Get Ready for Drastic Change in Syria

Get Ready for Drastic Change in Syria

Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Is Iran about to regret calling for Russian assistance in Syria?

Understanding the complexities of the Syrian civil war is extremely difficult, even for the most seasoned analysts. In its simplest version, a civil war normally involves a significant part of a nation’s populace rising up against the ruling authority. Usually, this starts in a non-violent way through protests and civil strife, as it did in Syria during the Arab Spring in 2011. Generally, the government then has a choice: Either reach some sort of accommodation with the protesters, or as President Bashar Assad’s regime has done in Syria, don’t give an inch and move to stamp out the movement quickly and viciously.

Sometimes those brutal tactics prevent a civil war.

But sometimes they don’t.

In Syria’s case, the Assad regime likely failed to recognize initially just how many Syrians were willing to fight for change. Instead of quelling the movement, Assad’s brutal tactics only further mobilized the masses to violently overthrow the government. That is how the civil war began, and if it stayed that simple, it’s likely the Syrian civil war would have ended years ago, with Bashar Assad gone from power, replaced by some sort of new Sunni-led government.

Yet that’s not what happened.

Instead, as the war enters its sixth year, around half a million people are dead, almost 5 million refugees have fled the country, and about 10 million people are internally displaced. And there is reason to believe the war is still far from over.

International Proxy War

The reason why the Syrian civil war breaks from the cookie-cutter model is it has largely evolved into a proxy war for other nations. Many other nations are using the war to further their own national ambitions. Nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and the United States, have at different times throughout the war either supported the rebels or Assad regime, providing weapons, finances or diplomatic maneuvering.

Here is a quick, overgeneralized summary of foreign involvement in Syria over the past five years:

In 2012, under increasing pressure from the swelling ranks of the rebels, Assad called his chief ally, Iran, for assistance. Tehran then quickly tapped Hezbollah in Lebanon to join the fight to even the odds. Saudi Arabia then increased its supply of armaments to numerous Sunni rebel groups, each with varying end goals but with the same initial goal of defeating Assad. Many foreign fighters also entered Syria under the nose of Turkey, who had its own longstanding interests in Assad’s departure. For its part, the United States gave unreliable support to some rebel groups but avoided further intervention so as not to upset its broader foreign-policy objective of détente with Iran.

Fast-forward to mid-2015: Assad and Iran had their backs against the wall. Realizing they needed serious help, Iran covertly flew Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani to Moscow to plead for Putin’s assistance. Recognizing the opportunity to further its own strategic interests in Middle East, such as showing up the United States as well as ensuring the future of its Mediterranean naval port on Syria’s coast, Russia obliged Iran and joined the fray in late September. Russian aircraft provided powerful, essential aerial support to the Syrian regime, which was also now supported by an additional 40,000 Iranian-paid Shiite mercenaries from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iran’s Russian Gamble

From Iran’s perspective, Russia’s entrance into the war began paying off immediately. The lethal tandem of Russian jets in the skies combined with Iran’s proxies on the ground halted and then pushed back rebel fighters. Key territories were taken back, ensuring the survival of the Syrian regime. At last, Tehran started to feel relieved that Assad would remain in power, allowing Iran to maintain its goal of a Shiite highway from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea.

The last major objective for the Russian-Iranian alliance was Aleppo, the largest of Syria’s cities before the war, yet mostly rebel-controlled since 2012. Four years of fighting in and around the city had left it decimated; yet still the rebels continued fighting. Then, in June 2016, a powerful campaign by the Russians and Iranians led to the encircling of the city. The besiegement and constant air bombardment formally ended in a truce in late December, and the remaining rebels were allowed to leave the city.

However, it was in the aftermath of the taking of Aleppo that cracks began to emerge in the Iran-Russia alliance. Russia felt that taking Aleppo meant that its own interests in preserving the Syrian state had been achieved. With the rebels beaten back, they would likely be ready to make a deal. Turkey, the nation that represents the rebel groups, was ready to make a deal as well. Nevertheless, Iran was not ready to give up the fight. So the Iranians attempted to undermine the ceasefire through their proxy militant groups.

