On the eve of Yom Kippur, “Putin in Ankara to forge alliance of Russia, Turkey & Iran.” Here’s why that’s interesting.

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>> I’m speaking Saturday evening in Denver on the threats posed by Radical Islam, Russia and North Korea. Q&A will follow. Tickets are $25. Best is to register online, but you can buy a ticket at the door. Click here for more details.

(Denver, Colorado) — Readers of my novel, The Ezekiel Option, and non-fiction book, Epicenter, and this blog know how interested I am in the ancient prophecies of Ezekiel 38 and 39 and what is known by rabbis, pastors and Bible scholars as the “War of Gog and Magog.”

The Hebrew prophet Ezekiel wrote some 2,500 years ago that in the “last days” of history, the Jewish people will be gathered back to the land of Israel from all the nations where they have been scattered and exiled, they will rebuild the State of Israel, and they will create a nation of ever-increasing security and prosperity.

At that time, Ezekiel indicates an evil dictator identified as “Gog” will rise up in Russia (known in Biblical times as “Magog”) who will form an alliance with Iran (known in Biblical times as “Persia”), Turkey (known in Biblical times as “Gomer”), and several other Middle Eastern and North African countries. Together, this alliance will surround and then seek to attack and consume Israel and the Jewish people.

Skeptics of the Bible dismiss all talk of prophecy as uneducated, unsophisticated and downright ridiculous, despite the fact that over the last century we’ve been seeing one Bible prophecy after another come to pass:

  • Jews from all over the world have been streaming back to live in the Land of Israel (myself included)
  • Israelis have been rebuilding the ancient ruins and building a modern, flourishing, prosperous economy.
  • Israelis have been creating the strongest and most successful military in the entire Middle East, have forged an enduring alliance with the world’s only superpower, and feel more secure today than ever in their modern existence.

So some of us find headlines like these particularly interesting:

Keep in mind that tensions between Russia and Turkey (a NATO member) have been running quite high in recent years.

So it’s not exactly obvious that Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan would be meeting in the Turkish capital to forge an alliance together, much less with Iran.

Yet that’s exactly what happened this week.

Consider excerpts from Al Arabiya:

  • Putin’s visit to Ankara comes a few days prior to the scheduled visit of Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s to Moscow on October 5-7, 2017. After patching up an acrimonious row between the countries over the downing of a Russian jetfighter in November 2015 over Syria, both leaders have pledged to restore their political and economic relations to pre-crisis levels….
  • Moscow called for a peace conference in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, which involved Turkey and Iran. The countries formed a diplomatic triad for setting up de-escalation zones in Syria in order to end the war and stop the division of the country. Russia chose Astana as a venue for the talks to send a message to the US that it should not get close to Russian borders through former republics of the Soviet Union….
  • Turkish leadership is seeking strategic relationship with Russia to replace the loss of its Western alliance. In other words, Ankara is effecting a shift toward a more “Eurasian-ist” orientation due to the proximity of the region, the overlapping of interests, common cultural values and language.
  • After winning the war in Syria, Russia is now seeking to ensure its peace – a mission no less difficult than going to war. Initially, Russia used Turkey as a key partner to make the Syrian opposition accept a truce and join peace talks for reaching a political settlement….
  • Russian-Turkish bilateral relations have several common traits: pragmatism, multi-faceted approach, commonalities, reliance on energy resources, geopolitical power, military performance, circumspection toward the West. All of this has fueled the Russian and Turkish pursuit to play a pivotal role at the Eurasian and Middle Eastern landscapes….
  • In 2014, Putin and Erdogan signed several agreements on bilateral trade with the two countries hoping that their annual trade volume would reach $100 billion by 2020. However, the most important achievement of the meeting was the agreement to expand cooperation in natural gas trade. Russia aimed through these agreements to also increase its gas exports to Turkey by more than 3 billion cubic meters because of the latter’s increasing need for energy.
  • Turkey imports 93 percent of its energy needs, 97 percent of which is natural gas. Ankara buy 60 percent of its gas from Russia, which makes it the second largest importer of Russian natural gas after Germany. The value of Turkish exports to Russia does not exceed $6 billion….
  • The recent military rapprochement between Ankara and Moscow with the S-400 deal has upset NATO officials because the Russian system, an anti-air defense system, is incompatible with NATO’s. With this deal, Russia will be the third biggest arms exporter to Turkey after Germany and the US.
  • Erdogan, who plans to visit Iran in October to bolster military cooperation, will also be discussing the repercussions of any independent Kurdish state that might inflame separatist tensions in Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Syria….

