Looking Back (2023) & Ahead (2024) in the Mideast Part 1: Looking Back at 2023

on Thursday, December 28, 2023 by

Wow, 2023, what an explosive year! Multiple prophetic precursors happened, especially in the Middle East. Part one will revisit several significant episodes that DID HAPPEN in the Mideast in 2023 and part two will identify some epic events that COULD HAPPEN there in 2024.

Episodes that DID HAPPEN in 2023

Iran: In 2023 Iran greatly enhanced its military capabilities, nuclear program and proxy relationships with Syria, Hezbollah, Hamas, Houthis, Shiite militias in Iraq and Palestinian Islamic Jihad within the Gaza and West Bank. Additionally, Iran strengthened its national ties with Russia, Turkey and China and rekindled its foreign relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E.

Iran’s Military Advances in 2023:

In February Iran unveiled its underground air base for fighter jets called, “The Eagle 44.” The strategic location of this heavily fortified facility is in western Iran, just slightly northeast of the Strait of Hormuz. On several past occasions, Iran has pledged to shut down this Strait if it comes under attack, which makes this a strategic location for this air base.

Iran continued to manufacture hundreds of attack drones and has supplied them to some of their proxies as well as Russia.

“Iran mobilizes proxies for drone war on US and Israel” (JP – 10/20/23)

Russia is seeking more attack drones from Iran after depleting stockpile, White House says(PBS – 5/15/23)

In November Iran introduced a hypersonic ballistic missile that can supposedly evade and destroy missile defense systems, change trajectory in midflight, potentially carry a nuclear warhead, travel five times the speed of sound and can reach Israel in 400 seconds, which is 6.66 minutes.

“’400 seconds’ to Tel Aviv: Iranian media publishes Hebrew hypersonic missile threat (JP – 11/14/23)

Iran’s Nuclear Advances in 2023:

In September Iran barred the IAEA from further inspections of its nuclear program. By October 1st, Iran was reportedly only two weeks away from having sufficient fissile materials for a nuclear bomb. On a side note, a week later Iran’s proxy Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th.

Iran can produce fissile material for nuclear bomb within 2 weeks (JP – 10/1/23)

In November Iran had increased its stockpile of enriched uranium to 22 times the limit allowed by the JCPOA agreement of 2015. As of October 28, Iran had an estimated 283 pounds of uranium enriched up to 60% purity. Uranium enriched at 60% purity is just a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90%.

In the absence of further IAEA nuclear inspections and hiding behind the diversion of the Israel vs. Hamas war, some experts estimate that by now, Iran could have approximately five implosion-ready nuclear weapons in their arsenal.[i]

Iran’s Proxy Advances in 2023:

At various times throughout 2023, Iran continued to transfer more precision-guided missiles to Hezbollah. These missiles are thought to be able to strike anywhere in Israel with pinpoint accuracy. In 2023 Iran’s proxy, the Houthis, also declared they had received precision-guided missiles from Iran and issued threats that they might use them to strike Tel Aviv.

In August Iran was reportedly involved in transporting chemical weapons from Syria into Hezbollah’s hands. According to an NPR report from February 2019, Syria had used chemical weapons over 300 times against the rebels during the Syrian revolution.

To prevent the steady flow of Iranian weapons through Syria into Hezbollah’s arsenal, Israel has conducted air strikes into Syria an estimated 25 times throughout 2023.

Iran Strengthened National Ties with Russia, Turkey and China in 2023:

For several years and continuing in 2023, Iran has met with representatives from Russia, Turkey and Syria to discuss the post-revolution future of Syria. Also, in February of 2023, Tehran and Moscow reportedly planned to build a factory in Russia to produce some 6,000 drones.

Russia, Syria, Turkey and Iran to hold talks in Astana on June 21 (Reuters 6/14/2023)

In March, long-time Mideast rivals Iran and Saudi Arabia met in China and agreed to restore national relations that had been cut off since 2016.

Iran’s Restored Relations with Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. in 2023:

In addition to the raproachment deal made between Iran and Saudi Arabia in China, both Saudi Arabia and the U.A.E. rekindled relations with Iran. In September the Saudis sent their first ambassador to Iran since the resumption of their diplomatic relations were brokered through China.

