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ARE IRAN’S LEADERS RATIONAL? Western analysts unwisely discount role of Shia End Times theology.

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2012 at 6:27 pm

>> UPDATES:

Reuters exclusive: Iran helps Syria ship oil to China

* Haaretz: Palestinian protesters marking Land Day clash with IDF soldiers in Jerusalem

* White House approves new sanctions on Iran

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Are Iran’s religious and political leaders rational? Many Western intelligence officials and analysts believe so. They believe that even if Iran acquires an arsenal of nuclear weapons that Iran’s leaders wouldn’t be “crazy” enough as to actually use those weapons against the U.S., Israel or Western interests. Are they right? And if so, does this mean Iran is not an existential threat to the West?

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently told CNN that “we are of the opinion that Iran is a rational actor.” As such, General Dempsey went on to make the argument that neither the U.S. nor Israel should seriously consider launching preemptive military strikes to neutralize Iran’s nuclear threat. “A strike at this time would be destabilizing and wouldn’t achieve their long-term objectives,” General Dempsey said of the Israelis. And Dempsey is not alone.

“The former head of Israel’s intelligence service believes the Iranian regime is a rational one and even its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — who has called for Israel to be annihilated — acts in a somewhat rational way when it comes to Iran’s nuclear ambitions,” reports CBS News. “While the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran becomes an election year issue, ex-Mossad Chief Meir Dagan sits down with Lesley Stahl [on "60 Minutes"] to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and stress that now is not the time to attack it. ‘The regime in Iran is a very rational one,’ says the former top Israeli spymaster. And President Ahmadinejad? ‘The answer is yes,’ he replies, but ‘not exactly our rational, but I think he is rational,’ Dagan tells Stahl. It’s a different kind of rational says Dagan, not rational in the Western-thinking sense. ‘But no doubt, they are considering all the implications of their actions … They will have to pay dearly … and I think the Iranians at this point in time are … very careful on the project,’ says Dagan. ‘They are not running.’ So he doesn’t advocate a pre-emptive Israeli military strike against Iran’s nuclear industry anytime soon, an attack that he said would have to be against “a large number of targets.” There is time to wait before such dire actions need to be taken.” (click here for full 60 Minutes story on Meir Dagan)

In response, let me begin by saying that I actually agree that Iran’s leaders are, for the most part, rational. That is to say, they are not mentally ill or unstable.

That said, Iran’s leaders are also evil. They are vehemently anti-American and anti-Israel. What’s more, they are driven by a dangerous, virulent, apocalyptic Shia eschatology or End Times theology that few intelligence officials or analysts in the West understand or take seriously. As such, while Iran’s leaders are rational within their own world view, this doesn’t make them less dangerous; it makes them more dangerous as General Dempsey and Meir Dagan suggest. Rather, it is precisely because of their rational but deeply misguided religious beliefs that Iran’s leaders are actually much more likely than other world leaders to use nuclear weapons to accomplish their apocalyptic, genocidal End Times beliefs and objectives. The danger is that few Western analysts are listening carefully to what Iran’s leaders are saying about their eschatology or drawing proper conclusions about the dangerous implications of those beliefs.

It should be noted, for example, that in August of 2008, the Ayatollah Khamenei publicly declared that the Shia Islamic End Times messianic figure known as the Twelfth Imam was coming to earth soon to rescue humanity and that he was committed to “preparing the ground” for the Mahdi’s arrival.

Then, in July of 2010, the Ayatollah Khamenei indicated that he had actually seen and met with the Twelfth Imam. Few Iranians understood what Khamenei meant by this. Did he see a dream or vision of the so-called Islamic “messiah”? Was he visited by an actual human being? Is this person or apparition going to reveal himself publicly soon? When? Under what conditions? And what does Khamenei believe the Twelfth Imam said to him? What was he told to do? These are all unanswered questions, but it is revealing that Khamenei believes this happened. Few Western analysts noticed this development or paid attention to it, but the point is Khamenei is a true believer. He really believes the end of the world is at hand and that he is supposed to be going to war against the “Great Satan” (the U.S., in his view) and the “Little Satan” (Israel, in his view). He also believes his eternal destiny lies with obeying the Twelfth Imam (also known as the Mahdi), not negotiating with the West. The point is not whether Western analysts believe this is true, but whether Khamenei does, and there is no question that Khamenei does.

