World Watch Today

A new radical Islamic state?

Steven LeBlanc

06 13 2014

Unfolding right in front of our eyes is the establishment of a violent radical Islamic state carved out of northern sections of BOTH Syria and Iraq (see map in red). This is an extreme Sunni group—Iraq is predominately Shiite. Surrounding nations– especially those that are or have been aligned with The West– Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Israel and Turkey—are feeling increasingly threatened, why, because ISIL, or sometimes called ISIS, is very radical and extreme.

ISIL has thrived amid the alienation of Iraq’s Sunni communities from the Shia-dominated Maliki government. For months, even before the takeover of Mosul and other towns and cities, Baghdad had lost control of Anbar province and faced widespread Sunni anger with Maliki’s rule.

The group calling themselves the Iraq/Syria Islamic state (ISIS or ISIL) is an extreme Sunni group of insurgents—even more aggressive than Al Qaeda. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said June 12th that his country will not tolerate the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant and “will fight and combat violence, extremism and terrorism in the region and the world.” Iran is strongly supportive of Iraq’s Shiite majority, and plays a key role in Iraq’s government (though behind the scenes).

OIL
The continued violence in Iraq will dampen the appetite of Western oil companies to invest in new production infrastructure in Iraq.

The oil concern is that they (ISIL) will disrupt Iraq’s oil production. The vast majority of Iraq’s 3.5 million barrels a day oil production lies in the South, amid the extreme Shiite majority. The risk of threatened new production growth in Iraq is a vital threat to global oil prices. Remember Iraq is one of the world’s biggest oil producers. That nation is deteriorating very quickly.

I continually refer to this passage in the Bible—Because it describes so well the conflicts that erupt in the Middle East (the Middle East is becoming even more unstable):
The way of Islam is one of hostility, anger and war…the prophecy of Genesis 16 continues to play out: “You shall name him Ishmael, for the Lord has heard your misery, He will be a wild donkey of a man; his hand will be against everyone and everyone’s hand against him, and he will live in hostility toward all his brothers”—verses 11-12.

Russia's Stranglehold on Europe

Steven LeBlanc

Gazprom (Russian gas and oil company) has always had a stranglehold on Europe–Not only does Gazprom control the natural gas in Europe, it also controls much of the infrastructure. Russia has the largest network of gas pipelines in the world.

Remember…Energy is Power!

06 12 2014

Watching Right Wing Europe

Steven LeBlanc

On the rise in Europe are right wing political parties. The recent European Parliamentarian elections were a success for right wing parties in Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Greece, Hungary and Serbia. Far-right and radical left groups will have roughly a quarter of the seats in the European Parliament, enough to gain a much louder voice regarding the direction of EU decisions. As well, we are seeing the emergence of microstates such as Scotland and Catalonia—intense nationalist movements.

Right wing parties are becoming more popular. Marine Le Pen’s National Front in France is soaring in popularity. These parties are anti-immigrant—and in certain cases anti-Jewish. What may be surprising as well is many of these parties are actually pro-Russian, not that they like Russia but they have in common with Russian President Vladimir Putin, deep conviction in ethnic states versus the lefts idea of multicultural nationhood.

In the 1930s the rise of ethnic nationalism in Europe led to horrific war—as a result millions died, 2 out of every 3 European Jews were killed, most in death camps in Poland. So ethnic and nationalist movements are worth paying attention to.

Jesus warned us in Matthew 24:6 about “wars and rumors of wars” as a sign of His “coming and of the end of the age” (verse 3). What you may not know is that the Greek word for “nation” (in verse 7) is ethnos, showing that these escalating conflicts would be largely ethnic-based wars.

Steven LeBlanc

THE UNTRUSTWORTHY SUPERPOWER

Steven LeBlanc

05 29 2014

A superpower is expected to act with clear decisive strokes, but this is not what America’s allies see coming out of Washington. Inaction and evading tough choices is the default foreign policy strategy of the United States. National columnist Charles Krauthammer put it in abrupt terms: “President Obama is learning very late that, for a superpower, inaction is a form of action. You can abdicate, but you really can’t hide. History will find you. It has found Obama.”

America’s influence is at its lowest ebb in 40 years. America’s allies look to us to support them in times of trouble. But we have not been a faithful friend–Washington has failed repeatedly to honor its word, and its implied obligations with its [allies]—they have had enough! The harsh reality is the United States is a rapidly declining superpower—our allies and our enemies are clearly aware of this fact. What most Americans don’t appreciate is that God is no longer blessing our nation.

One particular lesson here is that God expects people and nations to keep their pledges and commitments. Take note of Numbers 30:2: “If a man vows a vow to the Lord, or swears an oath to bind himself by a pledge, he shall not break his word (this applies for international agreements as well). He shall do according to all that proceeds out of his mouth.” America is no longer dependable—and our allies know it.

America’s friends are angry, and with good reason. The President speaks with determined, bold rhetoric when addressing international crises– but does not follow through with deeds. Let’s review America’s response to the assortment of international crises that have pressured our allies:

IRAN: Saudi Arabia and the other Sunni Gulf states are terrified of Iranian (Shiite) supremacy (territorial and soon nuclear); they well know that Iran has dreams of a establishing a Shiite crescent throughout the Middle East. America is supposed to be a staunch ally of Saudi Arabia and the Sunni Gulf states. The Saudi Royal family is said to be enraged at the President’s gullible approach to Iranian craftiness (regarding talks with Iran over its nuclear program), the Saudi’s are now looking elsewhere, to other nations with whom they have more in common (such as Pakistan).

