WorldWatch

From the April 2013 Trumpet Print Edition

Middle East

Israel

No swing right after all

Israel is in a dangerous position. The nation is surrounded by palpable threats: riots in Jordan; Hezbollah in Lebanon; a Syrian civil war in the north; the Muslim Brotherhood-led Egypt in the south; the looming presence of a nuclear-armed Iran to the east; Hamas in Gaza; Fatah in the West Bank; and an increasingly leftist government in the United States. The need for Israeli security and strength is urgent.

However, in recent elections, Israelis gave a vote of confidence in a tried-and-failed strategy of negotiation with the enemy.

The January 24 elections were forecast to produce a right-wing governing coalition. But the Israeli people chose differently. Netanyahu’s Likud-Yisrael Beitenu alliance won, but without the overwhelming victory it had hoped for.

The prime minister’s alliance won the election with 31 parliamentary seats—far less than the 42 it held in the outgoing parliament. Netanyahu no longer has enough seats to form a majority, so he must form a coalition government. He will be forced to bring in some more central parties to his coalition. So who will he look to for support in his new government? Chances are, it will be Yesh Atid, the runners-up in the election.

Yesh Atid’s success may have been the election’s biggest surprise. It is a relatively new party in Israel, yet its ascent has been stunning, jumping from 11 seats last election to 19 this time (one less than Likud).

Yesh Atid works off a primarily centralist platform. This means its focus is domestic: reforming the government, seeking affordable housing, improving a failing educational system, and ending the military exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Yesh Atid has also called for Israel to give up much of the West Bank but to retain control of Jerusalem.

The party is led by reporter-turned-politician Yair Lapid, the son of well-known politician Tommy Lapid. His father’s party, Shinui, was seen as anti-religious, battling against the powers of the ultra-Orthodox. Yair Lapid’s party today is fighting for many of the same causes. Lapid has boosted his political career by becoming the spokesman for the Israeli middle class. His detailed domestic policy, if enacted, would take focus and spending off defense and onto the middle class. With improving the day-to-day lives of the majority as his priority, Lapid has given himself a wide electoral base.

The Yesh Atid party also believes that, along with a two-state solution for the Palestinian conflict, Israel’s differences with Iran can be worked out through negotiation.

This is where things get tricky for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Since the election, the prime minister said he hopes to form a broad-based coalition government that would address Israel’s domestic issues, although such issues were hardly mentioned in the campaign. No doubt Yesh Atid is already having an effect on domestic policy.

While a change in domestic policy may have some benefits for Israel, consider the bevy of threats facing the nation, it is hardly in Israel’s best interests to have a government engrossed in internal issues.

“Lapid is likely to demand the Foreign Ministry for himself, as well as the education, justice and housing ministries in addition to chairmanship of the Knesset finance committee,” Haaretz said on February 3. Will Netanyahu give the man who calls for dialogue with Iran control over Israel’s Foreign Ministry? Iran still calls for the destruction of Israel and funds terrorists across the Middle East to fulfill that purpose. It is still an extremist terrorist state funding extremist terrorists. Years of talks have not brought peace, and with every day that Iran is not dealt with, it draws closer to constructing nuclear weapons that will change its balance of power with Israel.

Yet the Israeli people have voted for a centralist moderate to be a key player in the new government. A poll published on February 21 showed that if Israel were to hold another round of elections, Yesh Atid would become the largest party in Knesset with 30 seats, and Netanyahu’s Likud-Beitenu party would plummet to just 22 seats.

If the Israeli government turns to “peace talks,” expect an empowered Iran to get the bomb.

Events in Israel are drawing toward one conclusion. There will be no peace in Israel because no Israeli government—hardline, centrist, or left—will tell Israeli voters what they really need to hear: that they need to return to God. Bible prophecy foretells exactly what will befall the Middle East and Israel. To find out, request a free copy of Jerusalem in Prophecy.

Eritrea

Coup attempt shows instability

Dissident Eritrean soldiers seized the country’s Ministry of Information in January and briefly took over its state-run television service in an apparent attempt to overthrow the Eritrean government. About 200 soldiers backed by tanks demanded the release of thousands of political prisoners, a signal of the deepening rift between parts of the military and President Isaias Afewerki.

