EU Keeps Arms Embargo in Place Against Syrian Rebels

European Union leaders agreed on Friday that they will maintain their weapons embargo against Syria’s rebels. The decision came in spite of requests from Britain and France. Both countries have pressured the EU to lift its embargo so that they can send weapons to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

In spite of the decision, British Prime Minister David Cameron said that his government has not ruled out its options for helping the opposition.

“Britain is a sovereign country, we have our own foreign security and defense policies. If we want to take individual actions we think that is in our national interest, of course we are free to do so.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Britain and France against operating outside of EU channels. She warned them to be “very careful” of going against Germany’s wishes.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned last Wednesday that Moscow considers arming Syria’s rebels a breach of international law. Although Russia continues to support the Assad regime, that support has softened over recent months. Coupled with the fact that Berlin is keeping weapons out of the hands of Syrian rebels, this may indicate that Russia and Germany are reaching an agreement on Syria.

Bible prophecy predicts the end result of Syria’s ongoing war: a Syrian government that will distance itself from Iran and ally with Europe instead. As the Syrian conflict grinds on, pay special attention to German-Russian relations. For more information, read “Russia and Europe Moving Toward a Deal on Syria?” and “A Mysterious Prophecy.”

The Battle for Cyprus

The Battle for Cyprus

YIANNIS KOURTOGLOU/AFP/Getty Images

Cyprus is a pawn. The real struggle is taking place between Germany and Russia.

Germany’s systematic subjugation of the eurozone entered a critical new phase last Saturday with the creation of a bailout package for Cyprus. Although Germany’s radical demand for a levy on Cypriot bank accounts was rejected by Cyprus’s parliament last night, it was too late to prevent catastrophic damage.

To Cyprus, and even the EU.

Cyprus’s banks have yet to open. When they do, the chances of a major bank run are high. Meanwhile, when it comes to Cyprus’s desperately needed €10 billion bailout, negotiations are back to square one. In fact, future negotiations with the EU will be tougher now that Cyprus is showing itself to be intractable and uncompromising. Yet, even as the geopolitical stand-off continues, Cyprus is quickly moving toward financial collapse. The country needs €10 billion, and it needs it very, very soon.

This explains Germany’s uncompromising response to Cyprus’s rejection of the levy last night. Following the announcement, Berlin basically told Cyprus that it can kick and scream all it wants, but that will not change the fact that its fate lies in the hands of Germany and the EU. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble told Cyprus that the EU will not compromise with the bailout conditions, including the levy. He also reminded Cypriots, very publicly (on German television), that the destiny of their two largest banks sits in the EU’s hands. “The Cypriot state cannot fund itself on the markets. Its two largest banks are insolvent and are being kept afloat with emergency funding from the ecb, but only on the condition that there will be a long-term rescue program. If this condition is no longer met, Cyprus will no longer be solvent, and this is something Cypriot decision-makers must know,” he threatened.

In other words, Cyprus must submit to German demands or go bankrupt.

Cyprus is now scrambling to find a solution.

Enter Russia.

Russia has an enormous amount at stake in Cyprus. Strategically and geopolitically, the island is critical to its projection of power in the Middle East, most notably Syria. Most significantly, Cyprus is a banking and finance hub for Russian businessmen. Russian businessmen have 20-30 billion euros deposited in Cyprus’s banks, and do billions more in commerce each year.

Germany’s levy on Cypriot bank accounts did not go unnoticed by Putin and the oligarchs. When news of the levy broke over the weekend, President Vladimir Putin called it “unfair, unprofessional and dangerous.”

Earlier this week, I received an e-mail from a friend who lives in Cyprus. He reminded me of the “clandestine interests (even geopolitical), and possibly property, investments and monies” that Russia has in Cyprus. He felt this was an attack on Russia by Germany. He also reported an uptick in the arrival of private Russian jets into Cyprus since Saturday’s announcement.

Although the levy stands to hurt many Cypriots, the lion’s share of the money (€1-3 billion) would come from Russian businessmen. Meanwhile, Russia is already contributing to the bailout by agreeing to extend a 2011 €2.3 billion loan to Cyprus.

So, by telling the Cypriot government to take money from the oligarchs, Germany is effectively forcing an extra billion or two out of the Russians.

