Preparing the Church for the Coming Storm
By Mario Murillo
Franklin Graham just said: “The Storm is coming.” When Obama refused to say that the 21 people who were beheaded were Christians we crossed into extremely dangerous territory. The president of the United States will look the other way as Islam persecutes Christianity.
David Wilkerson saw a coming storm of persecution and violence. He saw devastation in New York with fire and massive death and rampant immorality. Few believed him because at that time, unemployment was less than 5% and because Disney had just taken over the seedy areas of Times Square area and made it family oriented. All of his words have come to pass.
In 1998 he predicted a coming storm and explains why the church would not listen to warnings:
David Wilkerson: “The majority of churchgoers today soundly reject all prophetic warnings of a coming storm. Indeed, the American church today is the most blatant “feel good” church in all of history. But, like Israel, we’re only experiencing the calm before the storm!
Likewise today, Christians by the multiple thousands are casting off the yoke of Christ, tossing aside all limits and restrictions. This attitude is prevalent in many of the books and magazines you find in Christian bookstores. It’s almost as if our leaders are saying, “Relax! God isn’t hard. He’s our Daddy, we’re all his kids, and we’re meant to have a good time. Don’t let anyone disturb your fun!”
However, he also said God gives advance warning and provides protection.
“Moreover, God is faithful to speak in times of prosperity, just before the fury of his judgment strikes. While the storm clouds are still gathering, he raises up prophetic voices all over the land. And, according to scripture, whenever a sinful nation was prosperous and at peace, God told his prophets to warn that the good times soon would end: “…the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity…” (Zechariah 7:7).
Beloved, if we’re going to face the coming storm, then we need to be prepared so nothing disturbs our spirit. And the only way to do that is to spend time in the father’s presence, beholding his face. We have to be shut in with him – on our knees – until we’re thoroughly persuaded he’s at our right hand!
God is clearly telling us, “Don’t be moved or agitated by anything you see. Keep your eyes focused on me – and you’ll retain your joy!” And according to David, Jesus testified, “…thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance” (Acts 2:28).
We always have to keep in mind, God’s only purpose in lovingly calling us back to himself is to protect us in such times of storm. Yet often in biblical history, when he gave these warnings, the people refused to listen: “He sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the Lord; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear” (2 Chronicles 24:19).
Almost always, God’s people grew weary of these warnings. This was especially true if a prophet cried out about a coming storm over a period of years, but the society only continued to be prosperous and at peace. Over time, the people simply switched off the prophet’s voice. They simply didn’t want to hear it anymore.”
In 1927 Smith Wigglesworth said a storm was coming that would cause many to fall away. This went against the grain of the roaring twenties giddiness and the heyday of Pentecostalism. He added that a remnant would know God as never before and who would practice extravagant asking.
So God means me to press you another step forward. Begin to believe on extravagant asking, believing that God is pleased when you ask large things.
Steve Hill saw vision of a coming storm that had the potential to destroy millions of Christians because of false teaching running rampant through the church.
Steve Hill: The Lord began to speak. I trembled. The fresh, new snow represented the false teaching that is steadily falling on the ears of the body of Christ. It has been, and is, a heavy snowfall. The skiers represented believers and non-believers, trusting the resort for a safe and memorable experience. As Christians, we have been warned to be sober and vigilant (1 Peter 5:8). However, the present, awe-inspiring teachings have lulled many into a deeper sleep.
The layers upon layers of snow have been steadily covering the solid traditional truth of Christ. The truth is that foolish teaching in these days will become so fashionable even the most dedicated believer could become deceived (Matt. 24:24). It’s happening before our eyes. One spiritual leader said the other day: “You guys are old-fashioned ‘holiness,’ we are modern day ‘grace.’ You live in bondage while we can do anything we want.”
Pastors and teachers worldwide have succumbed to heretical teachings including universal reconciliation, deification of man, challenging the validity of the Word of God including His judgments, and even lifting any boundaries, claiming His amazing grace is actually “amazing freedom.” You are free to live according to your own desires. Sound familiar? “They had no king and did what was right in their own eyes” (Judges 17:6). These popular self-proclaimed ministers of the gospel are covering the “slopes” and will be held accountable for the spiritual death of millions.
Kenneth Hagin: I looked at the scroll again, and again I looked to see what I had read about. I saw the skyline of a large city. Looking closer, I saw the skyscrapers were burned-out hulls. Portions of the city lay in ruins. It was not written that just one city would be destroyed, burned, and in ruins, but that there would be many such cities.
