Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

U.S. Fighters Circle Baltics as Putin Fans Fear of Russia

Centuries of Soviet and tsarist oppression taught the three Baltic states to bar their doors whenever the Kremlin issues marching orders. Now they also scramble NATO jets.

President Vladimir Putin’s decision to hold snap military drills in the Baltic Sea last week just as he was pouring troops into Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula sent shock waves through Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which demanded, and got, military support from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The U.S. deployed six warplanes to Lithuania yesterday to bolster defenses in the Baltics for the first time since they joined the alliance in 2004, expanding the squadron to 10. Another dozen will arrive in Poland on March 10, the country’s Defense Ministry said. About 150,000 soldiers took part in Putin’s drills, including 3,500 from the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad, Russia’s exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

“Russia today is dangerous,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters at an emergency meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels. “After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries. They are trying to rewrite the borders after the Second World War in Europe.”

Putin Warning

Angst over Russian expansionism is spreading across the former Soviet Union.

Moldova, which borders Ukraine and Romania, has its own secessionist region, Transnistria, where Russian troops are stationed. The former Soviet state is very “anxious” about Putin’s brinkmanship, Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said in an interview in New York. Leanca said he called on President Barack Obama during a meeting this week to provide “strong U.S. leadership” to contain Putin.

The fear is particularly acute in Lithuania, the first republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union, in 1990. Putin, who’s called the Soviet breakup the following year the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century, accused Lithuania and Poland on March 4 of training the “extremists” who ousted Kremlin-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in an “unconstitutional” coup. Russian state television aired footage of a Lithuanian farm where it said the rebels stayed.

‘Incite Hatred’

Those “groundless insinuations” are attempts “to justify aggression and to incite hatred against Lithuanians,” Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said on his Twitter account.

A senior U.S. military official said yesterday that the Pentagon isn’t planning additional moves for now beyond the deployments of F-16s to Poland and F-15s to Lithuania. Further actions to signal U.S. resolve would only be taken if Russia adds to tensions in Crimea, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss military planning.

Putin on March 1 sought and obtained parliamentary approval to use force to defend Russian speakers abroad if they are threatened. That prompted U.S. Vice President Joe Biden and Army General Martin Dempsey to call leaders in the three nations to pledge U.S. support.

“The Crimea scenario resembles the occupation of the Baltic states by the USSR in 1940,” Latvian Foreign Minister Edgards Rinkevics said on his Twitter account. “History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.”

Trying to build up their defenses against Russia, the Baltic countries rushed toward integration with the West, joining the EU and NATO in 2004. While Estonia and Latvia have already adopted the euro, Lithuania is on track to join the monetary union next year.

NATO Drills

The Baltic states need more NATO military drills on land and at sea to ensure their security, Grybauskaite said in a statement today. The military alliance said on March 5 that it halted day-to-day civilan and military contacts with Russia to protest the Kremlin’s moves in Ukraine.

NATO’s decision shows a “prejudiced, biased approach” to the events unfolding in Ukraine, Alexander Lukashevich, a spokesman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry, said in a statement.

Like Ukraine, the Baltics, home to more than 6 million people, have a large Russian minority. About a quarter of the population in Latvia and Estonia consider themselves Russian. In Lithuania, about 6 percent do.

Latvia and Estonia didn’t grant citizenship automatically to people who moved there during the Soviet era, classifying them as either non-citizens or stateless. Latvia has about 46,000 Russian citizens and 291,000 non-citizens, while Estonia has 95,000 Russian citizens and 91,000 stateless people, government data show. Lithuania, which has fewer Russians, granted everyone citizenship after independence.

Forces Unleashed

“The real problem is how the situation in Ukraine and Putin’s response to it might unleash other forces in places like eastern Latvia,” said Michael E. Smith, professor of International Relations at the University of Aberdeen.

“Even if he has no intention to support local nationalist movements, these kinds of things can spiral out of control,” Smith said by phone from Scotland. “Given the size of the Russian diaspora in the various former Soviet republics, there is a huge capacity for miscalculation.”

Russia’s ambassador to Latvia, Aleksandr Veshnyakov, said on national TV there are “no grounds” for concern that Russia may intervene militarily in the Baltics.

Ukraine was set to take a major step on the path toward EU membership with an association and free-trade accord with the bloc. Yanukovych backed out of the agreement a week before its scheduled signing in November, opting instead for $15 billion of Russian aid and cheaper gas. The ousted leader, who is now in Russia, also pursued closer ties with Russia’s customs union with Kazakhstan and Belarus, Putin’s answer to the EU.

Russian ‘Propaganda’

EU and NATO membership for the Baltic states hasn’t stopped Putin from continuing to exert Russian influence in the region. In September, as Lithuania led the EU’s push for a trade accord with Ukraine, Russia imposed a ban on Lithuanian dairy products, one of the country’s biggest exports. It also increased checks at the border, slowing trade.

“Propaganda against Lithuania sends the message that Russia does not accept Lithuania’s activeness in Ukraine,” said Kristi Raik, an analyst at the Finnish Institute of International Affairs in Helsinki. “If Lithuania continues vocal support to Ukraine and other eastern neighbors, Moscow has ways to punish Lithuania.”

In 2006, irked by Lithuania’s decision to sell the only oil refinery in the Baltics to Poland’s PKN Orlen rather than a Russian company, Russia halted oil supplies by pipeline, forcing the refiner to seek more expensive transportation by sea. The link remains idle today.

Cyberattack, War

In 2007, after Estonia relocated a Soviet World War II memorial, the entire country came under cyberattack. Computers from around the world were used to overload servers with a barrage of access requests that disabled government, banking and media websites. Estonia’s government said the assault was coordinated from inside Russia. Russia denied any involvement.

A year later, after Russia invaded Georgia to defend two breakaway regions, Lithuania led calls for the EU to halt trade talks with the Kremlin in protest. The bloc’s leadership opted at the time against isolating Russia, its largest gas supplier and third-largest trading partner.

“The Georgian war in 2008 was a very bad precedent,” Linkevicius, the Lithuanian foreign minister, said by phone on March 1. “We haven’t learned the lesson and we are seeing something very similar now continuing at another location.”

This time the EU is reacting. Heads of state and government agreed to prepare sanctions against selected Russian officials after the Crimean referendum decision swayed some leaders who wanted to delay such a move. Trade and visa negotiations were also halted.

