But what was a national Syrian conflict has become so prolonged that it now rages well beyond its borders and even threatens yet another major Middle Eastern war. Nations parry and thrust at each other like wild beasts. Verbal threats are all too common. The psalmist asks, “Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing?” (Psalms 2:1 Psalms 2:1Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
American King James Version×).
Wrote Patrick Cockburn in the London Review of Books: “Over the last year a military stalemate has prevailed, with each side launching offensives in the areas where they are strongest. Both sides have had definite but limited successes” (“Is It the End of Sykes-Picot?” June 6, 2013). Lately foreign countries (and groups within countries) are intensifying their interventions on either one side or the other. Now Syrian President Bashar al-Assad or the rebel groups could possibly gain the upper hand in the near future.
USA Today reported: “The Syrian civil war is increasingly drawing in nations across the Middle East, a regionwide conflict that threatens to pit world powers against each other” (“Syria’s Deepening Sectarian War Bleeds Across Borders,” May 29, emphasis added throughout). President Assad and the various rebel groups have their backers. Russia and Iran have delivered sophisticated weapons to Damascus, and Israel has used precision air strikes to destroy some of them. Thousands of Hezbollah soldiers have actively intervened on Assad’s side and pulled Lebanon into this brutal civil war.
August peace talks are planned by the United States and Russia, but so far rebel groups have apparently declined to participate. Another USA Today communique (this one from Jerusalem) stated, “Israel warned Thursday that it needed to prepare for a ‘new era’ of war in the Middle East as the Syrian regime claimed the first shipment of anti-aircraft missiles from Russia had arrived” (“Syria Says It Has Advanced Missiles From Russia,” June 1). The Syrian foreign minister warned that Damascus “will retaliate immediately” if Israel strikes Syria again.
The dogs of savage wars bring untold suffering and death to any country so afflicted. “Barbarity is now commonplace in the Syrian war. Some 80,000 Syrians have been killed since the Arab Spring arrived in March 2011, and unknown numbers have been tortured and maimed” (Victor Davis Hanson, “Why Some Wars Are So Savage,” The Wall Street Journal, May 29). Meanwhile Jordan strives to cope with some 500,000 refugees from Syria.
Since its inception The Good News has kept abreast of major events in the Middle East and explained their overall meaning in the light of biblical prophecy. This strategic region remains the key to the fulfillment of many end-time prophecies leading up to the second coming of Jesus Christ. The United Church of God also publishes a comprehensive Bible study aid exploring the region’s historic and prophetic legacy - The Middle East in Bible Prophecy. (Sources: London Review of Books, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal.)