What’s next in the Middle East?


By Joel Richardson

While no one knows the future, I believe that through a general understanding of the various geopolitical actors and atmosphere in the Middle East and surrounding regions, and a solid understanding of what the Bible says about the future, it is fair to make some general observations and predictions about what will happen next in that part of the world.

In light of the sudden shift in Tunisia and the complete instability in Egypt, everyone seems to be wondering what will come next. The following is a brief rundown of what the next several years should hold for the Holy Land, the greater Middle East and the surrounding regions.

First, let me say that what is happening in Egypt was entirely predictable. President Mubarak’s self-imposed reign was bound to come to an end soon enough. Now just happens to be the time. Mubarak will not be able to retain power.

The fiery spark that burst forth from Tunisia and caught flame in Egypt will no doubt continue to spread with the end result being the collapse of a handful or even several regimes in the region. Yemen will be next. While I expect King Abdullah’s Hashemite monarchy in Jordan to survive, all cards are on the table. The Saudi royal family will manage to hang onto power, but they will see their share of resistance, and before it’s all over, the entire Kingdom of Saudi Arabia will be decimated by the surrounding Islamic nations. But this is still quite some way off.

As the present era of Arab dictators comes to an end, the model that will be looked to is Turkey. And Turkey will be all too willing to lend its support in the establishment of these new Islamic democracies. The Obama administration will also fully support Turkey in her regional endeavors to this end.

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The question for now is whether the transition to a new Egyptian government can take place peacefully or if it will result in a type of civil war and massive bloodshed. Either way, in the short term, the Brotherhood, the ideological child of Sayyid Qutb and Hassan Al-Banna, will be the biggest winner. After the dust settles and the Egyptian government is reformed, the Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwan) will certainly ease their way into significant positions of power, not at all unlike Hezbollah in Lebanon. This could take as long as a few years, as it did with Hezbollah, but in all likelihood it will be a rather quick rise. In a dramatic and portentous shift, the U.S. and even Israel will be forced to recognize and deal with the strengthened Ikhwan Party in Egypt. When leaders from Hamas sit down with leaders of the United States, however, then we’ll know that the war on terror has been officially lost.

In the midst of the shift, I expect Turkey (again, with the full support of the U.S.) to be the most actively engaged and visible actor in the region. If things destabilize enough, we could even see Turkish military action, but this is doubtful. Instead, we’ll likely see Turkey use the moment to gain a significant paternal influence over some of the other governments in the region as they undergo regime changes. Egypt will resist Turkey’s paternalism, seeing itself instead as the nation worthy of such a role. This will eventually result in a full-blown military confrontation between Turkey and Egypt, with Turkey emerging victorious. In anticipation of this day, now is the moment for the Christian prayer movement in Egypt to begin its final and greatest assignment. The United States, drained of finances and lacking resolve, will sit by idly as Turkey does as it pleases in the region, particularly when it is done in the name of establishing democracy, regional and even global peace, stability and security.

The greatest danger in all of this is the emerging unity coalition that will emerge between Turkey, Iran and the new democratic-Islamist governments. While this coalition will not officially be called a caliphate, it will in fact be the closest thing the world has seen in over 80 years. For all practical purposes, we will see the rise of a Neo-Ottoman Caliphate. And with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, presently the most popular leader in the Arab world, leading the way, he will be the closest thing to a caliph the world has seen in over 80 years.

When such a Turkish-Iranian-led alliance is formed, Israel will have little choice other than working with this new Islamic pseudo-democratic confederacy. Surrounded on all sides by hostile and now a well-organized power, and with the United States remaining relatively neutral, Israel will be forced to accept some form of regional “peace plan.” This comprehensive peace and security initiative will include the establishment of a Palestinian state. And to the surprise of some, after the initial chaos and tumult settles down, there will emerge a period of calm. To the surprise of many religious Jews, Israel will even be offered a concession to rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem on the Temple Mount. The Mount will be shared by Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, causing some to herald this development as the sign of a new monotheistic age. Sadly, however, this peace will only last a few short years. Soon enough, it will be all the leaders of Turkey can do to hide her anti-Zionist bent. Even as Turkey attacked
Egypt, so also will she lead an attack against Israel. These will be very dark days. Southern Israel will be entirely occupied.

As dreadful as this may sound for Israel, the nation that will actually be in the greatest danger, and which will live accordingly in the most fear of this new regional order, will be Saudi Arabia. The Saudis will do everything they can to hold onto their made-up kingdom. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia’s neighbor, will likely see a revolt and, assisted by Iran, will come under the emerging Shia umbrella of power. The same could follow in Dubai.

In Africa; Tunisia, Libya, Sudan and Somalia will clasp hands and pledge support to the new Turkish-Iranian-led alliance.

For now, I’ll stop. Like everyone else, I’ll continue to watch the short-term for all of the unexpected twists and turns. No doubt, there will be many more surprises. But in the long term, the above scenario is roughly and loosely what I expect to see.

In conclusion, and on a very sober note, I plead with all who read this article to remember to pray for Israel and the Jewish people. Pray also for Egypt and all of her people, but especially for Egypt’s Christians. The Christians of Egypt will no doubt be the hardest hit by the coming Islamist shift in their nation. Jesus promised that all those who sought to follow His example would undergo great hardships, persecution and even martyrdom in this age. In enduring such hardships faithfully and patiently, Jesus told His followers that they would be effective witnesses concerning the reality of the resurrection of the body and the Messianic kingdom to come. Rest assured, in the days ahead, Christians of the region will have ample opportunity to stand firm and follow the example of their Master.


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