Conflict Again in Iraq, Why It Matters
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It’s Sunni versus Shiite once again in Iraq and this time America is not around to keep the peace. How far will sectarian strife escalate during this round of fighting in this ancient region?
A group of Arab fighters calling themselves the Islamic State of Iraq (ISIS) have come back in force in northern Iraq and taken control of key cities of Tikrit and Mosul. Thought to have been weakened and out of the game, this group has had a resurgence of support in northern Iraq and eastern Syria. Coupled with the utter collapse of Iraqi forces in that region, their display of force over the past few days has created the largest threat to stability and security in Iraq since the American-led overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s government in 2003. Without American ground troops in the region, the fate of the country is uncertain. It appears that predictions of the Iraqi army's lack of preparedness, coupled with the political weakness of the country's leadership have come true. Tens of thousands of civilians fleeing their homes is the usual, and unfortunate, result of these conflicts.
This current conflict is on our mind: last week we recorded an episode of Beyond Today to air close to the 100th anniversary of the beginning of World War I in August. We showed in the program how the current conflicts in the Middle East—and Iraq and Syria in particular—are a result of the decisions made in the aftermath of that war. The lines of the current Middle East nations were drawn during the Paris Peace Conference after the war. The lines dividing the countries did not always take into consideration the religious and ethnic differences. What we are seeing in today’s news out of the region is part of that story.
The problem is compounded today because of a vacuum of power created by America’s reluctance to police this failed region. America is going through a crisis of confidence in its role as the sole superpower in today’s world. The American-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 “broke” the fragile glue that held the nation together. Since having pulled out all troops, the country was left to police itself. Unfortunately, as this week’s events show, Iraq does not have a strong enough army and government to effectively maintain control.
Jesus Christ listed the rise of conflict among nations (nation shall rise agains nation) in Matthew 24:6 as one of the signs of the end of this present age. The word nation here is ethnos and more accurately refers to ethnic strife between the smaller grouping of peoples within larger nations. These intractable conflicts are what drag larger nations into war against one another.
Bible prophecy shows the Middle East will again drag larger nations into the region. What we are seeing in Iraq today shows us how this could be done in the future. That is why what is happening today in Iraq and Syria matters.