Pay attention to Cairo unrest
With the death toll still mounting in Egypt, the media is raising the question, is Egypt the next Syria? Are we going to see mass unrest, and mass bloodshed? Perhaps, but there’s one key difference between Syria and Egypt that will radically change how this latest crisis unfolds.
Unrest in Syria has been going on for two years—yet, despite a death toll in the tens of thousands, it has had little direct effect on most people outside the region.
Not so with Egypt. The worst of the recent violence—which only lasted a few days in August after the military overthrew President Mohamed Morsi, and resulted in 2,000 deaths—caused oil prices to hit their highest point in four months. Nothing actually disrupted the oil coming out of the country, but Egypt is such an important choke point that the risk alone was enough to drive prices up.
If Egypt’s unrest follows the Syrian path, it will have an immediate, clear, direct effect on nations around the world. As the situation unfolds, watch how Iran, Europe and even the U.S. and China respond. Events in Egypt will provoke changes in countries and alliances around the world.
Seven percent of the world’s seaborne oil trade and 13 percent of its liquefied natural gas comes through Egypt. It is the vital gateway between Europe and the Eastern hemisphere. For quite some time in ancient history, Egypt was a superpower. Its geographic situation at the crossroads of three continents guarantees that it will always be of major importance.
That makes Egypt a target for external forces seeking to control this strategic real estate. How will that affect what happens next? In potentially dozens of ways.
For Europe, any turmoil in Egypt that results in the closure of the Suez Canal would knock billions of euros off its economic growth. It could severely aggravate Europe’s unemployment problem. Thus Europe is deeply interested in Egypt’s future. If the closure of the canal were even threatened, it would motivate European nations to further unite their militaries so as to increase their capability to intervene if they needed to. An actual closure is the stuff of war.
For Israel, the unstable situation is extremely tense. Israel allowed the Egyptian Army to boost its military presence in the Sinai Peninsula on July 15, putting Egyptian tanks on Israel’s border for the first time since the Six-Day War in 1967. Allowing Egyptian troops into the area exposes Israel to a full-scale land invasion on a flank it has long regarded as secure. The alternative would mean allowing terrorists to become more entrenched in the Sinai, making it even easier for Iran to smuggle weapons to Hamas in Gaza. Despite President Mohamed Morsi’s overthrow, Israel is much less secure than when Hosni Mubarak was in charge.
For Iran, the premier Middle East power, Egypt’s unrest is a prime opportunity to gain influence in the region’s most populous Muslim nation. Iran is certain to continue courting the Muslim Brotherhood. With the Brotherhood now under attack by the Egyptian military, it will be more receptive to Iranian influence than ever.
There are also signs that Iran is playing both sides in Egypt. As America has reduced its support for the Egyptian military, Iran has actually made overtures to the new rulers. No matter which way the Egypt’s revolution swings, it appears Iran is set to gain influence and power in a nation once considered its enemy.
Biblical prophecy makes this clear. Daniel 11 tells us that Egypt will end up aligned with Iran—a prophecy the Trumpet has used as its guide to events in the Middle East since decades before Hosni Mubarak fell.
With Egypt as part of its alliance, Iran is powerful enough to push against Europe. Daniel shows that in doing so, it will provoke a furious response from the Continent that leads directly into World War iii.
For more information on Egypt’s strategic significance, see Trumpet columnist Joel Hilliker’s article “Will the Muslim Brotherhood Close the Suez Canal?” thetrumpet.com/go/7928
Egypt Targeting Christians
A rift is deepening in Egypt between the Coptic Christian minority and the vast Islamic population of the country. The Muslim Brotherhood, desperately trying to reverse its losses, is trying to bring about as much instability as possible in hopes of bogging the military down in the turmoil. Much of the Brotherhood’s attention has been focused on Christians, whom they are targeting with looting, vandalism, arson, kidnapping, torture and murder.
According to some news sources, in just one week in August at least 40 churches were looted and torched. Dozens of others have been attacked and wrecked by armed thugs.
The Brotherhood wants to turn the violence into a sectarian battle in an attempt to incite hatred and thereby obtain more political clout for itself. If the Brotherhood can convince the people of Egypt that it is indeed fighting for the support of Islam, it may drum up the support it needs to stand against the might of Egypt’s military. The military has been slow to respond to violence against the Christians, largely for political reasons.
While the attention in Egypt may be on the Brotherhood and the military at present, there are some who will be closely watching the persecution of Christians. One organization undoubtedly monitoring the situation is the Roman Catholic Church. While the Catholics and Copts are not the same religion per se, they have a long history and have made several attempts to reconcile and unite. Persecution against the Copts only adds to the Vatican’s list of grievances against violent Muslims, and hastens the religious war the Bible prophesies will occur between them.
Crossing the red line
Gut-wrenching reports and footage of people harmed and killed by chemical weapons attacks in Syria dominated headlines in August and early September. Estimates place the death toll in the hundreds.
The most vocal world leader calling for intervention was British Prime Minister David Cameron. However, his bold talk was undermined on August 29 when the Parliament voted against Britain taking action. It revealed the nation’s deep political divide and lack of will to involve itself in foreign affairs. The Telegraph’s Dan Hodges called it “a catastrophe for British foreign policy.”
