Category: Gog-Ezekiel 38 & 39

Are Natural Catastrophes in Iran End-of-Days Divine Retribution?

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz April 24, 2018 , 11:30 am

“She shall be remembered of God of Hosts With roaring, and shaking, and deafening noise, Storm, and tempest, and blaze of consuming fire” Isaiah 29:6 (The Israel Bible™)

An Iranian threat against Israel last week was answered immediately from above with a massive sandstorm. If the message was not entirely clear, two days later, the Iranian nuclear reactor was hit by an earthquake at the same time Jews in Israel were celebrating their Independence Day.

Rabbi Yosef Dayan, a member of the nascent Sanhedrin (Biblically mandated court of 71 elders) and a descendant of King David, noted that it should be clear to everyone around the world that this storm in Iran was divine intervention.

“My first reaction when I saw reports of the storm was to thank God because this was clearly straight from Hashem (God, literally ‘the name’),” Rabbi Dayan told Breaking Israel News.

Recent tensions between Israel and Iran came to a head on April 16 when Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi told reporters in a weekly meeting in Tehran that Israel was doomed.

“The Zionist entity will sooner or later receive the necessary response and will regret its misdeeds,” Qasemi said.

Though the Iranian minister’s threat was predicted to come to fruition at an unspecified point in the future, an emphatic divine response immediately followed in the form of an unusual natural phenomenon. On the same day that the foreign ministry predicted Israel’s ultimate demise, a huge sandstorm engulfed an entire province in the center of Iran, battering the region with 60 mph sand-laden winds. There were no injuries or major damages reported as a result of the storm, but even the Iranian media recognized the exceptional nature of the event with headlines calling the storm, “apocalyptic.”

“There are two reasons why Hashem intervenes in this stormy manner: either Israel merits having God punish their enemies or the enemy, in this case, Iran deserves to be punished,” Rabbi Dayan said. “I am not going to judge Israel so I can’t say if Israel deserves miracles. But it is clear that Iran deserves punishment.”

As if the sandstorm accompanying the threats made earlier in the week were not a clear enough indication of divine displeasure with Iran, another natural disaster hit the rogue nation on Thursday. In what seemed like a divine double-down response, at precisely the same time Israelis were joyously barbecuing on their Independence Day, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake hit Iran just a few miles from the country’s only operating nuclear power plant.

These natural phenomena in Iran did not go unnoticed by Jewish spiritual leaders. Rabbi Amnon Yitzchak, a Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Israeli rabbi known for his massive outreach efforts, made a post on his Facebook page that the Iranians would do well to heed. Rabbi Yitzchak wrote:

“The Iranians threatened to explode Israel with an atomic bomb on Independence Day, and within 48 hours they got hit by an earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter Scale in the area of their atomic reactor and an unprecedented sandstorm that turned Iran into a sandbox. Now tell me that we do not have Divine Providence.”

Rabbi Yosef Berger, the rabbi of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, noted that natural manifestations of divine intervention serve a specific purpose in connection to Israel.

“It is the function of Israel to show the world that God is still active in the world,” Rabbi Berger told Breaking Israel News.“Many people believe in God and even believe that God created the world. But most of them don’t believe that God acts directly in the world in relation to our actions.”

“The prophets describe a new reality that will be evident in the time of the geula (redemption),” Rabbi Berger said. “Of course, nothing happens in the world without God’s intervention. But in the end-of-days, this connection between natural events and God’s purpose will be so clear as to be undeniable.”

Rabbi Pinchas Winston, an end-of-days expert, believes that as times go on, such events indicating divine intervention in mundane events will become more prevalent.

“In the later stages of the geula (redemption) the mixture of miracle and nature will increase to the point where it will become so clear it will be undeniable,” Rabbi Winston said. “You can’t conclusively say anything is hashgacha pratit (divine intervention). But the people who are prepared to look at the big picture will be able to connect the dots in a way that makes more sense than trying to explain everything in strictly natural terms.”

