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THE MIDDLE EAST: ITS COMPLICATED

By March 4, 2015 7 Comments

THE MIDDLE EAST ITS COMPLICATEDThe Middle East is a political and spiritual magnet.

The region may occupy a small percentage of the world’s square footage but it entails a large percentage of world influence.

ISIS, Iran, Iraq, Israel, terrorism, nuclear possibilities and complex religious and political realities are a consternation.

Who are the good guys?

You’re Stephane Dion – Canada’s Minister of Foreign Affairs – how do you advise the Canadian government on Middle Eastern policy?

Do you know Canadian policy on Israel?

How should a Christian pray about the Middle East?

Canadians in Israel

In February 2015, just five days before our Canadian tour group arrived in northern Israel, Hezbollah anti-tank rockets killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded seven others in the Golan Heights.

As we made the 35-minute drive north from Tiberias, our Israeli guide answered most of our questions about Israel, the Gaza Strip, The PLO, Lebanon, Jordan and Jerusalem with the phrase, “Its complicated.”

An Arab-Israeli alliance?

Arabs attacking Arabs?

The US supporting its avowed enemy, Iran?

Egypt bombing the Gaza Strip?

All of the above have happened.

Prime Minister Netanyahu and the US Congress

The last time Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel addressed the US Congress he said,

Bibi Congress“Iran and ISIS are competing for the crown of militant Islam. One calls itself the Islamic Republic. The other calls itself the Islamic State. Both want to impose a militant Islamic empire first on the region and then on the entire world.

For a Middle East Novice, Complicated is an Understatement

Iran is overtly working to take over the Sunni world.

The US and Shi’ite Iran closed a nuclear deal.

Sunnis Arabs and Israelis don’t trust the deal.

Iran is allied with Syria (extremist Shites) against Israel and supports Hezbollah (Shites) in Lebanon.

Iran is opposed to the Islamic State, which endears them to the US.

The Islamic State is largely Sunni extremists.

Turkey, which is largely Sunni, is the most powerful Muslim state in the region but is economically indebted to Iran.

Turkey has been enemies with Egypt.

Saudi Arabia is working to unite Turkey and Egypt against Iran.

Saudi Arabia, an enemy of Israel, would need Israel’s support to convince the US to support anti-Syria efforts.

Iraq is governed by Shites but has asked for Sunni Turkey’s support against the extremist Sunni Islamic State.

How Complicated is Complicated?

The latest project by British data visionary David McCandless is a really valiant effort to make sense of the Middle East relationships.

Middle EastMcCandless’ charted 38 regional players— from Afghanistan to Yemen, Al Qaeda to the European Union— and connected each to its major friends and enemies. The result is a tangled ball that illustrates the enormously complicated relationships in the region. “Who Likes Who in the Middle East”

Intervention Can Be Messy and Dangerous

Patrick Cockburn, a writer for “The Independent” says, “For America, Britain and the Western powers, the rise of ISIL and the caliphate is the ultimate disaster. Whatever they intended by their invasion of Iraq in 2003 and their efforts to get rid of Assad in Syria since 2011, it was not to see the creation of a jihadi state spanning northern Iraq and Syria run by a movement a hundred times bigger and better organized than the al-Qaeda of Osama bin Laden.”

The Middle East may occupy a small percentage of the world’s square footage but it entails a large percentage of world influence.

As complicated as it is, the issues of the Middle East demands our attention, understanding and prayer.

Watch for further posts on this subject.

Additional Resources

ACTS News Network – (Below) insight to Purim, Israel and its Arab neighbours.

Radio Free Europe: Middle East Relationships: Its Complicated

The Middle East Friendship Chart

The World Post: You can’t understand ISIS is you don’t know the history of Saudi Arabia.

Application: Are there resources you use to gain a clear understanding of Middle Eastern issues? Please leave a comment below.


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Bob Jones

Author Bob Jones

Pastor at North Pointe Community Church for 25 years. Happily married to Jocelyn for 36 years. We have two adult sons, Cory and his wife Lynsey and their son Vinnie; Jean Marc and his wife Angie and their three gorgeous daughters, Quinn, Lena and Annora. I love being a pastor and inspiring faith in Jesus through communicating, blogging, counseling and coaching. I enjoy running, reading, writing and ball hockey. Fan of the Esks and Pats. Follow me on Twitter @bobjones49ers

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Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • Shirley Bidnick says:

    Now I understand why I don’t understand when I read the news. Thank you for helping me make sense of the on going, escalating conflict. It leaves me feeling powerless. Thanks for reminding me, if I can pray, I am never powerless.

  • bob jones says:

    You just said a lot with a few words. Kudos to you, Shirley! More power to ya.

  • Kate says:

    I like Jewish Voices for Peace who call for an end to Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, and self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis. They rationally call for an end to harmful and divisive US (and Canadian) foreign policy that is enabling the occupation. http://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/content/israeli-palestinian-conflict-101

    The fact that a US House of Representatives Intelligence Committee Chair didn’t know something as fundamental as whether Al Qaeda is Sunni or Shia doesn’t make the situation complicated – it makes him ignorant and woefully unqualified to be making major decisions related to the Middle East.

    South Africa’s system of apartheid was also very complicated. It was still wrong.

  • bob jones says:

    Hi Kate. Thanks for the link to Jews Voices for Peace. You are able to get to the heart of any matter. You have a clear way of seeing things. That’s why I respect you…and appreciate you.

  • bob jones says:

    I found a site that has an interesting perspective on Jewish Voices for Peace. http://www.adl.org/israel-international/anti-israel-activity/c/backgrounder-jewish-voice.html

  • Kate says:

    Thanks PB. The ADL link you shared sounds fairly right on to me.

    I should have said in my first comment that as always I appreciate that you have left room for positions like mine. 🙂

  • bob jones says:

    🙂

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