Making Sense of Syria
Do you realize how much is at stake in Syria? Tens of thousands of Syrians have already been killed; hundreds of thousands have fled the country. The nation faces collapse. Tragic though this is, Syria’s woes have far broader and far more dreadful repercussions—for Syrians, for the Middle East, for the international community, and even for you.
Syria’s civil war has ensnared a volatile mix of major world powers: America, Germany and Europe, Russia, Iran. The outcome will redefine the Middle East. It will also directly impact the international interests of these major world powers, pointing them further down a collision course to World War iii.
Right now the big question is: Who will win? Will Bashar Assad survive and keep Syria aligned with Iran? Will Islamist rebels take control of the nation, much like they did in Libya and Egypt? Will a new, Western-friendly regime come to power?
Even the most discerning minds cannot answer these questions through observation and deduction. But there is a way to answer them correctly: by reading Bible prophecy. The Bible reveals the astonishing truth of Syria’s role in events that are about to occur—events that will affect each and every one of us.
Lighting the Fuse
In March 2011, protests erupted in Damascus, Aleppo and Deraa. The military brutally stepped in to try to disperse the protesters, but the fires of insurrection spread quickly. In June, activists met in Istanbul, Turkey, to form an official opposition. In the space of four months, Syria went from civil unrest to full-scale civil war.
More than two years down this bloody path, more than 96,400 people have been killed. Hundreds of thousands more have fled the nation. Those who stay face oppression, fear and hardship under either the dictatorship of Assad or the Islam-fueled radicalism of the rebels.
The rebel forces consist of over 100 smaller factions, many of which harbor radical Islamic ideals. Groups such as al Nusra—which is openly tied to al Qaeda—have been working to restore basic needs in rebel-controlled communities. In doing so, the radicals have won over the loyalties of much of the Syrian population in some cities. As a result, fighters who were once moderate are now embracing the ideals of the radicals.
Until recently, much of the international community opposed arming the rebels. Up to this past May, the European Union banned selling weapons to the rebels. That isn’t to say the EU has not assisted them; it simply restricted itself to monetary aid. As of January 30, the EU had contributed €417 million (over us$546 million) to Assad’s enemies.
But Assad’s violent military forces are strong, generously backed by his various allies and sponsors (infographic, page 18). They are better equipped than the rebels and have the advantage of an air force. Hezbollah fights openly alongside Syria’s government troops. It has won Assad some key victories against the rebels, such as the retaking of the city of Qusair in early June. Backing and supporting Assad and Hezbollah is Iran. Looming large to the east, Iran supplies training, troops and weapons, which come by way of Iraq.
Syria may be small, but it is deeply significant to Iran. If Syria falls, Lebanon—and thereby Hezbollah—will be cut off geographically from its Iranian sponsors. Iran is working to prop up the Assad government, including opening a $1 billion credit line, with possibly $3 billion more to come. Should Assad fall, the Iranians have a lot more to lose than just an ally. They will also lose a sizeable region of influence along the Mediterranean coast. Their international connections by way of Hezbollah would also be jeopardized, extending from South America and the drug cartels to Europe and the agents in place there.
The truth is, the fighting between the Syrian rebels and the Syrian government is a proxy war for a much larger conflict. That war is quickly engulfing the international community. On one side are Russia and Iran, fueling the government in Syria with money, weapons, training for troops and even some soldiers, such as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. On the other side are Europe, Turkey and many Gulf states, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. For long-time Trumpet readers, this particular collection of names may sound familiar.
Two Crucial Prophecies
The prophecy of Daniel 11:40 speaks of the “king of the north” fighting against the “king of the south” after a “push” by that latter king. Already we see friction between these “kings” as they back and arm their respective groups in the Middle East. Some of that conflict is playing out within the civil war in Syria.
Over the years, Germany has been laying the groundwork for stronger ties to the Middle East. It has signed multi-billion-dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Israel. Last year, its arms exports to the Gulf doubled from the year before, to €1.42 billion (us $1.88 billion). It has sold $2.6 billion in weapons to Qatar, including dozens of Leopard ii tanks. It has sold $9.3 billion in weapons to the United Arab Emirates and built a munitions factory there. It is working on some massive deals with Saudi Arabia which include building a machine-gun factory, and delivering 72 Eurofighters and up to 800 Leopard ii tanks. In Turkey, Germany has a huge arms market, selling 715 tanks, 687 armored personnel carriers, 300 air defense missile systems, 197 ground survey radar units, eight frigates, two support ships and 15 submarines in the last two decades. Germany is using these arms sales to buy friends in the Middle East that fear Iran and radical Islam but can’t necessarily rely on the United States.
Few recognize the dominant role Germany is assuming in the region. Today, the Iranians are pushing and pushing, but they fail to realize that Germany literally has them surrounded, with footholds of troops and weaponry spread across the Middle East, Africa and Asia. (You can read about this in Gerald Flurry’s opening article in last month’s issue, “The Whirlwind Prophecy.”) Daniel’s prophecy reveals that it is only a matter of time before Germany stops Iran’s pushing for good. Suddenly the world at large, along with Iran, will be caught off guard when Germany steps in and attacks.
Daniel 11:40 also ties in with another prophecy that links Syria to major events about to explode in the Middle East. Found in Psalm 83, this prophecy describes an alliance between Germany and certain Middle Eastern nations. By understanding this prophecy, you can look beyond the current chaos and see how the scenario in Syria will end.
