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In March of 2015, we published a Circular Letter based on an article by Rami G. Khouri, a reporter for the  Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon. That piece was dated April, 2013. It summarized and explained briefly but coherently the six simultaneous conflicts going on in Syria today.

Since that date some of these elements have accelerated; but none have diminished. The newest factor is the heavy injection of Russian forces – men and materiel – into the region with startling intensity. But this move by Russia to our view seems logically misplaced – an adventure doomed to failure, as have several other such recent initiatives taken by the Bear. We shall discuss it more fully below. 

As basis for this present consideration, we quote from that published article, as follows:

“The fourth conflict taking place in Syria is the renewed but more limited version of the Cold War between the United States and Russia (with other players such as China and assorted European states hanging around to pick up energy contracts and other gains). At its most simple, this renewed Son of the Cold War sees Russia taking a determined stand in Syria to prevent the United States from unilaterally deciding which Arab leaders go and which ones stay, while also burnishing its renewed credentials as a global power. Almost a quarter of a century after the end of the original Cold War, Russia is trying to recalibrate global power relations, formally closing the “post-Cold War” era in which the U.S. was the world’s sole superpower in a unipolar world.”

This arena of the conflict is now changing quite rapidly, and fully in accord with the above forecast.

Recent headlines (October 5, 2015) revealed that Russia is intent upon bringing about 150,000 members of its armed forces into Syria along with great amounts of military material and supplies – indeed has already begun to do so.

It has also stepped up air strikes in the Syrian theater, but records indicate that they are not exercised against ISIS as Russia claims, but against the Syrian rebels.

Its planes are flying more sorties by much greater multiples than those of the US; suddenly the skies over Syria seem alive with swirling aircraft.

The US administration does not seem to be able to get its program into action – and has not done so for months. It is as if its decisions are not based in confident planning. Why is it holding back attacking the forces of ISIS?

We hear from highly trusted sources that the generals in Washington are frustrated by the slow and awkward pace of the American effort to slow and diminish ISIS.

To us, it seems almost as if an invisible hand is playing a part in this affair.

Are the major players attempting to go in directions that are not intended by the Almighty? “Things” seem inordinately confused to our way of thinking.

It is well known that Russia’s past ventures into foreign countries has generally not fared well.

Consider its extension into Afghanistan several years ago. That ended in Russia leaving with its tail between its legs, defeated, and humiliated.

Later, it was turned back rather abruptly in Georgia.

It’s true that its takeover of Crimea was eminently successful; but following that, its greater war within Ukraine has ground to an halt.

Perhaps the opinion of some knowledgeable observers is correct: that Russia is again headed for a disastrous adventure in Syria.

This tentative conclusion agrees with our biased view of the entire Russian affair (biased by our credence in scripture).

Russia seems, in our considered view, to have stepped into the fray prematurely, because the prophets whom we know and trust are quite clear ONLY as to Russia’s future role as Ros, the head of which is a “demigod” (a term which should rather be demagogue) called Gog of the land of Magog, who has gotten great power by false claims or appealing to emotions rather than facts (as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary).

But these same prophets are mute on any important role of Ros (Russia) at this stage in prophetic fulfilment – in our opinion. And we believe the excitement and edgy notice that many place upon these Russian adventures is probably misplaced and will amount to almost nothing in the big picture.

This view, however, was enhanced just yesterday, when an authoritative source reported that Royal Air Force (RAF) pilots in Syria have been instructed to shoot down any Russian planes which are threatening them (International Business News). This decision was made when several Russian jets approached too close to the British planes, and seemed to threaten them. The RAF Typhoon fighter jets are equipped with air-to-air missiles which can reach other aircraft before the British jets are threatened – that is, they can destroy other aircraft from a “safe” distance. This decision adds to the intrigue of the moment, certainly.

The fact is, we shall all just have to resigning ourselves to “wait it out’ to see the end result.

But the other main factor in this conflict certainly has our rapt attention.

The unique character and charter of ISIS seems ominously impressive to us, overall.

It sprang suddenly into view almost fully formed; it originated in another group (al-Qaeda) whose fierce leaders repudiated ISIS partially because of its inhumane ferocity and murderous course – perhaps realizing that such aberrant behaviour (even for these insanely savage warriors) would gain great, generalized disdain for its leaders and condemnation of its tactics.

This has been the result, as all should agree; but its leaders remain committed to their original course of conduct – their relentless cruelty, their atrocious brutality even against innocent civilians, their savage malice toward all resistors, and their unhindered ambition to become a major force in the Arab world.

Where else in all history may we perceive such reckless abandon even in the affairs of warfare?

Only Assyria comes to our minds in ancient time – the prototypical evil nation of the times of the prophets.

This fact, coupled with the precise area in which this modern entity has chosen to operate – the exact territories of ancient Assyria – leads us to conclude that this entity of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (a.k.a., Islamic State, or IS) is the interpretation (identification) which we should place upon the prophecy of Micah the Morasthite in his chapter 5 – that ISIS of today is the “Assyria” of that prophecy

And this is especially logical, as the leaders of this new entity have announced their immediate future plans as being to replace Syria and Iraq (now in progress), then to move southward across Jordan’s border, then eastward into Judea and Samaria – entering the heartland of Israel. At that point, in their plans, Israel will be finished – defeated, driven into the sea.

This goal is logical for an entity whose intermediate goal is to destroy God’s people – a goal which also correlates with that of Assyria in the days of Hezekiah, as in Isaiah 37:36, and that the result shall surely be the same as on that occasion: Isaiah 37:33 -Therefore thus saith the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall not come into this city, nor shoot an arrow there, nor come before it with shields, nor cast a bank against it.

The lover of God’s word will surely reach the conclusion that Israel of today – God’s chosen people, now being restored to its Land – is safely in His hands, and covered by His angelic charges against any serious incursion of any foreign power into its territory and against its people.

 Some folk who forecast a great future “tribulation” for Israel have, in our opinion, misinterpreted the gist of all the prophets, and effectively have denied the word which the Almighty has given concerning this second recovery of His people (cf., Hebrews 11:11)  from the “wilderness of the people” (Ezekiel 20:35, 36).

There is to be “tribulation,” it’s true; but that is an effect which shall fall upon the necks of Israel’s enemies, and not upon Israel, God’s  people. We see it in rapid progress already, as we view current affairs in the Levant, and faithfully following the course already prescribed by Israel’s prophets.  Harold E. Lafferty