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9145

Russian Missiles Alarm Israel, Stoking Risk of Next Syria Crisis

By David Wainer and Henry Meyer

April 19, 2018, 12:00 AM EDT Updated on April 19, 2018, 9:50 AM EDT

  • Threatened delivery of S-300 air defenses to Assad is red line
  • Israel would likely try to blow them up, says ex-intel chief

Angered by last week’s U.S. attack on Syria, Russia warned that there would be consequences. Only one of them was spelled out: The Kremlin said it may supply its Syrian ally with state-of-the-art air defenses.

If the prospect rings alarm bells among President Bashar al-Assad’s enemies, they’re likely to be loudest in Israel, not the U.S. Israel carries out airstrikes in Assad-controlled Syrian territory much more frequently than the U.S., as it seeks to prevent a military buildup near Israeli borders by Assad’s other key backer, Iran.

Israeli analysts and former defense officials say there’s only one likely response from the Jewish state if the S-300 surface-to-air missile systems are delivered to Syria: An immediate attempt to blow them up.

That would upend the delicate relationship between Israel and Russia, who’ve kept channels open despite supporting opposite sides in Syria. And it could create another dangerous moment with the potential to escalate the seven-year civil war into a wider conflict.

‘What Will Be Done’

Already, multiple global and regional powers have been sucked in. Last week saw the tensest standoff in decades between nuclear rivals Russia and the U.S. On the ground, American and Turkish soldiers occupy separate chunks of the country’s north, while Iranians and Russians fight alongside Assad’s army. In the skies, Israel has for the most part enjoyed freedom of maneuver, thanks to its air superiority — and an implicit green light from Moscow. Both conditions may now change.

Amos Yadlin has firsthand experience of how Israel responds to such threats — and no doubts about how it would handle this one.

A former military intelligence chief, Yadlin was also one of the Israeli pilots who destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981. The deployment of S-300s in Syria has been a concern for two decades, and “at the end of the day, it will happen,’’ he said. “If I know the air force well, we have already made proper plans to deal with this threat. After you remove the threat, which is basically what will be done, we’re back to square one.”

Russia already has sold S-300 systems to Iran over American and Israeli objections. Syria was on track to get them too -– until 2013, when Russian President Vladimir Putin froze the contract in response to pleas from Israel. But Putin said at the time that if the U.S. attacked, Moscow would “think how we should act in the future.”

Russia Reconsiders

That moment arrived with last week’s missile strikes by the U.S., U.K. and France, in response to an alleged chemical attack by Assad’s army.

The Barzah research and development center before and after strikes against Syria on April 14.

Photographer: U.S. Department of Defense via AFP via Getty Images

Hours afterward, Russia’s first deputy chief of staff, Sergei Rudskoi, said his government would “reconsider” whether to supply the air defenses to Assad. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hammered home the message in a BBC interview two days later, saying the plan might be revived because Russia feels it must do “whatever is required to help the Syrian army deter aggression.”

Israel has carried out at least 150 bombing raids in Syria since the civil war began in 2011, according to Zvi Magen, a former Israeli ambassador in Moscow. The latest, on April 9, hit an air base used by the Iranian military; other targets have included arms convoys bound for Hezbollah, the Iranian-armed Shiite group in Lebanon that’s repeatedly fought with Israel. The government and army have a strict policy of not acknowledging or commenting on military actions taken in the neighboring country.

S-300s can fire missiles at six targets simultaneously, and have a range of 200 kilometers (120 miles). That would extend into the airspace of Lebanon, sometimes used by Israeli planes to strike Syria — and even into Israel itself.

‘Exceptionally Advanced’

“It’s an exceptionally advanced system that can cover large swaths of territory,” said Michael Oren, Israel’s deputy minister for public diplomacy and an adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “We will always oppose it.”

