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Muslim Family Tortured by Visible ‘Demonic Bat Creatures,’ Then Dad Literally Sees ‘the Light’ of Jesus

Muslim Family Tortured by Visible ‘Demonic Bat Creatures,’ Then Dad Literally Sees ‘the Light’ of Jesus

04-14-2018

Lucille Talusan

MELBOURNE, Australia – According to the latest census, the Muslim population in Australia has soared to more than 600,000 people making Islam the most popular and fastest-growing non-Christian religion in the country.

While extreme Islamization does pose a threat to Australian society, some Muslims “down under” have made decisions to leave their religion and embrace Christianity instead.

We hear of many stories all around the world of Muslims converting to Christianity through dreams and visions. In Australia, CBN News met a Muslim man whose family was tormented by the devil until he experienced a supernatural encounter with Jesus.

Ismail was a Turkish Muslim. He migrated to Australia when he was 19. Although he practiced Islam, he considered himself a moderate Muslim because he always had questions about God and Islam.

He said he wanted to know who God was and the unknown about God. He was curious about the spiritual realm and wondered if witchcraft was from God or the devil.

In his search for answers, Ismail got involved with the occult not knowing that he opened himself to demonic spirits. He met a Turkish Muslim who called spirits using the Ouija board and a coffee cup. Ismail continued this activity with the spirit world until the manifestations of the devil became more and more frightening.

He told CBN News about his encounter with demons.

“I was making coffee. I was stirring the coffee and when I looked inside, I saw this creature live on the coffee, looking at me, behind me, hanging on the curtain. They were kind of human demonic bat kinda looking creatures; real long fingernails. And every time they were flapping their wings, there was smoke coming out of them. On the last day when actually I was leaving my friend’s house, he said, ‘Look, two of them are going with you!’”

For four years, Ismail’s two sons were tormented by these demons.

According to Ismail, they drew sketches of the creatures with red eyes.

“They came to our bed and they started shaking. My kid, he was on the bed and he was throwing fists. He was sitting on his bed and screaming, 10, 15, 20 minutes, I can’t remember. We couldn’t wake him up. I lay him down flat and I said, ‘What’s happening?’ He’s still there, still didn’t wake up. I freaked out.”

Ismail tried everything and prayed to Allah and the prophets but nothing worked. Out of his frustration, he sought the help of an Iranian Christian friend who brought him to a Bible study. There, he surrendered his life to Jesus and experienced a supernatural encounter.

“I’m seeing this figure, He’s holding his hands up like this towards me. I could tell he was smiling. All I was seeing was this light coming from everywhere. It was just amazing. And actually, I have fallen in love with Him. That’s how I converted.”

The pastor instructed Ismail to pray for two weeks, commanding the demons to leave their home.

Ismail said, “Every night I was praying. I was saying, ‘In the Name of Jesus Christ, you have no authority here. You demons leave in Jesus Name!’”

As a result, his children stopped having nightmares. Since then, Ismail hungered for the Word and began reading the Bible. He compared what the Bible said with the teachings of the Qur’an.

Ismail explained, “There’s nowhere in the book, nobody can find anywhere where Allah says, if you do this you will go to heaven. There is only one way and that is if you get murdered in the way of jihad. I now know the truth. Jesus is as real as you and me. He has created us. And only through His blood, can we come to God the Father. And He is an amazing, compassionate, graceful, forgiving God.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9132

Israel Blamed For Early Morning Airstrikes Over Damascus As Syrian Air Defense Claims Missiles Shot Down

Days after US-led airstrikes hit Homs and Damascus on April 14, Syrian Twitter accounts blamed Israel for alleged strikes on Tuesday morning. The first reports emerged around 1:30am. Al Sura Media claimed fighter jets had targeted Syria’s T4 airbase, where Iranian troops are alleged to be present. On Monday Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem warned that Iran and Israel are nearing open war as tensions are very high in Syria.

by Geoffrey Grider April 16, 2018

Syrian media and locals reported air strikes and Syrian air defense launching rockets in response in the early hours of Tuesday. According to initial reports, the strikes may have targeted Al-Sayrat airbase and rural Homs, as well as areas around Damascus.