In October, Iran sent a parliament member to Abu Dhabi for a two-day visit to speak with UAE leaders about trade and regional security matters.

Iran’s parliament speaker visits UAE, meets MBZ as detente continues (Al-Monitor – 10/6/23)

Summary of Iran’s Activities in 2023:

In light of the developments presented above and the assessments about to follow involving Hamas, Hezbollah, Houthis and Shiite militias in Iraq, it’s my analysis that as of October 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel, Iran has likely begun a proxy war that is intended to wipe the Jewish state off of the map. It appears to be multi-faceted, multi-layered and intentionally designed to draw Israel into a massive multi-front war on all sides.

The potential strategies that Iran might be employing in this well-planned offensive will be discussed in the “Looking Ahead (2024) Part 2” article. The war efforts appear to already be involving Hamas on a major level, the Houthis to a lesser degree and Hezbollah, Syria and Shiite militias in Iraq on more minor scales.

Hamas in Gaza in 2023: This past year Hamas launched over 10,000 missiles into Israel. Between October 7th to November 10th, reportedly 9500 missiles alone were part of this tally. Estimates are that about 900 of these actually fell in Gaza.[ii]

On October 7, 2023, Hamas attacked Israel and massacred approximately 1200 people and captured 240 hostages taken into Gaza. This tragic event is being considered Israel’s 9/11. On that infamous day, I was scheduled to speak at “The Imminent Return Prophecy Summit,” hosted by Prophecy Watchers in Norman, Oklahoma. That morning at about 3:00 a.m., I was awoken from a dead sleep by an alarming phone call from a close associate in attendance.

He stated that “Hamas had lobbed 5000 rockets into Israel!”  My response was, “Go back to bed, Hezbollah is capable of launching that many missiles in one day, but it’s not likely Hamas can. Let’s go back to sleep and see what’s reported in the news when we wake up.”

Sure enough, Hamas claimed to have launched 5000 rockets into Israel. Although the totals turned out to be exaggerated and more like 3000, nevertheless the war between Israel and Hamas was underway.

Immediately, after realizing this tragedy had happened, I checked my texts and emails and discovered that Prophecy Watchers wanted to call a special morning session at the conference with guest speaker Bill Koenig and me, to be hosted by Mondo Gonzales. The auditorium was packed with 1200 people and thousands of live streamers were watching. You can watch this session at this footnoted link.[iii]

In that session, I stated, “If Israel doesn’t get drawn into a full-blown war with Iran and its proxies, the IDF will destroy the Hamas and blow up Gaza to smithereens.”

Thus far, this has mostly been the case. However, I plan to point out in the “Looking Ahead (2024) Part 2” article, that it’s likely this Hamas war will escalate into a massive confrontation between Israel and Iran and its proxies. If this is the case, then several biblical prophecies could find fulfillment.

Thus far, Iran has not taken responsibility for Hamas’s actions in its war with Israel. However, some experts believe that the Hamas assault upon Israel was orchestrated beyond their planning and military skill capabilities and had to have been planned out by Iran. The headlines below strongly suggest that Hamas acted under the commands and supervision of Iran.

Hamas Fighters Trained in Iran Before Oct. 7 Attacks

Roughly 500 Palestinian militants got specialized combat instruction at Iranian facilities as recently as September… In the weeks leading up to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel, hundreds of the Palestinian Islamist militant group’s fighters received specialized combat training in Iran, according to people familiar with intelligence related to the assault.” (WSJ – 10/25/23)

Top Iran, Hamas officials met 4 times in 2023 prior to October 7 attack – intel” (JP – 10/29/23)

In retaliation, on the evening of 27 October 2023, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched a large-scale invasion inside the Gaza Strip, with the stated goal of destroying Hamas.

Houthis in Yemen in 2023:  At the tail end of 2023 we find the Houthis are aligning with Hamas in their war with Israel. On Christmas day, when American children were opening presents under their trees, the Houthis began training 20,000 troops, including children, to join in this war.