To be clear, I’m not saying that as Yom Kippur begins this year, Israel faces an imminent threat of attack from Russia, Turkey or Iran. Nor am I saying that this week’s meeting between Putin and Erdogan necessarily fulfills Biblical prophecy. It’s simply too early to say whether the alliances that are forming between have Biblical significance. Likewise, it’s also too early to say that Putin is Gog, though he certainly seems “Gog-esque.” We simply don’t have enough information, so we should not be quick to draw conclusions.

That said, even skeptics of the Bible should find recent events not only troubling geopolitically, but also curiously consistent with the words of the ancient Hebrew prophet Ezekiel. I certainly do.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

 

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BREAKING: New audio indicates ISIS leader still alive. World’s most wanted terrorist urges “soldiers of the Caliphate” to “fan the flames of war.”

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(Denver, Colorado) — For months, we’ve heard rumors that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State, had been killed.

  • In June 16th, the New York Times reported that Russian forces had killed him.
  • Then the Iranians said they were sure he was dead.
  • In July, the Pentagon said they could not confirm his death, though the rumors persisted.

Now a newly-released audio tape strongly suggests the world’s most wanted terrorist is still alive and calling on “soldiers of the caliphate” to launch a new wave of attacks.

“The date of the 46-minute recording, released via the Al-Furqan news organization, was not clear,” reports Reuters. “But in it, Baghdadi makes an apparent reference to recent events including North Korean threats against Japan and United States and the recapture two months ago of Mosul by U.S.-backed Iraqi forces.”

“Beware of retreat, or the feeling of defeat, beware of negotiations or surrender,” Baghdadi implores ISIS fighters. “Do not lay down your arms…Oh Soldiers of the Caliphate, fan the flames of war on your enemies, take it to them and besiege them in every corner, and stand fast and courageous.”

On Saturday night in Denver, I will speak at length about the progress the U.S. and coalition partners have been making in the war against ISIS, and assess the threat that remains. We’ll talk specifically about the al-Baghdadi tape and its implications. This will be part of a message titled, “Brace For Impact: An Evening Discussing The Latest Threats From Radical Islam, Russia, and North Korea.”  Q&A will follow.

This Fall, my publisher will also release my ISIS novel trilogy — The Third Target, The First Hostage and Without Warning — in mass market paperback. I’ll have more details on that very soon.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

The U.S. & West should support Kurdish independence. Here’s why. [Analysis of Kurdish referendum]

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UPDATE: Kurds vote overwhelmingly in favor of independence from Iraq (CNN headline). “Iraqi Kurds have voted overwhelmingly in favor of declaring independence from Iraq in a historic and controversial referendum that could have wide-ranging implications for the Middle East,” reports CNN. “More than 92% of the roughly 3 million people who cast valid ballots on Monday voted ‘yes’ to independence, according to official results announced by the Kurdish electoral commission on Wednesday.”

ORIGINAL POST: On Monday, September 25th, the Kurdish people of northern Iraq will vote on a highly controversial referendum on whether to secede from the Republic of Iraq and create their own independent state. It is expected to pass overwhelmingly. But then what?

Marsoud Barzani, the Kurdish president, laid out the case in a June 28th op-ed in the Washington Post, “The time has come for Iraqi Kurdistan to make its choice on independence.”

