REFUTING THE ISLAMIC ANTICHRIST:
THE STUBBORN GEOPOLITICAL REALITIES
Why Geography Mandates Russia and Not Turkey Will Be Gog
Readers of my blogs know that I express worry that Russia is being backed into a corner economically and will come out swinging. Prophetically, I argue that this is one of the key geopolitical reasons I finger Russia as the leader of the Muslim nations in the Ezekiel war known as the Battle of Gog and Magog. There are many scriptural reasons for taking this position, some straightforward, and some requiring scholastic insight. Author Joel Richardson has done a masterful job building a strong scriptural base for his viewpoint in his books, The Islamic Antichrist and Mideast Beast. However, the appeal of the Islamic Antichrist theory grows considerably weaker when one studies the realities of modern history, geopolitics, and the age-old rock-hard factoids known as mountains, oceans, rivers, and vast steppes. Simply put, enormous reasons outside scriptural exegesis argue against the Islamic Antichrist Theory (IAT). IAT runs headlong into irresistible geopolitical realities and immovable geographical objects. When we examine the history of Russia, in particular, we see why Russia is destined to be the leader of the nations listed in Ezekiel 38-39 and not Turkey. Let’s consider those matters here.
It is extremely difficult to mount a reasoned argument that a Sunni-dominated Turkey would find itself capable of leading Shi’ite dominated nations, while at the same time staving off challenges from ambitious Russian forces in the Middle East. Despite Turkey possessing the 10th strongest ranked military, its weaponry is conventional and its navy virtually a non-factor. Turkey has access to NATO nuclear weapons if attacked, but does not have autonomous control of these munitions. Russia possesses the number two-ranked military globally, has approximately five times as many tanks and pieces of artillery, and of course, has the world’s largest nuclear arsenal both in strategic and tactical nuclear weapons. Russia has its full nuclear arsenal at its disposal at any time.
Turkey is important to the United States as a “first world” nation, offers a large land buffer against Russian incursion into the Balkans (Southern Europe), supports efforts to keep Western Ukraine from being dominated by Moscow, and by providing a maritime “chokepoint” via the Bosporus at Istanbul (when Europe meets Asia), Turkey always presents a threat that Russia’s Navy at Sevastopol in Crimea may not be capable of deployment outside the Black Sea. Turkey is more stable than most other Muslim nations in the region, has been “westernized” to a great extent since the end of the Ottoman Empire in 1924, and has been an important NATO ally for many years. However, there are limits to Turkish power and Turkey, under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has moved culturally “backward” (from a Western point of view) to reenact Islamic cultural constraints. And Turkey has frequently not acted in accordance to Washington’s demands as we will mention further below.
Russia is dangerous for a variety of reasons, most of them economic at this moment. But historically, the issue has been that Russia’s peoples and economy are based in its western regions extending along a line from its northern region at St. Petersburg to the Caucasus Mountains (which lie between the Black and Caspian Seas) in the south. This most populous and industrialized area has proven vulnerable to attack through the centuries due to vast plains that exist in Eastern Europe and in Western Russia. We have seen this play out especially during the past 200 years, from the War of Napoleon at the beginning of the nineteenth century into the twentieth during World War I, and in particular with the Nazi invasion in War World II. The Cold War can be understood in no small part through Russia seeking a vast buffer to protect the Motherland against further European invasions and Western meddling in its affairs. The Ukraine has always been vital to Russia for several reasons: it is the ‘breadbasket of Europe’ with some of the best agricultural soil in the world, it provides a land buffer especially in a post-Cold War world, it now possesses the vast and critical oil and gas pipelines that supply Russian oil to Europe (and supplies over half of Russian government revenues, and eastern Ukraine plus Crimea provide Russia access to the Black Sea and through it to the Mediterranean. Its northern most ports of Murmansk are essentially useful only part of the year (when its waters aren’t frozen over), while its port at St. Petersburg is easily “choked off” through the narrow confines passing through the Baltic Sea, running amidst the waters of the Baltic States and Denmark.
An article by the respected political scientist George Friedman written for Mauldin Economics, published on January 25, 2016, provides a geographical explanation for “what makes Russians what they are” – i.e., Spartans instead of Athenians. His article is entitled, “Mapping Russia’s Strategy.” It provides vital information explaining why Russia is so determined to maintain Crimea and why any threat to Crimea is a threat to all of Russia. Friedman points out why Russians are so loyal to the Motherland, recognizing as they do, their “maritime” vulnerabilities. He also explains their seeming mentality of “fighting to the last man” to defend their country. The two maps below are from Friedman’s article and are but two of many helpful charts you will find in his article.
Looking at the map of the ‘cold war’ Europe below, we can readily see the notion of geographical ‘buffer zone’ created by the Warsaw Pact states, and now how limited that space is with all of those states freed, no longer a part of the Soviet Union. Friedman explains this very well and underscores that Russia is dangerous because of its geography and the limits its near land-locked status imposes upon it.
