A few weeks ago, I wrote an article that explored the strange alliances coming together in the Middle East. Due to recent developments, it’s time to revisit that topic.
In that article, I mentioned how the unusual, yet pragmatic choice of Turkey forming an alliance with Shia-led Iran rather than other Sunni-led nations, such as Saudi Arabia, made perfect sense geographically, since the Iranian dream of a Shi’ite crescent (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon) would be directly on Turkey’s southern border, separating them from their Sunni allies.
Unfortunately, I failed to mention one major factor that unites Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, despite their theological differences. The Kurdish people want an independent Kurdish state spanning southeastern Turkey, northeastern Syria, northern Iraq, and northwestern Iran, but Turkey and Iran vehemently oppose giving up land and economic revenue to grant them independence. Meanwhile, Iraq has already allowed them to have autonomous rule.
The Kurds are difficult to pigeon-hole. They’re classified as predominantly Muslim, although very moderate, yet have proven to be fierce allies of the West in the fight against ISIS. In fact, it was the Peshmerga forces from Kurdish Iraq that helped expel ISIS from Iraq. Kurdish forces have also been instrumental in fighting ISIS in Syria.
They made the news again this week, as Turkish President Erdoğan defended “Operation Olive Branch” while offering a stark warning against U.S. interference.
As you can see from the map below, Kurdish forces have gained control over a greater region within Syria than the previous map depicts.
With the help the Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are opposed to Syrian President Bashir al-Assad, Turkish forces launched Operation Olive Branch. The offensive was designed to wrest control away from the People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia in the Syrian Afrin region. The YPG is also supported by the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has fought for independence for years within Turkey and has been labeled a terror organization.
It’s a tangled web. Neither Turkey nor Iran want the Kurds to have independence, yet Iran backs the Syrian regime as Turkey is aligned with anti-Syrian forces. Meanwhile, the United States also opposes the Syrian regime, but has aligned itself with the Kurdish forces in defiance of Turkey’s wishes and continues to offer both logistical and financial support to the YPG. NATO allies at odds.
We could question why we’re interfering in Syria, but that’s a discussion for another day.
Turkey wants to eradicate what is viewed as a growing Kurdish threat to prevent them from infiltrating Turkey. At the same time, the Kurds want to maintain control of land they view as theirs through right and conquest, and the United States seems intent on backing their push for independence, as a recent House resolution introduced by Representative Trent Franks (R AZ) confirms.
In mid-January, the U.S.-led coalition announced plans to build a 30,000-strong border security force made up of Kurdish fighters. According to Reuters, the new Department of Defense budget requested “$300 million for Syrian “train and equip activities” and $250 million for border security requirements.”
To protect its strategic advantage in the region, Secretary of Defense Mattis urged Turkey to remain focused on the fight against ISIS (Daesh), while Secretary of State Tillerson offered an express warning against Turkey invading Afrin. In other reports, Lt. Gen. Paul E. Funk, the top US commander in the anti-ISIL coalition, warned Turkey if it hits Manbij it would face a sharp response.
Needless to say, President Erdoğan had his own response, according to Stockholm Center for Freedom.
“Those who say they will give a sharp response have not been hit by the Ottoman slap.” ~ Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan
Stockholm Center for Freedom also added, “Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has also stated on Tuesday that any attempts to found a state along Turkey’s borders will end in failure. ‘Turkey will eliminate all threats along its borders wherever they come from,’ Yıldırım told the ruling AKP Provincial Congress in the eastern Erzincan province. ‘Those who want to found a state along our borders will be disappointed.’”
In addition to the Turkish-U.S. standoff, there was a virtually silent defeat of more than 100 pro-Syrian forces who attacked a U.S. coalition outpost in Syria, further placing (supposed) allies and known adversaries on the brink of outright war. Although rumors are swirling that the attack was prompted by Russian mercenaries, both the U.S. and Russia are unwilling to comment.
It’s a powder keg.
That is why President Erdoğan’s comments on February 10 are relevant. According to a report from Hurriyet Daily News, Erdoğan said the following in remarks he made during a commemoration ceremony to mark the centenary of the death of Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II at the Yıldız Palace in Istanbul:
“The Republic of Turkey, just like our previous states that are a continuation of one another, is also a continuation of the Ottomans… Of course, the borders have changed. Forms of government have changed… But the essence is the same, soul is the same, even many institutions are the same.”
In a report from The Times, President Erdoğan is quoted as stating:
“We see Sultan Abdulhamid II as one of the most important, most visionary, most strategic-minded personalities who have put their stamps on the last 150 years of our state. We should stop seeing the Ottomans and the Republic as two eras that conflict with one another.”
Over the past several years, I have spoken (From Here to Kingdom Come, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Globalism & Sharia, and more) and written extensively regarding the biblical end-times kingdom of the beast, often referred to as the anti-Christ, as being a reconstituted Islamic Ottoman Caliphate. According to Daniel, one of the key identifiers of the anti-Christ regime is a 7-year peace treaty.
“And the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. Its end shall come with a flood, and to the end there shall be war. Desolations are decreed. And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.” Daniel 9:26-27 (ESV)
Due to the wording of that passage regarding “the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the temple,” many have interpreted that to mean Rome, since Legio X Fretensis, along with other Roman legions, destroyed the Temple. But, Legio X Fretensis was stationed in northern Syria.
More than that, Syria is a central part of Islamic apocalyptic literature. In fact, Jesus is supposed to descend in Damascus to join forces with the Muslim Mahdi (end-times savior) to fight against the infidels, including Christians and Jews, according to Sahih Muslim, Book 41, Hadith 7015.
The entirety of end-times prophecy is unfolding before our eyes.
That is why I find the recent meeting between Pope Francis and President Erdoğan so interesting. According to reports, Erdoğan stated Jerusalem was his top priority in his meeting with the Pope. After the meeting, the Vatican released a press report indicating they discussed “the need to promote peace and stability in the region through dialogue and negotiation, with respect for human rights and international law.”
Pope Francis has long been a supporter of interfaith dialogue with Muslims, going so far as to claim we are all children of God. Unfortunately, that is not true. Adoption as a child of God only happens as a result of faith in Jesus Christ as the sole means of forgiveness and reconciliation.
“But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 (ESV)
We need to watch developments in the Middle East very carefully, so we may be aware of the signs of the times, just as Jesus warned. Be prepared and choose whom you will serve. Time is short. Eternity is not.