Given Israel’s likely response, some analysts in Moscow say it makes more sense to use the threatened deployment as a bargaining chip.

Actually delivering the weapons “would fuel tensions in the region and cause major friction with Israel,” said Elena Suponina, a Middle East expert at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, which advises the Kremlin. “It’s enough to provide Syria with other air-defense systems that won’t provoke such a response.”

Even Syria’s current Soviet-designed systems, which have been upgraded over the last 18 months, have inflicted some damage. In February an F-16 was shot down, said to be the first Israeli aircraft lost in action since the early 1980s. And while the Pentagon says that all of the more than 100 missiles fired in last week’s strike reached their targets, Russia says that two-thirds of them were intercepted. A pro-opposition Syrian monitoring group, citing aerial defense officers, made a similar estimate.

Not Invincible

“Syria already has some good short and medium-range systems,’’ said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East and Africa editor at Jane’s Defence Weekly. Add the S-300s, and “they would be able to form a fairly comprehensive, multi-layered air defense umbrella over their country.”

In any attempt to destroy the new weapons, Israel would probably use U.S.-built F-35 stealth aircraft and electronic warfare, he said.

Russian military experts say that while the S-300 is very powerful, it isn’t foolproof.

“There’s no invincible air-defense system,’’ said Viktor Murakhovsky, a former army colonel who’s now a government adviser. “Just like there are no invincible aircraft.’’

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9141

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

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

by Geoffrey Grider April 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by Geoffrey Grider April 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saudi Moderation? Prince Muhammad Is on Shaky Ground

By Dr. James M. Dorsey April 12, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rouhani, Erdogan, and Putin’s bizarre love triangle

By Wayne McLean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9112

END TIMES AXIS OF EVIL: Putin Creates Powerful Alliance Between Russia, Iran And Turkey For Control Of Damascus And Syria

Russia, Iran and Turkey have been drawn together in their support of Syria. Putin and Rouhani provide Assad with military support and Turkey has now joined their efforts because it wants to crush US-backed Kurdish forces massing on its border. And Russia helps both countries on energy. It is also building Turkey a $20 billion nuclear power station, which began construction yesterday, and last year Putin signed a $30 billion energy co-operation deal with Iran.

by Geoffrey Grider April 5, 2018

The leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran met in Ankara for talks yesterday as they cemented their unlikely alliance over Syria in a challenge to US and western influence in the region.

“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: “ Ezekiel 39:1 (KJV)

EDITOR’S NOTE: For those of you who think we might be putting a little too much emphasis and importance on the upcoming 70th anniversary of regathered Israel, today’s article should clear that up for you. Russia, Iran and Turkey forming an alliance just this week to take control of Syria absolutely leaps off the pages of the Bible. Putin supplies both Iran and Turkey with nuclear and military technology, as well as oil and gas. All three countries are mentioned in the Bible as Gog-Russia, Persia-Iran and Turkey/Meshech and Tubal . And obviously, so is Syria which figures quite heavily in Bible prophecy. We now have a little more than 5 weeks to go until May 14, and it’s anyone’s guess what will happen next. But buckle up because it’s gonna be something big. 

President Putin, President Erdogan and President Rouhani vowed to work together to create a ‘lasting ceasefire’, build a hospital for wounded civilians in Eastern Ghouta and allow refugees to return home.

But the deepening ties between the trio will be a concern to the US as its ability to influence the future of the country and the region wains and President Trump openly mulls pulling troops out.

Russia, Iran and Turkey have been drawn together in their support of Syria. Putin and Rouhani provide Assad with military support and Turkey has now joined their efforts because it wants to crush US-backed Kurdish forces massing on its border.

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

Putin supplies both countries with sophisticated military equipment. President Erdogan recently signed a $2.5 billion arms deal with Russia for S-400 sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles, which has caused consternation among Turkey’s fellow Nato members.

