Category: Israel

REPORT: Trump and Netanyahu Finalize Pact to Be Military Allies in Gog and Magog

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz December 4, 2019 , 10:48 am

“After a long time you shall be summoned; in the distant future you shall march against the land [of a people] restored from the sword, gathered from the midst of many peoples—against the mountains of Yisrael, which have long lain desolate—[a people] liberated from the nations, and now all dwelling secure.” Ezekiel 38:8 (The Israel Bible™)

The White House announced that on Sunday night, U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the common threat from Iran. The discussion came at a key juncture; directly preceding a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in London that both leaders attended. Israel is not a NATO member but was granted Major non-NATO Ally status in 1989. 

Debka File, an English language Israeli military intelligence news site, reported that the dialogue between Netanyahu and Trump was to finalize a military cooperation pact whose details were worked out during meetings between U.S. and Israeli generals in recent months.

If true, this military pact would be a landmark. Though the U.S. provides Israel with significant military aid and the two countries participate in joint military maneuvers, the two countries have never cooperated militarily and there is no known pact between the two countries in which they promise to actively support each other in a military engagement. 

Trump has frequently questioned the current relevance of the 70-year-old NATO agreements and criticizes the disproportionate role the U.S. is required to take in monetizing the effort intended to combat the now-defunct Soviet Union. The presidential displeasure led to other NATO members pledging to substantially increase their military spending and commitments of military assets to the alliance.

But Netanyahu’s European grip is focused entirely on their support of Iran. On Sunday, Netanyahu released a video lambasting the six countries (Belgium, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden) that signed on to the INSTEX barter mechanism designed to circumvent US sanctions against trade with Iran by avoiding the use of the dollar.

“While the Iranian regime is killing its own people, European countries rush to support that very murderous regime,” Netanyahu said in the video.

Though Gog and Magog were mentioned in the Bible as specific individuals, the Prophets, most specifically Ezekiel, described them as leading many nations in the final pre-Messiah battle against Israel. 

Netanyahu is frequently criticized for having an obsession with Iran and though his focus on Iran is probably based on geopolitical considerations, the Bible explicitly identifies Iran’s role in the War of Gog and Magog against Israel.

I will turn you around and put hooks in your jaws, and lead you out with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all of them clothed in splendor, a vast assembly, all of them with bucklers and shields, wielding swords. Among them shall be Persia, Nubia, and Put, everyone with shield and helmet; Ezekiel 38:4-5

Iran is the modern incarnation of Persia.

This anti-Israel alliance took on a new member last week when Iran announced it will for the first time be holding joint military maneuvers with Russia and China. The Mongols, an ethnic group that is the remnant of the Mongolian Empire, resides within regions of Russia, China, and North Korea. According to some reports, the Mongolian people claim Magog as their ancestor.

It should be noted that Netanyahu’s left-wing political rival, Benny Gantz who heads the Blue and White party, posted a tweet in which he said that his party will always oppose such a pact.

“Blue and White under my leadership will not support an international agreement that will limit Israel’s actions and the IDF’s ability to protect the country from the threats it faces,” tweeted Gantz. “I have deep respect for the strategic relationship with the US, our ally, with whom we share identical values and joint interests but there is a serious concern that a prime minister who is busy with himself will allow the hands of security forces to be tied, as opposed to the position expressed by the security establishment for decades.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10237

Iran, Russia And China To Hold First-Ever Joint War Game Drills In What Leaders Of Those Rogue Nations Say Will “Send A Message To The World”

“The joint wargame between Iran, Russia, and China, which will hopefully be conducted next month, carries the same message to the world, that these three countries have reached a meaningful strategic point in their relations, with regard to their shared and non-shared interests, and by non-shared I mean the respect we have for one another’s national interests,” Khanzadi was quoted as saying. The commander of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said Wednesday that the Islamic Republic will team up with Moscow and Beijing within the next month to hold the mass war drills.

by Geoffrey Grider November 28, 2019

Iran, China, and Russia will hold in the coming weeks their first-ever joint war drills, which leaders say are meant to send a “message to the world” about increased military cooperation between the rogue countries.

Never before have these 3 nations, all of whom figure prominently in end times Bible prophecy, joined forces militarily to hold joint war game exercises together. When the headlines and the scripture begin to align you know you’re getting close. And in a somewhat stunning statement, they said this was to “send a message to the world”. Boy, does it ever.

