Fighting ‘World War IV’
A nation that has lost more than 21,000 of its finest young men and women in bloody conflicts in its short fifty-five-year history understands what it is to be at war. From the beginning of its modern-day era, Israel has had to fight for its existence almost daily against those who wish to annihilate it.
Bible students who understand the prophetic scenario for the last days realize there will be continuing conflict between the Jewish nation and the nations surrounding Israel. The Scriptures reveal that Israel’s neighbors are set on removing this tiny state from not only the map of the Middle East but the region itself.
For years some have speculated that World War III will play out on the battlefields of Israel and the Middle East. However, in the last six months or so, former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency Director R. James Woolsey has said World War III is over. Said Woolsey, we are now fighting World War IV.
Woolsey believes the Cold War was World War III and that we are now engaged with the enemies on three fronts. This war, he said, did not begin with the attacks on America on 9/11. September 11, Woolsey says, was merely when America discovered that three powerful and dangerous elements had been at war with her for some time.
Behold the Enemies
Woolsey points out that the enemies are (1) the Shiite Muslim fanatics who rule Iran and control Hezbollah, (2) the Islamo-fascists who rule Syria and previously controlled Iraq, and (3) the Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islamists who get their inspiration and funding from Saudi Arabia.
Woolsey admits that these three enemies hate each other and occasionally kill each other in wars and smaller skirmishes. But he also believes they are fully capable of uniting against a common enemy and are doing so now in the Middle East. The battle in Iraq has seriously weakened the Islamo-fascist leg of this evil axis; however, World War IV is far from won, he suggests.
Because Saddam Hussein’s regime has been defeated and the Iraqi people once again have their country, the risk now, according to Woolsey, is that we simply pack up and go home and pretend the war is over. But it is not over. One partner of the Islamo-fascist camp in Iraq has been dealt with; but the other member, Syria, is very much a threat to the region and the rest of the world.
Syrian officials have said lasting peace in the Middle East depends on Israel’s “total retreat” from territories it acquired in the 1967 war. Syria claims that once Israel accepts the so-called right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel proper and retreats to the 1967 boundaries, “all Arab countries will be willing to sign a peace treaty with Israel. Total retreat in exchange for total peace.”
The question of Syria hiding Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and harboring members of the Saddam Hussein-led Iraqi regime has never truly been answered. Many reliable reports have surfaced about Iraqi leaders hiding in Syria, and U.S. National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice doubts Syrian promises that no such weapons crossed from Iraq into Syria.
As to the offices of at least eleven Palestinian terrorist organizations in Damascus, a Syrian official said he considers those offices “cultural information points.” He warned that shutting them down would accomplish nothing, adding that terrorism in the region would end once Israel handed back “occupied” territories and allowed the “return” of Palestinian refugees.
The Iran Factor
With its Shiite Muslim fanatics ruling the country and its surrogate terrorist group, Hezbollah, in southern Lebanon, Iran has presented to the world that it is moving toward reforming its government, even as it prepares weapons of mass destruction. U.S. and Israeli intelligence have uncovered evidence that Iran will be ready to go nuclear in the near future.
Under the pretense of building a nuclear reactor for much-needed electrical power, Iran built a major reactor with the help of Russian technology and technicians. Intelligence reports indicate Iran also has two other reactors and facilities to convert uranium mined in Iran to “weapon-grade” uranium for use in nuclear weapons of mass destruction.
It is a known fact that Iran has a delivery system and short-range, mid-range, and long-range missiles that could deliver a nuclear, biological, or chemical warhead to Israel and any part of Europe. Israel has always claimed that Iran is the real threat in the Middle East. Israel has also urged Russia to stop transferring its nuclear technology and technicians to Iran.
On a landmark visit to Lebanon recently, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said that Syria, Lebanon, and Iran will not simply bow to U.S. pressure and warned America against creating a crisis in the region. President Khatami’s three-day visit included talks with Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader.
To the strains of songs about resistance and martyrdom and chants of “death to Israel,” thousands of Shiites from all over Lebanon greeted Khatami at Beirut’s sports stadium. Khatami’s visit, the first by an Iranian head of state since the 1979 Islamic revolution, allowed the Iranian president to express his backing for Hezbollah, a terrorist organization.
The Wahhabi Connection
“The third group, the Islamist Sunni, al-Qaida and the like-thinkers, are in many ways going to be the hardest to deal with,” Woolsey says. “They are fueled by oil money from the Gulf, Saudi Arabia principally. However, many of them are wealthy in and of themselves. They are present in some sixty countries in the Middle East region and are fanatically anti-Western, anti-Christian, and anti-Jewish.”
