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LATEST WORLD NEWS – ARTICLES THURSDAY APRIL 19th 2018

 

DAILY SCRIPTURE:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! (Galatians 1:8)

(John 8:32) And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free

 

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THE END TIMES KINGDOM

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/the-end-times-kingdom/?utm_source=Gracethrufaith+Site+Update&utm_campaign=01d5be5034-

QUESTION:    In the King James Version, Daniel 2:43 reads, “And whereas thou sawest iron mixed with miry clay, they shall mingle themselves with the seed of men: but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” I have read about nephilim in the Bible and also on your website, and have a three fold question.
1.) When the fallen angels were chained until the time of the end. Was that all fallen angels or a chosen few and where do you get your information when you answer this question.
2.) Will their “mingling” come at the time of the tribulation or could it happen anytime. There is no mention of their offspring in the future so I am assuming they will be destroyed in the trib wrath?
3.) “but they shall not cleave one to another, even as iron is not mixed with clay.” Does this mean their babies won’t live to be born or that it would be like a cat and dog mixing, it just won’t happen?

ANSWER:   
Question 1: The language of 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 6 seems to indicate that all the angels who disobeyed before the flood were bound for judgment. There’s no reason to believe any of them avoided being captured.
Question 2: The mingling of Daniel 2:43 takes place at the time of the last kingdom (the so-called revived Roman Empire), and they will all be destroyed in the Great Tribulation.
Question 3: The phrase “they will not cleave to one another” means they won’t become a truly unified entity with a single purpose. You can’t build a permanent structure made of iron and pieces of pottery because there is no way to join them together. So it will be with the final empire. Its components will be too dissimilar to unite with each other.

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DID JESUS APPEAR IN THE OLD TESTAMENT?

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/did-jesus-appear-in-the-old-testament/?utm_source=Gracethrufaith+Site+Update&utm_campaign=01d5be5034-
QUESTION:    Hi! I have found your site to be a great tool in my bible study. I love the way you back up your articles by quoting the chapter and verses in the bible, allowing a person to look them up and see for ourselves! I have a question. Can you point out some of the Old Testament “appearances” of Jesus Christ? Or am I misunderstanding something?
ANSWER:    Be glad to. Generally speaking when you see the phrase “the angel of the Lord” (rather than “an angel of the Lord”) accompanied by a physical presence, you’re seeing an Old Testament appearance of Jesus. There are really too many to list here, but if you go to www.biblegateway.com, select keyword search from the left hand menu, and type “the angel of the Lord” into the search box, you’ll find several pages of references. As you read them, you’ll see that many are Old Testament appearances of Jesus Christ. You’ll know by the fact that He’s usually either accepting worship, forgiving sin, executing judgment, or speaking prophecy in these appearances.
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WHEN DOES THE NEW JERUSALEM APPEAR?

https://gracethrufaith.com/ask-a-bible-teacher/when-does-the-new-jerusalem-appear/
QUESTION:    I had a discussion recently with my pastor about the new Jerusalem. I said I thought the new Jerusalem came at the beginning of the millennium, he thinks it comes at the end of the millennium. Any thoughts on this?
ANSWER:    People who think the New Jerusalem doesn’t appear until the end of the Millennium don’t realize that Rev. 20:7-15 is a parenthetical insert John used to carry his discussion on the destinies of Satan and the unsaved to its ultimate conclusion. Then in Rev. 21 he returned to the beginning of the Millennium to describe the New Jerusalem. The clue we get to confirm this is he opened with the same language Isaiah used to discuss Israel’s Kingdom Age on Earth (Isaiah 65:17-25).
At the rapture of the Church the Lord will take us to His Father’s house to be with Him where He is (John 14:2-3). 1 Thes 4:17 says once we go there,we’ll always be with Him. Rev. 21:2 shows the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven and goes on to describe an entity far too big to be located on Earth. It must only come to Earth’s proximity.
In Matt. 24:29 Jesus said the Sun and Moon would no longer shine after the end of the Great Tribulation. Rev. 21:22-27 describes the nations walking by the light of the New Jerusalem. After the 2nd Coming the New Jerusalem will replace the Sun as Earth’s source of light.
Rev. 21:22-27 also shows the Kings of Earth bringing their splendor to the New Jerusalem, but says nothing impure can ever enter it, only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, which is a description of the Church.
All this shows two groups of humans, the nations of Earth still in their impure natural state, and the perfected Church, living nearby but protected from impurity, during the Millennium.
https://gracethrufaith.com
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19/04/2018
 