On Monday, as it became clear that the levy would be rejected and the EU bailout would fall into jeopardy, Cypriot Finance Minister Michailis Sarris was dispatched to Russia tasked with the job of securing financing. Last night, following parliament’s rejection of the levy one of the first calls made by President Nicos Anastasiades was to Vladimir Putin. Many view Russia as Cyprus’s last option. Right now we have no details about what a Russian bailout might entail. (One rumor swirling says that Gazprombank, the finance company associated with Russian energy giant Gazprom, is preparing to step in to save Cypriot banks in return for rights to Cyprus’s oil and gas fields.)

It is important to note that formulating a Russian bailout of Cyprus—an event that would significantly increase Moscow’s power over Cyprus—is not a minor or easy task. This reality is being widely overlooked by too many pundits. Russia and Germany are powerful countries, and lest we forget, historical competitors. Both possess enormous leverage. And both place a high value on Cyprus as a strategic asset. There is more at stake here than mere finances. Germany is not going to simply give in and let Russia take control of Cyprus.

It’s hard to know exactly how this will unfold. However, Bible prophecy and the history of the German-Russian relationship provide the parameters for analyzing the battle for Cyprus.

First, no one respects Russia and understands it strengths (and weaknesses) more than Germany. Otto Von Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm, Adolf Hitler and Konrad Adenauer each recognized Germany’s strategic vulnerability vis-à-vis Russia. These days Berlin must consider more than just its strategic vulnerability. Germany is heavily dependent on Russia for oil and natural gas. (There were rumors this week that Russia would shut down pipelines into Europe following the Cyprus levy.) Germany does not want to upset the Russians, at least not beyond a calculated point, and will likely be compelled to negotiate some sort of deal with the Kremlin.

Second, Russia respects and fears Germany equally as much, if not more. We are all aware of the history—though we too easily marginalize it—of Nazi Germany taking Eastern Europe and invading Russia. But Moscow also understands that Berlin leads the EU, a gigantic market of 500 million people, most of whom buy their energy from Russia. Germany has technology and capital that Russia needs to develop its oil and gas infrastructure. Germany also holds the keys to more than a few pieces of territory, mostly in the Balkans and Eastern Europe, dear to Russia’s heart. Russia knows it cannot make Germany and Europe an enemy.

The most important negotiations in regard to Cyprus will now take place between Germany and Russia, not Cyprus and Russia.

Right now, neither Germany nor Russia is in a position to seriously offend the other. Therefore, it is in the interest of each to strike some sort of deal over Cyprus.

But, as the negotiations continue, here’s one thing that will not happen: Germany will not relinquish Cyprus. As Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has explained, Cyprus is a critical strategic asset to Germany. Cyprus gives Germany a foothold in the Mediterranean, an outpost from which it can monitor Iran and radical Islam, and project power into the Middle East and North Africa. Last Saturday’s attempt to impose a levy on Cypriot banks was an attempt to secure greater control of the nation. Germany may eventually be forced to compromise on the levy, but it will not compromise on Cyprus being in the EU camp.

Perhaps Russia will persuade Berlin to compromise on the levy and cut Cyprus some slack. Perhaps Germany will come to some sort of arrangement that sees Russia financing even more of Cyprus’s debt. Germany may be forced to yield to Russia’s interests somewhere in Eastern Europe. It’s unlikely that Cyprus will be put in a position that will see it leaving the EU. If Cyprus does collapse and leave the euro and the EU, Berlin will undoubtedly put measures in place that will ensure it does not leave the orbit of Germany and Europe.

Whatever deal is struck in the battle for Cyprus, you can be sure Germany is not about to relinquish its small but imperative strategic asset.

How Germany Ambushed Cyprus

How Germany Ambushed Cyprus

PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images

Cyprus’s harsh bailout was clearly the result of a thorough German plan.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, European Union officials decided to help themselves to the money in the bank accounts of the citizens of Cyprus. A tax of up to 10 percent on Cypriots’ savings would fund part of the nation’s bailout. This unprecedented step shocked the world.

What should shock the world even more is how Germany ambushed Cyprus and forced them to surrender to this tough bailout.

Here’s a rough outline of what went on Friday evening and Saturday morning, pieced together from reports by journalists based in Brussels:

Sometime on Friday, Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades chatted with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sideline of an EU summit. The Financial Times’ Peter Spiegel says that according to Cypriot officials, Ms. Merkel reassured Anastasiades that the deal would not be too harsh. He says Mr. Anastasiades agreed to a deal that imposed a much smaller tax on savers. Those with under €100,000 (us$128,870) in the bank would be hit by a tax of 3.5 percent. Those with more than that would be taxed at 7 percent.