Most world governments, however, oppose the referendum. They see the move by the Sunni Muslims of the Kurdistan province as ill-timed and needlessly complicating an already highly volatile geopolitical situation in the Middle East. Especially adamant against the move are the Shia leaders in Baghdad and Tehran, as well as the Turkish government, which hates the Kurds with a vengeance.

Unfortunately, the Trump administration also opposes the referendum, or at least its timing. This is a mistake. The Kurds deserve their freedom now.

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I have had the honor of visiting the Kurdish province in northern Iraq four times. Over the years, I have met with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani (who was the Kurdish representative in D.C. at the time), a range of other Kurdish government officials, and Christian pastors and ministry leaders in Kurdistan. I have been moved by their history, have fallen in love with their people — especially the children — and have been praying for the people and leaders ever since.

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The referendum the Kurds have drafted is not perfect. Indeed, in some ways it is overreaching. And yes, it will complicate diplomatic matters in the region. Rather than oppose it, however, the U.S. and Western powers should be working with the Kurds and regional leaders to negotiate a peaceful and reasonable conclusion, one that gives the Kurds their independence but ensures they are cooperating partners in the region’s security and economy.

The Kurds have been patient for the better part of a century, while the world continues to cut them loose. Enough is enough. It is time to support their bid for self-determination. If not now, then when?

The column expresses my own personal opinions. It does not reflect the views of The Joshua Fund, which is a non-political organization, and takes no position on legislative or political issues in the U.S. or other countries.

(Top photos: Meeting with Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani in Erbil.)

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

Is Egyptian President el-Sisi about to help broker a major breakthrough in the Arab-Israeli peace process? Fascinating signals this week. [My new Jerusalem Post op-ed + analysis of el-Sisi’s UN speech]

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Four decades after the historic Camp David Accords, is Egyptian President el-Sisi signaling he is about to take the lead in helping broker dramatic peace agreements not just between Israelis and Palestinians but perhaps between Israel and the rest of the Arab world, including the Saudis and Gulf States?

Given his warm, even effusive, public meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday, there are surprising and growing reasons for optimism, as I discuss in my new op-ed in The Jerusalem Post, “Behind The Smiles: Why Did Sisi Go Public With His Close Relationship With Netanyahu?” [see excerpts below]

What’s more, I strongly encourage you to watch or read the full text of President el-Sisi’s courageous address to the U.N. General Assembly, especially went he went off script to speak of Egypt’s “wonderful and excellent experiment in peace” with Israel and to urge both sides not to miss a “rare” opportunity to make peace that “may not be repeated.”

Mr. President, let me put the text aside and appeal to those who may concern. My first appeal is to the Palestinian people. I tell them that it is extremely important to unite behind your target and overcome differences, not lose the opportunity and be ready to coexist with the Israelis in safety and peace to achieve stability and security for all. I appeal to the Israeli people, telling them that Egypt has a wonderful and excellent experience in peace with you for more than 40 years. We can repeat this experiment and wonderful step. The security and safety of the Israeli citizen should be put side by side with that of the Palestinian citizen. I appeal to you to stand by your political leadership. Don’t hesitate. I assure the Israeli public opinion that we stand with you all to render this opportunity a success.

This opportunity may not come again. I address also all peace loving states and all sisterly Arab countries to support this magnificent step. I appeal to the rest of the world to back this step, which if it succeeds, it will change the history. In addition, I appeal to the US president that we have an opportunity to write a new page in the history of humanity for achieving peace in this area. 

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EXCERPTS FROM MY JERUSALEM POST OP-ED

Monday’s tete-a-tete between Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, held on the sidelines of the opening session of the UN General Assembly in Manhattan, was their first-ever publicly announced meeting, and it went better than both men had hoped.

But why was President Sisi willing to go public with the relationship now?….