SYRIA: The President drew a red line in Syria, and then evaded his word leaving Sunni rebel forces empty-handed in their fight against the Iranian-backed butcher Bashar al-Assad. Iran brought in weapons, mobilized Hezbollah and is now bringing in Afghans to fight in Syria—America continues to do very little—not even arming some of the more moderate rebel forces. The Shiite forces of Iran/Syria are winning the war against the Sunni rebels primarily because America has chosen to remain neutral—this is the conclusion of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Turkey (all Sunni dominated nations). The message to our Middle East allies is the U.S. will not back you as you oppose Iranian ambitions in the Middle East.

ISRAEL: The Netanyahu government has lost all confidence in Mr. Obama’s presidency. Israel estimates that Iran already has sufficient quantities of enriched uranium to produce five atomic bombs. As Netanyahu has said, the short-term nuclear deal the US and its allies signed with Iran last November only delays Iran’s bomb making capacity by six weeks. Israel is now looking toward improving ties with Russia.

EGYPT: When protests began in Egypt three years ago, rather than stand with its ally, President Obama turned his back on Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (long-time American supporter) and sided with the Jihadist Muslim Brotherhood. The whole Middle East took note of the President’s flip-flop. Then more recently, President Obama cut off military aid to Egypt after Egypt’s ruler Fattah al-Sisi ousted the Muslim Brotherhood from running the country. The military stepped in at a time when the gross mismanagement and extremism of the Brotherhood had driven millions of Egyptians into the streets demanding an end to Brotherhood rule. Egypt is being chastised by the President for ousting the Muslim Brotherhood from power, even though the Brotherhood was strongly anti-American. Other Middle Eastern allies such as Saudi Arabia, Israel, Kuwait and Jordan are now asking when will the President do a U-turn in their relationship as he did with Egypt?

The Egyptian leader said that U.S. military aid was desperately needed to help Egypt fight Islamist terrorism in the Sinai peninsula and Jihadi training camps in Libya near Egypt’s border. Washington’s refusal to assist Egypt battle a strong militant Islamist insurgency in Egypt, and to help contain ongoing civil strife in Iraq, Libya and Syria, has created “fertile ground for religious extremism” that would be “disastrous” for both America and the Arabs—so stated the Egyptian leader General Sisi.

IRAQ & LIBYA: Middle East leaders and Israel say that President Obama has abandoned Iraq to the control of Iran. Al Qaeda’s has taken control of large swaths of land in Iraq—it is very much present in Syria and it controls portions of Libya.

AFGHANISTAN: Middle East leaders, Israel and Pakistan claim Washington is in the process of abandoning Afghanistan.

UKRAINE: The President spoke valiantly about self-determination– then refused to give Ukrainians arms to repel Russian troops massed upon the Ukrainian border. Under the 1994 BUDAPEST MEMORANDUM, Ukraine agreed to transfer all of its nuclear arms to Russia. In exchange, Russia, the US and the UK promised “to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine…if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression.” The treaty was simply not honored. Russia took Crimea (Ukrainian territory) enduring only a small slap on the wrist from America and the EU.

An Arutz Sheva [Israel National News] article asserts: “The lesson for Israel from Ukraine’s current plight, according to ex-Member of the Knesset Aryeh Eldad, is that Western guarantees of Israel’s security must never be trusted.

CHINA, JAPAN & PHILIPPINES: Chinese perceptions of American weakness are fueling the aggressiveness with which Beijing is pushing its domination agenda in the East and South China seas. Japan and China are edging toward war over a heated dispute regarding the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. Both countries claim sovereignty over the Islands, which are near important shipping lanes and fishing grounds. The Islands are currently under Japanese control but are contested by the Chinese. “Due to the brutal Japanese occupation of China in the 1930s, sentiments over the status of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands run deeper in the Chinese psyche than any other territorial dispute in modern Chinese history, with the exception of Taiwan,” the International Crisis Group said in its recent report.

America has weighed in repeatedly on the side of Japan regarding the dispute. China has told America to mind its own business. Beijing demands that the United States respect Chinese national security, and to stop making “irresponsible remarks” about China’s claims on the islands. China is not afraid of the U.S.

Tensions in the South China Sea flared this month when China moved a giant oil rig into an area also claimed by Vietnam. The Philippines has accused China of building up its military in the Spratly Islands (which may contain significant oil and natural gas reserves). The Spratlys are strategically located near several key shipping lanes.

Both China and the Philippines claim sovereignty over the disputed Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. The Chinese navy seized control over the waters following a standoff in early 2012. That move has led to an intense breakdown in Chinese-Filipino relations ever since, with Philippine President Benigno Aquino III recently comparing China’s South China Sea policy to Hitler’s invasion of the Czechoslovakia in the years prior to WWII. The U.S. is perceived to be a tired superpower, its unwillingness to deal with international disputes is emboldening aggressive powers.

Some analysts are speculating that China’s strategy will be to seize all the islands in the South China Sea, one at a time, counting on the fact that no single military act would force a response out of Washington.

Thousands of years ago God chose ancient Israel to be His model nation—to act as an example to other countries. They were to keep the 10 commandments—this was to be the key to national greatness. As the Israelites entered the Promised Land, notice what Moses told them: “Surely I have taught you statutes and judgments, just as the Lord my God commanded me, that you should act according to them in the land which you go to possess. Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. ‘For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the Lord our God is to us, for.’  whatever reason we may call upon Him?”And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today? (Deuteronomy: 4:5-8)

Today, most Americans have rejected the laws of God. We have embraced immorality, and foolish behavior, and it is getting worse with no signs of repentance. Great punishment lies ahead because like Ancient Israel we have rejected God’s wisdom as displayed in His commandments.

As the United States becomes weaker other nations will seek to fill the leadership vacuum we leave behind. Dangerous miscalculations and aggressive behavior by our enemies will increase—the world will become even more unstable in the years ahead.

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