Beyond the Cusp

July 12, 2016

End the Charade and Keep Your Promises

 

For all too many people there exists so much confusion and misinformation about Israel and whose lands are whose and what are facts and what are fictions. We hear about facts on the ground and some very positive and definitive facts have been found in the grounds as well as on them throughout the lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. What might surprise some is that further facts similar to these have been unearthed but either destroyed or left buried once identified east of the Jordan River, throughout the Golan Heights, in Lebanon south of the Litani River and in a swath cutting across Syria all the way to the Euphrates River. These facts exist in a simple but nearly permanent form of artwork known to exist throughout history, mosaics, in particular, mosaic floors. These stones, unless intentionally shifted and scrambled, can be restored to near their former beauty simply through cleaning the stones and perhaps some restoration around the edges or along a seam where the earth itself cracked during an earthquake or similar disruption. These mosaics mostly date back well before the Persians or the Greeks and definitely the Romans conquered these lands and existed during the Biblical times and represent the historic events immediately after their happening and representing them exactly as told when these legends were the facts of their day.

 

Mosaic in Israel shows biblical Samson

Mosaic in Israel shows biblical Samson

 

Most of these mosaics represent Biblical stories which are familiar to virtually any person who attended religious school where the Old Testament was studied even in a cursory fashion as these were the stories that struck awe and let little imaginations run wild and these were the types of heroes that a child would remember throughout their lives.

 

The story of Samson, whose strength was in proportion to the length of his hair, who can forget such a story, would have resonated today. Here we have a single mother put down and in the lowest caste of society praying not for herself but for her son to be a great leader. She promises to obey Hashem and never cut his hair and Hashem will favor her son with strength as his hair is long. She desires her son do well by the family name and bring it honor and this single mother thus sacrifices of herself to help all Israel with her son becoming a success. Everything she could have ever dreamt would come to be the story of her son. Just as promised, Hashem would accept Samson as a servant and Samson would free the Jews from Philistine rule.

 

Hashem blessed Samson with inhuman strength which he used against the Philistines, that is when he was not chasing Philistine women and marrying them, a failing which was his downfall. After Dalila cut his hair and turned the weakened Samson over to the Philistines they gouged his eyes blinding him and they mocked him but somebody grew lax and his hair grew long again. Then there was his final command performance before the Philistine King and Queen and every important Philistine in a grand spectacle where they were to marvel over the captured Jew whose strength they had all so feared back when he could use the jaw bone of a donkey and it would be as effective as any sword in his hands and he slew Philistines with such a weapon. The ending is that Samson pulled the supporting pillars of the arena collapsing the viewing stands bringing the house down, what a performance, and he slew the entire Philistine leadership that day and gave his life to free Israel of Philistine rule. A mosaic with ancient Hebrew letters telling the story was found dating from immediately after the Israelites regained their lands from the attacking Philistines.

 

Fish swallowing an Egyptian soldier in a mosaic scene depicting the splitting of the Red Sea from the Exodus story from the 5th-century synagogue at Huqoq, in northern Israel

Fish swallowing an Egyptian soldier in a mosaic scene
depicting the splitting of the Red Sea from the Exodus story
from the 5th-century synagogue at Huqoq, in northern Israel

 

This Mosaic was found in an area known as the Galilee which was very prevalent in ancient Israel and was the farmlands which supported the Israelite state. As important as were these lower relatively flat lands to the continued existence of the state of Israel as a people need to eat, the hills to the east were the tactical lands which also were used for shepherds as they tended their sheep. These hills were where the Israelites preferred to meet their enemies as the lands made infantry and chariots all but impossible to wield and heavy infantry would quickly tire chasing light infantry, slingers and archers up and down the slopes and across rocky terrain features. Further, the Israelite were very familiar with the lands and knew its hiding places, its tactically important ridges where one would be well above on a steep slope, and areas of concealment such as caves with small or hidden entrances. These were the lands where the Israelite light infantry was successful in repulsing enemies and dispatching even the Roman Legions on the uprisings which were successful in winning independence from Roman Rule, even if only temporarily as the Romans had far greater manpower and could send sufficient Legions such that the Roman men in arms outnumbered the Israelite population including women and children. Still, from time to time the Romans were chased from Israelite lands as the Israelite forces made it simply not economically prudent to continue the war. When the time came to retake the trade routes which passed through the lands and often through Jerusalem, the Israelite capital, the Romans, Greeks, Persians and others through history would arrive on the Israelite borders in numbers which put fear into the bravest of hearts.