America’s Last Call
The scroll was written in the first person, and seemed as if Jesus Himself were speaking. I read, “America is receiving her last call. Some nations already have received their last call and never will receive another.”
Then, in larger print it said, “THE TIME OF THE END OF ALL THINGS IS AT HAND.” This statement was repeated four or five times. Jesus also said this was the last great revival. He went on to say, “All the gifts of the Spirit will be in operation in the Church in these last days, and the Church will do greater things than even the Early Church did. It will have greater power, signs, and wonders than were recorded in the Acts of the Apostles.”
Smith Wigglesworth: We have to see that these days have to come before the Lord can come. There has to be a falling away. I want to speak to you very exactly. All the people which are pressing into and getting ready for this glorious attained place where they shall not be found naked, where they shall be blameless, where they shall be immovable, where they shall be purified by the power of the Word of God, have within them a consciousness of the very presence of God within, changing their very nature and preparing them for a greater thing, and causing them to be ready for translation.
This is the day of purifying. This is the day of holiness. This is the day of separation. This is the day of waking. O God, let us wake today! Let the inner spirit wake into consciousness that God is calling us.
There are in the world two classes of believers. There are believers which are disobedient, or I ought to say there are children which are saved by the power of God which are disobedient children. And there are children which are just the same saved by the power of God who all the time are longing to be more obedient.
Up to this present time the Lord’s word is for us, “Hitherto ye have asked nothing.” Surely you people that have been asking great things from God for a long time would be amazed if you entered into it with clear knowledge that it is the Master, it is Jesus, who has such knowledge of the mightiness of the power of the Father, of the joint union with Him, that nothing is impossible for you to ask. Surely it is He only Who could say “Hitherto you have asked nothing.”
Oral Roberts was warning us about people who go to church only for themselves and of preachers who care nothing about reaching the world for Christ. How can we deny that this is true? We have reached the point where so many Christians are unteachable and Pastors are oblivious to the great commission.
Now let’s put all of these words together and allow God to show us what we are to do to be strong, to be effective and most of all not to be deceived by the storm that is upon us now.
David Wilkerson was trying to teach us that as God’s remnant in a storm of deception, violence and persecution we can be safe; we can even thrive.
Steve Hill placed a great deal of emphasis on the massive amount of false teaching that would rob the church of her preparation, blind her to the right choices she should make, and leave her vulnerable so that she alongside of the world is destroyed. But he also provided the hope that repentance and true submission to God would provide a shelter from the storm.
Kenneth Hagin was warning us that America had a final call. I believe we are at that call right now. He saw buildings burning and cities inundated by the judgment of God. However he also offered great hope that the people of God would even do greater things than the apostles did in the book of Acts.
Now listen with all of your heart, with all of your might and with zero distractions. This storm will damage every compromised carnal Christian. Jesus was calling the foolish man who built his house on the sand someone who had heard the words of Christ but would not do them. That is the key right now. All of these warnings are for Christians.
So what do you do to be prepared for this storm? What steps do we take to obey the words of warning that come to us first from the Bible and then from the prophets of God? Distilling the common threads that run through these four men’s prophecies I found these steps:
- Stop being stupid. Stop following preachers that are weakening you, using you, and denying the coming storm. Get out of the churches that look like nightclubs. Get away from the seductive teaching that denies hell, the blood of Christ, the inerrancy of the Bible and the urgency of the great commission. Don’t follow their teaching. For heaven’s sake do not give them any money. Do not fellowship with believers who condone drunkenness or immorality. This compromised Christianity is precisely the house built on the sand that the storm will destroy.
- Press into God. The common thread that runs through the messages of these 4 prophets is a call to intimacy with God, and that the result of that intimacy would be a special grace and power to live through anything in the last days.
Each one of them referenced a secret place in God that was available to us that would create a force field of peace and joy and boldness that would serve to deflect every lie, every threat, and every attack.
Every one of them spoke of a level of power that would be revealed to the last breed of Christian on the earth. They describe a time of great extremes where wickedness and righteousness would ripen together.
Those who choose to press into God will embody a faith that cannot be shaken by any threat or headline. They will have a presence of God continually on their life. Not just some of the time but all of the time. Disasters will go around them and regardless of how cataclysmic the events of the world become they will be conveyed safely into the kingdom of God.