ISRAEL NEWS:
THE MIDDLE EAST PEACE PLAN IS “ANTI GOD” – (GOD WILL NOT ALLOW JERUSALEM TO BE DIVIDED).
1Th. 5:3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; THEN SUDDEN DESTRUCTION COMETH UPON THEM, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape
WORLD TERRORISM – WARS
GENERAL WORLD NEWS:
MASSIVE EARTH CHANGES/EARTHQUAKES/VOLCANOES ETC: 
 
CHRISTIAN/RELIGIOUS WORLD NEWS:
 
 
EXTRA WORLD – ALTERNATIVE NEWS:
http://www.stevequayle.com/index.php?s=143
 
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PROPHETIC NEWS ARTICLES:
MIDDLE EAST WAR LOOMING THE BUILD UP TO PSALM 83 AND GOG OF MAGOG WARS EZEKIEL 38:
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LATEST RELATED NEWS CLIPS:
 
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 ISRAEL BRACES FOR IRANIAN COUNTER STRIKE
http://www.prophecynewswatch.com/article.cfm?recent_news_id=2188
The Israel Defense Forces on Tuesday revealed new information about the deployment of Iranian air defenses in Syria, further exposing Tehran’s attempts to entrench itself militarily in the war-torn country.
In an apparent effort at deterrence, Israeli media was provided by the IDF with a map showing five Iranian-controlled bases in Syria, which would apparently constitute potential targets for an Israeli response should Iran carry out any kind of attack.
Tensions between Israel and Iran have been steadily escalating since an Iranian drone that breached Israeli airspace on Feb. 10 was shot down by the Israeli Air Force.
Israeli fighter jets later targeted the mobile control center of the T-4 air base from which it was piloted. Seven members of Iran’s elite Quds Force were killed in the strike, including the commander of its drone unit in Syria.
The drone appeared to be a relatively new stealth model known as a Saeqeh, whose design was stolen from an American unmanned aerial vehicle that was captured by Iran in 2011, according to aviation analysts.
During the Syrian counterattack against the Israeli jets, one F-16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field in northern Israel after the pilot and navigator ejected from it.
In response to that downing of the fighter jet, Israel launched a large-scale attack on Syria’s air defenses, destroying between one-third and one-half of its capabilities, according to the IDF.
IDF spokesman Brigadier General Ronen Manelis reported that the Iranian drone operated from T-4 which had been armed, and was en route to carry out an attack on Israeli forces, and was not merely on an information-gathering mission.
One senior Israeli security official told The New York Times that attempted attack was unprecedented, and represented a shift in Iranian policy.
“This is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel—not by proxy,” the senior Israeli security official said. “This opened a new period.”
According to Tuesday’s report by Channel 10, Iran’s build up in Syria in preparation for a direct conflict with the Jewish state has included the deployment of advanced airborne weapons platforms – including drone aircraft – shipments of weapons disguised as humanitarian aid, and Iranian military flights conducted under the cover of civilian airline companies.
Fuming over the strike, Iran has vowed to exact vengeance on Israel.
Tehran is now believed to be preparing for a sustained campaign of direct confrontation with Israel, with plans to use the Iranian military’s growing presence in Syria to launch attacks on targets inside the Jewish state.
For decades, the radical Islamist regime in Tehran has engaged in a de facto war with Israel via proxies – using terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Lebanon to attack Israeli civilian and military targets.
On Tuesday, however, Israeli security officials revealed that Iran is now preparing for a direct assault on Israel, using its growing military assets on Israel’s northern border to strike targets inside the Jewish state.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said Monday that “Israel will receive a blow for what it did at the T4 base. The days when the Zionist regime would hit and run are over. … I suggest to the Israelis to refrain from foolish steps if they want to continue their treacherous existence,” he warned.
The IDF said Tuesday that the deployment of Iranian air defenses in Syria was personally supervised by Quds Force commander Maj. Gen. Ghasem Soleimani, one of the most powerful military figures in the Iranian regime.
Iran has access to a variety of surface-to-surface missiles, from short-range Fajr-5 rockets to medium-range Fateh 110 missiles, which have a range of approximately 300 kilometers (190 miles) to long-range Shehab ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets over 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) away.
To counter those threats, Israel has a multi-tiered missile defense system consisting of the Iron Dome for short-range rockets and mortar shells, the David’s Sling for medium-range missiles and the Arrow for long-range ballistic missiles.
Israel sees Iran, which has vowed to destroy the Jewish state, as its central enemy in the region. Israeli officials have repeatedly stated that Israel will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, marking it as a “red line” that it will fight militarily if necessary.
Many Bible scholars believe we may be starting to see a foreshadowing of a much larger conflict described in the book of Ezekiel in which many nations (including Russia & Iran) launch an attack on Israel and are miraculously defeated by God’s direct intervention.
 
