The Battle for Bahrain and the Future of the Middle East

Getty Images

The Battle for Bahrain and the Future of the Middle East

America is out, Iran is up, and Saudi Arabia is scrambling for new friends.

A massive geopolitical earthquake is shaking the Middle East. For more than six decades, Saudi Arabia has bound itself to America for security. But a series of strategic blunders and missteps in the region has broken Saudi confidence in the United States. Consequently, the Saudis are striking out on their own—cobbling together their own alliance to face off against Iran. That may not sound like such bad news, but it is actually a signal that time is running out for America, Britain, and the tiny nation of Israel.

According to the Washington Post, a split has taken place between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. A string of missteps by America since September 11, its abrupt abandonment of its long-time allies, its “refusal” to completely crack down on Israel, and a new unwillingness to confront Iran, have all conspired to drive America’s special relationship with Saudi Arabia to a new low, says the paper. In short, “Washington has shown itself in recent months to be an unwilling and unreliable partner.”

“U.S.-Saudi relations have soured over the past decade,” confirms the Wall Street Journal. And there is “increasing friction with the Obama administration” (May 27).

In essence, Saudi officials feel that America has proven to be at best an incompetent ally, and at worst, incapable of conducting a coherent foreign policy. The list of grievances includes America’s removal of Saddam Hussein—which not only eliminated the biggest bulwark against Iran, but also turned one of the world’s largest oil exporters into a virtual Iranian vassal state. If that wasn’t bad enough, President Obama compounded President Bush’s error by doing the same thing in Egypt by driving longtime U.S. ally Hosni Mubarak from power. In Libya, America’s interference has encouraged dissatisfied elements in Saudi Arabia to stir up trouble. Plus, if Qadhafi hangs on, he has threatened to join the Iran alliance. On the other hand, the nato-backed Libyan rebels are most well known for their radicalism—and would also be dangerously susceptible to Iranian Influence. Conversely, in Syria (Iran’s most important ally), America is doing little to support the “democratic” uprising.

More recently, America’s heavy criticism of Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Bahrain may have been the last straw.

Although Western media have largely missed it, there is a gigantic power struggle going on in the Middle East—and the tiny Gulf nation of Bahrain is ground zero.

There, the 200-year-old monarchy is fighting for its survival. Massive protests have swept the little kingdom since the Tunisia uprising. About 70 percent of the populace is Shiite, while the ruling monarchy is Sunni—like the majority of Saudis.

Historically, Bahrain has at times been part of the Iranian empire, and Iran has never formally given up its claims to the kingdom. Even this year, high-level Iranian officials have made statements about retaining control of the country. This is something that Saudi Arabia cannot permit if it hopes to survive.

Although Bahrain is not a major oil exporter, almost all of Saudi Arabia’s major oil fields are located in areas close to the Bahrain border—and all these regions are majority Shiite. Saudi Arabia fears—and with good reason—that a revolution in Bahrain could easily spread to its own oil-producing regions, which are its primary source both of revenue and, more importantly, of geopolitical power. Iran knows this reality and is doing all it can to topple the Bahraini monarchy and replace it with an Iran-friendly Shiite “democracy.”

The fear of Iran, and lack of trust in America, is now so great in Saudi Arabia that it is taking action. “Saudi Arabia is rallying Muslim nations across the Middle East and Asia to join an informal Arab alliance,” writes the Wall Street Journal. The battle for Bahrain “has become a symbol of Arab defiance against Iran.”

In what Saudi Arabia said “was a message to Iran not to meddle in other nations’ affairs,” Gulf Cooperation Council (gcc) members joined Saudi Arabia in sending troops to Bahrain to counteract Iran’s push.

The Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, seems to be an alliance whose primary purpose of late is to counteract Iran. “The six-nation bloc is trying to bolster its defense,” says Middle East economist Ayesha Sabavala.

And Saudi Arabia is seeking to expand the alliance. In a sign of just how worried Saudi Arabia is, this month it reached out to Jordan to join. Jordan has twice applied for membership (most recently in 1996), but was denied both times, probably due to its more moderate approach to Israel. “There is greater uncertainty in the region and a lot of shifting alliances,” says Taufiq Rahim, a visiting fellow at the Dubai School of Government. “The nature of the Arab League is changing.”

“Greater Gulf Cooperation Council integration will lead to a more united front in terms of foreign policy in the region,” he added.

The Middle East is increasingly dividing into two opposing and distinct camps.

The first is centered around Iran and currently includes Iraq and Syria. Evidence indicates that it now also increasingly includes Egypt and may shortly incorporate Libya and the Ethiopia/Horn of Africa region too.

The second camp is the Arab alliance being assembled by Saudi Arabia.

This is exactly what is prophesied in the Bible. Psalm 83 gives us an insight into what is coming in the very near future.

This Psalm contains a prophecy of a group of nations that ally themselves together with the purpose of destroying Israel and the modern-day descendants of ancient Israel, which include America and Britain (for proof, read The United States and Britain in Prophecy by Herbert W. Armstrong). The Psalm 83 nations are distinct from a more powerful region-wide dominating power (the Iran-led camp). This prophecy is fulfilled after a German-led European power conquers Iran and its allies (Daniel 11:40-43).

Psalm 83:5-8 list who is in this non-Iranian alliance that readily allies itself with the invading Europeans. “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 [Assyria or Germany] also is joined with them: they have holpen the children of Lot. Selah.” Here are the modern names of these nations, as taught at Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong: Edom—Turkey; Ishmaelites—Saudi Arabia; Moab—Jordan; Hagarenes—anciently dwelt in the land known as Syria today; Gebal and Tyre—Lebanon; Ammon—also Jordan. This is not extremely precise, but it gives a good general idea of where these nations are today. The small Arab nations on the Arabian Peninsula making up the gcc would biblically speaking be considered part of Saudi Arabia because of their Ishmaelitish origin. Now Jordan appears to be lining up in their camp.

The reason Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia are missing from the Psalm 83 list is that they are allied with Iran when it is conquered by a German-led Europe (Daniel 11:42-43).

As we see Saudi Arabia and the other gcc member states seek to incorporate more allies to protect themselves from Iran, also watch for them to begin reaching out to Germany and the Europeans for protection.

Additionally, watch for a change in Syrian politics. Bible prophecy indicates that at the time of the Daniel 11 European invasion, Syria and Lebanon will not be allied with Iran. Since in many ways Lebanon is controlled by Syria, watch for it to abandon Iran, too.

Radical events are on the move in the Middle East. America is shrinking in influence. Iran is becoming the undisputed king of the region, and Saudi Arabia is banding together with new allies for protection. Prophecy is being fulfilled, and despite the troubles ahead, it is all leading to the best news ever: the return of Jesus Christ.

For more information on the Psalm 83 alliance, read “A Mysterious Prophecy” by Gerald Flurry.