Houthis To Join Hamas In Gaza? Yemeni Group Trains 20,000 Troops To Fight Israel (Hindustan Times – 12/25/23)

Additionally the Houthis are attacking merchant ships in the Red Sea, which has had an adverse effect on global economies. Approximately 12% of Oil, natural gas, grain and everything from toys to electronics typically travel through the waterway separating Africa and the Arabian Peninsula en route to the Suez Canal. This is causing some of the world’s largest container shipping companies and oil giant BP to send vessels on longer journeys that bypass the Red Sea.

Houthi attacks on commercial ships have upended global trade in vital Red Sea corridor (AP – 12/18/23)

Using a variation of plausible deniability, Iran acts as if they are not commanding the aggressions against Israel by either Hamas or the Houthis.

Iran denies helping Houthis plan attacks on Israel-linked ships (Reuters – 12/23/23)

Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2023: Hezbollah can be considered as Iran’s most armed and dangerous proxy. They represent a mighty fighting force on Israel’s northern border. The Haaretz headline below points this out.

150,000 Missiles Aimed at Israel: How Far Does Hezbollah’s Deadly Arsenal Reach?

Hezbollah has rockets and long-range missiles that reach deep inside Israel, an extensive air-defense system, and a commando force, according to the latest known assessments.” (Haaretz – 10/23/23)

Thus far at the tail end of 2023, Hezbollah has only been testing the waters by conducting skirmishes with Israel. According to the Times of Israel on November 20, 2023, “Hezbollah has fired more than 1,000 rockets, mortars, missiles, and drones at Israel since October 8 (2023).”[iv]

These are meager missile totals in comparison to Hezbollah’s overall firepower. Hezbollah has yet to engage in an all-out confrontation with Israel like in the 34-day summer conflict of 2006, at which time they shot approximately 4000 rockets into Israel. However, in 2024 we might see them attack Israel in an all-out and ALL-IN war, like their counterpart Hamas did in 2023.

I think it’s safe to suggest that Hezbollah has apparently been instructed to simply spar with the IDF until Iran commands them to launch a full-scale attack against Israel. Although they have lethal precision-guided missiles that can hit targets anywhere in Israel with pinpoint accuracy, they have opted thus far only to shoot expendable missiles into strategic locations mostly within northern Israel.

Many of these missiles have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome system, while others have fallen indiscriminately in open fields causing limited property damage and minimal civilian harm. This implies that Hezbollah is purposely playing it safe so far in 2023.

It seems that Hezbollah’s role in this initial stage of Iran’s Proxy war with Israel, is to accomplish the following:

  1. 1. Spread the IDF thin by diverting troops and important military resources to the north of Israel and away from the Gaza war campaign to the southwest.
  2. 2. Deplete some of Israel’s missile defense systems, namely the Iron Dome, which will limit Israel’s ability to wage and win a full-scale war with Iran, Hezbollah and Syria in 2024.
  3. 3. Create danger, chaos and hysteria among the civilians living in northern Israel, forcing these Israelis to evacuate their homes and towns, which:
  4. a.    Renders them unavailable as combatants, should Hezbollah initiate a ground war with hand-to-hand and house-to-house fighting,
  5. b.    Makes them a refugee burden on the Israeli government and society,
  6. c.    all tourism in northern Israel devastating the economy.
  7. 7. Provides more time for the international community, and the Muslim nations within it, to further unite in a propaganda media war against Israel for killing thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
  8. 8. Gives Iran more time to arm their hypersonic ballistic missiles with nuclear weapons that are explicitly intended to wipe the Jewish state off of the map.

Hezbollah’s Strategy Sets the Stage for 2024

More about Hezbollah’s 2023 strategy will be said in the 2024 section of this article, but something profound should be noted at this point.

  1. 1. Iran has long been preparing Hezbollah and their proxies for such a war time as this.
  2. 2. Iran and Hezbollah are aware of, and believe all of the goals stated above, will be successfully accomplished.
  3. 3. Lastly, ISRAEL is also AWARE and PREPARED for this! Don’t be surprised if Israel pre-emptively attacks Hezbollah in 2024!