- Enter the era of the extravagant asking. Wigglesworth’s reference to extravagant asking is a key to the final revival in the history of the world. He quoted Jesus who said “hitherto you have asked nothing, ask what you will and my father will give it to you that your joy may be full.” All of the prophets hold out a hope for America. They are trying to sober us up so that we can ask God to spare our nation. We do not have to have the fires, riots and the judgment that is well deserved.
We can ask and receive resources beyond anything we’ve ever seen before. We can preach with devastating conviction, conviction that can pierce the most heinous sins of our time. We can ask and receive signs and wonders that exceed what the apostles saw. We can watch God fill the coffers of anointed ministries beyond anything we can imagine or have ever seen before.
Finally: Truly God’s word is this, “I set before you life and death.” You can walk away from this message and continue the denial that pervades the church but I promise you this storm is coming. You can choose life, not just any life but the greatest life that God has offered any generation.
Maher vs. Charlie Rose: To Claim Islam Is Like Other Religions Is Naive And Plain Wrong
Bill Maher clashed with Charlie Rose over Islam during an appearance on Rose’s Bloomberg Television program this week. Maher, the host of Real Time on HBO, scoffed at Rose’s numerous attempts to link Islam to Christianity and to try to disavow radical Muslims as representatives of the religion. Rose contended numerous times that “moderate Muslims” do not approve of the actions of radical groups like ISIS. Maher noted Muslims when polled overwhelmingly agree with ideas like killing those who leave Islam and stoning adulters. Rose said the Koran does not teach Muslims to do “these kind of things.” Below is a transcript of their conversation:
BILL MAHER: I saw Howard Dean on TV the other day and he said something along the order, he said the people in ISIS — he said I’m about as Islamic as they are, you know, distancing the vast numbers of Islamic people around the world from them. That’s just not true.
CHARLIE ROSE: It is true.
MAHER: It is not true, Charlie. There is a connecting tissue between —
ROSE: Behind every Muslim is a future member of some radical?
MAHER: Let me finish.
ROSE: I was doing that.
MAHER: There are illiberal beliefs that are held by vast numbers of Muslim people that —
ROSE: A vast number of Christians too.
MAHER: No, that’s not true. Not true. Vast numbers of Christians do not believe that if you leave the Christian religion you should be killed for it. Vast numbers of Christians do not treat women as second class citizens. Vast numbers of Christians —
ROSE: I agree with that —
MAHER: — do not believe if you draw a picture of Jesus Christ you should get killed for it. So yes, does ISIS do Khmer Rouge-like activities where they just kill people indiscriminately who aren’t just like them? Yes. And would most Muslim people in the world do that or condone that? No.
MAHER: But most Muslim people in the world do condone violence just for what you think.
ROSE: How do you know that?
MAHER: They do. First of all they say it. They shout it.
ROSE: Vast majorities of Muslims say that?
MAHER: Absolutely. There was a Pew poll in Egypt done a few years ago — 82% said, I think, stoning is the appropriate punishment for adultery. Over 80% thought death was the appropriate punishment for leaving the Muslim religion. I’m sure you know these things.
ROSE: Well I do. But I don’t believe —
MAHER: So to claim that this religion is like other religions is just naive and plain wrong. It is not like other religious. The New York Times pointed out in an op-ed a couple weeks ago that in Saudi Arabia just since August 4th, they think it was, they have beheaded 19 people. Most for non-violent crimes including homosexuality.
ROSE: I know that they cut the hands off the thief.
MAHER: Right, okay, so we’re upset that ISIS is beheading people which we should be upset about but Saudi Arabia does it and they’re our good friends because they have oil. Okay. But they do it too. This is the center of the religion. I’m not saying –
ROSE: But they’re now fighting against ISIS too. They’re joining us in the fight. As is the Emirates. As is Jordan. They are all Muslim countries.
MAHER: Well, they are both fighting ISIS and they are for ISIS.
ROSE: Well, it’s not the government. I mean, some of them —
MAHER: Certainly the governments.
ROSE: It’s a bit like today about Qatar. The big story today in The New York Timesabout Qatar. And some guy there is supporting, who is a Muslim —
MAHER: But I mean in Mecca where infidels, non-Muslims, are not even allowed in the holy parts of the city. I mean, right there, we don’t have that example in other religions. They do behead people. Now if they were beheading people in Vatican City, which is the equivalent of Mecca, don’t you think there would be a bigger outcry about it? So this is the soft bigotry of low expectations with Muslim people. When they do crazy things and believe crazy things, somehow it’s not talked about nearly as much.
