Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Papacy shows its true colors


 
Pope Francis Shows His True Colors
By Richard Bennett

In the sixteenth century, the Reformation, through its emphasis on the ultimate authority of the Bible and the Gospel of grace, began to dislodge the Papacy from its position as co-ruler of the Holy Roman Empire.  The truth of Scripture and the Gospel gave men and women the knowledge and courage to stand up against the Inquisition, a system of tortures by which the Papacy had enforced submission to papal dogma.  This enforced submission had given the Papacy the power to wield tremendous influence with the emperor and among the kings of the empire.  Thus Ignatius of Loyola, a contemporary of Martin Luther, founded the Jesuits in 1530 for the very purpose of defending the Papacy from further loss of its power base.  The Jesuits’ objective has always been to increase the temporal power of the Papacy to align with the Roman Catholic dogma that the Pope has the right to judge, “the highest civil office in a state.”[1]  However, since the demise of the Holy Roman Empire in the late eighteenth century, the Papacy has had no civil authority by which to enforce obedience to its moral rulings.

It is a well-established fact that the Jesuits throughout their history have caused many serious disturbances by their nefarious schemes within the civil governments of many countries.  Over the centuries, they have justifiably earned their reputation as troublemakers to the extent that they were denied residence in some nations for varying periods of time.  Nevertheless, their objective of increasing Papal religious and civil power beyond its previous height remains unchanged.  Therefore, in order to move forward the Papacy’s drive for power in the current religious and civil arenas, this Jesuit Pope must efface the historic image of the Jesuit Order.   

Cosmetic Alteration of the Historic Jesuit Image                            
Once Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected, he chose the name Pope Francis in honor of St Francis of Assisi.  St Francis, known to be a softhearted lover of nature, was also known for his humility and gentleness.  Thus, in building an image or persona for himself in the public eye, Pope Francis has shrewdly implied that he would be similarly unassuming, kind, and harmless.  Since there has never been a pope named Francis, the name carries with it no papal baggage.  Immediately following Pope Francis’s election, the media made much of his unassuming nature by showing him paying his own hotel bill for his stay during the enclave.  This was followed with news that he was not going to take up residence in the Vatican’s usual papal apartments, but instead would take a smaller, more humble suite, ostensibly to live a “normal” life in touch with the laity by being visibly among them.[2]  Further, he graciously welcomed back into the Vatican the previous pope, Benedict XVI, who under rumors of unpleasant circumstances, had abruptly resigned.  Was this not the modern St Francis, kindly restoring to the aged and ailing Benedict some remnant of the honor that had so suddenly departed him?  The steady stream of these and other similar public appearances continues to craft the optics into an image for the new pope that is the anti-type of the traditional Jesuit.   

Catholic Dogma Underlying Pope Francis’s Inaugural Address
However, in the very first sentence of his inaugural address on March 19, 2013, Pope Francis presented a feature very different from the persona being carefully groomed by the optics.  Indeed, even as out of the heart the mouth speaks, so the new Jesuit Pope began to display audibly his genuine image.  While thousands of people were crammed into Saint Peter’s Square, and millions across the world listened by television and radio, the new pope stated, “Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry...”[3]  Francis knew the claimed power that is embedded in the term, “Petrine ministry.”  As the official Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “…the Roman Pontiff, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, namely, and as pastor of the entire Church, has full, supreme and universal power over the whole Church, a power which he can always exercise unhindered.”[4]  It is highly significant that Pope Francis began his speech by thanking the Lord that he could celebrate Mass for the inauguration of what he said was “my Petrine ministry.”  His opening sentence shows where his heart is; namely, in himself, in his position, and the power entailed in such a position.  It is this particular idea, i.e., that the Pope is the Apostle Peter’s successor, which has been the undergirding authority for the Papacy’s identity in the world since the time of Pope Gregory VII in the eleventh century.  The nature, indeed, the very identity of the Office of the Papacy of the Roman Catholic Church is at stake.  Thus, the Papacy will concede nothing regarding this claim but rather use it to establish itself as the stable institution in the midst of current tumultuous times.
Accordingly, using this supposition, Pope Francis’s inaugural homily was a masterpiece in showing his Jesuitical disposition.  He opened by saying, “I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph…”  He then stated that God called Joseph—
“to be the custos, the protector.  The protector of whom?  Of Mary and Jesus; but this protection is then extended to the Church… How does Joseph exercise his role as protector?  Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity…”[5]
These are carefully chosen words meant to evoke a certain frame of mind in the listener.  He then makes application:
“Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!  The vocation of being a “protector,” however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone.”

