Category Archives: United Nations


BLOG 558

March 21, 2022


Having traveled and worked in the Middle East since l968, Robert L. Wise has journeyed through the region, giving him insights from behind the scenes. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon. Each week he attempts to present an objective view of current events.


Part 3

The world continues to be  horrified by Russia’s unprovoked  and brutal attack on Ukraine. Certainly, this is true in the Middle East. In addition, to what you’ve seen in the media, here is what is being reported in that part of the world.

British Chief of Defense Intelligence Lt. Gen. Jim Hockenhull stated Russian forces have changed their approach after failing to take major Ukrainian cities during the three-week invasion. He said that the battle of attrition “will involve the reckless and indiscriminate use of firepower. This will result in increased civilian casualties, destruction of Ukrainian infrastructure and intensify the humanitarian crisis.”

Western officials say Russian forces have enough artillery ammunition to keep up the bombardments for weeks or even longer. Despite the fact that there have been thousands of Ukrainian civilian casualties, Russia denies targeting civilians during what it calls a special military operation in Ukraine.

The UN migration agency estimates that nearly 6.5 million people have now been displaced inside Ukraine, on top of the 3.2 million refugees who have already fled the country.

Also on Friday the head of the Russian delegation in talks with Ukrainian officials claimed the parties have come closer to an agreement on a neutral status for Ukraine. Of course, no one believes or trusts Russian declarations with their constant “dis-information” campaigns.

Putin insisted Russian forces were doing “everything possible” not to target civilians, though action on the ground such as a strike on a theater sheltering civilians in the besieged city of Mariupol belies this claim.

Authorities in Kyiv reported one person was killed when a Russian rocket struck residential tower blocks in the capital’s northwestern suburbs, and a school and playground were also hit. A body lay under a sheet, near a huge crater, after the blast blew out every one of the school’s windows.

Fourteen-year-old Anna-Maria Romanchuk’s lip trembled after the missile exploded outside her school, the Gymnasium No. 34 Lydia. “Scary,” she lamented in halting English, her face pale with shock as her mother comforted her. “I just hope that everything will be OK.”

Ukraine feared the biggest single toll yet from Russia’s invasion in the port city of Mariupol, after the Drama Theater was bombed on Wednesday despite signs proclaiming that children were sheltering there. Officials said that up to 1,000 people may have been taking refuge in a bomb shelter underneath the theatre. At least 130 were rescued safely by Friday evening, but the fate of the rest was not yet clear.

Russian missiles struck an aircraft repair site close to Lviv’s airport in Ukraine’s far west, extending the war to a relatively unscathed region near the border with NATO member Poland.

Putin meanwhile held a triumphalist rally in Moscow about capturing the Crimea despite signs that his ground offensive is failing. He even quoted a biblical saying of Jesus to rally his captive audience.  A sign that he must becoming somewhat desperate.

Western governments have condemned Putin’s vision for peace. In Odesa, on the Black Sea, civilians are braced for attack, with tanks deployed at road junctions and monuments covered in sandbags.

“Our beautiful Odessa,” exclaimed Lyudmila, an elderly woman wearing bright lipstick, as she looked forlornly at her city’s empty, barricaded streets. “But thank God we are holding on! Everyone is holding on!”

From a Middle Eastern perspective, the situation is not good.

I have new books coming out!


by Robert L. Wise

You can obtain a copy through Amazon.

 This compilation of miracle stories will inspire, challenge, and give you new insight into divine interventions.

Order today!

MAN ON FIRE can be ordered on Amazon or at your local book store. 

MAN ON FIRE can be ordered on Amazon or at your local book store. 
I hope you’ll avail yourself of this inspiring story!
Also these fine books are available now:
I Marched with Patton: A Firsthand Account of World War II
Alongside One of the U.S. Army’s Greatest Generals!
by Frank Sisson (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)
You can find I MARCHED WITH PATTON on Amazon.

