Volume 37, Issue 2 ________________________________Bible Prophecy Ministry

The Strategic Balance


      The strategic balance in the Middle East is clearly tipped in Israel's favor presently, thus preventing the current violence with the Palestinians from escalating into a broader and wide open regional confrontation. This conclusion was drawn from the statistical data and the military analysis provided in the annual Middle East Military Balance 2000-2001, published by the Tel Aviv University's Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies. This year's analytical review of the Mid-East geopolitical situation was written by the Center's director, Professor Shai Feldman, and by Yiftah Shapir, a research associate at the Center. Professor Feldman noted that in the perspective of the Arab-Muslim states, the strategic military imbalance favoring Israel continues to widen. They also perceive that the United States is entirely too pro-Israel. Thus the critical commentary in some Arab circles that the US is not a fair sponsor of the Middle East Peace Process. Therefore, some Arab regimes are shopping for a new sponsor, to be more sympathetic to their viewpoints, and especially their security needs. Israel continues to hold the strategic edge, especially in the areas of technologies that are critical for the efficient deployment of military forces in the battlefield. Paramount among these is the necessary air power, intelligence systems, including space-based intelligence assets, and the defense capabilities against the threat of offensive ballistic missiles. In contrast to the IDF, all the Arab armies lag far behind in the implementation of the "Revolution in Military Affairs; particularly in the realms of command, control, and intelligence that allow the for the successful execution of operations of ground, naval and air personnel. According to Prof. Feldman, "the continuing Palestinian violence, or Intifada, presents the nation of Israel with a strategic challenge of the highest order. Yet the difficulties entailed in addressing this challenge do not erode much of Israel's over-all strategic advantage. This edge results from the reality that Israel possesses superior conventional forces, and also that the Arab states acknowledge that Israel does indeed possess nuclear weapons! Also, the close and effective defense alliance between Israel and the United States, and the prevalent absence of a replacement of the assistance that the former Soviet Union provided to many of the Arab states during the Cold War, serves as the greatest deterrent to any isolated aggression by any Arab neighbor of Israel. Given this present distribution of power, the interest of most Arab states is to simply maintain stability and to avoid becoming embroiled in a general war against Israel alone. Most scenario’s of any war potential against Israel portray that the Arab countries would require a strong ally to implement a potentially victorious assault upon Israel. "Yet Prof. Feldman does not dismiss the danger of a regional escalation. Errors in strength assessment may indeed lead Syria’s President Bashar Assad to permit the terrorist cell Hizbollah to continue operating against Israeli targets, thus propelling a chain reaction that could result in a general war between Syria and Israel. To date, the Syrian leaders' appreciation of the balance of power have induced him to limit the Hizbollah’s activities to a very narrow sector, specifically, the Har Dov - Shaba Farms area. But there can be absolutely no guarantee that the Syrians would always exercise such a caution. "Prof. Feldman added that in the future, Israel is likely to face more serious strategic challenges. "The long-term implications of the collapse of the ( UN ) international sanctions and monitoring regime applied against Iraq are considerable. Under these circumstances, it would be far easier for Iraq to produce nuclear and chemical weapons as well as ballistic missiles, which he is rumored to already have acquired. Equally worrisome are the prospects that Iran ( Persia ) would be able to develop an infrastructure for a military nuclear program and would succeed in making the 1300-km range Shihab-3 ballistic missile operational. China and North Korea have supplied Iran with consistent mechanisms for the development of these type weapons. Global military expenditures, which dropped to the lowest point in the post-cold war period in 1998, rose to 798 billion dollars in 2000, an increase of 3.1 percent from the previous year. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) released the figures in its annual report, the SIPRI Yearbook 2001. The United States accounted for 37 percent of the global military spending, reflecting its current status as the world's only superpower, the report said. The U.S. is also the world's largest arms supplier, accounting for 47 percent of all arms transfers between 1996 and 2000.

      US President George Bush informed Russian President Vladimir Putin that "Russia is not the enemy of the United States," that "the Cold War is over. "The mentality that gripped our two nations during the Cold War must end," Bush told a press conference after his first EU-US summit during June 2001. "Russia ought not to fear Europe, but ought to welcome an expanded Europe beyond its borders," Bush said. "My vision of Europe is a large vision, of more countries, more free trade, and one which welcomes Russia and the Ukraine."