Then, just a few weeks later in July 2010, the Ayatollah Khamenei publicly declared himself the official representative of the Twelfth Imam and the so-called Prophet Muhammad on earth and therefore must be obeyed. Previously, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was the most visible public spokesman regarding the coming of the End Times and Shia “messiah.” But in July 2010 was a turning point. Khamenei consciously and willfully supplanted Ahmadinejad’s role. The Ayatollah declared himself to be the leader of the messianic age until the appearance of the Twelfth Imam.

Reporters should ask General Dempsey and Meir Dagan how they assess this End Times theology and how such beliefs factor into Iran’s foreign policy and military strategy. I believe that such pronouncements explain why Iran’s leaders steadfastly refuse honest negotiations with the West, and why they refuse to give up its pursuit of nuclear technology on the road to nuclear weaponry. Iran’s leaders believe deeply that the end is near, the messiah is about to appear, and that if they are not faithful to waging jihad against the U.S., Israel and other so-called “infidels” that they will suffer eternal punishment in the lake of fire. It is highly unlikely, therefore, that Iran’s leaders can be successfully dissuaded, contained or deterred from their genocidal objectives of wiping the U.S. and Israel off the map and ushering in a global Islamic kingdom or Caliphate. This may be rational from their perspective, but it is incredibly dangerous.

I have written about this connection between the eschatology of Iran’s leaders and their threat to the West numerous times on this blog (see here and here, for examples), as well as in my non-fiction book, Inside The Revolution. But it bears repeating at this time because war between Israel and Iran appears to be drawing near, and several high-ranking current and former Western military and intelligence officials are unwisely misreading the trend lines and foolishly misunderstanding the nature of the threat we now face.

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KEEP PRAYING FOR IRANIAN PASTOR YOUCEF AND FOR THE CHURCH IN IRAN

In Uncategorized on March 29, 2012 at 2:46 am

“Iranian pastor Youcef Nadarkhani is still alive and recent reports of his execution are false, according to the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which was able to confirm on March 26 that the imprisoned evangelical minister’s death sentence for apostasy has not been carried out,” reports the Christian Post. “Many followers of Nadarkhani’s case grew alarmed after a purported image of the pastor was in wide circulation on the Internet. The image shows the Iranian pastor blindfolded, standing on gallows next to a noose while two armed guards stand behind him. This image fueled rumors that Nadarkhani had in fact been executed. Iran has a history of executing prisoners without warning, sometimes leaving the body of the executed at the family’s doorstep, according to the ACLJ. The ACLJ has confirmed that the image, which has reportedly been in circulation since July 2011, is a fake and the execution rumors are false. The organization stipulates that the false execution reports and images may be a part of a misinformation campaign initiated by the Iranian regime….”

  • Please keep praying for Pastor Youcef, for courage and boldness for Jesus.
  • Please keep praying for his witness within the Iranian prison and for him to lead many to saving faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Pray, too, for his family and friends to be brave and strong and for any of his loved ones who don’t have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ to come to faith very soon.
  • Pray for the prison guards and people at every level of the Iranian government to come to faith in Christ.
  • Pray for the persecuted Church in Iran to be brave and bold as they faithfully share the Gospel and make disciples throughout that suffering society.
  • And pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to move powerfully in and through Iran — a great spiritual awakening is underway there, for many souls are being saved, and this is why the Iranian government is cracking down so hard on the believers.

NOW RUSSIA WANTS “IN” ON ISRAEL’S NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY: And Israel proposes selling its natural gas to Arab neighbors to encourage peace

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 at 10:30 pm

>> UPDATE: New poll finds that 77% of Israelis see Iran nuclear threat as an existential threat….65% think the price Israel would have to pay for living under the shadow of the Iranian nuclear bomb is higher than the price it would pay for attacking Iran’s nuclear capability…..60% agree that the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program is by a military attack….66% believe in the IDF’s ability to damage Iran’s nuclear program substantially.

