As 2019 begins, the Mideast, always a global region with internal threats and turmoil, has just become what I call a “cauldron of uncertainty.” Very odd developments have just taken place and more may be coming. This post will offer readers updates on some of the recent developments, my thoughts on the matter and also a biblical perspective on what we may be witnessing.
No doubt, all readers are aware that US President Trump shocked everyone by announcing that, as Commander in Chief, he was going to bring US troops home from Syrian deployments. This reportedly caught America’s allies and Trump’s own generals by surprise. No one seemed able to convince him to reconsider his decision. He certainly caught me by surprise as well! It was my understanding that the US deployment into Eastern Syria had two purposes: the first was to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” (Trump’s own words, I think) and the second was to provide a blocking force in the region so a contiguous Shiite Arc did not form all the way from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea via Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. If this Shiite Arc forms, Iran and Russia will be able to cooperate in building ports on the Eastern Mediterranean shore and base warships in Syrian ports and base armies and warplanes from Tehran to Beirut. This would greatly embolden Iran into thinking they are being positioned to annihilate Israel…as they have stated is their intention. Before allowing their small nation to be obliterated or overrun, Israel would almost certainly have to launch a preemptive strike and we could see the entire Mideast in flames. The presence of US forces allied to the Kurds in Eastern Syria was preventing this from happening. If Trump actually pulls all US forces out of Syria, a massive war is made much more likely and that war could see the US deploying its forces right back into the Mideast to support Israel and the Sunni nations.
All leaders make good and bad decisions. I think Trump has made many good decisions up to now. I think he has just made a bad one. In ignoring the advice of all close advisors, generals and apparently allies, Trump has ignored the wisdom of Proverbs 11:13 which states that “…in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” He seems to have made this decision with no counselors at all. His decision likely shocked the Kurds the most. The Kurds have been the most loyal ally the USA had in the war against ISIS and the Kurds were most honorable in how they sheltered and defended Sunnis, Christians, Azidis and anyone else who was fleeing from ISIS. The Kurds “stood in the gap” on behalf of everyone hazarding their lives in a war against ISIS until the USA began to offer help. Obama’s support was half-hearted, at best, but Trump lived up to his promise to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” and his vehement action vs. ISIS emboldened the Kurds to fight alongside the USA in its objectives. The Kurds, no doubt, surely thought that the USA would protect Kurdish interests. Instead, Trump has made a decision which abandons a close and loyal ally. This action, if carried out, will weaken the trust of every ally of the USA has in the world (first link). When I worked in a governmental position in my younger days, a wise political ally gave me this advice: “Always leave the dance with them who brung you.” His advice was very cogent. It translates into the equivalent of “never abandon your friends and your allies.” Trump is in danger of getting on the wrong side of this solid advice.
Turkey, ever the enemy of the Kurds had been held back from their often-expressed desire to invade Kurdish regions in Syria or Iraq due to the US-Kurdish alliance in the Mideast. It is my view that Turkey not only has a deep animus vs. the Kurds but, under Erdogan, also wants to recover as much of the old Ottoman Empire as possible. Turkey quickly indicated it would invade Eastern Syrian Kurdish regions as soon as the US forces left the area. Feeling their oats, Turkey also all but ordered the French troops fighting in the region alongside the Americans and Kurds to leave as well (second link). The Kurds saw their mortal danger and, no longer able to trust the USA, quickly sought a new ally in the region to ensure their own safety and survival. The Kurds invited President Assad of Syria to send his forces to the Kurdish region of Syria threatened by Turkey–offering Assad a de facto alliance with the Kurds. Syria, likely amazed by the turn of events in their favor, quickly accepted the Kurds’ offer and rushed Syrian troops to defend a key Kurdish city, Manjib, from Turkey’s threatened invasion. The third link, fourth link and fifth link offer British, German and Kurdish media viewpoints on this developing Kurdish-Syrian alliance. Although Syrian state TV announced Syrian forces had entered the center of Manjib, foreign media have reported that Syrian troops have actually taken up a protective position outside the city and reported also that joint US-Kurdish military patrols are still taking place at Manjib.
Now the situation really gets confused. Even though Turkey warned the French to leave the Kurdish region, the French dug in their heels and stated they would not abandon the Kurds (sixth link). Also, reports indicate that there is no actual retreat date set yet for the US troops so we have a bizarre situation centered at the Kurdish/Syrian town of Manjib. Manjib is protected by Kurdish forces, Iranian-aligned Syrian forces and troops from two NATO allies, the USA and France. They are all protecting the Kurds and Manjib from being invaded by another NATO nation, Turkey. This situation is bizarre, indeed.