And Russia helps both countries on energy. It is also building Turkey a $20 billion nuclear power station, which began construction yesterday, and last year Putin signed a $30 billion energy co-operation deal with Iran.

Through these major deals Russia now finds itself in the position of having influence over Turkey as well as Iran. And these two countries in turn exert huge influence beyond their borders.

Turkey controls much of the flow of middle eastern refugees into Europe. It stemmed the influx after signing a deal with the EU in March 2016 – but if it reversed this agreement the political consequences in Europe would be enormous.

Iran has been accused of supplying arms to the Taliban by the government of Afghanistan and is fueling the conflict in Yemen.

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, is an implacably opposed the Syrian regime and his administration provides significant backing for the rebels fighting it. Trump is also a staunch ally of Israel, most notably announcing the US is to move its embassy to Jerusalem – putting it in direct opposition to Iran, which has threatened to destroy the state.

Under Trump, the US has become a close ally of Saudi Arabia, whose Crown Prince Salman said this week that he recognised Israel’s ‘right’ to its land –  becoming the first Arab leader to ever make such an acknowledgement.

He compared Iran’s Iranian Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to Hitler.

At the summit on Wednesday Turkey and Russia said they would work together to build a hospital to treat civilians injured in the fighting in Eastern Ghouta, near Damascus.

The Syrian government has been carrying out an intense bombing and ground campaign against rebel-held areas in Eastern Ghouta which has left thousands of civilians dead or wounded and drawn international condemnation.

Russia and Turkey also said 160,000 refugees who had fled the conflict into Turkey had been able to return home. The Ankara summit at Erdogan’s presidential palace was the second such summit following one in November 2017 in the Black Sea resort of Sochi hosted by Putin.

‘We are determined to take Syria out of this quagmire. There will be no peace in turkey until there is peace in Syria,’ Erdogan said at a press conference in Ankara on Wednesday.

Turkish and Russian forces would work together to build a medical facility in Eastern Ghouta, as well as establishing ‘safe regions on both the Turkish and northern Syrian sides’ with facilities such as bakeries and plots of land to build homes and grow food.

‘It is about constructing houses [in the safe regions] so these people no longer have to live in tents and containers,’ said Erdogan. In a statement from the three leaders, they pledged to ‘continue their active cooperation on Syria for the achievement of lasting ceasefire between the conflicting parties’.

‘There is no military solution option for the crisis in Syria and we need to cooperate to put an end to the war in the country,’ said President Rouhani. ‘We have to follow peaceful methods, we need to help the Syrians go back to their homes as soon as possible.’

A third trilateral summit will take place in Tehran though a date has yet to be announced.

Putin’s two-day visit was his first international trip since securing a fourth term as president of Russia last month. On Tuesday, he and Erdogan revealed the delivery of Russian S-400 missiles would be brought forward to July 2019.

‘We have made our agreement on the S-400s. We have closed this chapter. This job is done,’ a defiant Erdogan told journalists during a press conference, the Hurriyet Daily News reported.

Putin added: ‘Our Turkish colleagues made a request in the meetings. We will accelerate the process.’ The leaders also made an appearance at the launch of Turkey’s first nuclear power station via video link on the same day.

Russian company Rosatom was granted permission by Turkey’s TAEK atomic energy authority on Tuesday to begin work on the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant’s first unit.  The plant will have a combined capacity of 4,800 megawatts across four reactors.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9108

Head Of Security For Dubai Says That Pakistani People Are A “Dangerous Threat To Gulf Societies”- This Is All Just Rhetoric For The Coming Turco-Aryan Alliance That Will Destroy The Saudis And Take Over The Middle East

By Andrew Bieszad on April 4, 2018 in Featured, General

The Head of Security for Dubai, Lt. General Dhahi Khalfan, recently said that Pakistani people are a “dangerous threat to Gulf societies” because they bring drugs and spread other kinds of crime:

A top Emirati security official, known for making controversy-catching remarks on wide-ranging issues, took to Twitter to denounce Pakistanis, accusing them of being a “dangerous threat to Gulf societies”.