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Two news stories have intrigued me in light of recent geopolitical events and Bible prophecy:

1.) RUSSIA WANTS “IN” ON ISRAEL’S NATURAL GAS INDUSTRY – “Russia’s Gazprom, the world’s biggest energy conglomerate, is reportedly sending  top executives to Israel to discuss a partnership in the country’s offshore gas  fields, a move likely to heighten tension over an energy bonanza in the eastern  Mediterranean,” reports UPI. “The Russians reportedly are interested in a partnership in the Leviathan  field, the biggest gas zone found so far in Israel’s exclusive economic zone. It  contains an estimated 16 trillion cubic feet of gas. The next biggest field is  Tamar, which contains an estimated 8 tcf. Officials in Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s  office say the discoveries could contain double the volume currently listed.  They said the known reserves are worth $100 billion-$130 billion. Israel’s gas fields account for only a fraction of the energy riches believed  to lie in the Levant Basin that stretches from Syria through Lebanon, Israel,  the Gaza Strip and Egypt and includes the waters of the island of Cyprus. he U.S. Geological Service reported in 2010 that the region contains around  122 tcf of natural gas as well as 1.7 billion barrels of oil….The team from Gazprom, the Russian gas monopoly….produces 94  percent of Russia’s gas.” Is this a reason Vladimir Putin wants to visit Israel in June?

2.) ISRAEL PROPOSES SELLING SOME OF ITS NATURAL GAS TO ARAB NEIGHBORS TO ENCOURAGE PEACE – “Israel is willing to sell some of its new natural gas bonanza to Arab neighbors, in the hope this will improve relations in the troubled region, the country’s energy minister said on Wednesday,” Reuters reports. “Gas production is set to soar in Israel following the discovery of some of the world’s largest offshore reserves. If the country decides later this year to sell some of its future gas production abroad, it will want neighboring Jordan and the Palestinians to be among its first customers, Israeli Energy Minister Uzi Landau told Reuters. ‘We definitely have an interest to promote that as much as we can… I see that as something important to promote peace,’ Landau said in an interview on the sidelines of an energy conference in Athens. ‘We all wish to get off the hook of the oil lords in the world… it’s not just Westerners that are hit by that – also Muslim countries that have no oil are hit,’ Landau said.”

These developments have intrigued me because they are similar to the “Oil For Peace” or “Economic Growth For Peace” scenario that my lead character, Jon Bennett, pursued in my first three novels, The Last Jihad, The Last Days, and The Ezekiel Option, and that I describe in more detail in my first non-fiction book, Epicenter. In the novels, Bennett and his global hedge fund invest billions in a massive discovery of oil and natural gas in Israel and off the coast of Israel and Gaza. The partnership in drilling, refining and shipping of such petroleum leads to a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians, but also sets into a motion a Russian-Iranian-Turkish alliance against Israel and eventually the fulfillment of the prophecies of the “War of Gog and Magog” as described in the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39. In the non-fiction book, I explain the prophetic basis I used to write the novels. Now the increasingly intriguing question is whether these ancient prophecies are beginning to come to pass, or at least whether the pieces are moving into place for the prophecy to be fulfilled in the near future. (To study Ezekiel 38-39 further, please click here.)

>> Learn more about the June 16th worldwide “Implosion Simulcast” — and register today.

>> Help Christians bless needy Israelis and Palestinians now, and be ready for a possible major new war with Iran in the epicenter — please consider a generous, tax deductible financial contribution to The Joshua Fund. Thank you!

TURKISH LEADER VISITS IRAN TO STRENGTHEN ALLIANCE: And Israeli military cancels all Passover leaves

In Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 at 5:47 pm

“Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan expressed support for Iran’s nuclear program during a visit to the Islamic Republic on Wednesday, and said that no one has the right to use force against a country that is pursuing peaceful nuclear activities,” reports Haaretz. “‘No one has the right to impose anything on anyone with regards to nuclear energy, provided that it is for peaceful purposes,’ Erdogan was quoted as saying by Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman. ‘Everyone with commonsense opposes nuclear weapons,’ he added….Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran expects to reopen talks with world powers that could defuse mounting tensions over its disputed nuclear program on April 13. Turkey has offered to host the talks and the location will be decided in the next few days, Salehi said.” More reporting from Ynet News. 

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RUSSIAN CZAR PUTIN SET TO VISIT ISRAEL IN JUNE: WHY?

In Uncategorized on March 27, 2012 at 2:01 am

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Last week, Russian troops entered Syria. We also learned that Moscow needs oil prices to rise from about $110 a barrel today to $150 a barrel for the next few years to allow Russia to fulfill recent promises to rebuild its military and increase pay for soldiers, policemen, retirees, and others. This raised the possibility that Russia might seek to foment more instability in the Middle East — not less — to help drive up the price of oil and bring more tax revenues into the Kremlin. That’s why last week I wrote a column entitled, “Evidence Grows That Israel Is Set For War, But What If Russia Intervenes?” I also discussed the implications of these developments over the weekend at a conference in southern California on “Israel, The Church and the Middle East Crisis.”

