(Washington, D.C.) — On August 3rd, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will officially step down as the President of Iran. He will be replaced by Hassan Rouhani, though the Islamic Republic will still ultimately be ruled by the so-called “Supreme Leader,” the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
A few days later, the leader of Russia will arrive in Tehran on a formal state visit. He will come to discuss the Iranian nuclear program and to strengthen the Russian-Iranian alliance. It will likely be the first state visit of the new Rouhani regime and it will be interesting to see what comes of it.
“Russian leader Vladimir Putin will meet Iran’s newly elected president in Tehran next month to discuss restarting talks on the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program,” reports Reuters, based on Russian and Iranian media reports. “The Russian newspaper Kommersant quoted a source close to the Iranian Foreign Ministry as saying President Putin would visit on August 12, days after Hassan Rouhani is inaugurated. Iran’s Mehr news agency said Putin would travel to Iran on August 16, without citing a source. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined comment on the reports.”
This will be the second time Putin has traveled to Iran. The first was a two day trip on October 16-17, 2007. I wrote about the historic nature of that trip at the time. It was, after all, the first time a Russian leader had made a state visit to Tehran for the purpose of meeting with Iranian leaders in modern history. It thus raised many questions, including whether we were approaching the fulfillment of the prophecies of Ezekiel 38-39 in which Russia and Iran form an alliance in the “last days” of history to attack Israel. It so happened that I was speaking about such prophecies to officials at the Pentagon and to Members of Congress just days after Putin’s visit. Below I include a reprint of the column I wrote at the time.
WHAT PUTIN’S HISTORIC VISIT TO IRAN MEANS
By Joel C. Rosenberg, October 19, 2007
Washington leaders are asking if unfolding events in the Mideast were foretold in the Bible.
We heard sobering, apocalyptic talk from President Bush yesterday. During a press briefing at the White House, the President was asked about Vladimir Putin’s visit with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Tehran and the threat posed by this emerging Russian-Iranian nuclear alliance. The President warned that World War III could break out if Iran gets nuclear weapons.
Here is an excerpt from the official transcript: “I believe that if Iran had a nuclear weapon, it would be a dangerous threat to world peace. We’ve got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel. So I’ve told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.”
As the President was speaking to reporters at the White House, I had the privilege of speaking to a group of military leaders at the Pentagon on what Putin’s historic and unprecedented trip to Iran means, and how Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s eschatology is driving Iranian foreign policy.
The event was off-the-record, meaning I’m not at liberty to share who was in the meeting or any of the specific details. But I can tell you that I gave a condensed version of the same information I’ve been speaking about publicly in recent weeks. I will be speaking on the same topic on Capitol Hill today with a group of Congressmen who have invited me to discuss the latest events with Putin and Ahmadinejad and what they might mean.
Here’s an executive summary:
* To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it. A new evil is rising in the world. Ahmadinejad is the new Hitler. Putin is a new Czar. Yet the West seems to be asleep to the implications of this dangerous new alliance.
* Ahmadinejad is a devout Shia Muslim. He began telling colleagues when he was first elected in the summer of 2005 that the end of the world was just two or three years away. He said the way to hasten the coming of the Islamic Messiah known as the “Mahdi” or the “Twelfth Imam” or the “Hidden Imam” is to annihilate two countries — Israel, which he says is the “little Satan,” and the United States, which he says is the “Great Satan.”
* In September 2005, Ahmadinejad concluded his address to the U.N. by praying that Allah would hasten the coming of the Mahdi.
* Ahmadinejad returned to Iran after that speech and told Shia clerics that as he had spoken at the U.N. he had been surrounded by a halo of light, and that for 27 or 28 minutes not a single person in the General Assembly hall had even blinked, so mesmerized were they — he said — but what Allah was saying through him.
* In October 2005, Ahmadinejad gave his famous speech vowing to wipe Israel off the map. In the same speech, he urged the Muslim world to envision a world without the United States, and said this is possible — a world without America and Zionism — “when our holy hatred strikes like a wave.”
* In December 2005, Russia signed a $1 billion arms deal with Iran, selling high-speed missiles to the Ahmadinejad regime, on top of billions of dollars worth of other arms, submarines, and nuclear technology in recent years.
