Monday update

It’s still sinking in that 2015 opens a new door in my life, and on the other side of that door is a completely new routine from the one I’ve kept for most of the last 18 years. In short, my daily responsibilities will be doing what I’ve been trying to fit into my spare time–reading and analyzing the news–the last couple of decades.

So this blog is going to get a lot more active–finally–as I post regular updates, probably rough notes to organize my thoughts as I prepare daily video reports for SkyWatchTV.

2015 will be an interesting year as the situation in the Middle East, always heavy with significance for anyone who believes the Bible has something to say about the future, continues to destabilize. While President Obama proclaims the official end of America’s longest war after 13 years in Afghanistan, our military retains a presence there and in Iraq. In fact, the number of American troops in Iraq, when one includes private mercenaries, is growing.

Meanwhile in Syria, the Yarmouk Shuhada Brigades, former allies of the United States and Israel in our proxy war against Bashar al-Assad, have switched sides and aligned with the Islamic State. According to DEBKAfile, the 2,000-man force has been backed and trained for the last two years by the CIA and supported by the IDF. Their new alliance is significant because the Brigades hold territory directly opposite Israeli positions in the Golan Heights and a stretch of Syria’s border with Jordan.

This means most of Israel’s border with Syria and an area of southern Syria important to the anti-Assad cause have fallen under the control of the Islamic State–possibly armed with American weapons.

It also positions the IS for a thrust into Jordan, whose position in the alliance against Assad has been complicated by the capture of a Jordanian fighter pilot by the Islamic State last week.

The head of US Special Operations in the Middle East, Maj. Gen. Michael Nagata, has pulled together an unofficial brain trust outside the usual sphere of experts in the Pentagon and State Department to get a handle on what makes the Islamic State so effective in controlling territory and people. Without access to the minutes of the group’s discussions, which are reportedly lively (hopefully an indication that it’s avoiding the trap of “groupthink”), we can only speculate as to the content of the analyses. Reading between the lines, however, it appears that Gen. Nagata is looking to experts in business and psychology to figure out how to counter “the Islamic State’s marketing and branding strategies.”

It’s unclear whether Gen. Nagata is talking with anyone who is an expert on radical Muslim theology. There may be some reluctance to focus on the religious causes and implications of the growth of the Islamic State for fear of being labeled a religious bigot. If true, this progressive bias would be a potentially fatal blind spot.

If Psalm 83 is a prophecy of a future conflict in the Middle East, then Bill Salus is correct in suggesting that this development could be a precursor to a wider war. As Bill notes, it appears that Assyria and “the children of Lot”–ancient Ammon and Moab, which occupied roughly the same area as the modern state of Jordan–play a significant role in the Psalm 83 war. And the territory currently controlled by the Islamic State is roughly the same area ruled by Assyria circa 1000 B.C., when Psalm 83 was written.

Western government and military leaders may be loathe to look to the Bible for clues about the forces behind geopolitical developments in the Middle East, but unless the Islamic State is viewed through a theological lens, it won’t be understood at all.

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