“Therefore, thou son of man, prophesy against Gog, and say, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against thee, O Gog, the chief prince of Meshech and Tubal: And I will turn thee back, and leave but the sixth part of thee, and will cause thee to come up from the north parts, and will bring thee upon the mountains of Israel:” Ezekiel 39:1,2 (KJV)

As we get ready in the closing hours of the Church Age to take off on Flight #777, an unsaved world is preparing to launch headfirst into the time of Jacob’s trouble where hundreds of prophecies concerning that time period are waiting to be released and fulfilled. Iran, Russia and China are getting ready to do what the prophets say they will do, and I am so glad to have a seat in the balcony from which to watch the action. Do you?

Iran, Russia, China to Hold Joint Wargames in ‘Message to the World’

FROM WASHINGTON FREE BEACON: The commander of Iran’s navy, Rear Admiral Hossein Khanzadi, said Wednesday that the Islamic Republic will team up with Moscow and Beijing within the next month to hold the mass war drills.

“When we talk about joint wargames, we are talking about two or more countries with a high level of relations in various political, economic and social fields, which culminate in cooperation in the military sector, with wargames usually being the highest level of such cooperation,” Khanzadi was quoted as saying in remarks to Iran’s state-controlled press.

“A joint wargame between several countries, whether on land, at sea, or in the air, indicates a remarkable expansion of cooperation among them,” the military leader said.

The joint war game drills will be aimed at sending a message to the world, particularly Western nations, like the United States, that have sought to constrain Iran’s expanding military ambitions.

THE BIBLE BELIEVER’S GUIDE TO THE TWO DIFFERENT WARS AS FOUND IN EZEKIEL CHAPTERS 38 AND 39

“The joint wargame between Iran, Russia, and China, which will hopefully be conducted next month, carries the same message to the world, that these three countries have reached a meaningful strategic point in their relations, with regard to their shared and non-shared interests, and by non-shared I mean the respect we have for one another’s national interests,” Khanzadi was quoted as saying.

The Iranian military leader emphasized the importance of performing military drills in the sea, where the Islamic Republic has been particularly troublesome for Western nations. Iranian naval vessels routinely harass American military ships and have played a role in various sabotage efforts aimed at disrupting international shipping lanes.

“The wargame seeks to deliver this message to the world that any kind of security at sea must include the interests of all concerned countries. We do not condone the kind of security that only caters to the benefits of one specific country at a specific time and which disregards the security of others,” Khanzadi said. “Seas, which are used as a platform for conducting global commerce, cannot be exclusively beneficial to certain powers.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10226

Biblical Archaeologist Cem Sertesen Says He Will Prove Existence Of Noah’s Ark In Eastern Turkey With 3D Scans In Upcoming Documentary

Experts claim they’ve snapped underground images of a mysterious ship-shaped object they say is Noah’s Ark, discovered half a century ago in eastern Turkey. Creationists have long claimed that Noah’s legendary boat is buried beneath the rocky spot, known as the Durupınar site. The team claim they’ll reveal the pictures, obtained by “sending electric signals underground via cables”, in a forthcoming documentary about the Ark.

by Geoffrey Grider November 22, 2019 

The location of the real Noah’s Ark may have been confirmed by relic-hunters in a remote mountain range in eastern Turkey.

Cem Sertesen claims that not only has he confirmed the location of Noah’s Ark in Eastern Turkey, but that he will shock the world when he releases a new documentary with 3D scans that will prove his amazing claims. He promises that he has actual images of Noah’s Ark obtained by his film crew using sophisticated equipment that was placed underground.

“And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters asswaged; The fountains also of the deep and the windows of heaven were stopped, and the rain from heaven was restrained; And the waters returned from off the earth continually: and after the end of the hundred and fifty days the waters were abated. And the ark rested in the seventh month, on the seventeenth day of the month, upon the mountains of Ararat.” Genesis 8:1-4 (KJV)

Is it possible that Sertesen will be able to back up his claims and prove the existence of Noah’s Ark? Absolutely could happen, no doubt about it. Think about what it would mean to actually find the ark from the Bible, it would be the discovery of the millennium, any millennium. So we shall keep an eye on this story and report back with any updates and/or the photos when they become available. Granted, having this turn out to be the actual Noah’s Ark is a long shot for sure, but it certainly is possible. I, for one, will be rooting for Sertesen’s success.

Noah’s Ark ‘buried in Turkish mountains’ as experts say 3D scans will prove Biblical ship’s existence

FROM FOX NEWS: Experts claim they’ve snapped underground images of a mysterious ship-shaped object discovered half a century ago in eastern Turkey. Creationists have long claimed that Noah’s legendary boat is buried beneath the rocky spot, known as the Durupınar site.

Not everyone is convinced though, with geologists claiming the mountainous lump is simply an unusual mountain formation. Now a film crew led by long-time ark hunter Cem Sertesen say they’ve imaged whatever’s down there, according to the Turkish Anadolu Agency.

