The real motive behind Russia’s move into Syria

The motive behind Russia’s initial move to militarise Syria was at best, unclear.

Although President Putin at one point spoke of it as a both a humanitarian and anti-terrorism move, little has been done in way of humanitarian work drawing scepticism from western analysts. Furthermore, while ISIS may be a threat to Russia, it posed no more or less of a threat than other terrorist groups.

So what was the real reason behind the Russian occupation of Syria? The answer, perhaps, was hiding in Russia’s nationalistic culture; a latent fantasy – inherited from the Soviet era – of portraying a powerful and globally assertive image-empire, was provoked, to awaken from decades of hibernation. Let me explain:

Amongst other things, Russia’s herculean military enables it to have a voice and influence in international affairs. However, national strength doesn’t lie in brute force alone; such force must be projected globally in order to define Russia as a power to be reckoned with. This is especially apparent in the Middle East, where there is nothing more vital to its deployment capabilities, than its naval fleet.

The problem is that although Russia’s 1234landmass is large, during winter its ports are frozen over which drastically reduces mobility. Although icebreakers are able to separate
the ice and allow ships passage, ice breaking is a slow process and only limited number of capable ships can transit. To rely only on cold water ports would severely limit its global power projection and therefore it is crucial for Russia to maintain warm-water ports in the south.

Russia currently has two globally accessible warm water ports; Tartus in Syria and Sevastopol in Crimea.

Sevastopol

In the 1990’s the port was12345 leased to the Russians on a long-term lease. In 2012 Ukraine wanted to join the EU. However they had new elections and Viktor
Yanukovych was elected as the President. Yanukovych was pro-Russian, and he rejected the EU association agreement and instead pursued closer ties with Russia. This resulted in mass demonstrations in Ukraine and continued until Ukraine appeared to be on the brink of civil war. In February 2014 Yanukovych fled to Russia. The conflicts in Ukraine threatened Russia’s warm water port Sevastopol. Also at that time it appeared that the rebels in Syria would defeat Assad, which could result in the loss of Russia’s port in Tartus. So in March 2014 Russia annexed Crimea, thus enabling them to maintain control of Sevastopol. To quote Forbes; “Put simply, without a naval base in Crimea, Russia is finished as a global military power.”

However although Russia now has control of Sevastopol, the port has a key limitation. Access from Sevastopol to the Mediterranean – aka the world – via the Turkish straits; the Bosphorus and 123455Dardenelles, relies completely on Turkish goodwill. Russia and Turkey
have never been on good terms, thus it was necessary for Russia to also secure their port at Tartus; Syria in the event of a Turkish blockade. Incidentally, such a blockade would also be catastrophic for the Russian campaign in Syria, as Tartus is inaccessible by land.

Tartus

During the cold war, the Soviet made deals with several nations in the Middle East which enabled them to lease ports, this included a deal with Syria to lease Tartus. However at the fall of the Soviet Union, most of these alliances and deals likewise collapsed, excluding the Tartus agreement which remained leased to the Russians. This was possible in 2005 when Russia forgave 73% of Syria’s 13.5 billion dollar debt to Russia. In exchange for this reduction in debt, it appears Syria gave permission to Russia to develop and enlarges their port at Tartus.

How amazing it is to see the Elohim allow that that single, yet strategically chosen port to stay within Russian hands for a future purpose. There are not many other options of ports in the Mediterranean for the Russians to use. Although Russia is allies with countries like Libya, they are too unstable. Other options such as Egypt would be viewed as politically dangerous as it would cause conflict with the UK or US. Syria is geographically very close to Russia, and with no other option, it made sense for Russia to develop Tartus.

a55ebf70a48e88d6d2a23ae32e927b67
Russian naval squadron en route to Syria

It wasn’t until Russia secured Sevastopol, that it set eyes on Tartus. Around the same time that Russia invaded Crimea, the Syrian civil war began threaten Russia’s lease of Tartus. On the 30th of September 2015, Russia responded to the threat by fortifying Tartus and setting up infrastructure to neutralise the Rebel factions which were closest to the base.