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 US & ALLIES BOMB SYRIA. NOW WHAT?
http://prophecynewswatch.com/images/recent/syriabombapril182018.jpg

by yoram ettinger/jns.org april 18, 2018

The U.S. bombing of Syria could resurrect America’s posture of deterrence and evolve into a geostrategic game-changer in Syria, the Middle East and throughout the globe. 

That’s provided that President Donald Trump learns from, rather than repeats, critical errors committed by his predecessors in their battle against Islamic terrorism.

Trump’s predecessors assumed that their counter-terrorism mission could be accomplished through a series of limited, immediate and tactical operations, bringing the troops back home ASAP. 

However, contrary to their expectations, their well-intentioned actions undermined the comprehensive, long-term, sustained and strategic mission to clip the wings of Islamic terrorism and enhance homeland security. While they won certain battles, they failed to clip those wings and did not win the overall war.

For example, on Aug. 20, 1998, President Bill Clinton declared victory following the U.S. bombing of a few terrorist bases and a deadly nerve agent VX processing plant in Afghanistan and the Sudan, in retaliation for the Aug. 7 truck-bombings of the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 224 people. 

However, resting on the laurels of the tactical bombings and failing to intensify a long-term offensive against Islamic terrorism only exacerbated the latter’s assault on the United States. It led to the Oct. 12, 2000 suicide-vessel bombing of the USS Cole (killing 17 sailors) and the Sept. 11, 2001 suicide-aircraft bombing of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, killing 2,996 persons and injuring some 6,000.

On May 1, 2003, President George W. Bush declared that major combat operations in Iraq ended with the United States and its allies prevailing. A large “Mission Accomplished” banner provided a backdrop to Bush’s speech on the USS Abraham Lincoln. On June 5, Bush told American troops in Afghanistan: “America sent you on a mission to remove a grave threat and to liberate an oppressed people, and that mission has been accomplished.”

In 2018, both Afghanistan and Iraq are major global platforms for Islamic terrorism, which is increasingly afflicting larger parts of the globe.

The George W. Bush Administration overthrew Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and purged members of Saddam’s Sunni Baath Party from the civilian and military sectors, which catapulted Iraq’s Shiite majority to domination; incentivized former Sunni government officials and military personnel to join Sunni terrorism; exacerbated Sunni-Shiite violence; and provided an unprecedented springboard to the Shiite Ayatollahs’ aspirations to control Iraq as a critical bridge to Syria, Lebanon and the Mediterranean, as a prelude to an Iranian domination of the Middle East and the Muslim World.