Writing for Arab News, Sinem Cengiz summarized the different Russian and Iranian objectives this way:

To Russia, Assad is dispensable, but to Iran he is not. For Moscow, a strong Syria as a Middle East ally is a must in order to protect its strategic interests, but for Tehran a weak Syria is desirable so as to easily control the country for its future aims.Russia’s naval base in Tartus and airbase in Latakia are very important for its long-term Middle East plans, as Syria is a good market for its military exports. Moscow wants to turn its advances on the ground in Syria into diplomatic gains in talks with the West. Therefore, it wants the upper hand in political decision-making, which jeopardizes Iranian interests in Syria and the region.While Russia approaches the Syrian war from a geo-strategic and realist perspective, Iran’s stance is based on sectarian concerns. Syria is the heart of its strategy to create a “Shiite crescent” across the region. Tehran is struggling at all costs to ensure the Syrian regime’s survival, aware that it is a necessary tool to connect with a valuable ally in Lebanon, namely the Shiite group Hezbollah, which is fighting in Syria along with Iran.

President Vladimir Putin understands that while Russia’s actions have preserved the Assad regime, Assad himself will be forever a toxic leader and eventually must be removed if there is to be stability in Syria. However, Iran’s future in Syria is tied to Assad or another Assad-like figure, rather than the Syrian institutions.

On February 7, the War Is Boring blog reported that there was probable cause to “believe that the Russia-Iran rivalry has played out within the Syrian army.” While highly speculative, the source reported that at the end of January there was a possible Iranian coup and then Russian counter-coup in Damascus, with each attempting to install its candidate of choice as the Syrian president.

Then on February 8, Defense News wrote an editorial citing a possible Russo-Iranian split over Syria. Frederic C. Hof wrote:

Diplomatic activism by Russia in Syria is producing speculation about the Kremlin’s possible willingness to encourage genuine peace talks and spur transition from corrupt, incompetent and brutal family rule toward something stabilizing and inclusive. If Russia proves genuinely interested in converting military success to a sustainable political settlement, it would put Moscow sharply at odds with Iran and with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Is Russian President Vladimir Putin truly prepared to turn a page in Syria? …Hypothetically, therefore, Russia might be interested in a political transition formula that gradually marginalizes Assad and vests executive power in a national unity government. Iran, however, would have no such interest. Tehran knows that, beyond the Assad family and entourage, there is no Syrian constituency accepting subordination to Iran and putting the Syrian state at the disposal of a Lebanese terror organization.

According to Hof, the impending defeat of the Islamic State will make it very obvious as to the future of the Russian-Iranian alliance.

Iran Is Prophesied to Lose Syria

At the beginning of the Syrian war, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry made a bold forecast. In “How the Syrian Crisis Will End,” he wrote that by the time this war is over, Syria would no longer be aligned with Iran.

That forecast was not based on insider information but rather on a prophecy found in Psalm 83, which discusses an alliance involving Syria but not Iran. While the prophecy in this case is not so specific as to say that Russia would be involved in bringing about that split, it is obvious that Iran had to lose sway over the Syrian regime, or that there would be a complete regime change. Watch Gerald Flurry forecast Iran’s split from Syria back in 2012:

But this Psalm 83 indicates that Syria is going to have a break with Iran, that they’re going to break away. Now, you don’t see much of that in the headlines today, but you do see enough violence there to see where it might be able to do that, but most people don’t draw that conclusion. We do because we’ve been prophesying it for, well, close to twenty years now ….

However, that same prophecy found in Psalm 83 indicates that even Russia’s involvement inside Syria is only temporary. To read who is destined to control the end-time alliance involving Syria, as well as many other Sunni Arab states in the Middle East, read “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”

World War Is Not Over

World War Is Not Over

Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on Feb. 13, 2017.

Many people are aware of the terrible problems plaguing our world. They can see the troubles in cities, the wars between nations, and the childish leadership that only further compounds the problems. But almost no one is willing to admit where it is all leading! Most people believe World War ii was the end of global conflict and that humanity has moved beyond the possibility of a third world war! Throughout his 50-year ministry in the mid-20th century, Herbert W. Armstrong warned that the period after World War ii was only a recess preluding the greatest global war in history. Stephen Flurry discusses this and Mr. Armstrong’s signature prophecy on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

Listen to or download Trumpet Daily Radio Show on:

NZ Relationship With Israel on Shaky Ground

New Zealand has not been in Israel’s good books lately. Together with Senegal, Malaysia and Venezuela, New Zealand played a key role in United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 on Dec. 23, 2016. This was the infamous resolution that condemns, reaffirms and reiterates that Israeli homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal—including Israeli dwellings in and around the Jewish Quarter and Western Wall, a section of Jerusalem that has been inhabited by Jews for the last several centuries (let alone considering the ancient biblical history). As the only Western nation of the four—and a nation, at that, which has enjoyed relatively good relations with Israel—New Zealand has gained a mixture of praise and scorn worldwide for its actions.

