The Syrian debacle

Steven LeBlanc
04122016I continue to watch the massive wave of migration that has been sweeping Europe. The unprecedented surge over the past 12 months has been astounding. At the heart of the surge is the Syrian civil war. Eleven million people have been displaced in Syria; nearly five million have left the country. Here are facts concerning the importance of Syria and how that country (once 22 million in population) is having an impact upon the world:

1. The chaos in Syria, Iraq, Libya, North Africa and Afghanistan is creating a massive wave of migration into Europe. Syria is the chief catalyst for this exodus from the Middle East into Europe.  The emigration crisis is creating enormous political fissures within the European Union.  Nations cannot agree on how to handle the crisis.  Poland and Hungary have made it clear, they will not accept migrants from the Middle East.  This has not gone over well in Germany, who has accepted over one million migrants in the last year.
2. Syriais in a strategic location globally. It borders, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Iraq, and Lebanon—nearly 5 million people have fled the Syrian civil war, many of these refugees live in squalid camps in Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Iraq. They have nowhere to go and most are unemployed.  This is a tinder-box waiting to catch fire.
3. There are 97 opposition groups agreeing to the ceasefire in Syria.  With that many distinct groups, all-vying for power, do not expect rebel forces to overthrow the Assad government anytime soon.
4. Syria is crucial to Russia.  It provides the Kremlin with a port in the Mediterranean Sea with exposure to Southern Europe.
5. Russia supports the Assad regime, and does not want to see a “democratic” Syria.  Russia does not want a democratic Syria.  From Moscow’s perspective, better to have a brutal dictatorship in Syria that it can influence than a democratic Syria that may pull away from Russia.
6. ISIS CONTROLS THE SYRIAN CITY OF  RAQQA.  Raqqa, is a provincial city in northern Syria that ISIS has made its operational center and the de-facto capital of the Islamic State.
7. America failed to stand up to Assad in Syria.  President Obama drew red lines, yet he did not follow through on his word regarding Assad’s use of chemical weapons.  The Arab Middle East, Israel, Iran and Russia all took note of America’s lack of resolve.  Many look at the U.S. as a tired, wobbly superpower.

Where does Israel fit into this chaos in the Middle East? For now the civil war in Syria has helped Israel. With the Arab nations fighting one another, the ongoing civil war in Syria, the threat of ISIS in the region…these factors mean that the nations of the Middle East have little interest in attacking Israel at this time.

As for ISIS, of all the places ISIS is attempting to expand, Saudi Arabia is the most attractive and potentially the most dangerous for the rest of the region. It is home to Islam’s holiest sites, Mecca and Medina. Saudi Arabia’s monarchy is weak and getting weaker. Its oil wealth is located on a politically unstable fault line between Sunnis and Shiites. The price of oil is hurting the Saudi economy. Look for more terrorist activity against Saudi Arabia at the hands of ISIS.

Getting back to Syria. We know eventually its enemies will overwhelm Syria, and that Damascus will be completely destroyed (Isaiah 17 & Jeremiah 49); but we are not quite there yet time wise. For now Russia and Iran will not allow Syria to be overrun by rebel forces. The downfall of Assad would allow ISIS to fill the power vacuum should Assad be driven from power. No one wants to see Syria ruled by ISIS.

Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen are all broken. Brother against brother, tribe against tribe is the theme playing out in much of the Middle East. The prophecy of Ishmael’s descendants, that they would be engulfed in endless conflict is what we see today: “his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he dwell in the presence of all his brethren” Genesis 16:12.

Syria will not heal until Jesus Christ returns, overthrowing all the governments of this world, and establishing the Kingdom of God on earth.

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