In 2012, President Barack Obama was determined to topple Libya’s ruthless Qaddafi regime by leading a concerted bombing campaign by NATO forces. The effective bombing was initiated, irrespective of the fact that Moammar Qaddafi had been engaged in the dismantling of Libya’s nuclear, chemical and ballistic missile infrastructure since December 2003, as certified by U.S. and international inspectors. 

Moreover, the vicious Libyan dictator was consumed with an intense battle against anti-U.S. Islamic Sunni terror organizations and provided the United States with vital counter-terrorism intelligence. The execution of Qaddafi, by his domestic terror-driven opponents, transformed Libya—the fourth-largest country in Africa—into a leading and chaotic platform for international Islamic terrorism.

Will President Trump learn, and refrain, from the critical errors of his predecessors?

Will Trump focus on the primary, rather than secondary, source of clear and present threats to the national security and homeland security of the United States, the Free World and the pro-U.S. Arab countries?

While one must not underestimate the savagery of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, the “Butcher of Damascus,” its regional and global destabilizing impact is dwarfed by the impact of the ferociously tectonic Shitte Ayatollahs, a minority regime that has repressed the Iranian people since 1979. 

The Ayatollahs have played a key role, next to Russia, in sustaining the Alawite (branch of Shiite Islam) Assad regime, investing some $10 billion annually in the form of credit lines, oil and military assistance, including the funding of some Russian military systems and the maintenance of Hezbollah terrorists.

In fact, regional chaos (Syrian style) has fueled the Ayatollahs’ rise to regional prominence. Their expanding presence in Iraq and Syria has adrenalized their megalomaniacal aspirations, which aim at uprooting the American presence in the Persian Gulf, the Arabian Peninsula, the Indian Ocean and the entire Middle East.

Moreover, the unprecedentedly effective regional profile of the Ayatollahs brings their machete closer to the throat of every pro-U.S. Arab regime such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Kuwait and Oman, fueling subversion and terrorism, and providing anti-U.S. Islamic terror organizations with easier access to chemical and biological weaponry and ballistic capabilities.

Furthermore, the considerable entrenchment of the Ayatollahs in Iraq and Syria has been accompanied by the Ayatollahs’ upgraded destabilization and anti-U.S. presence—directly and through terror elements—in Asia, Africa, Europe, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Central and Latin America and the United States.

The increasingly global village—and the unprecedented global proliferation of Islamic terrorism—have eliminated the option of isolation. America and its allies are faced with the choice of confronting the Ayatollahs and Islamic Sunni terrorism in the trenches of the Middle East or at homeland. 

One may assess such a dilemma against the background of an old American football rule: The closer you get to the end zone of the other team, the closer you are to scoring a touchdown; however, the closer you get to your own end zone, the closer the other team is to scoring a touchdown.

Originally published at JNS.org – reposted with permission.

 
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3 QUESTIONS REGARDING OUR BOMBING OF SYRIA
image: http://prophecynewswatch.com/images/recent/syriaapril112018.jpg
by michael brown/ask dr brown april 18, 2018

Reactions to our bombing of Syria, as we joined together with the UK and France, have been intense on all sides.

From the right, President Trump received a barrage of criticism.

In the midst of a profanity-laden, deeply emotional response, Alex Jones of Infowars said, “I just feel like I just had my best girlfriend break up with me.”

On Fox News, both Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson were critical, with Ingraham asking, “But what do we really accomplish here tonight in Syria? This is not why Donald Trump got elected.”

Michael Savage even took a break from dinner to livestream his comments, stating, “My opinion is that this is the greatest disaster of the Trump presidency.”

But Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, writing for the Jerusalem Post, took strong exception to Trump’s critics.

He stated that, “Obama and his national security trio of John Kerry, Susan Rice and Samantha Power regularly obfuscated on clear-cut moral issues, like whether or not Iran should be penalized for genocidal incitement against Israel, whether Hamas should be punished for terrorism, and most importantly, whether the United States should attack Syrian President Bashar Assad for gassing Arab children. 