“The burden of Damascus. Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Isaiah 17:1 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: If you thought that the US led airstrikes with France and the UK were all that was going to happen in Syria, you would be mistaken. Early Tuesday morning in the Middle East today, as of yet unidentified aircraft fired missiles over Iranian-held military installations in both Homs and Damascus. The Syrian Air Defenses claimed to have shot down 8 incoming missiles from what they say is the Israeli Air Force. Israel and Iran are very nearly at the open war stage of their conflict, and it would seem at this point that a full-fledged regional war is just about unavoidable. 29 days until May 14th…but who’s counting

Days after US-led airstrikes hit Homs and Damascus on April 14, Syrian Twitter accounts blamed Israel for alleged strikes on Tuesday morning. The first reports emerged around 1:30am. Al Sura Media claimed fighter jets had targeted Syria’s T4 airbase, where Iranian troops are alleged to be present.

On Monday Hezbollah’s Deputy Secretary General Naim Qassem warned that Iran and Israel are nearing open war as tensions are very high in Syria.

Syria’s Sana Ajel news claimed anti-aircraft units responded to an attack in Shayrat airbase near Homs. That was the same airbase the US struck in 2017 in response to a chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun.

Syrian media says the country’s military has confronted an “aggression” and has shot down missiles over Homs. Although no confirmation of who launched the strike, local media has blamed Israel. The Pentagon denied there being new US military activity in the area. Up to 9 missiles were intercepted and destroyed by the Syrian Armed Forces, a military source said. According to yet unconfirmed reports, the missiles entered Syrian airspace from Lebanon. source

Reports of strikes at Shayrat airbase and areas south of Damascus were dismissed as rumors by some commentators online. Syria’s regime is gearing up for a battle with ISIS in Yarmouk in southern Damascus, and some said that the sounds of missiles might be related to that conflict.

However, Al-Mayadeen and other pro-regime channels showed video of a strange light, which they claimed was part of the airstrikes, hovering in the sky.

The Pentagon said that the US was not involved in any strikes Tuesday morning. The last week has seen several reported strikes in Syria. The New York Times quoted an unnamed Israeli military source as saying Israel had carried out an April 9 airstrike in Syria

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9130

‘New world order’ could stem from US-China trade battle

  • A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war.
  • “The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, said Friday.
  • Sheng added he was hopeful of a positive outcome given that the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Sam Meredith | @smeredith19

Published 7:12 AM ET Fri, 6 April 2018 CNBC.com    

A trade showdown between the world’s two biggest economies could be the flashpoint for a new international order, according to the chief advisor of China’s Banking Regulatory Commission.

A tit-for-tat trade standoff between the U.S. and China has fueled market fears that the dispute could soon spiral into a full-blown trade war. Washington and Beijing have been embroiled in escalating tariff threats since early March — with market participants concerned about the potential impact of an ensuing trade war.

“The signal must be there is a new order emerging, and how that new order emerges will depend upon the wisdom, the patience and the understanding of the top leaders,” Andrew Sheng, chief advisor at China’s Banking Regulatory Commission, told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick on the sidelines of the European House Ambrosetti Forum in Italy Friday.

When asked whether he was optimistic about the prospect of political leaders finding an effective solution to the world’s problems, Sheng replied: “I think so … We are now seeing a much more complex, much more subtle (and) much more nuanced search for the new order.”

‘Sensible and measured’

Late on Thursday, President Donald Trump instructed the U.S. Trade Representative to consider $100 billion of additional tariffs on Chinese goods. The further charges were being proposed “in light of China’s unfair retaliation” against prior U.S. trade actions, Trump said in a statement.

China on Wednesday announced it would introduce tariffs on 106 U.S. products, including soybeans, cars and whiskey. The duties were introduced as a retaliatory measure against Trump, who just 24 hours prior, had unveiled a list of Chinese imports he planned to target with tariffs.

Sheng said the world was finally getting to grips with the “massive labor shock” brought about by globalization. And while Sheng said the ongoing trade dispute between the U.S. and China was a “very confusing situation,” he added that he was hopeful of a positive outcome given the world wants to see “a sensible and measured way of negotiations.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9128

FURIOUS: Putin Sends Warships Laden With Tanks And Military Vehicles Sailing To Syria As World Awaits Russia’s Response To Airstrikes

An Alligator-landing ship was pictured cruising down The Bosphorus on Sunday as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to this week’s co-ordinated military action against Syria.  The vessel was spotted on its way to the Russian naval base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast. On its fourth deployment of Russian military equipment to the war-torn country the ship was seen laden with tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar.

by Geoffrey Grider April 15, 2018

Two Russian warships laden with military vehicles have been spotted en route to Syria after Friday’s US-led airstrikes obliterated three suspected chemical weapons sites.