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable
Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!
You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.
by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

82 Days on Okinawa: One American’s Unforgettable

Firsthand Account of the Pacific War’s Greatest Battle!

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA on Amazon.

by Art Shaw (Author), Robert L. Wise (Author)

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Filed under Russia, The Middle East, Ukraine, United Nations, War


BLOG 488

October 5, 2020


Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


Part 2

In my last blog, I described some of the tension brewing in Lebanon and Gaza that could have a future impact on Israel and the Middle East. My suggestion was that we must always keep an eye open for what is happening behind the scenes. Sometimes it’s good; sometimes it’s not. This just released news story from Iran makes the point.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards on Sunday unveiled a new naval ballistic missile with a potential range of over 700 kilometers (430 miles), local media reported, following months of tensions with arch-enemy the United States. According to Tasnim news agency, the missile, dubbed “Zolfaghar Basir”, is the naval variant of the surface-to-surface Zolfaghar ballistic missile. Its range is more than twice that of the Islamic republic’s other naval missiles, including the “Hormuz-2”, with a range of 300 kilometers, which Tehran said it successfully tested in March 2017.  Images published by Tasnim showed the Zolfaghar Basir installed on a launcher truck during the Tasnim did not specify whether or not the new missile has been tested yet.

inauguration of Tehran’s National Aerospace Park on Sunday.

 “This exhibition shows the comprehensive plan of the deterrent power of the (Islamic republic’s) system,” Guards commander Major General Hossein Salami said at the inauguration, according to Tasnim.  Iran’s Guards used the Zolfaghar in 2017 and 2018 against the Islamic State group in Syria in retaliation for terrorist attacks carried out in the country. The missile was also used in January to target bases in Iraq housing US troops, according to IRNA news agency, days after the US killed Iran’s top general Qasem Soleimani in a drone strike in Baghdad.

The unveiling of the Zolfaghar Basir comes more than a week after an American aircraft carrier crossed the strategic Strait of Hormuz, and days after the Guards opened a new naval base near the waterway, through which a fifth of the world’s oil passes. The vital shipping lane and nearby Gulf waters were the scenes of heightened US-Iranian tensions late last year when ships were mysteriously attacked, drones downed and oil tankers seized.

Tensions have soared between Washington and Tehran under US President Donald Trump, who pulled out of a landmark 2015 nuclear accord and unilaterally reimposed sanctions on Iran. The arch-enemies have twice come to the brink of direct confrontation since June 2019.

Washington suffered a setback in mid-August when it failed to win support from the United Nation’s Security Council to extend an arms embargo against Tehran that will progressively expire starting on October 18.

Saudi Arabia won’t be happy with this development. Other Middle Eastern countries will feel the same way. Israel will be watching with a a finger on the trigger.

Harper-Collins Publishers
Col. Art Shaw & Robert L. Wise

You can find 82 DAYS ON OKINAWA at your local book store or on Amazon.

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Filed under Gaza, Iran, Israel, The Middle East, United Nations, United States History


BLOG 460
February 17, 2020



Each week Robert L. Wise, Ph.D., explores the Middle Eastern situation, ranging from Egypt through Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Israel and the surrounding area. Wise first traveled to Israel and the neighboring countries in 1968. Two of his sons taught in Jordan and Lebanon universities. Wise presents an objective view of the behind the scenes situation in these countries.


If you caught this story on your media, you know that Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, submitted a Peace Plan for the Middle East to the Palestinians. The response has been interesting although predictable. Here’s an update.

Essentially, the Peace Plan promised significant economic aid to the Palestinians for their economic development. On another front, the Trump Administration promised to recognize more land in which illegal Jewish settlements have been built as well as embracing all of Jerusalem for Israel. Trump’s plan would see the eventual creation of a Palestinian state over some 70 percent of the West Bank, falling far short of the minimal Palestinian demands and leaving sizable chunks of the territory in Israeli hands. How do we understand the actual situation?