ROSE: Would you come to the table and debate this with a moderate Muslim?
MAHER: Find one, yes. Find one.
ROSE: I promise you I’ll find one.
MAHER: Find a Muslim —
ROSE: I do believe that what we see with ISIS is not representative of —
MAHER: As I said, connecting tissue.
ROSE: — not representative of the Islamic religion. I don’t think the Koran teaches them to do these kinds of things.
MAHER: Well you’re wrong about that. The Koran absolutely has on every page stuff that’s horrible about how the infidels should be treated. But for example again ISIS says that they should perform genital mutilation on all women 11-46. Would most Muslims agree with that? No. Or carry it out? No.
But as Ayaan Hirsi Ali points out, she says —
ROSE: I wouldn’t expect for her to —
MAHER: And she would know better than —
MAHER: But can we really say —
ROSE: She’s been a victim.
MAHER: — women are treated equally in the Muslim world? I mean, their testimony in court is very often counted as half. They need permission to leave the house in some places.
ROSE: But a lot of moderate Muslims would say in fact one of the things that we need to modernize is the idea of the way we treat women.
MAHER: But in this country, if you just use the wrong word about women, they go nuts. And all these other countries —
ROSE: As they should.
MAHER: — they’re doing things like making them wear burqas and I hear liberals say things like, ‘they want to.’ They want to. They’ve been brainwashed. It’s like saying a street walker wants to do that.
New York Times Reports On Muslim Proselytizing During Charlie Hebdo Attack, Then Deletes It
Here’s the latest example of the New York Times censoring itself to avoid offending Muslims after an act of Islamic terror. This morning,BenK at Ace of Spades quoted an NYT story by Liz Alderman titled “Survivors Retrace a Scene of Horror at Charlie Hebdo.” Take note of these two paragraphs from that story:
Sigolène Vinson, a freelancer who had decided to come in that morning to take part in the meeting, thought she would be killed when one of the men approached her.
Instead, she told French news media, the man said, “I’m not going to kill you because you’re a woman, we don’t kill women, but you must convert to Islam, read the Quran and cover yourself,” she recalled.
I was intrigued by this quote, and it seemed worth exploring, so I went to the NYT story to quote it. But guess what?
Sigolène Vinson, a freelance journalist who had come in that morning to take part in the meeting, said that when the shooting started, she thought she would be killed.
Ms. Vinson said in an interview that she dropped to the floor and crawled down the hall to hide behind a partition, but one of the gunmen spotted her and grabbed her by the arm, pointing his gun at her head. Instead of pulling the trigger, though, he told her she would not be killed because she was a woman.
“Don’t be afraid, calm down, I won’t kill you,” the gunman told her in a steady voice, with a calm look in his eyes, she recalled. “You are a woman. But think about what you’re doing. It’s not right.”
Nothing about telling her to convert to Islam. Nothing about telling her to read the Quran. Nothing about telling her to cover her face.
So, imagine yourself as an NYT editor for a moment, if you can withstand the nausea. Why would you specifically take out the part about the Islamic terrorist proselytizing for Islam in the middle of the terrorist attack? Why delete this woman’s account of being threatened at gunpoint and being told to convert to Islam?
That’s easy. Because you’re one of America’s moral, ethical, and intellectual betters, and you don’t want it to be true. Your reporter hastily left that inconvenient truth in her story by accident, so you airbrushed it out, without any acknowledgment, to preserve the narrative. You turned it into, “Hey, maybe these guys aren’t so bad after all. They didn’t kill the women, right? Let’s not be too hasty.”
Because that’s your job.
The New York Times is garbage.
The President Who Has Done the Most Damage.
By Dennis Prager – October 29, 2013
I have been broadcasting for 31 years and writing for longer than that. I do not recall ever saying on radio or in print that a president is doing lasting damage to our country. I did not like the presidencies of Jimmy Carter (the last Democrat I voted for) or Bill Clinton. Nor did I care for the “compassionate conservatism” of George W. Bush. In modern political parlance “compassionate” is a euphemism for ever-expanding government.
But I have never written or broadcast that our country was being seriously damaged by a president. So it is with great sadness that I write that President Barack Obama has done and continues to do major damage to America. The only question is whether this can ever be undone.
This is equally true domestically and internationally.
Domestically, his policies have gravely impacted the American economy.
