(Washington, D.C.) — Could recent developments in Iraq have prophetic implications? Actually, the answer may be yes — especially with regards to the Kurdish people who live in northern Iraq. Let me explain.
As we’ve been seeing in recent weeks, the Radical jihadist forces of the “Islamic State of Iraq & al-Sham” (ISIS) are on the move towards Baghdad. They are leaving a trail of bloodshed and carnage in their wake.
The objective of the ISIS leaders is to topple the Iraqi government, seize control of all of Iraq, establish a jihadist state under Sharia law, and use Iraq to begin a regional — and eventually global — Islamic caliphate, or kingdom.
Now, the Kurdish leaders have taken advantage of the chaos of this moment to seize control of the oil-rich region of Kirkuk for themselves. (see AP story below)
The oil fields of Kirkuk have been a long-standing issue of controversy in Iraq, especially since the liberation of the country in 2003. Whoever controls those fields would control enormous wealth as the oil there is more fully developed and shipped to markets around the globe.
The Kurds, generally, are Sunni Muslims, but they are not ethnically Arabs. Indeed, many Kurds have a deep hatred for the Arabs. Several decades ago, the world create a special, protected, autonomous region for the Kurds in the north region of Iraq, after Saddam Hussein repeated attacked and tried to destroy the Kurds, including with the use of chemical weapons.
Ultimately, many Kurds want to create an independent country of their own, uniting Kurds living in Iraq, Iran, Syria and Turkey. Yet each of those national governments strongly oppose the creation of an independent Kurdistan.
What’s fascinating is that the modern Kurdish people were known in ancient, Biblical times as the Medes. Here is where things get interesting.
Bible prophecy indicates that in the End Times, as we get closer to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ, God will allow the Medes to gain power, even as the Lord allows the Arabs to gain power and rebuild the kingdom of Babylon in the heart of Iraq.
The Book of Revelation, for example, tells us that Babylon will be the epicenter of evil in the last days of history, and will eventually face the judgment of God. The Hebrew prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel tell us this, as well, indicating Babylon will be completely destroyed and when the judgment is complete, Babylon will be completely uninhabitable. Indeed, Isaiah 13:20 says of Babylon, “It will never be inhabited or lived in from generation to generation; nor will the Arab pitch his tent there, nor will shepherds make their flocks lie down there.”
What’s more, Bible prophecy indicates that God will raise up the Medes — that is, the Kurdish people — to be an instrument of judgment against Babylon.
Isaiah 13:17 — “Behold, I am going to stir up the Medes against them [the Babylonians]….”
Jeremiah 51:11 — “The Lord has aroused the spirit of the kings of the Medes, because His purpose is against Babylon to destroy it; for it is the vengeance of the Lord….”
Jeremiah 51:28-29 — “Consecrate the nations against her, the kings of the Medes, their governors and all their prefects, and every land of their dominion. So the land quakes and writhes, for the purposes of the Lord against Babylon stand, to make the land of Babylon a desolation without inhabitants….”
How exactly will these eschatological prophecies come to pass? It’s too early to say for certain.
But after studying these prophecies, traveling four times to the Iraqi Kurdistan region, meeting with senior Kurdish leaders — including Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani — and tracking developments there over the past decade or so, I think it is fair to say we may be seeing some of the prophetic battle lines developing:
The hatred of the Kurds/Medes against the Arabs, and vice versa, is steadily growing.
The Kurds/Medes and the Arabs are in a continued struggle to control the oil resources that will make either or both of them enormously wealthy and powerful in the End Times.
The Kurds/Medes are, step by step, forming into their nation, and possibly their own country.
The Kurds/Medes are developing an increasingly effective military force that is able to overpower the Iraqi Arabs at times.
Please keep the Kurdish people in your prayers. There are a growing number of truly born again Christians living in Kurdistan, including many MBBs, Muslim Background Believers. Please pray that they would boldly preach the Gospel, and be able to make many disciples, and help the believers that grow deep in their faith in Christ, especially amidst all the chaos and carnage.
For more on the latest geopolitical developments, here are excerpts from a recent article from the Associated Press, “HOW THE KURDS SEIZED KIRKUK.”
“After a decades-long dispute between Arabs and Kurds over the oil-rich northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, it took just an hour and a half for its fate to be decided,” the Associated Press reports. “As al-Qaida-inspired militants advanced across northern Iraq and security forces melted away, Kurdish fighters who have long dominated Kirkuk ordered Iraqi troops out and seized full control of the regional oil hub and surrounding areas, according to a mid-ranking Army officer. He said he was told to surrender his weapons and leave his base.
His account was corroborated by an Arab tribal sheik and a photographer who witnessed the looting of army bases after troops left and who related similar accounts of the takeover from relatives in the army. All three spoke to The Associated Press Friday on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from Kurdish forces.
“They said they would defend Kirkuk from the Islamic State,” said the Arab officer, who oversaw a warehouse in the city’s central military base. He asked that his rank not be made public.
He insisted the Iraqi troops had not planned to retreat before the Islamic state. “We were ready to battle to death. We were completely ready,” he said at a roadside rest house just inside the semi-autonomous Kurdish region.
The Kurdish takeover of the long-disputed city came days after the extremist Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other Sunni militants seized much of the country’s second largest city of Mosul and Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit before driving south toward Baghdad. Their lightning advance has plunged the country into its worst crisis since the 2011 withdrawal of U.S. troops.
A spokesman for Kurdish forces, known as the peshmerga, said they had only moved in after Iraqi troops retreated, assuming control of the “majority of the Kurdistan region” outside the semi-autonomous Kurdish Regional Government.
“Peshmerga forces have helped Iraqi soldiers and military leaders when they abandoned their positions,” including by helping three generals to fly back to Baghdad from the Kurdish regional capital Erbil, Lieutenant General Jabbar Yawar said in a statement on the regional government’s website….
Kirkuk, 180 miles (290 kilometers) north of Baghdad, is home to Arabs, Kurds and Turkmen, who all have competing claims to the oil-rich area. Kurds have long wanted to incorporate it into their self-ruled region, but Arabs and Turkmen are opposed.
In the 1970s and 1980s the Arab-dominated government in Baghdad drove hundreds of thousands of Kurds out of Kirkuk and surrounding regions, settling Arabs from the south in their place in an attempt to pacify a region that had seen repeated revolts.
During the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 the highly disciplined peshmerga swept down from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region and established a strong presence in a belt of largely Kurdish towns and villages stretching south toward Baghdad.
But the disintegration of Iraqi forces this week seems to have led the peshmerga to assume full control in areas they have long coveted, further enhancing their autonomy from Baghdad and undermining hard-fought U.S. efforts to bring about a stable, multiethnic Iraq.
“To a great extent Kurdish forces had been de facto in control of Kirkuk for some time, but now they’re completely in control,” said F. Gregory Gause, III, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Doha Center.
He said it was unlikely the Kurds would seek formal independence from Iraq, however, because such a move would be strongly opposed by neighboring Turkey and Iran — both of which have sizable Kurdish minorities — as well as Washington.