This is first of three overviews of events in the Middle-East before leading into a consideration of how they relate to the ‘Four Signposts’ approach to Bible prophecy. We will look more closely at Jordan and dip into reports on Saudi Arabian involvement in the Israel-Palestine peace process and with Iran.
Events continue to accelerate at breathtaking speed and I will present a mix of comments and bullet-point headlines for ease of reading. Links are shown for those wishing to read in more depth and consult the source material.
NCIS fans will recall Gibb’s Rule #39: ‘There’s no such thing as a coincidence!’ – or, as in my reply to a reader’s recent comment, “Coincidences are ‘spooky’ action in time” (a play upon Einstein’s reaction to quantum physics’ hypothesis of ‘entanglement’, ie. non-local correlative ‘communication’ between photons of light and sub-atomic particles).
A BRIEF RECAP
Apart from the ‘God-incidence’ of two delegates who’d heard the same teaching, writing on the same day on the same topic – the need for ‘air supremacy’ when prophesying – this time last week I submitted a very brief outline of major developments in the Middle-East since September 2015. It included reports of visits of a delegation of Christians to meet the leaders of Egypt and Jordan, as well as a UK prophet’s bringing the Lord’s words to diplomats at the UN in Geneva, including Donald Trump’s personal envoys.
For readers who’ve not yet read Paws 4 Thought, my premise follows the ‘coincidental’ similarity 14 years to the day between the infamous 9/11 attack upon the twin towers in New York and a severe lightning strike upon a crane, causing it to crash onto Mecca’s Grand Mosque and thereby killing over 100 people.
A ‘coincidental connection’ between those tragedies in New York and Mecca is the Bin Ladin family by virtue of their Binladin construction group owning that crane and of their notorious son Osama having been the leader of Al Qaeda.
I wondered if Joel Rosenberg’s report of visiting Jordan accurately paints the picture in view of strong discrimination against those who become Christians (secret police watch ex-Muslims). I’m grateful to friends who’ve been there allowing me to share their response to my blog of his news:
‘Thank you for this. It is of course wonderful to have any connection with the head of a Moslem country; nevertheless I wonder whether Joel Rosenberg knows the following:-
Christians can’t go to the camp that the delegation visited, since the men are beaten up and the women raped; they therefore have to sleep on church floors, pavements, or if lucky in a run-down room with no heating. They are cared for by local churches.
Syrian refugees are paid 250 Jordanian Dinars a month in perpetuity by UNHCR (about £150), whereas Syrian Christian refugees receive 10 dinars a month per family member AND only for six months! Iraqis, whether Christian or not receive nothing, and are moreover not allowed to work in Jordan. There is evidence that Moslem admin. officials report Christian refugees to the secret police. Those really in danger of course are those who convert from Islam, and we were moved by all those who came to our conference at some danger to themselves.’
From his desk as an accredited correspondent in the White House, William Koenig gives an exceptionally extensive round-up of the week’s Middle-Eastern news in his ‘Eye-View’ of last Friday (also see World Watch Daily). In Bill’s words it was ‘another breathtaking prophetic week in the Middle-East’.:
‘INSIDE THE WHITE HOUSE’
- ‘President Donald Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner, Saudi Crown Prince Mahmoud bin Salman and Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri were the talk of the Middle East the past week.
- Crown Prince Mahmoud rounded up Saudi princes and businessmen and imposed travel curbs in his fight over corruption.
- Saad Hariri resigned from his position over fear of assassination by Hezbollah and gave a scathing speech about Iran and Hezbollah.
- Iran’s foreign minister blamed Jared Kushner for the Salman and Hariri activities.
POLITICO wrote, “President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner returned home Saturday, Oct. 29 from an unannounced visit to Saudi Arabia — his third trip to the country this year…
David Ignatius, a long time Washington Post reporter and Saudi expert, pointed to Donald Trump’s and Jared Kushner’s alleged influence in his article, The Saudi crown prince just made a very risky power play…
“MBS [Crown Prince Salman] is emboldened by strong support from President Trump and his inner circle, who see him as a kindred disrupter of the status quo — at once a wealthy tycoon and a populist insurgent. It was probably no accident that last month, Jared Kushner, Trump’s senior adviser and son-in-law, made a personal visit to Riyadh. …MBS would probably be flattered to be described as a Saudi Trump. But Xi and his anti-corruption power play may be the real role model.”
- The Trump team seems determined to forge a comprehensive peace deal between Israel, the Palestinians and the Sunni Arab world.
- Egyptian President al-Sisi met with the Palestinian President Abbas on Monday, and King Salman of Saudi Arabia met with Abbas on Tuesday to discuss American-sponsored peace talks.
- Former Haaretz journalist and now Channel 10 correspondent Barak Ravid wrote about “Trump’s mystery plan for Mideast peace,” which is expected early next year…:
- ‘Israeli and Palestinian officials expect President Trump to unveil a Mideast peace proposal by early next year…
- ‘The U.S. “peace team” working on the issue is relatively small and very discreet — just five people, including senior adviser Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt. The entire process is being run out of the White House, with the State Department and other agencies providing advice and support. According to U.S. officials, Trump is the driving force on this issue and is personally involved. Israeli officials say they hear Trump is pushing his team to have a proposal soon.
- ‘In the last nine months Trump has met Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Palestinian President Abbas separately three times each to discuss his peace initiative…
- ‘Greenblatt’s last trip to the region lasted three weeks, and Kushner, who is officially leading the “peace team,” came to the region three times and spends hours every week in phone calls with Arab leaders in order to get their support.