In his recent diatribe on April 1, Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan, who is the head of general security of Dubai, wrote in Arabic: “The Pakistanis pose a serious threat to the Gulf communities for the drugs they bring with them to our countries.”

The tweet, followed by a series of similar attacks targeting Pakistanis, came in the backdrop of a drug racket being busted in Dubai. The tweet was also carrying a photo apparently showing three Pakistani smugglers, along with the drugs allegedly recovered from them.

No government data is readily available to show that Pakistani citizens have been involved in certain crimes in UAE more than immigrants belonging to other countries.

Khalfan resorted to generalising, however, asking his fellow citizens “not to employ Pakistanis”. The security official, who was the head of Dubai Police Force until 2013, termed it a “national duty to stop hiring Pakistanis”.

In continuation of his diatribe, the official went on to make sweeping comparisons between Pakistanis and their arch rival Indians.

“Why are the Indians disciplined while disruption, crime, and smuggling are prevalent in the Pakistani community?” he wrote, according to uaeviral.com.

Dragging people from Bangladesh into the verbal assault, Khalfan suggested that Pakistanis should be subjected to increased inspection, similar to what Bangladeshis had to face “because of the criminal tendencies”.

“We became strict with the Bengalis because of the criminal tendencies they have shown. Pakistanis must be placed under an increased level of inspection.” (source)

His comments are of note, as there is much drug smuggling from Pakistan and crime among Pakistani communities. However, this is but a cover for a greater issue, which is the emerging Saudi-Pakistan alliance that the Sauds are attempting to build as a hedge to save their goose from being cooked by Turkey and Iran.

The Gulf Arab states of Qatar, Bahrain, and the UAE are in a league with Turkey and Iran. The three nations are wealthy, enjoy their lavish lifestyles, and don’t want to be associated with the antics of the Saud family, who claims to their rule in Arabia are as questionable as is their claims of Islamic piety. Last year, Turkey moved ten thousand troops into Qatar as a permanent “peacekeeping” force, something which did NOT go unnoticed by Saudi Arabia.

For centuries, Turkey was the “guardian” of Islam and the major power of the Middle East through the Ottoman Empire. They still see themselves in this role, and Turkish President Erdogan has made clear that he wants to revive Turkey’s historical role as an empire in every sense, including down to the revitalization of the Ottoman language itself. Turkey has been working with her historical ally in Germany to build her economy and military, and she has signed peace and economic deals with Iran, including the construction of a major railway heading from Germany through Turkey and Iran and into Central Asia. This railway will be used to establish a major conduit for the transportation of goods and services for economic and imperial growth as much as it will be for a means to undercut Russia influence in Asia, since there are only two ways to connect the far east with Europe by land, which is either going through Russia or over land in Turkey, Iran, and Central Asia.

Saudi Arabia and Iran are historical enemies. Iran has also historically fought with Turkey too. However, the fact that the Turks have signed an agreement of peace and are actively working with the Iranians is bad news for the house of Saud. The Gulf States are already small and they have good relations with the Turks and Iranians, so as long as they keep peaceful relations in the region, they will be able to maintain their power as small but essentially vassal states without fear of being destroyed.

A combined Turco-Iranian alliance is a nightmare situation for Saudi Arabia, and so they are doing anything they can to “reform” their image to the world in a desperate quest for allies. It is why Saudi Arabia recently admitted the obvious fact that they supported terrorism but are not doing it any more and are working against it with the USA and Israel as much as they are now making the largest weapons deals yet with President Trump. They are VERY scared because they know that their future in power and heads will be cut off if they lose.