By intervening in Syria, Russia first secured Tartus enabling it to become the base of its power projection in the Mediterranean and consequently the world. Secondly and perhaps inadvertently, it gave Russia an opportunity to begin the awakening of its image-empire. Already, both the Papacy, and Europe are looking to Russia for help.

Even though Russia is suffering from US-imposed sanctions due to the annexation of Crimea, it appears that by involving itself in the Syrian civil war – under the guise of humanitarian and anti-terrorism endeavours – that it has been given an opportunity to stop the migrant flow into Europe and become the indispensable European partner. As both the migrant crisis and terrorism grows, Russia will gain increasing leverage over the West and position themselves to have sanctions removed. Germany is already in favour of the removal of sanctions against Russia.

Scriptural significance

Daniel 11:40 talks of a latter day manifestation of the King of the North. Prior to verse 40, the ancient King of the North occupied and controlled the area of the Seleucid empire which included todays Iraq and Syria. To be a letter day manifestation of the same empire, the latter day King of the North must occupy the same region. We are beginning to see the fulfilment of this! Russia is not only in Syria now, but also beginning to enter Iraq to conquer ISIS.

As Russia has become unwittingly involved in the Syrian Civil war while endeavouring to fortify Tartus, it has stumbled across an unfortunate foe – ISIS. ISIS have dragged Russia into conflict, and not only Russia, but most of the world’s largest superpowers. Ezekiel prophesied that one day, Russia would be dragged down to build a confederacy, and to do this, God would put “hooks in their jaws” (Ezekiel 38). It’s possible this is being fulfilled through ISIS. The nations are now gathering just North of Israel and coalitions are being forged.

Through Russia’s endeavour to become a world power by expanding their naval access, the angels are pushing Russia to become the KON, which means this is the last days! We are on the brink of Christ’s return.

Note: This post was generously written and contributed by a young Sister who prefers to remain anonymous.

Russia doubles its presence in Syria.

This week, Putin said this about ISIS:

“We will search for them everywhere, wherever they are hiding. We will find them in any spot on the planet, and we will punish them”

A few weeks ago, we reflected on Deuteronomy 28 where God said to Israel that if they neglected his ways, that God would punish them by sending a nation against them, a nation with a fierce countenance. Russia is exhibiting a fierce countenance and while it doesn’t yet have its eye on Israel, it is being dragged down into the Middle East.

We also had a brief look at three distinct and well documented characteristics about Putin which are very similar to what we might expect Gog to show. One of these characteristics – his tendency to quickly resort to overpowering violence –  manifested in a key event which catapulted Putin into the seat of Presidential power; the decisive crushing of the Chechen military.

Chechnya is made up of a strong Islamic population so in many respects Putin comes to the Syrian war table with much experience handling Islamic ‘terrorists’.

Incidentally, while 16,000 militants were killed in the Chechen war, up to 80,000 civilians died demonstrating that Putin has little care for collateral and this is perhaps the deciding factor that will turn the fortunes that ISIS have experienced up till now.

So far in Syria, Putin’s military has exhibited nothing short of a ‘fierce’ intensity. For example, when comparing Russian and US bombing in Syria, the numbers speak for themselves:

Syria comparison: US vs Russia

United States Russia
Time in Syria 14 Months 48 Days
Sorties (Bombing flights) 2642 2450

This week alone, the Russians have

  • Doubled the number of war-planes based in Syria to 69 (Not including their long range strategic bombers)
  • Launched 101 air and sea based cruise missiles
  • Launched a further 1400 tons of air bombs for a different purpose

Terrorist groups like ISIS are suffering significant losses – over 600 militants were killed by one cruise missile strike made against one of facilities near Deir ez-Zor.

As the Russian military begins to throw its weight against the Islamic State, we consider the question: Are ISIS the ‘Hooks in the Jaws’ Spoken of by Ezekiel?

The following videos were taken and published this week by the Russian Ministry of Defence:

Pilots and technicians of Hmeymim airbase have sent by ‘priority airmail’ their message to terrorists: “This is for Paris”

Massive strike with cruise missiles Kalibr-NK was made from the water zone of the Caspian Sea against terrorist objects in Raqqah, Idlib and Aleppo provinces.