The Situation in Syria
Russia’s adventurous attitude in the Middle East is explained to some extent by these geographical factors. It possesses a naval base in Syria at Tartous. It now has deployed a number of submarines off the coast of Syria which are equipped with modern cruise missiles. President Vladimir Putin has boasted that such missiles are nuclear warhead capable. While Russia requires access to the Mediterranean through the Bosphorus at Istanbul, many Russian vessels have passed through this gateway and are situated off the coast of Syria. It would be naive to suppose the naval base in Syria is secondary to Russian interests. Russia demands this base to assure it has a substantial maritime presence without which any aspiring global power lacks ability to exert force. For all intents and purposes, these waterways are existential matters for the Russian government. Putin is in Syria for strategic reasons. He has no plans to leave. He also will not tolerate anyone, especially Turkey, threatening his presence there.
We cannot look at the Middle East today with making note of some very hard realities. In evaluating how the Ezekiel war would come to pass if it were to be triggered within the next two years (picking that timeframe not entirely arbitrarily), it is very hard to see how the following geopolitical realities could be ignored. For the Islamic Antichrist Theory to be correct, it must address how these geopolitical facts can be overcome.
- Russia is smack dab in the middle of the fray. It has chosen to defend its position in Syria where it has air and more importantly, the Tartous seaport. It has placed a sizable force of planes, ships, and ground personnel to attack any and all rebels opposed to Bashar al’ Assad. It is aggressively bombing targets without much interest in coordinating its efforts with the U.S. or other coalition forces.
- Shi’ites are dominating the northern Middle East. Iran is testing mid-range and long-range ballistic missiles. Iran threatens Israel but also Eastern Europe and Turkey. The probability exists that Iran already has several nuclear warheads, as does Saudi Arabia, if reports that have surfaced in the last 30 days hold any truth. Iran appears to be breaking the rules of the ‘treaty’ signed last July 14, 2015 with the U.S. and five other nations. Many are calling for sanctions once more. As its critics alleged, the treaty appears to have been a grand waste of time for everyone except Iran.
- The United States is operating in a ‘back-peddling’ mode. The U.S. government is ‘on its heels’ as they say in basketball (not ‘on its toes!’). The U.S. appears reactive to what is happening. Yes, it leads a coalition composed of NATO air power, but it is applied only to very selective bombing sorties against specific Syrian rebel targets. The U.S. never directly assaulted Assad. It was fighting a proxy war. In recent months, however, the U.S. political position has been demonstrated to be duplicitous. The current administration supplied weapons to Jabhat al’ Nusra, the Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria; and undoubtedly weapons supplied by the U.S. have fallen into the hands of ISIS, supposedly our primary enemy. Many questioned that this was accidental. Investigative reported Seymour Hersh reported in his piece in the London Review of Books in January 2016, that the White House supported the gun running via the C.I.A. making use of Gaddafi’s weapons cache after he was overthrown. The Pentagon opposed this and leaked information to Germany, Israel, and Russia hoping such information about rebel plans would get to Assad and help him defeat them.
- Turkey has been more foe than friend. Turkey currently attacks the Kurds with airpower and artillery every chance it gets, despite the fact the Kurds have demonstrated themselves to be the West’s best opposition to ISIS and other dangerous rebel groups. President Erdogan has been accused of supporting ISIS by allowing truckloads of oil to pass across Turkish borders daily, enriching ISIS with millions in revenues monthly. Corruption seems to be at the heart of Turkish intent. Putin alleged this to be so and the photographic evidence of Erdogan’s deceit is now widespread.
- Sunnis and Shias are on the verge of war against one another. Sunni nations like Turkey and Saudi Arabia amassed hundreds of thousands of troops along the Syrian borders in March 2016, in what appeared to be a coming ground invasion. Operation Northern Thunder has been concluded and no war has broken out for the time being. However, if Bashar al’ Assad’s regime appears to continue indefinitely, it is not unthinkable that military pressure will be applied by Turkish and Saudi forces directly in Syria. Any steps taken though must be carefully chosen, since all sides are threatening use of nuclear weapons.
- The U.S. has backed off its covert strategy to force a regime change in Damascus. The White House seems to be working with and through Russia to facilitate a regime change as Assad (and his father) have not only alienated the United States through the past several decades; Assad has recently antagonized the Russians to the point of exhaustion too. And yet, for many reasons, the U.S. is not well-positioned to exert much military influence in the region without drastic actions that do not appear warranted. U.S. covert operations have already led to factional and dysfunctional behaviors (between the CIA and the Pentagon) in the region. Today, Pentagon support for its Commander-in-Chief appears at an all-time low. Any major action that pits the White House against the Pentagon threatens to unleash a coups d’tats in the United States (an issue the Mainline Media will not admit now looms).
