ASK Commentary
October 15, 2003 

Changes of World Leaders

Commentary for October 15, 2003 — Out with the Old, in with the New

It appears that the world stage will see the passing of several major world leaders who will be replaced by new faces in positions of power, particularly in the Middle East.

Some countries that anticipate a change in rule are attempting to place dynastic successors in major positions of power. If several of these rulers change within a short period of time, major changes could occur in the Middle East that could have world-changing implications. Always keep in mind that God is in charge,

“And he changes the times and the seasons: he removes kings, and sets up kings: he gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding:”

Daniel 2:21

Let us review some nations in the world and see where rulers may change in the near future

Recent Past

Jordan. King Hussein of Jordan died in 1999 and was replaced by his son Abdullah, now age 32. He is continuing his father’s moderate policies in foreign affairs.

Syria. Bashar Assad, currently 37 years old, took power as President of Syria when his father, Hafez Assad, died in June of 2000. Bashar Assad is continuing his father’s policies of a strong military and a strong rule with tight control of information and economic activities within his country. There is no internal dissent allowed and relationships with terror groups are extensive.

Turkey. Turkey’s new Prime Minister as of March 2003 is 49 years old. Turkey’s problems with the Kurds and Armenians and other ethnic minorities will continue. Turkey greatly desires the oil exports from Iraq to continue. Problems with Greece and the Balkans states could cause concern. Turkey is a strong trading partner with Israel and although Islam is the religion of the majority of Turks, they are generally moderate. Turks are not Arabs.

Iraq. Of course in the spring of 2003 the regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq was overthrown by armed forces of the United States. Currently under military rule, the nation will be creating a legislature, hold elections and select a ruler while the nation rebuilds. This should all take place next year.

Reconstruction of the country should continue. Actually “reconstruction” is a misnomer because Saddam Hussein did not run Iraq as a nation. He ran it as a crime boss who sucked all the wealth out of the country and allowed the infrastructure of his nation to rot for some 30 years. Very little investment was put into preservation, maintenance or building new facilities for the good of the nation. The hard-working and even brilliant people of Iraq were stifled and suppressed from their natural tendencies to improve their lives, their families and their nations.

Possible Changes of Rulers in the Near Future

Palestine. Yasser Arafat is reportedly ill with various ailments that not only debilitate but also could incapacitate or kill him. The Israeli-enforced detention in isolation within his compound in the city of Ramallah, surrounded by Israeli security, limits medical care he may have access to in a health crisis. Should Arafat die or become unable to function as leader, it is likely that a moderate would attempt an agreement. However, such an agreement would have strong opposition from radical elements in the Palestinian community. It has many violent groups within many factions. Civil war is possible.

Israel. Prime Minister Sharon is age 75 and reportedly will not participate in another election for the post. Shimon Peres, the Foreign Minister, is 80 years old. Both men will likely step down soon. As a result not only will new faces rise to public attention, but new policies, nationally and internationally, will be put forward. See Dr. Martin’s article, “Israel Should Cease it's Military Conquests Post Haste!.”

Egypt. President of Egypt Hosni Mubarak took power in 1981. He is in his middle to late 70s and has diminished energy, delegating more and more functions to his son. Egypt’s internal situation is politically volatile with a very young and poor population. The long relationship (and $50 billion dollars in foreign aid given to Egypt since World War II) between Egypt and the United States may end if a more radical leadership takes over. Great unrest is possible.

Iran. Iran is an Islamic republic ruled by a Muslim governing council. As the CIA World Factbook states, “Conservative clerical forces established a theocratic system of government with ultimate political authority vested in a learned religious scholar.” This may soon change. Unrest by a very large young population that wants to be included in the benefits of western and world culture, largely rejects the repressive lifestyle of an orthodox Islam. At the same time the power and influence of Iran will continue to grow in the region. Iran’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons is to deter other nations like the United States and Russia from threatening the regime. It is not necessary for defense of the homeland. Civil war and unrest is possible, but a government change will likely be bloodless.

Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is governed by Crown Prince Abdullah as de facto head of state of this monarchy, which has no written constitution. In 1995, the current king Fahd (80 years old) suffered a debilitating stroke. Since that time Crown Prince Abdullah (also near 80 years old), Fahd’s half brother, handles the day-to-day rule of the kingdom. He is set to take over when Fahd dies. However, considering his age, any slowing down in his active rule would cause a jockeying for power among the larger extended Saudi royal family of about 5,000 members. Civil war is possible.