 

This would include the Wars of 1948, 1967 and 1973 (War for Independence, Six Day War, and Yom Kippur War) which were all fought in response to acts of war and Israel defending her lands. In Israel’s War of Independence she faced a half dozen national armies which assaulted on her first day as a nation and in this war Israel lost territory including Gaza, and section of Judea and Samaria which Jordan renamed West Bank but their three thousand year old names cannot be erased thus the names of Judea and Samaria better define these lands than any invented name to conceal their natural histories. These same lands were liberated in the Six Day War as well as conquering the Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula. Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt who refused to resume their claims to Gaza returning these lands to Israeli rule. Likewise, Israel even offered to return the lands originally lost in 1948 and liberated in 1967 to Jordan as under Jordanian rule the Jews were expelled from their lands under threat of extermination and fled into Israel in the weeks after the Jordanians expelled them from their land and thus the area had become mostly Arab and many Jordanians but Jordan refused the land and the Arabs remain on the land as the Jews were not the Jordanians and did not expel the conquered people but permitted them remain and work their lands. These Arabs eventually were granted independent autonomy within Israel and thus led to the Palestinian Arabs demand for a homeland invented in 1964 and initially defined as Israel not claiming the West Bank then owned by Jordan but as soon as Jordan lost these lands then the entirety of the lands between the River and the Sea became their rallying demand, replace Israel, not share land with the Jews as the goal was to exterminate the Jews which was expounded by the Mufti of Jerusalem and has been the intent of the Palestinian Arab cause ever since. They do not want two lands for two people, they want simply one people and the Jews slaughtered.

 

The Huqoq synagogue mosaics from the 5th century depict this war elephant which surprised archeologists as there has been no reference in Biblical texts of elephants

The Huqoq synagogue mosaics from the 5th century
depict this war elephant which surprised archeologists
as there has been no reference in Biblical texts of elephants

 

Not every mosaic was of biblical events as told in the Jewish bible but then not every Renaissance painting depicted the Trinity, the Holy Mother or other New Testament stories. The war elephant was still somewhat of a surprise as there was no mention of their being utilized in Israel or Judea by the Greeks or Romans as such forces would have had the same difficulties as had cavalry and chariots in the Judean Hills in eastern Israel. Still such a mosaic was unearthed in the excavations at the site and simply adds to the wonder and gives new insights into the lives of the Israelite Jews who remained in their natural lands after the Roman Dispersals which were inflicted as punishment for their temporarily successful revolts against Roman rule. The First Jewish–Roman War took place starting with Judean Israelites gaining independence in 66 CE only to be overwhelmed by Two Roman Legions in 73 CE. The siege of Masada was the most memorable of the final events of this First Jewish–Roman War. The Bar Kokhba revolt removed Roman rule with successes beginning in 132 CE only to be put down by some research claimed was six Roman Legions with a similar number of supporting troops in 134 to 136 CE. This revolt once put down added one last horror as a lesson for the rebellious Jews with the torturous execution of the Ten Rabbis where some claim all ten at one spectacle while others claim two had been executed earlier but the Talmud tells of the martyrdom of the Ten Rabbis: Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel and Rabbi Yishmael ben Elisha ha-Kohen Gadol who were reportedly executed earlier with the following eight who were Rabbi Akiva; Rabbi Hanania ben Teradion; the interpreter of the Sanhedrin, Rabbi Huspith; Rabbi Eliezer ben Shamua; Rabbi Hanina ben Hakinai; Rabbi Jeshbab the Scribe; Rabbi Yehuda ben Dama; and Rabbi Yehuda ben Baba comprising the Ten Rabbis martyred in total.

 

Ancient First Century Mosaic Depicting Menorah in the Center Flanked by Tree of Life and a Shofar with Ancient Hebrew Letters at Bottom

Ancient First Century Mosaic Depicting
Menorah in the Center Flanked by
Tree of Life and a Shofar with
Ancient Hebrew Letters at Bottom

 

Such Mosaics are found throughout the areas of ancient Israel often depicting Roman and Greek reliefs as these themes represented the time and place realistically. Other mosaics depicted Jewish religious and historical themes and some mosaics unearthed have been dated back to antiquity. These oldest mosaics universally depict scenes from Torah (Five Books of Moses) as well as other Biblical themes from the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) even including reliefs showing Noah’s ark receiving the animals with herds and numerous animals depicted throughout the scene, the Crossing of the Red Sea, Jonah being swallowed by a large fish (it was historically just a large fish as the depiction of whale was not relevant to early life at the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea), the giving of the Ten Commandments by Moses at Mount Sinai, the Ten Plagues and other stories. The quality of the stones and resolutions varied often depicting the wealth of an individual or community as the use of smaller stones (the ancient form of pixels) was a sign of wealth and additional time and efforts invested in locating, cutting and sorting the stones before use and the care with which the stones were placed. These mosaics told much about the wealthier individuals and community efforts but surprisingly mosaics have been found in modest dwellings of various qualities, which were more often than not rendered by the owner of the dwelling done as a statement of their pride and anyway one did need a floor so why not take the time and tile it artistically. The one thing was that once you laid your floor it would likely remain with the building marking where the building had existed before the walls collapsed. Floors, as any archeologist will tell you, are the one remain of a dwelling which often is all they have to go by as nothing else remains but the floor with time and once covered that floor will remain to be discovered and dated by the level in which it is discovered, the deeper the earlier the floor and the represented dwelling. Indigenous peoples floors either was the bedrock or rested upon that bedrock.