      However Russia is not so convinced:

      Russia has approved the sale of an advanced high-altitude reconnaissance combat jet to Syria. Syria has expressed interest in the purchase of a Russian multiple-warhead missile. The Iskander-E has a range of 280 kilometers and can carry multiple 480-kilogram warheads, with each warhead containing 54 bomblets. Russian defense officials said the system can foil any anti-missile defense effort of Israel or the United States. Another issue that the Syrians are persistently raising is far more sensitive: the sale of Russian S-300 air defense systems to Damascus. These systems are so effective that they could change the entire military-strategic situation in the Near East region. The Russians have agreed to substantially modernize the Syrian army as part of a major arms transaction worth more than $1 billion. The deal covers not only the general upgrading of obsolete hardware bought from the USSR in the eighties and early nineties, but items that could alter the military-strategic balance of strength in the Middle East. One is the highly effective Russian S-300 air defense system; another is acquisition of 3-5 MiG-25RE high-altitude intelligence-gathering aircraft, with which the Syrians could carry out airborne reconnaissance over Israel with impunity.

      Western intelligence sources said Moscow has approved a Syrian request for three MiG-25R jets. Termed the Foxbat-B, the aircraft deploys a reconnaissance payload that includes cameras and electronic countermeasures systems. Syria plans to use the MiG-25R for reconnaissance missions over Israel that could help in identifying targets in any war with the Jewish state. It will provide Syria with its first look inside Israel. Russia appears close to signing a deal for the upgrade of Soviet-era weapons in Libya's military. The two countries are proceeding with contract negotiations that would modernize a range of Libyan aircraft, tanks and armored vehicles. Officials would not disclose the extent of the contract.

      Russia and China signed a mutual defense and cultural relations pact on April 26, 2001, signifying the alliance between the two countries as mainland China is extending its military capability into the Pacific, and confronting the USA on strategic issues in the Far East. Russia faces an expanding NATO alliance in the West, and both Moscow and Beijing are hostile to any proposed U.S. anti-missile system. Russia and China have already declared their mutual cooperation to establish a "New World Order." In April 1997, Yeltsin and Jiang declared that there was "an urgent need for building a just and rational New World Order" and agreed upon a "shared goal of a multi-polar world," which would challenge the perceived "uni-polar" world dominated by the United States. Since the first declaration in 1997, Russian and Chinese leaders have periodically called for a new international order, free of the supposed dominance of the United States. Russia has warned that US President George W Bush's commitment to scrapping a landmark arms control treaty and creating a US anti-missile defense shield could lead to escalating global tensions, and an eventual confrontation in the Middle East Region. The potential for such a superpower ( East-West ) confrontation in the Middle East lies in the competition between the emerging East-West spheres of power over controlling the world’s supply of energy sources. Amid a changing U.S. foreign policy toward the Middle East, Russia is expanding its sphere of influence in the Middle East in a drive that threatens Israel. Russia is only too willing to be approached as the chief representative to sponsor a new Middle East Peace process! Ironically, this is precisely the scenario that Old Testament prophet Ezekiel portrayed for the Last Days. He depicted Russia, ( the Prince of Rosh ) coming against Israel with a mighty air force, and allied with many of the Oil rich Middle Eastern nations, to take control of a “spoil”. Some reports indicate that Moscow is achieving control of major sources of oil and natural gas and is reversing the gains made by the United States, in the region since the 1991 Gulf war. One report by the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies sees Russia attempting to control the world price of oil. The Russian foreign policy focuses on relations with Iran, ( Persia ) and is meant to contain militant Islam in the nearby Caucasus and Central Asia. Russia has developed Iranian energy reserves and offered advanced weapons and technology in exchange for Teheran's agreement to serve as a route for any proposed energy pipeline from the Caspian Sea. Perhaps more than any other thing, Moscow's concerted quest for domination of the Caspian Basin, ( US and EU seek to tap this reserve as well ) and its machinations to this end in the Persian Gulf, illustrate the degree of importance it attaches to the Middle East. Russia's Caspian policy is clear: to project its power over the oil-rich nations, not only of the Caucusus Mountain region, and to exclude any strategic presence there, and to impose its own security environment over the area, but to extend its influence in the oil-rich region of the Persian Gulf. Moscow's exploitation of the Caspian Sea oil reserve could place Russia and its allies as the world's wealthiest oil exporters. Such control could allow Moscow to rival the power of Gulf Arab oil and natural gas producers and set world energy price. At the same time, Russia has revived its relationship with longtime clients such as Iraq, Libya and Syria. Moscow has also invested heavily in Iraq's efforts to develop oil reserves in the south, as Russian arms sales to the Middle East comprise 15 percent of its total military exports. These achievements recorded by Moscow has weakened Turkey, a key U.S. ally in the region. Russia's growing relations with Iran and its neighbors have also served to undermine Turkey’s strategic relationship with Israel. "Should it continue to diminish U.S. influence, Russia could succeed in creating an anti-American, anti-NATO regional grouping that would dramatically upset the regional balance of power and place Western interests and regional Western allies, like Turkey and Israel, in jeopardy. It should be noted that former US President Bill Clinton signed a joint agreement with EU leaders in 1999 while attending the Istanbul summit to construct a pipeline across Southern Turkey from the Caspian Sea oil basin to a Mediterranean Seaport. The competition for the Caspian oil reserve could ignite a confrontation between Russia and the emerging European Union someday. The Caspian oil reserve actually could serve as the lifeblood for the growing European superpower. Russia, being economically challenged is being drawn into the Middle East maze like metal to a magnet, and she is making plans to have company when she goes. By arming Iran, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and entering into mutual defense pacts with China; China may provide the distraction necessary for Russia to move against the Middle-East. Consider that China is mobilizing some of its short-range missiles near Taiwan as other military forces are engaged in the largest war games in five years, according to U.S. intelligence officials. This has caused the U.S. to move a Carrier battle group into close proximity to the area inviting a response by China. Russia is already preparing for her assault upon the thorny little obstacle called Israel. Russia's stated-owned arms exporting company Rosvooruzheniye and Iran's defense ministry have coordinated together on a mutual pact to develop an interchangeable strategy to counter the military balance away from Israel’s, and ultimately from the US-EU’S favor. Russian arms and components are exported to Iran, with a focus on the Tor-1M anti-aircraft systems, in return for Iranian complicity in oil supplies to Russia. Iran has successfully test-fired a solid-fuelled surface-to-surface guided missile, the Fateh 110, which can be guided to destroy its targets with high accuracy.

