By WND

Only weeks after an attempted coup threatened his rule, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is on the move both militarily and diplomatically.

Turkish forces are continuing their offensive against American-backed Kurdish forces. And the West is reeling from Turkey’s sudden rapprochement with Russia.

Now experts in prophecy warn the continued rise of Turkey and Erdogan has ominous eschatological implications.

Erdogan’s position is stronger than ever following the failed coup, with his approval ratings reaching new highs. In fact, the Turkish president has benefited so much from the abortive attempt to overthrow him many observers suspect he staged the entire thing as a false flag operation.

Tensions between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally, continue to increase. The United States is reportedly transferring nuclear weapons out of Turkey in order to safeguard American control. Despite increasingly desperate American pleading, the United States has thus far been unable to stop Turkey’s war against the Syrian Kurds. And though serious tensions remain between Turkey and Russia, the limited partnership between the two powers, whatever economic benefits to both nations exist, weakens American influence in the Middle East.

For experts in prophecy, Russian and Turkish policies have long been of urgent interest. Carl Gallups, author of “Be Thou Prepared,” and the upcoming “When the Lion Roars: Understanding the Implications of Ancient Prophecies for Our Time,” says the healing of the Russo-Turkish rift is desirable on the surface, but some of the relevant interpretations of Scripture are cause for concern.

“Those who know the prophecies of Ezekiel 38 are aware of a very pointed declaration that in the last days, in the days of a miraculously returned Israel, Magog (many have believed to be Russia) would join with Persia (modern day Iran) and string several other nations along with them – for the purpose of attacking Israel,” Gallups explained. “The prophecies say the attack upon Israel will ‘come from the North.’ Turkey lies directly north of Israel. Additionally, a number of prophecy experts believe (based upon a large body of biblical and historical evidence) that Turkey itself could actually be the Magog (perhaps even in alliance with Russia) spoken of in Ezekiel 38.

“We know that lately Russia and Iran have been dramatically strengthening ties. The two nations have been standing together against ISIS in the Syrian civil war. Of course it is also Iran that has continually breathed out direct and very public threats of utterly destroying Israel, especially once Iran develops deliverable nuclear weapons. And, it is no secret that Russia has a history of nuclear involvement with Iran.”

Indeed, the lessening of tensions between Russia and Turkey was especially surprising to many observers because of the longstanding rivalry between Shiite Iran and Sunni Turkey.

Russia is a longstanding Iranian ally. Recently, Russia admitted it deployed strategic bombers and fighter bombers in Iran. With the newfound Russian-Turkish partnership, Putin’s junior partner Iran and its onetime enemy Turkey are also working together to a limited extent.

“A growing number of prophecy experts see the very real possibility that Turkey will be directly involved in this biblical prediction of a cataclysmic and northern assault upon the ‘unsuspecting’ land of a prophetically returned Israel,” argued Gallups. “With that understanding, this latest attempt by Turkey and Russia to firm up an alliance has a particularly ominous eschatological ring to it. Especially given all the other factors of the current Middle East unrest – including China’s presence in Syria, connected by a military alliance with Russia.”

However, Joel Richardson, the author of the New York Times bestseller “The Islamic Antichrist,” says the truth is more banal. He dismissed the idea the Russo-Turkish partnership is the precursor to the Battle of Gog and Magog.

“This is simply a partial reconciliation made out of economic necessity,” he explained “Russia’s economy relies heavily on natural gas and oil exports. Turkey controls the Bosporus, and thus Russia’s access to the Mediterranean Sea. Thus, despite all of Putin’s chest thumping after Turkey shot down a Russian military jet, Russia needs Turkish cooperation.

“Likewise, Turkey relies heavily on the millions of Russian tourists who come to Turkey each year to enjoy the beautiful coasts. After Turkey shot down Russia jet and [the] president refused to apologize, Putin imposes stiff sanctions, and the lack of Russian tourism hit Turkey’s economy hard. Thus, despite all of the warm and fuzzy speeches about reconciliation, Russia and Turkey have simply returned to a shallow friendship of convenience for both of them.”

