BY ADAM ELIYAHU BERKOWITZ | BIBLICAL NEWS
“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 BibleTM)
ONE PLANE SHOT DOWN LEADS TO OLD CONFLICT REKINDLED
On Tuesday, Armenia claimed that neighboring Azerbaijan shot down one of its warplanes, killing the pilot, over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region of the border. Azerbaijan denied the claim. According to Armenia, a SU-25 from its air force was shot down in Armenian airspace by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet that took off from Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan has repeatedly claimed that its air force does not have F-16 fighter jets however, Turkey, a NATO member, does have the US-made fighter jet.
Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry countered by claiming that Armenian forces shelled the Dashkesan region in Azerbaijan. Armenian officials confirmed the claim, saying that their shelling was in response to Azerbaijani forces firing on an Armenian military unit in the town of Vardenis, setting a bus on fire and killing one civilian.
Turkish military advisers were reportedly on the ground alongside Azerbaijani fighters who were using Turkish military equipment and aircraft. Armenia also accused Turkey of transporting thousands of Syrian mercenaries to support the Azerbaijani military.
Azerbaijan responded by accusing Russia of sending large numbers of weapons to Armenia.
It was reported that 84 Armenian servicemen have been killed so far. Azerbaijan says 10 civilians have died on its side but has yet to give details on military casualties. This current outbreak is considered the worst in recent years.
The region is mainly inhabited by ethnic Armenians and has been fighting for decades to secede Azerbaijan. Though based on longstanding territorial disputes, the current outbreak of violence is considered to be a proxy-conflict between Russia, supporting Armenia, and Turkey, supporting Azerbaijan.
Russia has a defense pact with Armenia and a military base in Armenia but has been calling for calm.
LOCAL CONFLICT WITH REGIONAL IMPLICATIONS: CHINA IS “GREAT ENEMY”
Rabbi Ken Spiro, a historian and Senior Lecturer and Researcher for Aish HaTorah Yeshiva, emphasized that this local conflict had regional implications.
“There doesn’t seem to be a direct influence on Israel other than the bigger picture power struggles,” Rabbi Spiro told Israel365 News. “But these are substantial. Putin wants to reestablish the Russian Empire and Erdogan wants to reestablish the Ottoman Turkish sultanate.These guys have been duking it out precisely in these region for centuries. There is certainly a religious element in the conflict but the major issue has been the Bosporous and Russian access from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.”
“Under President Obama, due to his isolationaism, Russia got this Mediterranean access by establishing a naval base in Latakia, Syria. This is huge for them.” “Erdogan is looking to expand his influence as a leader in the Sunni world and establish his reputation as the defender of Sunni Islam. He can do this by supporting Azerbajain in their conflict against a Christian country.”
The two countries are both bordered on the south by Iran which has remained conspicuously silent in the recent flare-up.
“Iran will stay out of this because as Shiites, they have no interest in defending Sunnis. The only Sunni Iran supports is Hamas and that is because of the common Zionist enemy.”
“Putin has no interest in expanding this conflict. Russia is not really a superpower anymore. They lost a lot of territory and economically it is a mess. Russia is a sick old man company. The Soviet Union had an agenda to push to actively export its socialist ideology. Putin does not have an agenda. He wants to cement the control over the territory around him and building up a buffer zone against the West.”
“China has taken on the role of the ‘great enemy’ with an agenda posing the greatest threat to the Western World but, unlike the Soviet Union, they do not want to take over the world militarily. They are dominating through information and technology which is a much deeper level of control. Right now, Russia has national interests but China has international interests. Radical Islam, in particular Iran, also has an international ideology. But Iran’s economy is a mess. China is a serious threat.”
Rabbi Spiro stated that when discussing global politics on this level, it is absolutely relevant to refer to prophetic principles such as Gog and Magog. “I don’t attempt to apply specific identities to countries today,” Rabbo Spiro said. “The descriptions in Zechariah of chariots and horses is clearly not meant to be literal or relevant for the 21st Century.”
“I look at Gog and Magog as a global holistic phenomenon. The prophets describe a time when Israel is trying to reestablish itself as a country, which is what we see today. Gog and Magog are the nations of the world line up to try to prevent that. That is certainly the UN General Assembly. Not every country but the countries that stood up to defend Israel are few and far between.”
“It is always a mistake to try to apply the title of Gog and Magog to one country. It is a deeper ideological struggle. Just as the US is a deeper struggle that is greater than the single country. Gog and Magog is the ultimate ideological struggle. Different countries and different people fulfilled these roles throughout history. People can choose a side according to which ideology they identify with, which is what is happening in the world today. People are being forced to choose a side.”
SMALL SPARK SETTING OFF GOG-MAGOG WAR
Rabbi Pinchas Winston, a prolific end-of days author, noted that this conflict is to the north of Israel, placing it in the general direction the Gog and Magog conflict is prophesied to break out. Rabbi Winston preceeded his explanation of the situation with the disclaimer that he was not a prophet and, as such, had no definitive idea of what the future holds.
“But what is clear is that the War of Gog and Magog, despite being a major conflict, could be set off by a smaller ‘spark’ of a conflict, something localized that grows bigger. This conflict between Armenia and Azerbajain has threads that connect to the world at large. Russia is involved as is the conflict between Christianity and Islam.”
“From the divine providence persepective, this could be `is a small fire that could cause a larger destabilization. These smaller conflicts are happening with more frequency which raises the concern that they could be building up until one small conflict that doesn’t seem serious will tip it all over, resulting in Gog and Magog.”
BACKGROUND OF ARMENIA-AZERBAJAIN CONFLICT
Azerbaijan and Armenia do not have diplomatic relations and have frequently clashed. They are separated by different ethnicities and religions with Armenia being 95% Christian whereas Azerbaijan is 91% Muslim.
When the USSR collapsed in 1991, Armenia and Azerbaijan which had been Soviet republics became independent nations. war broke out over the Nagorno-Karabakh region killing about 30,000 people and displacing an estimated one million. Karabakh is a region within Azerbaijan that has been under the control of ethnic Armenian forces. A ceasefire was signed in 1994 but despite the ceasefire, hundreds of soldiers from both sides have been killed in clashes.
The involvement of Turkey in the conflict against Armenia raises disturbing memories of the genocide perpetrated by the Ottoman Empire between 1914 and 1923 in which an estimated 1.5 million Christian Armenians were murdered.