‘Total Obedience’

Lithuanian officials say Russia’s OAO Gazprom (OGZD), the sole gas supplier in the Baltic states, charges the country at least 25 percent more than other consumers in Europe, where it has a quarter of the market. Lithuania is suing the state-run company for more than 4 billion litai ($1.6 billion), the amount the government says it overpaid.

“Our experience with our big neighbor is definitely complicated,” Grybauskaite, the Lithuanian president, said in an interview on Nov. 18. “With smaller countries, it’s either total obedience or you’re an enemy. There’s no desire to recognize others as equals, but rather various means are used to pressure other countries, economically and politically.”

gog

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6115

Iran Has the Bomb

Just some thoughts on why Iran is dangerous!

By Peter Vincent Pry

For several years now, myself and others have been warning that Iran probably already has the bomb. Contrary to Obama Administration promises that they will know when Iran crosses “the red line” to build the bomb, we have warned that such claims are false.

U.S. intelligence is not good enough to so precisely and with such high confidence monitor and verify the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

 

Defense Science Board Report

A recently published Defense Department study “Assessment of Nuclear Monitoring and Verification Technologies” (January 2014), by the blue ribbon Defense Science Board, concludes the following:

“Closing the nation’s global nuclear monitoring gaps should be a national priority. It will require, however, a level of commitment and sustainment we don’t normally do well without a crisis. …monitoring for proliferation… presents challenges for which current solutions are either inadequate, or more often, do not exist. Among these challenges are… Small inventories of weapons and materials…. Small nuclear enterprises designed to produce, store, and deploy only a small number of weapons…Undeclared facilities and/or covert operations, such as testing below detection thresholds, or acquisition of materials or weapons through theft or purchase… Use of non‐traditional technologies…”

These intelligence blind-spots align perfectly with U.S. monitoring gaps against Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The Defense Science Board Report is tantamount to an admission that Iran probably already has the bomb.

Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program

Like the North Korean nuclear weapons program, Iran’s nuclear weapons program is clandestine, mostly underground, mostly inaccessible to international inspections, and impenetrable to U.S. national technical means. Most of what we know about Iran’s nuclear program has been disclosed voluntarily by Tehran to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The U.S. did not even suspect Iran was working on the bomb until 2002, after the program was in operation for some 15 years.

We should know from our own experience that Iran probably already has the bomb. During its World War II Manhattan Project, when nuclear weapons were only a theoretical possibility, and working with 1940s era technology, the U.S. built two atomic bombs of radically different design that both worked perfectly — in a mere three years.

Iran, with access to copious unclassified information on nuclear weapon designs, working with 21st Century technology, helped by the A.Q. Khan network, North Korea, Russia, and China, supposedly has been unable to build the bomb — after thirty years of trying. This is an implausibly optimistic assessment.

North Korea developed its first nuclear weapons in no more than 8 years.

Unreported by the mainstream media are warnings that Iran might already have the bomb by such experts as former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey; former Chairman of the National Intelligence Council Fritz Ermarth; President Reagan’s Science Advisor Dr. William R. Graham; former Director of the Defense Nuclear Agency Vice Admiral Robert Monroe; former Director of the Strategic Defense Initiative Ambassador Henry Cooper; and Israeli intelligence officers, the latter going public in the Israeli newspaper Maariv in September 2013.

Historically, the U.S. intelligence community has underestimated and been surprised by foreign nuclear weapon programs. They were surprised by the first Soviet A-bomb test in 1949, by the Soviet H-bomb test in 1955, by China’s first nuclear test in 1964, by discovery after the 1991 Persian Gulf War that Iraq under Saddam Hussein was within 6 months of developing an atomic bomb, by Pakistan and India’s nuclear tests in 1998, and by North Korea’s nuclear test in 2006.

Nuclear Testing Not Necessary

Nuclear testing is not necessary to develop a nuclear weapon deliverable by aircraft or missile. The U.S. Hiroshima bomb (a “gun-type” uranium bomb) was not tested before use — Hiroshima was the test. Israel, South Africa, and North Korea all developed nuclear weapons without nuclear testing.

North Korea developed its first nuclear weapon by 1993, according to a declassified CIA report and Senate testimony by then Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey. North Korea’s first nuclear test years later, in 2006, was probably for political purposes — nuclear blackmail of the U.S. and its allies — and to develop more sophisticated nuclear weapons.

Iran and North Korea are strategic partners and by treaty and in practice share science and technology. North Korean scientists are present in Iran helping its missile and nuclear programs. Iranian scientists reportedly have been present at all three North Korean nuclear tests.

A prudent U.S. foreign and defense policy would assume that Iran’s nuclear weapons program is probably on a par with North Korea’s.

See No Evil

America has a bigger problem with its intelligence community than the inadequacy of national technical means to monitor rogue state and terrorist nuclear weapon programs.

Intelligence community leaders General James Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, and Michael Morrell, until recently the Deputy Director of CIA, are proven liars, willing to lie to Congress and the American people to cover up the failures and transgressions of the Obama Administration.

Clapper lied about National Security Agency spying on the American people. He lied again in covering for President Obama’s false assertion that North Korea does not have nuclear missiles — during the crisis over North Korea’s threatened nuclear missile strikes in 2013 — belittling the Defense Intelligence Agency’s accurate assessment that Pyongyang does, in fact, have nuclear armed missiles.

Morrell lied when he altered CIA talking points on Benghazi to protect then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama Administration.

Clapper and Morrell are clear indicators that the Obama Administration has corrupted — the technical word is “politicized” — the intelligence community. How can Congress and the American people trust their intelligence leaders to tell the truth about anything that reflects badly on this White House? The fish rots from the head down.

The biggest liar is in the White House.

The Obama Administration’s Geneva interim agreement with Iran is probably calculated to kick the can down the road so some future administration will get blamed if Iran eventually does a nuclear test. The model is the Clinton Administration’s Agreed Framework with North Korea, which never had any realistic chance of denuclearizing North Korea, but kicked the can to the Bush Administration, so they got blamed for the North Korean bomb when Pyongyang tested in 2006.

Nuclear Surprise

If Iran already has the bomb, why have they not yet tested?

Fritz Ermarth thinks Iran is following the example of North Korea, and probably wants to clandestinely build such robust capabilities so that its nuclear status will become irreversible.

Israel and South Africa never tested because they elected to pursue a policy of deliberate ambiguity, to reap the deterrence benefits of being known nuclear weapon states while avoiding the international opprobrium of making their nuclear status official by testing.