- ‘The small, close-knit team has meant almost no leaks and zero public scandals, mistakes or embarrassments…’
What they’re saying:
- Netanyahu told U.K. Prime Minister May last week that he’s in ‘wait and see mode’ and expecting a proposal late this year or early next year, according to Israeli and British officials. “I don’t know what peace plan Trump is about to present and I am not sure anybody knows, but I am happy the Trump team is bringing fresh and out of the box thinking on this issue,“
- Abbas told a group of former Israeli members of Knesset that he expects a plan later this year and that Trump has told him he supports the two-state solution and is planning to make his position public soon, according to people present at the meeting.
- A White House official says there is no artificial deadline and the goal is to ‘facilitate a deal that works for both Israelis and Palestinians, not to impose anything on them’.
What to watch:
- Trump is counting on Saudi Arabia to help get both the Israelis and Palestinians to say yes to any initiative. Kushner builds on his close relationship with the Saudi crown prince Mohamed Bin Salman as a conduit for a much bigger Saudi role in the peace process than ever before…President Abbas was in Riyadh earlier this week to talk about the peace process with the Saudi leadership.
- Vice President Mike Pence will visit in mid-December and meet with both Netanyahu and Abbas and likely urge the parties to go back to the negotiating table.
- Netanyahu’s political situation could be destabilized by a peace plan that includes Israeli concessions on politically charged issues, like borders, settlements and the future of Jerusalem. .
- Abbas is in the midst of implementing a reconciliation deal with his rival party Hamas. The deal, which was led by Egypt with quiet support from the White House, includes the gradual transfer of control over the Gaza strip back to the Palestinian authority. A collapse of this agreement could have serious implications on any push for a peace deal.
Another breathtaking prophetic week in the Middle East – news and timeline
- Wed Nov 1: Putin positions himself as Middle East broker as US retreats; visits Tehran Times of Israel
- Wed Nov 1: IAF strikes Syrian munitions factory, Syria retaliates – Ynet
- Sat Nov 4: Lebanese prime minister resigns, saying his life in danger – Ynet
- Sun Nov 5: Saudi prince Salman rounds-up of Saudi princes, businessmen widens, travel curbs imposed – Reuters
- Sun Nov 5: Hariri’s speech: An accurate description of Israel’s northern challenges – Ynet Analysis: The Lebanese prime minister’s resignation concludes a week of turbulent events in the region, which all point to the extremely explosive situation created by the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah axis and, most importantly, mark the end of the civil war in Syria and its implications on Lebanon. Israel’s finest speech writers couldn’t have produced a better speech for Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri against Hezbollah and Iran.
- Mon Nov 6: Egypt’s Sissi vows push to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks Times of Israel…in a meeting with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday, said he remains committed to bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to the negotiating table.
- Tue Nov 7: Abbas speaks with Saudi king Jerusalem Post...informed [Salman] of the latest developments related to the Palestinian issue, American efforts to advance the peace process and… national reconciliation,
- Tue Nov 8: White House Statement on Iranian-Supported Missile Attacks Against Saudi Arabia
- Tues Nov 8 – President Trump’s North Korean warning speech in Seoul, Korea White House transcript.
- Thu Nov 9: Trump may have pushed Saudi Arabia and Iran closer to war CNBC. Koenig quotes CNBC.com senior columnist Jake Novak’s Commentary in some depth: ‘As I noted when he was first put in his top position by his father King Salman in June, Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman was already known as a hardcore hawk against Iran. Just a month before he was made crown prince, bin Salman declared that peace dialogue with Iran was impossible…More aggressive anti-Iranian hawks like bin Salman may have seen Donald Trump’s election as an excuse to win the day over more dovish princes and ministers. And the White House seemingly gave Saudi Arabia a green light…Step four seems to have come in September, when bin Salman reportedly secretly visited Israel to discuss Iran and other potential cooperative measures. Neither country is officially acknowledging that visit took place, but at least one Israeli government source confirmed the meeting last month…And now we’re on the step five, which appears to be a combination of the purge to remove any possible internal hurdles towards a greater anti-Iranian push, and blatant protests against any real or perceived Iranian aggression.
Is Saudi Arabia pushing Israel into war with Hezbollah and Iran?
- Koenig: ‘This is an interesting perspective from Obama’s former ambassador to Israel.’ In Haaretz Daniel B. Shapiro is Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, asks, ‘What connects Lebanese PM Saad Hariri’s sudden resignation and Hezbollah’s assassination threat with Saudi Arabia and Israel? It’s all about Iran.
- ‘But Israel must not be maneuvered by an impatient Riyadh into a premature confrontation…Hariri has long known that as prime minister, he lived on borrowed time. At Hezbollah’s whim, at any moment, his father’s fate could become his own. It’s fair to say that the assassination attempt he alluded to in his resignation announcement represented a death threat he always faced. It was only a question of when Hezbollah would choose to operationalize it.
- ‘The bigger question is whether his resignation is a sign that the Saudis withdrew their support for him once again. At first blush, that would not seem consistent with King Salman and MBS’s overall desire to confront Iran’s proxies on every front…’
- ‘But it is plausible that the Saudis are trying to create the context for a different means of contesting Iran in Lebanon: an Israeli-Hezbollah war….’
- For the rest of this informative commentary, click here: Haaretz
THE MIDDLE EAST
- Nov 8 – Iran plots assassinations to achieve Shiite Crescent in the Middle East [JCPA]
- Nov 8 – Barzani: Iraqi forces entered Kirkuk with US, British knowledge [Rudaw]
- Nov 9 – Saudi Arabia Kuwait, UAE and Bahrain urge their nationals to leave Lebanon [Al Arabiya]
- Nov 9 – The price of selling out the Kurds [Rudaw]
Part 2 will provide a quick listing of linked headlines from this week’s news.
[Flying Puzzles by Nokhoog Buchachon, courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net]