“For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah” (Psalm 83:5-8).
This exact alliance has never occurred in history: It is an alliance prophesied to form in our day. As Mr. Flurry describes in his booklet The King of the South, the modern-day descendants of these peoples and nations lie scattered throughout the Middle East. We can’t be extremely precise, but generally speaking, Edom is Turkey; Moab and Ammon refer to Jordan; the Ishmaelites are the Arabs of Saudi Arabia; Gebal is Lebanon today. And Assur was the father of the Assyrians, ancestors of today’s Germans.
The Hagarenes anciently lived in the land of Syria. And in this prophecy, they are allied with Germany.
Looking at the situation in Syria today, many would scoff at the notion that the Syrians will ally with Germany. But this is the outcome Psalm 83 tells us to watch for.
There are many indications that this alliance is already coming together.
It Is Already Happening
Look at who is supporting whom in the region. North of Syria is Turkey, one of Europe’s allies in Psalm 83. Currently in the midst of social turmoil itself, Turkey is an outspoken enemy of the Syrian regime. Thousands of refugees have crossed the border into Turkey seeking shelter from the fighting. While the majority of the Turkish population is opposed to aiding the rebels, they believe Assad’s administration should be removed. Relations between the two countries are poor, with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan blaming the Syrian administration for deadly attacks overflowing into Turkey.
To the southeast is Jordan, located in the land of ancient Moab. The Jordanians have allowed the U.S. to deploy patriot missiles and F-16 jets to the border with Syria, a clear signal that Jordan is siding with other Arab states against the Iranian-assisted Syrians. This decision may hinge in large part on Jordan’s reliance on aid from the U.S. and the Gulf states.
Further south is Iran’s biggest opponent in the Middle East, descended from the ancient Ishmaelites: Saudi Arabia. Among their many efforts to prevent the spread of Iranian influence, the Saudis have promised $345 million in aid to the rebels and have supplied small arms. They see Syria as an opportunity to weaken Iran’s reach within the region.
Lebanon, to Syria’s southwest, is currently a major supporter of Bashar Assad. While it is currently assisting the regime, Lebanon will be cut off and weakened drastically when—not if—Syria breaks away from Iran. With Hezbollah now deeply involved in Syria, there are signs of instability in Lebanon as the Syrian rebels retaliate against the surge in military assistance from Hezbollah.
Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey are uniting in the war against Assad. Syria faces tremendous pressure and will be drawn away from Iran, which will also dislodge Lebanon from that axis.
Who predicted such a realignment of Middle Eastern geopolitics even before the Syrian crisis began? The Trumpet has been foretelling this for years—because of our understanding of Bible prophecy.
Now, we watch for these nations to align with German-led Europe. Germany’s inroads into the region are already sturdy, and its ties with these nations are growing stronger. It is supplying arms to the Gulf states and is investing in industrial projects across the Middle East. (For more on this, read “Under Construction,” page 9.) Expect more signs of these Middle Eastern states coming together under a German banner.
Until recently, Germany’s involvement in Syria has been negligible—but that is rapidly changing. It has become one of the largest donors of aid, and is now actively working to help opposition forces. It is reconstructing and stabilizing rebel-controlled areas by promoting the activities of aid organizations in an effort to win public loyalty. “Because this is in clear violation of Syria’s sovereignty, an influential German daily has characterized this mission as ‘humanitarian intervention without a UN mandate’—‘not with tanks and infantry but with trucks and development aid workers,’” German-Foreign-Policy.com reported on May 23. “Though Berlin has, so far, refused to officially supply combat material to rebel militias, the government has been in regular contact with those countries that are delivering combat material.” Its restraint, however, appears likely to be lost. In May, the EU voted to suspend its arms embargo against the Syrian rebels—a large stride toward its becoming more involved.
The Ultimate Outcome
The state of Syria today is horrific. As it stands, 8.3 million Syrians need aid—38 percent of the population. There are over 1.3 million registered refugees, with thousands in line and thousands more crossing the borders illegally.
Yet, as bad as these numbers are, they are only the beginning for the region. This situation is about to explode. The same prophecy that foretold the development of this Middle Eastern-German alliance, and that forecast Syria being peeled away from Iran, reveals the ultimate outcome. It shows that the king of the north, that German-led European empire, is about to wreak unprecedented destruction—beginning with Iran and then spreading from there.
Some people will rejoice at the sight of Iran and its allies being defeated. But they will be shocked as the king of the north, led by Germany, turns on the nations of the West, including Britain, the United States and Israel. Just as it swiftly wiped out the “king of the south,” it will attack the Anglo-American and Jewish nations.
Yet in spite of these terrible prophecies, the good news is that the suffering will be brief. The Daniel 11-12 prophecy shows that when the king of the north defeats the king of the south, the Messiah is about to return!
Jesus Christ will establish His perfect and much-needed rule over the nations. He will extinguish civil war and establish and nurture peace. This is as sure as the prophecies of Daniel 11 and Psalm 83. For more on the major powers in these prophecies, read Germany and the Holy Roman Empire and The King of the South, and take heart that, despite the confusion of today, there is an incredible final outcome for all mankind. Christ is returning soon to put an end to these warring governments of men. God’s government is about to bring peace and joy to all mankind!