 

The telling thing is as Jewish themed and Judean and Israelite themes have been found throughout all of history in these lands between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea; Christian themes arrived in the middle Roman times while the first mosaics depicting Arab themes were not found until after 700 CE. The arrival of such themes dates to when these cultures appeared just as mosaics depicting Greek scenes predated Roman and Persian predated Greek and Jewish themes predated everyone. The earliest mosaics were universally of Judaic origin with an influence from Egypt and an occasional Minoan influence. Hittite artwork as well as Assyrian and earliest Greek including Philistine artwork had a lesser if any effect on Israelite artwork as these other civilizations sculpted as they were idolaters so stone carving was a prized skill while the Israelites were forbidden from worshiping other gods than Hashem and idolatry was a most serious offense against Torah and Hashem thus stone carvings were less desirable while scenes of Biblical history and nature scenes were appreciated as artwork and were thus not in any manner seen as being idolatrous thus against Torah. This likely explains the Israelite preference for mosaics over other art forms such as sculpted stone.

 

Artwork from Antiquity top Minoan Bull Scene Diddle Depicts Hittite War Chariot and Infantry Judean Lion from comparable Israelite Period

Artwork from Antiquity top Minoan Bull Scene
Diddle Depicts Hittite War Chariot and Infantry
Judean Lion from comparable Israelite Period

 

The final piece of the puzzle can be easily shown by simply looking at a few maps. This first map is of the original twelve tribes of Israel, the lands the Israelites were instructed to conquer and carve out their homelands. These lands were not completely conquered until King David and were superseded with additional conquest by Kings David and Solomon but the additional lands were soon lost and the original Twelve Tribes were to be what was historically considered Israel existed from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea and from the Negev-Sinai (Egypt) border to the Litany River in the north.

 

Here is a map depicting the conquest of the Holy Lands by Joshua as recounted in the books of Joshua and Kings:

 

Cities Conquered by Joshua As Recounted in Kings In the Hebrew Bible The Old Testament

 

This map depicts the original Twelve Tribes of Israel as defined in the Jewish Bible, the Old Testament both in Torah (Five Books of Moses) and later in Kings and Judges.

 

Eretz Yisroel from back in the time immediately after Exodus and before the additional conquest by King David and King Solomon with the original division of the lands between the Tribes covering both sides of the Jordan River. The Israelis and Jews in general could attempt to demand that Eretz Yisroel, the Land of Israel be made whole as was First Apportioned by Hashem.

 

This map depicts the areas conquered by Kings David and Solomon and from which comes the reference to a Greater Israel which defines such as reaching from the Euphrates River to the Nile River. The Jewish State in any of its manifestations never reached the Nile River not even after the Six Day War and not after David and Solomon. The only time the Israelites had anything to do referencing the Nile River was the story of baby Moses and then the Ten Plagues where the plagues refer to the Nile River in numerous plagues of the Ten Plagues from Hashem upon Egypt because Pharaoh had a hard heart and believed not in the supreme powers of Hashem. The use of a Greater Israel as proof that the Jews desire to conquer the world is further nonsense as we would be very content to have exactly what was promised us in the results of the 1920 San Remo Conference plus the Golan Heights as they are required for having a secure border.

 

Eretz Yisroel as formed after the conquests by the Kingdoms of King David and King Solomon; both of whom allowed the Principalities of Edom, Moab and Ammon to be semi-autonomous as long as they and their armies supported Eretz Yisroel

Eretz Yisroel as formed after the conquests by the Kingdoms of King David and King Solomon; both of whom allowed the Principalities of Edom, Moab and Ammon to be semi-autonomous as long as they and their armies supported Eretz Yisroel

 