The team claim they’ll reveal the pictures, obtained by “sending electric signals underground via cables”, in a forthcoming documentary about the Ark.

“These are the actual images of Noah’s Ark,” said Sertesen, who previously released a documentary about finding the ark in 2017. “They are neither fake nor simulation. They show the entire ship buried underground.”

According to legend, Noah loaded two of every animal onto a 150-meter long ark to save them from apocalyptic flooding. Despite numerous expeditions to find the craft across the vast mountain range, no physical proof has emerged.

A popular focus of many searches is the Durupınar site, a 150-meter-long formation among the mountains. Some creationists claim the bizarre object is the remains of Noah’s ship buried deep underground, while scientists argue it is a natural formation.

Now 3D scans of the object may prove once and for all whether Durupınar is as holy as some believe. They were created by computer engineer and archaeologist Andrew Jones, as well as geophysicist John Larsen, in a bid to study the strange object. Jones and Larsen shared their discoveries with Sertesen, director of the 2017 documentary “Noah’s Ark”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10213

Jordan, EU, Bernie Sanders Triggered by Trump’s Acknowledgement of West Bank Settlements as Legal

By David Sidman November 19, 2019 , 12:17 pm

They prepared a net for my feet to ensnare me; they dug a pit for me, but they fell into it. Selah. (Psalm 57:6)

Jordan, whose Waqf mercenaries act as custodians in the Temple Mount slammed the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jewish Presence in Judea and Samaria as legal under international law.

Jordan’s foreign minister, Ayman Safadi, blasted the White House’s decision, claiming that settlements “kill the two-state solution”, the most widely accepted blueprint for Middle East peace. “Entrenching the occupation and its injustice, and violating the resolutions of international legitimacy will not achieve peace, and will not guarantee security and stability,” he said in a statement, according to state media. “Nothing changes the illegal reality of settlements that the international community is unanimous in condemning,” Safadi added.

Democratic 2020 Presidential candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders accused Trump of “isolating” the US with his most recent statement. Sanders tweeted on Monday: “Israeli settlements in occupied territory are illegal. This is clear from international law and multiple United Nations resolutions. Once again, Mr. Trump is isolating the United States and undermining diplomacy by pandering to his extremist base.”

Meanwhile, the European Union didn’t take too kindly to Pompeo’s historic statement either. The EU’s vice-president Federica Mogherini contradicted Pompeo’s conclusion stating:

“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace, as reaffirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 2334. The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power. The EU will continue to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10207

154 Nations Reject Israel’s Biblical Connection to Temple Mount

By David Sidman November 18, 2019 , 10:49 am

“But I have installed My king on Tzion, My holy mountain!” (Psalm 2:6)

A view of the Temple Mount and Western Wall in Jerusalem. (Shutterstock.com)

The United Nations gave preliminary approval for a resolution that calls the Temple Mount by its Muslim name exclusively: Haram al-Sharif reports JPost.

The resolution passed at the UN’s Fourth Committee in New York City in an overwhelming turn-out of 154-8. The vote featured 14 abstentions as well as 17 absences. It was one of eight Anti-Israel resolutions approved last week. An expected 15 more anti-Israel resolutions are anticipating approval as well. The UN General Assembly will commence its final vote on the resolution next month.

Ironically, the resolution reaffirmed “the special significance of the holy sites and the importance of the City of Jerusalem for the three monotheistic religions.”

Although only Israel and the United States were the only ones to vote against all eight resolutions, Australia, Canada, Guatemala, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, and Nauru joined them in voting against the Jerusalem texts.

All of the twenty-eight EU member states backed the resolution

Some of the resolutions related to both past and future Israeli ambitions to annex territory in Judea and Samaria reading: “The occupation of a territory is to be a temporary, de facto situation, whereby the occupying power can neither claim possession nor exert its sovereignty over the territory it occupies,” a resolution stated. That same resolution recalled “the principle of the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force and therefore the illegality of the annexation of any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” It also stated “grave concern at recent statements calling for the annexation by Israel of areas in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.”

Acting US Deputy Representative to the United Nations Cherith Norman Chalet responded to the resolution saying: “We are disappointed that despite support for reform, member states continue to disproportionately single out Israel through these types of resolutions”. She added that“it is deplorable that the United Nations – an institution founded upon the idea that all nations should be treated equally – should be so often used by member states to treat one state in particular, Israel, unequally.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10200

We Are Going To War”: Has The Final Apocalyptic Conflict Between Israel and Her Enemies Now Begun?

