By Hal Lindsey
The western media remains fixated on Washington, but outside of D.C., the world is spinning toward a series of potential catastrophes. Decisions made over the coming days will affect the future of all humanity. I could illustrate this by examining any of the world’s regions. But, for now, let’s focus on the nations in and around Syria.
One of the eeriest specters of our time is the image of Russia and Iran sitting on Israel’s doorstep in Syria. The well-known prophecy in Ezekiel 38 tells of a coming battle with those two countries leading a coalition of nations against Israel.
Russia arrived in Syria ostensibly to fight ISIS. Will they leave when ISIS is defeated? I doubt it. Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s President, is no longer his own man. He sold his soul to Vladimir Putin, the mad mullahs running Iran, and the Hezbollah terror group.
Putin needs to maintain a foothold in the Middle East — the closer to Israel, the better. The natural gas fields found in the waters off the Israeli coast are a game-changer for Russia. With the discovery of those fields, Israel became a major player in the world’s energy picture. Israel does not yet have the infrastructure needed to sell fuel to the world at large, but their reserves are huge. Israel could break Russia’s monopoly on gas for Europe — possibly making it in Russia’s interest to stir up a war in the region.
What will Hezbollah do next? One of the most underreported facts of the Middle East is that Hezbollah has a larger stockpile of missiles than all NATO countries (except the U.S.) combined. And these aren’t bottle rockets. They’re sophisticated, high-quality missiles. Hezbollah has become so powerful in Lebanon, that the government works with them as partners. They sit on Israel’s northern border in both Lebanon and Syria.
But their presence is not limited to the Middle East. They have been patiently building a physical and organizational infrastructure in South America — primarily by providing weapons to the drug cartels. This generates cash, but, more importantly, it gives them a land route into the United States. Because the U.S. southern border has been so porous for so long, we don’t know if they have transferred personnel or weapons into the country. But it’s hard to imagine that they haven’t.
Hezbollah is probably the wealthiest terror group on earth. They have their own nefarious money-making enterprises. But they built their vast arsenal of weapons primarily with funding from Iran.
Will Iran stay in Syria once ISIS has been defeated there? In the last few years, Iran has been consolidating the region’s Shiite Muslims under its control. Their support of Shiite militias in Iraq has been one of the keys to defeating ISIS there. Iran is the primary sponsor of civil war in Yemen, where they back the Shiite Houthi rebels. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is an Alawite Muslim. Alawites are a branch of Shiite Islam. And so, they support him. But they expect his loyalty in return.
So far, President Trump has not been able to do anything publicly to slow down Iran’s march toward the acquisition of an arsenal of nuclear weapons. But that was a major part of his campaign for President. I think he will act, but the difficulties are innumerable. And right now, his presidency remains embroiled in a series of domestic controversies that make accomplishing anything internationally, especially difficult.
Then there’s ISIS. For a while, it did something few terror groups have ever done. It amassed a large territory, and declared itself a caliphate. Now it’s losing ground. Its dreams of a new Islamic State grow dimmer by the day. But ISIS is not done.
People who live in apartment buildings often complain when a neighbor sprays for cockroaches. Some of the roaches die, but others just move to neighboring apartments. That’s ISIS in 2017. They have agents and sympathizers in countries all over the world. Their hopes of a caliphate may have been put on hold, but the bloodlust that caused so many beheadings and mass murders has not subsided. They will continue to kill for the killing’s sake — and they will do it all over the world.
The emphasis on dismantling ISIS caused a strengthening of other terror groups. I’m not criticizing anyone here. It was correct to make the destruction of ISIS the priority. But during this time, we’ve seen al-Qaeda dramatically strengthened — especially in Syria.
Earlier this month, the United States and Russia announced a ceasefire in Syria. U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Russians now “see the situation in Syria transitioning from the defeat of ISIS… to this discussion with them as to what do we do to stabilize Syria once the war against ISIS is won.”
Defeating ISIS in Syria will not end the civil war there, but it will end a major component of it. As that war winds down, there are strong indications that some of the big guns that have been protecting Assad, will now turn against Israel.
Iran has long been obsessed with Israel. Their most elite special forces unit is called the “Quds Force.” A Quds unit deployed to Lebanon in 1982, assisted in the formation of Hezbollah. The name “al-Quds” means Jerusalem. That makes their goal and purpose clear. With its position on Israel’s northeast border, Syria provides Iran with a stepping stone to Jerusalem.
These groups will become more dangerous to Israel as the war in Syria winds down. What will the United States do? What can it do? Where will Europe stand? Don’t make the mistake of thinking these conflicts will remain confined to the Middle East. Intercontinental ballistic missiles give rogue nations enough reach to start World War III.
As world tensions mount, it’s comforting to remember that God warned us in advance about perilous times in the last days. It’s also clear from scripture, that God’s loving care, and His many promises, still apply even in times of danger. Soon, He will take us out of this world. In the meantime, He’s got your back.