EDITOR’S NOTE: For the past 48 hours, the geopolitical world has been wondering what sort of response Putin was going to have to Friday night’s missile attack on Syrian chemical weapons production by Allied forces. Warship and enormous cargo ships filled with Russian military equipment are at this moment steaming towards Syria. Putin has not said exactly what he plans on doing, other than promises  to “respond with consequences” in a meaningful way. But it looks like he’s getting ready to respond. 

An Alligator-landing ship was pictured cruising down The Bosphorus on Sunday as the world awaits Vladimir Putin’s response to this week’s co-ordinated military action against Syria.  The vessel was spotted on its way to the Russian naval base at Tartus on the north Syrian coast.

On its fourth deployment of Russian military equipment to the war-torn country the ship was seen laden with tanks, trucks, ambulances and an IED radar.

A yellow RoRo Alexandr Tkachenko was also pictured heading for Tartus carrying high-speed patrol boats, a temporary bridge structure and several trucks. The images were posted on social media by Bosphorus-based naval observer Yörük Işık.

They come in wake of Friday’s US-led campaign against Bashar al-Assad’s regime and a chemical weapons attack that brutally murdered 75 civilians.

The blue Project 117 LST Orsk 148 ship was carrying Soviet BTR-80 tanks, Ramaz trucks and a Pelena-1 bomb radar, used to detect IEDs. A second yellow cargo vessel was equipped with a BMK-T boat used for building temporary bridges and an array of other military hardware.

The Russian warships approaching Syria come after the United States outlined new economic sanctions in response to Moscow’s continued support of Assad’s regime in Syria.

Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the United Nations, said measures to be imposed on Monday will send a message to Russia after it blocked six UN attempts to investigate its use of chemical weapons.

In Washington President Donald Trump stood by his comments that the strikes he commanded were a ‘mission accomplished’ after he was slated for repeating George W Bush’s controversial use of the phrase during the Iraq war.

Meanwhile French President Emmanuel Macron today insisted the allied forces had not ‘declared war’ on Syria.

He told a French TV station: ‘We have not declared war on the regime of Bashar al-Assad.’ During the two-hour interview he also claimed he had ‘convinced’ Trump to maintain a military presence in Syria after the US leader threatened to pull out of the country entirely.

It emerged that Trump called Mr Macron twice before he shared his intention to strike Syria in a Twitter post. But he failed to call UK Prime Minister Theresa May in the early stages of the operation, giving the French leader the opportunity to claim France is America’s leading ally in Europe.

Vladimir Putin condemned Friday’s strikes as an ‘act of aggression’ that will worsen the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria and have a ‘destructive influence on the entire system of international relations.

But Trump has vowed to carry out more if Bashar al-Assad’s regime dares to use chemical weapons again.

UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson today defended Britain’s decision to stand up to ‘barbarism’ amid criticism of Mrs May for agreeing to the strike without a vote in the House of Commons. Mr Johnson said failure to respond to Assad’s use of illegal chemical weapons against his own people would have undermined ‘civilised values’.

He said ‘so far, thank heavens, the Assad regime has not been so foolish to launch another chemical weapons attack,’ adding that Britain and its allies ‘would study what the options were’ in the event of another attack.

But amid fears of revenge attacks by Russia and criticism of Theresa May for acting without a Commons vote, Mr Johnson stressed there was no intention of getting more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war.

Concerns have been raised that a cyber backlash could see vital services including water supplies, gas networks, banks, hospitals and air traffic control affected

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9126

Saudi Moderation? Prince Muhammad Is on Shaky Ground

By Dr. James M. Dorsey April 12, 2018

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 794, April 12, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman has dazzled international media and public opinion by lifting some restrictions on women’s rights and holding out hope for the abolishment of others, vowing to return the kingdom to a vague form of moderate Islam that many believe is defined by the social reforms he has already implemented, and curbing the powers of the country’s ultra-conservative leadership. But his top-down approach to social change, which brushes aside Saudi history, rests on shaky ground.

