Is the Earthquake What Bashar Assad Needed?
After the catastrophic earthquakes in Turkey and Syria, how can the international community best help the survivors? This requires addressing one giant geopolitical elephant in the room: Syria, mired in civil war since 2011, is run by brutal dictator Bashar Assad. His actions in the war (which includes dumping chemical weapons on his own people) have made him an international pariah. Many Western governments refuse to deal with him. Some, like the United States, don’t even have diplomatic relations with Damascus.
But Assad is using the international response to the earthquake to break his pariah status.
Enter Europe: On Wednesday, Syria made an official plea for the European Union to assist in disaster recovery. According to an EU press release, Assad asked Europe to send rescue teams, medicine and other supplies. And Europe is jumping to Assad’s call. The EU announced “an initial €3.5 million [us$3.8 million] in emergency humanitarian assistance for Syria to help people in need to access shelter, water and sanitation, [various health] items they currently need, as well as to support the search and rescue operations.”
The priority now is to work around the clock to save as many lives as possible as many people are still trapped under the rubble in buildings. [W]e are already sending now a message to the people of [Turkey] and Syria: The EU will support your communities. Because no one should be left alone when a tragedy like this hits a people.
—Ursula von der Leyen, European Commission president
Hours after the earthquake, Assad’s forces shelled a town in northern Syria badly affected by the disaster. Yet Europe is still eager to work with Assad’s government.
Enter the Muslim world: Europe isn’t the only area eager to work with Assad—so is the Muslim world. Bahrain, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and other states have offered to help Syria. Many of these countries cut ties with Damascus early in Syria’s civil war, but some moderate Arab states have since warmed relations. The earthquake provides another opportunity to mend relations.
Bible prophecy says: Psalm 83 prophesies of an end-time alliance of various Middle Eastern groups. The prophecy mentions the ancestral peoples of Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and, most crucially, Syria (“the Hagarenes,” verse 6). Verse 8 mentions Assur, the ancestor of modern Germany. Many of the listed countries already have good relations with Europe. Syria, in contrast, is a pariah to both Europe and the moderate Arab world. But the earthquake could give Syria a much-needed reset with its neighbors.
To learn more, read “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”