If you’re a gung-ho enthusiast for Israel, you might be saying, “what’s the problem?”. On the other hand, if your interest is peace in the entire Middle East, you have other concerns. Here’s some of the “why’s” for where we are today.

The European Union on Tuesday rejected US President Donald Trump’s proposal for securing peace in the Middle East and expressed concern about Israel’s plans to annex large swaths of the West Bank that Palestinians seek for their future state. The country of Jordan and King Abdullah II stated, “Our position regarding the plan is very clear. “We are opposed to it.”

The Palestinians attempted to request a vote at the UN Security Council that would reject the peace plan of US President Donald Trump, whose administration has put heavy pressure on critics, diplomats said. Abbas couldn’t pull it off. The Jerusalem Report quoted a diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying that the United States has placed “very strong pressure” on other countries on the Security Council, including threats of economic retribution. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called the plan “Zionist-American conspiracy.” His rejection ended up in a nasty war of words with Jared Kushner. In effect, the plan was dead before it came out of the White House.

The Trump Administration has made no bones about partiality toward Israel. This is generally seen as a political ploy that continues to distort any reconciliation between Israel and Palestine. Already essentially bankrupt, the Palestinian Authority has few options left accept war. Is another Intifada possible because of a peace plan?

As absurd as it sounds, unfortunately the answer is yes.

You might find my collection of Holy Land experiences to be helpful.
BIBLE LANDS: An illustrated Guide to Scriptural Places
Barbpir books Publishers

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Filed under America, Gaza, Israel, The Middle East, United Nations, War


BLOG 369 October 23, 2017

The world is increasingly struggling with a sense of uneasiness over emotionally confrontational situations. The civil war in Syria is far from over, suggesting that Iran and Russia may end up being the big winners. If the US withdraws from the Iranian nuclear agreement, then Israel is pushed to consider a preemptive strike to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear armed country. The options in the Middle East remain dangerous and alarming. Which way can anyone jump?

Strangely enough, North Korea’s ultimatum to America poses another muddy quagmire. On September 3, North Korea conducted an underground thermonuclear bomb that has upped the ante across the world. At the heart of the threat is the issue of the US government’s capacity to protect its citizens. The omen of a hydrogen bomb attack has now been aimed at bomb America as well as South Korea.  If the United States does not take the threat of a nuclear attack seriously, it will communicate profound weakness both to its allies as well as adversaries. Allies will no longer trust the connection. Should the US back away, it will be on the verge of being completely discredited by a third-rate third backwater country.

Part of what makes this scenario so scary, is that the North Koreans apparently have come to believe their own propaganda. Nut case leaders are one thing in comic books; they are another in real life.

The record of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama indicates a failure to take the North Korean threat seriously.  After all, what could this improvised country do? The answer today is plenty. Nuclear power makes such a difference.

While Kim Jong-un’s threats once sounded like a comedian’s monologue, the H-bomb no longer leaves the world laughing. Unless North Korean’s nuclear stockpile is obliterated, the world can expect Asia and the Middle East to follow suit in building nuclear arsenals.

America is now looking into a deepening quagmire. If the US turns its back on the North Korean taunts, the US looses big time. On the other hand, a preemptive strike has never been American foreign policy. Since diplomacy isn’t and hasn’t worked, is there another better alternative?

That’s the qualm! No happy alternatives have surfaced so far.

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Filed under middle east, United Nations, Violence


BLOG 362 August 28, 2017

            Hey!  I’m back from Alaska. My trip took me up to the edge of the Arctic Circle and through Denali National Park. Beautiful beyond expression! I saw bears, caribou, and even wolves. It’s hard to believe, but in about 20 days the hotels and tourist sites shut down for winter which lasts until May.  I’d love to tell you all about the experience, but this blog is about the Middle East, not the Northern Frontier. So, lets’ hop across the globe and check in on what’s happening lately.

Two items that won’t make your local newspaper are worth noting.