However, most of my colleagues and I conclude from analysis of Iranian and Jihadi statements and writings that Tehran is not interested in the bomb for status or deterrence. The word “deterrence” does not even appear in their military writings about the bomb. It is all about nuclear use, in particular a nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that would cause a protracted national blackout, potentially killing millions of Americans through starvation and societal collapse.

For example: “If the world’s industrial countries fail to devise effective ways to defend themselves against dangerous electronic assaults, then they will disintegrate within a few years…. American soldiers would not be able to find food to eat nor would they be able to fire a single shot.” (Tehran, Nashriyeh-e Siasi Nezami)

The mullahs who run Iran want the bomb for reasons of religious eschatology having to do with the Shiite version of Apocalypse, the return of their 12th Imam, and the ultimate triumph of Islam in the secular and spiritual universe. In this vision, the Jews and Infidels (that’s us) must convert or die.

The Islamic Bomb has nothing to do with deterrence theory or geostrategic calculations familiar to Western nuclear strategists. The Mullahs have their own timetable for the Apocalypse. They hold a “12th Imam Conference” in Tehran every year to study signs and portents. Their development of nuclear weapons, and the failure of the West to stop them, is itself interpreted as one of the “miracles” indicating the Apocalypse is nigh.

The possibility of nuclear EMP attack is another “miracle” as it destroys the high-tech society and weaponry that is the source of U.S. strength. In this view, Western materialism and worship of the False God that is Technology becomes our downfall.

A Nuclear EMP attack would cause us to destroy ourselves by means of the corrupt lifestyles of an anti-spiritual civilization wholly focused and dependent upon high-tech materialism. We would die for our sins in the perfect act of divine retribution:

“In the context of the final battle… all of the planes and satellites will fall, computers will fail, other equipment will be made useless and… the Earth will be shaken … by nuclear war,” prophesy Abdallah and Shayk Muhammed an-Naqshbandi, “Technology will stop or turn against the Americans.”

The Congressional EMP Commission warned that Iran has several times detonated its Shahab III missile at high altitudes, apparently simulating a nuclear EMP attack. Iran has also demonstrated the capability to launch a ballistic missile from a freighter and make a nuclear EMP strike anonymously, and so perhaps escape retaliation. Iran has also orbited several satellites on trajectories consistent with practicing a surprise nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Iran has not conducted a nuclear test because its theocracy is not interested in diplomatic “signaling” or Western theories of nuclear deterrence and arms control bargaining. When the mullahs are ready, they will make a surprise nuclear attack. The vaporization of New York City and an EMP attack that crashes American society will be their nuclear tests.

The bottom line is that Iran is a nuclear truck bomb headed our way.

iran missile

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6106

Moscow will halt military steps in Ukraine – only after a US guarantee not to post missile shield there

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report March 3, 2014, 4:13 PM (IST)

As Washington and the Europeans – and especially the UK – continue to decry Russian military aggression, the US and Russians have quietly entered into intense negotiations on a compromise for resolving their dispute over Ukraine, debkafile’s Washington and Moscow sources report.  

Moscow insists on keeping in place the military forces which took control of Crimea over the weekend, but is ready to discuss terms for restraining the Russian army from advancing into the Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine.
The exchanges between the two powers are going through Berlin. The German government is making every effort to dispel the winds of war coming in from the east. Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Vladimir Putin conferred Sunday night by phone and decided to talk again about ways of promoting the negotiations.

Our sources were unable to confirm that Merkel ever said to President Barack Obama when she reported on the conversation in reference to Putin that “she was not sure he was in touch with reality. He lives in another world.”

Senior official sources reported instead that the chancellor had proposed to Putin that Russian troops be withdrawn in stages from Crimea and their place taken by European Union observers.

She also suggested that the interim government provide guarantees to refrain from occupying the regions vacated by the Russian army or harming the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine.

In effect, Chancellor Merkel added her voice to a formulation taking shape in consultations Sunday at EU and NATO headquarters in Brussels, which called for “an inclusive political process in Ukraine based on democratic values, respect for human rights, minorities and the rule of law, which fulfills the democratic aspirations of the entire Ukrainian people.”

Monday, EU foreign ministers began considering how these lofty principles could be applied in practice. One idea gaining ground was for European contact groups to circulate Ukraine and discuss arrangements based on these principles with local authorities.
However, according to our US and Russian sources, Putin is after hard, practical strategic gains, principally, a demilitarized Crimea that would not threaten Russia from its western doorstep.
In fact, the Russian president has couched his demands for further negotiations under four headings:

1.  The Kiev government whichever form it takes must sign an obligation to abstain from any ties with NATO.
2.  Neither the US, NATO or any other power will deploy X-Band or BX-1 radar stations on Ukraine territory whether on land, sea or air. This guarantee would additionally cover elements of an anti-missile missile shield and ballistic missiles placing Russia in their sights.
3.  Restrictions will govern the types of weapons allowed the Ukrainian army.
4.  Local military bodies will be established to protect the Russian-speaking and ethnic Russian regions of Ukraine.
Putin emphasized in his conversation with Merkel that, until those four conditions are met, Russian forces would remain where they are in Crimea and if this was deemed necesssary, advance into other parts of Ukraine.

This list of demands was at the back of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s assertion Monday that Russian troops were needed in Ukraine “to protect Russian interests and citizens – until the normalization of the political situation.” Russia, he said, was defending human rights against “ultranationalist threats.”

It was evident from these words and deeds that Moscow finds the interim government in Kiev unacceptable Moscow and will make every effort to remove it.
US Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to pay a visit to Kiev Tuesday, March 4. He follows British Secretary of State William Hague who paid homage to the former protesters in the Ukraine Monday. “Russia has created a tens and dangerous situation, Hague said, calling it “the biggest European crisis in the 21st century.”

Such declarations are unlikely to put Putin off his course, but there is little more that the West can do to turn the clock back to a more advantageous moment in the Kiev fracas.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6099

Putin gets permission to use military in Ukraine; parliament wants to pull ambassador in DC

Published March 01, 2014

FoxNews.com

The Russian parliament unanimously voted Saturday to grant President Vladimir Putin permission to mobilize the country’s military in Ukraine and asked that the country’s ambassador in Washington be recalled after earlier statements by President Obama.

Putin says the move is needed to protect ethnic Russians and the personnel of a Russian military base in Ukraine’s strategic region of Crimea. But the request came a day after Obama warned Moscow that “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily in Ukraine.