In the case of all three, the Obama quartet decided not to take sides. They would be neutral on Iran, mildly critical of Hamas and take no action against Syrian, even after Obama declared that the use of poison gas against civilians was a red line which he would enforce.”

But that was then. “Now, we have witnessed President Donald Trump attack Syria for the second time in about a year because the Butcher of Damascus is using outlawed chemical weapons to exterminate his people. Assad is a vile man, and if the words ‘Never Again’ are to have meaning, then the civilized world must destroy his capacity for gassing children or lose moral credibility.”

What are we to make of this? Why are some Trump supporters outraged with the president’s actions? Why are others coming to his defense?

Callers to my radio show were equally divided in their opinion about the bombing, but we only had time to take a small sampling. In contrast, responses to my polls on Facebook and Twitter were in strong support of the president’s actions.

I asked, “If you voted for Trump, are you pleased or upset over our bombing of Syria?” On Facebook, as of this writing, votes were running at 78 percent (pleased) to 22 percent (upset). On Twitter, where I could post a third option, votes were running at 48 percent (pleased), 23 percent (upset), and 29% (neutral).

At this point, I have more questions than answers, given the complexity of the Syrian crisis, given the players involved (including Russia and Iran), and given our poor, recent track record in terms of long-term Middle Eastern strategy. 

Allow me, then, to put my questions on the table.

1)      Is our bombing part of a larger plan? Do we have a strategy in place?

It’s possible that our bombing had one specific intent: to tell Syria there is a line you cannot cross, and that line is the use of chemical weapons. Whether Russia was directly behind the alleged chemical onslaught or not, the message we sent is clear.

At the same time, it’s not unreasonable to ask: What’s the larger strategy? How does this comport with getting our troops out of Syria? And do we have a long-term plan regarding removing Bashar Assad?

One of my friends met with leaders in the George W. Bush administration before we took down Saddam Hussein. He asked them how they planned to protect the Iraqi Christians once Saddam was removed. 

Their non-reply said it all. They looked at him with wide, empty eyes. They had not considered his question. Tragically, we know what happened next.

So, what’s the story here? What’s our long-term strategy, and how does the bombing fit in with that?

2)      Are we 100 percent sure that Assad did use chemical weapons against his own people?

It’s one thing for Russia to deny this. It’s another thing for a conservative Christian website in England to cite the Organisation for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in questioning the attack. 

According to the UK’s Christian Voice, the OPCW “gave Barzah a comprehensive all-clear only last month. Allied aircraft also targeted the Jamrayah (or ‘Jamraya’ or ‘Dummar’) site west of Damascus. The facility was also cleared by OPCW.”

The Christian Voice goes as far as claiming that, “The UK, US and France bombed the Barzah research site near Damascus in Syria knowing full well it had no chemical weapons.”

I certainly hope this is not true, but it’s only fair to ask: Did we get this right? Are we sure?

3)      Why draw the line with chemical weapons?

This is more of a general question, but I have often wondered about this. Why do we allow certain acts of war to take place, including dropping bombs and launching missiles and firing endless rounds of ammunition, but we don’t allow the use of chemical or biological weapons? 

Why the great outrage over horrific act (namely, gassing your own people) compared to the lesser outrage over another horrific act (namely, dropping bombs on your own people)?

To be clear, I am not minimizing the horror of chemical warfare. I’m only asking: Why react to this specific horror while not reacting to hundreds of other horrors? 

There are estimates of 400,000 Syrians killed so far in the war. (Some estimates are even higher.) Why our selective reaction?

Again, this is a question that goes beyond the war in Syria, but it is certainly quite relevant today.

 
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 HAVE IRAN, RUSSIA AND TURKEY REACHED AGREEMENT ON FUTURE SYRIAN STATE?
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/iran-astana-process-trilateral-summit-ankara-turkey-russia.html
The second trilateral summit between the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey appears to have ushered further movement toward an understanding on the political endgame in Syria.