Recent archeological digs at Beit Habek have recently uncovered the lost city of Julias believed to be the birthplace of the Apostle’s Andrew, Philip, and Peter. In the Upper Jordan Valley near a delta entering Lake Kinneret or the Sea of Galilee, the Kinneret Institute for Galilean Archeology made the amazing discovery. The ancient site of Julias or Bethsaida is mentioned in the New Testament, but the exact location has been debated. More authentication is yet to come, but a silver coin from the period of Emperor Nero was uncovered. In addition, coins from the first to third centuries turned up. Anyone interested in the archeology of ancient Israel will find this new discovery to be significant.

The second story comes to us from the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Long recognized as operating with a decidedly anti-Semitic bent, they’ve done it again. In 1982, UNESCO suggested Jerusalem’s Old City belonged to the Arabs even though the city has Jewish, Armenian, Christian, and Jewish sections. They also stated that the Christian Church of the Nativity is a possession of Palestine. On July 7, 2017, in a secret ballot UNESCO recognized the Tomb of the Patriarch’s as part of the “State of Palestine.” Three countries objected, six abstained, and 21 approved. Prime Minister Netanyahu immediately called the vote and decision “delusional.”

Obviously, the Bible in Genesis 25:7-10 records the burial of Abraham and his family in Hebron in the cave of Machpelah. Since the days of King David B.C.E., Jews have lived there. Islam was not even created until the seventh century C.E.. The Six Day War brought the return of the Western Wall and the Tomb of the Patriarchs back under Israeli control after years of strife.

Because of the divisive decree by UNESCO, Prime Minister Netanyahu withdrew Israel’s $1 million a year funding to the United Nations and will use the money to build a museum of Jewish heritage in Hebron. Educational Minister Naftali Bennett said after the vote, “… time and again UNESCO denies history and distorts reality; knowingly serving those attempt to erase the Jewish state…” He noted Israel will not cooperate with UNESCO while it remains a political tool rather than a professional organization.

For decades, the United Nations has been losing ground with people who want it to succeed. I’ve been there and walked through their headquarters in New York City. They have a potential to accomplish many important objectives. The July 7 vote wasn’t one of them.







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August 28, 2017 · 9:08 pm


Blog 334 January 23, 2017

I have begun a new internet radio show!
Tune in at www.

            Obama is now history while Netanyahu still treads water. But their struggles remains worth exploring. As the first month of this new year comes to a close, maybe there are trends and possibilities that are visible and important to consider.

Last week, I alerted you to the Israeli police investigation of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office and family. He has since responded, “long years of daily persecution against me and my family turned out yesterday to be nothing.” However, the criminal investigation has not ended. A serious charge against the Prime Minister remains unknown, but its existence was reported on the news on Channel 2 in Israel. Political leaders opposing Netanyahu claimed an interest only in the democratic process rather than a political war. Stay tuned.

Across the world at the United Nations, out-going Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in his final address to the Security Council noted that Israel has been and is subject to a strong bias in the United Nations. He said, “decades of political maneuverings have created a disproportionate volume of resolutions, reports, and conferences criticizing Israel.” The Jerusalem Post published in Israel kept an account of what Ki-Moon referenced. The UN passed 223 resolutions condemning Israel and only eight against the Syrian regime for the massacre its own citizens during the past six years.

The United Nations’ score card has ended up being a reflection on itself rather than Israel. Even the heated condemnation of Israel just before Christmas turned into a political debacle more than a piece of helpful resolution of a problem. In the background then president-elect Trump signaled sympathy for the Jewish settlements the UN condemned. Nothing settled there!

The hot issue remains accepting or rejecting a two-state solution between the Palestinians and Israel. Many prominent Israeli politicians have already declared the idea dead. Most of the rest of the world demand Israel come to terms with a Palestinian state and that a settlement be reached. Prime Minister Netanyahu has repeatedly said one thing while doing another, creating a suspicion that he wants to scuttle the two-state idea. At this point, no one is certain about what Trump thinks, but whatever policy the new President has in mind appears to pop into his head when he wakes up. Moreover President Trump appears to be able to out flip-flop Prime Minister Netanyahu who has been the ultimate switch artist up until now. Who knows where American policy is actually going?