Below is the promised borders for the State of Israel as determined by San Remo Conference of April 1920, almost twenty years before the holocaust putting to lie that false claim that Israel was established as compensation for the Holocaust as the idea of a Jewish homelands stretches back in modern eras to around 1850 leading to the formation of the Zionist Conference. After World War I as the empires of the Middle East and North Africa along with the Empires within eastern Europe were being broken into smaller and independent States was where Israel was denoted to be formed under the British supervision and presumably with British assistance, hindrance was the only assistance the Jews received from the British once the Mandate plans were placed into effect. Below is the Jewish desire for our homelands including the Golan Heights, Galilee, Negev, Judea, Samaria and we will magnanimously leave Gaza to Hamas and any other Arab Palestinian desiring a homeland in Gaza which was released to Arab Palestinian control where they elected Hamas, and Gaza was the test case for any state of Palestine living beside Israel in peace. We now have our answer from their actions and their words. Their only desire is our death and destruction and we will depart no additional lands to a people so ardently desiring our destruction and wholesale genocidal murders. This is what should be being discussed, how best to care for the interests of those claiming nationality other than Israeli, especially those known to be members of any of the Palestinian Authority (PA) or other terrorist groups sword to the destruction of the Jewish State once the world fulfills their promise to the Jewish People. Here is the map with final comments below.

 

Definitive Map of Israel

 

Definitive Map of Israel

 

The Arabs remaining in Judea and Samaria would necessarily be broken down into five main groups with residing sub-groups under the following criteria:

 

The first group would be known terrorists with blood on their hands whether they be incarcerated or not in restrictive containment facilities. These would be expelled and where they would go is not an Israeli problem. If they have any worthy properties they would receive compensation provided they never return and they should have made clear that any return within Israeli borders will lead to immediate rescinding of any probation and immediate incarceration.

 

The second group would be known ranking officers in the PA and members of any terrorist entity whether aligned with Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood, al-Qaeda, Fatah, PLO, Islamic State, al-Qaeda or any other known terror outfit would be permitted to transfer to Gaza or be expelled as those above with similar compensation for both groups.

 

The third group would be any Arab desiring to reside in Gaza or other nation be it Arab or other as long as that nation would be accepting of these refugees. They would be given transportation and be compensated fairly for any properties they would be unable to take with them.

 

The fourth group would be Arabs desiring to remain living even under Israeli rule but not work towards receiving citizenship at this time. At six months and one year they would be offered the opportunity to leave and seek a new life elsewhere including Gaza. If such decided to depart, they would receive compensation for what they leave behind.

 

The final group is those desiring Israeli citizenship. These individuals would receive free citizenship instructions and be required to pass a test centered on Biblical Israel and the complete history of the Jewish People in both European and Islamic rulers. Further, upon proving to have tested for acceptable level of deep understanding of Israeli and Jewish history, the fact that Jews prize Jerusalem above all else and understand Israeli laws, they would then be permitted to proceed to the rest of their path to citizenship. Such path could take as little as five years and as long as ten years. Failure to attain citizenship would place them in the fourth group and would not require their expulsion.

 

Finally, any act of terror would result in the perpetrator and all family members who were knowledgeable about the act of terror beforehand would be expelled treated as if they were in the first group. If implementing such a plan resulted in some form of migration which shocks the wider world, or simply defined as Israel even defining such a plan, we would like to remind everybody about the migrations of Muslims and Hindus and Buddhists who were massively forced either into Pakistan or leaving Pakistan and these people received little if any support from governments or humanitarian organizations by and large. There was the forced repatriation of Tibetan Buddhists including monks from Tibet to the far corners of China and the forced repopulation of Tibet with poor Chinese farmers without anybody even risking a papercut in order to protest that injustice. There was not even the slightest gasp as hundreds of thousands of Jews forced from their lands by their Arab leaders without even allowed but to carry a single small suitcase. Little was uttered when it was found that Jewish survivors of the death and work camps returned home they were thrust out of their own home city as all their belongings, stores, homes had long since given to others presumably in need making any surviving Jews doubly unwanted as the British were doing almost everything possible preventing Jews from returning to their ancestral homelands. Every day since 1920 and the recognition of a homeland for the Jewish People are established in their historical and documentable homelands the world has been evidently biased and could be said to have actively opposed any form of Jewish State. Fortunately for the Jewish People and people everywhere we have taken possession of our natural neighbors who have thus far proven to be just as approving and so very sweet and loveable as had been our ancient neighbors. The one closing idea all should take from all in this article, we are here and here we will remain as long as we have the breath with which to operate our daily lives. This will in turn assist all as we try to use our land and our gifts of the mind and provide miracles every day, even those that would normally be fatal as we bounce back as if we were professionals, which we are at so many things.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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April 13, 2016

Of Papers and Glass Paperweights and Prices in Stone

 