Is something even bigger going on?

Sisi is not a politician by training. He’s a military man, a strategist. He doesn’t make moves – certainly not vis-à-vis Israel – without carefully thinking them through. To go public now, especially with such warm and friendly photographs, strongly suggests something else is brewing.

Is the Egyptian leader about to invite Netanyahu to come to Cairo for an official, formal state visit, the first ever by an Israeli premier? Might Sisi even host a summit and introduce Netanyahu to other Arab heads of state? Will he offer to host serious peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians for a comprehensive and final treaty, having secured Netanyahu’s agreement to such talks ahead of time?

At the same time, is Netanyahu about to invite Sisi to come to Jerusalem for an official state visit? Will he invite the Egyptian leader to address the Knesset and lay out his vision for a broad regional peace, sharing lessons Egypt has learned about making – and maintaining – peace with the Jewish state?

It would be the first time an Egyptian leader set foot on Israeli soil since Anwar Sadat stunned the world and melted the hearts of the Israeli people with his bold visit to Jerusalem in 1977. It would be powerful by itself, but could it also be designed to lay the groundwork for an historic visit by another major Arab leader, or by several?….

Could another breakthrough be in the works?

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

Historic hurricanes. Earthquakes. Genocide. Nuclear threats. And yet new signs of peace in the Mideast? What in the world is going on? Join us at the 2017 Epicenter Conference Oct 6-7 to find out. (Register today)

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Day after day, the headlines are more sobering and surreal than the day before.

Cataclysmic at times, yet oddly hopeful and encouraging at others.

What in the world is going on, and what does it all mean?

Next week, I’ll be speaking in Denver on the grave and growing threats posed by Russia, North Korea, and Iran. But I’ll also be giving an update on the dramatically positive turn of events in the war against the Islamic State, and even in the Arab-Israeli conflict — and I’ll be taking your questions. Please do everything you can to join us.

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Then I’ll head to southern California to speak at the 2017 Epicenter Conference on October 6 & 7. Joining me will be some of the most encouraging and insightful pastors and ministry leaders from Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It’s been four years since the last Epicenter Conference, and this one could not be more timely, or hopeful — the Holy Spirit is so powerfully today. Come hear what the media won’t tell you!

If you have the opportunity to come to either event — in Denver or in Orange County — please find a way to join us. Details for each event are below. You must register for these events, so please do so today — and invite others via social media, as well.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

In first-ever public meeting, Egyptian President el-Sisi warmly embraces Israeli PM Netanyahu. (Two leaders discuss path to broader regional peace on anniversary of Camp David peace talks in September 1978.)

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When was the last time you saw a picture of an Egyptian President roaring with laughter in a meeting with an Israeli Prime Minister?

If a picture is worth a thousand words, this one reveals a great deal about the state of peace between Israel and Egypt.

On the sidelines of the opening session of the U.N. General Assembly in Manhattan today, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu held their first-ever publicly announced meeting. And it went better than both men had hoped.

While the two leaders speak frequently by phone, they have met in person only twice before. The first time was in the Red Sea resort city of Aqaba, Jordan in February 2016, hosted by Jordanian King Abdullah II. The second time was in Cairo in April 2016. But both of those meetings were tightly held secrets at the time. No photos were released.

By contrast, today’s meeting was announced by both sides even before it took place. Afterwards, official photographs were released. What’s more, the photos showed the two men not simply shaking hands but sincerely enjoying each other’s company.

Clearly, they have cultivated a relationship they now believe is healthy and enduring enough to make public. Senior Israeli and Egyptian officials tell me security cooperation between the two countries is unprecedentedly close. This is good.

But I believe there is something bigger going on.

Is el-Sisi going to invite Netanyahu to come on an official, formal, public state visit to Cairo? Is el-Sisi going to introduce Netanyahu to other Arab heads of state? Will he offer to host historic peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians?