REUTERS/Umit Bektas

Presidents Hassan Rouhani of Iran, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and Vladimir Putin of Russia hold a joint news conference after their meeting in Ankara, Turkey, April 4, 2018.

On April 4, the presidents of Iran, Russia and Turkey met in Ankara to hold a trilateral summit within the framework of the Astana process to discuss the latest developments in Syria. It was the second round of high-level talks between the three heads of government after their first meeting in Russia’s Black Sea resort of Sochi on Nov. 22, in which they agreed to continue their contacts in order to facilitate the process of finding a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict.

The second summit came as the situation on the ground in Syria has undergone significant developments over the past four months. On the one hand, Ankara’s military operation in northern Syria against Kurdish groups has resulted in the taking over of Afrin by Turkey and its local partners, with the possibility that Turkey may extend the scope of its operation further to the west still on the horizon. On the other hand, the Syrian army, with the direct help of Russia and Iran’s tacit support, has managed to gain almost full control of the strategic Damascus suburbs of eastern Ghouta.

Having been identified as standing at the two opposite ends of the Syrian conflict, Russia and Iran on the one hand and Turkey on the other showed an unprecedented level of restraint toward each other’s latest military moves in the war-torn country. While Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it clear that Ankara and Moscow “have no disagreements” over Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch, some reports even suggested that Russia was actually helping Turkey to reach its goals in Afrin. For its part, while expressing concern over the situation in eastern Ghouta, Turkey stopped short of directly condemning the Russian-backed military moves in the area. Meanwhile, Iran apparently preferred to keep a low profile regarding both cases.

Taking into account the above-mentioned developments, one could reasonably argue that the three Astana partners have reached a meaningful level of mutual understanding of their main goals and interests in Syria. However, a deeper look at the recent trilateral summit in Ankara could provide us with a better understanding of the exact areas of agreement and disagreement between the three guarantors of the truces in Syria.

First, it seems that the three parties do not have a unified view of the exact role and status of the Astana process. While referring to the Astana format as “the only effective international initiative that has helped reduce violence across Syria,” the joint statement issued after the summit introduces the Geneva process as the ultimate format for finding “a lasting political solution to the Syrian conflict.” This is in line with the repeated insistence by Ankara and Moscow that Astana and Geneva are not competing but rather complementary formats for a Syrian settlement.

Like before, however, Iranian officials present in Ankara didn’t make any reference to Geneva, insisting solely on the role of the three Astana partners in bringing stability to Syria. “The Astana peace process and the efforts of the three countries have resulted in the best successes in the war on terrorists,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said during his bilateral meeting with Erdogan on April 4. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif also said upon his arrival in Ankara that the “Astana peace process has been the only successful initiative” for Syria, while criticizing “foreign governments” trying to make decisions for the Syrian people.

Mindful of the bottom line of the recent statements made by high-ranking Iranian officials, it seems that Iran is trying to introduce the Astana process as a successful example of regional cooperation without any Western presence or influence to solve regional problems and a template for regional political-security dialogue. In this vein, Iranian Defense Minister Brig. Gen. Amir Hatami, who was in Russia on April 3 to attend the Moscow International Security Conference, said “foreign plans” to enhance security in the region “would inevitably fail,” underlining that any plan made for this purpose must originate within the region. In this vein, reports suggesting that Iran had rejected the idea of French President Emanuel Macron’s presence at the recent Ankara meeting makes more sense if being considered in this context.

Second, the three leaders’ emphasis in their joint statement that they would continue cooperation to combat terrorist groups in Syria clearly shows that none of them intend to cease their military presence in the country. However, Rouhani for the first time clearly defended the idea of “drawing up and amending a new constitution” for Syria, as well as speeding up the political process. This could mean that Iran — after eyeing the current situation on the ground and in particular the recent achievements of the Syrian army — is gradually shifting its focus toward defining a role for itself in the postwar political scene of Syria, trying to have a say in shaping the new political structure in the country.