      Military Intelligence sources indicated that Ariel Sharon recently went to Russia upon learning of the Russia-Syria military sales pact to talk with Alexander Putin and told him that if Russia goes ahead and sells the missile-defense system to Syria that Israel plans to destroy Syria before the system ever reaches Damascus! Also, President Assad met with Russian President Putin, and Putin told him not to attack Israel until Russia gives the go ahead. Bashar Assad then got up from his chair and stormed out of the room in great anger. Clearly, if these reports are true, then the stage for Ezekiel’s prophecy is at hand. The situation in Israel remains very dangerous. Ezekiel 38-39 could occur at any time. God tells us that during God's judgment on the invading nations, that He will judge another nation that lives in the safety of the far distant coast-lands. Could this nation be the United States? God does not look favorably upon those who would divide HIS land. Here is what God says through the prophet Joel:

"For behold, in those days and at that time, when I bring back the captives of Judah, ( West Bank ) and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will enter into judgment with them there on account of My people, My heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations; they have also divided up My land." Very clearly, the US continues to travel down the UN pathway to “Partition” God’s Land, in an all-out attempt to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians, and avoid a large scale Middle East War!

      Things are heating up and Israel is God's time peace for the culmination of all things. She is surrounded by radical Muslim nations dedicated to her destruction. Russia is arming and preparing these troops exactly as the Bible predicted. And the peace process -- though fraught with problems, is continuing forward. When it eventually reaches conclusion, it may produce a false sense of security for Israel and may perhaps be the time that "Russia thinks an evil thought", and leads the radical Muslim nations in their ill-fated invasion of Israel. Or, perhaps, it is in the aftermath of that invasion that peace is achieved, only to later usher in destruction of Armageddon, while Israel cries out, Peace, Peace! What Israel's enemies will not anticipate is God's intervention in the course of human history. The result is catastrophic for the invaders, but will change life for all man-kind, as well. These events include nuclear weapons and an earthquake so large that it shakes the entire earth. But most important is that, during this time in history, God once again pours out His Spirit on the House of Israel, showing His greatness and holiness, and making Himself known in the sight of many nations. "Then they will know that I am the LORD". (Ezekiel 38:23) God will once again, in a little while, shake the heavens and the earth, and the sea and the dry land; and I will shake all nations, and the desired of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts."(Haggai 2:6-7) "And the desired of the nations shall come.''

      ``It is now the hour to awake from sleep, for our salvation is closer than when we first accepted the faith.'' (Romans 13:11) God's righteous judgments are always redemptive. He does not desire that anyone perish, but that all come to repentance and everlasting life. A Syrian invasion could now take place at almost any time, with a Russian assault waiting in the wings. To prepare for it, stay close to the Lord by purifying your heart and thoughts through the daily washing of the Word.

"For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape." (1 Thes 5:3)

Darrell G. Young

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