Is Netanyahu about to invite el-Sisi to come to Jerusalem for an official state visit? Will he invite el-Sisi to address the Knesset, the first time an Egyptian leader would have done so since 1977 when Anwar el-Sadat stunned the world and melted the hearts of the Israeli people? Could an el-Sisi trip to Jerusalem lay the groundwork for an historic visit by the King of Saudi Arabia, or another major Arab country?CarterSadatBegin-2

Significantly, today’s meeting came on the 39th anniversary of the Camp David peace talks. From September 5 through 17, 1978, Sadat met with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin — under the auspices of U.S. President Jimmy Carter — at the presidential retreat center near Thurmont, Maryland. Together, they hammered out the first-ever peace treaty between Israel and an Arab country.

Could another breakthrough be coming?

One thing is certain: el-Sisi believes his relationship with the Israelis can stand up against the harshest criticism by Radical Islamists, from the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, al Qaeda and ISIS, to the ayatollahs of Iran. That is a positive and significant development.

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As I wrote about earlier this year when I met President el-Sisi in Washington, “What has intrigued me as I have studied Sisi is how much he admires the late Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, even though Sadat was assassinated for visiting Jerusalem and agreeing to the 1979 Camp David Accords.”

Indeed, “as the leader of the first Arab nation ever to sign a peace treaty with Israel, President Sisi believes Egypt offers a model that can help lead the region to peace with the Jewish state.”

Will the Saudis follow Egypt’s lead? Will the Gulf States? Will Morocco and the rest of North Africa? And ultimately, will the Palestinians?

At the same time, is Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prepared to follow the path of his mentor, Menachem Begin, in forging sweeping peace agreements with the broader Arab community, as well as with the Palestinians?

Only time will tell, but this was a good and encouraging day.

NOTE: Earlier today, U.S. President Donald Trump met for two hours with Netanyahu. The two men publicly affirmed that the U.S.-Israel alliance is stronger than ever. They discussed how to forge a broad regional peace, including a deal with the Palestinians, but also how to counter the real and growing threat posed by Iran. This, too, is positive. The closer the U.S. and Israel are — and the more unified they are in confronting Iran and ISIS — the easier it may be for Israel and the Arab world to find a way to make peace.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

“Putin Is More Dangerous Than Radical Islam,” says author/expert. Here’s why. [My new op-ed for Fox News & interview with Breitbart News.]

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — This morning, FoxNews.com published a new column of mine on the massive Russian war games underway near the borders of three NATO countries and Ukraine. The column includes findings from an exclusive poll I commissioned about American attitudes towards Russia and Putin earlier this year.

Earlier this week, I was interviewed by a reporter for Breitbart News about the Putin threat and my forthcoming novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy. That article was also published today.

Here are excerpts from that article:

  • As Russian forces conduct a major military exercise this week in northwestern Belarus, one man has ominous words to describe the latest global aggression directed by President Vladimir Putin.
  • “After 16 years of writing about radical Islam I’m personally convinced that Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than radical Islam, “ Joel Rosenberg, bestselling author of numerous books on radical Islam and the Islamic State, told Breitbart News….
  • Rosenberg, who moved to Israel from the United States several years ago — born to a Jewish [father] and now an evangelical Christian — calls Putin a “monster” and ticks off a list of the threats posed by Russia around the globe, from the invasion and annexation of Crimea in the Ukraine to insertion into conflicts in the Middle East, including Syria….
  • Rosenberg said [that]…while a majority of Americans do see Putin and Russia as a threat, the concern has been over-shawdowed by the very real threat of ISIS and even North Korea. Rosenberg wrote about that fact early this year after commissioning a poll to gauge specifically what Americans think of Putin and Russia.
  • Sixty percent of respondents said they believe Putin has global ambitions, picking the answer that states Russia wants to “regain the glory of Mother Russia by expanding the territory and influence of Russia in Europe and the Middle East, including by military force.”
  • Rosenberg has extraordinary credentials for his perspective on America’s enemies, earning him the nickname of a “modern day Nostradamus.”
  • In 2002, Rosenberg opened his debut novel, The Last Jihad, with Muslim extremists using an airplane in a kamikaze attack on the president of the United States. Rosenberg wrote that scene before the 9/11 terror attack….
  • Rosenberg’s upcoming novel is focused on what seems to be his latest prophetic piece of fiction. The Kremlin Conspiracy will be released in March.
  • Rosenberg didn’t want to reveal too much about his new book, but he did cite a real-life [RAND Corporation study] that said if Russian decided to capture the Baltic states it could do so in 60 hours.
  • “So I go back to my premise: Vladimir Putin is more dangerous than radical Islam,” Rosenberg said, adding that Americans better “wake up before it’s too late.”
  • “Putin is the greatest geo-political threat that the West faces,” Rosenberg said…. 

