Syria in Civil War
Joseph Eid/AFP/Getty Images
On June 26, Syrian President Bashar Assad declared that Syria is now officially at war. “We live in a real state of war from all angles,” he announced during a speech broadcast on state television. “When we are in a war, all policies and all sides and all sectors need to be directed at winning this war.”
In one sense, Assad was just stating the obvious. Much of the country is locked in war, and has been for many months. But in another sense, his announcement marks an escalation in the conflict. Even more than that, it may also indicate a sense of growing desperation within the ruling regime.
The death toll in Syria now exceeds 16,500, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The United Nations no longer publishes estimates. That number includes more than 11,000 civilian and rebel fighters, over 4,000 government troops, and more than 800 army defectors.
Just over the past week, nearly 800 people were killed. It was one of the bloodiest weeks since the uprising began in March of 2011. Deaths have typically averaged closer to 900 per month.
Obviously the UN’s plan for a negotiated peace is failing. Russia, China and Iran back Syria and say no one should force Assad out. Europe, most of the Arab nations, America and—most importantly—the rebels say Assad must go.
For both sides, it seems to be all or nothing.
On Monday, leaders of various groups exiled from Syria over the years met in Cairo to construct a vision for political compromise in Syria in which a deal could be reached with Assad. Nasser al-Qudwa, deputy to UN-Arab League peace envoy Kofi Annan, urged them to “unify your vision and your performance.”
Yet, though there were some 200 attendees, the most important group, the rebel Free Syrian Army—the people actually fighting Assad—and the group claiming to represent the majority of Syrians—boycotted the meeting. Its statement read: “We refuse all kinds of dialogue and negotiation with the killer gangs … and we will not allow anyone to impose on Syria and its people the Russian and Iranian agendas.”
The Free Syrian Army’s position seems clear: Assad must go—and Iran and Russia with him.
The pressure for Assad to leave is growing.
On June 26, Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan branded Syria “a clear and imminent threat” as he vented his anger over the downing of a Turkish F-4 fighter jet by Syrian forces. “The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed given this new development,” he told his parliament.
So far, Turkey has refused to invoke Article v of the nato Charter, which would require the alliance to consider Syria’s attack on Turkey an attack on themselves. However, as the analysts at Stratfor write, “Now that Turkey has officially confirmed the downing of its aircraft by Syrian forces, it has no choice but to respond …. [It] may warrant a conventional military response.”
So far Turkey has remained restrained. Reports indicate, however, that it has moved heavy armor units to its border with Syria. It has reportedly also asked nato about establishing a no-fly zone in Syria—which may also be a prelude to military action. As Mehmet Ali Birand, writing in Hurriyet, said, “Now it is Syria who should be thinking ahead because from now on life will be more difficult …. Up to now, a verbal dispute was being experienced. Now it is two enemy nations openly confronting each other.”
Things may be moving toward open confrontation.
Turkey is currently hosting some 33,000 Syrians who have crossed into the country to find refuge from the fighting.
Those refugees now also include Ghatan Sleiba, a high-profile presenter from the Syrian regime’s main television channel. Sleiba defected on June 27 and claims to have been providing information to the rebels for seven months.
Turkey is also providing supplies, weapons and a safe base of operations for the Free Syrian Army.
And even as Turkey is now openly working against Syria, other nations are working in confederacy with Turkey.
The Gulf Cooperation Council (gcc) has been overt with its support for the Free Syrian Army. Led by Saudi Arabia, these countries have become the military equipment procurement and financing wings of the Free Syrian Army. Earlier this year, these Arab nations helped convince Turkey to open up its weapon stockpiles to the rebels by promising it diplomatic cover. Additionally, Saudi Arabian bank accounts pay for the weapons and the salaries of soldiers of the Free Syrian Army—which has also been a huge recruiting tool for the rebels.
The gcc countries (which are expanding to include Jordan) see the battle in Syria as really a battle against Syria’s big brother, Iran. They have chosen to ally with Turkey, which also sees Iran as its main opponent to regional dominance. Iran, however, has not taken the meddling lying down. While the gcc works to overthrow Iran’s biggest ally, Iran has responded by activating terror cells within Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, which are all Saudi allies and members of the gcc.