He has overseen the weakest recovery from a recession in modern American history.
He has mired the country in unprecedented levels of debt: about $6.5 trillion dollars in five years (this after calling his predecessor “unpatriotic” for adding nearly $5 trillion in eight years).
He has fashioned a country in which more Americans now receive government aid — means-tested, let alone non-means tested — than work full-time.
He has no method of paying for this debt other than printing more money — thereby surreptitiously taxing everyone through inflation, including the poor he claims to be helping, and cheapening the dollar to the point that some countries are talking another reserve currency — and saddling the next generations with enormous debts.
With his 2,500-page Affordable Care Act, he has made it impossible for hundreds of thousands, soon millions, of Americans to keep their individual or employee-sponsored group health insurance; he has stymied American medical innovation with an utterly destructive tax on medical devices; and he has caused hundreds of thousands of workers to lose full-time jobs because of the health care costs imposed by Obamacare on employers.
His Internal Revenue Service used its unparalleled power to stymie political dissent. No one has been held accountable.
His ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were murdered by terrorists in Benghazi, Libya. No one has been blamed. The only blame the Obama administration has leveled was on a video maker in California who had nothing to do with the assault.
In this president’s White House, the buck stops nowhere.
Among presidents in modern American history, he has also been a uniquely divisive force. It began with his forcing Obamacare through Congress — the only major legislation in American history to be passed with no votes from the opposition party.
Though he has had a unique opportunity to do so, he has not only not helped heal racial tensions, he has exacerbated them. His intrusions into the Trayvon Martin affair (“If I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”) and into the confrontation between a white police officer and a black Harvard professor (the police “acted stupidly”) were unwarranted, irresponsible, demagogic and, most of all, divisive.
He should have been reassuring black Americans that America is in fact the least racist country in the world — something he should know as well anybody, having been raised only by whites and being the first black elected the leader of a white-majority nation. Instead, he echoed the inflammatory speech of professional race-baiters such as Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
He has also divided the country by economic class, using classic Marxist language against “the rich” and “corporate profits.”
Regarding America in the world, he has been, if possible, even more damaging. The United States is at its weakest, has fewer allies, and has less military and diplomatic influence than at any time since before World War I.
One wonders if there is a remaining ally nation that trusts him. And worse, no American enemy fears him. If you are a free movement (the democratic Iranian and Syrian oppositions) or a free country (Israel), you have little or no reason to believe that you have a steadfast ally in the United States.
Even non-democratic allies no longer trust America. Barack Obama has alienated our most important and longest standing Arab allies, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Both the anti-Muslim Brotherhood and the anti-Iran Arab states have lost respect for him.
And his complete withdrawal of American troops from Iraq has left that country with weekly bloodbaths.
Virtually nothing Barack Obama has done has left America or the world better since he became president. Nearly everything he has touched has been made worse.
He did, however, promise before the 2008 election that “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” That is the one promise he has kept.
“This notion that they’re going to get in a room and negotiate a deal with the president on immigration,” Sen. Rubio said Sunday on Fox News, “is much more difficult to do” after the shutdown negotiations of the past three weeks.
Sen. Rubio said he and other reform participants, such as Idaho’s Rep. Raul Labrador, are afraid that if they cut an immigration deal with the White House—say, offering a path to citizenship in return for strong enforcement of any new law—Mr. Obama will desert them by reneging on the enforcement.
When belief in the average politician’s word diminishes, the political world marks him down and moves away. With the president of the United States, especially one in his second term, the costs of the credibility markdown become immeasurably greater. Ask the Saudis.
Last weekend the diplomatic world was agog at the refusal of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah to accept a seat on the U.N. Security Council. Global disbelief gave way fast to clear understanding: The Saudis have decided that the United States is no longer a reliable partner in Middle Eastern affairs.
The Saudi king, who supported Syria’s anti-Assad rebels early, before Islamic jihadists polluted the coalition, watched Mr. Obama’s red line over Assad’s use of chemical weapons disappear into an about-face deal with Vladimir Putin. The next time King Abdullah looked up, Mr. Obama was hanging the Saudis out to dry yet again by phoning up Iran’s President Hasan Rouhani, Assad’s primary banker and armorer, to chase a deal on nuclear weapons. Within days, Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief, Prince Bandar, let it be known that the Saudis intend to distance themselves from the U.S.