At this point, Francis has introduced major Catholic social doctrine under the guise of “protection;” that it is everybody’s job, not just the Christians’ job, to protect everybody; and also (though not stated here), all goods because all possessions in the creation belong to everyone.[6]  In Catholic social doctrine, everyone, even those who are not Roman Catholic, must fulfill his duty to others as the Roman Catholic Church defines that duty; and this is one of the things to which Pope Francis is referring when he states that there is a “prior dimension” to his idea of protection.[7]  Thus he says,
“Please, I would like to ask all those who have positions of responsibility in economic, political and social life, and all men and women of goodwill: let us be “protectors” of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment…” 

He also states that protection is required because in every age “there are ‘Herods’ who plot death, wreak havoc, and mar the countenance of men and women.”  He does not define the lurking “Herods” more closely; but he does define what he thinks needs protecting.  It is this: 
“To protect Jesus with Mary, to protect the whole of creation, to protect each person, especially the poorest, to protect ourselves: this is a service that the Bishop of Rome is called to carry out.…” 
Clearly Pope Francis does not understand that the glorified Jesus Christ, the “only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords[8] needs no protection!  Then he ignores the biblical commandment not pray to the dead as he closes his homily by praying, “I implore the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Saint Joseph, Saints Peter and Paul, and Saint Francis, that the Holy Spirit may accompany my ministry…”  He has not prayed to Almighty God through Jesus Christ; rather, he has totally disobeyed the Lord God’s commandment in calling on dead saints.[9]   Clearly, Pope Francis does not have any biblical understanding of who the Lord Jesus Christ is nor how He fulfills His role as Head of the Church.[10]

Notice the position to which the Lord Jesus Christ has been relegated in all this.  Rather, by weaving together the choice of papal name with the theme of protection as his opening homily, Pope Francis has made it clear that he intends to protect the Papacy and its social objectives during his term of office.[11]  The fact that he has said it in gentle terms, by calling on the images of Francis of Assisi and Joseph, Mary’s husband, does not make it any less lethal. 
            Thus, it was on day of his inaugural address that Pope Francis began his Pontificate with the mark of a true Jesuit, i.e., primarily defending the Papacy against the Gospel and biblical truth at all costs.  With the very opening of his pontificate, the true image of Francis was brought forth into the light of day by his own words, showing him not as humble and harmless, but as proudly dogmatic and utterly opposed to biblical truth.

The Pope’s Objective Regarding Pagan Religions and Evangelicals
Further, on March 20, 2013, Pope Francis addressed religious leaders across the world.  Among other matters, Francis stated,
“…It is a cause for particular joy to meet today with you, delegates of the Orthodox churches, the Oriental Orthodox churches and ecclesial communities of the West...Together with you I cannot forget how much that Council has meant for the road of ecumenism...For my part, I wish to assure you…of my determination to continue on the path of ecumenical dialogue.  I ask you, dear brothers and sisters, to bring my cordial greeting and the assurance of my remembrance in the Lord Jesus to the churches and Christian communities here represented...  I then greet and cordially thank you all, dear friends belonging to other religious traditions; first of all the Muslims, who worship the one God, living and merciful, and call upon Him in prayer, and all of you.  I really appreciate your presence: in it I see a tangible sign of the will to grow in mutual esteem and cooperation for the common good of humanity.”[12]  

From these remarks, Pope Francis has demonstrated effectively that he will not protect the truth of the Scripture and the Gospel of grace.  He does not believe in the Lord Jesus Christ as revealed in the Bible alone.  It is a well-known fact that Allah, who the Muslims worship, is not the God of the Bible.  Since Pope Francis must know this, his remarks point to his ecumenical objective, a goal to be accomplished by high-powered flattery and false ecumenical dialogue. 