Combat sorties of the Long-range aviation of the Russian Air Force against terrorists in Syria:

Su-30SM fighters met and escorted Tu-160s, which launched cruise missiles over the Mediterranean:

 

Related Posts:

 

Russia’s occupation of Syria & Iraq in the prophets.

Putin’s military move into Syria was implicitly prophesied in Daniel 11.

I recall listening to a Christadelphian lecture 1 month prior to Russia’s move into Syria. The lecturer said that the fulfilment of Dan 11:40 required that Russia must occupy Syria before moving into Turkey.

Sure enough, a month later, Russia moved into Syria.

This lecturer is certainly not the only one to have this view. In an exposition entitled “The Prophecy of Daniel”, HP. Mansfield wrote the following back in 1986 – almost 30 years ago:

“Daniel 11: “And the king of the North <Russia> shall come against him <Turkey>”

The fulfilment <of this> must await the final re-forming of the… Kingdom of Syria, which the northern Russian power is poised to accomplish.

She <Russia> is spreading her control over the territory of the ancient king of the north, and only requires a controlling influence in Iran, Iraq and Syria to qualify for the title; then she will be ready to “come against him <Turkey>.”

Page 336

This understanding of Daniel 11 is not a result of the prophetic capabilities of these bible students, but simply a result of careful reading of Daniel 11 and other quotes.

To understand why it is that Russia will have a controlling military influence in Syria/Iraq, we need to understand how the prophets portrayed Gog in their prophecies.

To that end, Ezekiel provides us with a clue. In chapter 38:17, God tells ‘Gog’, that he is the individual who had been spoken of by other prophets:

Art thou he of whom I have spoken in old time by my servants the prophets of Israel, which prophesied in those days many years that I would bring thee against them?

Ezek 38:17

Which of the prophets might verse 17 be referring to?

At least two other prophets lived prior to Ezekiel’s time; Micah and Isaiah, and both prophets have latter-day prophecies which refer to Gog:


Gog in Micah & Isaiah – ‘The King of Assyria’

Micah 5

The context of Micah 5 is the coming of the Messiah (v2) and the return of Israel to the land (v3) so this is without a doubt a latter-day prophecy. In verse 5, Micah begins to talk about the latter-day enemy of Israel:

When the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces…

…and it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD, that I will cut off thy horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots

Isa 30 & 31

The time period for both of these chapters in Isaiah are also in the latter days as they talk of a time period that occurs around the time when judgement emanates from Zion, and Jerusalem is defended. Here are the references to the latter-day Assyrian in Isaiah:

Isa 30:31 For through the voice of the Lord shall the Assyrian be beaten down, which smote with a rod.

32 And in every place where the grounded staff shall pass, which the Lord shall lay upon him, it shall be with tabrets and harps: and in battles of shaking will he fight with it.

33 For Tophet is ordained of old; yea, for the king it is prepared; he hath made it deep and large: the pile thereof is fire and much wood; the breath of the Lord, like a stream of brimstone, doth kindle it.


Isa 31:1 Woe to them that go down to Egypt for help; and stay on horses, and trust in chariots, because they are many; and in horsemen, because they are very strong; but they look not unto the Holy One of Israel, neither seek the Lord!

Then shall the Assyrian fall with the sword, not of a mighty man; and the sword, not of a mean man, shall devour him: but he shall flee from the sword, and his young men shall be discomfited.

And he shall pass over to his strong hold for fear, and his princes shall be afraid of the ensign, saith the Lord, whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem.

Notice it doesn’t say when “the Assyrians” come into our land, but rather it is the “Assyrian” in the singular.

This is not talking of the latter-day manifestation of the Assyrian’s manifested in a nation or empire (which is comparable to today’s ISIS), but rather this is talking about a latter-day individual, or King – Isa 30:33. This is an autocrat who will have occupational power in Assyria prior to the invasion of Israel.

Map_of_Assyria
Map of the Neo-Ancient Assyrian empire. (Dark Green)

This heartland of the ancient Assyrian empire happens to be around the area of the Tigris and the Euphrates (which today is part of Syria & Iraq) in mostly areas that are currently controlled by ISIS.