REMARKABLE SECRETS about what is to come revealed at last. “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem,” the explosive new teaching from New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson. Available now at the WND Superstore. Available now at the WND Superstore.

But while Richardson is relatively sanguine about the partnership between Turkey and Russia, he remains deeply concerned about the growing ambitions of Turkish president Erdogan, whom he has in the past compared to Adolf Hitler.

And the host of “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem” says the West has remained complacent for far too long about what he calls the “rise of a deeply nationalist-Islamist dictatorship in Turkey.”

“This is precisely what I have been warning of for well over twelve years now,” Richardson exclaimed. “This is a nation that until recently been considered an ally of the United States and is a fellow member of NATO. After having suspended the constitution and purging tens of thousands of alleged coup plotters from every nook and cranny of both the government and the general public, Turkey has experienced a revolution. Whether we are comparing this to the Iranian Islamic revolution of 1979 or Hitler’s ‘Night of Long Knives,’ the analogies are merited.”

Richardson has a great deal of experience in covering the Middle Eastern street and chronicled the growing extremism in Turkey in his documentary “End Times Eyewitness.” As he sees Turkey descending into dictatorship, he bemoaned yet another example of the short-sighted nature of American foreign policy.

“The U.S. has a long history of creating its enemies of tomorrow today. We helped create the Taliban to fight against Russia. Then we went to war with them. We helped create Saddam Hussein. Then we went to war with him. For the past twenty years, the U.S. has been getting behind Turkey’s seemingly moderate Islamic movement. The great red dragon that is emerging however is not one that will likely be overcome as easily as Saddam Hussein.

“In the long term, what is emerging in Turkey will continue to be a massive foreign policy conundrum that is going to require any future American administration a profound level of wisdom and skill to navigate. In the short term, the roughly 100,000 Iranian backed militia in Iraq is a far greater concern. With Iran stepping up its presence in the region – another event that I have been predicting for some time – a clash between Turkey and Iran is increasingly becoming a very real possibility.”

Richardson contends events are moving toward the end times, but thinks a conflict between Iran and Turkey is the more likely short term outcome than a grand alliance against Israel.

“Is all of this aligning with the words of the biblical prophets?” he asks. “Absolutely. It’s just not aligning in quite the way that many have wrongly assumed.”

While Gallups views events differently, he also believes Turkey is the most critical geopolitical actor from a geopolitical perspective.

“Many who are serious prophecy watchers have been saying for years, ‘Watch Turkey for a dramatic last days coming together of scriptural declarations,’” he recalled. “Over these years, we have often been discounted – because, after all, Turkey was one of our strongest ‘democratic’ allies in the Middle East. How could it be that Turkey might play into a dramatic assault upon Israel, our other strong democratic Middle Eastern ally?

“But now look! Turkey, under Erdogan, is quickly becoming an Islamic caliphate with dreams of becoming, once again, the hub of Middle Eastern Islamic power – a resurrected Ottoman Empire if you will.”

Ergodon has long appealed to the people of lands that historically were in the Ottoman Empire to legitimize his rule and imperial ambitions.

And Gallups argues the dramatic events gripping the Middle East today should serve as an alarm bell for Christians.

“The Bible clearly declares that the last days would be marked by the return of Israel, and Israel’s possession of Jerusalem. The prophecies also speak of dramatic turmoil in the Middle East, including the horrendous tribulation that would befall Christians in that region in the last days. Those same prophecies speak of Israel being surrounded by nations (all of them just happen to be Islamic today) that will eventually form a coalition and attempt to drive them from the land. We are now watching every bit of that unfolding before us, and we are the first generation to see it happen.

“The secular world scoffs at the Word of God, and particularly its passages concerning the prophetic days just before the return of Christ – yet that same secular world, perhaps unknowingly, reports those prophecy fulfillments in their 24/7 news cycle each week. It’s almost as though God will not be mocked.”

REMARKABLE SECRETS about what is to come revealed at last. “The Coming Battle for Jerusalem,” the explosive new teaching from New York Times bestselling author Joel Richardson. Available now at the WND Superstore.