The Pope’s Objective Regarding Nations and Governments
Moreover, two days later on March 22, 2013, Pope Francis spoke to a group of diplomats representing governments that have a relationship to the Vatican.  His speech began with these words:
“Dear Ambassadors, Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you again for all the work that you do, alongside the Secretariat of State, to build peace and construct bridges of friendship and fraternity. Through you, I would like to renew to your Governments my thanks for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of my election, and my heartfelt desire for a fruitful common endeavour.  May Almighty God pour out his gifts on each one of you, on your families and on the peoples that you represent.  Thank you!”[13]

In his address, Pope Francis emphasized the fact that the Pope is known as the “pontiff,” or “a builder of bridges,” and stated, “In this work [with governments], the role of religion is fundamental.”  While few people realize it, the Pope claims the right to judge those who hold highest civil office in a state.  This blending of things civil and religious has been the papal method of operation throughout the centuries.  At the present time, the Roman Church seeks to implement her socialist ideas by using her power as a religious system working through her own status as a civil state.  As a religious system, she is able to command a “fifth column” within many nations.[14]  By her influence as a civil power, Papal Rome is also able to substantially influence civil rulers and civil policy in many nations and international bodies.  The Church of Rome has 179 legal agreements with nations across the world.  These “concordats,” as they are called, guarantee that the Catholic Church has the right to define religion and worship for Catholics within that sovereign nation.  They also secure for the Vatican the right to define doctrine, establish Catholic education, and negotiate laws regarding property, appointing bishops, and Catholic laws of marriage and annulments. 

The Republic of Argentina has had a legal agreement with the Church of Rome since 1957.  Thus, as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in Argentina, he would have known well the benefit that the legal agreement meant to the Roman Church. 
In addressing the diplomats from governments that have a relationship to the Vatican, Pope Francis knew just how important it is to woo civil governments into legal liaison with Papal Rome.  Thus, the new Pope continues the Vatican’s civil/legal relationships with nations across the world in its endeavor to move civil governments to implement its global socialist agenda.

Mother Church Presumed to Bestow Faith and Morality
On April 23, 2013, less affable facets of the namesake of St Francis surfaced again.  In Pope Francis’s sermon for Mass that day, he stated explicitly,
“The reading today makes me think that the missionary expansion of the Church began precisely at a time of persecution, and these Christians went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, and proclaimed the Word. They had this apostolic fervor within them, and that is how the faith spread!...But some in Jerusalem, when they heard this, became nervous and sent Barnabas...he saw that things were going well. And so the Church was a Mother, the Mother of more children, of many children.  It became more and more of a Mother.  A Mother who gives us the faith, a Mother who gives us an identity.  But the Christian identity is not an identity card: Christian identity is belonging to the Church, because all of these belonged to the Church, the Mother ChurchBecause it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church....And the Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity that is not only a seal, it is a belonging.  Identity means belonging… Think of this Mother Church that grows, grows with new children to whom She gives the identity of the faith, because you cannot believe in Jesus without the Church...And let us ask the Lord for this ‘parresia’, this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward!”[15]

Pope Francis’s premise is that one’s identity as a Christian can come only through faith in “Mother Church,” which secondarily also gives them “Jesus.”  In fact, he is teaching official Catholic dogma which states,
“Believing is an ecclesial act.  The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith.  The Church is the mother of all believers.  ‘No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.’”[16] 
These statements are a serious affront to those who recognize them for the falsehoods that they are.  Undoubtedly Pope Francis believes what he has stated.  However, his teaching reflects an old but clever argument aimed at those who do not know their Bibles.  Pope Francis and his Church refuse to believe in the authority of the Bible alone; therefore, they fail to believe that faith alone in the Lord Jesus Christ alone is a gift given by the Lord God Himself through the Holy Spirit, and not by any church.  The object of faith is the Person of Christ Jesus, as Scripture states, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved ...[17]  This faith is God-given, as declared in Scripture by the Apostle Peter, “Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”[18]  Furthermore, this God-given faith comes by hearing the Word of God as is stated, “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.[19]  Nevertheless, Pope Francis stated, “The Mother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity.”  This is traditional Roman Catholic Church teaching.[20]  Thus it is that the Papal Church itself is presented as the only instrumental way of approaching God and of finding salvation. Clearly  To look to a church as the means of conveying Jesus to people rather than looking to Jesus Himself, “the author and finisher of our faith [21] is “another gospel.”  The Lord explicitly declared, “no man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him[22] and “this is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”[23]  Consequently, Pope Francis’s statement thatMother Church that gives us Jesus gives us our identity” is scripturally speaking, “accursed as stated by the Apostle Paul, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” [24]
                       