Though it failed, the plot indicates the nation’s instability. Tension between political groups and religions continues to intensify in a nation split evenly between Muslims and Christians. Along with Afewerki’s failing health, this means Eritrea is vulnerable to a transition of power.

This presents an opportunity for Iran to expand its power in the region, especially around the Red Sea. Eritrea occupies a strategic strip of terrain at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden, one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes. Whether directly or through its influence over Egypt, expect Iran to exploit Eritrea’s turmoil to obtain control over this vital shipping lane.

Iran 

Ready to march on Israel

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated on February 6 that Iran is ready to “wipe out” Israel should it launch an attack. His comments came during a speech in Egypt, with whom Iran is enjoying an ever warmer relationship. “The people of Iran are ready to march on Israel to wipe it out if it launches into an adventure against Tehran,” Ahmadinejad said, according to Arabic transcriptions cited by Agence France-Presse. “Our defense forces are capable of dissuading any aggressor and making him regret his act.”

The Iranian president was in Cairo for an Islamic summit, marking the first time a president of Iran has visited Egypt since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. During his visit, Ahmadinejad also pledged his support for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood-dominated government, including a “big credit line” from Iran to boost the Egyptian economy. The Iranian-Egyptian axis, and its growing belligerence toward Israel, fulfill specific end-time prophetic scenarios. Request The King of the South to learn about them.

Afghanistan 

Is this what victory feels like?

Explosions and shots echoed through the streets of Kabul on January 21 when a suicide bomber detonated at the gate of the traffic police compound. In the confusion that followed, more terrorists stormed the facility, armed with machine guns and explosives. At least one person was killed and several wounded. The attack came just days after another terrorist attack against a government office in the Afghan capital that caused one fatality. Afghanistan has been supported by the United States for over a decade, but despite billions of dollars and thousands of lives lost, fighting continues. The nato combat mission in Afghanistan officially ends in 2014, when security responsibilities will pass to local authorities. Those Afghan security forces will face a resilient, determined foe in the Taliban, and they will no longer have nato forces backing them up.

Israel

Ministry of ‘de fence’

The Israeli Ministry of Defense announced on January 2 that it had completed a 142-mile-long fence along Israel’s southern border. The fence is 15 feet high, topped with razor wire. The barrier is equipped with military cameras, radars and other surveillance equipment. On the heels of finalizing this project, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on January 6 that yet another fence will be erected, this one in the northern region of the Golan Heights. Israel is scrambling to secure its borders as tumult in surrounding nations threatens its security. Prophecy says that the millions of dollars Israel is spending on its defense will not protect it. When Israel realizes that walls, wire and cameras are not enough, Hosea 5 says it will turn to Europe for help.

Europe

Germany 

Preparing for a Middle Eastern war

The German Air Force completed two major training exercises in the United Arab Emirates (uae) at the end of last year. Berlin continues to draw closer to its Middle Eastern allies and gain operational experience in the region. From November 18 to December 13, the German Air Force trained alongside Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United States in the Advanced Tactical Leadership Course. According to German-Foreign-Policy.com, this was the first time Germany has tested the Eurofighter under desert conditions. The exercises included 92 planned missions involving 1,400 flight hours. In the second exercise, “Common Sky 2012,” nearly 40 German Air Force personnel participated in a simulated defense against a Middle Eastern aggressor. Held from December 9 to 20, the exercises involved a similar number of personnel from the uae. The scenario constituted a thinly disguised action against Iran: a friendly Gulf nation was attacked, and Germany rushed to the rescue. The German military is simultaneously making sure it is ready to make war in the Middle East, and ensuring that it has an alliance of Islamic countries to help when it does. Our free booklet The King of the South explains the prophetic significance of this trend.

Germany

Turkey

Another troop deployment

Troops and military equipment from Germany and the United States headed for Turkey on January 8. The deployment supports nato operations along the Turkish-Syrian border. Officials say the six anti-aircraft, anti-missile batteries are intended to protect Turkey against any spillover from Syria’s ongoing civil war. Although they are ineffective against artillery and mortar fire, the batteries make a statement that these nations are willing to deploy weapons, and that Washington is relying more and more on Berlin. The Bible reveals where this relationship will lead. Ezekiel 23 refers to Germany as America’s “lover,” but it also shows that Germany will betray America in the end.