Though the Bush White House and the U.S. State Department’s diplomatic corps continually praise Saudi Arabia’s cooperation in America’s war on terrorism, many questions are yet unanswered concerning Saudi involvement in worldwide terrorism.
Wahhabism, founded by Muhammad al-Wahhab almost three centuries ago, is the religious and political philosophy embraced by the present government of Saudi Arabia and its ruling family, the House of Saud. Wahhab was a zealous Muslim revivalist who lived during the Ottoman Empire’s early decline.
Wahhab believed that Islam in general and Arabia in particular needed to be spiritually and literally repurified and returned to the true tenets of the faith. His Qur’anic literalism gave rise to a movement that sees itself as the guardian of “true” Islamic values.
In 1818 the Turks broke the first Wahhabi state in what today is known as Saudi Arabia. Later the Wahhabis resurrected to provide the focus of Arab resistance to the Ottoman Empire, which they considered degenerate and corrupt.
In the chaotic years after the demise of the Ottoman Empire, those who embraced Wahhabism proved to be an able and fanatical fighting force, securing victory for Ibn Saud, their leader and founder of the present royal dynasty. The rest of Arabia was united and placed under the Wahhabist view of the world, man, law, and Allah.
The House of Saud owes Wahhabism for its very existence and the dynasty it has today. Consequently, it is understandable that the funding and inspiration for terrorism around the world come from members of the ruling family of Saudi Arabia.
Considering all this information, Woolsey’s perception that World War IV is now underway is remarkably viable. Woolsey’s list of enemies, the Shiite fanatics who rule Iran and control Hezbollah, the Islamo-fascists who rule Syria and previously controlled Iraq, and the Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islamists who get their inspiration and funding from Saudi Arabia, is precisely on target.
What About Israel?
Israel’s participation in Woolsey’s World War IV comes into focus practically and prophetically as one takes a closer look at the region and the potential for biblical prophecy to be fulfilled. To understand the practical aspect of the situation requires evaluating the region’s political activities.
Woolsey’s Islamo-fascists who rule Syria have consistently supported those who want to destroy Israel. In June 1967 the Syrian military might moved down from the north to attack Israel as the Jordanians approached from the east and the Egyptians came from the south.
The Israel Defense Forces stopped this three-sided invasion at least temporarily, only to face another effort by Syria to overrun Israel’s military in 1973 and 1982. Since these desperate attempts to destroy Israel, Syria has facilitated Hezbollah’s operation out of South Lebanon and its constant attacks on Israel’s northern border.
Syria’s refusal to close down the offices of at least eleven terrorist organizations in Damascus, its relationship with Saddam Hussein’s regime, hiding of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, and development of its own weapons of mass destruction have positioned the country for its part in World War IV.
The Shiite fanatics ruling Iran have made known that they are still in charge of this hotbed of Islamic fundamentalism and that Iran is preparing for the battle with the “big Satan” (the United States) and the “little Satan” (Israel).
With Russia’s help, Iran has developed a program that includes biological, chemical, and nuclear warheads, with a delivery system to take a major war to Israel and even to the European Union.
Israeli intelligence has long said that Iran, not Iraq, is the major enemy in the Middle East. And now British and American intelligence agencies are beginning to agree.
The Wahhabi brand of Sunni Islamism that controls Saudi Arabia and the interest of the royal family have the earmarks of the scenario pictured in Woolsey’s World War IV. Saudi funding of terrorism around the world and in particular in Israel has advanced the cause of radical Islam and set the stage for future intensity on this front.
Interestingly, the Bible speaks of the same three enemies as in Woolsey’s World War IV. The ancient Jewish prophet Daniel revealed the truth about Syria, referred to as the “king of the north” in Daniel 11:40–42. Daniel helps us understand that Syria may be the first Arab state to move against Israel as the seven-year Tribulation Period begins.
Daniel alluded to Iran (Dan. 11:44) when mentioning the “tidings out of the east.” Ezekiel provided more information about the “eastern” enemy in Ezekiel 38:5. Biblical Persia, included in the list of nations rising up against Israel in the last days, is what we know today as Iran. Iran of today was called Persia until the 1920s.
The writer of Psalm 83 included another list of nations that aligned against Israel at the time of the end. In verse 6 the “Ishmaelites” are mentioned as part of a coalition of nations. Saudi Arabia is where Ishmael traveled to after leaving his father Abraham and where Ishmael established the one nation God promised him (Gen. 17:20).
The psalmist described the scenario for James Woolsey’s World War IV in verse 4: “They have said, Come, and let us cut them [the Jewish state of Israel] off from being a nation; that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance.” The stage is indeed set, the nations are in place, and the curtain is about to go up on World War IV—or whatever the number might be.