“I’m submitting a request for using the armed forces of the Russian Federation on the territory of Ukraine pending the normalization of the socio-political situation in that country,” Putin said before the vote.

Putin’s call came as pro-Russian demonstrations broke out in Ukraine’s Russian-speaking east, where protesters raised Russian flags and beat up supporters of the new Ukrainian government.

Russia’s move sharply raised the stakes in the conflict following the ouster of Ukraine’s pro-Russian president last week by a protest movement aimed at turning Ukraine toward the European Union and away from Russia. Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” — a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis, and raised fears that Moscow is moving to intervene on the strategic peninsula where Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based.

The move also appears to formalize what Ukrainian officials described as an ongoing deployment of Russian troops in the strategic region of Crimea. His motion loosely refers to the “territory of Ukraine” rather than specifically to Crimea, raising the possibility that Moscow could use military force in other Russian-speaking provinces in eastern and southern Ukraine where many oppose the new authorities in Kiev.

In Crimea, the pro-Russian regional prime minister had earlier claimed control of the military and police there and asked Putin for help in keeping peace, sharpening the discord between the two neighboring Slavic countries.

Sergei Aksenov, the head of the main pro-Russia party on the peninsula, said in a statement reported by local and Russian news agencies that he appealed to Russian President Vladimir Putin “for assistance in guaranteeing peace and calmness on the territory of the autonomous republic of Crimea.”

Aksenov declared that the armed forces, the police, the national security service and border guards will answer only to his orders. He said any commanders who don’t agree should leave their posts.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry, meanwhile, said unidentified gunmen sent by Kiev had attempted overnight to seize the Crimea region’s Interior Ministry offices and that people had been wounded in the “treacherous provocation,” Reuters reported.

Ukrainian border guard vessels were put on combat alert in the Crimea region on Saturday and were leaving port to prevent the capture of military bases and ships, Interfax news agency quoted the border guard service as saying, according to Reuters.

Russian troops moved into Crimea Friday, U.S. officials told Fox News, prompting Ukraine to accuse Russia of an “armed invasion.”

Ukraine’s defense minister said on Saturday Russia had “recently” brought 6,000 additional personnel into Ukraine and that the Ukrainian military were on high alert in the Crimea region, Reuters reported.

Ukraine’s Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk opened a cabinet meeting by calling on Russia not to provoke discord in Crimea.

“We call on the government and authorities of Russia to recall their forces, and to return them to their stations,” Yatsenyuk was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. “Russian partners, stop provoking civil and military resistance in Ukraine.”

At the White House, President Obama said the U.S. government is “deeply concerned” by reports of Russian “military movements” and warned any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty would be “deeply destabilizing.”

U.S. officials told Fox News they see “evidence of air and maritime movement into and out of Crimea by Russian forces” although the Pentagon declined to officially “characterize” the movement.

Earlier Friday, Agence France Press quoted a top Ukranian official as saying Russian aircraft carrying nearly 2,000 suspected troops have landed at a military air base near the regional capital of the restive Crimean peninsula.

A spokesman for the Ukrainian border service said eight Russian transport planes have landed in Crimea with unknown cargo.

Serhiy Astakhov told The Associated Press that the Il-76 planes arrived unexpectedly Friday and were given permission to land, one after the other, at Gvardeiskoye air base, north of the regional capital, Simferopol.

Astakhov said the people in the planes refused to identify themselves and waved off customs officials, saying they didn’t require their services.

Earlier in the day, Russian armored vehicles rumbled across Crimea and reports surfaced of troops being deployed at airports and a coast guard base – signs of a more heavy-handed approach to the crisis from Moscow.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6090

Russian military drill may be lead-in to Crimea occupation and Ukraine split

There is no way that President Vladimir Putin will relinquish Russian control of the Crimean peninsula and its military bases there – or more particularly the big Black Sea naval base at Sevastopol. This military stronghold is the key to Russia’s Middle East policy. If it is imperiled, so too are Russia’s military posture in Syria and its strategic understandings with Iran.
This peril raised its head Wednesday, Feb. 26, when pro-Russian and pro-European protesters clashed violently in the Crimean town of Simferopol, the Peninsula’s financial and highway hub.

Most of the protesters against Moscow were members of the minority Tatar community, who had gathered from around the region to demand that Crimea accept Kiev rule.
The majority population is Russian speaking and fought the Tatar demonstrators. However,  rival historic claims to this strategic peninsula were in full flight, sparking red lights in Moscow to danger.

The Tatars ruled Crimea in the 18th century. If they manage to expel Russian influence from Simferopol and then the rest of the region, it would be the signal for dozens of the small peoples who make up the Russian Federation to go into separatist mode and raise the flags of mutiny. The Kremlin is therefore bound to nip the Tatar outbreak in the bud to save Russia.

And so, Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to stage an urgent four-day drill to test the combat readiness of Russian military forces in central and western Russia, starting with a high alert for the military and the deployment of some units to shooting ranges.
The exercise will involve Russia’s Baltic and Northern Fleets and its air force.
In a televised statement after a meeting of top military officials in Moscow, defense minister Gen. Shoigu said the forces “must be ready to bomb unfamiliar testing grounds” and be “ready for action in crisis situations that threaten the nation’s military security.”

A senior Russian lawmaker on Tuesday told pro-Russia activists in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula that Moscow will protect them if their lives are in danger.
The Russian president’s military move Wednesday signaled his readiness to send his army into Ukraine and divide the country, if Moscow’s national interests and the Russian-speaking population of Ukraine are at stake. Having broadcast that message, Putin will now wait to see if it picked up by Washington and Brussels for action to restrain the new authorities in Kiev.

But it is no longer certain how much control Western powers have over the former protesters of Kiev, who appear to have taken the bit between their teeth

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6085

Rouhani: Jerusalem Should be Liberated from Israel

Jerusalem should “be liberated from the yoke of Israel,” says Rouhani at meeting with the speaker of the PA parliament.

Elad Benari

Iran’s President, Hassan Rouhani, on Wednesday said that Jerusalem should “be liberated from the yoke of Israel.”

The comments were made during a meeting in Tehran between Rouhani and the Speaker or the Palestinian Authority (PA) parliament, Salim Zanoun, and were reported by the semi-official Fars news agency.

During the meeting, according to Fars, Rouhani expressed the support of the Iranian government and nation “for the oppressed people of Palestine”, and called for the “liberation of the Holy Quds (Jerusalem) from the yoke of Israel.”