Muzzling a free press

European Union officials believe the European press is doing a poor job and should be regulated. The EU issued a report by the High Level Group on Media Freedom and Pluralism on January 22, a guideline to be used in drafting new regulations. The group says all nations should have “independent media councils” that “should have real enforcement powers, such as the imposition of fines, orders for printed or broadcast apologies, or removal of journalistic status.” These councils should also obey “a set of European-wide standards and be monitored by the Commission to ensure that they comply with European values.” UK Member of Parliament Douglas Carswell said: “This is the sort of mindset that I would expect to find in Iran, not the West. This kooky idea tells us little about the future of press regulation. It does suggest that the European project is ultimately incompatible with the notion of a free society.”

Italy 

Fascist dictator still popular

Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini is still popular in Italy. According to an article published by Spiegel Online on January 8, “Every year, thousands of people in Italy hang a fresh calendar of images depicting Benito Mussolini on their wall, just one of many indications that the cult of ‘Il Duce’ is alive and well in the country.” Every year, thousands of visitors travel to Predappio, Mussolini’s birthplace. Spiegel described a shocking ignorance of history, saying that the Mussolini fans’ version of history is based on “myths and half-truths.” Shocking popular support for the Nazi-allied fascist dictator shows how fragile Italy’s democracy is.

Spain

Britain 

Provocation at the Rock

On February 2, an armed Spanish warship entered Gibraltar’s waters, ignoring repeated warnings from the Royal Navy. The 300-foot patrol vessel dwarfed the light boats Britain has stationed at the Rock. London officially protested the intrusion, the most serious in a series of provocations by the Spanish government, which wants to take control of the sea gate. “There has not been an incursion such as this since the mid-1960s when General Franco ruled Spain,” Gibraltarian lawyer Charles Gomez said. The people of Gibraltar are becoming increasingly frustrated with Britain’s weak response to Spain’s aggression. Last year, 10,000 people signed a petition calling on the British government to stand up to Spain. Unfortunately for them, Britain is prophesied to lose control of this vital possession.

Asia

Russia

King of the oil world

Russia overtook Saudi Arabia last year to become the world’s largest oil producer, the Moscow Times reported January 22. In recent years, Moscow has twice shut off natural gas to the Ukraine in attempts to bring the pro-Western Ukrainian government under Moscow’s influence. As Russia’s oil production increases, Moscow will keep using it to expand the Kremlin’s sphere of influence in its periphery.

China

‘Trump card’ against U.S.

Beijing said it has the right to conduct an anti-satellite test because the technology represents a “trump card” against America, China’s Global Times said. “China urgently needs to have an outer space trump card. … 

[I]t is necessary for China to have the ability to strike U.S. satellites,” the state-run paper said (January 6).

Russia

China

Wooing Turkey from the West?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on January 25 that, rather than join the European Union, Turkey should become a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (sco). In recent years, the sco has attempted to posture itself as an anti-West barricade in Central Asia, and Erdoğan’s statements show that these attempts are working. Erdoğan may be bluffing in an effort to push Europe into negotiations, but the news illustrates the growing sway of the Asian group.

Russia Exercises near Syria

The Russian Navy has conducted its biggest naval drills in its history off the Syrian coast, according to reports from Moscow. The massive exercises came in mid-January amid ongoing tensions between Russia and the West over Syria. Throughout the conflict, Moscow has given cash and arms to the ruling regime of Bashar Assad, a key Russian ally. The West—under Germany’s de facto leadership—has worked to depose the regime and draw Syria into an anti-Iranian alliance of Arab nations that will ultimately help Berlin unseat Tehran as the Middle East’s dominant power. Russia’s recent drills are another indication of Moscow’s commitment to preventing the West from toppling Assad. But Bible prophecy indicates Syria will join the anti-Iranian alliance of Arab nations that will rally behind Europe.

Russia

China

Japan

Provoking an American ally

Japan scrambled jets on February 7 after Russian fighters entered the airspace over its northernmost island. Although the Russian jets withdrew without incident, the incursion was significant in both its location and its timing. It happened near territory that has been disputed by Moscow and Tokyo since the end of World War ii, when Russia took it from Japan. It occurred on Japan’s “Northern Territories Day,” when Japanese nationals rally for reclaiming the territory.