Now comes a curious new development: Vladimir Putin will make a high-profile visit to Israel in June, not long after he is sworn in as Russia’s new president on May 7th. News reports indicate Mr. Putin’s first foreign trip upon reclaiming his power will be to the U.S. for the G8 summit on May 20. That makes sense. The U.S.-Russian relationship has widely been considered the most important bilateral geopolitical relationship on the planet since the end of World War II. But with all the other important countries and leaders in the world Mr. Putin could visit, why is he choosing to make meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu his first objective after his meeting with President Obama? What is the Russian leader’s motive? What does he want to accomplish, and why? Will Putin seek to pressure Israel not to launch a preemptive strike on Iran? Will he visit other countries in the epicenter on the same trip? Will he, for example, visit Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, as well? What about other countries mentioned in the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39? It’s too early to say, but a development well worth watching closely.

“Russian President-elect Vladimir Putin wants to visit Israel in June, and has expressed interest in unveiling a monument in Netanya honoring Jewish Red Army soldiers who fought in World War II, a senior Israeli official told Haaretz on Monday,” reports the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz. “There have been no talks about specific arrangements because Putin has yet to be inaugurated, the source said. After he is sworn in on May 7, Israel is expected to begin preparing for his visit, the date of which will be formally announced, the official said. Israel is expected to be Putin’s second foreign destination after he is inaugurated on May 7. Putin is due to travel to the United States on May 20 to attend the G8 summit, where he is slated to meet with U.S. President Barack Obama….Putin last visited Israel in April 2005, when Ariel Sharon was prime minister. The highly irregular visit took place on Passover, with only three weeks’ notice. Israel lobbied unsuccessfully to get the visit postponed.”

UPDATE:

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RESOURCES ON ISRAEL, IRAN AND BIBLE PROPHECY

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TOP SAUDI ISLAMIC LEADER: “DESTROY ALL THE CHURCHES”

In Uncategorized on March 23, 2012 at 5:23 pm

Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia“Why is it that when Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, the grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, declares that it is ‘necessary to destroy all the churches in the Arabian Peninsula,’ the major media do not see this as even worth reporting?” asks Middle East expert Cliff May in a story I’d encourage you to read and share with others. “And no one, to the best of my knowledge, has noted that he said this to the members of a terrorist group. Here are the facts: Some members of the Kuwaiti parliament have been seeking to demolish churches or at least prohibit the construction of new ones within that country’s borders. So the question arose: What does sharia, Islamic law, have to say about this issue? A delegation from Kuwait asked the Saudi grand mufti for guidance. He replied that Kuwait is part of the Arabian Peninsula — and that any churches on the Arabian Peninsula should indeed be destroyed, because the alternative would be to approve of them. The grand mufti explained: “The Prophet (peace be upon him) commanded us, ‘Two religions shall not coexist in the Arabian Peninsula,’ so building [churches] in the first place is not valid because this peninsula must be free from [any other religion].” In Saudi Arabia, of course, non-Islamic houses of worship were banned long ago, and non-Muslims are prohibited from setting foot in Mecca and Medina….This should be emphasized: Al al-Sheikh is not the Arabian equivalent of some backwoods Florida pastor. He is the highest religious authority in Saudi Arabia, where there is no separation of mosque and state, and the state religion is the ultra-orthodox/fundamentalist reading of Islam known as Wahhabism. He also is a member of the country’s leading religious family. In other words, his pronouncements represent the official position of Saudi Arabia — a country that, we have been told time and again, changed course after 9/11 and is now our ally and solidly in the anti-terrorism camp.”

(photo: Abdulaziz ibn Abdullah Al al-Sheikh, grand mufti of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia)

ISRAEL CLEARS OUT EMBASSY IN EGYPT AFTER ISLAMIST DOMINATED EGYPTIAN PARLIAMENT EXPELS ISRAELI AMBASSADOR

In Uncategorized on March 21, 2012 at 2:38 pm

Egyptian airport officials say Israel has  cleared out its embassy in Egypt,  six months after its offices were attacked and ransacked by protesters,” reports Fox News. “The officials say two Israeli military planes left  Cairo before sunrise on Wednesday, loaded with documents and equipment removed  from the embassy. They say the Israeli ambassador and staff also left….Lawmakers in Egypt’s new Islamist-dominated parliament last week called for  expelling Israel’s ambassador and a review of the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.”

EVIDENCE GROWS THAT ISRAEL IS SET FOR WAR, BUT WHAT IF RUSSIA INTERVENES?

