to promise to stay completely out of the Middle East in exchange for Muslim nations taking in the Muslims who are living in the West.

Is this likely to happen?

Once again, we can look to the Bible for the answer.

Daniel, a book written in the sixth century BC in Babylon, not only predicted the coming of the Messiah six centuries later, but also prophesied of future empires – Persia, Greece and Rome.   Much of the book has already been fulfilled, but parts are set in the future. Chapter 11 deals with Alexander the Great and the four kingdoms that succeeded him.   The prophetic timeline brings us down to the present.   In verses 40-43 we read of a coming clash of civilizations between a united European power and the “King of the South,” a revived caliphate to the South of Jerusalem.  The Jews (the nation we call Israel) will, once again, be caught up in this conflict.

 

IRAQ WAR INQUIRY

iran-map-region

Further evidence that our leaders are out of touch with reality is not needed.

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday that the world is a better place because of the Iraq War.

Perhaps he has stopped watching the news.  That would be understandable, considering that the ripple effect of the US-British invasion of Iraq in 2003 continues to this day.   On Sunday, 281 people were killed in a bomb blast at a shopping mall in Baghdad, the capital.

When I heard the news I thought of the period between the two world wars, after the Treaty of Paris created Iraq and Syria out of the rubble of the Ottoman Empire.   I remember reading a couple of novels by Agatha Christie titled “Murder in Mesopotamia” and “They came to Baghdad.”   The novels were set in Iraq, which Dame Agatha knew well – she had lived there for a few years with her husband, Max Mallowan, the famed archaeologist.  They first met in the ancient city of Ur in 1928 and lived in Mosul on and off when they were married.   Their association with the country continued until 1963.   They discovered many artifacts from ancient Nimrud, most of which were looted by the Assyrians when they invaded Lebanon and Syria. Agatha Christie used her face cream to clean these treasures. During this period of time, Iraq was at peace and the people lived under a fairly liberal constitutional monarchy.   It all changed after a revolution in 1958.   58 years later, it continues to get worse. Thankfully, Dame Agatha died in 1976, three years before Saddam came to power.   She did not live to see the disaster the country has become.

Mr. Blair’s press conference followed the publication of the Iraq War Inquiry, a six-year project chaired by Sir John Chilcot.   The Chilcot Report was scathing in its criticism of Mr. Blair and his role in the war.   Amongst other things, he was criticized for so readily going to war alongside the Americans, when peaceful options had not been exhausted.   In a memo to President Bush, Mr. Blair wrote he was with him “whatever.”   179 British men and women were killed and hundreds injured.   The invasion, which began in March, 2003, brought to the surface the 1,400 year struggle between Sunnis and Shi’ites – a conflict seemingly without end.

Sir John Chilcot finally published the report of the Iraq War Inquiry on Wednesday.   I’m surprised it got so little attention in the US as there are implications for former President George W. Bush.   There are calls in the United Kingdom, following the publication of the report, for former Prime Minister Tony Blair to be prosecuted as a war criminal.   Demonstrators yesterday carried signs with Blair’s name spelt “Bliar!”

To be fair, both Bush and Blair were presented with faulty intelligence that showed Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction.”  This turned out not to be the case.   Mr. Blair said yesterday that if he was presented with the same evidence today, he would make the same decision.

What is utterly amazing is Mr. Blair’s claim that the world is a better place following the removal of Saddam.

One Iraqi in Baghdad, asked to comment on BBC World News following the report, said that if he had the opportunity he would tell Mr. Blair, to his face, that “he is a criminal – and I would spit in his face!”  No doubt, feelings about George W. Bush are the same.   The invasion of Iraq will negatively affect relations with the West for decades to come.   It has already led directly to the creation of ISIS and the growth of Al-Qaeda (which did not exist in Iraq prior to the war).   These two terrorist movements seriously imperil the West.

One contributory factor to the war was the naivety of the two western leaders, believing that the overthrow of Saddam and the “introduction” of democracy, would bring regional stability as democracy would spread and, as we all know, democracies do not go to war, a fallacy in itself!

Perhaps all this had to happen.   The Middle East is the epicenter of the final apocalyptic events found in both the Christian Bible and in Islam. Thanks to the invasion of Iraq, we now have a Shia arc that embraces Iran, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.  Over 2,300 years ago, following the death of Alexander the Great, this was the territory of his general Seleucus, the “King of the North” we read about in Daniel 11.   Some of the area was taken over by Rome in the first century BC.

A revived King of the North plays a major role in end-time events.

The decision to invade Iraq triggered off so many inter-factional conflicts, it’s impossible for western leaders to begin to comprehend it all.   That alone is a very good reason why we should never have got involved in the first place.

Unfortunately, the damage has been done and we will all have to live with the consequences.