No doubt, Prince Muhammad’s recent reforms have benefitted women and created social opportunity with the introduction of modern forms of entertainment, including the opening this month of Saudi Arabia’s first cinema as well as concerts, theater, and dance performances. Anecdotal evidence testifies to the popularity of these moves, certainly among urban youth.

But Prince Muhammad’s top-down approach to countering religious militancy rests on shaky ground. It involves rewriting history rather than owning up to responsibility, imposing his will on an ultra-conservative Sunni Muslim establishment whose change of heart in publicly backing him lacks credibility, and suppressing religious and secular voices who link religious and social change to political reform.

Prince Muhammad has traced Saudi Arabia’s embrace of ultra-conservatism to 1979. That year, a popular revolt toppled the Shah and replaced Iran’s monarchy with an Islamic republic, and Saudi zealots took control of the Great Mosque in the holy city of Mecca.

While there is no doubt that the kingdom responded to those two events by enhancing the power of Saudi Arabia’s already prevalent ultra-conservative religious establishment, Prince Muhammad is brushing aside Saudi history.

The dominance of Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia dates back to 1744, when Muhammad bin Saud, the founder of the Al Saud dynasty, concluded a power sharing agreement with Islamic scholar Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab that lent Bin Saud the religious legitimacy he needed to unify and control Arabia’s warring tribes.

Similarly, Saudi global propagation of Sunni Muslim ultra-conservatism significantly accelerated in the wake of the events of 1979 but predates them by almost two decades.

Prince Muhammad’s uncle, King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia from 1964 until his assassination in 1975, embodied the export of ultra-conservatism as a pillar of Saudi diplomacy and soft power. Faisal saw it as a way to create a network of supporters capable of defending the kingdom’s strategic and economic interests while simultaneously catering to the outlook of Saudi Arabia’s religious establishment.

Both the Muslim World League, one of the kingdom’s primary vehicles for the funding of its global campaign, and the Islamic University of Medina were founded in the 1960s. The university served as a citadel of ultra-conservative learning and thought, including the notion that Islamic law dictates unquestioned obedience to the legitimate ruler.

Prince Muhammad has exploited that view to put the religious establishment in its place and legitimize reforms it condemned for decades. In doing so, he not only undermines the credibility of ultra-conservative scholars but also enhances that of both more militant ones and those he has either imprisoned or silenced because they advocated not only social but also democratic reforms like free and fair elections, release of political prisoners, and respect for human rights.

Prince Muhammad’s assertion that Saudi Arabia propagated ultra-conservatism as part of countering communism during the Cold War is not inaccurate, but it ignores the fact that Saudi Arabia felt threatened by Arab nationalism – not simply because countries like Egypt and Syria aligned themselves with the Soviet Union, but also because they questioned the legitimacy of monarchs. Aligning Saudi Arabia with the West, moreover, ensured that the US had a greater stake in the survival of the Sauds.

Born 14 years after the events of 1979, Prince Muhammad’s projection of a kingdom whose liberalism was hijacked by Cold War-inspired policies and errant Islamic scholars jars with the experience of Saudis who are generation older. They recall a process in which post-1979 ultra-conservative social mores were codified into rules, regulations, and laws.

“I was a teenager in the 1970s and grew up in Medina… My memories of those years…are quite different,” said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist who last year went into self-imposed exile because he feared arrest. “Women weren’t driving cars. I didn’t see a woman drive until I visited my sister and brother-in-law in Tempe, Arizona in 1976. The movie theaters we had were makeshift… You would pay 5 or 10 riyals (then approximately $1.50-$2) to the organizer, who would then give a warning when the religious police approached. To avoid being arrested, a friend of mine broke his leg jumping off a wall. In the 1970s, the only places on the Arabian Peninsula where women were working outside the home or school were Kuwait and Bahrain.”

Prince Muhammad seemed to acknowledge ultra-conservatism’s long-standing and deep-seated shaping of Saudi culture when he was asked about abolishing the kingdom’s system of male guardianship that forces women to get approval of a male relative for most major decisions in their lives. “We want to move on it and figure out a way to treat this that doesn’t harm families and doesn’t harm the culture,” Prince Muhammad said.

Khashoggi traces the formalization of existing social restrictions on women’s rights not to an edict issued by the religious establishment but to an attempt by a 19-year-old princess to elope with her lover. The couple’s drama, ending in public execution in 1977, was described in ‘Death of a Princess,’ a dramatized 1980 British documentary that strained relations between Britain and Saudi Arabia.