This conversation demonstrated that Cyprus wasn’t opposed to taking money out of its people’s bank accounts. The only objection Mr. Anastasiades raised was that he would prefer a higher tax on those with over €100,000 in order to reduce the amount that those with less in the bank had to pay.

Then Germany got tough. Later Friday evening, most EU leaders left, leaving their finance ministers to sort out the details of the bailout. With so much at stake, Mr. Anastasiades stayed behind.

Another report says that Anastasiades wasn’t even present for most of the meeting. Apparently, he wasn’t even on the same floor. The eurozone finance ministers simply worked out what they wanted and presented the Cypriot president with a fait accompli.

That evening, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble gave Mr. Anastasiades his condition for the bailout: Cyprus would have to take up to €7 billion from the bank accounts of its citizens. The Cypriot president was shocked. Ms. Merkel hadn’t mentioned anything on this scale. “The president said, ‘I can’t do that,’” one member of Cypriot delegation said, according to Spiegel. “You’re trying to destroy us. Even if I agree to it, I can’t pass it [through parliament].” Anastasiades stormed out of the meeting.

This is when the European Central Bank (ecb) stepped in. The ecb’s German board member and head of International and European Relations Jörg Asmussen approached Anastasiades with a simple message: Nice little banking system you’ve got there. It would be a shame if anything were to happen to it.

Asmussen gave the Cypriot president an ultimatum. The ecb is the only thing keeping Cyprus’s banks afloat right now. Cyprus’s central bank is entitled to borrow money at a very low rate from the ecb and then loan the money out to its banks. Asmussen said that if Cyprus did not submit to Germany’s demands, the ecb would cut off the money and the nation’s entire banking system would come crashing down. The government would face a bill of tens of billions of euros to clean up the mess—a bill it simply can’t afford. If it tried to pay it, the government would go bankrupt too.

Here are the mechanics of the threat, according to the Financial Times Michael Steen: The ecb’s board can stop the money if a majority votes to say that a bank is insolvent. The ecb said it would declare Cyprus’s main banks insolvent if the nation did not receive a bailout.

President Anastasiades had to make a humiliating retreat. He gave in, and Germany got its way: Cypriot savers would help fund the bailout.

Germany won. It reportedly had support from Finland, Slovakia and partial support from the Netherlands. But at the end of the day, it was a German operation.

Mr. Schäuble has tried to distance himself from the decision to tax those with less than €100,000. But his part in this is clear. His message to Cyprus was: Take about €6 billion from people’s bank accounts; I’ll leave you to sort out the details.

This was Germany’s push to take control of Cyprus’s financial system, through the bailout, without having to come up with all the cash themselves.

Remember, from the start, the euro was designed to fail in this way. A common currency without a common government is an unstable halfway point on the way to becoming a superstate. Ordinary Europeans did not want to become part of a superstate. So the EU elites set up the euro, knowing that for it to work, the EU must complete the journey. Europeans would be forced against their will into a political union.

It’s easy to sympathize with German taxpayers who are fed up with having to pay the debts of foreign countries. But this is what their leaders designed to happen. The euro was a vehicle to bring power to Germany. The irony is that the German people don’t want it.

Cyprus’s bailout could start getting messy. There is a good chance that the nation’s parliament will reject the bailout proposal. But as you watch the news, remember, the euro was a German set-up, and the Cyprus bailout was another German set-up. Cyprus is a vital island for any European nation that wants to project its power into the Middle East. Watch for Germany to gain control of it.

For more information, see Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry’s recent video “Cyprus in Prophecy.”

Detroit Takes Emergency Measures

Detroit has become the largest city in U.S. history to be placed under the supervision of an emergency manager. Lawyer Kevyn Orr was appointed on Thursday by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder. Governor Snyder told the media that the state is intervening in Detroit because the city’s finances have reached “a true crisis point.”

Orr is a bankruptcy lawyer who helped Chrysler, one of Detroit’s automakers, restructure its finances after it went bankrupt in 2009. In his new role, he has broad powers to control all city spending.

Detroit was once synonymous with wealth and prosperity. About a century ago, it boasted the fourth-largest population of any city in America. That figure has dropped from the millions to only 700,000—40 percent of whom live in poverty. Automakers and other manufacturers have left the city, along with jobs and citizens. Over the past decade, 25 percent of the city’s population has fled.