Often the proof is in ancient writings found imbedded in the clay pottery shards which are on display currently in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem starting Tuesday, April 12, 2016. These are a collection of military orders written in ancient Hebrew dated to the end of the First Temple period which were unearthed in an excavation of a fort in Arad, Israel, and dated to about 600 B.C. shortly before Nebuchadnezzar’s destruction of Jerusalem, and were uncovered in the Negev Desert (see image below). The fact that military orders found were written by multiple individuals has been used, along with biblical writings from the same period, in order to be effective implied that literacy was rather common amongst the area known as Judea. These writings, published Monday in the US Journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, make it possible for the earliest books of the bible to have been written before the exile and during the First Temple period. According to Tel Aviv University archaeology professor Israel Finkelstein, “There’s a heated discussion regarding the timing of the composition of a critical mass of biblical texts.” Finkelstein, who led the team of researchers together with physics professor Eliezer Piasetzky reported, “But to answer this, one must ask a broader question: What were the literacy rates in Judah at the end of the First Temple period? And what were the literacy rates later on, under Persian rule?” The writings were discovered in the ruin of an ancient Judahite military fortress near the Negev city. Such evidence of higher rates of literacy existing throughout the military infers similarly high rates amongst the peoples themselves. Finkelstein, however, said he has long believed those texts were written in the late 7th century BC in Jerusalem, before the siege. He said the study offers support for that theory. “It’s the first time we have something empirical in our hands,” said Finkelstein. It was the fact that these orders were of a nature to have been disseminated through the entire chain of command which can be used to infer high rates of literacy.

 

 

Inscriptions in ancient Hebrew dating back 2,500 years discovered near Arad. (Tel Aviv University/Michael Kordonsky, Israel Antiquities Authority)

Inscriptions in ancient Hebrew dating
back 2,500 years discovered near Arad.
(Tel Aviv University/Michael Kordonsky,
Israel Antiquities Authority)

 

 

Shmuel Ahituv, an Israeli bible scholar who did not participate in the study, also believes literacy in ancient Judah was widespread before 586 BC and that the biblical texts in question were written before the siege of Jerusalem. He said he believes this is apparent through a literary analysis of the biblical texts alone. “I don’t need algorithms,” Ahituv chuckled referring to the algorithms used to reconstruct the missives other than those he had studied.

 

There was an additional discovery this week of the oldest glass manufactory found thusfar in the holy lands. This glass foundry dates back to approximately 400 A.D. The remains of the kiln used to produce large scale glass was discovered as construction of a road being built at the initiative of the Netivei Israel Company as part of the Jezreel Valley Railway Project between Ha-‘Emeril Junction and Yagur Junction. The oldest glass kilns ever discovered in Israel were unearthed at the foot of Mount Carmel near Haifa – exposing an ancient, global glass-production center which serviced the entire Roman Empire (see video below). These kilns are roughly 1,600 years old (dating to the Late Roman period), and indicate that the Land of Israel was one of the foremost centers for glass production in the ancient world. The other main glass producer was near Alexandria, Egypt. Glassworks and glass manufacturing sites had been found previously which dated to the eighth and ninth century which made this find all the more exciting and important as it predates the others by almost five centuries. This validates another find from Rome where a price edict was circulated by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the early fourth century describing and setting the prices for two kinds of glass. The first was known as Judean glass which presumably was manufactured in the Land of Israel while the second was Alexandrian glass from Egypt. Judean glass was a light green color and less expensive than Egyptian glass. What makes this edict so important is that it had been written in stone, well, chiseled in stone and was displayed at glassware shops making for fair trade standardized throughout the Empire.

 

 

 

 

This discovery has attracted glass experts who specialize in ancient glass manufacturing from around the globe who have all come to inspect the find and test the glass which was found amongst the ashes and stones from the hearths. This solves the question as to what glass much glassware was made from as this site was a serious large manufacturing industrial site. It was in these kilns where it was estimated that large glass blocks were produced using sand cleaned and transported from the beaches and salt which would have been melted together at a temperature of approximately 1,200oC in order to make the glass. The glass manufactured here would have had a soft green tint and blocks weighing as much as ten tons per casting. After the kiln had been permitted to cool and the glass removed it would have been broken into more manageable size pieces and carted off to be sold to glassware and other manufacturers where the pieces would be smelted again to form glassware products. Glassware was found throughout the Roman Empire as glassblowing had been discovered as a method for producing glassware on an industrial scale which is what made the need for production facilities such as the one found here and others which have been located dating years later. It is the earlier dating of this site which has sparked so much interest. Below is a picture of samples of the glass embedded in rocks found at the base of the hearth.

 

 

Fragments of glass discovered at the site Photo: Assaf Peretz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority.

