Turkey and Russia not friends: Comment

Barry Setterfield, 28th March 2020.

A March 26th 2020 article from Burak Bekdil of the BESA Center, and Turkish participant in several other regional Think Tanks, had the title Turkey and Russia not friends after all.The Executive Summary from the article reads:

“After a three-and-a-half-year marriage of convenience, Turkey and Russia have come to realize that they are fighting on opposite sides of two proxy wars: one in Syria and the other in Libya. This comes after Russia sold Turkey $2.5 billion worth of S-400 air defense systems, won a multibillion-dollar nuclear plant contract, signed up for a lucrative natural gas pipeline, and widened the gap between NATO and its part-time member Turkey.”

…  “Turkey’s badly calculated zigzagging between western and Russian interests since 2015 has sabotaged Turkey’s ties to western institutions and brought it closer to military conflict with Russia. The moment Ankara realized it was threatening to hit not only the Syrian army but the Russian military, it remembered that Turkey belongs to NATO and rushed to request US-made Patriot air defense systems while their own Russian S-400s remain non-operational on Turkish soil. Call it Turkish black humor. … but … That is a brief account of Turkey’s tactical hug with the Russian bear.”

Those three and a half years of “marriage” had convinced many prophecy watchers that Turkey would come, allied with Russia and Iran, against Israel as some commentators suggest from Ezekiel 38. They did that on the basis that the House of Togarmah in Ezekiel 38:6 is often touted as being Turkey. However, a stricter analysis reveals that the House of Togarmah is the Turkoman, or Central Asian, Republics, like Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan etc., that is the “Stans” generally. This distancing or objection of Turkey to the Russian and Iranian invaders is all the more likely given the above article. This is likely since there has been a puzzle in Ezekiel 38:13 about the “merchants of Tarshish and the young lions thereof”. These merchants protest the Russian-Iranian invasion along with Saudi Arabia (Sheba and Dedan) in verse 13. Interestingly, the past few years have seen Saudi Arabia supporting Israel in a number of ways.

However, the identity of Tarshish in Ezekiel 38:13 has been disputed, some thinking it to be Great Britain and its colonies like the USA. This conclusion came since the symbol on the British Coat of Arms is the rampant lion.  However, the translation that this interpretation is based on dates from about 100 AD. The original Paleo-Hebrew script that Ezekiel had written in was translated into Greek 400 years earlier, around 280 BC in the Alexandrian Septuagint, the LXX. This translation reads differently, namely “The merchants of Chalcedon and their villages…”  Chalcedon was the old name for Constantinople or more recently, Istanbul, the main trading city in Turkey. It was the focus of trade in the Eastern Mediterranean.      If this more ancient translation is followed, then the Istanbul traders (Turkey) protest the Russian and Iranian invasion of Israel. This is now the likely option given the outlook revealed by the above BESA Center article.

The point is that we now have a choice between two translations of Scripture which give different results both for Ezekiel 38 and a number of subsequent events. The outcome is therefore important and prophecy students need to be aware of the consequences of both scenarios so they can be faithful watchmen. The standard view based on the 100 AD text says that Turkey comes with Iran and Russia to wipe Israel out. The armies of all 3 nations are miraculously destroyed. This eliminates the Russian threat to Europe, the Iranian Shiite domination of the Mid-East and most of the Sunni Muslims and powerful Turkish armies. Only Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Europe and perhaps the USA are the power-brokers for the following years. This suggests Antichrist might come from Europe as one common view has insisted.

In contrast, if Turkey protests against Iran & Russia’s military excursion to Israel, Russia & Iran are wiped out but Turkey is left as the key player in the Middle East. Her armies are the 2nd most powerful in NATO next to the USA. There is a power vacuum in the region which Turkey is able to fill. Without the USA, Turkish forces are stronger than all the rest of NATO put together. Consequently, she can control Europe as well as the Mid-East, (though Egypt and Saudi Arabia have militia, they cannot match Turkey). Since something happens to take the USA out of the picture, this effectively leaves Turkey to control the world and make a covenant with Israel to settle the Mid-East question. The BESA Center article favors this second approach in agreement with the oldest version of Scripture. Let us watch developments carefully.