“One of the wishes of the Iranian nation is liberation of the Holy Quds,” the Iranian President was quoted as having said, adding that he hoped “the Palestinian nation and the entire Muslim world will find a serious solution to this occupation through unity and integrity”.

Zanoun, for his part, praised the Iranian nation as a great nation, and said, according to Fars, “I hope that during your presidency you will see a great development in the Muslim world, especially with regard to Palestine.”

Wednesday’s meeting marks the second time in recent weeks that Iranian officials have met PA officials. In January, Jibril Rajoub, a senior member of the Fatah movement, visited Tehran.

Rajoub vowed during the visit that Fatah “will not stop the resistance until the establishment of an independent Palestinian government” in eastern Jerusalem.

Rouhani, who has tried to woo the world with “an attack of smiles” and by claiming he is moderate, has made anti-Israel statements just like his predecessor, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Last week, Rouhani warned that Iran would issue a harsh response against any attackers, including Israel.

The Iranian government also released a statement in which it called “to remove the cancerous tumor – Israel.”

Shortly after being elected last summer, Rouhani called Israel an “old wound” that “should be removed.”

Iranian media later claimed that Rouhani’s remarks were distorted.

Jordanian Sheikh: “Israel Belongs to the Jews”

Yossi Aloni : Feb 20, 2014 : Israel Today

Sheikh Ahmed Aladoan of Amman has caused a “storm in the Arab media” after slamming the use of the name “Palestine” and Palestinian anti-Israel propaganda.

(Jordan)—Sheikh Ahmed Aladoan of Amman, a member of Jordan’s well-known Adwan tribe, posted to Facebook this week that there is no such place as “Palestine,” and provided references from the Koran to back up his assertion. (Photo via Israel Today)

One of the Koranic verses provided states that Allah gave the Holy Land to the sons of Israel until the Day of Judgment (Surah Al-Ma’ida, verse 21), and the other (Surah Al-Shara’a, verse 59) says that the land was bequeathed to the Jews.

The sheikh turned to those who “distort the words of the Koran,” whom he labeled as liars, and questioned where they had even come up with the name “Palestine.” He insisted their claims to the Land of Israel were forfeit because “Allah is the protector of the Children of Israel.”

And if that wasn’t enough, the sheikh went on to turn the tables on the anti-Israel propaganda machine by accusing the Palestinians of killing children, the elderly and women, of using human shields, and of having not an ounce of mercy for even their own children.

The sheikh’s words caused a storm in the Arab media, and were picked up by the Israeli Embassy in Amman.

The Arabic daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi further explained the sheikh’s position, noting that he supports the notion that Jordan is Palestine, and insists that Arabs living both in Jordan and the Palestinian Authority-controlled territories would almost all love to be Israeli citizens.

The Adwan tribe issued a statement distancing itself from Sheikh Aladoan’s remarks. But the sheikh was not intimidated, and insisted he would continue to make his voice heard on these matters.

Last year, Sheikh Aladoan visited Israel and spent time with the chief rabbi of Tsfat (Safed), Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. The sheikh informed Rabbi Eliyahu and his students that in the Koran, “there is no name ‘Palestine’ for this land, and therefore, the Arabs should not be fighting the Jews over control of this land.”

Click Here and scroll down to watch a video of their encounter. Most of the video is in Hebrew, but around the 2:00 mark, Sheikh Aladoan’s assistant translates his words in English.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6080

ISRAEL’S TAMAR GAS FIELD SIGN $500 MILLION GAS SUPPLY DEAL WITH JORDAN

Tamar partners sign 15-year deal with Jordanian companies; under agreement, Tamar to supply 66 billion cubic feet of natural gas.

Reuters

Published: 02.19.14, 17:23 / Israel Business

The partners in the Tamar natural gas field off Israel’s Mediterranean coast have signed a deal to sell at least $500 million of gas over 15 years to two Jordanian companies in the first deal outside of Israel.

Under the agreement, Tamar will supply 66 billion cubic feet to Arab Potash and its unit, Jordan Bromine – a joint venture with US Albemarle – at their facilities near the Dead Sea, Noble Energy said on Wednesday.

Texas-based Noble owns 36 percent of the field. Israel’s Delek Group, through its units Avner Oil Exploration and Delek Drilling, holds a 31.25 percent share. Isramco Negev has a 28.75 percent stake, and Dor Gas Exploration holds 4 percent.

Jordan is hungry for gas amid numerous attacks on a pipeline in the Sinai peninsula that has halted supplies from Egypt.

Tamar, discovered in 2009, is estimated to hold more than 280 billion cubic metres of gas. It began production last March and has already signed a number of lucrative deals in Israel.

The field came on line months after Egypt halted gas supplies to Israel.

After a lengthy and heated debate, the government last year decided to allow 40 percent of its natural gas reserves for export. It is using gas as an opportunity to improve relations with its neighbours including Jordan. It is also thought Israel could ultimately sell gas to Turkey, although ties between the two countries have been frosty over the last few years.

The nearby and much larger Leviathan field last month signed a 20-year, $1.2 billion deal to supply gas to planned a Palestinian power plant once Leviathan starts production in 2016 or 2017. Leviathan is estimated to hold some 540 billion cubic metres of gas, enough to supply Europe for a year.

Tamar and Leviathan were the two of the largest gas finds in the past decade and overnight turned Israel into a gas exporter.

Tamar’s sales to Jordan are expected to start in 2016 once minimal required infrastructure has been completed.

The selling price will be based on a floor of at least $6.50 per one thousand cubic feet of gas with upside linked to the price of Brent crude oil. Noble said it would also charge a fee for marketing and sales services and for the transfer of gas to Jordan. Gross revenue is expected at $500 million with actual sales dependent on final purchased quantities and oil prices at the time of sale, Noble said.

“This deal will pave the way for additional export projects which could enhance regional cooperation as well as provide additional supply to the domestic market and enhanced security of supply through development of additional reservoirs and infrastructure,” said Lawson Freeman, Noble’s Eastern Mediterranean vice president.

Completion of the deal is subject to various closing conditions and regulatory approvals.

Noble said it was in a “number of additional negotiations to sell significant quantities of natural gas from both fields to multiple customers.”

Earlier this month, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum signed a deal to take a 25 percent in Leviathan for up to $2.55 billion.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6078

Israel’s Gas Field Wealth – Russia’s Hook In The Jaw?