Conclusion
Pope Francis is both clever and deceitful as he protects his Church against the Scriptures and the Gospel of grace.  He is moving forward with the centuries old papal objective of ruling the world as Vicar of Christ.  Therefore, he continues to set before the world an optical persona of humility and harmlessness while the words from his mouth delineate him as dogmatic and destructive.  In opposition to the Gospel of salvation, Pope Francis talks about salvation gained by trusting in “Mother Church.”  Thus, he presents to the world a so-called spiritual apparatus for the salvation of men that, according to Scripture, neither saves nor sanctifies anyone.  The system over which he presides professes to have all that a church ought to have; yet, it imposes upon people the horrendous deceits documented in this article, which fraudulence the Apostle called, all-deceivableness of unrighteousness.”[25]

The Lord Jesus Christ prayed emphatically the night before He died.  His prayer is answered in the life of every believer who is justified by God’s saving grace alone.  God’s grace is received through faith alone, and the object of that faith is Christ alone.  Christ Jesus prayed, “that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.”[26]  The Lord knew very well those for whom He prayed.  The objects of His prayer were clear to Him.  These believers embrace eternal life as the Holy Spirit regenerates them.  Thus, the foundation for true saving faith is utterly of God.  Those for whom the Lord prayed are “born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”[27]  It is only by the absolute grace of God that you receive the gift of eternal life.  There is, nevertheless, the correlation between your inheritance, the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus, and your duty, which is to obey God.  The greater the gift, the greater is the obligation to express our gratitude in a suitable and becoming manner.  Thus the Word of God instructs us, “whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.”[28] 
The same truth has a grave warning for Pope Francis and all those who believe in the traditions and sacraments of the Roman Catholic Church rather than directly believing on the Lord Himself by the authority of His written Word.  God is the same just and righteous God under the Gospel as He was under the Law in the Old Testament.  He deals with us in love and grace; yet, He in Himself remains “a consuming fire.”[29]  He is the God of strict justice who will avenge Himself on all who have not received the love of the truth, but rather look to a church or some person other than the Lord Jesus Christ alone for life.  The Lord Jesus Christ has lived the perfect life and, willingly of His own volition, has made the faultless, propitiatory sacrifice for sin.  To refuse to believe in Him alone is a critical offense.  When the Lord Jesus dealt with the sincere and devout Pharisees, He gave them a very strong word, “I said therefore unto you, that you shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.”[30]  You may say that you are a good Catholic and that you want to please God in this present life and hope to live with Him forever; that is a noble goal.  You may be as sincere and devout as the Pharisees, but like them, if you personally neglect to believe on Him alone for your salvation, you likewise will die in your sins.

Distinct faith and trust on the Lord Jesus Christ alone is essential and frequently highlighted in Scripture.  “He that believeth on the son hath everlasting life.”[31]  “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself:  he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.”[32]  Thus, it is that you must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, who gives life now, and forever!  This is the living way, the only way to eternal life.  It is spiritual death to attempt to come to God through a so-called “Mother Church.”  The way to the Eternal Father is through the Lord Jesus Christ alone; His death is for us the way to true, eternal life.  Those who receive this eternal life given by Christ are not only redeemed from the empire of death, but they also live and reign with Him as they are sanctified daily through His Word by the Holy Spirit, and by constant fellowship with Him.  Thus, in our beloved Savior, we joyfully praise Him, our everlasting Father, “How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.  They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.  For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light.”[33]  ♦