Third, while attempting not to alienate Turkey by directly condemning Ankara’s military plans in Syria, Tehran appears to become increasingly concerned about Turkey’s plans in the north of the country. In what could be considered Iran’s most explicit criticism of Operation Olive Branch, Rouhani expressed concern that the situation in Afrin might lead to the violation of Syria’s territorial integrity, asking Ankara to hand over the city to the Syrian army. In fact, this issue seems to have the potential to appear as a hurdle in the way of further development of the trilateral format.

Finally, the five principles of the “sovereignty, independence, unity, territorial integrity and nonsectarian character” of Syria, underlined by the three parties in their joint statement, might be a sign of a compromise between Iran, Russia and Turkey over the nature and structure of the future Syrian government. If the latter is truly the case, it could be argued that Moscow is no longer pursuing the idea of federalism in Syria, while Tehran and Ankara, respectively, have agreed not to seek the establishment of Alawi-dominated or Sunni-dominated governments in the country.

In the event of the above, the most probable result would be a unitary political system based on the principle of power-sharing between various ethnic and religious groups, like the models currently operating in Lebanon or Iraq. Nonetheless, whether or not this is welcomed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Syrian opposition is a different issue that only time will tell.

 
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 RUSSIA SEEKS TO EXTEND ROLE IN MIDEAST PEACE BEYOND SYRIA
https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2018/04/expectations-over-growing-role-russia-mideast-peace-process.html
Article Summary

Moscow faces many challenges in its efforts to help resolve Palestinian issues, especially as Israel rejects any mediator other than the United States and Egypt continues to be the sole sponsor of intra-Palestinian reconciliation.

YURI KOCHETKOV/AFP/Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin ® and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hold a press conference following a meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence, Sochi, Russia, May 11, 2017.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry is calling on Palestinians and Israelis to show restraint with each other and has rejected Israel’s “indiscriminate use of force against the civilian population” during Palestinian protest marches near the Israel-Gaza border. Russia is demanding that both sides avoid taking rash steps that would inflame tension, as more marches are expected.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated earlier this year that Moscow seeks to revive Israeli-Palestinian talks because a settlement can only be reached through direct dialogue. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas consented to Russia’s proposal for a political summit, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the idea.

Currently, Russia seems focused on achieving an intra-Palestinian reconciliation between rivals Hamas and Fatah. Conflict between the two main Palestinian political parties split the PA in 2007.

Abbas, who leads Fatah, visited Russia in February to brief Putin about developments in the Palestinian cause, particularly since US President Donald Trump announced in December that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and will relocate its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem. Palestinians consider the eastern part of the city to be their capital.

In March, a Hamas delegation led by its political bureau member Mousa Abu Marzouk arrived in Moscow to discuss the future of reconciliation, how to counter US policy in the Middle East and Russia’s role in the region.

Raed Enairat, a political science professor at An-Najah National University in Nablus and the head of the Contemporary Center for Studies and Policy Analysis, told Al-Monitor, “Palestinians believe Russia is striving in competition with the US in the Palestinian dossier by resorting to powerful political tools in the region. Most notable is Moscow’s alliance with regional powers that are at odds with Washington, particularly Iran and Turkey.”

Russia’s political and military achievements in Syria have encouraged Moscow to extend its efforts in the Middle East, he said. “When it comes to internal Palestinian relations, Russia is [trying] to bring Hamas and Fatah closer to each other but doesn’t have a magic wand to achieve the desired reconciliation.”

Palestinians perceive Russia to be a great power with major importance in international decision-making and a UN Security Council member whose opinion is influential. They believe Russia could bring some balance to the US bias toward Israel. They are convinced Israel opposes any party’s participation in a rapprochement effort, other than the United States, that upholds the Israeli stance toward talks.