On Tuesday, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in retaliation for Israel’s targeted killing of the senior commander of Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  Many of the rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome defense system, but quite a few got through, and some even reached as far as Tel Aviv.  Following those rocket attacks, Israeli tanks and aircraft pounded Islamic Jihad positions in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials are pledging to continue to respond to any additional attacks.  Unfortunately, it certainly sounds like more attacks are coming.  According to Islamic Jihad’s Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala, his organization is “going to war” with Israel.  The following comes from the Times of Israel

We are going to war. [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has crossed all the red lines in assassinating Al-Quds Brigades Commander Baha Abu al-Ata. We will respond forcefully,” PIJ Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhala told the Dar al-Hayat Arabic-language news site.

Israeli officials felt that they had no choice but to kill Baha Abu al-Ata once they had a clear opportunity to do so.  According to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, he was an “archterrorist” and was “the main instigator of terrorism from the Gaza Strip”.  The Israeli people are fed up with the endless rocket attacks, and so it makes sense that Israel would target the man that initiated so many of those attacks.

But to Islamic Jihad, Baha Abu al-Ata was a greatly beloved hero, and his death sent shockwaves throughout the entire Middle East.  Once news of his death got out, terrorists in Gaza fired “more than 200 rockets into Israel”

Islamic militants in the Gaza Strip sent a barrage of more than 200 rockets into Israel Tuesday and vowed further revenge after the Israeli military carried out a pair of targeted airstrikes on senior Islamic Jihad commanders, killing one in Gaza and missing the second in Syria.

An Israeli airstrike killed Baha Abu al-Ata, 42, and his wife as they slept in their home in eastern Gaza Tuesday, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said. Conricus added that Abu al-Ata was responsible for a number of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and claimed he was actively planning new attacks.

In response to those rocket attacks, IDF tanks and planes absolutely pummeled Islamic Jihad military outposts…

Israeli tanks attacked three Islamic Jihad military posts in the Gaza Strip Tuesday afternoon.

An IDF spokesperson stated: “A short while ago, IDF tanks targeted three PIJ military posts in the Gaza Strip.”

The Israeli Air Force has also bombed numerous Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza in response to the firing of dozens of rockets by the terrorist organization.

And IDF spokesperson Hidai Zilberman told the press that the Israelis are “prepared for several days of battle” if it comes to that.

We shall see what happens, but it appears that we may be looking at a conflict that will last a whole lot longer that just a few days.

Islamic Jihad is promising a campaign of revenge that will “have no borders”, and it is being reported that Israel’s enemies are considering “opening a second or third front in the north”

DEBKAfile’s sources report that when Israel’s security cabinet was convening in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, so too were senior officials in Tehran, Damascus and Beirut. They were discussing whether to punish Israel by opening a second or third front in the north.

The Palestinian Jihad also maintains armed forces in Syria and Lebanon, who may be conscripted in both countries for strikes against northern and central Israel in solidarity with their brothers in Gaza. The Gaza headquarters initially reacted to the death of its leader by announcing that their retaliation “would have no borders.” Then, after firing some 50 rockets, Jihad stated that as yet “unprecedented retaliation” was still to come, suggesting that Israel faced attacks from additional borders.

Of course every time Israel’s enemies escalate the conflict, Israel is going to hit back even harder.

And if this conflict escalates enough, it could pull in the Iranians and all of their close allies in the region.  In recent years, Islamic Jihad has actually forged very close ties with Tehran.  The following comes from the Jerusalem Post

PIJ is important for Iran because Tehran’s regime often argues that it is the center of “resistance” against Israel and the US. In order to weave a narrative of “resistance,” it must show that it is actually doing something against Israel. Since Iran doesn’t like to sacrifice its own Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members, it works through other groups. In Lebanon it supplies Hezbollah with precision guidance for its rocket arsenal; in Gaza it has relations with PIJ and also with Hamas.

At some point, Israel will find itself fighting against Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran all at the same time.

Could it be possible that we are right on the precipice of that war?

Without a doubt, many on both sides of the conflict are eager to achieve final victory.  For example, on Tuesday one activist group in Israel was openly calling for war with Hamas

The group’s activists were seen hanging signs around the country reading, “Bibi – Give Us TheOrder!”

“The time has come for Israel to achieve victory over Hamas and all the terror organizations in Gaza,” said Im Tirtzu CEO Matan Peleg. “Peace is made with defeated enemies, and that’s the only way to restore quiet to the south. Today’s assassination of a senior Gazan terrorist was a step in the right direction, and now we need to take the next step and defeat the terror in Gaza once and for all.”

If rockets were constantly being fired at my family and friends, I think that my patience would be gone too.

