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What Lies Ahead for Iraq?

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What lies ahead for Iraq? The United States, as we went into Iraq at the beginning of the war, stated that the objective was that Iraq would become a bastion of peace and democracy in the Middle East. Well, my friends, it hasn't worked out that way at all, has it? We've got all sorts of problems that are going on, and here we are on the verge of turning Iraq over to the Iraqis—that's what we say we are going to do. What are we going to have as a result of that? Is it going to be a unified country? Is there going to be peace? Is there going to be democracy? Absolutely not!

Greetings, friends! This is John Ogwyn, with commentary for the Living Church of God. What lies ahead for Iraq? The United States, as we went into Iraq at the beginning of the war, stated that the objective was that Iraq would become a bastion of peace and democracy in the Middle East. Well, my friends, it hasn't worked out that way at all, has it? We've got all sorts of problems that are going on, and here we are on the verge of turning Iraq over to the Iraqis—that's what we say we are going to do. What are we going to have as a result of that? Is it going to be a unified country? Is there going to be peace? Is there going to be democracy? Absolutely not!

The nation of Iraq is in itself an artificial creation that came in the aftermath of World War I when the Turkish empire fell to the British and the other Allied troops in World War I. It was divided up, and primarily the British and the French were the beneficiaries of much of the Middle East as they divided it into spheres of influence between themselves. The nation of Iraq was created in the aftermath of World War I—in Paris, at the Versailles Conference, where the peace treaties were drawn up—and Iraq was dominated by the British for a period of time.

The nation of Iraq really consists of three primary regions, three primary groups. There is an interesting article in a recent Wall Street Journal that talks about the future of Iraq and it focused on the Kurds in the north. The Kurds have been more secular in their approach, and the Kurdish population, the Wall Street Journal mentioned, is showing little interest in converging with the rest of the country. And this strong, independent streak could hamper efforts to bring Iraq under one central government. The Kurds have pulled even closer together, and turmoil to the south has hardened their determination to set up bulwarks against Iraq's ethnic Arab majority. The Kurdish leadership has vowed that the region will remain part of Iraq, but only if it's granted autonomy from the central government. In fact, there is a great deal of sentiment for full independence that appears to be rising. About half the population in the north has already signed a petition demanding a referendum on Kurdish independence.

You see, Iraq has three roughly defined regions developing on their own paths. The south is under the sway of Shiite Muslim clerics, many of whom want to form an Islamic state. The Sunni Muslims in the center are increasingly influenced by members of the former regime—many of them Arab nationalists. And in the north there is the desire for Kurdish autonomy at the very least—and, most likely, Kurdish independence. In fact, the longer an effective central government is delayed, the longer the country's three regions will continue on their diverging trajectories. Some have called this "the calm before the storm."

Now, my friends, did you realize this is actually mentioned in Bible prophecy? It's interesting when you look in the book of Revelation, chapter 9, as well as Revelation chapter 16, and you find that the Euphrates River plays a major part in future prophecies. Anciently, the Euphrates River was the boundary between the Parthian Empire to the east and the Roman Empire to the west. That was the state of things in the first century when John was writing. Today, if you look at a map, the Euphrates River isn't a boundary between anything. It just sort of goes down through the middle of Iraq. Yet in Revelation 9:14, we are told that when the sixth trumpet blows, the angels that have been bound in the great River Euphrates are loosed. And in Revelation 16, we find that when the sixth vial is poured out, the River Euphrates is dried up and the kings of the east move across—indicating that the Euphrates is a boundary between east and west.

My friends, if you look at a map and you look these three ethnic groups, you realize that as Iraq moves toward disintegration into three major components, you will find that the Euphrates River is going to emerge as a boundary. That is the natural boundary there, and very likely we are going to see, in the time ahead, the disintegration of Iraq—and ultimately the emergence of the Euphrates River as a prominent boundary just as indicated in the book of Revelation.

What's going on in today's world news is setting the stage for the final fulfillment of Bible prophecy.

This has been John Ogwyn, with commentary for the Living Church of God.