A similar process unfolded in America. U.S. President Barack Obama had declared that a chemical attack was a “red line” that would provoke a military retaliation. After initially promising to follow through, the president then stepped back to get support from Congress, putting the whole process in doubt. The American public also expressed loud disapproval of getting involved militarily in yet another Middle Eastern country. Like Britain, America’s credibility—its willingness and capability to make good on its word—was weakened.
In The United States and Britain in Prophecy, Herbert W. Armstrong summarized this loss of Anglo-American prestige in recent decades: “Today even little nations dare to insult, trample on, or burn the United States flag—and the United States, still having power, does no more than issue a weak protest! What’s happened to the pride of our power? We have already lost it! God said, ‘I will break the pride of your power!’ And He did!”
Does that sound moderate?
Iranian President Hasan Rowhani made fiery, anti-Zionist statements on August 2. Quoted by local media one day before his inauguration, Rowhani, whom many in the West consider “moderate,” said, “The Zionist regime is a wound inflicted for years on the body of the Muslim world that must be cleansed.”
Since Rowhani’s election, Iran has installed 7,000 centrifuges, many of which have enhanced uranium enrichment capabilities.
President Rowhani has made a tactful move, appointing outgoing Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi as head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The post oversees the operation of Iran’s nuclear facilities, though it is not directly involved in nuclear negotiations. Salehi is a well-known pragmatist who replaces a hardliner appointed under former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The appointment helps calm the international community while bringing Iran even closer to creating nuclear weapons behind the “moderate” facade.
Rowhani’s “moderate” reputation buys Tehran time, increases its legitimacy, and could help ease crippling economic sanctions against it. Yet the Islamic Republic of Iran remains a dangerous, anti-Israel, terrorist-sponsoring state.
Arab Spring 2.0
Following the assassination of opposition lawmaker Mohammed Brahmi by unknown assailants on July 25, thousands of Tunisians took to the streets, calling on the government to resign. Some directly blame the government for the assassination, others blame it for not preventing it. Some evidence indicates that al Qaeda terrorists may have orchestrated the assassination to create a political crisis for the Tunisian government. In any case, they are taking full advantage of the crisis and public outrage against the government over the murder. On July 29, al Qaeda terrorists ambushed and savagely slaughtered eight Tunisian soldiers, leading to a military offensive by the Tunisian Army. All the while, opposition groups and Tunisia’s biggest labor union have been calling urgently for “million man” protests and for the current Tunis administration to step down. What is happening in Tunisia—birthplace of the wildly explosive Arab Spring—is a sign of the prophesied radicalization of much of the Middle East.
Ties with al Qaeda
In May, Egypt arrested three militants armed with 22 pounds of explosives and bomb-making equipment. Egypt’s Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim told journalists that they had received instructions from an al Qaeda leader, Dawoud al-Asadi. The U.S. State Department says Asadi is actually Muhsin al-Fadhli, the leader of al Qaeda in Iran. Ibrahim said one of the three terrorists had received military training in Iran. It seems that common enemies do much to unite disparate radical elements.
German guns, Arab buyers
German arms exports to Gulf Arab states are on record pace, according to official figures released on August 7. Germany set the previous record just last year with €1.42 billion (us$1.87 billion) in arms going to Gulf states, €1.24 billion of which went to Saudi Arabia. In the first half of 2013, Germany approved the export of weapons worth €817 million; Qatar was the primary customer. These arms sales are part of a huge change in German foreign policy. From 2002 to 2011, Germany sold roughly €250 million in arms to Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Today, Germany sells more to these countries in two months than in that decade. Meanwhile, Berlin has put arms exports to Egypt on hold. Across North Africa and the Middle East, Germany is using arms sales to build alliances to contain Iran.
Drug cartels invade America
As many as 1,286 cities in America are reported to have some kind of cartel presence. In the past, Mexican cartels dealt with American drug runners, saving them the danger of having to traffic the drugs themselves. But a study by the Associated Press has found that cartels are starting to send their own members into America to oversee drug operations because they have become so massive. Last year, drug cartels made $64 billion from their sales in the United States. This May, law enforcement officials in Oregon foiled a drug operation run by a Mexican cartel. Twenty-three homes were raided and 38 people arrested in the largest-ever drug bust in that state. While some American lawmakers look to limit the flow of drugs into the country through tighter border control, the real issue is that America is hooked on drugs. As long as this problem persists, so will the cartels.
More vulnerable than ever
Security experts are admitting how easily cyber terrorists could decimate infrastructure in the United States. Despite continued encouragement and even an executive order from the federal government for companies to upgrade their existing security systems, many of America’s key infrastructure controls are still easily accessible. Alan Roberson, director of federal relations at the American Water Works Association, says most American utility companies “are aware that they need to separate their control systems from the Internet … but we still don’t know how many have done that, and how many vulnerabilities are left.” Tim Simonite of MIT Tech Review warned that one of the sensors “used to monitor oil, water, nuclear and natural gas infrastructure” can be hacked into with “a relatively cheap 40-mile-range radio transmitter.” America’s port systems are also at risk of being hacked. The consensus is that America’s increasing reliance on technology is putting it an increasing risk of attack.