In response, Israel withdrew ambassadors to both New Zealand and Senegal (the only two of the four with which Israel has diplomatic relations). And according to a recent Times of Israel article, Israel is now “permanently downgrading its diplomatic ties with New Zealand and Senegal, punishing these countries for cosponsoring an anti-settlement resolution in the United Nations Security Council.” According to the article, last week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided against returning Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal.

Yet New Zealand’s part in 2334 isn’t an entirely good representation of the general outlook of the population. Actually, when it comes to support for Israel, New Zealand is a divided country. There is a large chunk of society that does vehemently support the Israeli nation. As a New Zealander myself, who has lived on and off in Israel working on archaeological projects, I have handled Israel’s ancient past, examined the histories, and studied the current situation of the nation—and of course, stand very much in support of Israel, like a large number of my fellow countrymen. Months before Resolution 2334 passed, and in response to a growing fear of the New Zealand government’s position on the status of Israel, a petition circled around New Zealand titled “For the Protection of Zion.” This petition was an attempt to stop the New Zealand government from pressuring Israel to give up territory and to support Israel’s claim to the entire Holy Land, including the West Bank. It has currently gained nearly 12,000 signatures—that may not sound like much, but it is not a bad showing for a lower-profile petition in a nation of less than 4.5 million.

After Resolution 2334 passed, more than 70 protesters from the city of Hastings made the 13-hour journey to New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, to stage demonstrations at the Parliament building against the resolution. Also in the wake of the resolution, the office of New Zealand’s foreign minister, Murray McCully, very quickly found itself emblazoned with the following words:

McCully (perhaps due to the anti-2334 outcry within New Zealand) wrote an explanation for New Zealand’s part in pushing through the resolution. Interestingly, McCully admits in his letter that the resolution had to wait until after the November United States presidential election, in order to have a chance of passing without U.S. veto. This lends credence to the fact that this resolution was a parting shot at Israel from President Barack Obama and an intentional headache designed to be delivered to incoming President Donald Trump. Neither Mr. Trump nor Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton had wanted a resolution such as this to be passed before their time in office. Seeing as Mr. Trump won the election, Mr. Obama was thus happy to let the resolution pass through without veto.

While there is much support within New Zealand for Israel, there is also the usual serving of disdain and even anti-Semitism. According to an Anti-Defamation League survey, 14 percent of New Zealand’s population is actively anti-Semitic—one of the least anti-Semitic regions in the world, yet still with unacceptably high numbers. Then there are the movements such as the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network and Kia Ora Gaza, designed to break the “Israeli siege of Gaza” and to “free Palestine.” In their efforts, flotillas to Gaza have been sponsored, along with general aid deliveries, consumer boycotting of Israeli products, and demand for sanctions against Israel.

Our neighbor Australia, contrary to New Zealand’s shameful UN display, has been politically a very strong bastion of support for Israel. Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop indicated that Australia (not on the Security Council) would have gone against the positions held by both New Zealand and the U.S. at the UN. Further, in spite toward New Zealand’s part in Resolution 2334, a Queensland senator proposed that “at the very least, we should look at further cutting benefits for New Zealanders living in Australia.” He continued by referencing the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the Australia New Zealand Army Corps’ (anzac) actions in liberating the Holy Land during World War i.

2017 marks the centenary of the anzacs’ brave actions to free the Palestinian territory—now Israel—from Ottoman oppression of Christians, Jews and other groups. It would never have been possible for those brave anzacs, charging as part of the Light Horse Brigade, to have ever thought that events 100 years later would go full circle and future generations would betray the very people they were about to liberate.

