Should America Ally With Arabs Against Iran?

America isn’t the only nation seeking to contain Iran. But there is a danger in thinking that mutual mistrust would make a solid foundation for a dependable alliance.
From the May 2007 Trumpet Print Edition

How to deal with Iran? This question is a foreign-policy nightmare that haunts Western leaders.

America is at the forefront of a host of Western nations wringing their hands over how best to limit the destructive potential of this most powerful and perhaps least predictable entity in the Middle East.

But the question also echoes within influential minds in other governments. In fact, among several nations the question is even more elemental and has still greater urgency than it does for the United States.

It may surprise you, but Iran sparks some of the greatest concern among the leaders of Iran’s Muslim neighbors—specifically, of its Sunni Muslim neighbors.

Not even 10 percent of the world’s Muslims today are Shiite—the sect of the majority in Iran. Fully 90 percent are Sunni. In addition to the larger nations of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Sunni states also include a handful of other smaller Arabian Peninsula sheikdoms; these comprise the majority of the Gulf Cooperation Council (gcc).

What is known as the Sunni-Shiite rift hearkens back to a seventh-century dispute over who would succeed the Prophet Muhammad. Yet the main issue dividing Sunnis and Shiites today is Iran’s power grabbing in the Middle East. Sunni leaders are deeply disturbed—even panicky—about the radical complexion of the Iranian-led Shiites.

The U.S.—looking to exploit every possible option for containing Iran—sees in this Sunni anxiety an opportunity: the makings of a possible alliance. It is viewing states like Jordan and Saudi Arabia as potential partners in erecting a hedge around the Islamic Republic. You may already be reading headlines in your daily news about such efforts.

As you do, remember this: There is a deadly flaw in this thinking.

A shocking biblical prophecy explains why—a prophecy involving a number of Arab states, the U.S. and Israel, and, most intriguingly, Europe.

Why the Panic?

Arab leaders have good reason to panic over Iran. The Islamic Republic can export revolution to their countries just as it has undermined Lebanon through Hezbollah, the Fatah-ruled Palestinian territories through Hamas (which, incidentally, is a Sunni organization), and Iraq through Shiite militias and even some Sunni insurgents.

Saudi Arabian fear of revolution is especially acute. Saudi Arabia’s eastern province is not only rich with oil, but also teeming with Shiites. According to Vali Nasr, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, the Saudi royal family believes Iranian operatives, with local Shiite help, have been behind many terrorist attacks inside the kingdom.

Arab states also face the reality of Iran possessing nuclear weapons, which they have concluded poses a direct threat to their interests. In response, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman have all spoken openly about pursuing their own nuclear programs. Mustafa Alani, an analyst at the Gulf Research Center in Dubai, stated, “The Iranians left us no option, so this is our answer to them. Now Arabs have no option but to start a program under a civilian banner.” Washington has not objected to the Arab states developing nuclear power programs, having already offered to help Egypt with its nuclear technology.

Alani also warned that escalating tensions in the Middle East could “trigger a race for arms.” Already, Arab states are sinking billions of petro-dollars into their militaries. According to Tim Ripley of Jane’s Defense Weekly, Gulf states have earmarked more than $60 billion for arms. Saudi Arabia has allocated close to $50 billion for fighter aircraft, attack helicopters, cruise missiles and some 300 new tanks. The United Arab Emirates has budgeted $8 billion for a rapid reaction force and missile defense.

Another significant threat to Arab states is Iran’s ability to wreak havoc on world oil supplies. Iran borders the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most critical energy trade route. Forty percent of the world’s crude oil travels through Hormuz daily (including two thirds of Saudi oil); the U.S. Energy Department estimates that this figure will rise to 60 percent by 2025. The world depends on access to the Hormuz strait to gain Saudi, Qatari, Kuwaiti and Iraqi oil and gas, as well as other petroleum products from the uae. Lt. Col. Rick Francona wrote, “Threats to the straits are a ‘red line’ for these countries” (msnbc, March 19). Over this and other issues, Arab states are bracing themselves for a fight with Iran if necessary.

Such concerns, so rife throughout the Arab world, would seem to provide plenty of common ground for an anti-Iran alliance with the United States. In fact, these concerns are taking on a heightened urgency at this time for one very interesting reason: These Arab states deeply fear that the U.S. is about to leave Iraq, and are begging it not to do so—for fear that this would leave Iran too strong.

Given the attitude of the American anti-war left, it is not hard to see why the White House is considering aligning with these Arab states.