February 14, 2014 | Tom Olago


Israel has had plenty of issues and enemies: Iran’s nuclear threats, the Palestinian crisis, the neighboring Syrian upheaval and growing regional instability. Now certain geological developments have begun allowing the Jewish state more than just military superiority in the Middle East: her economic prospects and political power are now on the rise, thanks to the vast fields of natural gas and oil discovered in the deep waters between Israel and Cyprus over the last five years.

Israel may be popping the champagne, but clearly her political foes and economic competitors are not. Chief among them may well be Russian President, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. These developments are expected to undermine Putin’s efforts to rebuild Russia’s influence in the Middle East, and weaken his current strong hand in Europe.

The New York Post’s Arthur Herman reports: “Those natural gas and oil fields, dubbed Tamar and Leviathan, promise Israel an unprecedented degree of energy independence and a lucrative export market to its Arab neighbors, including Egypt and Jordan. And they threaten to challenge Russian energy giant Gazprom’s dominance of the European gas market. 

That dominance has been one of the lynchpins of Putin’s power. Gazprom provided Europe almost one-quarter of its total natural gas needs last year, and that need is inevitably going to grow. Europeans know they pay Gazprom a significant premium for natural gas (more than 2¹/₂ times what Americans pay for gas), even as Gazprom produces cheaply in Russia’s Soviet-era fields. 

They also know Russia’s not afraid to use its gas exports as blackmail, as when Putin severed the supply lines to Ukraine in 2009.Greens won’t let Europeans extract their own natural-gas reserves through fracking, so countries of the European Union have been resigned to letting Putin hold a whiphand over their energy needs, and their economies.” 

Israel’s exports are most likely to be in the form of liquefied natural gas or LNG — which would be safer than using pipelines that terrorists can damage. This would be welcome news for the EU countries, which are then more likely to become better political and trade partners with Israel: all gained at Russia’s expense. The Daily Beast reports: “Within a few years, indeed, Israel hopes to be a major supplier of gas to Europe and also to its Arab neighbors Jordan and Egypt.” 

New York Post’s Arthur Herman separately elaborates: “That has Gazprom, which gets 40 percent of its revenues from Europe, worried — and Putin, too. The Russian company has made offers to “help” Israel develop the Leviathan field (the Israelis chief partner now is Houston-based Noble Energy). Early last year Gazprom negotiated a contract to liquefy some of the gas coming from the Tamar field. But many experts wonder how much the Russians really want to help Israel’s emergence as an energy competitor. 

Insiders agree the Tamar export deal is now all but dead, and an Australian challenger with major LNG expertise, Woodside Petroleum, has just agreed to take a 25 percent stake in Leviathan development. The Israeli government is still working out how much gas it wants to export, and what to reserve for home consumption. 

But for Gazprom the rebuff when the Israelis opted for Woodside is a harbinger of what’s to come: not just a lost contract on Leviathan, or even a challenge to its European market — but also a loss of influence in the Middle East. 

Exporting gas to Egypt, Jordan, and even the Palestinian Authority (Noble already has a contract with the Palestine Generating Power Co. to start in by 2017) will help smooth Israel’s relations with its neighbors — more bad news for a Russia that always prefers to fish in waters roiled by Middle East chaos, as the Russian warships now stationed off Syria should remind us. 

Israel’s new gas bonanza offers a huge opportunity for US interests, by helping to secure peace in the Middle East and undercutting Putin’s imperial pretensions in Europe and the East Mediterranean.”

So far Israel’s gain is Putin’s pain. It will be interesting to see how Russia proceeds based on Israel’s spate of blessings.

As for Israel’s Arab enemies, the stakes around territorial rights are now likely to be heightened. Christopher Dickey reports in his Daily Beast analysis of 6th February: “Are these Gas Fields Israel’s Next Warzone?” Christopher examines the likelihood of wars stemming from the desire to control economic dominance in the Middle East to start on yet another front: the Levant Basin Province in the Eastern Mediterranean. 

Hence Israel, Turkey, Russia and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah are reported to be rushing to enhance and increase their naval defense and war capabilities in the Eastern Mediterranean. War chest budgets run to as high as a billion dollars for Turkey to acquire advanced assault ships. 

Although the entire area is generally volatile, the hottest flashpoint at the moment is between Lebanon and Israel, which remain, formally, in a state of war. This enhances the spectacle of dispute over lines of demarcation between their 200-nautical-mile “exclusive economic zones.” In addition, territorial claims overlaps by about 860 square kilometers (332 square miles) occur in a potentially rich portion of the Levant Basin. 

Observers however downplay the Hezbollah threat, mainly due to lack of adequate resources, and various political sensitivities that include current Iranian priorities. This scenario places the advantage squarely in Israel’s favor under these circumstances, as they can proceed to allow mining and exploration to continue under Israel military surveillance and protection.

According to The Daily Beast, the area in question was roughly defined in 2010 by the U.S. Geological Survey. It estimated that in this area there are some 122 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 1.6 billion barrels of oil—and possibly twice that much. The basin runs from near the Syrian port of Tartus (which is also where the Russians have their naval base), down the entire coast of Lebanon, Israel and Gaza, and out toward Cyprus.

That oil and gas could be found there was not entirely a surprise, however political wrangling in the Middle East primarily between Israel and the Palestinians, prompted the pullout of British Company BG Group in 2007 and in 2008, BG shut its office in Israel. 

Since then, the whole operation has been on ice. However joint exploration initiatives between Noble Energy out of Texas, Delek Group and other Israeli companies, resulted in major gas finds in 2009 and 2010. That included the huge Tamar field, which started producing in 2013, and the enormous Leviathan field, estimated to hold 18 trillion cubic feet of gas. Gas findings are projected to meet Israel’s requirements for the next 150 years. 

The prophet Ezekiel wrote: “‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Gog (Many scholars are divided between the identity of Gog as being Russia or Turkey), chief prince of Meshek and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks in your jaws and bring you out with your whole army …’” (Ezekiel 38:3-4)

“On that day thoughts will come into your mind and you will devise an evil scheme. You will say, “I will invade a land of unwalled villages; I will attack a peaceful and unsuspecting people (Israel) —all of them living without walls and without gates and bars. I will plunder and loot and turn my hand against the resettled ruins and the people gathered from the nations, rich in livestock and goods, living at the center of the land.” (Ezekiel 38:10-12)

The Bible prophesies that, one day, God will ‘put a hook’ in Magog’s jaw to draw it down into Israel, where it will plan to ‘plunder and loot’ an ‘unsuspecting people’. Are Israel’s newly discovered natural gas fields and possible future oil discoveries the ‘hook’ that draws this invading force into Israel? 