New Zealand, like Australia, is a member of the British Commonwealth. We have had a unique shared history over the past 100 years, even in connection to the Holy Land. Yet as those well familiar with this website know, our Commonwealth connections with the State of Israel run far deeper than just the last century. They in fact take root in biblical history. This fact makes New Zealand’s latest demonstration at the UN Security Council especially obscene. For a full explanation of this shared history, take a look at our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

The Bible in fact forecasts a time when the relationship between the Jewish nation, the U.S. and Britain (including the British Commonwealth) will be broken. In many ways—especially with what has been displayed at the UN by the U.S., UK and New Zealand—we are already seeing that “brotherhood” (see Zechariah 11:14) falling apart. The nation of Israel is unfortunately becoming very ostracized and alone in a world of wolves. Stay tuned to see where these developments are leading.

Who Will Mexico Trade With Now?

Who Will Mexico Trade With Now?

Hector Vivas/LatinContent/Getty Images

As relations with its biggest trade partner get shaky, where will Mexico turn?

When Mexico is having trade troubles with United States President Donald Trump, where should it turn? Based on recent developments, the answer is Europe. On February 1, Mexican and European officials agreed to work on modernizing an existing free-trade pact. The negotiations of this pact, worth $57 billion in 2015, have to be sped up. (Additional meetings will be conducted in April and June).

Why the sudden move to improve Europe-Mexico relations? Donald Trump.

While campaigning before the election, Mr. Trump called the North American Free Trade Agreement (nafta) “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere but certainly ever signed in this country.” In his inauguration speech, the new president said, “Every decision on trade, on taxes, on immigration, on foreign affairs will be made to benefit American workers and American families. We must protect our borders from the ravages of other countries making our products, stealing our companies, and destroying our jobs.”

Large tariffs, discouraging companies from establishing operations overseas, and requiring Mexico to pay for a border wall have reemerged as viable options for the Trump administration.

So Mexico, understandably, is a little concerned and wants a little leverage.

After the agreement to “accelerate trade talks,” the EU Commission delivered a rather banal snub toward the American president: “Now is the time to build bridges, not walls.”

Vicente Fox, Mexico’s president from 2000-2006, joined in on the attack with a letter addressed to Mr. Trump (Politico, February 1):

You may be a fierce negotiator and an old-school businessman, but as a political leader you don’t understand how the world works. Your outdated solutions don’t apply to today’s needs. All nations know that we depend on each other. …You don’t like to be challenged. But your idea of tearing up nafta has caused business leaders and politicians from all three nations to come together to call for the continuation of this win-win policy. …Inexplicably, you have decided to treat Mexico like a piñata, throwing every punch you can, justifying yourself with topics like the border and the trade deficit that the U.S. has with Mexico—some $60 billion, far less than what the U.S. has with other partners like China, Japan and the European Union.

Mexico’s trade is dominated by the United States, totaling $583.6 billion of goods in 2015. In 2015, EU trade with Mexico measured only $56.4 billion. Yet since 2005, European-Mexican trade volume has more than doubled. Manuel Molano, deputy director of the Mexican Institute of Competitiveness, knows that a transformation from the current situation will be tough. “We have talked about diversifying Mexico’s external commerce for years,” Molano said. “But it’s not that simple.”

President Trump’s foreign policy represents a major crisis for Europe and for Germany. But at the same time, it is an “enormous opportunity,” as former Belgium Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt put it. Across the Continent, leaders and writers believe President Trump will force Europe to unite, presenting the bloc with an opportunity to lead the world. In the Trumpet Daily radio program cited above, contributing editor Richard Palmer examines how the Trump presidency is already uniting Europe and causing Germany to step up.

What’s most important to Mexico is the ability to diversify its trade. This will enable it to threaten and/or retaliate against American actions it opposes. To accomplish this, Mexico needs a credible trading partner. So now Mexico is turning toward the European Union at a time when the EU is scrambling to unify and become a stabilizing power in the world. Many analysts are noticing that the leadership of the “free world” is shifting from America to the heart of Europe: Germany.

Where does a nation turn when America looks shaky? Mexico is beginning to look to Europe. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry forecast more than five years ago that the Europeans would widen their trade scope. You can read the details of this forecast in “The Great Mart.”