* In September 2006, Ahmadinejad returned to the U.N. and again concluded his address by praying for Allah to hasten the coming of the Mahdi. Throughout 2006 and 2007, he has continued to give regular speeches denouncing Israel and assuring Muslims that the Jewish State will soon “vanish.”
* In August 2007, Ahmadinejad began shifting gears. He was no longer saying that the end of the world was two or three years away. Now he was saying the return of the Mahdi was “imminent.”
* In September 2007, Ahmadinejad again spoke at the U.N., as well as at Columbia University in New York City. This time, rather than ending his speeches with a prayer, he began both speeches by asking Allah to hasten the coming of the Mahdi.
* For the past two years, Ahmadinejad has been feverishly trying to build, buy or steal nuclear weapons. He has specifically been building alliances with three nuclear powers, Russia, China and North Korea, in pursuit of his genocidal objectives.
* Despite the apocalyptic rhetoric coming out of Tehran, the military, political and economic relationship between Russia and Iran has intensified dramatically over the past two years. Putin doesn’t seem bothered by the talk of genocide. Putin and Ahmadinejad have met regularly. Putin’s visit this week to Iran was the first by a Russian leader since 1943.
* Putin didn’t meet only with Ahmadinejad in Iran. He also held a summit with the leaders of several Central Asian/Caspian Sea nations and issued a threat to the U.S. not to intervene militarily to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
* No one is entirely certain why Putin is building an alliance with such radical Islamic regimes. Russia is certainly making billions of dollars from their arms and nuclear deals. Putin clearly wants to rebuild the glory of Mother Russia. He is becoming a Czar, centralizing power to himself and now saying he will step down as president in 2008 but stay in power as prime minister.
* As an emerging Czar, Putin wants to expand Russia’s borders and influence. But he can’t go West, because NATO is moving East. Putin can’t go East because he borders a nuclear China. He recently claimed sovereignty over the North Pole. But his real opportunity to build a global, anti-Western empire lies to the South. So Putin is feverishly working to build alliances with Islamic and Arab powers, including Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Libya, Algeria, and several Central Asian states, as well as Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world.
* Still, given Russia’s experience in Chechnya, it doesn’t really make sense that Russia would arm radical Islamic nations, or help them go nuclear.
* The Bible offers an intriguing clue to what could be happening. In Ezekiel 38-39, the Hebrew Prophet Ezekiel foretold a Russian-Iranian alliance that would form with a group of other North African, Middle Eastern, and Central Asian states in what the Bible calls “the last days.” For most of the past 2,500 years since the prophecy was written, this had never happened. But it seems to be happening now.
* No one knows exactly when these prophecies will be fulfilled in their entirely. I certainly do not. My 2005 political thriller, The Ezekiel Option, was a fictional look at how these prophecies might play out, if they were to play in my lifetime. Epicenter is a non-fiction look (both the book and the documentary film) at these prophecies and the current dynamics in Russia, Iran and the rest of the region. It considers the possibility that we might actually be closer to the fulfillment of these prophecies that anyone in the political, business or media worlds has expected.
* One curious development worth noting: Ezekiel 36 and 37 have already come true in our lifetime. These are the famous prophecies that say that in the end times, Israel will be reborn as a nation, Jews will pour back into the Holy Land after centuries of exile, they will make the deserts bloom, they will rebuild the ancient ruins, and have an “exceedingly great army.” Since these dramatic events have already happened, it begs the question: Could Ezekiel 38-39 — what Bible scholars call the “War of Gog and Magog” — also come true in our lifetime? This remains to be seen. But current events are raising lots of intriguing questions.
As I write in Epicenter, I am not trying to persuade people that these events are coming to pass soon. I’m trying to raise awareness of the threats we face as Americans, the threats our friends in Israel face, and the threats that everyone in the “epicenter” faces — Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. I’m trying to make people aware of prophecies that intrigue me personally, and that may have relevance for our time. And I’m trying to motivate people to do more to care for the needs of the suffering and threatened people of the epicenter, specifically through the work of The Joshua Fund, the non-profit group that Lynn and I launched last year.
While I cannot say whether people in the Pentagon or Congress or the White House share my views, I am both intrigued and grateful that they are interested and have invited me to share my perspective.
At this moment in history, let us pray faithfully and earnestly for our political and military leaders, as well for the leaders in Israel, Russia, Iran and the epicenter. As the Apostle Paul wrote in I Timothy 2:1-4: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”