Another potentially significant development has been Hamas’s break with Syria and Iran.
Hamas is the terrorist organization that governs the Gaza Strip. On June 28, Stratfor reported that Hamas military official Kamal Hussein Ghannaja was assassinated in his residence in Damascus. Although most of the media blamed Israel, it is likely that it was actually a hit by the Syrian government—at least, that is what Stratfor’s Hamas contacts believe.
In the past, Hamas and Syria have had a close relationship. However, signs of a falling out have emerged since the start of the rebel uprising in Syria. Hamas appears to be closing its official offices in Syria. Ghannaja’s killing was the latest evidence of a rift.
Apparently Syria and Iran were pressuring Ghannaja to orchestrate violence in Palestinian refugee camps in Syria to distract the Lebanese Army from an escalating battle over rebel supply lines in Northern Lebanon. He refused, and instead worked with Fatah (another Palestinian terrorist group formerly allied with Syria and Iran) to prevent Syrian operatives from stirring up trouble. Stratfor says that Ghannaja’s death was a message to Hamas that there is a cost to withdrawing its support of the Syrian regime.
The war in Syria is prophetically significant because Bible prophecy describes two main Middle Eastern alliances that form just prior to the Great Tribulation. The civil war in Syria is spurring the Middle East to divide into those two biblically prophesied alliances.
Psalm 83 describes one of these alliances. This alliance has never before existed in history—it is a prophecy for the end time. Verses 5-8 read: “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 ….”
Here are the modern names of these nations, as was taught at Ambassador College under Herbert W. Armstrong. Edom is Turkey, and the Ishmaelites are Saudi Arabia. Moab is Jordan. The Hagarenes anciently dwelt in the region known as Syria today. Gebal is Lebanon, and Ammon is Jordan. Assur is Germany.
There are several prominent Middle East nations absent from this list. This is because other Bible prophecies indicates they are part of a second hostile alliance led by Iran that includes Iraq, Egypt, Libya and Ethiopia.
According to Psalm 83, Syria (the Hagarenes) will eventually join this alliance that is against Iran.
Currently, Syria is Iran’s biggest ally. Will Syria’s civil war be the turning point for this country? Will Bashar Assad be overthrown by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other nations of the emerging Psalm 83 alliance? Will he be replaced by the anti-Iranian Free Syrian Army?
Back in May, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said, “Every indication is … Syria, and at this time it’s closely allied with Iran, [is] about to have a break with Iran and it’s going to have some domino effects on other nations, which is going to really shake this world and change the course of world events in a way that hasn’t happened in quite a long time.”
Those domino events are now happening. Syria may soon switch sides. The map of the Middle East is being radically redrawn.
The Psalm 83 alliance also includes “the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre.” Tyre is located in southern Lebanon, a stronghold of the Hezbollah terrorists that are currently allied with Iran and Syria.
But the Philistines are inhabitants with Tyre. Back in May, Gerald Flurry also noted that the Philistines (as mentioned in Psalm 83) are in the Palestinian areas of the Gaza Strip (the ancient area of the Philistines) and the West Bank. “[I]t looks very much like that Iran is going to also lose the Gaza terrorists, and they’re going to shift their alliance … as well,” he said.
It is possible we are already seeing the first signs of this today with the fallout between Hamas and its former sponsors in Syria and Iran.
When Syria switches teams, Lebanon will not be able to stand on its own, and at that point the Psalm 83 alliance of Middle Eastern nations will be complete. And Bible prophecy will move on to the next step in the lead-up to the best event ever to occur on Earth: the return of Jesus Christ.
Be sure to watch Gerald Flurry’s May 23 broadcast of the Key of David, titled: “Psalm 83 Is Being Fulfilled.” And for more information on the emerging Psalm 83 alliance and what it means for America, Britain and the tiny nation of Israel, read The King of the South, especially Chapter Two.