Fragments of glass discovered at the site Photo:
Assaf Peretz, courtesy of Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

This glass is another example of what we discussed in yesterday’s article titled Thoughts on the World on This Day where we pointed out that “Israel is still being accused of colonialism by the conquerors of their homeland from in the early seventh century. The Arabs were simply the last of a whole host of colonial enterprises all attempting to dislodge the Jewish People (the Israelites) from their native ground and capital city of Jerusalem.” This glass production site in conjunction with the Roman edict written in stone setting the price of “Judean glass” proves that the area even after the change of the region name still referred to the products as Judean. They did not call it Arab glass or Palestinian glass or any other peoples’ name in the reference; it was Judean glass from Judean manufacturing and proved that the Jews (Israelites) remained and ran a thriving industrial glass production. There have been wine and oil presses found dating to the same time frame and through the years preceding and afterwards all making Judean products. The Roman edict setting the price for Judean glass alongside Alexandrian glass displayed the two main centers for glassmaking which provided the raw glass used throughout the Roman Empire where the first known use of price controls is evidenced in stone and refers to Judea as a glass manufacturing area and the Jews residing in Judea as the makers. Sometimes the proof just pops up and settles things so simply. One might say the answer is as clear as glass, slightly tinted green as was the Judean glass.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

May 29, 2015

Syrian War Winner and Losers

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The Syrian war is about to finally enter its terminal stage. This is not something to be celebrated as there is only one winner and a ton of losers. Without any doubt the largest losers are the Syrian people who now have no country. Syria will be a nation in ruin for as far as the mind can see. Once the Assad government final is completely destroyed and the Alawites have paid the price for the Assad families’ decades of ruthless leadership where millions died just because the Assad family feared they might turn against their governing, then the Syrian fighting will simply be every factions, tribe and even clan contesting land until eternity. The war will rage on ravaging what is already a nation in ruin even further down the scale of civil rule. It is highly likely that Syria will never emerge from the ashes and the Syrian people will inherit a nation at war with itself with no relief from the horrors similarly to what is still ravaging Libya long after their dictator paid the price for his savagery. Bashir al-Assad will probably be more fortunate as he will probably take refuge in Iran, Russia or somewhere in Europe where he and his family will live quietly and under an assumed identity spending what is likely to be billions of Euros they have stashed in numbered Swiss accounts. Some might see this as their having come out as winning but they will also be living that life or relative luxury constantly looking over their shoulder checking for an inevitable assassination of Bashir al-Assad if not a slaughter of his entire family some night when something went bump in the night and their house was transformed into their tomb.

 

There will be numerous leaders of different factions of the groups fighting against Assad who will claim to have won and may even spend a few hours in celebration of the final end of Assad family rule before the next stage of the fighting begins to determine who will be the final winner. Unfortunately for the people of the Arab and soon greater Muslim worlds, when the entirety becomes a contest to determine who gets to form the next Caliphate then everyone loses as the fighting envelops a larger and larger area with numerous factions fighting against each other and eventually factions melding to be stronger and fighting to be the final victor as there can be only one Caliph and soon there may be countless contesters for that throne. This fighting promises to eventually cut the Muslim world into large factions with regular breaking down between allies just making the fighting even more destructive. The initial fighting will continue across Syria, Libya and Iraq for the foreseeable future with a few contesters being the forces to watch. The most obvious element is ISIS which claims to have their tentacles reaching across the different areas where fighting is active, even in Yemen. The news has reported of ISIS factions beheading some twenty Egyptian Coptic Christians which garnered them some attention from Egypt which carried out a series of airstrikes. This provides the simple truth of what it will take for ISIS to actually be capable of successfully claiming the leadership and establishing the next Caliphate, air-power. So far ISIS has not given even a tentative sign that they have any air capabilities. There was mention after ISIS captured an airbase in Syria of their intending to train pilots for the establishing of an ISIS air force. They managed to get a few jets into the sky which were immediately shot down by actual fighters from the Syrian Air Force. The next step was the destruction of every aircraft on the ground by two or three days of airstrikes rendering the airfield useless and destroying every aircraft they could target. So much for an ISIS air force.

 

ISIS will be a terrorist organization, though a powerful one for now, until they somehow manage to garner air-power in the form of aircraft and fully trained pilots to fly them. There will be only one way for this to occur, and that would be for a number of flight squadrons to take to the air and land on an airstrip already within ISIS controlled area bringing as much weaponry for their aircraft as they are able to carry. If such defections are well planned before their execution these pilots and some ground crews for servicing their aircraft, as such will be vital, will also have some cargo aircraft loaded with munitions, spare parts and everything necessary to sustain an active air force no matter how small. Obviously this would require either an entire nation’s air crews or a number of squadrons following suit in rapid succession thus forming not only the beginning core of an air force but instead a complete and functioning air force capable of defending their airfields as well as providing ground support and other missions. Anything less and ISIS will remain a terrorist group even if a powerful terrorist entity, but not yet the nation or even contender for the title of Caliphate. So, who are the real qualifiers for the title of leaders of the Caliphate?

