World Watch Today

Iran Feuding with Saudi Arabia

The leaders of Iran and Saudi Arabia are feuding. It would not be an exaggeration to say they are enemies. Iran has warned Saudi Arabia that they would suffer consequences if they raised oil output to replace Iranian crude facing an international ban. Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal told Al-Arabiya television last week that the Saudi government is serious about closing down the Strait of Hormuz and serious about punishing Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia and Iran have competed for influence in the Middle East for years, including when the U.S. led invasion ousted Saddam Hussein igniting a sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shia Muslims. Sunnis rule in Saudi Arabia, Shia dominate in Iran. The two rivals have also wrestled for influence in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. The Iranian plot to kill the Saudi Ambassador to Washington in 2011 is the most brazen act in the simmering feud between the House of Saud and the clerics of Iran.

Iran’s ruling clerics claim the Saudi royals are corrupt guardians of Islam’s holiest sites. Saudi Arabia is convinced that Iran harbors dangerous ambitions to control the region, and will use a nuclear weapon to bully Middle East nations into yielding to their agenda. So worried are the Saudis that it is rumored they have given Israel permission to fly through Saudi air space to attack Iran.

The London Times previously reported that Israel has permission to fly through Saudi Air space should they strike Iran: “The Saudis have given their permission for the Israelis to pass over and they will look the other way,” said a U.S. defense source in the Persian Gulf area told the Times. “They have already done tests to make sure their own jets aren’t scrambled and no one gets shot down. This has all been done with the agreement of the [US] State Department.”

Despite the tension between Israel and Saudi Arabia, they share a mutual hatred of the Iranian leadership and a common fear of Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Saudi Arabia began deploying its military in the east opposite the Persian Gulf.
 Patriot PAC-2 and PAC-3 intercept missile batteries were installed around key oil fields and oil terminals within the Saudi Kingdom. The Saudi Kingdom is taking very seriously an attack by Iran should tensions escalate in the Middle East.

Job 12:23-25 tells us that God in His power will determine who controls the Middle East: He makes nations strong and great, but then he defeats and destroys them. He makes their leaders foolish and lets them wander confused and lost; they grope in the dark and stagger like drunkards. Iran’s designs for influence may not fit well with God’s will for the region. We wait and watch.

Steven LeBlanc

Massive U.S. Military Buildup Near Iran

Israeli news intelligence sources are reporting that Washington has ordered large US air, marine and naval forces to two islands not that far away from the Persian Gulf. The two islands are Socotra, which is part of a Yemeni archipelago in the Indian Ocean, and the Omani island of Masirah at the southern exit of the Strait of Hormuz.

President Obama is hoping to draw Iran into talks through sanctions, but if that does not work—the war option is on the table, which means air strikes against Iran’s nuclear instillations.

The Obama administration had to negotiate a deal with Yemen for use of the Yemeni owned Island. American troops may top 50,000 between the Masirah and Socotra Islands by the end of March.

America and Israel are preparing for war…with Iran. Evil spiritual forces can sway world governments (see Daniel 8:23, 24; Revelation 13:2-8; 2 Corinthians 4:4). Will those forces soon provoke war in the Middle East? We wait and watch.

Steven LeBlanc

Porn Addicted America

Ever since Playboy first hit the magazine stands back in 1953, pornography has stamped itself into the very fabric of American behavior:

          * More than 70% of men from age 18 to 34 visit a pornographic web site in a typical month             (comScore Media Metrix).
          * The total porn industry revenue for 2006 in United States: 13.3 billion.
          * U.S. adult DVD/Video rentals in 2005:  almost 1 billion (Adult Video News).
          * Hotel viewership for adult films:  55% (cbsnews.com).

Pornography has its icy grip on Americans, and thanks to the Internet, explicit images are easily available in every U.S. city, neighborhood and home.  With explicit images so easily accessible we find even today’s Christians viewing pornography:

          * 29% of “born again” adults in the U.S. feel it is morally acceptable to view movies with         explicit sexual behavior (The Barnes Group).
          * 51% of pastors say cyber-porn is a possible temptation.  37% say it is a current struggle    (Christianity Today).

Today we see the heart-breaking consequences:  broken marriages, sexual deviancy of all kinds, homosexuality, and violent sexual crimes.  The results of a pornography-saturated society are all negative.  Whenever God’s laws are ignored the outcome can never be healthy.

God’s word warns us against the misuse of our sexual desires and extramarital relationships are condemned (I Cor. 6:15-20).  The Commandment “You shall not commit adultery” is for our benefit and protection.  Jesus Christ warns our porn addicted society… “Whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” (Matt 5:28)

In Need of the Death Penalty

America has the highest murder rate in the world. And we stab, beat, shoot and rape people as if it were a national hobby. Yet surprisingly we kill very few hardened criminals on a yearly basis. Is the death penalty wrong? Is killing a known murderer somehow anti-Christian?