Trump’s announcement that ISIS had been defeated and that he would immediately withdraw US troops from Syria must have had Tehran, Damascus, and Moscow rejoicing at their good fortunes. Trump’s action greatly aided the desire of Russia and Iran to build their desired Shiite Arc from Tehran to Beirut. Trump had denounced Obama’s nuclear and cash surrender deal with Iran as the worst deal ever, and Trump was entirely right in my view. However, Trump’s announcement of withdrawing US forces from Syria helped Iran as much as Obama’s deal because it would enable Iran to deploy its military forces right up to Israel’s border unimpeded. If anything, Trump, in my opinion, could have logically announced the withdrawal of all US forces not from Syria but from Afghanistan. The USA has wasted immense money, lost many lives and worn out its military equipment in Afghanistan and Iraq for many years. The USA has no vital interests in Afghanistan and has no natural allies in the region. In Eastern Syria, the USA has vital interests and strong natural allies in the region (Israel, Sunni Arab nations and the Kurds). Both the British Empire and the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan and, realizing they had entered a geopolitical quicksand pit, left Afghanistan (which isn’t so much a nation as a region on the map occupied by perpetually warring tribes). The USA continues to inexplicably “throw good money after bad” by staying in Afghanistan.
Trump may be reconsidering his decision. The seventh link relates that Trump is now going to “slowly” withdraw troops from Eastern Syria; a phrase that could be redefined to mean anything as time goes by. On the other hand, an Iranian ally, Syria, has announced it is giving fellow Iranian ally, Iraq, the right to attack ISIS positions in Eastern Syria (eighth link). I think the motive for this action is obvious. Sensing a huge opportunity given to them by Trump, Iran is telling both its allies to “join forces” in Eastern Syria to establish its long-desired Shiite Arc across Syria and Iraq to Lebanon before Trump sees the danger and changes his mind.
However, the plot thickens as uncertainties are numerous in the Mideast now. Mideastern media reports indicate Trump may not have abandoned the Kurds after all. The ninth link, from Al Jazeera, reports that the USA may be giving a lot of American weaponry, including such heavy weapons as anti-tank weapons, heavy mortars, and armored vehicles to the Kurds. The anti-tank weapons would be very effective against Turkish tanks if they invaded regions inhabited by Kurds in either Iraq or Syria, and this report adds this development would “incense” Turkey. It has. The tenth link is from a Turkish news source that is reported by Wikipedia as being very closely aligned with President Erdogan of Turkey (eleventh link). It identifies the Kurdish allies of the USA inside Syria as being “terrorists,” and reports that the USA has given the Kurds either “150” or “500” truckloads of weapons in a single week (both figures are cited in the article).
I’m sure that many secret and confidential calls have been made all over the Mideast as the above events have unfolded. Where this “cauldron of uncertainties” will lead is unclear, so we will have to keep watching to learn how this unexpectedly unusual Mideastern drama ends. I’d like to conclude with a biblical observation. Proverbs 21:1 states that the “heart” of kings (i.e. national leaders) is in “the Lord’s hand,” and that “he turns it whithersoever he will.” Sometimes all presumed human logic goes out the window as rulers do things that God inspires them to do to fulfill his will. Ezra 1:1 and II Chronicles 36:22-23 state that God directly moved the mind of King Cyrus of Persia to allow Jews to return to Jerusalem to fulfill a prophecy in Jeremiah. This likely shocked all of Cyrus’ advisors. When the UN had voted to partition Palestine and give the Jews a homeland in their old Promised Land, President Harry Truman went against the counsel of his advisors and top generals when he recognized the independence of the new state of Israel. It was time to fulfill the prophecy of Zephaniah 2 that the Jewish nation would again be founded in their old homeland during the “latter days” of our age, so I believe it was God who put that thought into Truman’s mind at that time. Is there anything in Trump’s sudden decision that could facilitate another fulfillment of a latter-day prophecy? We don’t know for sure, but I see one possibility. Many prophecies indicate that another Jewish Temple will be built at the end of our age (Daniel 9:23-27, Matthew 24:15 and Revelation 11:1-2; the “holy place” can only be in a Temple), and the only location acceptable to the Jews is on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. So far, such a thing has not been politically possible. However, Trump’s announcement has likely shaken the trust of the USA in many Sunni allies of America, and, like the Kurds, they may be searching for a new strong ally. It has been reported for years that a formal Israeli-Sunni alliance is in the making, and Trump’s decision may accelerate this process. The Sunni Arab nations need a nuclear-armed ally. If Israel places a nuclear shield over the Sunni Arab nations to protect them from an eventual nuclear Iran, Israel’s price may be the right to build a new Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount. If such a thing happened, it would greatly accelerate latter-day prophetic fulfillment. If a Temple site was dedicated, the daily sacrifices could be started soon afterward. It is possible that these sacrifices might begin as soon as the Temple site was dedicated and the Holy Place of the Temple was sited. The sending of God’s final Two Witnesses who will wield incredible Divine power seems to be triggered by some event taking place at the Temple site in the latter days (Revelation 11:1-13).
I’m making no specific predictions, but we may be on the cusp of major events. For more information on above-mentioned topics, please read my free articles, Are We Living in the Biblical Latter Days?, Four Reasons the Jews are Judah, and The Two Witnesses.