The idea of a hook almost suggests an action that gives it no choice. Would an Israeli attack on Iran force Russia to act and in the process look to take advantage of this vast resource wealth – one that will allow Gazprom to keep it’s dominant control over the natural gas market in Europe and beyond. Iran (Persia) is also listed in Ezekiel’s scenario as a major player – thus linking such events may not be so far fetched.

If this is the case, Russia and/or Turkey as well as Iran had better take warning in Ezekiel’s prophecy:

“This is what will happen in that day: When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign LORD. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. 

The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. I will summon a sword against Gog on all my mountains, declares the Sovereign LORD. 

Every man’s sword will be against his brother. I will execute judgment on him with plague and bloodshed; I will pour down torrents of rain, hailstones and burning sulfur on him and on his troops and on the many nations with him. And so I will show my greatness and my holiness, and I will make myself known in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the LORD.’” (Ezekiel 38:18-23)

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6076

Iranian Navy Commander Vows to Sink U.S. Warships

Posted by osnetdaily

Editor’s Note…

The Iranian revolutionary guards are obviously in highly aggressive mode these days. Just two days ago the news broke out that they’re openly making a mockery of America by sending warships to US maritime borders, and today this statement by the Iranian navy commander was uttered – while the USG is still AWOL, due to its desperate attempt to negotiate its way out of the nuclear crisis all the way to the end of Obama’s term.

On top of that, the Iranians claimed today to have tested new weapon systems, including Multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle ballistics (although these claims have not been verified by western military analysts, and the Iranians are known to have made unfounded claims about indigenous weapon systems in the past). It seems like they’re trying to build up as much perceived power as they can towards the negotiations on the so called “final status agreement” on their nuclear program, assuming it will help them to gain the upper hand over the crumbling US-EU stance. 

If they already have the aforementioned missiles then they cannot be forbidden to acquire them by the west, while Saudi Arabia has not been prevented from progressing with Pakistan. It seems like Anglo-America encourages a nuclear stand-off in the ME in order to minimize the Russian penetration to the region, while Anglo-America itself undergoes an internal reset.

One good thing about these recent developments is that the Tehran regime is making life very difficult for its pathetic apologists in the west, many of whom claim to represent “alternative media” venues (be they Libertard or just plain Commie), who tried to portray the regime as an innocent little virgin all those years, claiming it’s just after “peaceful nuclear energy” and poses “no threat to anyone”…

***

Washington Free Beacon

top Iranian naval commander threatened to destroy U.S. warships and kill American soldiers just a day after Iranian vessels approached U.S. waters for the first time in history.

“The Americans can sense by all means how their warships will be sunk with 5,000 crews and forces in combat against Iran and how they should find its hulk in the depths of the sea,” Rear Admiral Ali Fadavi, the commander of the elite Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, was quoted as saying Sunday in the regional press.

Fadavi issued these threats just a day after Iranian war vessels were reported to have approached U.S. maritime borders.

“Iran’s military fleet is approaching the United States’ maritime borders, and this move has a message,” Iranian Admiral Afshin Rezayee Haddad was quoted as saying by the semi-official Fars News Agency.

Iran dispatched the war fleet in “response to Washington’s beefed up naval presence in the Persian Gulf,” where American ships are stationed to help keep international shipping lanes safe, according to the report.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei also took aim at the United States on Sunday when he urged Air Force commanders to “know the enemy well.”

“The Iranian nation should pay attention to the recent [nuclear] negotiations and the rude remarks of the Americans so that everyone gets to know the enemy well,” Khamenei was quoted as saying in the state-run press.

“The Americans speak in their private meetings with our officials in one way, and they speak differently outside these meetings; this is hypocrisy and the bad and evil will of the enemy and the nation should observe all these cases precisely,” he said.

Iranian military leaders continued to threaten the United States – it’s principal nuclear negotiating partner – well into Sunday, when another top Iranian Navy commander claimed that the United States does not have the courage or ability to attack Iran.

“Were the enemy able to inflict damage on us, it would do so; [you must] rest assured that they can’t,” Iranian Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari told fellow navy personnel during a ceremony celebrating “the 35th anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution.”

As the United States and its international allies seek to ensure that Iran is complying with a recently inked nuclear accord aimed at rolling back portions of its contested program, Iranian military officials have become increasingly confrontational.

These officials say they are angered by Washington’s vow to keep the military option against Iran on the table.

A top IRGC commander recently stated that “the slightest military move by the U.S. will be reciprocated by Iran’s harshest response,” which would “recognize no boundary”.

It’s unclear exactly how Tehran’s threats are impacting ongoing talks between Iran and the West, which is working to ink a final nuclear deal with Iran in the next six months.

Iran’s defense minister continued to admonish Secretary of State John Kerry and the Obama administration in remarks on Sunday, claiming that “U.S. officials cannot prevent [Iran] from continuing its nuclear fuel production.”

Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan vowed to crush U.S. forces and said, “Iran will never allow the country’s nuclear fuel production cycle come to a halt,” according to a report in Fars.

A Pentagon spokesman did not immediately respond to a Washington Free Beacon request for comment on Iran’s war moves.

However, an anonymous defense official dismissed Iran’s approach towards U.S. waters and stated that they “are free to operate in international waters,” according to Israel Hayom.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=6038

Three Scenarios of Unfolding Prophecy

I know that many of those who regularly read this blog have also read Hidden in Plain Sight By Mark Davidson. Mark blogs at Four Sign Posts. If you have read both Mark’s book and my latest book, Mideast Beast, then you are aware that we interpret Daniel 7 and 8 differently. In Mideast Beast, I interpret the four beasts of Daniel 7 as a reiteration of the four Kingdoms of Daniel 2. Mark interprets Daniel 7 to be speaking of four contemporaneous end-time nations. This approach, although a minority view, is also espoused by several other interpreters who I am aware of, such as G.H. Lang, Geoffrey R. King, David Pawson, Chris White, Charles Cooper, Hanoch Ben Keshet, Dr. Noah W. Hutchings, Dr. Henry M. Morris, and Irvin Baxter, Jr.

Concerning Daniel 8, in Mideast Beast, I interpret verses 3-22 as being fulfilled with the historical conflicts that took place between the Medo-Persian Empire (the ram) and the Alexandrian Greek Empire (the shaggy goat). But from verse 23 on, where it speaks of the “little horn”, I interpret this as ultimately fulfilled in Antichrist, of whom Antiochus IV Epiphanes was merely a historical shadow. Davidson understands all of Daniel 8 as speaking of future events and correlating to the 2nd and 3rd beasts of Daniel 7. He understands these to be Iran (the second beast) and Turkey (the third beast).