In Uncategorized on March 20, 2012 at 2:24 pm

>> Israel says Iran’s nuke program soon strike-proof: “Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel hasn’t yet decided whether to attack, but senior officials who advocate a pre-emptive strike say Israel, with relatively limited firepower, would have to strike by summer to be effective.”

>> Netanyahu: “None of us can afford to wait much longer.”

I’m heading to southern California today to speak at the upcoming “Israel, The Church and the Middle East Crisis” conference at Biola University and Talbot Seminary.

Last night, I was on an afternoon drive-time radio show in Los Angeles. The host and I spent about an hour discussing the latest tensions in the epicenter and previewing some of the points I’m planning to raise at the conference.

Among them:

  1. Evidence continues to grow that Israel is set for war — Netanyahu and his cabinet are feeling increasingly confident they decisively neutralize the Iranian nuclear threat for years to come.
  2. The Obama administration doesn’t want Israel to hit Iran, at least not before the November elections — That said, the White House doesn’t appear at the moment to be threatening Israel with a cutoff of aid or other support if Israel does feel the need to strike.
  3. There are a number of reasons that could dissuade Netanyahu from ordering a strike soon, but perhaps the most intriguing X Factor at the moment is Vladimir Putin — An intriguing New York Times story over the weekend explained that for the Kremlin to raise enough money for Putin to keep his lavish campaign promises over the next few years, oil prices would need to average $150 a barrel, signficantly higher than the current $120 a barrel. One way to drive up oil prices, of course, would be to encourage or foment more tensions in the Middle East. Putin is already moving Russian forces into Syria. He’s also actively preparing to build a new regional political/military/economic alliance he calls the “Eurasian Union.” What if Russiathen  intervenes in the current standoff between Israel and Iran and signs a mutual defense treaty with Iran? What if Putin warns Israel that an attack on Iran would be regarded by the Kremlin as an attack against Russia itself. That alone would throw a monkey wrench into Netanyahu’s plans to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program with a preemptive strike. But what if Putin then went further? He could go to the U.N. in September and call for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. He could persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. Then, in a move similar to what President Bush demanded of Iraq in 2003, Putin could demand that Israel disclose, dismantle and discard its weapons of mass destruction within 60 or 90 days, or face an international coalition willing to force Israel to do so. This scenario — or a variation of it — would not only likely halt Israeli plans for a strike on Iran, but could actually set into motion the fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 and the “War of Gog and Magog.”

Now comes a new, must-read column by The Atlantic magazine’s Jeffrey Goldberg — one of the more insightful and connected observers of the Israeli national security scene — suggesting a growing feeling of optimism among top Israeli political leaders and generals that an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities is not only doable but could be very successful. “The arguments I’ve outlined here — and those I’ll describe in my next column — all lead to a single conclusion,” reports Goldberg. “The Israeli political leadership increasingly believes that an attack on Iran will not be the disaster many American officials, and some ex-Israeli security officials, fear it will be.”

Here is a summary of Goldberg’s conclusions (hat tip to The American Interest blog) 

  • If it acts soon, Israel has the capacity to set the Iranian nuclear program back by five years.
  • There is a significant probability that a successful attack on Iran will energize Iran’s internal opposition, leading ultimately to the downfall or at least the crippling of the Iranian government.
  • President Obama will not retaliate against Israel.
  • Rather than launch massive retaliation against Israel, Iran will try to downplay the assault (as Syria and Iraq did in the past), perhaps launching only a few token missiles in response.
  • Fearing massive retaliation, Iran would not attack American ships or targets in response.

Also worth reading, however, is a far gloomier assessment of a recent U.S. national security “war game” (reported last night by the New York Times) that found an Israeli strike on Iran would only set the nuclear program back a year (not five) and would lead to a massive regional war that could leave hundreds of Americans dead. However, the war game also found that if the U.S. were drawn into the conflict and assisted the Israelis, the Iranian nuclear program could be set back an additional two years (for a total of three).