To read the full article, please click here.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

On U.S. speaking tour this Fall, I’ll be addressing trends in Russia, North Korea, Israel and the Muslim world. (Events set for Denver, Orange County, Dallas, Fort Worth & Liberty University)

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — In September and October, I look forward to being in the United States on a speaking tour to discuss geopolitical and spiritual trend lines in some of the world’s most volatile regions and countries.

Details for each event are below. Please join us, if you can, and feel free to invite others via social media.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

What is Putin planning? Massive Russian war game set to launch Thursday on borders of three NATO countries & Ukraine. Here’s the latest.

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(Jerusalem, Israel) — Is Russia preparing to invade another European country, or simply training its forces to do so in the future?

That’s the big question as Vladimir Putin prepares to launch a massive series of war games on Thursday dangerously close to the borders of three NATO member states — the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — as well as Ukraine, which Russia has invaded and occupied portions of twice since 2014.

While it sounds eerily similar to the plot of my forthcoming political thriller, The Kremlin Conspiracy, the exercise — code-named “Zapad-2017” (Zapad in Russian means “West”) is all-too-real. It is set to begin on September 14 and conclude on September 20th, and tensions in the region are high.

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Some says the concerns are overblown and that Moscow has no intention of using military force in Europe. Such skeptics need to be reminded, however, that in just the last decade, Putin has invaded Georgia (and occupies 20% of it), Ukraine (twice, and occupies Crimea and Eastern Ukraine), and has sent forces into Syria to prop up the bloodthirsty Assad regime that has slaughtered hundreds of thousands of its own people and driven nearly half the Syrian population from their homes.

The Economist calls this “Russia’s biggest war game in Europe since the Cold War.” That said, there is a dispute over just how big.

Moscow says only 12,500 troops will take part, most of which will operate in the country of Belarus, just south of the Baltics and just north of Ukraine. But “some Western analysts, and Baltic State governments…have expressed concerns that the exercise will in reality be significantly larger, involving between 60,000 and 100,000 military personnel,” notes Janes Intelligence Review.

“According to the Baltic States, the last Zapad-series exercise in 2013 involved 75,000 military personnel, six times higher than Russia disclosed,” says Janes.

Have the U.S. and other NATO commanders positioned enough forces, tanks, fighter jets and other defenses of their own to protect against a Russian blitz? I pray yes, but I’m not so certain.

According to a recent RAND Corporation analysis: “As currently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad: a bloody counteroffensive, fraught with escalatory risk, to liberate the Baltics; to escalate itself, as it threatened to do to avert defeat during the Cold War; or to concede at least temporary defeat, with uncertain but predictably disastrous consequences for the Alliance and, not incidentally, the people of the Baltics.”

Estonia’s Defense Minister Margus Tsahkna says NATO has intelligence suggesting Moscow may leave Russian soldiers in Belarus once the exercises are over, Reuters reports. He said Russia will use 4,000 railway carriages to transport its troops and equipment to Belarus, perhaps to establish a new Russia military base.