The incident marked the kingdom’s first major effort to use its financial and energy muscle to thwart freedom of the press beyond its borders and shape its international image. It also spurred codification of the suppression of women’s rights.

“The reaction of the government to the princess’s elopement was swift: The segregation of women became more severe, and no woman could travel without the consent of a male relative… MBS would like to advance a new narrative for my country’s recent history, one that absolves the government of any complicity in the adoption of strict Wahhabi doctrine. That simply isn’t the case,” Khashoggi said (referring to Muhammad bin Salman by his initials).

Liberals were already warning in the 1970s that the restrictions would tarnish the kingdom’s image. Celebrated poet and novelist Ghazi al-Gosaibi, who served as minister of industry and electricity, urged King Khalid in a handwritten letter in 1980 to shy away from banning the projection of women’s images in the media “so we would not be made an example of rigidity and stagnation in front of the whole world.”

Al-Gosaibi’s warning fell on deaf ears at the time, but it has been heard loud and clear by Prince Muhammad. To put his reforms on solid footing, however, Prince Muhammad will have to acknowledge and confront his country’s demons and pursue structural reform including a revamping of religious education, which is currently limited to shaving off raw ends like hate speech. Structural reform will also have to entail the grooming of a more independent and critical class of Islamic scholars. Such reform is preferable to simply whitewashing the royal family’s role, whipping former allies into subservience, and suppressing any expression of dissent.

“Strangling moderate independent Islamic discourse may succeed in silencing democratic voices within Islam in Saudi Arabia, but it will also create a vacuum for the less moderate discourse that the state has shown it tolerates,” said Abdullah Alaoudh, a post-doctoral fellow in Islamic Law and Civilization and the son of Salman al-Odah, a Saudi scholar imprisoned since September for calling for social as well as political reform.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9123

Check it Out: Revised Antichrist Presentation

There is a revised Antichrist presentation on Prophecy Studies page 1. Check it out!

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9120

Mystery ‘trumpet sounds from sky’ in Hawaii

See video that captures unusual and unexplained phenomenon

Snippins News has posted online a video that contains sounds that are described as possibly being from “tidal waves, methane explosions, underground earthquakes, or shifting sand dunes.”

Or not.

“Although it’s probable that these ‘weird apocalyptic’ booming sounds seemingly coming from the skies have an earthly origin, USGS scientist David Hill says that it’s also possible some of these noises originate from above,” the report explains.

PJ Media describes it as a “video recording of eerie trumpet sounds from Hawaii.”

Some, the posting explains, are speculating “that the end times and the Second Coming of Jesus Christ are imminent.”

“Jesus Christ is coming soon. I say it is a trumpet,” said “Believer John Seventeen” on YouTube.

“User Jeff Suttles twisted the end times angle into a Trump joke. ‘Heaven is trying to influence the outcome of the 2020 election by blowing trumpets,’ he wrote. ‘I say that Donald is colluding with heaven. Time to call for a special council [sic] and impose sanctions,’” PJ Media wrote.

WND reported only a few years ago that similar mysterious sounds have been reported many times, and often listeners described them as the trumpet blasts described in the biblical book of Revelation.

Reports have come from Britain, Ukraine, the U.S., Germany and Belarus.

At that time, pastor, talk-show host and author Carl Gallups, who used the symbol of the trumpets of Revelation as the basis for his exploration of the end times in “Final Warning: Understanding the Trumpet Days of Revelation,” says believers should be wary of hoaxes.

“Of course, some would expect an author who has written a book about the ‘trumpet days’ of Revelation to be absolutely giddy about the reported phenomenon of mysterious trumpet sounds coming from the sky at various locations around the world. However, the opposite is true,” he said.

“There is room for a lot of scientific, common sense and biblical skepticism in this matter. Even though I love to point out scriptural connections to current geopolitical events and their possible prophetic correlations, I am not a wild-eyed sensationalist. I consistently strive to give an objective and biblically balanced explanation of sensational and unusual claims. I approach these kinds of claims with investigative and biblical caution.”

Gallups, a former law enforcement officer in Florida, suggests some of the reported incidents could be artificially created.