Is the President Allying With Arabs?

There is a “new strategic alignment in the Middle East,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in January. Rice was referring to U.S. efforts to develop a new alliance with moderate Arab states to stop Iran’s power grabbing.

Such an alliance would be built on mutual moderate Arab and American-Israeli interests. Rice identified Sunni Arab states as models of moderation while pointing to Iran, Syria and Hezbollah as being “on the other side of the divide,” adding that Iran and Syria “have made their choice and their choice is to destabilize.”

Realizing that the war in Iraq has strengthened Iran, the U.S. administration appears ready to empower what it considers “moderate” Arabs in the region as a counterweight. It has been courting eight Arab states in particular since last September. Before that—tracing back even as far as the first Gulf War—Washington has made deals whereby Arab states purchase American arms and receive security guarantees. More recently, the U.S. has sought support for its anti-extremist, antiproliferation agenda by offering a security umbrella to these states.

Even Israel appears to be warming to the idea of a strategic alliance with Arab states based on mutual fear of Iran. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is now considering a five-year-old Saudi plan that could see Israel draw back to its 1967 borders in exchange for peace with some of its Arab neighbors.

What will be the outcome of these efforts, to whatever degree they proceed? Just the visible facts are terribly problematic. Several of these Arab states, though their leaders may be comfortable in dialog with the United States, have populations that are repulsed by the idea of dealing with America; they are, in short, quite sympathetic to Iran’s radical agenda. The tentacles of terrorism extend deeply into Saudi Arabia, for example—one of the supposed “moderate” Arab states. Egypt shows signs of an imminent transition from the “moderate” Mubarak era into something far more dangerous and more closely aligned with Iran. As attractive as the idea of having strategic allies in the region may be, these states are deeply stained by radical leanings or even bloodguiltiness.

Several of these governments are already in trouble with their more religious populations for being too friendly with the “infidel” West. Anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism are defining doctrines throughout much of the Middle East. Surveys by Zogby International and the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies have found that anti-American feelings are at an all-time high, even in “moderate” Arab countries. According to one poll, only 12 percent of those surveyed within America’s so-called allies in the Middle East—Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates—express a favorable attitude toward the United States. In Jordan, 65 percent have an unfavorable view; in Saudi Arabia, that figure is 79 percent, according to a London Times poll.

Yes—even while the U.S. and Israel hope to develop a strategic relationship with moderate Arabs, they must know they are hated by these countries! This should serve as a warning that moderate Arab states should not be trusted to help America’s interests. Frankly, if Arab leaders begin to take the additional steps of helping the U.S. to fight the Islamic Republic of Iran—which, for many Muslims, is a symbol of what they believe to be the inevitable political ascendancy of Islam—it is not difficult to imagine great masses becoming even more agitated and radicalized.

These are worrisome possibilities. That the U.S. would seriously contemplate such alliances indicates just how desperate it is becoming on the issue of how to deal with Iran. The degree to which it would seek help from Iran’s Arab neighbors in containing Iran would only be a measure of its enfeebled position in Iraq and diminished geopolitical stature.

Nevertheless, we do not expect great things to come of these diplomatic efforts between the U.S. and Arab states.

Yes, this world is likely soon to witness the development of an unusual alliance involving these Arab states. However, this alliance, the specific composition of which is strongly indicated in Scripture, will not be with the U.S. or with Israel. In fact, it will be an alliance against them!

This prophecy reveals the deadly flaw in the notion that America can trust these states as allies!

Renewing Old Friendships

With whom can we can expect to see these Arab states develop an alliance in the near future? As we will see, prophecy says it will be Europe. Already we can see events bearing this out.

With America weakened and moderate Arab states planning for its expected withdrawal from Iraq, Europe sees an opening to secure its own interests in the Middle East. Not since the German Erwin Rommel’s Middle Eastern desert campaign during World War ii has Europe, and particularly Germany, emerged with the potential to be such a powerful player in the region.

Since the Israel-Hezbollah war, Germany has dramatically escalated its involvement in the Middle East. In Lebanon, Germany heads the UN naval force tasked by the Security Council to secure the Lebanese coastline. Other European states are part of a multinational task force acting as a buffer between Israel and southern Lebanon. On the Gaza-Egypt border, European observers monitor the volatile Rafah border crossing. Germany has also played an important back-channel role, negotiating on Israel’s behalf for soldiers kidnapped by Hezbollah.

