The Middle East in Turmoil
On Monday, January 24, a march by several hundred protestors through the streets of Cairo, Egypt, escalated into major riots. One news agency reported: "Thousands of anti-government protesters, some hurling rocks and climbing atop an armored police truck, clashed with riot police Tuesday in the center of Cairo in a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand the end of Hosni Mubarak's nearly 30 years in power. Police responded with blasts from water cannons and set upon crowds with batons and acrid clouds of tear gas to clear demonstrators crying out 'Down with Mubarak' and demanding an end to Egypt's grinding poverty, corruption, unemployment and police abuses" ("Egyptian protesters denounce Mubarak; 3 killed," Associated Press, January 24, 2011).
Unrest has also broken out in the Kingdom of Jordan. "In an unprecedented development in Jordan, protests similar to those that have rocked Tunisia and Algeria in recent weeks erupted in the Arab kingdom Friday. Thousands of people took to the streets of the capital, Amman, and several other cities to protest rising food prices and unemployment, media reports say. Aside from complaints, they also pointed rare and stinging criticism toward the Jordanian government, headed by Prime Minister Samir Rifai" ("JORDAN: Thousands of demonstrators protest food prices, denounce government," Los Angeles Times, January 15, 2011).
So far, however, unrest in Jordan has not turned violent, and the monarchy is not the focus of the people's complaints. Photos posted online show Jordanian police handing out refreshments to demonstrators.
In Lebanon, the Hezbollah faction (dominated and financed by Iran) has gained enough votes in Parliament to take control of the nation's government. Nearly a billion dollars' worth of armaments that the United States gave to the Lebanese military over the last few years will now be under the control of extremist Muslim forces. We should not be surprised to see some of America's own weapons soon turned against its ally Israel—and we should not overestimate Israel's ability to fight back; remember, Hezbollah controls Lebanon's strongest military force, and in the last war fought Israeli troops to a standstill.
Will the poor of the Arab world throw off the despotic rule of the prior regimes, only to be ground under the heel of a new crop of Islamic radicals who are waiting in the wings? The United States has provided modern weaponry to most of its client government states in the Middle East—states that have typically been led by moderate rulers who have tried to keep the forces of Islam at bay. Now, if this firepower falls into the hands of fierce new Muslim leaders, against whom will it be directed?
Bible prophecy tells of a coming political leader who will lead a confederation of nations in the area south of Jerusalem (the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa)—the very area that is now being rocked by the forces of militant radical Islam. We read: "At the time of the end the king of the South shall attack him; and the king of the North [from Europe] shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter the countries, overwhelm them, and pass through. He shall also enter the Glorious Land, and many countries shall be overthrown; but these shall escape from his hand: Edom, Moab, and the prominent people of Ammon. He shall stretch out his hand against the countries, and the land of Egypt shall not escape. He shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; also the Libyans and Ethiopians shall follow at his heels" (Daniel 11:40–44).
We may be witnessing a political transition in the Middle East that will usher in a unifying leader who will fulfill this prophecy. To learn more about what the Bible foretells is coming, read our informative booklet, The Middle East in Prophecy.