“I have been researching this topic for years and am still very skeptical about the authenticity of these purported ‘trumpet events.’ With today’s technology, it would be all too simple to overlay these weird, supernatural-like sounds into a video after you have gathered up a few friends to gawk up into the sky while you film them. Couple this with the fact that two insanely popular movies, ‘War of The Worlds’ and ‘Clash of The Titans,’ have almost identical sounds in them – it is easy to approach this topic with a high level of skepticism.

“Besides, where were the many thousands of other people who certainly should have heard the same sounds at the same time and frantically reported them? Where were the instantaneous mainstream media in reporting such a stupendous and ‘widely witnessed’ event? Where are the multiple police reports that should exist in these cases? Why were the social media formats not virtually, and instantly, lit up with activity, questions and credible reports coming from these high-population-density areas where the sounds were reported to have been recorded?”

Numerous videos are posted on YouTube from across the globe, with people wondering just what is causing the strange phenomenon.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9118

Rouhani, Erdogan, and Putin’s bizarre love triangle

By Wayne McLean

It appears a new regional security order is encircling Syria as the civil war grinds into its seventh year. This shift was visible last week, when the leaders of Turkey, Iran, and Russia met in Ankara to discuss solutions to the Syrian crisis. The detailed talks covered de-escalation zones, humanitarian concerns, and intra-Syrian dialogue, but the broader motive was to agree on the role of each state once the conflict ends.

A further variable framed the meeting: potential US retrenchment from the region. On the same day as the Ankara summit, Trump told reporters in Washington that he was going to “get out” of Syria “very soon”.

Then yet another variable emerged: Assad’s troops were, according to John McCain, emboldened by Trump’s retreat, leading to a chemical weapons attack on the rebel-held city of Douma.

The horrific attack was significant enough for Trump to assign Assad the puerile nickname “animal”, but the hard reality is that any US response, even military action, will be tokenistic.

The march towards Syrian retrenchment is already set on a path: $200 million has been removed from the US budget for recovery efforts, military plans have been prepared for the quick withdrawal of the 2000 US troops in Syria, and there is little domestic hunger for renewed adventurism, let alone around a conflict this complex.

The takeaway from the Ankara meeting and Trump’s rhetoric is that the regional security order around Syria is in flux, and that US efforts are likely to be replaced by a zone of anti-Western influence stretching from Beirut through to the Caspian Sea.

Turkey’s participation and positioning within this order is arguably the most radical. Under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey has viewed itself as the natural leader of the region, but the neo-Ottoman dream of previous Turkish strategic thinkers, such as Ahmet Davutoğlu, is now dead.

Instead, Erdogan is likely to set aside his grandiose ideational prose in exchange for pragmatism. One prominent example is Turkey softening its anti-Assad position in exchange for concessions along Turkey’s southern border to counter Kurdish groups.

Turkey has another problem, which the group of three can assist it with. The country’s political capital is declining. As a NATO member, it has access to US defence mechanisms on paper, but Trump’s frigidity towards Brussels, combined with erratic grand strategies, has left Ankara isolated and concerned about its place in the European security complex.

The result is an increase in Russia–Turkey security cooperation. For example, after nearly a decade of stuttering, Turkey has committed to purchasing the S-400 missile defence system, and this month commenced construction on the Akkuyu nuclear power plant (Turkey’s first).

In short, by softening its position on Assad, and by aligning its interests closer to Moscow, Turkey regains some security currency in a dangerous neighbourhood as the US presence degenerates.

The intersection of Iranian and Turkish interests is somewhat more complex, but both countries share a common interest in defeating Kurdish forces. From this position, both Moscow and Tehran have been muted about Turkey’s actions in Afrin, as courting Ankara on this front supports their longer-term ambitions for influence on the Mediterranean coast above Lebanon.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, for his part, is happy to see Kurdish groups around the Syria–Turkey–Iran triangle weakened as a result of Turkish actions. This allows it to focus on support for Hezbollah and the consolidation of territory around the Golan Heights. This region is critical because it allows the deployment of short-range missiles capable of hitting Israel, providing a deterrent against Israeli attacks. More broadly, for Tehran, a strong Hezbollah creates a counterweight against Saudi and Wahhabi influences in the north of Syria.

This leads us to Russia. President Vladimir Putin’s largest challenge will be filling any void the US leaves behind.