Perhaps, 2017 is not as certain or the path as clear as we might have thought! Time to buckle up.


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Filed under America, Israel, middle east, United Nations


United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Sima Sami Bahous, working in the U.N. Development Program, released a report on the casualties in the three-year on-going civil war. Over 120,000 citizens have been killed. Five and one-half million children need assistance. Six million have been displaced with ten million still living in poverty. Two and half million are refugees now living in Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey, Iraq, and Egypt. While these countries have been gracious, the load is approaching the unbearable point.

One glances at these statistics and soon drowns in the massive numbers. To keep in touch with the extreme cost, we have to step back and fasten on one children’s face twisted in anguish and fear –then multiply that one face by millions more. The people paying the highest price are the women and children. Syria is sinking in pain.

As the third year of fighting begins, there is no end in sight. Reports from within Syria now reveal that Assad is using starvation as a weapon to force some areas to submit. An anonymous Syrian rebel, Skyped that people are eating whatever they can find, including grass. Deaths from malnutrition-related illnesses are not uncommon. One of the hardest hit areas is Moadamiyya that has been under siege for 15 months. Opposition held towns in the Damascus suburbs and Old Homs report a similar story. A spokesperson for the UN World Food Programme reports about 200,000 Syrians in 40 besieged communities are in desperate need of aid.

The city of Homs is a good example of the crisis. As many as 4,000 people are trapped in besieged neighborhoods. Around 100 are critically wounded, trying to survive in sadly under-equipped makeshift clinics. Because Assad’s siege is total, no one can get in or out. No help or equipment has made it in or out for over 600 days. One man sent a Skype internet call, saying Syria has become a “war of starvation.”

Why? Because Bashar Assad lacks the manpower to engage street battles with the rebels, he has resorted to this strategy. Long ago labeled the “butcher of Syria,” he is apparently not bothered by such an approach. Turning now to barrel bombs in the Damascus suburb of Darayya, he is using explosives designed to create terror more than take out rebel forces. The rebels read this tactic as a sign that Assad has little left to fight with except such explosives and hunger.

Because the Geneva “supposed peace talks” have accomplished absolutely nothing, Syrians have lost faith in the international community. Rebels believe the UN has done zero to stop Assad. Yet, the rebels will not back down. Another anonymous rebel reported, “We would prefer to die of starvation than return to Assad’s rule.”

And so the war goes on . If you believe in praying about such situations, now would be a good time to get down on your knees.

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Filed under Civil War, middle east, Syria, United Nations


            Current United Nations reports indicate that somewhere between 50,000 and 60,000 Syrian citizens have been killed during the Syrian civil war. President Bashar Al-Assad spoke a couple of days ago for the first time in months and essentially said nothing of substance. The most recent data indicates rebels are closing in on Damascus and Assad’s days are numbered. Of course, this same prediction was made months ago. Cutting through the spin and misinformation, here is what I’m finding behind the clouds of smoke and fire.

            Russia appears to have finally backed off. Foreign minister Sergev V. Lavror released a statement saying that there was no possibility that Assad would leave Syria. Lavror also said that the rebels insistence that Assad leave as a precondition for peace would only result in more loss of life. In recent weeks, Russia has been steadily retreating from support for the Assad regime. While they backed away from Assad, they acknowledged the loss of government held territory. The Russians now realize their unyielding support of Assad has resulted in a loss of face, trust, and prestige in the Arab world. They are on the losing end and hustling to attempt to regain prestige in the entire region. Unfortunately, they have waited so long that they have helped create the mounting death toll.

Attempting to set the stage for forward momentum, Russia also announced a trilateral gathering in a few weeks involving the United States in an attempt to restore some stability (while making Russia appear positive to the Arabs).