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[1] In present-day Canon law, the Catholic Church states, “It is the right of the Roman Pontiff himself alone to judge in cases mentioned in Can. 1401:1 those who hold the highest civil office in a state....”  Canon 1405, Sect. 1
[3] www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_omelia-inizio-pontificato_en.html 
[4] Catechism of the Catholic Church, Para 882
[5]www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_omelia-inizio-pontificato_en.html
[6] The Vatican’s official statement regarding possessions;
www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/letters/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_let_20071012_settimane-sociali_en.html
[7] “As citizens of the State, it is their duty to take part in public life in the first person and, with respect for the legitimate autonomies, to cooperate in forming social life correctly, together with all other citizens, in accordance with the competencies of each one and under his or her own autonomous responsibility.”
 www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_omelia-inizio-pontificato_en.html
[8] 1 Timothy 6:15
[9] Deuteronomy 18:10-11
[10] “For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.” Ephesians 5:23
[11] These objectives are listed in the “Compendium of Church Social Doctrine” and in the Vatican Council II documents on ecumenism.
[12] www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-s-address-to-representatives-of-the-churches-ecclesial-communities-and-other-religions
[13] www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/speeches/2013/march/documents/papa-francesco_20130322_corpo-diplomatico_en.html
[14] Radical Islam is doing essentially the same thing today as it demands the right to teach its people their religion, including Sharia Law, within the Western nations – regardless of the fact that Sharia Law contravenes the laws of the sovereign nations in which these Muslims live, even as the Papal socialist agenda contravenes the U. S. Constitution. 
[15] www.vatican.va/holy_father/francesco/homilies/2013/documents/papa-francesco_20130319_omelia-inizio-pontificato_en.html (emphasis not in original)
[16] Catechism of the Catholic Church (Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1997) Para 181
[17] Acts 16:31 Conditional: if his family believed in Christ as he is commanded to do, they too would be saved.
[18] II Peter 1:1 (emphasis added)
[19] Romans 10:17
[20] Catechism, Second Ed., Para 824 “It is in the Church that ‘the fullness of the means of salvation’ has been deposited.  It is in her that ‘by the grace of God we acquire holiness.’”
[21] Hebrews 12:2
[22] John 6:44
[23] John 6:44 and John 6:29
[24] Galatians 1:9
[25] II Thessalonians 2:10
[26] John 17:21
[27] John 1:13
[28] Hebrews 12:28
[29] Hebrews 12:29
[30] John 8:24
[31] John 3:36
[32] I John 5:10
[33] Psalm 36:7-9

Friday, June 21, 2013

Things are escalating quickly to the end

Published time: June 16, 2013 22:02
Edited time: June 18, 2013 10:28
Soldiers of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)
Soldiers of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards (AFP Photo / Atta Kenare)
Iran will deploy 4,000 Revolutionary Guards to Syria to bolster Damascus against a mostly Sunni-led insurgency, media reported. Meanwhile, US F-16s and Patriots will stay in Jordan – speculatively, to help establish a no-fly zone to aid Syrian rebels.
The deployment of the first several-thousand strong military contingent was reported by The Independent on Sunday who quoted Iranian sources tied to the state’s security apparatus. The sources said the move signals Iran’s intention to drastically step up its efforts to preserve the government of President Bashar Assad.

The Islamic Republic’s heightened military commitment could reportedly extend to the opening up of a new “Syrian” front on the Golan Heights against Israel.

Golan Heights have recently become a source of new instability with increasing cross-border fire and Austria withdrawing its peacekeepers from the buffer area after a checking point became the spot of military dispute between and Assad's and opposition's forces.
This stirred concern in the UN with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning the fragile state of no-war between Tel-Aviv and Damascus is at risk.

“The ongoing military activities in the [Golan] area of separation continue to have the potential to escalate tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic and to jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries,” Ban Ki-moon said in a June 13 statement.

