Two things occurred this week that indicate signs of movement toward possible military action in the Middle East. First, it was reported that this week, Turkish jets were called upon to stop an Israeli jet that invaded their airspace in northern Cypress. The Turkish military attested that the Israeli plane had violated its airspace for a total of eight minutes before it was chased away by two jets.
You may recall that Turkey cut off ties with Israel back in 2010 as a result of the problems that occurred on an aid flotilla. Nine Turkish activists were killed on that flotilla after they tried to break a blockage on Gaza and attempted to deliver their aid through the Hamas-ruled Palestinian territory, instead of the normal means via Israel. The two countries are no longer considered allies.
Secondly, the US sent an envoy to Israel regarding an Iranian strike and reminded them that the clock was ticking. This is sharper language than we have heard in the past from the US. President Obama has encouraged that sanctions need time to work and he does not encourage military action. Israel, of course, would also prefer a diplomatic solution and is concerned that the negotiation talks with Iran are not very hopeful; time could be running out.
The United States has said we would attack Iran, if necessary, in order to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons. We hope that we will not have to resort to military force, but keeps the option to attack fully available. The language used this week was stronger than “fully available” and now is saying it is not just available, but "it is ready."
Iran has always stood firm that their nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes for energy production. However, the US and Israel are concerned and suspect that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons. The debate has been about how to limit Iran’s progress.
Dan Shapiro, the United States Ambassador to Israel, said Thursday, according to The Associated Press, May 17, 2012, that “Iran should not test Washington’s resolve to act on its promise to strike, if diplomacy and sanctions fail to pressure Tehran. Shapiro’s comments were a sign that preparations for action have stepped up. In his speech he acknowledged the clock is ticking and said “We do believe there is time. Some time, not an unlimited amount of time. But at a certain point, we may have to make a judgment that the diplomacy will not work.”
Members of the UN Security Council and Germany are preparing for a meeting with Iran in Baghdad on May 23rd. Tehran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, warned against any pressure at these talks. Jalili said “some say time is running out for the talks. I say time for the (West’s) pressure strategy is running out.”
So far, there have been four series of UN sanctions placed on Iran to halt its uranium enrichment (which is key to making bombs, but also has other uses). They have not been effective. The most recent sanctions, including an oil embargo and financial and banking sanctions, have affected Iran’s economy, but are still considered failing to accomplish their purposes to thwart uranium enrichment.
Iranians have threatened the destruction of Israel and Israel is concerned that they will carry out their threat. Tensions continue to run high in the Middle East and it is clear that Israel and the US need wisdom from God. Will you take a moment to pray for the leaders of both nations, asking for God’s wisdom? While you are at it, will you pray for the people and leaders of Iran? Pray for the meetings that will occur just a few days from now and for whatever repercussions may be planned following them.