Conflict and recovery is an expensive business, and discussions of Moscow’s weak economy are often glossed over in analysis. Russia is a state with a GDP on parity with Australia, not with the US or Germany. Granted, it compensates for this across other variables: territory, energy, transit routes, and nuclear capabilities.

But the bottom line is that Russia has only spent around US$2.2 billion in military activities in Syria, while the US has spent $30 billion. An increase in spending to match the US is unlikely.

Consequently, when viewed as a whole, this group of three provides mutual benefits. Turkey maintains Afrin and weakens the cause of Kurdish nationalists around the southern border. Iran gets more reliable access to its interests in the Golan Heights. Russia maintains its presence in Tartus port, which provides a cost-effective way to project power into the Mediterranean and thereby avoid perceived containment by Western forces.

The group of three deals with the apparent deficiencies of each member. Russia can ameliorate costs by burden sharing and delegating military efforts. Turkey no longer needs to appease Western normative sensibilities when engaging Kurds in a security setting. Iran can leave Kurdish security to Turkey and focus on building a Shia-led counterbalance against Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This outcome will comfort neither those recovering from the chemical attacks in Douma, nor Kurdish nationalists. But it is perhaps a glimpse of the types of alliances and compromises that will emerge as the US-led security order winds down.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9116

Iranian defense minister: Saudi crown prince acting ‘under illusion of power’

After Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman claimed that Iran’s supreme leader “makes Hitler look good,” Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami said that the young heir to the throne appears to be acting under “an illusion of power.”

Apr 8, 2018, 2:00PM Becca Noy

Iranian Defense Minister Amir Hatami slammed Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman while in Russia on an official visit. Bin Salman recently said in an interview with The Atlantic that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei “makes Hitler look good.”

“Hitler tried to conquer Europe,” bin Salman added during the interview. “But the supreme leader is trying to conquer the world. He believes he owns the world. They are both evil guys. He is the Hitler of the Middle East.”

“Those words have been said by a man who has little experience in state affairs,” Hatami told RT in an exclusive interview. “Once he claimed he could resolve the situation in Yemen in just one week. Yemen is a poor country with little military strength. The war in Yemen is now in its fourth year, and it has become a quagmire for Saudi Arabia.”

The Iranian official also said that the 32-year-old heir to the throne is apparently acting under “an illusion of power” and stressed that his remarks should be viewed in comparison to his actions and achievements, which are not very impressive.

Bin Salman is a fierce critic of the Iranian regime and has slammed Tehran on numerous occasions. He replaced his cousin Muhammad bin Nayef as the heir to the Saudi throne in June 2017. When his father, King Salman, dies, bin Salman will likely become the youngest king to rule Saudi Arabia.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9114

Russia Says Israel Responsible for Strikes on Syrian Air Base: Report

By Jonathan Benedek April 9, 2018 , 8:00 am

“Who is the King of glory?— Hashem, mighty and valiant, Hashem, valiant in battle.” Psalms 24:8 (The Israel Bible™)

The Russian Defense Ministry reportedly said that Israel was responsible for strikes on a Syrian air base near Homs on Sunday, which left at least 14 people dead.

According to the original report in the Russian news agency, Interfax, the Russian Defense Ministry said that two Israeli F-15 warplanes fired eight missiles from Lebanese airspace and that 5 of them were successfully shot down by Syria’s air defense system.

An Israeli military spokesperson who was asked to respond refused to comment.

Originally, the Syrian government accused the United States of launching the airstrikes.

“An aggression was perpetrated on T-4 air base in several strikes that is most likely to be an American attack,” Syrian state television had said in a news flash.

US President Donald Trump warned on Twitter that there would be a “big price to pay” for an alleged chemical weapons attack by the Syrian regime over the weekend. However, the US Pentagon denied striking the Syrian airbase.

At this time, the Department of Defense is not conducting air strikes in Syria,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

“However, we continue to closely watch the situation and support the ongoing diplomatic efforts to hold those who use chemical weapons, in Syria and otherwise, accountable.”

Later on Monday, the Syrian state news agency, SANA held Israel responsible instead.

“The Israeli aggression on the T4 airport was carried out with F-15 planes that fired several missiles from above Lebanese land,” the news agency said.

Israel has long adhered to a practice of not taking any responsibility for its alleged strikes in Syria. However, Israel broke this routine a few weeks ago when it confirmed that it struck a nuclear reactor in Syria back in 2007.

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