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2011 In Review

The Year In Prophecy- Part 4

By Ron Graff

Printable (PDF) Version of this report

Documentation for every aspect of this report may be found on the corresponding topic pages in Prophecy Central and Apologetics Central.

Scripture quotations are from the New International Version. Hypertext links to Scriptures are to the King James Version in the Blue Letter Bible.


America at War


Osama bin Laden

Americans were told on May 2 that our most targeted enemy, Osama bin Laden, the mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks, had been killed by an elite force of U.S. Navy SEALs, who invaded his fortress in Abbottabad, Pakistan.


In October President Obama announced that all 41,000 remaining U.S. troops would be pulled out of Iraq before the end of the year. Conservatives were distressed by the fact that such an abrupt and complete pull-out would lead to political instability in the country.

Unfortunately the decision was forced by Iraq's Shi'a Muslim leader Muqtada al-Sadr's warning that the U.S. soldiers must leave or face "resistance."

On December 15th Defense Secretary Leon Paneta led a simple ceremony at the Baghdad airport to officially end the Iraq war. By December 20th the US withdrawal was completed, ending nearly nine years of war.

As soon as U.S. troops departed from Iraq, serious political fighting began. Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who is a Shi'ite, asked parliament for a no-confidence vote against Saleh al-Mutlaq, a Sunni who is deputy prime minister, on the grounds that he lacked faith in the political process. Meanwhile a 5-judge panel banned Sunni Vice-President Tareq al-Hashemi from leaving the country while they investigate charges that he is a terrorist.

Three days later at least 69 people were killed and some 200 were injured in a wave of bombings in Baghdad. They targeted markets, grocery stores, cafés and government buildings in a dozen neighborhoods. .An Al Qaeda front group in Iraq claimed responsibility for the wave of attacks. The terrorists took credit on the Internet. The issue is the sectarian struggle between Shite and Sunni Muslims that caused their civil war years ago. The attackers are unhappy with the country's Shiite-dominated leadership that has been allowed to come to power as a result of the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.

Many Americans think the rapid withdrawal was unwise, and doubt that the effort was worth the lives of more than 4,400 U.S. troops, the death of as many as 112,000 Iraqis and the nearly $1 trillion dollar price tag for the fighting and rebuilding of the nation.



Near the beginning of the year President Obama announced plans to begin troop withdrawals in Afghanistan. Critics warn that the same sort of thing that has happened in Iraq will occur in Afghanistan if the withdrawal is too abrupt.

There are no clear references to a country like America in the line-up of End Times nations, prompting many teachers to suggest that our country will have lost much of the strength and prestige that it once enjoyed.

Middle East Conflict


For many years the world has been waiting for the relief of a peace pact between Israel and the Palestinians. Without such an agreement, hostilities keep festering in the Middle East and spilling over to the rest of the world in the form of terrorism.

Jeremiah 6:14

They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. 'Peace, peace,' they say, when there is no peace. - Jeremiah 6:14

The lack of peace is caused by the civil struggle between the government of Israel and the Palestinian people who want to establish a separate Palestinian state. Most of the Arab and/or Islamic nations in the area are also involved. The United States, the U.N., the European Union, and even Russia are all trying to broker peace in the region.

Middle East Conflict

At the beginning of this year two very important developments complicated the already-difficult process of achieving peace in the region. The first of these was a decision by the Palestinians to seek direct recognition as a separate state from the United Nations. They announced their intention to do so in January and set the month of September as the target for their action. This would presumably leave time for Israel to show their willingness to achieve peace before that deadline. Israel did make peaceful overtures during the year and reaffirmed their commitment to the establishment of an independent Palestinian State if the two parties could work out the details. The so-called "Quartet" of peace negotiators (The U.S., United Nations, European Union and Russia) also showed their willingness to restart direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians. However, as the year progressed, the Palestinians became more focused on the UN request and less focused on discussions with Israel.

Middle East Conflict

Middle East Conflict

The second major development was the "Arab Spring," a series of protests in surrounding Middle Eastern nations. This phenomenon began in Tunisia on January 18th. It spread to Egypt just one week later and to other countries within a few more weeks. It was a revolt of mostly poor people against the dictatorial regimes of corrupt, high-living dictators. Most unexpectedly, these protests were fanned by the use of social networks, especially by Facebook messages that called the disturbed people to amass in certain places, like Cairo's Tahrir Square. Egyptians came by the thousands, and eventually by the hundreds of thousands to clamor for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak. He gradually turned over control to the country's military, and was forced to resign some time later. In ill health and disgrace, Mubarak was charged in May to stand trial for the premeditated murder of peaceful protestors.

At the end of the year his trial is still in process. If he is convicted, he could face the death penalty.

The "Arab Spring" spread to Yemen, bringing about the resignation of their Prime Minister, and to Libya where a brutal civil war eventually brought down the 42-year dictatorship of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. Gaddafi tried to the end to resist the uprising, but was finally caught, beat, and shot by the opposition. NATO air strikes were used to bolster the opposition, but critics warned that the US and European nations may regret enabling unknown leaders who are probably radical Islamists to take over the country.