Meanwhile, Europe is also making headway with its relations with Arab states. The German foreign minister has visited the region several times, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has held talks within the last few months with the Palestinian Authority president, the king of Jordan and president of Egypt—not to mention Israel’s prime minister. Germany seeks to become a key negotiating channel between regional players.

In February, Chancellor Merkel toured the Middle East to discuss regional issues with Arab leaders. One issue under discussion, according to a February 6 Reuters report, was a free-trade zone between Gulf states and the European Union. Talk of a free-trade zone between the EU and gcc members began in the early ’90s, but withered on the vine because of irreconcilable differences. Now, it is back on the table. “There is a clear political desire on both sides to get a swift resolution to the disputed points,” one German official stated. Such a trade bloc may help jump-start a European-gcc partnership and strengthen German-Arab relations.

During Merkel’s visit, the gcc’s secretary-general, Abdul Rahman Al-Attiyah, called on the EU to play a greater role in the Middle East. Indeed, having cleverly side-stepped involvement in the Iraq war, Germany is in prime position to lead the EU in significant diplomatic initiatives that affect the Middle East power equation.

Are we witnessing the first steps of a new partnership within the Middle East—Europeans working with Arab states? We believe so.

However, the prophecy that refers to this does not focus on it being an anti-Iran alliance, though that may play a role in its development. It is, in fact, an alliance formed for an entirely different and altogether more shocking intent!

That is, to bring down the United States—as well as two of its key allies, Britain and Israel!

Blueprints for Destruction

Daniel 11:40-41 describe a Middle East power, called the “king of the south,” pushing at what the Bible terms the “king of the north.” As our free booklet The King of the South explains in detail, the king of the north is a revived Holy Roman Empire led by Germany, and the king of the south is radical Islam led by Iran. (Request a free copy of this for proof.)

These verses portray the German-led European power swooping down and smashing Iran, along with some other countries in the Middle East, with blitzkrieg-style warfare.

But notice: While certain nations, including Egypt (verse 42) will be subdued in this attack along with Iran, these verses show that other parts of the Middle East, including the area we know today as Jordan (Moab and Ammon) will not be conquered. As brutally destructive as Europe’s coming war in the Middle East is, this indicates that it will also be surgical in nature.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has written about a mysterious alliance discussed in Psalm 83. Knowing the modern descendants of the peoples spoken of in these verses is key to understanding this prophecy; though these names do not precisely coincide with modern nations, we can get a strong general idea of those to which they refer. According to this passage, Germany (“Assur,” or Assyria, verse 8) will ally with Turkey (Edom), Saudi Arabia (the Ishmaelites) Jordan (Moab and Ammon), Syria (the Hagarenes) and Lebanon (Gebal). For proof of these identities, request our free booklet The King of the South.

What is the purpose of this alliance? Verse 3 says these peoples “have taken crafty counsel against thy people”—referring to the descendants of Israel. If you have never proven from your Bible and from history that America and Britain are the modern nations of Israel, you will find Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy a captivating study. We will send you a free copy upon request.

Verse 4 shows far more explicitly what draws this unusual alliance together: “They have said, Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation;that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” This German-Arab alliance forms for the specific purpose of totally destroying America, Britain and Israel—in an effort to forever erase the very name Israel!

Such an alliance, not mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, never occurred in biblical history. That is because it is a prophecy for the end time—our day!

Already you can see the seeds of these future earth-shaking events being sown.

The Signs Are There Today

The division in the Islamic world we see today portends this drastic split indicated in prophecy between those Muslim nations that a European superpower will ally itself with, and those Muslim nations it will utterly destroy. Watch that division grow more visible, and for the already apparent differences with which European nations treat these Middle East states to become even more stark.

The anti-Americanism and anti-Israelism boiling throughout the Middle East today—even in those nations Western leaders consider “friendly” or “moderate”—is a precursor to the explosive ferocity with which these nations, having joined themselves with a German-led Europe, will attack the modern Israelite nations.

Only armed with this knowledge can one understand just how dangerously misguided and foolhardy America’s strategy of seeking solutions to its troubles in the Middle East by cultivating alliances with Arab states truly is!

But all this bad news turns into really good news. As these prophecies clearly show, this deceitful double-cross of America, Britain and Israel leads to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ! Men have long scoffed at the idea of Christ returning in all power and glory. But Jesus Himself said to watch! He gave specific, identifiable signs to help His people know when He was about to return. Among them is the prophecy of this double-cross—an event to unfold within the last days prior to the return of Jesus Christ to rule the Earth. We are drawing incredibly close to that spectacular reality!