- Israel enjoys not being at the center of hostilities, but that is temporary. Israel knows that this hiatus is momentary and it stands to ultimately lose once the Syrian situation stabilizes. This is because Hezbollah has taken authority over Lebanon. Hezbollah is a proxy for Iran. Syria will likely still be reinforced with an Alawite (or ‘twelvers’ for those looking for the Twelfth Imam) or Shia-friendly government if Assad does not stay. Russia will bolster their presence and that means a Shia ally exists there. Iraq is already dominated by the Shia who are a majority in Baghdad. If the Iraqi government can find a way to mend its relationship with the Sunnis in the western Anbar province (which led to Sunni support of ISIS during the past two years), Iraq could begin to stabilize its country, albeit through a Shi’ite dominated government. In other words, the Shi’ites have a lock across the Northern ramparts of Israel, a situation that supports the Ezekiel scenario I propose in my latest book, THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST: Russia Prepares to fulfill the Prophecy of Gog and Magog.
- Russia is likely to use Syria to built up its presence in the region. With the most vicious of rebel groups defeated and the possibility Assad’s hated government set aside, Russia may find itself more or less welcomed to bring law and order back to Syria. Most Syrians (those who haven’t fled to Turkey and beyond to Europe), are like we Westerners. They are not radical jihadis. They pursue personal wealth, well-being, and a predictable lifestyle. Russia can continue to increase its numbers of tanks, mobile artillery, planes, and ground forces without much push back from the Syrians. The trick for Russia will be to placate the Sunnis sufficiently to “keep the peace” in the region, which means finding ways to appease Turkey and Saudi Arabia, so they don’t start a war that could commence World War III. Russia has a long history of being on the side of the Muslims against Israel. So while Israel and Russia are at a high water mark in their relationship, it is unlikely that Russia will maintain its de tante with Israel. It will eventually be forced to take up the position of the “two-state” solution and if Israel resists, it will likely determine it is time to push Israel into the sea to keep the Middle East calm and the oil pumping.
- Turkey could attempt to block Russia’s military build-up in Syria, but won’t. Turkey wishes to pursue its goal of becoming the revived Ottoman Empire. ISIS will likely become a diminished force in the area and Turkey will assert itself the true caliphate that Muslims must follow. However, despite declaring itself a caliphate which is predictable at some point within the next two years, it seems most unlikely that Turkey would attempt an all-out assault on Russian forces in Syria. Turkey already has leverage over Russia because it can block Russian ships coming through the Bosporus, cutting off the Russian naval base in Sevastopol. Doing so would be an act of war and Russia would absolutely do anything and everything it is power to keep its maritime point of access available. While Russia cannot invade Turkey and Turkey cannot invade Russia (neither have sufficient conventional forces to sustain such an invasion), they can launch limited assaults on strategic targets. Russia holds the trump card, however, with tactical nukes very much at its disposal and advanced anti-missile and anti-aircraft capability with its S-400 (and soon, the even more advanced S-500 system which offers offensive as well as defensive capability).
- Oil continues to be the elephant in the room. Controlling the oil fields and the pipelines in the Ukraine and in Syria are the matters that matter most. Virtually every economy in the world is hurting because of the low price of oil. The Saudis may have shot themselves in the foot. The alleged conspiracy between the House of Saud and the United States to drop the price of oil to hurt Iran and Russia may have backfired on the Saudis. Whether there was a conspiracy between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia, and while the poor and the middle class enjoy the low price of oil, the economies of Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, and Russia are all enormously impacted in a negative way. If for no other reason, war seems inevitably to be looming on the horizon to force the price of oil upward and save the economies of these nations. The issue isn’t if but when and seems to be more specifically: who will go to war, over what reason (perhaps a false flag as wars are often begun in that way), and for what duration and with what result. However it happens, it seems unlikely the status quo will be maintained much longer.
In Rocky III, when the fighter played by the actor (I use that term loosely) “Mr. T” was asked what he predicted for the bout between Rocky and himself, he said, “Pain”. If asked what I predict for the unstable situation in the Middle East, in a word I would exclaim “War”. In the final analysis, while the poor and the middle class benefit from low gasoline prices, this matters not to the world’s elite. Most informed persons know the well-to-do start wars to further enrich themselves. There is almost no reason to suspect that the situation stands any different than today. What stands in the way?
Even the possibility that nuclear weapons might be used constitutes insufficient reason to modulate the vitriol. In today’s world, the top brass of the military machine believe nuclear weapons are a manageable munition – “merely another weapon” as Barry Goldwater allegedly said in the 1960s.
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Author S. Douglas Woodward delves into these matters in great depth in his two most recent books, THE NEXT GREAT WAR IN THE MIDDLE EAST and IS RUSSIA DESTINED TO NUKE THE U.S.? Check out his author page for these and other books at Amazon.com. Click here to go to the S. Douglas Woodward book store.