News & Prophecy Blog

Deadline for Peace Passes in Syria; Conflict Spills Over Borders

Written by Mike Bennett

Bashar al-Assad, Syrian president (photo by Roosewelt Pinheiro/ABr, Creative Commons License).Another valiant effort at peace negotiations appears to have failed in Syria, and fighting has claimed victims in Turkey and Lebanon. When will real peace finally come to Syria and the entire trigger-happy Middle East?

As the April 10 deadline passed for Syrian troops and heavy equipment to be pulled from cities, towns and villages, “Activists reported shelling in Homs and areas of northern Aleppo province, and unrest in the capital, Damascus” (BBC).

Meanwhile, Syria’s Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said his country was withdrawing some troops, blaming “armed gangs” for the continuing violence.

“The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said most cities were relatively calm on Tuesday after heavy bloodshed in recent days, but reported no clear sign of troop withdrawals.

“There were no immediate reports of action by fighters of the rebel Free Syrian Army, whose commanders have said they will order a ceasefire only if they are satisfied that Assad’s forces have indeed pulled back and stopped offensives” (Al-Jazeera).

As this is being posted, the Guardian is reporting, “Syria has announced it will cease military operations from Thursday morning in line with plans by Kofi Annan for a ceasefire after political negotiations to end the bloodiest crisis of the Arab spring.” However, the article acknowledges that “the prospects for success are privately rated as slender to nonexistent.”

Spilling into Turkey and Lebanon

The Wall Street Journal reported, “Fierce fighting in Syria poured over two borders on Monday [April 9], all but dashing hopes for a United Nations–backed peace plan and spotlighting the conflict’s potential to ensnare neighboring states” (“Syria Fight Spills Over Borders,” April 10, 2012).

On the border with Turkey, Syrian soldiers battled rebel fighters, killing two Turkish officials and others in a refugee camp on the Turkish side of the border. This sparked outrage and even talks of NATO involvement, since Turkey is a NATO member.

Syria map from the CIA World Factbook.Also, “a cameraman for a Lebanese TV station was shot dead by Syrian troops while he worked in northern Lebanon near the border with Syria,” The Wall Street Journal reported.

Have these events sealed the fate of the peace plan?

The peace plan

What was the peace plan? After intense negotiations on the international level (to avoid vetoes by Syria’s friends on the UN Security Council, Russia and China) and between the warring parties, former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan had hammered out a peace plan.

The BBC summarized the peace plan this way: “Under the peace plan—negotiated by the UN and Arab League’s special envoy on the Syrian crisis, Kofi Annan—Syrian troops were to have completed their withdrawal from population centres and stopped the use of heavy weaponry by Tuesday, ahead of a full ceasefire coming into place on Thursday.”

However, Syria made new demands on Sunday that many international observers felt confirmed their skepticism of Syria’s commitment. U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland called the cross-border violence “just another indication that the Assad regime does not seem at all willing to meet the commitments that it made to Kofi Annan” (The Wall Street Journal).

The BBC’s Jim Muir in Beirut, Lebanon, wrote, “Everybody recognises the Annan peace plan went as far as anybody could go in providing a balanced, peaceful political solution. If this doesn’t work it’s very hard to see how any other plan could.”

More fighting coming in the Middle East

Sadly, in spite of the best efforts of many well-intentioned diplomats and leaders, real peace remains elusive in Syria and across the Middle East. Age-old feuds and animosity between religious and ethnic groups, sects and tribes continue to simmer and flare up.

The Bible says this of the natural human condition: “Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known” (Romans 3:15-17).

Jesus Christ warned that wars and rumors of wars will continue until humanity reaches the brink of destruction (Matthew 24:6-7, 21-22). The climax of end-time events will include conflict between a European power and a Middle-Eastern power (Daniel 11:40-41).

At the very end, armies from around the world will gather at Armageddon in preparation for “the battle of that great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14-16).

How peace will finally come

Ironically, it is through this final battle that peace will finally come. The deceived nations may not realize they are trying to fight against the returning Jesus Christ, but all their weapons will be useless against the Son of God. They will be totally defeated, and the survivors will learn to recognize the futility of war.

Jesus Christ will then teach the way of peace—the loving way of life outlined in His beneficial laws. When the Ten Commandments are taught and really practiced, peace will result.

For more about what to look for in the Middle East today and about God’s way of peace, see:

Mike Bennett is an editor and writer for the Church of God, a Worldwide Association. He and his wife, Becky, attend the Cincinnati/Dayton, Ohio, congregation.

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