There simply is not going to be lasting peace in the region as long as the status quo exists.  Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Iranian government have all pledged to permanently wipe Israel off the map, and the Israelis are going to respond to every attack against them by hitting back extremely hard.

Whether it happens today, tomorrow or at some future time, the truth is that a major war is coming to the Middle East.

And once that war happens, none of our lives will ever be the same again.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10197

Russian Submarine Breaches Israel’s Territorial Waters, Flees after Being Spotted

By David Sidman November 12, 2019 , 10:25 am

I will incite Egyptian against Egyptian: They shall war with each other, Every man with his fellow, City with city And kingdom with kingdom. Isaiah 19:2 (The Israel Bible™)

Russian nuclear submarine (courtesy: Shutterstock) 

A navy patrol boat spotted a Russian submarine three months ago about 8 miles from the coast of Israel reports Ynet. Israel’s territorial waters stretch 12 nautical miles offshore.

The IDF refused to comment on whether or not the sub compromised Israel’s security interests and also wouldn’t comment on the duration of the sea craft’s presence.

After identifying the submarine, Israel’s naval officers contacted their Russian counterparts, activating the naval coordination mechanism through via the General Staff Planning Division. The mechanism is similar to that of the armies which has been battle tested in Syria. The submarine left the area westward into the depths of the Mediterranean.

A Russian submarine’s presence in Israel’s territorial waters can entail long-term consequences. That’s because the sub is a vessel used for intelligence gathering. Russia has gone to great lengths to intervene in the region following Syria’s civil war.

In a rather vague statement, the IDF spokesman responded to the report saying: “Sometimes, naval targets are noticed by the Navy that might be perceived to be a foreign military vessel.”

In 2018, Breaking Israel News reported on a Russian military plane carrying 14 servicemen was shot down over Syria. Moscow blamed Israel who claimed that it was a Syrian anti-aircraft missile that did it.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10195

Israel is at war with Islamic Jihad. Tehran weighs opening northern fronts as punishment for Al-Atta killing

By two targeted assassinations in Gaza and Damascus, Israel on Tuesday, Nov. 12, went to war against the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Baha Abu Al-Atta, chief of the northern Gaza command, was killed in an IDF bombing raid on his home in Gaza city; Akram Al-Ajouri’s home in the Maze district of Damascus was struck by two rockets. Some sources say he escaped; others that he was injured. Al Ajouri was the liaison officer between the Palestinian Jihad in Gaza and the Iranian Al-Qods Brigades and its chief Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
The Islamic Jihad’s first response was a wide-ranging rocket barrage against key towns in central and southern Israel, including Sderot, Ashkelon, Ashdod, Gedera, Rishon Lezion and Tel Aviv, after announcing that “there were no borders.” Iron Dome downed some 20, including the rockets targeting Tel Aviv.

DEBKAfile: The IDF initially relayed messages to Gaza City that the slaying of Abu Al-Atta did not portend a new wave of targeted assassinations against Palestinian terrorist leaders, in the hope of persuading Hamas to stay out of it and let Jihad act on its own. This was intended to avert a major conflagration. This hope was largely unfounded because it is not in the power of Hamas or Egypt or even Israel to determine how far this incident escalates but Tehran.  DEBKAfile’s sources report that when Israel’s security cabinet was convening in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, so too were senior officials in Tehran, Damascus and Beirut. They were discussing whether to punish Israel by opening a second or third front in the north.
The Palestinian Jihad also maintains armed forces in Syria and Lebanon, who may be conscripted in both countries for strikes against northern and central Israel in solidarity with their brothers in Gaza. The Gaza headquarters initially reacted to the death of its leader by announcing that their retaliation “would have no borders.” Then, after firing some 50 rockets, Jihad stated that as yet “unprecedented retaliation” was still to come, suggesting that Israel faced attacks from additional borders.

Any Egyptian or UN efforts to mediate de-escalation would be irrelevant in these circumstances since neither has access to this extremist Palestinian terrorist group or its Iranian masters. And Hamas can hardly afford to stand aside in the event of a multi-front conflict erupting and is likely to be drawn into backing a fellow Palestinian terrorist organization.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10193

Turkey: Erdogan’s Campaign against the West

by Giulio Meotti
November 9, 2019 at 5:00 am

“Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one… It is its culture that gives it a common identity. The roots that have formed it, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. […] In this sense, throughout history Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. That is why I think it would be an error to equate the two continents.” — Pope Benedict XVI, Le Figaro Magazine, 2007.• In Germany, Turkey controls 900 mosques out of a total of 2,400. These Islamic centers not only serve members of the Turkish diaspora, but also stop them from assimilating into German society. Speaking with Turks in Germany, Erdogan urged them not to assimilate, and called the assimilation of migrants in Europe “a crime against humanity.”• Erdogan has also been expanding Turkey beyond its borders – starting with Cyprus, the Greek Islands, Suakin Island (Sudan) and Syria.• Mosques, migrants and the military are now Erdogan’s new weapons in his threats against the West.