Over time, there were also major protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Oman, and Syria. The Syrian situation has become very severe, and continues past the end of this year. UN reports claim that more than 5,000 people, mainly protesters, have been killed, and thousands have been imprisoned. The actions of the Syrian government has been condemned by all observers, but the regime of President Bashar al-Assad does not yet appear to be willing to give in to the protestors.

These major changes in countries surrounding Israel, and especially the situation in Egypt, put Israel on alert status. It was possible that the long-standing peace agreement between Israel and Egypt could be nullified. In February Gabi Ashkenazi, the outgoing Chief of the Israel Defense Forces, warned that Israel must be prepared to conduct war in several different theaters. He also said that the radical camp in the Middle East is gaining strength while the traditional Arab leadership is weakening.

In March Palestinian Hamas militants conducted their strongest attack against Israel in two years, firing dozens of mortars into southern Israel. Hamas and other terrorist groups were thought to have at least 10,000 missiles and rockets. Israel retaliated with air strikes in Gaza City and militant training camps.

Israel quelled the Hamas rocket attacks by striking back decisively, and because of the success of its new "Iron Dome" missile defense system. The Iron Dome's debut on the battlefield intercepted 100 percent of the longer-range Grad-type missiles launched

By April, while still fighting with Hamas, Israel was also being threatened again by Hezbollah from the North. The terrorist group that is aligned with Syria and Iran had quadrupled its bunkers in Lebanon and had more than 40,000 rockets and missiles aimed at nearby population centers in Israel.

By June Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas claimed that he would still prefer to have direct talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than to ask the UN to declare Palestine a separate state without a peace agreement with Israel. But in August he had adopted a belligerent tone toward Israel and criticized the International Quartet for urging him to agree that Israel is a Jewish state. He said, "Don't order us to recognize a Jewish state. We won't accept it."

At the end of August, just before the official launch of the Palestinian's UN statehood campaign, China surprised the world by publicly endorsing the concept. A letter was sent from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to the Secretary General of United Nations to "exert all possible efforts toward the achievement of the Palestinian people's just demands." Abbas spoke to the UN General on May 23. During that speech he expressed strong anti-Israeli sentiments. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu was then given the opportunity to speak. He said that the Palestinians want to have a state without first establishing peace. He added, "I came here to speak the truth. The truth is that Israel wants peace. The truth is that I want peace. The truth is that Israel wants peace with the Palestinians, but they want a state without peace, and the truth is you shouldn't let that happen."

Some individual countries have offered recognition to Palestine and some UN offices display the Palestinian flag, but as of the end of the year Palestinians do not yet have the 9 votes needed on the UN Security Council to pass the resolution that would give them UN status as an independent state. Even if they eventually gain the votes the U.S. has the power to veto it. .

In October the Middle East Quartet said that they will try to restart peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian representatives in the coming days. Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel is ready to participate immediately.

War of Gog and Magog

Meanwhile, throughout the year there has been intense activity in Iran toward their ultimate goal of producing nuclear weapons, accompanied by serious saber-rattling between nations. It appears that either Iran or Israel could initiate a sudden strike against the other, and the question naturally arises, will such a conflagration draw the United States into this war? Only time will tell.

The other major question raised by Iran's current course of action is what will happen to the other oil-rich countries in the Middle East? That is why King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has formally called for the formation of a Gulf Union - a super state in the region. The implied reason for the union would be strength against their rival Iran. Such an alliance would include Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and the United Arab Emirates, and it could eventually add Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. If such a super state were to become a reality it might even attract Syria and Lebanon into its fold and the super state would then surround the borders of Israel.

The current wave of violence could die out and become one of many such cycles in the area, or it could lead to more serious war. On the other hand, the outcome of this war could be a most welcome peace agreement.

1 Thessalonians 5:3

Such a peace agreement might be just another phase in the age-old struggle between these nations, or it could be the false peace mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5:3.

While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

Revelation 6:3-4

When Israel finally is at peace, it will be the first time since they became a nation in 1948 that they have enjoyed such security. This could cause them to lower their guard, which would set the scene for yet another war, such as the one predicted in Ezekiel 38 and 39. (Many good Bible teachers think that war is more likely at the end of the Tribulation, but it does not correspond exactly to the Battle of Armageddon.) If it does come before the Tribulation, it will most likely correspond to the 2nd Seal of Revelation 6.

Daniel 9:27

The dramatic end of this great war of the 2nd Seal could produce the treaty predicted in Daniel 9:27, which many prophecy scholars identify as the beginning of the seven-year Tribulation period.

Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4 - Part 5

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Last Updated: 1/6/12

Documentation, Scriptural references and illustrations
may be found in the various sections of
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“A World of Information About Bible Prophecy.”
Copyright © 2011 by Ron Graff.
Permission granted to use in churches or post on other websites as long it is printed or posted in its entirety.