Iraq, Saudi and the new ‘Caliph’

We are committed to praying each Sunday, with Christians around the world, for Iraq. The rise of the new ‘caliph’ in Iraq has implications for other nations in the region.

Though not firing weapons, Saudi Arabia joins the region as one of the many anxious Middle Eastern countries.

A new warlord is in the region, and he’s calling himself the caliph. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi says he’s the “leader for Muslims everywhere.” He proclaimed his eminent status in a recorded announcement in July.

Al-Baghdadi now goes by “Caliph Ibrahim,” presumably to draw on the biblical Abraham. Muslims refer to him as the patriarch of Islam. Slightly less revered to them than their patriarch Abraham is their prophet Mohammed. The Sunni-Shia split occurred after Mohammed died without naming a successor, or “caliph.” The two branches of Islam formed after disagreement on who was fit to take the job. This has defined the battling sides ever since. Now “Caliph Ibrahim” is using wordplay and trying to unify terrorist groups to prove his legitimacy as caliphate.

A true caliph carries authority, as dictated in Sharia law, to declare jihad in which Muslims worldwide must participate. Many have tried to fit into caliph shoes in the last millennium, but none succeeded. Some Muslims consider it an empty title that extremists sometimes claim.

Saudi Arabia’s apprehension over emerging extremist “caliph” al-Baghdadi is valid. It is also understandable that they are concerned with the threat from radical Sunni militants. The Saudis overcame an al-Qaeda insurgency in their own homeland nearly a decade ago. Islamic State (IS), formerly known as ISIS, is straddling the border of Iraq and Syria. It is clear that the contemporary insurgency acts as a dangerously evil mutation of the Taliban that Saudi Arabia once battled.

As regional superpower, Saudi Arabia shares a 500-mile desert border with Iraq. This is where IS seized towns and cities in a swift and brutal takeover in June. IS may become a threat to Saudi Arabia, a Sunni state. This fuels the potential alliance Saudi Arabia may forge with Iran, a Shia state. Iran also vies for regional power.

Whether regional unity resolves the IS takeover, hope lingers for the reconciliation of Iran and Saudi Arabia.

  • PRAY for the King Abdullah to seek God’s wisdom during this time of political and military uncertainty (The Bible, 2 Chronicles 10:1-12).
  • PRAY that peace and cooperation will unfold between Saudi Arabia and Iran. Pray this peace spills over to the region (The Bible, 1 Timothy 2:1-3).
  • PRAY that the “caliph” and other regional leaders recognize King Jesus as their Lord and Savior (The Bible, Revelation 1:4-5).

Source: Window International Network

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