Relations between the United States and Saudi Arabia have become increasingly strained. The Saudis asked that U.S. troops be removed from their kingdom in 2002 and the U.S. complied as soon as possible. However, it is perceived by many in the United States that Saudi Arabia aids and abets, or at least condones, Islamic terrorists around the world. Its 200 billion barrels of oil reserves (¼ of the world's supply) makes the stability of Saudi Arabia to be of vital interest to the United States.

Outside the Middle East

Vatican. Pope John Paul II, 83 years old, is in failing health. He has been ruler of the Vatican for almost 25 years. When he dies the future of the church body is uncertain and further dissension and separation of its sections is likely due to diminished income. Sexual scandals by Catholic clergy in the United States (and around the world) caused diminished contributions to the Catholic Church. Money from Catholic churches in the United States is the largest single source of income for the church. The Vatican is a major player in Middle East politics. Their power and influence would be greatly reduced by a transition of a new Pope.

France. The President of France, Jacques Chirac, is 71 years old and unlikely to stand for reelection. France is a leader in the European Community, although by no means a controlling nation.

Cuba. While Cuba is certainly not in the Middle East, it may loom large in the attention of the United States in the near future. Fidel Castro, age 77, is in diminishing health and power as dictator, although his regime is still repressive. In power for 44 years since 1959, Castro has suppressed dissent and still rules with an iron hand. Should he die the attention of the United States would be diverted to Cuba by the change, first by giving aid to a new, more open regime, or possibly diverted to keeping peace in a potentially divisive, unruly and backward country 90 miles from the Florida coast. Attention of the United States would certainly be drawn away from the Middle East.

United States. The United States is electing a new president in November of 2004, to take office in January 2005. Problems in Iraq may influence the outcome. As usual, anything could happen.

The Trend of Prophecy

Note what Dr. Martin wrote in 1995 in the article “Prophetic Trends to A.D. 2005.” Dr. Martin was not setting dates, he was talking about future events and trends.

Trend number seven. It may appear almost impossible of happening if we look at events today, but the trend will be for Israel to be accepted more and more by her neighbors in the Middle East, and this will even include Syria, Iraq and especially Iran. While these three nations are very much rogue nations in regard to Israel at the present time, you will find that as we approach the time of the end, that Iran will make an alliance with Israel of friendship and that the Iranian people, under the sway of a great leader, will actually help Israel build a new Temple at Jerusalem (Isaiah 44:28 with surrounding chapters). And as for Syria, Zechariah 9 amazingly starts out that end-time prophecy (if one reads it in the original Hebrew which is much clearer in meaning) that the word of the Lord will be found entrenched in the area of Damascus and the whole of Syria (the Land of Hadrach). Besides this, Jews will soon be invited to settle in lands east of the Jordan River in what is presently called the Kingdom of Jordan, and also in Lebanon, and they will be welcomed by the inhabitants (Zechariah 10:10). This will occur after the year A.D.2005, but you should see trends towards this end by the close of our decade under discussion.”
God Decides Who Rules

God decides the boundaries of nations and their rulers. The apostle Paul re-emphasized God's total control and power over nations and their boundaries,

[God] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, ... “

Acts 17:26–27

God raises up national leaders and puts down national leaders in countries and peoples around the world. We should recognize the “signs of the times” when changes may be coming, especially because of the age of those rulers.

“The Lord makes poor, and makes rich: he brings low, and lifts up.”

1 Samuel 2:7

“God is the judge: he puts down one, and sets up another.”

Psalm 75:7

While God may allow some nations to choose their own rulers, He reserves the right to overrule their choices. God was angry at the northern kingdom of Israel when they set up kings without His permission.

“They have set up kings, but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off.”

Hosea 8:4

With regards to the Middle East and particularly Israel, God takes particular interest in who is in charge of those nations surrounding Jerusalem and its environs.

“I have made the earth, ... and have given it unto whom it seemed meet unto me. And now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon...”

Jeremiah 27:5–6

Note these statements about God’s power from the book of Daniel,

“... that the living may know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will, and sets up over it the basest of men. ... till thou know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will. ... until you [Nebuchednezzar] know that the most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomsoever he will. ... all the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing: and he does according to his will in the army of heaven, and among the inhabitants of the earth: and none can stay his hand.”

Daniel 4:17, 25, 32, 35

Events will soon move again on the world stage with new actors. Older actors will be replaced within a few years. Such changes will only be done according to God’s will, control and guidance. All events are moving toward one central future event, the intervention of God into world affairs, particularly with the return of Jesus Christ to this earth.

David Sielaff

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