ISIS Sanctuary 20 may hi res-01
Map of the ISIS sanctuary 2015 (ISW)

While ISIS currently control this region, Russia has declared war on ISIS and are moving into the region with a ferocity unmatched by the United States.


Gog in Daniel – ‘The King of the North’

After Ezekiel’s time, the prophet Daniel was also given information about Gog.

Daniel 11

This time, in the latter part of Daniel 11, Gog is named “The King of the North”.

The empire of the “King of the North” in Daniel 11 was the Seleucid empire which extended from Turkey to Afghanistan.

It’s interesting to note that much like the Assyrian empire, the heartland of the Seleucid empire was along the region of the Euphrates and Tigris which is inclusive of today’s Syria & Iraq.

Seluicid Empire
Map of the Seleucid Empire

Daniel 11 calls Gog the “King of the North” because Gog will have a controlling influence in the region of the ancient king of the North.

Today, Russia is in the process of increasing its military influence and power within this Seleucid region:

  • Russia already has significant influence in Iran
  • Russia already has significant influence in Syria.
  • Iraq has indicated that they would prefer the Russian military for protection instead of the US military and have already started mutual intelligence sharing with Russia to a greater degree than what exists with the US.
  • Putin has expressed interest in occupying Afghanistan as NATO looks to leave. When he announced this, Obama immediately cancelled his troop withdrawal.

Russia’s occupation of Syria & Iraq in the prophets.

Isaiah, Micah & Daniel all refer to Gog as being a king over the former territories of the Assyrian and Seleucid empires before invading Turkey, Egypt and Israel.

As seen earlier, this is currently a region which is under the control of ISIS, however, Russia is moving in and is likely to become the occupying power.

Daniel 11 shows that it is during this time, or after, the Gogian autocrat will focus his attention on Turkey.

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Are ISIS the ‘Hooks in the Jaws’ spoken of by Ezekiel?

Ezekiel 38 is a latter day prophecy that speaks of a time when a confederacy of nations led by Russia, will invade Israel.

Many other prophets speak of this time including Isaiah, Micah & Daniel, however only Ezekiel seems to touch on the reason why God brings Russia down into the Middle East.

‘Hooks in jaws’ – a motivation distinct from ‘taking a spoil’?

Ezekiel 38 seems to recount two different motivations which kick off two different events.

  1. In verse 4-7, the hooks in jaws drive the “bringing forth” and creation of this confederacy.
  2. In verse 8-21, the taking of a spoil motivates the confederacy to “come against” Israel.

That the ‘hooks in the jaws’ are distinct from the ‘taking of a spoil’ and the ‘bringing forth’ distinct from the ‘coming against’ seems to be further confirmed when considering that the idea of taking a spoil enters the mind of the confederacy, only ‘many days’ after the confederacy itself is created. It is not a confederacy that formed on the basis of taking a spoil, but rather formed as a result of the hooks in the jaws.

Even on a fundamental level, the two motivations seem unrelated: the analogy of ‘hooks in jaws’ speaks of forced, painful, unwilling movement, whereas the motivation of ‘taking a spoil’, speaks of willing and intended robbery.

I will put hooks into thy jaws, and I will bring thee forth, and all thine army, horses and horsemen, all of them clothed with all sorts of armour, even a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords: Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya with them; all of them with shield and helmet.

So if the hooks in the jaws are distinct from the taking of spoil, what might these hooks be?

What motivation would God use to forcibly and painfully, bring Russia South to build and guard a confederacy?

Why did God choose to use such a violent analogy?

To understand why God chose to use this phrase we need to find out where it came from, and many sources show that the placing of ‘hooks in jaws’ was a brutal tradition conceived by the ancient neo-Assyrian empire.

The Assyrian’s typically put hooks in the jaws of defeated enemies, either for the purposes of humiliation or to deport them to other lands. This practices is often described in their annuls, and graphically depicted in their wall relief’s.

~ The IVP Bible Background Commentary

Why does God choose to use an ancient Assyrian practice to explain how he will drag Russia south to build a confederacy?