Basem Naim, the head of the Council on International Relations in the Gaza Strip and former minister of health in the Hamas government, told Al-Monitor, “Russia has a particular stance when it comes to dealing with Hamas. It perceives [Hamas] to be a political and national liberation movement. Moscow does not label Hamas as terrorists and could be thinking that its relation with Hamas could breed political gains and [provide] a strong [presence] in regional and international arenas. The Russians listen carefully to Hamas.” However, Russia’s role in any reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas could be restricted, “given that Egypt continues to have full control over the process.”

Hamas perhaps hopes Russia will pressure Abbas to seriously and practically approach reconciliation as a partner in the process. Hamas appears to be counting on Russia to assume a greater role in the Middle East and in mapping out the Palestinian future. Hamas isn’t hiding its relationship with Russia, which serves the group’s agenda and could bring international recognition that Hamas hopes will be reflected in palpable political support to counter the US-Israeli policy.

Fatah also supports a greater role for Russia in the Middle East. However, Abdullah Abdullah, the chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s Political Affairs Committee and a member of Fatah’s Revolutionary Council, agrees with Naim’s assessment that Moscow’s efforts in the Palestinian reconciliation “may not be fruitful, given the exclusive Egyptian sponsorship,” he told Al-Monitor.

“I don’t think Egypt will give up this dossier,” he added.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, a close associate to Abbas who declined to be named said, “Abbas insists that Russia assumes a pivotal role in the peace process — particularly following Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and to move the US Embassy there, and [because of] escalated Israeli military measures in the Palestinian territories. Such events have encouraged Palestinians to communicate with Russia as an impartial mediator and alternative for the US in the peace process. This is because Palestinians believe that Washington’s bias toward Israel has harmed US credibility.”

But even as Palestinians welcome Russia’s willingness to help resolve Middle East issues, they fear Moscow’s role will probably be limited to hosting political delegations and issuing diplomatic statements that are unlikely to be implemented on the ground.

 
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END TIME PROPHECY-MAN MADE OR GOD?
Bill Wilson – www.dailyjot.com
There is some debate among Bible scholars and prophecy students about the end of days and how they will take place. We know, for example, that there is an antichrist-led battle against Israel that results in the mountains being leveled, a great earthquake, the sky rolling back like a scroll, hailstones, fire and brimstone, darkness, and flesh, eyes and tongues rotting while people are standing. These all appear like descriptions of a nuclear holocaust. We also know Isaiah 55:8 that God said “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways, my ways.” Certainly, there will be battles raging here on earth in the day of the Lord, but according to scripture, these times are God’s times, not man’s.

Chapter 8 of Revelation opens, “And when he had opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven about the space of half an hour, and I saw the seven angels which stood before God; and to them were given seven trumpets.” The ensuing chapters describe the judgment on earth at the hands of these angels. These judgments correspond with accounts found in Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, Joel and other prophets speaking of the end of days. These are not manmade devastations. They are done by the hand of God. So while there will be wars and rumors of wars leading into and occurring during the seven years of Jacob’s Troubles (the tribulation), and there may be nuclear conflict, the end is at God’s hands.

This is why I do not agree that Ezekiel 39 or Isaiah 17 or other such accounts on the nations under judgment are describing nuclear war or nuclear-induced devastation. Isaiah 17:1, for example, is often cited by scholars as a nuclear attack that levels Damascus, “Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.” Verse 7, says, “At that day shall a man look to his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.” Another example: Ezekiel 38 describes what will happen to Gog “in that day (verse 14).” It sounds like a nuclear event. But God says in verse 16, “I will bring you against my land, that the heathen may know me, when I shall be sanctified in you, O Gog, before their eyes.”

The Lord then speaks of pestilence with blood, raining upon the people with great hailstones, fire and brimstone and in verse 23 says, “Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations and they shall know that I am the Lord.” This is the theme in that day when the nations are judged-earthly battles, but supernatural destruction. The Lord will leave no doubt in that day that He is Lord. If this were manmade destruction, doubters could use that to discredit God. Just as it is known without a doubt that God led his people out of Egypt, His word is consistent in end of days prophecies that people will know, even the enemies of Israel, that God is God and there is no other.

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