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “has earned the title of Caliph” according to Turkish journalist Abdurrahman Dilipak.

Erdogan is the head of NATO’s second-largest army; he has spies throughout Europe through a network of mosques, associations and cultural centers; he has brought his country to the top of the world rankings for the number of imprisoned journalists and has shut the mouth of German comedians with the threat of legal action. By keeping migrants in Turkish refugee camps, he controls immigration to Europe.

The worse Erdogan behaves, the greater his weight in Europe. In a 2015 meeting, Erdogan reportedly was “openly mocking” European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and other “senior European leaders”, as Juncker asked Erdogan to consider how he was treated “like a prince” at a Brussels summit.

According to George Friedman:

“Turkey now is the 17th largest economy in the world, it is larger than Saudi Arabia, it has an army and military capability that is probably the best in Europe, besides the UK and they could beat the Germans in an afternoon and the French in an hour if they showed up.”

Turkey’s 2018 military budget increased to $19 billion, 24% higher than 2017, according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. Erdogan has placed Turkey’s military — once a bastion of Turkish nationalism and secularism — under his political authority. While Europe is pacifist and refuses to invest in its own security or, like Germany, support NATO’s budget, Turkey is belligerent.

Ever since his Justice and Development Party (AKP) became Turkey’s dominant political force in 2002, for Erdogan, elevating the public role of Islam has been more than a slogan. At public gatherings, the Turkish president has made the “rabia“, a hand gesture of four fingers raised and the thumb hidden, to protest the overthrow of Egypt’s Islamist then President Mohamed Morsi by Egypt’s military. Erdogan evidently sees himself as a global Islamic leader with national elections to win. Through four million Turkish Muslims in Germany and vast communities in the Netherlands, France, Austria and beyond, Erdogan does indeed have enormous influence in Europe.

As a leader of the Ummah [Islamic community], Erdogan challenged the leader of Christianity. In 2006, Pope Benedict XVI delivered a famous lecture at Germany’s University of Regensburg, where he diagnosed Islam as inherently flawed. During his address, the Pope quoted a 14thCentury Christian emperor:

“Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached”.

The Muslim world erupted in anger. In an apology tour of Erdogan’s Turkey, Benedict XVI reversed his firm position of just two years before and supported Turkey’s joining the European Union. The year before becoming Pope, then-Cardinal Ratzinger had said that Turkey should never join the European Union. “Europe is a cultural continent, not a geographical one,” Ratzinger said to Le Figaro.

“It is its culture that gives it a common identity. The roots that have formed it, that have permitted the formation of this continent, are those of Christianity. […] In this sense, throughout history Turkey has always represented another continent, in permanent contrast with Europe. There were the wars against the Byzantine empire, the fall of Constantinople, the Balkan wars, and the threat against Vienna and Austria. That is why I think it would be an error to equate the two continents.”

Ratzinger said the something similar in another instance, that “Turkey in Europe is a mistake”:

“The European continent has its own Christian soul and Turkey, which is not the Ottoman Empire in its extension but still constitutes its central core, has another soul, naturally to be respected”.

Both Benedict and Erdogan understood that Islamic Turkey has been the nemesis of Christian Europe — from October 7, 1571, when Europe inflicted a catastrophic defeat on the Ottomans at the Battle of Lepanto, until September 12, 1683, when Europe again defeated the Turks at the outskirts of Vienna, the city they had historically tried to capture as a base for the conquest of the rest of Europe.

It was in the half-century that followed the fall of Constantinople in 1453 — the great Eastern Christian center, whose collapse marked the end of the Byzantine Empire — that Christian Europe started to expel the Ottoman Turks from the continent. Now it seems as if Erdogan, by other means, is trying to pursue a historic Turkish revenge on Europe. Erdogan is seemingly using this ideology of conquest to cement his internal and external power.

Erdogan’s most powerful tool in his relations with Europe has been migrants. “You cried out when 50,000 refugees were at the Kapikule border”, Erdogan said in 2016, referring to the border with Bulgaria. “You started asking what you would do if Turkey would open the gates. Look at me — if you go further, those border gates will be open. You should know that”.

Last month, during his military operation against the Kurds, Erdogan repeated the same threat:

“Hey EU, wake up. I say it again: if you try to frame our operation there as an invasion, our task is simple: we will open the doors and send 3.6 million migrants to you.”

Europe, unable to control its own borders, is stalling.

