The nearly five-year-long Syrian civil war continues to burn with no real progress made by either Bashar al-Assad’s regime or by the grassroots rebel movement. The conflict has notably drawn the United States, Russia and others into the conflict. ISIS has taken full advantage of the chaotic situation and has pushed hard into Syria. A new and very powerful agent may be entering the fray, at least diplomatically for the present.
Bloomberg reports that “The violence swirling out from Syria in recent weeks is pressuring China to step off the sidelines and take a more active role in international efforts to stem the conflict” (Ting Shi, “China Pulled Further Into Syria Crisis as Terrorism Threat Grows,” Nov. 22, 2015).
China’s growing interest in the Syrian conflict follows on the heels of the murder of a Chinese captive by ISIS. It’s remarkable that such a relatively small and loosely organized group of extremists can draw the attention of the world’s great powers. As these powers converge on the Middle East they’re brought into conflict not only with Islamic extremists but with one another, competing for influence and strategic positioning.
Eastern interest in Syria and the Middle East is interesting because of a prophecy in the book of Revelation concerning an invasion of the region by eastern forces. In the revelation given to John, Jesus showed Him a future time when “the sixth angel poured out his bowl on the great river Euphrates, and its water was dried up to prepare the way for the kings from the East” (Revelation 16:12 Revelation 16:12And the sixth angel poured out his vial on the great river Euphrates; and the water thereof was dried up, that the way of the kings of the east might be prepared.
American King James Version×).
What is the way that’s prepared for them? It’s the way to the land of Israel, where armies will gather for a climactic battle: “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon” (Revelation 16:16 Revelation 16:16And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon.
American King James Version×). Much must yet take place before these last events before Jesus’ return, but the current crisis is a good reminder of how easily world attention can turn to one location. (Source: Bloomberg.)