What is at issue here is not some sacred moral value, such as “In God We Trust.” Domestic politics or the affairs of nations are not an avocation for angels. But the coin of this imperfect realm is credibility. Sydney Greenstreet’s Kasper Gutman explained the terms of trade in “The Maltese Falcon”: “I must tell you what I know, but you won’t tell me what you know. That is hardly equitable, sir. I don’t think we can do business along those lines.”
Bluntly, Mr. Obama’s partners are concluding that they cannot do business with him. They don’t trust him. Whether it’s the Saudis, the Syrian rebels, the French, the Iraqis, the unpivoted Asians or the congressional Republicans, they’ve all had their fill of coming up on the short end with so mercurial a U.S. president. And when that happens, the world’s important business doesn’t get done. It sits in a dangerous and volatile vacuum.
The next major political event in Washington is the negotiation over spending, entitlements and taxes between House budget chairman Paul Ryan and his Senate partner, Patty Murray. The bad air over this effort is the same as that Marco Rubio says is choking immigration reform: the fear that Mr. Obama will urge the process forward in public and then blow up any Ryan-Murray agreement at the 11th hour with deal-killing demands for greater tax revenue.
Then there is Mr. Obama’s bond with the American people, which is diminishing with the failed rollout of the Affordable Care Act. ObamaCare is the central processing unit of the Obama presidency’s belief system. Now the believers are wondering why the administration suppressed knowledge of the huge program’s problems when hundreds of tech workers for the project had to know this mess would happen Oct. 1.
Rather than level with the public, the government’s most senior health-care official, Kathleen Sebelius, spent days spewing ludicrous and incredible happy talk about the failure, while refusing to provide basic information about its cause.
Voters don’t normally accord politicians unworldly levels of belief, but it has been Barack Obama’s gift to transform mere support into victorious credulousness. Now that is crumbling, at great cost. If here and abroad, politicians, the public and the press conclude that Mr. Obama can’t play it straight, his second-term accomplishments will lie only in doing business with the world’s most cynical, untrustworthy partners. The American people are the ones who will end up on the short end of those deals.
Saudi Arabia severs diplomatic ties with US over response to conflict in Syria
PUBLISHED: 19:27 EST, 22 October 2013 | UPDATED: 19:27 EST, 22 October 2013
Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.
Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief is vowing that the kingdom will make a ‘major shift’ in relations with the United States to protest perceived American inaction over Syria’s civil war as well as recent U.S. overtures to Iran, a source close to Saudi policy said on Tuesday.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan told European diplomats that the United States had failed to act effectively against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, was growing closer to Tehran, and had failed to back Saudi support for Bahrain when it crushed an anti-government revolt in 2011, the source said.
‘The shift away from the U.S. is a major one,’ the source close to Saudi policy said. ‘Saudi doesn’t want to find itself any longer in a situation where it is dependent.’
It was not immediately clear whether the reported statements by Prince Bandar, who was the Saudi ambassador to Washington for 22 years, had the full backing of King Abdullah.
The growing breach between the United States and Saudi Arabia was also on display in Washington, where another senior Saudi prince criticized Obama’s Middle East policies, accusing him of ‘dithering’ on Syria and Israeli-Palestinian peace.
In unusually blunt public remarks, Prince Turki al-Faisal called Obama’s policies in Syria ‘lamentable’ and ridiculed a U.S.-Russian deal to eliminate Assad’s chemical weapons. He suggested it was a ruse to let Obama avoid military action in Syria.
‘The current charade of international control over Bashar’s chemical arsenal would be funny if it were not so blatantly perfidious. And designed not only to give Mr. Obama an opportunity to back down (from military strikes), but also to help Assad to butcher his people,’ said Prince Turki, a member of the Saudi royal family and former director of Saudi intelligence.
The United States and Saudi Arabia have been allies since the kingdom was declared in 1932, giving Riyadh a powerful military protector and Washington secure oil supplies.
The Saudi criticism came days after the 40th anniversary of the October 1973 Arab oil embargo imposed to punish the West for supporting Israel in the Yom Kippur war.
That was one of the low points in U.S.-Saudi ties, which were also badly shaken by the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. Most of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudi nationals.
Saudi Arabia gave a clear sign of its displeasure over Obama’s foreign policy last week when it rejected a coveted two-year term on the U.N. Security Council in a display of anger over the failure of the international community to end the war in Syria and act on other Middle East issues.