I believe the death penalty is an important responsibility of civil government. The Bible is clearly in favor of capital punishment as a means of ridding a nation of evil people. So important is the death penalty for murder that it is listed in the first five books of the Bible:

Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed, for in His image did God make mankind (Genesis 9:6). A human being is created in God’s image, anyone who intentionally takes the life of a human being loses his right to life. Any lesser penalty means that taking of a human life is not that important in the eyes of God—which is a blatant deception.

• Exodus 21:12: He who fatally strikes a man shall be put to death.

• Leviticus 24:17: If anyone slays a human being, he shall be put to death.

• Numbers 35:31: And you shall not take reparation for the soul of a murderer who deserves to die, but he shall be put to death.

• Deuteronomy 19:20 reveals that the death penalty helps to maintain the fear of God in a nation—so people shall hear and be afraid.

• The Bible endorses capital punishment so strongly that it states…you shall take a murderer from my very altar to die (Exodus 21:14). Murderers cannot claim sanctuary. Murder was to be punished quickly. When crimes are not punished quickly then the deterrent impact does not take effect: When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong—Ecclesiastes 8:11.

Murderers even when paroled often continue to kill civilians, or kill other prisoners in prison or kill prison guards. That an innocent person may be executed is an argument often used by those who are against the death penalty. But such an argument does not invalidate the death penalty. There are always risks to be attended to in life but we do not stop living life because risk is involved.

Far more innocent people die every day because of our soft approach to crime than die due to the rare mistake of putting to death an innocent person.

The Apostle Paul made it clear that the state has a responsibility before God to deal with evil people, and that includes applying the death penalty when warranted. Romans 13:4 states: The ruler bears not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him who does evil.

Many claim that the Death Penalty is not a deterrent. It would be a strong deterrent if the penalty was imposed within 1 month as opposed to the years it takes to see through the execution of a criminal. Very few criminals are executed each year (approximately 43 per year in the United States).

God was angry with ancient Israel and Judah because they allowed evil people to continue to live…we are making the same mistake today. Ezekiel 13:19: … and you spare the lives of people who shouldn’t live. It is not compassionate to allow evil criminals to live—it violates God’s law and harms society.

Steven LeBlanc

U.S. Draws Red Line with Iran

The United States government reportedly sent a letter to Iran via several mediators last week warning Tehran that any attempt to close the Strait of Hormuz constituted a red line for Washington. It appears that the U.S., Israel and Iran are inching their way closer to military conflict.

Many assume, that the assassination of the Iranian scientist associated with the country’s nuclear program last week was either a U.S. or most likely an Israeli operation. The recent killing of an Iranian scientist has generated fear and morale problems among those working on the nuclear program.

Mark Helprin writing for the Wall Street Journal (January 18th), makes these sensible conclusions about Iran’s grab for power:

Without doubt, Iran has long wanted nuclear weapons—to deter American intervention in its and neighboring territories; to threaten Europe and thereby cleave it from American interests in the Middle East; to respond to the former Iraqi nuclear effort; to counter the contiguous nuclear presences in Pakistan, Russia and the U.S. in the Gulf; to neutralize Israel’s nuclear deterrent so as to limit it to the attrition of conventional battle, or to destroy it with one lucky shot; to lead the Islamic world; to correct the security imbalance with Saudi Arabia, which aided by geography and American arms now outclasses it; and to threaten the U.S. directly.

The Iranians are quite willing to obstruct the Strait of Hormuz, through which roughly 40 percent of seaborne crude and 20 percent of the world’s traded oil passes daily. Doing so would hurt the Iranian people. If an air attack takes place Iran would move quickly to close the Strait. Obstructing the flow of oil could rapidly create a global financial panic -–world stock markets would swoon.

The Chinese and Indians — Iran’s No. 1 and 3 buyers of crude oil, will continue to buy from Iran. Beijing is the largest importer of Iranian oil in Asia, accounting for almost 20% of all shipments from Tehran. Turkey, an American ally, will continue to trade with Iran—so will Russia, an important trading partner. The Europeans claim they will participate in much stronger sanctions against Iran, but they already have delayed implementing action against the Iranians. Italy and Greece are large importers of Iranian oil and do not want to see harder sanctions.

Iran warned Saudi Arabia against delivering additional oil to world markets should oil supplies to the world market shrink due to sanctions against Iran. Saudi Arabia is in favor of air strikes against Iran. Saudi princes believe Iran is trying to topple the Saudi Kingdom—there is bad blood between the two countries. The warning from Tehran came a day after Saudi Arabia’s oil minister promised to boost the kingdom’s production by as much as 2.7 million barrels a day if Iran attempts to close down the Strait of Hormuz.

“The way of peace they have not known” (Isaiah 59:8). War is more likely than not. Jesus Christ warned that man would eventually come to the point of self-destruction, except that Christ Himself will intervene to save mankind (Matthew 24:21-22). Christ will then establish the Kingdom of God, the focus of His teaching (Mark 1:14).

Steven LeBlanc

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