Herbert Armstrong’s Greatest Personal Prophecy


Herbert W. Armstrong pinpointed a specific trigger that will set off earthshaking events that will change Europe and the United States permanently

Week in Review: Russia on Move in Syria and Libya, Pressure on Germany, European Nuclear Superpower?, and More

Week in Review: Russia on Move in Syria and Libya, Pressure on Germany, European Nuclear Superpower?, and More

Mateusz Wlodarczyk/NurPhoto/Getty Images, Dmitry Serebryakov\TASS via Getty Images, ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images, Xinhua/Li Gang/Getty Images

All you need to know about everything in the news this week

Get all the important news from February 4–10 by downloading the Trumpet Weekly.Click here to receive it by e-mail every week.


What Russia wants in Libya

  • The Times of London wrote Wednesday that “Italy is turning to Russia to help combat the [Libyan] immigration crisis, despite warnings from European allies about Vladimir Putin’s motives.”
  • Russia’s involvement in Libya via eastern Libyan warlord, Khalifa Haftar, could spark a civil war in the country and trigger a refugee crisis reminiscent of Syria.
  • Hafter (and Russia) does not recognize the United Nations-backed government based in western Libya—the government European officials pledged to support with $200 million during a conference in Malta last weekend.
  • “[R]efugees are not Putin’s priority in Libya,” Leonid Bershidsky wrote for Bloomberg View. “He’s far more interested in restoring Russian influence there and establishing a military presence if he can.”
  • What Russia wants in Afghanistan

  • On Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov announced that Russia will host a conference on the future of Afghanistan later this month.
  • The conference, which is expected to involve representatives from Russia, Afghanistan, China, Pakistan, Iran and India, is the latest instance of Russia hijacking the American-led operation in Afghanistan.
  • Geopolitical Futures assessed on January 18 that Russia’s involvement in Afghanistan provides Moscow with “the additional benefit of inserting itself in an area of interest for the U.S. in hopes that it can increase its leverage over Washington.”
  • “The Bible warns us to expect a great power rising from the east,” we wrote in our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy. “It calls it ‘the kings of the east’ ….” Those “kings,” as our booklet explains, represent some of the very nations that are embedding themselves deeper into Afghanistan: Russia, China, Pakistan and India!
  • ‘An EU nuclear superpower’

  • Poland would welcome a European Union “nuclear superpower,” Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s ruling party, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in an interview published February 7.
  • Kaczyński made his remarks to the German newspaper before a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. According to the Telegraph, “it is thought” that Kaczyński “may have pressed [Merkel] on the issue” of nuclear weapons during the meeting.
  • Kaczyński also called for the EU to “be prepared for huge expenditures” on its military.
  • Germany’s resurgent military

  • Germany is “usually portrayed as a civilian and economic power par excellence, but rather allergic to military issues,” wrote Claudia Major in an article for Carnegie Europe titled “Germany: The (Not So) Timid Leader.
  • In reality, Germany is “one of four allies to lead a battalion of nato’s Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic countries and Poland; [it] is the biggest European contributor to nato’s deterrence measures in Eastern Europe; and [it] has soldiers deployed in 12 operations from Mali to Iraq.”
  • “Almost silently, Germany has changed its defense policy over the last four years.”
  • For where this is leading, listen to this week’s Trumpet Hour program and read our articles “Germany’s Urgent and Dangerous Military Decision” and “New German Paper Signals Dramatic Military Shift.”
  • Russia and China’s meaner weapons of war

  • Russia and China are developing more advanced weapons of war, improving existing arms systems, and possibly practicing for preemptive strikes on American targets.
  • Several reports have emerged in recent days showing that the military capacity and resolve of these Asian giants is on the rise. Taken together, these developments paint a picture of a world primed for conflict.
  • Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said in a January 2014 episode of the Key of David television program that the increasing military might and determination of Russia and China is far more threatening to global stability than most analysts realize.
  • Other news:

  • The United Kingdom’s House Speaker John Bercow said on Monday that United States President Donald Trump should not be allowed to address Britain’s Parliament because of his “sexism” and “racism.”
  • More than half of United States Navy aircraft cannot fly, mostly “because there isn’t enough money to fix them,” Defense News reported on Monday. That means that 1,700 combat planes and support aircraft are grounded.
  • Get the details on these stories and more by subscribing to the Trumpet Weekly!