Since he came to power, Erdogan, in a building spree, has reportedly built 17,000 mosques (one fifth of Turkey’s total). The largest is located in Camlica, the Asian shore of Istanbul. From Mali to Moscow, by way of Cambridge and Amsterdam, Erdogan is ceaselessly active in “diplomatizing” his religion. The “biggest mosque in the Balkans” is Turkish and is located in Tirana, Albania. “The largest in West Africa” was built by Erdogan in Accra, Ghana. “The largest in Central Asia” he built in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The “largest mosque in Europe” will be his new Turkish mosque in Strasbourg. He is planning to open Turkish schools in France.

Erdogan has empowered Turkey’s Directorate of Religious Affairs (Diyanet), which now has 120,000 employees and a budget the size of twelve other ministries combined. In 2004, with 72,000 employees, the Diyanet was about half that size. This is the religious network with which Erdogan has a foot in European affairs.

In Germany, Turkey controls 900 mosques out of a total of 2,400. These Islamic centers not only serve members of the Turkish diaspora, but also stop them from assimilating into German society. Speaking with Turks in Germany, Erdogan urged them not to assimilate, and called the assimilation of migrants in Europe “a crime against humanity“. He apparently wants them to remain part of Turkey and the Ummah, the global Muslim community.

Last year, Austrian authorities announced the closure of several Turkish-controlled mosques after “children in a Turkish-financed mosque re-enacting the first world war battle of Gallipoli.” According to The Guardian:

As many as 60 Turkish imams and their families face expulsion from Austria and seven mosques are due to be closed under a clampdown on what the government has called “political Islam”.

Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, said the country could no longer put up with “parallel societies, political Islam and radicalisation,” which he said had “no place in our country”.

Erdogan, however, knows that against Europe, numbers are on his side. “Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe,” Erdogan told the Turkish diaspora. Eurostat, the official statistics agency of the European Union, shows that in terms of birthrates, Turkey is ahead of Europe. In one year in Turkey, more than 1.2 million children were born, while only 5.07 million children were born in all of the EU’s 28 member states. What would Europe look like if 80 million Turks joined the EU?

Already in 1994, when Erdogan was campaigning to become the mayor of Istanbul, he talked about “the second conquest of Istanbul“. (The first conquest was the defeat of Christian Constantinople in 1453.) According to the exiled Turkish novelist Nedim Gürsel, Erdogan, when he was mayor of Istanbul, took it upon himself to commemorate the Turkish conquest of Constantinople. “Celebrating a conquest that took place more than five centuries ago may seem anachronistic, I would even say absurd, to European leaders”, Gürsel writes. “For Erdogan, the capture of Constantinople is another pretext for challenging the West and giving back to its people its repressed pride”. Last January, Erdogan chose the tomb of an Ottoman forebear to pledge a victory over Syria.

“You will not turn Istanbul into Constantinople”, Erdogan said after the Christchurch massacre. Erdogan is obsessed with history and takes it far more seriously than Europeans do. “We will change Hagia Sophia’s name from a museum to a mosque”, Erdogan said earlier this year. The Hagia Sophia, built by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I in AD 537, was for 900 years the greatest cathedral in Christendom – until 1453 when the Ottoman Empire defeated the Byzantines and took over Constantinople; then it became one of Islam’s greatest mosques. In 1935, President Mustafa Kemal Ataturk turned it into a museum; Erdogan has pledged to turn it back into a mosque, and recited a Muslim prayer in the formerly Christian site.

Erdogan has also been expanding Turkey beyond its borders – starting with Cyprus, the Greek IslandsSuakin Island (Sudan) and Syria. “We are a big family of 300 million people from the Adriatic to the Great Wall of China”, Erdogan said in a recent speech from Moldova. The borders of Turkey, he stated in Izmir, span “from Vienna to the shores of the Adriatic Sea, from East Turkistan (China’s autonomous region of Xinjiang) to the Black Sea”.

To expand his country’s influence, Erdogan is also using Turkey’s military. “Not since the days of the Ottoman Empire has the Turkish military had such an extensive global footprint”, the journalist Selcan Hacaoglu reports. The Turkish-American political scientist Soner Cagaptaytitled his new book, Erdogan’s Empire.

Mosques, migrants and the military are now Erdogan’s new weapons in his campaign against the West.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10191

China in the Middle East: From Observer to Security Player

By Emil Avdaliani November 10, 2019 

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,339, November 10, 2019

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: There is much debate both within and without China over whether or not its economic interests in the region will force it to play a more active security/military role in the Middle East. In fact, recent political and economic trends in the region indicate that a shift in China’s approach to the Middle East along these lines has already started.  