Shiite Militias in Iraq in 2023: These militias are another important component of Iran’s proxy army. Iran has been using them to bomb US military installations inside Iraq. American troops are stationed there at the invitation of Iraq. US military officials have counted over 100 militia attacks against its troops in Iraq and Syria since the Hamas vs Israel war.

These militias have stepped up their attacks to reach beyond the borders of Iraq to hurt Israeli economic interests in the Mediterranean Sea.

Iran-backed militias in Iraq claim to have targeted Israeli gas rig in Mediterranean (Times of Israel – 12/22/23)

Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia in 2023: Egypt and Jordan, both possessing respective treaties with Israel, have opposed Israel and supported Hamas in this conflict. They want Israel to stop fighting in Gaza for fear that it will spread into a wider conflict and force Palestinian refugees to flee into their countries. Both nations refuse to receive these refugees into their lands and consider such actions as a declaration of war by Israel.

Egypt and Jordan Condemn Israeli Response to Hamas Massacre (FDD – 10/21/23)

Saudi Arabia is in the same camp with Egypt and Jordan when it comes to condemning Israel and supporting Hamas.

Saudi-hosted summit condemns Israel as Iran leader pays rare visit (CNN – 11/11/23)

Israel and America in 2023:

Benjamin Netanyahu assumed his role as Prime Minister of Israel on 12/29/22. From that point forward his right-wing coalition spent much of 2023 governing over a divided country. Governmental attempts to make sweeping judicial reforms prompted significant protests throughout Israel. However, since October 7th, these protests for this purpose have ceased as the nation has shifted its focus to the war with Hamas.

Also, Netanyahu was promoting the possibility that Saudi Arabia might normalize relations with Israel. This was a long shot from the beginning because the Saudis continued to condition for a two-state solution, which Netanyahu opposes. Presently, talks of Israel and Saudi normalizing national relations are non-existent.

In America the relations between President Biden and Netanyahu got off to a rough start. Biden was not in favor of the judicial reform movement and was quite vocal about this. Also, Biden did not extend an invitation to Netanyahu to visit the White House.

Adding cold to the thaw in their relationship, Biden continued to push hard for the two-state solution. Even in the midst of the Israel vs Hamas war, Biden still attempts to force this issue and at a time when Netanyahu vehemently opposes this prospect.

Exclusive: Biden says Bibi shouldn’t rush “divisive” judicial overhaul bill amid threats (Axios – 7/23/23)

Biden won’t commit to inviting Netanyahu to White House (The Hill – 7/9/23)

Biden: Israel-Hamas war must end with vision for a ‘two-state solution’” (CNBC – 10/25/23)

As the 2023 progressed Biden started to promote the normalization relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Biden still holds hopes to accomplish this even though the war has nullified any potential for this to happen.

US delegation heading to Saudi Arabia amid Biden normalization push(Times of Israel – 9/13/23)

U.S. Continues Push for Saudi-Israel Ties Even as War With Hamas Begins(NYT – 10/18/23)

As 2023 ends, America finds itself being drawn into the Mideast conflict by Iran’s proxies the Houthis and Shiite Militias in Iraq.

U.S. shoots down 12 suicide drones, three anti-ship ballistic missiles and two land attack cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed rebels in southern Red Sea over 10-hour period (Daily Mail – 12/26/23)

Stay tuned for part two of this article… “Looking Ahead (2024)”

BREAKING NEWS: Gallant warns war could take years; says Israel targeted on 7 fronts, has hit back on 6 (Times of Israel – 12/26/23)

[i] Read Iran Watch article at https://www.iranwatch.org/our-publications/articles-reports/irans-nuclear-timetable-weapon-potential

[ii] Hamas rocket totals come from this weblink – https://www.jpost.com/arab-israeli-conflict/gaza-news/article-772518

[iii] Salus/Koenig show link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQk2RZXEUYg&t=273s

[iv] Times of Israel taken on 12/21/23 from this weblink – https://www.timesofisrael.com/idf-base-in-north-damaged-by-rocket-fire-military-hits-hezbollah-targets-in-lebanon/


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