ISIS, the Growing Sunni-Shi’a Conflict, and the Second Signpost

For the last week or two, events in Iraq have been bringing us at least a few news stories every day. A recent article I ran across on the ISW website caught my eye and reminded me of something I wrote in Chapter 10 of my book, Daniel Revisited. The topic is the growing Sunni-Shi’a conflict and how it will most likely be the trigger for, and used as an excuse by Iran to begin, the Second Signpost. The Second and Third Signposts (as written about in Daniel Revisited presenting a new interpretation of Daniel 7 and 8) make up essentially one great Sunni-Shia War that is about to erupt. This great war will envelope the Middle East and set the stage geopolitically for the Antichrist to emerge.

On pp. 195-196 I wrote (and here I italicize and bold the relevant text in this post):

“Though Iran has a regular standing army (called the Artesh) of 350,000, I do not believe this force will carry out the invasion. It will most likely be the IRGC that will use its forces to deal with various strategic targets when the invasion begins. I believe the Basij’s potential to overwhelm with its numbers will be behind the bulk of the invasion. The Basij forces are shown on the map in Figure 10-2. As stated before, most estimates place Basij reserves at one to three million. It would be quite an undertaking to call up, say, 1.5 million reserves. To call and recruit a force of 1.5 million will require conditions similar to those during the Iran-Iraq War, i.e. an enemy that is encroaching on Shia Muslim territory. The Iranian regime may take advantage ofsome crisis and argue that it is critical to Shia Islam in order to call up 1.5 million Basij volunteers to go into battle. It is possible that such an opportunity could come about from the current civil war in Syria.”

“The civil war in Syria is already triggering an escalation in hostilities between Sunnis and Shias. But, with mutual Sunni and Shia hostilities generally approaching a boiling point in the Middle East, if it isn’t Syria it may be some other hotspot in the near future that provides the trigger. If all-out war between the two major factions of Islam erupts, this would be consistent with prophecies regarding both the Second and Third Signposts.”

The article I saw on the ISW website is titled, “The Iraqi Shi’a Mobilization to Counter the ISIS Offensive,” and reports about the various efforts by Shi’a Muslims in Iraq and Iran to recruit soldiers and militants to counter ISIS.

One of the more significant events that led us to this current crisis is that ISIS militants easily conquered Mosul in northern Iraq because 30,000 Iraqi soldiers abandoned their posts. It is a case in point that religious fanaticism is a better motivator than nationalism. The ongoing civil war in Syria has been essentially a sectarian Sunni-Shi’a conflict. Now it has spilled over into Iraq because of ISIS, and has picked up intensity.

One cause of the increased intensity is a target that has not been on the radar in several years and has become a rally point for Shi’a militancy. ISIS took Tikrit on June 11. Tikrit is the town Saddam Hussein came from, and is 140 km (85 mi) north by northwest of Baghdad. Lying just 40 km south of Tikrit and 100 km north of Baghdad is the city of Samarra. Samarra has one of the holiest sites in all of Shi’a Islam – the al-Aksari mosque. It is the resting place for Shi’a Islam’s tenth and eleventh imams. The eleventh, Hasan al-Askari, is the father of who Shi’a Muslims consider is to be the twelfth imam, i.e. al-Mahdi, i.e. the Antichrist to come. The mosque also holds the remains of the twelfth imam’s mother, Narjis Khatun. How appropriate that the Signposts to come that involve the emergence of the Antichrist involve the mosque where Muslims believe his parents are buried?

To get a sense of how important that spot is to Shi’a Muslims, al-Qaeda bombed the mosque back in 2006, touching off a pseudo civil war in Iraq that lasted one year and killed thousands. But that was with the American army present. The American army is now gone.

So there is now a rising tide of Shi’a militancy and fanaticism. It is driven both by the threat of ISIS to Baghdad and to Shi’a territory south of Baghdad, and to the al-Aksari mosque. The ISW article states, “Iraq’s Shi’a are mobilizing against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS),” and, “Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq’s preeminent Shi’a religious figure called on Iraqis to ‘volunteer’ in part to protect such shrines.” Also, “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited Samarra and thereby signaled to the Iraqi Shi’a that protecting Samarra is a priority for the Iraqi government forces.”