As Turkey has brought troops into the area around Saudi Arabia, Saudi Arabia has responded by bringing in Pakistani troops. While this many be “beneficial” in a short term sense, Pakistan would still have a hard time standing up against Iran and Turkey. This situation becomes even more dire when one considers another major variable and fellow “aryan” power, which is that of India.

While India and Pakistan are both “young” nations in terms of their formal establishments, they have a long history of animosity with each other. A large segment of the Indian government has made clear that it wants to establish a “pure Hindu ethnostate,” with Hinduism as the state religion and those who are not Hindus, Christians and Muslims alike, to be forced to convert to Islam or put to death.

Following the introduction of Islam into the Hindu subcontinent, Pakistan has historically remained under the domain of the Turks or Turkic powers. In this sense, Turkey would see Pakistan, though they are fellow Muslims, as a “disobedient” historical Turkish province which would need to be militarily subjugated. India hates Pakistan, and so far as Hindu interests are not directly attacked, would most likely be willing to see part of Pakistan go to Turkic control so long as it is able to retain Hindu interests in Pakistan.

America and Israel are the two unpredictable nations in the region because they are allies and adversaries of all the nations in the region. America has an interest in a consistent supply of cheap, easily accessible oil and access to rare earth minerals in order to maintain her economic and political goals. Israel’s foreign policy is likewise closely tied to America’s and it is a well-known fact that Israel exerts considerable efforts to influencing and directing American foreign policy to her interests for both personal gain as well as survival, since without the USA it is unlikely that Israel would survive.

American and Israel are historical allies of the Saudis, and they have also shown an interest in the Turks, remembering that it was the Americans and Europeans who build the Turkish military in order for it to act as an opposition force against the Russians. While Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are “allies” of both, they are also expendable since their cooperation is not per se needed, and could be easily exchanged for the Turks.

The Gulf States crying “dangerous threat” about Pakistanis is far more than just the reality of drug trafficking and social dysfunction, which is common to the drug trade in all societies. It is an attempt to use the real problems caused by Pakistanis in order to build up anti-Pakistani sentiments so to justify a more militant posture against both Pakistan and by default, her ally in Saudi Arabia.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9106

Kuwait Reports IAF Flew Over Iranian Nuclear Sites Undetected

By Adam Eliyahu Berkowitz March 30, 2018 , 8:11 am

“When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots—forces larger than yours—have no fear of them, for Hashem your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, is with you.” Deuteronomy 20:1 (The Israel Bible™)

Kuwaiti media reported on Thursday that over the past month, Israeli Air Force (IAF) Adir F-35 stealth fighters penetrated Iranian airspace twice without being detected by the cutting-edge Russian anti-aircraft systems.

Citing “an informed source”, Al-Jarida, an Arabic-language Kuwaiti daily newspaper, reported that the two IAF warplanes passed undetected over Syria and Iraq. If true, this would mean the US-built F-35  was not picked up by the S-400 anti-aircraft system installed at the Russian Khmeimim Air Base air base in Latakia, Syria. Jerusalem Post reported the F-35’s circled at high-altitude, targeting the Iranian cities Bandar Abbas, Esfahan, and Shiraz, all associated with Iran’s nuclear program.

The article in Al-Jarida also noted that the seven IAF F-35 fighters have already conducted several missions over Syria and on the Lebanese-Syrian border. It was also emphasized that new stealth fighters can fly from Israel to Iran twice without refueling.

This comes in the wake of the first direct hostile contact between Israel and Iran. Last month, an Israeli Apache helicopter shot down an Iranian drone that was launched from Syria. Israeli F-16’s struck 12 targets in Syria in response, including the Iranian base that launched the drone. One Israeli F-16 was shot down and the two pilots were injured. Several military and aviation websites have conjectured that F-35’s were used operationally for the first time by the IAF in these airstrikes inside Syria.

The news comes one week after the Israeli government admitted publicly for the first time that IAF F-16’s had destroyed the Osirak nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981.

Permanent link to this article: http://discerningthetimes.me/?p=9100