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RUSSIAN TROOPS ENTER SYRIA

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2012 at 10:58 pm

“A Russian military unit has arrived in Syria, according to Russian news reports, a development that a United Nations Security Council source told ABC News was ‘a bomb’ certain to have serious repercussions,” reports ABC News. “Russia, one of President Bashar al-Assad’s strongest allies despite international condemnation of the government’s violent crackdown on the country’s uprising, has repeatedly blocked the United Nations Security Council’s attempts to halt the violence, accusing the U.S. and its allies of trying to start another war. Now the Russian Black Sea fleet’s Iman tanker has arrived in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea with an anti-terror squad from the Russian Marines aboard according to the Interfax news agency. The Assad government has insisted it is fighting a terrorist insurgency. The Russian news reports did not elaborate on the Russian troops’ mission in Syria or if they are expected to leave the port….Moscow has long enjoyed a cozy relationship with the Assad regime, to which it sells billions of dollars of weapons. In return Russia has maintained a Navy base at Tartus, which gives it access to the Mediterranean.” Developing….

Also worth reading:

NYT REPORTS PUTIN NEEDS OIL AT $150 TO PAY FOR CAMPAIGN PROMISES: Will the Russian Czar foment turmoil in the Mideast to drive up oil prices? Are there prophetic implications?

In Uncategorized on March 19, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Vladimir Putin made a lot of promises to voters in his recent run to reemerge as the President of the Russian Federation — about $160 billion worth of promises, to be more precise. Among them:

* He promised to increase Russia’s military budget by $787 billion to make the Red Army a far more advanced and aggressive fighting force.

* He promised to pay parents an $8,300 bonus for having a third child (given that Russians are having so few children that their population is steadily contracting and the Russian civilization is dying off).

* He also promised to increase pay for teachers, doctors and retirees.

* He also wants to build a “Eurasian Union,” a political/military/economic alliance — possibly with a common currency — with Belarus, Kazakhstan, and other Muslim former Soviet Republics to become a regional (and possibly global) powerhouse, possibly by 2015, or even as soon as 2013.

The problem is the Kremlin can’t possibly pay for all these promises unless the price of oil averages $150 a barrel, and oil prices have never consistently stayed that high and currently are averaging about $120 a barrel. This is the conclusion of an analysis by Citigroup, according to an intriguing New York Times story this weekend. “Taxes on oil and natural gas sales provide half of Russia’s government revenue,” notes reporter Andrew Kramer. “Each increase in the Russian budget equivalent to 1 percent of the gross domestic product requires a rise in the price of oil of about $10 a barrel on global markets — which is how Citigroup arrived at the $150-a-barrel figure for meeting the new obligations Mr. Putin has taken on.”

One possibility, of course, is that Putin won’t keep some — or any — of his promises.

Another, more ominous possibility, is that Putin is going to find a way to significantly drive up the price of oil, perhaps by fomenting turmoil in the Middle East.

Putin, for example, could quietly encourage a fresh wave of terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East. He was, after all, the former head of the KGB. Or he could tacitly goad Israel into a first strike against Iran, which would be followed by a full Iranian missile counterstrike against Israeli cities, coupled with a series of attacks against the Strait of Hormuz and the oil shipping lanes in the Persian Gulf. Such a scenario would certainly send the global price of oil soaring. Or Putin could sign a mutual defense treaty with Iran and warn Israel that an attack on Iran would be regarded by the Kremlin as an attack against Russia itself. That would throw a monkey wrench into Netanyahu’s plans to neutralize Iran’s nuclear program with a preemptive strike. Then Putin could go further: he could go to the U.N. in September and call for a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. He could persuade Iran to give up its nuclear program. Then, in a move similar to what President Bush demanded of Iraq in 2003, Putin could demand that Israel disclose, dismantle and discard its weapons of mass destruction within 60 or 90 days, or face an international coalition willing to force Israel to do so. The prospect of another war in the Middle East would also cause the price of oil to skyrocket. Such moves — along with Putin’s desire to build a “Eurasian Union” in which Russia builds a political/economic/military alliance with the Muslim former Soviet Republics of Central Asia to become a new regional (and possibly global) powerhouse — could also set into motion the fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 and the “War of Gog and Magog.”

It’s far from clear yet what path Putin will take to meet his lavish campaign promises. But this curious — and largely overlooked — New York Times article suggests the incoming Czar of Russia now has a specific and acute economic motive to foment turmoil in the Middle East. It’s a troubling development, to say the least, and one worth keeping a close eye on.

NOTE: In a separate development, a conference of Israeli experts are now warning Israel not to export the huge natural gas reserves it is now bringing online, but rather to keep them for domestic energy consumption and strategic national security reserves.

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RESOURCES ON ISRAEL, IRAN AND BIBLE PROPHECY

>> Please register also for the worldwide “IMPLOSION SIMULCAST” set for Saturday, June 16th.

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