But Detroit’s crises have not just been economic. Its families have been obliterated: By some estimates, three out of every four Detroit families are missing a father or a mother. This social wreckage has contributed to an unbelievable state of affairs in the city. Nearly half of all Detroit adults are functionally illiterate. About one in three households have no one who has worked a job in the last 12 months. Gang activity and drug usage is out of control, and Detroit is widely regarded as America’s first major failed city. It is doubtful that its new emergency manager will be able to save it, financially or otherwise.

Detroit is an indication of what is ahead for cities across the country. American families are already disintegrating, and social structures are crumbling. The Bible prophesied that this would happen due to rampant sin. It also forecast that American cities will experience financial collapse, social upheaval, violence, riots and burning.

Detroit’s plight reveals that America has lost its blessings and is being overrun by curses because it has forgotten God. Read Leviticus 26 for a shockingly accurate prediction of America’s fate, and compare it to today’s headlines.

Orthodox Leader Comes to Rome

Orthodox Leader Comes to Rome

VANO SHLAMOV/AFP/Getty Images

For the first time in a millennium, a leader of the Orthodox Church will attend the installment of a pope.

The installation of Pope Francis i on March 19 will serve as one more step toward healing the breach between Catholics and Orthodox Christians. The ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew i, the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christians, will attend the service. It will be the first time the spiritual leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church has attended the inauguration mass for a pope in almost 1,000 years.

The last time such a meeting occurred was before 1054—the year that the Great Schism took place. The Great Schism saw the dividing of the Catholic Church into east and west. The western branch was situated in Rome and held the name of the Roman Catholic Church. The Eastern Church had its headquarters in Constantinople. Constantinople is now known as Istanbul, the former capital of Turkey.

The attendance of Bartholomew i reflects the progressive steps toward unification that have been achieved under Pope Francis’s predecessor, Pope Benedict xvi. Pope Benedict visited the Turkish capital in 2006. He explained that his visit was designed to stimulate “mutual understanding and the quest of full unity.” But the meeting of these two religious leaders may not have been possible at all had it not been for the work of Pope Benedict’s predecessor, Pope John Paul ii. He was the first pope to travel to an Eastern Orthodox country since the days of the Great Schism. He began traveling to other Orthodox nations such as Ukraine, and opened more dialogue with the Orthodox community. His actions laid the foundation for Pope Benedict.

During the reign of Pope John Paul ii, the Trumpet stated that, “Although Eastern Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism still seek to negotiate a middle ground for agreement, this pope is pulling out all stops to lay the groundwork for roping the wayward eastern wing of the church back into its fold.”

It would appear that Pope Francis is uniquely suited to follow in the footsteps of John Paul ii and Benedict. According to the Associated Press,

Francis is familiar with Orthodox traditions from 14 years of heading the Argentine church’s commission on Eastern Rite Christians, which is within the Catholic fold but follows Orthodox religious customs, including some married clergy in lower ranks. …For Orthodox, the new pope’s choice of Francis is also important for its reference to the Italian town of Assisi, where Pope John Paul ii began conferences encouraging interfaith dialogue and closer bonds among Christians.

Yet the two religions, Orthodox and Roman Catholic, are still divided over a number of issues. One of the key issues is the rule and power of the pope. The Orthodox believe that a pope is primus inter pares, or the first among equals. He rules as the head of the church. The Roman Catholics believe in papal supremacy. This is when the pope has complete power over the entire church and unhindered power therein. It is this power that remains a serious point of division.

Representatives of the two religions met on Oct. 13, 2007, in Italy, to draft a document declaring that, historically, the pope had primacy over all Catholic and Orthodox bishops. Since that time, progress has been made, step by step, to bring the two groups together.

The dividing issues run deeper than this one point of contention, yet Bartholomew i is in Rome, attending a ceremony that apparently goes against his beliefs. Bartholomew’s attendance at the inauguration of the man whom Catholics believe rules supreme shows his willingness to work toward reunification.

The Trumpet has long proclaimed the prophesied reunification of the Catholic Church with the Orthodox (Isaiah 47:8). The installment of Pope Francis will highlight another step toward healing the divide between east and west. Watch as the newly elected Pope Francis follows in the path of his predecessors, alive and dead, as he works toward a unified church. Read “Returning to the Fold” to understand how the Catholic Church is working to unite Christians under the pope.

Iran Wants Nuclear War