 

Unfortunately ISIS is still the number one contender as they have the appearance as the strong horse with the plans and the fire to get the Caliphate started and lead the fighting forces to eventual victory and the unification of the entirety of the Ummah (Arabic: أمة‎‎). As pointed out, if ISIS is to eventually prove the leadership of the new Caliphate they will require a real air force which has thus far eluded them. That leads us to the more obvious candidates but first let’s list some of the non-state actors who will eventually play a role in the determining the next Caliphate. The first one to come to mind is the father of so many of the Arab and Islamist terrorist and non-state actors across the expanse of the Muslim world, the Muslim Brotherhood. Another entity with the structures in place for making a claim is al-Qaeda. A third would have to be the Taliban though their reach is limited; they do have well trained fighters who are highly motivated. Despite the Muslim Brotherhood, Taliban and al-Qaeda having extensive ties and supporters, they have the same problems as does ISIS, no air power. For this reason, none of these groups have much of a chance of defeating an actual state whose military is well formed and capable of fighting a modern war against what would have to be viewed as a terrorist entity in the eyes of the national leadership and armed forces. The main duty beyond holding the line against the terror entity would be keeping control through the ranks, especially the air force, to prevent defections to the other side, something which occurred with some of the Sunni military and security forces in Iraq and Syria. There were even a few pilots who defected over to ISIS but not in sufficient numbers to even form a single squadron of fighter air corps.

 

There are currently four nations which might be considered capable of eventually forming the next Caliphate if such is what is fated. These are in no particular order, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Egypt. A fifth possible nation would have to be Pakistan if for no other reason than their being a nuclear armed nation. The nations who currently are allied in the fight against the Iranian proxy Houthis fighting for control of Yemen and most importantly, the Bab-el-Mandeb narrows at the southern end of the Red Sea and controlling access from the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden and onto the Arabian Sea and beyond, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This is a perfect alliance as Saudi Arabia has the oil wealth while Egypt has a strong, well-armed and well-trained military which has proven their unity and discipline over the trying period of two changes in governance over the past three years which the military retained its ranks and officer corps and structure throughout. The greatest threat to the Saudi-Egyptian alliance is obviously Iran which could become favored to gain the upper hand in this contest once they attain their own production of nuclear weapons, a structure that is greatly formed already and presumably not producing such weapons due to their negotiating with the P5+1 and possibly fearing actions by the United States should they actually proceed and build a nuclear weapons stockpile. This likely means that Iran is doing exactly that, as they have no respect, let alone fear, of any threat the United States might currently make. Once it becomes obvious that Iran has produced nuclear weapons, it is expected and been confirmed unofficially that Saudi Arabia will be exercising their agreement to purchase, most likely at wholesale, a dozen, or a few dozen, nuclear devices and the delivery system to go with them in the case they are warheads rather than bombs. This would allow for the Saudis to develop, which means build the facilities, their own nuclear program. The Saudi Arabian scientists and necessary technicians are already trained and ready to take up the challenge of producing nuclear weapons as they have received such plans from Pakistan in exchange for their subsidizing the Pakistani drive to produce their own nuclear weapons in response to India having done so. The Saudi access to nuclear weapons production will serve to perpetuate into perpetuity the alliance between Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

 

With the establishment of an alliance between Saudi Arabia and Egypt one side and Iran and whatever remnants of Iraq, Syria and probably Lebanon as ISIS and the other rebel groups who will have brought down Bashir al-Assad will still have numerous scores to settle with Hezballah which any international borders will not be capable of standing in the way preventing this vengeance from being extracted. The above alliance leaves such powers as Turkey and Pakistan on the outside in the cold, so to speak. Pakistan is most likely to remain on the outside simply observing as a mostly disinterested spectator who if forced to choose would most likely ally with the Saudis and company as they have had a mutually advantageous relationship over the decades, despite Pakistan receiving much of their oil from Iran, it is likely that the Saudis could take care of any need in that area. That leaves Turkey to figure on which direction they are most likely to take. The direction Turkey would take depends on who is in power. Currently their leader for as long as most can remember has been Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Should Erdogan remain in power, which way he would choose would be in question. President Erdogan has over the years shown to side with the Iranians, Saudis and even Egypt alternately. Currently there is a significant rift between Turkey and Egypt over the ouster of President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood governance and replacing it with the chosen General of the Army President Sisi. The Turkish government, which is to say Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has held fast demanding that President Sisi step down as President and place Morsi back on his Presidential pedestal along with the entirety of the Muslim Brotherhood government the last elections replaced. As doing so would most definitely lead to the loss of the lives of most of the upper echelons of the Egyptian military, this scenario is highly unlikely. If sentences are to be carried out swiftly there may no longer be a former President Morsi to return to the position as he and hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood leaders have been sentenced to death recently by the Egyptian courts. Meanwhile, Erdogan has alternately shown affinity for Iran though currently has remained surprisingly neutral and silent reserving his vitriol for Israel, always the default position one can take to insulate themselves from outside harms. Determining which direction Turkey might take under Erdogan is a guessing game and probably will remain that way until one side or the other proves the victor and then Erdogan would ingratiate himself to the victor. If he were to choose, he appears to favor Iran possibly due to their presence in Syria and thus along his southern border. Without Erdogan Turkey would naturally side with Saudi Arabia and Egypt as they would no longer be seen as supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

