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A Quaking Middle East
Israel - Middle East
Friday, November 17, 2017
Alf Cengia

There was a massive earthquake in the Middle East the weekend prior to the writing of this article. It struck near the northeastern Iraqi city of Halabjah and measured 7.3 on the Richter scale. As of writing, about 530 people have lost their lives. That figure could change.

Arutz Sheva reports that the quake was felt hundreds of miles across the Middle East in Turkey, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates. It was felt 600 miles away in Tel Aviv, Israel and other areas:

Recording stations in Haifa in northern Israel and Beer Sheva in southern Israel measured a magnitude of 4.5 on the Richter scale.

At around the same time other quakes were felt in two different parts of the world. A 5.8 magnitude quake struck off the coast of Japan. And a "6.5 magnitude quake struck the Pacific coast of Costa Rica near its capital city San Jose."

Am I wrong or has there been a heckuva lot of shaking lately?  There seems to be a lull and then a small string of quake activity...followed by another lull and more activity several months later. There will always be a skeptic who will come along with statistical data supporting the "business-as-usual" narrative. For the moment I'm just not buying that narrative.

I can't help thinking of Matt 24:7-8; Mark 13:8 and Luke 21:10-11. You know what I'm talking about..."and there will be famines and quakes in various places etc."

Interestingly, in his book The Footsteps of the Messiah, Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum associates these verses with a "birth pangs" period preceding the 70th week of Daniel (pp 626, 627). He regards World Wars 1 and 2 as part of this prophecy. While some place these events in the first half of the 70th week, I find Dr. Fruchtenbaum's premises quite compelling.

Whatever the case, there has been another category of shaking in the Middle East. This is beyond prophetic dispute and isn't related to earthquakes. It's been all bad since that alleged Arab Spring event, when Syria descended into one-way chaos. The entire region has become chaotic.

I won't begin to try to analyze the political intrigue and upheaval the region is undergoing. Not only do I lack the skills set, but its fast-pace-change nature is likely to frustrate most analysts. The unexpected is happening. That said - we can look at some worrying headlines.

Consider Hezbollah. Many Lebanese believe Hezbollah's existence serves as assurance against Israeli hegemony. In fact unbiased pundits recognize that it (like Syria) serves as a proxy for Iran. A recent Middle East Forum article points out that it has now consolidated its "stranglehold in Lebanon."

This follows the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri. After fleeing to Saudi Arabia, the former prime minister cited concerns over a possible assassination plot from Hezbollah. Lebanese President Michel Aoun (considered to a Damascus proxy) won't accept the resignation unless Hariri returns to Beirut. He shouldn't hold his breath. Hariri stated that:

Wherever Iran settles, it sows discord, devastation and destruction, proven by its interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries.

Hariri failed to mention Iran's interest in eradicating Israel.

This recent Lebanese affair troubled French President Macron so much that he's "hastily" consulted with the Saudis. Not only is he worried about Lebanon's stability, but also stability in the region. Iran's ballistic missile program is a concern, even though Macron is trying to foster better relations with the Iranian regime.

Let's recall that Macron, the Saudis and Israel can thank the Obama administration for the Iranian resurgence. It now controls Syria and arguably Iraq. See also the Gatestone article Lebanon's Fall Would Be Iran's Gain and Caroline Glick's Assessment.

When asked about the recent "wave of high-level arrests for corruption in Saudi Arabia," Macron naturally declined. His diplomatic response was that it was "vital to work with the kingdom for the stability of the region." Will these events be a catalyst for Europe to stir from its sleep? Maybe! Is it concerned about the Iran-Russia alliance? It ought to be.

While President Trump has frosty relations with Iran, he agrees with Macron's sentiment and has been courting the Saudis. They both see Shiite Iran as an enemy. Still others are concerned about the New Saudi Arabia and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. ZeroHedge used the term tectonic - and appropriately so - to describe the Saudi changes:

So much is currently in flux, especially in Saudi Arabia, that nearly anything can happen next. Which is precisely why this volatile situation should command our focused attention at this time.

The ZeroHedge article provides a helpful summary of the state of play. The premise is that if the Saudi situation isn't worrying you, you're not paying attention. Interestingly enough, a Foreign Policy article also suggests that Donald Trump has "unleashed the Saudi Arabia we all wanted and always feared."

Surrounded by all this "tectonic quaking" is Israel. From Reuters:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he has put the United States and Russia on notice that Israel will continue to take military action across the frontier in Syria, even as the two powers try to build up a ceasefire there.

Iranian Russian-backed presence in Syria means it's in a better strategic position to attack Israel. If you'll pardon the bad pun, Israel is being forced to play Russian roulette. So far it has dodged the bullet. How long can that continue? One wrong move and it risks Russia's wrath, and perhaps even that of the few nations it considers to be allies.

In the meantime the US appears to still be under the grand delusion that it can engineer a Peace Plan for the Middle East. But that's a story for another day.

We live in times where the unexpected can happen, very quickly. This world's rude awakening could occur sooner than later. Just like the quakes mentioned above, the ramifications will be far-reaching.

Nevertheless we know how it ends:

And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. Zech 12:9-10

Keep looking up!

About Alf Cengia

Last week: On Seeing the Face of God

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