So far, most Chinese cooperation with Middle Eastern countries has focused on energy and economic relations. But things are changing. Recent developments indicate that Beijing is now strengthening its ties to Middle Eastern countries in areas such as defense, culture, and the toning down of mutual criticism.

China has concluded partnership agreements with 15 Middle Eastern countries so far, but several warrant special attention—particularly Saudi Arabia. The kingdom is now China’s largest trading partner in West Asia, and Beijing is Riyadh’s largest trading partner in the world.

This is not an isolated case. China is also the UAE’s largest trading partner. More than 200,000 Chinese nationals reside in the UAE, and the Dubai Port is a vital global shipping and logistics hub for Chinese goods.

Moreover, the UAE and Saudi Arabia recently voiced their intention to introduce Chinese-language studies into their national educational curricula. Notably, both states (as well as others in the Middle East) not only abstained from criticizing China over its alleged persecution of the Uighur population in Xinjiang but even defended it.

In the last decade, as Chinese fears have grown over the safe operation of sea lanes, the Red Sea, the Suez Canal, and the Bab al-Mandeb Strait have come under increased Chinese attention. The gaining of influence in and around geographical choke points for global trade and oil and gas shipment has become pivotal to Beijing’s foreign policy in western Eurasia.

No wonder Egypt features so strongly in China’s investment agenda. Billions of dollars have been invested by Beijing in Egypt. China is helping Egypt build a new administrative capital in the desert outside Cairo as well as a Red Sea port and industrial zone in Ain Sukhna. Egyptian president Sisi has made at least six trips to Beijing since 2014, compared to just two to the country’s traditional security partner, the US.

The growing connections between Middle Eastern states and China are sensitive for the West. The US’s evolving international position has led it to discard some of its responsibilities in Eurasia, which has had the effect of causing small countries to revisit their relationships with the US and consider the rising China.

Another interesting Middle Eastern partner for China is Iran. Tehran wishes to establish relationships with global powers to balance US pressure. Its growing partnership with Moscow fits this paradigm, as does its increasing closeness with Beijing.

Iran could prove much more important to China than other Middle East states. Its growing isolation from the West is likely to continue in the coming years, which will push it to work ever more closely with China. Iran’s strategic location and human resources, as well as its intention to serve as a civilizational center of gravity for neighboring states, could divert American military and economic capabilities away from the South China Sea, which would work in Beijing’s favor.

Iranian troops or their allies are operating in many countries around the Middle East, and the Iranian navy is active in the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz. All of this dilutes US power across the Eurasian continent. Moreover, Iran’s location can enable China’s Belt and Road Initiative to pervade the region, whether on land or sea (the Caspian and the Persian Gulf).

China publicly rejects any notion of its seeking military or security dominance in the Middle East. Beijing understands that it still lacks the knowledge, networks of contacts, and necessary authority (on a par with Western authority) to proclaim its geopolitical aims in the troublesome region. Despite this, westerners often take it for granted that China is in fact seeking domination in Eurasia. After all, why would the country want to spend billions and station hundreds of soldiers either in the Middle East or elsewhere in Eurasia?

There is a grand debate within China itself on whether Beijing’s economic interests in the Middle East could force it to become a more active security/military player in the region. Though there are hopes that this can be avoided, there are already signs pointing in this direction.

Beijing recently announced its intention to take part in anti-piracy initiatives in the Persian Gulf following incidents with oil tankers. With the US diminishing its presence in Eurasia overall, China will have to address the geopolitical vacuum. Spending billions will not solve every problem, but economic development of the region could forestall tensions for some time.

It is likely that China will have to increase its presence in Western Eurasia. Concrete steps have already been taken: Beijing opened a base in Djibouti and set up military installations on the border with Afghanistan and in Tajikistan.

As China grows its position in the region, it will need partners to manage inter-state conflicts. Russia is a likely choice, but Moscow, like Turkey and Iran, will not be particularly interested in sharing military/security positions in the Middle East that were gained by waging war in Syria and working in concert to constrain the American position.

Overall, it can be argued that Beijing will continue to be extremely careful not to become too involved in the region. As far as China is concerned, Russia and the US can keep responsibility for security in the region. What is crucial for Beijing is multipolarity, and it will pursue that principle assiduously.

But as time goes on, China will find it increasingly difficult to stay above the fray in the Middle East. It will have to become more responsive to rising challenges to its businesses and sea and land trade routes.

This will inevitably lead to greater insecurity between the US and China. Top US officials have already warned about China’s efforts to gain influence in the Middle East, which could undermine defense cooperation between the US and its traditional regional allies in the region. The Middle East is thus transforming into yet another arena of competition between the US and China.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=10189