So, what do I think about Davidson’s scenario?

First let me say that I have over a hundred commentaries on the Book of Daniel and have worked through this book for some years now fairly extensively in my own private studies. The more I work through this profoundly important book, the more I realize how difficult certain some portions of it truly are. I am convinced that we must thus take a humble attitude as we seek to fully understand the revelations contained in this book. Let me also say that the world of end time prophecy is a world rife with opinions, pet-theories and often significant disagreements. While there are certainly some issues that I have very strong opinions concerning, there are several other issues that I am very open to reconsider. Daniel 7 and 8 are two such examples. So I am presently working through the possibility of a futurist interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8, and I do see some validity to this as the possible meaning of these chapters. But more than that, I am fascinated by the potential implications of this perspective. To be clear, I am not convinced, as this perspective is not without its own difficulties, but I am quite open to, and wrestling through this perspective. There are some aspects of Davidson’s interpretation that I do not agree with, such as his identification of the four seals / four horsemen of Revelation as correlating to the four beasts of Daniel 7. (After all, it would be impossible for any two prophecy teachers to fully agree with one another on everything!) Nevertheless, in light of the possible implications of these two chapters having future application, I want to describe three potential future scenarios for the region including Davidson’s rather fascinating theory (Scenario Three). To be clear, these are not the only possible scenarios, as we could certainly come up with several others. But based on my present understanding of prophecy, these three scenarios are the best candidates to see fulfillment in the days ahead. As always, God knows best.

Scenario One: Turkey continues to emerge as a regional leader, consolidating power over the northern swatch of the Middle East. Eventually a leader arises from this nation who will be revealed as the Antichrist. As a side note, many folks have asked me if I suspect or believe that Prime Minister Erdogan of Turkey could be the Antichrist. For the most part, I try to avoid directly speculating on such matters as I am well aware that such speculation can be dangerous for many reasons. Nevertheless, let me say quite clearly that while Erdogan certainly has many qualities that one would expect to see in the Antichrist, I think it is unlikely that he is the man. My reason for this is the Scriptural requirement that the Antichrist emerge as a “little horn” (Daniel 7:8, 8:9, 11:23). The Scriptures seem to indicate that the Antichrist will initially appear as an obscure and little-known leader who will rise up in the midst of ten other contemporary leaders. He is said to first usurp or uproot three others and then gain the allegiance of all ten. In light of this, I do not think that Erdogan could be said to be the Antichrist, as he is perhaps one of the most prominent leaders not only in the Middle East, but also the whole world. In my opinion, because of the requirement that the Antichrist emerge as a leader of little influence or prominence, it is unlikely the Antichrist is an individual that is presently on anyone’s radar.

Scenario Two: The conflict in Syria continues to destabilize the region and eventually one of the breakaway segments of Syria and possibly segments of northern Iraq and Turkey produces a much lesser known leader who rises to become quite powerful, eventually being revealed as the Antichrist. This scenario is similar to scenario one, except rather than simply looking to Turkey, the leader arises from Syria or Iraq or some new breakaway portion of that part of the world, which may or may not include a portion of Turkey. In considering where the Scriptures point with regard to the coming of the Antichrist, there is a tension. On one hand, Ezekiel 38-39 clearly emphasizes Turkey as the region from which the Antichrist will emerge. The Antichrist is Gog, who is from Magog, and is the chief prince, or leader of Meshech and Tubal, which correlate with modern day Turkey. On the other hand, Daniel 8 and 11 place great emphasis on Antiochus Epiphanes as a type of the Antichrist. As such, it would seem to be from the region of the ancient Seleucid Kingdom (Which Antiochus ruled over) that the Antichrist will likely emerge. This would tend to point to south-eastern Turkey, northern Syria or northern Iraq. But it is somewhat difficult to determine how much weight we should place on a precise geographic correlation between the historical Seleucid Kingdom and the ultimate future fulfillment of these prophetic texts. This is further complicated by the fact that the Seleucid Empire took various shapes at different periods of its existence. So while I continue to lean toward seeing the Antichrist as coming from Turkey, (as I simply cannot see anyway to get around Ezekiel 38 and 39′s clear emphasis on that nation), in light of Daniel 8 and 11′s emphasis on the Seleucid Empire, I believe we would do well to remain open to any of these three nations as candidates from which the Antichrist could emerge.

Scenario Three: This scenario, as espoused by Davidson, which is based on a fully futurist interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8, would see Iran (the ram) as launching a regional offensive primarily into Iraq and Syria. After this offensive, we would see Turkey (the shaggy goat) respond with its own crushing military offensive. Iran would be defeated by Turkey, with the result being Turkish dominance of much of the northern Middle East. However, after crushing the Iranian offensive, the nation of Turkey would see its prominent leader die and for some unforeseen reason the new Greater Turkey would be broken up into four distinct segments. One of these segments, that which most closely correlates to the historical Seleucid Empire, likely including large segments of Syria and Iraq, would produce a little know leader who would eventually be revealed as the Antichrist.

The strength of this view, from my perspective, is that it could reconcile the tension that is felt between Ezekiel 38,39 and Daniel 8 & 11. One of its weaknesses is that it is an incredibly specific scenario. For this reason, while I think it is a view we should be aware of, consider, and watch for, I would not take a strong dogmatic stance on. The bottom line is that we see only through a glass darkly. The Scriptures tell us that our understanding of the future will be limited and obscured by our own limitations. I am convinced however, that when the time comes, the Lord will graciously allow his people to recognize the fulfillment of prophecy and understand the times. Our corporate understanding will continue to open up as the times draw closer. Now, to be clear, while I am encouraging a humble and open approach to prophecy, I am not suggesting that we should be equally open to every idea that is floating around out there. If we are to be honest, there are an abundant number of end time theories out there, and many are outright bizarre and not at all based on a careful and responsible interpretation of the Scriptures. But even among careful exegetes, there are various interpretations and options, and we will do well to be aware of and consider these various interpretations as we watch the present rolling waves and changing tides of the nations and eagerly watch for the coming of our King.

In a few weeks, Davidson is releasing a new version of his book, where he has significantly updated and expanded his previous work. I’ll make an update when it is released, but I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy and carefully consider his presentation.

Blessings,
Joel

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