Prince Turki indicated that Saudi Arabia will not reverse that decision, which he said was a result of the Security Council’s failure to stop Assad and implement its own decision on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘There is nothing whimsical about the decision to forego membership of the Security Council. It is based on the ineffectual experience of that body,’ he said in a speech to the Washington-based National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations.
In London, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he discussed Riyadh’s concerns when he met Foreign Minister Saud al-Faisal in Paris on Monday.
Kerry said he told the Saudi minister no deal with Iran was better than a bad deal. ‘I have great confidence that the United States and Saudi Arabia will continue to be the close and important friends and allies that we have been,’ Kerry told reporters.
Prince Bandar is seen as a foreign policy hawk, especially on Iran. The Sunni Muslim kingdom’s rivalry with Shi’ite Iran, an ally of Syria, has amplified sectarian tensions across the Middle East.
A son of the late defense minister and crown prince, Prince Sultan, and a protégé of the late King Fahd, he fell from favor with King Abdullah after clashing on foreign policy in 2005.
But he was called in from the cold last year with a mandate to bring down Assad, diplomats in the Gulf say. Over the past year, he has led Saudi efforts to bring arms and other aid to Syrian rebels.
‘Prince Bandar told diplomats that he plans to limit interaction with the U.S.,’ the source close to Saudi policy said.
This happens after the U.S. failed to take any effective action on Syria and Palestine. Relations with the U.S. have been deteriorating for a while, as Saudi feels that the U.S. is growing closer with Iran and the U.S. also failed to support Saudi during the Bahrain uprising,” the source said.
The source declined to provide more details of Bandar’s talks with the diplomats, which took place in the past few days.
But he suggested that the planned change in ties between the energy superpower and the United States would have wide-ranging consequences, including on arms purchases and oil sales.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, ploughs much of its earnings back into U.S. assets. Most of the Saudi central bank’s net foreign assets of $690 billion are thought to be denominated in dollars, much of them in U.S. Treasury bonds.
‘All options are on the table now, and for sure there will be some impact,’ the Saudi source said.
He said there would be no further coordination with the United States over the war in Syria, where the Saudis have armed and financed rebel groups fighting Assad.
The kingdom has informed the United States of its actions in Syria, and diplomats say it has respected U.S. requests not to supply the groups with advanced weaponry that the West fears could fall into the hands of al Qaeda-aligned groups.
Saudi anger boiled over after Washington refrained from military strikes in response to a poison gas attack in Damascus in August when Assad agreed to give up his chemical weapons arsenal.
Representative Chris Van Hollen, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Democratic leadership, told Reuters’ Washington Summit on Tuesday that the Saudi moves were intended to pressure Obama to take action in Syria.
‘We know their game. They’re trying to send a signal that we should all get involved militarily in Syria, and I think that would be a big mistake to get in the middle of the Syrian civil war,’ Van Hollen said.
‘And the Saudis should start by stopping their funding of the al Qaeda-related groups in Syria. In addition to the fact that it’s a country that doesn’t allow women to drive,’ said Van Hollen, who is close to Obama on domestic issues in Congress but is less influential on foreign policy.
Saudi Arabia is concerned about signs of a tentative reconciliation between Washington and Tehran, something Riyadh fears may lead to a ‘grand bargain’ on the Iranian nuclear program that would leave Riyadh at a disadvantage.
Prince Turki expressed doubt that Obama would succeed in what he called an ‘open arms approach’ to Iran, which he accused of meddling in Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq and Bahrain.
‘We Saudis observe President Obama’s efforts in this regard. The road ahead is arduous,’ he said. ‘Whether (Iranian President Hassan) Rouhani will succeed in steering Iran toward sensible policies is already contested in Iran. The forces of darkness in Qom and Tehran are well entrenched.’
The U.N. Security Council has been paralyzed over the 31-month-old Syria conflict, with permanent members Russia and China repeatedly blocking measures to condemn Assad.
Saudi Arabia backs Assad’s mostly Sunni rebel foes. The Syrian leader, whose Alawite sect is derived from Shi’ite Islam, has support from Iran and the armed Lebanese Shi’ite movement Hezbollah. The Syrian leader denounces the insurgents as al Qaeda-linked groups backed by Sunni-ruled states.
In Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet, a simmering pro-democracy revolt by its Shi’ite majority has prompted calls by some in Washington for U.S. ships to be based elsewhere.
Many U.S. economic interests in Saudi Arabia involve government contracts in defense, other security sectors, health care, education, information technology and construction.