 

The question as to which side would prove victorious between a Saudi Arabian led coalition or Iran is a tougher call. It might all depend on which side was willing to use their ultimate weapon with sufficient deployment so as to end the ability of the other side to resist. Where I have some doubts that the Saudis would be the first to use nuclear weapons in the Middle East, I have no doubts that such would be the primary first strike or response to hostilities in order to simply end any contest and declare their victory. Should such an event ever be presented to the world, their answer should be carefully decided and decisively delivered. Should Iran use nuclear weapons against her adversaries on the Middle East and willingly bring such devastation to fellow Muslims, even if they were predominantly Sunni and not Shiite, then the rest of the world had best believe they would receive nothing less. Should Iran launch such a barrage, it would be surprising if they did not at the same time launch attacks by multiple means on Europe and the United States as well as any other nation they might perceive to be capable of mounting a credible resistance to their eventual world-wide victory. But even Iran does not appear to be quite that ruthless or willing to wreak such devastation on such a scale.

 

Should they prove to be that hardhearted and coldblooded as to end civilization as we know it, then it would prove a suspicion I had way back when a cursory review of the predictions of Nostradamus was in vogue and fascinated one youth after viewing a special on television where they gave lengthy coverage to his future vision of the world falling to a man from the Middle East wearing a blue turban. Despite every publication and prediction claiming that this meant Iraq I held stubbornly to my feelings that it signified Iran, and I do mean stubbornly. Often I was dismissed as a lost cause incapable of listening to reason but I had my faith that Persia would rise again and not Babylonia. Historically the Babylonians surrendered to the Persians almost joyously as their ruler had lost his mind after burning three Israelites (Jews) for not bowing before him and they somehow proved to be fireproof, well, at least for that moment as they cried out to G0d and were saved from a fiery death. This proved a bit much for the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar II who lost his mind unable to believe or understand that such a miracle was possible and that he was not the most powerful even in his own kingdom, his capital city even.

 

As is often the case, the eventual end to this will entail a fair degree of insanity, a touch of the impossible, room for a number of miracles, even more so should Israel somehow become involved. Perhaps this might be the place to end with a final word on the probable path Hezballah may be about to tread. Once the remaining forces, the few, the perplexed, the Syrian remnants; then Hezballah will find themselves pretty much alone as the IRGC forces will stake out a radius around Damascus and wherever else they determine is vital to Iran such as the port where the Russian fleet is docked, Latakia, and perhaps a few places in Lebanon as well. Should Iranian plans not include providing safety for the last remnants of the Syrian military, they certainly will not be protecting Hezballah. The Iranians may well understand that should they not side with the remnants of the defenders of Assad that their retaining the choice areas they believe essential to their requirements will be more readily accepted and produce minimal resistance. That leaves Hezballah pretty much out in the cold and in need of some reinforcement to their devotion to Allah and commitment to the perpetual cause, the eradication of the Zionist entity, Israel. The end result will be the same and Hezballah should prove to be better served for survival by fighting Israel than fighting ISIS. It needs to be remembered that Hezballah, just like ISIS, has no air force. This deficiency will prove fatal for them in either battle, against Israel it is obvious, they will have little recourse against Israeli air power, and against ISIS it places them on an even playing field with ISIS currently being the more motivated and Hezballah having superior training and better knowledge of the terrain as well as having heavily fortified bunker and tunnel system in southern Lebanon, their home turf. Either path will probably be the final battles Hezballah will ever engage in. Even should they start a war with Israel, that does not necessarily rule out a final settling of grievances with ISIS, it would just mean that final reckoning coming after Israel had smashed their bunkers and tunnels and decimated their rocket and other heavy weaponry. Anyway one slices it, there is a better than average probability that we will have seen the last of Hezballah by Summer’s end. That may be the cherry atop the ice cream Sunday and a gift to the civilized world out of the ashes of Syria.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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