This Russian incursion follows a string of Chinese intrusions into territories that Tokyo and Washington recognize as being administered by Japan. Moscow and Beijing may have the same objective: to expose the United States as an unreliable ally. The idea of being drawn into a conflict with China and/or Russia is unbearable for war-weary Americans to contemplate. Moscow and Beijing view the outcome of any potential confrontation as a question more of will than of military might. On this front, the U.S. is at an overwhelming disadvantage.

North Korea

China’s tool for pushing at America

North Korea tested a nuclear weapon on February 12. The bomb had an estimated six- to seven-kiloton yield, more powerful than either of the nation’s tests in 2006 or 2009. The test came just weeks after the Stalinist state announced on January 24 that it had tested rockets designed to strike the United States. The statement confirms that North Korea is not just developing rocket technology in order to launch satellites, as Pyongyang has claimed in the past.

Why North Korea’s sudden switch to overt aggressiveness? This defiance against the U.S. is likely a product of China’s powerful influence over Pyongyang. Beijing is aware that Washington is trying to check China’s growing dominance in the Far East. One tool China uses to push back against the U.S. is North Korea. The weakness of America’s response is a strong signal that China has rightly calculated the risk in the move.

Latin America, Africa

Venezuela

Brazil 

German adviser predicts ‘turning point’ for Latin America

In a recently published report, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs predicted a “historical turning point” for Latin America after the demise of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez. According to the report, when the Venezuelan president dies of his cancer or resigns, the old elites of the country will be able to reassert themselves. Most of these leaders have strong business connections with Germany. The German report predicts that the demise of Chávez could elicit political change throughout Latin America that will strengthen Brazil’s influence in the region. Since Brazil is already a strong German ally, Berlin could benefit significantly from this coming political transformation.

Colombia

Peru

Costa Rica 

Hastening a currency war

The world is on the cusp of currency war. Colombian Finance Minister Mauricio Cardenas said in January that his government is seeking to curb inflation and boost domestic production by taxing foreign portfolio investments. Costa Rica is also looking to increase taxes on foreign investments in the country, while Peru is rapidly stocking up its foreign currency reserves in an attempt to keep the value of the peso high. As the world heads toward a global recession, expect regional trade blocs to become increasingly protectionist. The Bible foretells of a time when the United States will be besieged and frozen out of world trade.

South Africa

Plague of rape

South Africa is suffering a massive rape problem. Nearly 60,000 rapes are reported each year, and experts believe the actual number is at least 10 times worse. One quarter of all South African women can expect to be raped at least once in their lifetime, says human rights group Actionaid. Gang rape, “jackrolling” as it is now called, is now seen as a form of bonding between the often feral, fatherless youth. The only solution to this heart-rending tragedy is a return to family values as outlined in God’s law.

Mali

Troops reclaim key city

With air support from the French, Mali’s military gained control over the central Mali town of Diabaly in January. Islamic extremists have carved out a large haven in Mali’s northern region, imposing their strict interpretation of sharia law. The militaries of Germany and France are aiding the effort to reconquer this territory for the Malian government. Expect Germany and its European allies to take an increasingly hard line against radical Islam in North Africa and the Middle East.

Europe dominates S. American militaries

A new report states that half of all weapons imported by South American countries over the past decade have come from Europe. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s Arms Transfers Database, the list of the top 10 arms exporters to South America includes Germany, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France. The Trumpet has closely followed German arms sales to the Middle East, as Germany strives to build an anti-Iranian alliance (page 16). A similar process of alliance building through arms trading is underway in South America. As was predicted in the October 1957 issue of the Plain Truth magazine, the EU and South America have become “religious, commercial and political partners.”

Zimbabwe 

$217 in the bank

After paying civil servant salaries in January, the cash-strapped Zimbabwe government admitted it was down to its last $217. Finance Minister Tendai Biti told reporters that finances were in a “paralysis state.” The economy took a nosedive in 2000 when the government of President Robert Mugabe and its supporters seized thousands of white-owned farms. After a decade of relentless money-printing, almost unfathomable hyperinflation ensued until the currency collapsed. Bible prophecy indicates a global resource war is coming among the world’s major powers. Watch for Zimbabwe to turn increasingly to China as its economy deteriorates.