The article continues (with italicizing mine),

“The Iraqi Shi’a are not waiting for the ISIS threat to develop further nor are they waiting for the national government to organize a coherent defense against the ISIS threat. They are actively seeking to provide protection for themselves, their shrines, and predominantly Iraqi Shi’a areas. Violence perpetrated by Iraqi Shi’a militias will increase if shrines are attacked.”

This hearkens back to the text in Daniel Revisited quoted at the start of this post where a cause for Iran to call up its Basij is due to “an enemy that is encroaching on Shia Muslim territory.”

Even the head cleric of the ISCI, Ammar al-Hakim, showed up in military dress to encourage volunteers and the ISF, as shown in the photo.  Photo is from the ISCI Website.

Ammar al-Hakim greets ISF members

Additionally, the article on the ISW site goes on to say, “Reports of possible Iranian soldiers on Iraqi territory are very concerning…”

The reports of Iranian soldiers in Iraq are not a surprise, as the Second Signpost looms. Here is a news story telling of 2,000 Basiji that crossed over the Iraqi border just east of Samarra.

The ISW article continues, “Therefore, there is currently a coordinated ISF, Iraqi Shi’a militia, and Iranian effort.”

So there you have it. The ISF (Iraqi Security Forces), Iraqi Shi’a, and the Iranians are all in this together. If the battle for Samarra or a battle for Baghdad drags on or goes into stalemate, this could set the stage for Iran’s calling up the bulk of its Basij force as it readies for the day of the start of the Second Signpost. This situation with ISIS could give the Ayatollahs in Iran the fuel to fire up the Basij volunteers.

Categories: In The News, Signpost #2: Iran

6 replies

  1. And a stalemate may be reached soon, Mark. Why? Ramadan starts June 28 and last for one month. Then what? I’ll be watching…

  2. What are the basij again? I lent the book out to someone else…

  3. Hi Giles,
    Good question. The Basij is one of the five branches of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). It is the volunteer/paramilitary branch which provides a pool of manpower from which to draft recruits for the other four IRGC branches (army, navy, rocket force, and Quds Force). And the Basij is what we saw in the 1980’s pouring over the border with Iraq in the Iran-Iraq War, by the 100,000’s. The Basij is also the religious police domestically.

  4. well, i think it could play out in one of two ways. .
    1) a conventional invasion, like the invasion of Iraq in 2003 – tanks, aircraft, etc.
    2) “volunteers”…..similar to the 100,000 Chinese “volunteers” crossing the Korean border during the Korean war.

  5. I believe it will be both, Giles. Just because the Artesh wouldn’t be involved doesn’t mean there won’t be the standard invasion. The IRGC (Pasdaren) has its own army with armored divisions and its own aerospace force. The Basij I believe would just be the million or so boots on the ground running around filling in the gaps.

  6. Hi Mark as you are aware, the book of Daniel says the ram charges out from Susa which is where Iran starts their attack from-
    I Believe Susa is a little south of Samarra, but as good place for Iran to stage an attack from as any. If Iran does throw its hand into the fray- right now they seem to be just organizing Shia Iraqis into an army.
    I will be paying especially close attention to where they start their attack from if Iran does attack at this time – It may reveal a lot about where we are at- in the prophetic timeline.
    As a westerner who is dependent upon Middle Eastern Oil, I am most concerned that Isis doesn’t turn their sword against the remaining Oil fields of Iraq or target the large fields right next door in Kuwait- Since they have already proven that they don’t have a problem burning oil fields and that area is full of them.
    The news tonight showed John Kerry was basically snubbed by Maliki and his government- and since Maliki has demanded in the past that the USA Get out of his country, I don’t expect to see much western influence coming to Maliki’s aid. I would suspect that this could turn into a powder keg very- very soon. These are perilous times that we live in.

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