The bottom line is that Assad is not only seeing his top leadership defect, but has lost his major source of support. Iran must also be worried. Will Assad flee? One must factor in Assad’s Islamic faith that could allow him to die a martyr while fighting in a battle for what he might conclude involves his faith. We have seen plenty of evidence that the Islamic world has no hesitance in such suicidal actions. On the other hand, Assad could have an airplane waiting in the back yard. Apparently, his most faithful supporters in Russia have concluded they can’t second guess him.

In the midst of the killing and chaos, a bright lights does still exist inside Syria. Recently I received a report from journalist Alessandra Nucci on Trappist Nuns living in Aleppo and telling the world Merry Christmas. This contemplative order celebrated Christmas in the midst of war by reassuring the world that nothing has quenched the light shinning in the darkness. Their New Year’s message was a prayer for peace, reconciliation, dialogue, and mutual forgiveness The members continue to intercede for a faith that nurtures and transfigures. From the midst of the tragic conflict in Aleppo arises a renewed hope in the midst of despair.

Tragically, we are not likely to see those prayers answered quickly. I believe the civil war will continue well into 2013. In the post-communist era we learned that repressed societies need to recover a motivated populace if they are to become politically viable again. Suppression by totalitarian governments takes decades to be repaired. The state is set for continuing upheaval long after the Assad regime disappears.

Let us hope that someone in authority listens to those Trappist nuns.


Filed under Syria, United Nations, Violence


In the last blog, I suggested that a world is ending in the Middle East. Actually, that’s not new. Simply following the history of Israel is a continuous story of endless change. The Romans changed the name to Aelia Capitolina and it stated that way for well over 200 years. Helena, the mother of Constantine started the trend in the other direction and the name changed back to Jerusalem. In recent times everyone from the Turks to the Germans to the British have claimed the city of Jerusalem. As recently as  June of l967, Israeli soldiers recaptured the entire city and united Jerusalem under Jewish control. Change is a worn word in this portion of the Middle East.

Exactly what form change takes in the Egyptian world is now under duress. The struggle remains up for grabs. The situation is no less volatile in Israel.

The Israeli Air Force strike that killed Hamas commander Ahmed Jabari set off the rocket exchange that leveled most of the Hamas offices in the Gaza strip and seriously depleted their rocket supply. No rockets have been fired since the cease fire. At that point, PLO leader Abbas sought a nonmember observer state status at the United Nations. One hundred and thirty-eight General Assembly members voted yes and the Palestinians broke into wild celebrations in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu dismissed the UN vote as meaningless and suggested retaliation would follow. It now has as Israel plans to start 3,000 new houses in the disputed area. What’s really happening? Shake up or shake down?

Of course, how this action is viewed depends on which side of the issue you already stand on. I attempt to view each situation as objectively as I possibly can. And there is more to the Israel action that meets the eye.

Construction in the El area will connect the large Jewish Ma’ale Adumim settlement to Jerusalem. The Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem will be cut off making the continuous Palestinian state endorsed by the United Nations virtually impossible. Whether Israel proceeds is still in question as the United States stopped a similar effort back in 1994. However, the area makes a serious bargaining chip. With an Israeli election coming on January 22, Netanyahu felt pressure to act quickly.

Israelis do not consider this area as settlements because they believe Jerusalem, including East Jerusalem is their capital and property. Most of the rest of the world considers East Jerusalem as occupied territory.

PLO leader Abbas may have strengthened his diplomatic stature with the U.N. vote. The rise of the popularity of Hamas has proved to be a problem for him. However, Israel’s counter move could close the window on a 2-state solution. Israel’s response signals that the Palestinians have actually lost ground in this latest exchange. Even Professor Zakaria al-Qaq at Al Quds University said, “maybe the Palestinians got something on paper and morally, but he got nothing on the ground.”

Change is in the wind, but where is it going? Don’t count on who is the winner in this latest exchange in Israel. The shake up may yet prove to be a shake down.

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Filed under Egypt, Israel, middle east, United Nations