Journalists have frequently asked Assad whether he plans to open a resistance front at Golans. The option discussion was brought back to the table after every air strike on the Syrian territory pinned on Israel. Tel-Aviv always stopped short of confirming the strikes but hinted that it would do “whatever it takes” to stop arms supplies to Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if convoys are found going through Syria.

The strikes resonated across the world – and back in February Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council, warned Israel would “regret” them.


…vs. US troops in Jordan?

Reports of Iran’s decision to get directly involved in the Syrian conflict come just days after Israel’s ally, the US, chose to reverse its policy of not providing lethal aid to rebel fighters. The argument the Obama Administration used was that Damascus had crossed a red line by deploying chemical weapons against opposition forces on four separate occasions.
 
Washington’s policy shift has quickly materialized on multiple fronts, some of them also in the press.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced a detachment of F-16s and US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems dispatched to Jordan for the ongoing joint Eager Lion military exercise will remain in the country once the training drills conclude. 

A range of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles (AFP Photo / Str)
A range of Patriot anti-aircraft missiles (AFP Photo / Str)

 
The same day, The Washington Post reported that clandestine bases in Jordan and Turkey would serve as conduits for arms being delivered to the rebel fighters.
 
US military support will thus far be limited to light arms and other munitions, although Washington’s shifting calculus has potentially given a green light to regional Sunni allies to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the Assad opposition.
 
Just one day before the Pentagon announced its intention to leave Patriot missiles and F-16s in Jordan, senior Western diplomats in Turkey announced Washington was mulling the establishment of a no-fly zone, “possibly near the Jordanian border."
 
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that any attempt to impose such a zone would be in clear violation of international law.

Syria vortex: Saudi Arabia, Al-Nusra, Hezbollah

The US, Israel and Iran are not the only actors to have “activated” recently.
On Sunday, the German daily Der Spiegel, citing the German foreign intelligence service, said Saudi Arabia is looking to provide European-made Mistral-class MANPADS – man-portable air-defense systems – to the Syrian opposition.
Notably, on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia condemned the role of another party to the conflict – Hezbollah – announcing that measures would be taken against those loyal to the group who lived in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
 
Hezbollah, the Shia Islamist militant group based out of Lebanon, played an integral part in the recapture of the strategic city of Qusayr last week. Damascus announced its intentions to use the Qusayr victory as a stepping stone to retaking large swaths of the northern city of Aleppo and surrounding provinces. 

A Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla (Reuters / Issam Kobeisi)
A Lebanese Hezbollah guerrilla (Reuters / Issam Kobeisi)

Some 2,000 of Hezbollah’s 65,000 strong force has reportedly been operating in the city since early June. Shortly after these reports emerged, the New York Times rolled out an article saying Israel accelerated  planning for a “shock and awe” campaign to wipe out Hezbollah forces out of Syria.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Hezbollah’s “blatant interference” in the Syrian conflict, a report issued by Intelligence Online in January said that Saudi Arabia was directly responsible for the radical al-Nusra Front’s very existence and operational superiority within the country.  
 
"The Saudi General Intelligence, controlled by Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, exploited its broad calls with Takfiri [atoning] movements in Iraq to help establish al-Nusra Front, a low-profile Takfiri movement," the report stated.
 
"Thanks to funding from the General Intelligence Department and support from the Saudi Intelligence in Lebanon, al-Nusra was able to swiftly arm its forces, and make the Syrian regime suffer painful blows through its expertise in Iraqi bombings," it continued.
 
The Al-Nusra Front, with its alleged Saudi connections, is incidentally the Syrian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq, which aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni dominated regions of Iraq. This brings a strong sectarian smell to the two-year conflict and lifts far above local “anti-government” sentiments.

The increased effectiveness of pro-Assad forces has been met with frustration by prominent Sunni clerics. Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, a prominent Egyptian theologian, called on Sunnis in the region to join the battle against Damascus, asking: “How could 100m Shia [worldwide] defeat 1.7bn [Sunni]?

With the United States, its Sunni allies in the region and Israel all preparing to step up involvement in the Syrian conflict, Iran’s commitment to defend the Assad government is likely just as motivated by self-preservation as Shiite solidarity.

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