“For Russian troops going to Belarus, it is a one-way ticket,” Tsahkna told Reuters in an interview in Malta. “This is not my personal opinion; we are analyzing very deeply how Russia is preparing for the Zapad exercises.”

Meanwhile, “Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has described Russia’s build-up for the exercise as ‘preparations for an offensive war on a continental scale,'” reports the BBC, and Ukrainian defenses are being bolstered.

According to the BBC, Poroshenko believes Russia is “using the pretext of an exercise to mobilize and position forces to conduct offensive operations” and that “he could not rule out the possibility that the drill ‘may be used as a smokescreen to create new Russian army assault groups to invade Ukrainian territory.'”

I’ll definitely keep you posted as events unfold. In the meantime, please pray for safety and security for the people of the Baltics and Ukraine. Please also pray for wisdom for their leaders and the commanders of NATO.

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>> To pre-order a copy of The Kremlin Conspiracy (which releases March 6th), please click here.

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The ghastly attacks of 9/11 were not a failure of intelligence but of imagination. (Some personal reflections on that fateful day.)

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“The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat.” The 9/11 Commission Report, Executive Summary, page 9.

(Jerusalem, Israel) — Few will ever forget what they were doing on September 11th, 2001, when they first heard the news that the United States was under attack by radical Islamic jihadists using jet planes on kamikaze missions. I certainly never will.

On that beautiful, sunny, crystal clear Tuesday morning, I was putting the finishing touches on my first novel, a political thriller called The Last Jihad. It opens with radical Islamic terrorists hijacking a jet plane and flying an attack mission into an American city. What’s more, I was writing the book in a townhouse barely fifteen minutes away from Washington Dulles Airport, where at that very moment American Airlines Flight 77 was being seized and flown right over our home towards the Pentagon.

At the time, I had no idea anything unusual was underway. I had begun writing Jihad in January 2001. A literary agent in Manhattan had read the first three chapters that spring. He was convinced that he could get it published, and urged me to finish it as quickly as possible. I took the advice seriously, working feverishly to get the book done before my savings account ran dry.

As had become my morning ritual, I had breakfast with my wife, Lynn, and our kids, threw on jeans and a t-shirt, and settled down to work on one of the novel’s last chapters. I didn’t have radio or television on. I was simply typing away on my laptop when, about an hour later, Lynn burst into the house and said, “You will not believe what’s going on.” She quickly explained that after dropping off two of our kids at school she had turned on the radio and heard that the World Trade Center had been hit by two planes. We immediately turned the television on and saw the horror begin to unfold for ourselves. We saw the smoke pouring out of the North Tower. We saw the constant replays of United Airlines Flight 175 plowing into the South Tower, and erupting into massive ball of fire. And then, before we could fully process it all, we saw the World Trade Center towers begin to collapse.

Wherever I speak around the world, people ask me what my first reaction was, but I don’t recall thinking that my novel was coming true. I simply remember the feeling of shock. I remember calling friends at the White House and on Capitol Hill, and my agent, Scott Miller, in New York, hoping for word that they were safe but unable to get through, with so many phone lines jammed.

I remember Lynn and I getting our boys back from school and the friends who came over to spend the day with us. We tracked events on television, emailed other family and friends around the country and around the world with updates from Washington, and prayed for those directly affected by the crisis, and for our President to have the wisdom to know what to do next. Were more attacks coming? Would there be a 9/12, a 9/13, a 9/14? Would there be a series of terrorist attacks, one after another, as Israel had experienced for so many years?

It was not until some time in late November or early December when events began to settle down enough for my thoughts to turn back to The Last Jihad. What was I supposed to do with it? No one wanted to read a novel that opened with a kamikaze attack against an American city. It was no longer entertainment. It was too raw, too real. So I stuck it in a drawer and tried to forget about it.