Would it be reasonable to suggest that an Assyrian like power could provoke Russia to move South, and establish and guard a confederacy of nations? If so, does such a power exist today?

The answer is yes, many consider ISIS to be the resurrected Assyrian power – ISIS has, and continues to provoke Russia.

Here is an article that deals briefly with some of the similarities:

If you don’t have time to read the article, here are some notable similarities:

  • Both powers are known for executing absolute and excessive barbarity, and subsequently advertising it to their enemies. For example, enemies of the ancient Assyrian regime were beheaded in public, and the walls of their cities were lined with impaled men, women and children in order to send a message to their enemies. In the 21st century, ISIS use social media and other technologies to project their gruesome decapitations to the world.
  • The capital of the ancient Assyrian empire was located in Nineveh. Today, The Islamic States biggest city – Mosul – surrounds the ruins of Nineveh, and is the hometown of ISIS.
  • The Assyrian’s wiped out virtual all culture prior to them as do ISIS today.
  • Women were forced into slavery by the ancient Assyrian’s as they are today, under ISIS

Below, two territories are seen below. Firstly the Ancient Assyrian (Dark Green) and secondly the territory held by ISIS. Both regions of control are very similar. The heartland of both empires existed between the Euphrates and Tigris but also extended beyond that at different points in time.

Ancient Neo-Assyrian Empire – 824 BC – Dark Green

Map_of_Assyria

ISIS area of Control – 2015

ISIS Sanctuary 20 may hi res-01

So there are many indicators which show that ISIS bears many of the hallmarks of the ancient neo-Assyrian empire.

So when God uses an Assyrian practice to describe how he will drag Russia down South, is God saying that ISIS will provoke Russia and bring her down?

Perhaps this question has already been answered. In September, we saw Russia move South into Syria, to fight none other than… ISIS.

Persia (Iran) joined them, a month later, sending in 2000 troops.

Last week, a Russian airliner crashed in the Egyptian Sinai where Egypt is at war with Islamic militants. ISIS claimed responsibility for the death of 224 people on board – most of whom were Russian. The cause of the crash is yet to be determined by investigators, however it seems that a trend is emerging. ISIS is beginning to become, not just an inconvenience, but a security problem for Russia, and Putin wont have it.

It is also interesting to note that ISIS has declared its intention to take control over Turkey, Egypt, Libya, and Sudan – all nations which become amalgamated within this Russian confederacy. It wont be an Israeli spoil which continues to bring this confederacy together, but rather, the hooks in their jaws, and this could be happening now through ISIS.

Russia is already moving south, building its confederacy, and guarding those of its confederacy. Its reason for doing so, according to Putin, is to fight ISIS.

Even if it is true that ISIS represent the hooks in the jaws (something worth watching over the next few years if Christ hasn’t returned God Willing), Ezekiel shows that ultimately, the objective of this confederacy will become consumed in the destruction and spoiling of Israel.

Note: This article does not suggest that ISIS are the latter day invader of Israel.

Other relevant posts:

BREAKING: Russian plane carrying over 220 civilians has crashed in Egypt

Updates as of 11pm ACST (see Sky stream below for latest):

  • The Russian Airbus has crashed into central Sinai.
  • 224 people onboard – mostly Russian civilians
  • The Egyptian Sinai is currently in a state of emergency due to the Egyptian war on Islamic militants.
  • PM & cabinet are meeting for an emergency session
  • According to analysts, this model of aircraft has an extremely good safety record.
  • Air crash investigators commenting on the radio have said it is safe to rule out the weather as a factor.

Daniel 11 shows that the King of the North will “stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape.”

If the airliner has been shot down, one wonders if Russia’s war on ISIS will be extended to the Sinai.

Sky news is covering the news now as it breaks here:

As of 2:06 pm (IST) there are no indications that Russian airplane was shot down, say Egyptian security sources, however air crash investigators (who haven’t yet reached the site) are surprised that the Egyptians have rapidly dismissed this option.

However, East Grindstead (flight crash investigator) has said on Sky News:

We cant rule out the possibility of it being shot down and its not surprising that the Egyptians have discounted this option because of the tourism industry in the South Sinai.

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