THE RAM IN ELAM: The strategic importance of Iran. It was c. 553 B.C., and one of the all-time great prophets, Daniel, while he lived in the Babylonian emperor’s palace in Babylon gets a prophetic vision of a ram in Elam (Persia) at Shusan,(A) which later became the Persian capital of Xerces & Queen Ester. The vision’s ram (Iran) is aggressive. It is presented when the book switches from Chaldee (chpt. 1-7), which the Babylonians could read, to Hebrew at chapter 8. Gabriel tells Daniel, “Understand, son of man, that the vision refers to the time of the end.”(B) He is told to keep the vision private. While some Biblical scholars see the prophecy fulfilled, others wait for its fulfillment. It seems obvious that its major fulfillment still waits for those final days! So what is geopolitically important about Iran (historically known as Persia)?? That is the topic of this article.
RUSSIA & CHINA’S FRESH CONTRIBUTIONS TO IRAN. Saudi Arabia & Israel, U.S. govt. allies, felt betrayed by Obama’s treaty with Iran which released $100 billion in frozen assets & allowed free trade with Iran. Now that global sanctions (put in place in 2006-08) against Iran have been lifted, thanks to Obama’s Iranian treaty, both Russia & China have contributed more assets to strengthen Iran. A S-300 anti-aircraft/anti-missile system has begun to arrive from Russia to compensate for Iran’s weak air force. The entire system is scheduled to arrive by this year’s end. (Israeli jets have successfully attacked Syria & Iraq’s nuclear plants, & remain the principle threat to Iran’s.) Previously, it has been using Chinese A2/AD missiles, incl. HY-2 Silkworm anti-ship missiles. After sanctions lifted, China’s President Xi Jinping made an impromptu visit to Tehran to meet with Iran’s president to sign seventeen 25-yr. deals covering economic, political and military cooperation. They also made secret military agreements! (What are they planning w/ China that has to be kept secret?) Now Iran can be a full member of China’s Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO–which is a loose military version of NATO), which includes Russia & Central Asian countries. Iran has been training its Houdong fast-attack boats to destroy U.S. aircraft carriers with missiles. The Chinese & Iranian navy did a joint exercise last winter. With the new cash flow from sanctions being lifted it is increasing its support of its proxy wars in the Middle East in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, & Iraq.
PERSIA’S KEY STRATEGIC LOCATION. Persia is the home of a strong, intelligent, and proud race of people. It was a major power in Bible times. Persia, an extensively mountainous land, has long been in a key central location. For instance, it provided the “Persian Corridor” during WW2 that was used by the U.S. to pump billions of dollars of war material into Stalin’s USSR to defeat Hitler. Today, it borders 8 nations (if one includes the defacto Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) as well as the Indian Ocean & the largest inland sea, the Caspian Sea. Iran (Persia) is extremely important to the landlocked ex-Soviet Republics that border it. Iran was quick to officially recognize these nations when they left the USSR. Tajikistan shares language & culture with Iran, and their militaries cooperate. Kazakhstan has joint projects with Iran, Iranian banks, and oil exports. Kazakhstan hopes to become a connecting bridge between east & west. All 3 nations have simplified their visa procedures for easy movement. Long story short, Iran & these & other central Asian countries have close ties. The U.S. has a “Silk Road Strategy” for the region to gain more influence, which Iran has been countering. Iran’s govt. has openly told these bordering central Asian nations that it sees itself as the regional leader. Iranian oil production certainly gives it clout…its oil goes to China, India, Japan, So. Korea, Italy & Germany. (But China also gets a great deal of oil from the Gulf states like Saudi Arabia. And Saudi Arabia has emerged as the major rival, its nemesis, of Iran in the region. The 2 big oil states are now locked in proxy wars that have little chance of ending.)
POWER MOVES. The Saudi govt., in order to look tough, executed a Shiite cleric on Jan.2, knowing it would upset Iran, but look good to their local Wahabi Islamic clergy. Even though both govt.s pretend to be theocracies, both the Saudi royal family and the Shiite clergy running Iran are extremely corrupt…and their own people know it, but are powerless to do anything. Iran just sentenced one of its billionaires (who they claim has a $13.5 billion portfolio) to death for corruption. (Interestingly, Iceland sends their bankers to prison, Iran will execute their corrupt rich, and we bail them out as too big to fail.) Speaking of money, I might slip in here that Iran has a luxury resort, Kish Island in the Persian Gulf, which has relaxed Islamic law. The international elite, as well as 1 million tourists, enjoy Kish’s beautiful beaches. Two U.S. navy boats that entered Iranian water in January (2016) were captured. Iran released film of Americans kneeling with raised arms in surrender. One of their commanders bragged on Iranian T.V. that American soldiers were cowards, “American forces receive the best training and have the most advanced weapons in the world, but they did not have the power to confront the Guard due to weakness of faith and belief.” (The Word of God says pride goes before the fall.) (In this upside down confused world, in Syria/Iraq, Obama has American troops working alongside Iranian forces.)
CHINA & IRAN. China kept Iran’s economy from total failure during the sanctions, paying for oil with gold rather than dollars. It has invested in Iranian infrastructure including designing the subway for the 8-million-person capital Tehran, & building a 5 kilometer tunnel for the capital also. Iran was accepted by the Chinese as a founding member of their Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.
NUCLEAR PLANTS. It was China that got the Iranian nuclear plants started in the beginning. This recent treaty allows Iran to operate the Arak & Fordow plants and operate more than 6,000 centrifuges which function by feeding in uranium gas to enrich uranium to weapons grade. Analysts think they already have enough weapons-grade uranium for 7 nuclear bombs. Iran’s big friends, in case of war, could certainly share some of their extras. Israel has threatened to take out any nuclear facility that it feels threatens it, but it lacks stealth aircraft to easily penetrate the new air defense system Iran just began installing.
CONCLUDING REMARKS. Obama’s treaty opened the door to more Iranian aggression. Iran provides China naval port facilities & a strong ally in the middle east. Iran lays in a key strategic position in relation to the central Asian countries and the Mid East, so Russia & China both consider it an important strategic asset. Before the Shah of Iran was overthrown on 1 APR 1979, the prophecy of Daniel did not fit the nature of the country. In recent years, the aggressive moves of Iran in multiple directions now lines up w/ Daniel’s chapter 8 prophetic picture of Iran.
(A) DAN 8 (B) DAN 8:17