But then something curious happened. Lynn and I were watching the State of the Union address in January of 2002 when President Bush delivered his now-famous “axis of evil” line, warning all Americans that the next war we might have to face could be with Saddam Hussein over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.

Lynn and I just looked at each other. It was one thing to write a novel that opened with a kamikaze attack against America by radical Islamic terrorists. It was another thing to write a novel in which such an event triggers a global War on Terror and then leads the President of the United States and his senior advisors into a showdown with Saddam Hussein over terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But that’s exactly what happens in the novel.

Scott Miller called me the next day.

“Do you work for the CIA?” he asked.

“No, of course not,” I assured him.

“Sure, sure,” he replied. “That’s what you’d have to say if you did work for the CIA and just couldn’t tell me.”

Scott believed that the dynamic had just changed dramatically and that publishers would now be very interested in The Last Jihad. The country had largely recovered from the initial shock of the 9/11 attacks. We were now on offense against the Taliban in Afghanistan. People were reading everything they could get their hands on regarding the threat of radical Islam. And there were simply no other novels in print or on the horizon that could take readers inside the Oval Office and White House Situation Room as an American President and his war council wrestled over the morality of launching a preemptive war against the regime of Saddam Hussein. As such, he wanted to move quickly.

Jihad needed a few tweaks – acknowledging, for example, that 9/11 had happened and thus setting my fictional story a few years into the future – but other than that it was essentially ready to go. A publisher quickly agreed to take a risk on this unknown author and give the book a chance to find an audience. The Last Jihad was rushed through the publishing process and released on November 23, 2002, just as the international debate over Iraq, terrorism and WMD reached a fevered pitch.

The novel caught fire immediately. Jihad sold out in many stores in less than twenty-four hours and prompted nine re-printings before Christmas. In less than sixty days, I was interviewed on more than one hundred and sixty radio and TV talk shows. The questions were as much about the novel itself as about the story behind the novel. How could I possibly have written a book that seemed to foreshadow coming events so closely? Was it a fluke? Did I get lucky? Or was there something else going on? More importantly, what did I think was coming next?

As you will see if you read the novel, there are a number of significant differences between my fictional scenario and what really happened. But people kept asking me about the striking parallels to real life. During such interviews, I tried to focus people on the bigger picture, summing up the theme of the novel with this line: “To misunderstand the nature and threat of evil is to risk being blindsided by it.”

The truth is, America was blindsided on 9/11 by an evil few saw coming. What’s more, those attacks were just the beginning of a long war against the forces of radical Islam, and more recently against the forces of apocalyptic Islam. The most important issue we face in the post-9/11 world is whether we have learned anything as a result of that terrible Tuesday. Do we truly understand that the forces of evil are preparing to strike us again when we least expect it? Can we truly imagine what our enemies are capable of? Are we willing to take any actions necessary to defend Western civilization from extinction? Or are we going to elevate peace over victory, retreat from the world, and simply hope for the best?

It has now been sixteen years since that horrifying Tuesday, and almost fifteen years since The Last Jihad was first published. I have written eleven more novels, most of them about worst case scenarios that could occur in the U.S. and the Middle East if Western leaders are blindsided by evil they don’t truly understand. Together, these books have sold millions of copies and have spent months on the national best-seller lists.

Such broad interest is, I believe, an indication of the anxious times in which we live. While we no longer face Saddam Hussein, now we face an apocalyptic Iranian regime, a genocidal ISIS caliphate, North Korea testing hydrogen bombs and ICBMs, and Vladimir Putin — a nuclear-armed tyrant — invading neighbors, arming our worst enemies, and jailing and “disappearing” journalists and human rights activists. All of this raises troubling new questions: What is coming next? How bad will it be? Where will I be when it happens? And am I ready to meet my Maker if, God forbid, I’m in the wrong place at the wrong time when evil strikes again?

How would you answer such questions? They are as relevant today as they ever were.

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