Britain about to leave EU?
On October 23, the European Commission slapped Britain with a bill of $2.7 billion. European officials recalculated national payments to the European Union based on member nations’ economic progress since 1995. Due to Britain’s perceived economic growth, it was ordered to pay this additional amount. Adding salt to the wound, Eurocrats demanded that Britain pay the bill by December 1—or face a $64 million fine (2.5 percent) every month it went unpaid.
This surprise bill outraged British politicians. Prime Minister David Cameron said, “If people think I am paying that bill on 1 December, they have another think coming. … It is an unacceptable way for this organization to work—to suddenly present a bill like this for such a vast sum of money with so little time to pay it.”
bbc reported that Cameron “sounded like a prime minister unleashed; by turns scornful and furious, lectern thumping, downright angry” (Oct. 24, 2014).
Asked how this bill would impact Britain remaining part of the EU, Mr. Cameron responded, “You do not join an association that suddenly thumps you with a bill for €2 billion three weeks before you’ve got to pay it. If it behaves in this way, it shouldn’t get surprised when its members say this cannot go on and it’s got to change.”
The timing was bad for Cameron, who has been trying to persuade right-of-center voters to support Britain’s continued EU membership. The $2.7 billion surprise did not help his cause.
The immediate crisis was averted when a compromise was negotiated allowing Britain to pay the bill in two installments, one in July and one in September, and that it would be offset by London’s annual rebate, to be paid in advance. But the larger issue of UK-EU relations isn’t going away.
Even ahead of the European Commission’s bill, on October 9, the UK Independence Party (ukip), which is devoted to getting Britain out of the EU, won its first seats in Britain’s Parliament.
Think tank Stratfor noticed Britain’s political shift: “[ukip leader Nigel] Farage’s rapid rise in British politics has moved the entire British political spectrum toward more euroskeptical positions, and no major party is impervious to ukip’s influence. … Britain’s traditional party system dominated by the Tories [Conservatives] and Labor will undergo a tough test in 2015” (Oct. 15, 2014).
Even with a very small number of parliamentary seats, ukip is forcing Britain to take a tougher stance against the EU. Even Labor has committed to holding a referendum before any new powers are given to Brussels. This political shift shows that more and more Britons are strongly opposed to their country’s position in the EU. Whichever parties come out on top in the elections, this groundswell against the EU won’t change.
One way or another—either pulled out by angry voters or pushed out by an impatient EU—Britain will not remain in the EU.
“Britain is going to look back on Monday, Jan. 1, 1973, in all probability, as a most tragically historic date—a date fraught with ominous potentialities!” wrote Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Trumpet’s predecessor, the Plain Truth. “For that date marked the United Kingdom’s entry into the European Community” (March 1973).
“Probably Germany will lead and dominate the coming United States of Europe,” Mr. Armstrong wrote in 1956. “But Britain will be no part of it!”
This forecast is coming to pass. Germany leads and dominates the eurozone today. And economic and military hazards could soon push it into consolidating power in a United States of Europe. It is clear that Britain will not be part of that.
Mr. Armstrong understood enough about Europe, Britain and, most especially, Bible prophecy to make these forecasts beginning nearly 70 years ago. For more information on what else he knew about Britain’s future, read “Britain Was Warned!” in our freshly updated booklet He Was Right, available free upon request.
A de-dollarized world
For 70 years, the United States dollar has dominated global commerce—especially the oil market. For many years, the “petrodollar” was the only currency used to buy oil in global markets. However, this is changing as Russia and other powers drop the dollar.
In August, the Russian government-controlled Gazprom energy company started taking payment in rubles for its oil shipments from the Arctic to European ports. It will take payment in Chinese renminbi for the oil it ships through the Eastern Siberia-Pacific Ocean pipeline.
In July, brics nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) announced plans for a brics central bank. Its currency swaps will facilitate the ability to bypass the dollar in a number of international transactions. Given China’s economic power, analysts believe the renminbi will become the central bank’s official currency.
China has made other moves to circumvent the dollar. In June, Beijing started direct trade between the yuan and British pound. On September 30, China began direct trading between the yuan and euro. China has been slowly growing the list of countries with which it has direct currency trade: the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia.
While the U.S. dollar is currently rallying, it is simultaneously losing its status in some quarters as a world reserve currency.
China unmoved by protesters
Protesters in Hong Kong want full democracy for the 2017 election of the city’s top civil position of chief executive. On August 31, China announced that the people of Hong Kong can vote in that election—but only for candidates who have been preapproved by the Communist Party’s Politburo in Beijing. This announcement triggered protests, with demonstrators decrying “fake” Chinese-style democracy. They demand an unrestricted choice of candidates.
In 1997, when the British handed back Hong Kong to China, the Chinese promised the special administrative region “a high degree of autonomy” for 50 years. Now residents say that the freedom that distinguishes the city from the rest of China is rapidly disintegrating.
The Hong Kong protests drew tens of thousands to the streets. They congested many of the city’s major traffic arteries, and sparked occasional skirmishes between demonstrators and police, who sometimes used pepper spray, batons and tear gas. Some analysts believed the protests could spread into the rest of China, and viewed them as a legitimate threat to the Communist Party. But as the weeks have gone by, the number of protesters has been falling. Both Hong Kong and Beijing have said the students’ demands are impossible. On October 21, Hong Kong officials finally held a round of talks with students and promised to deliver a report to Beijing about their demands. But no change resulted from the talks, and little is expected.
China’s refusal to concede to or even give the protesters real recognition affirms that even in Hong Kong, the ultimate authority is Beijing.
Russia, China’s new pipeline
Russia began construction on a new pipeline to China on September 1, with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli attending a ribbon-cutting ceremony in the Siberian city of Yakutsk.
Called the Power of Siberia, the new pipeline is scheduled to start pumping gas to China in early 2019. It is expected to move 4 trillion cubic meters of gas to China over the next 30 years. It will also pump gas to eastern Russia.
Putin told the audience at the ceremony that the new pipeline will “significantly strengthen the economic cooperation with countries in the Asia-Pacific region and—above all—our key partner China.”
Putin and Zhang called it the world’s largest construction project. Investment from both nations will be more than $70 billion. The completed project will create the world’s largest fuel network and will give Russia the ability to link its European gas pipeline with its eastern network.
The deal will greatly reduce Russia’s dependence on European buyers, lessening the effect of economic sanctions placed on Russia for its role in the Ukrainian crisis. More importantly, it will give Russia the ability to stop gas deliveries to Europe while still selling gas to Asia, potentially revolutionizing Moscow’s relations with Europe.
Putin said Russia will soon be able to “more effectively implement gas flows—either more to the West or to the East—depending on world markets.”
Based on Bible prophecy, the Trumpet has forecast Russia’s return as a major world power that will ally itself with China and break its dependence on Europe. Russia’s new pipeline and investment deal is a huge step in this direction.
Russians seek ‘Czar Putin’
A campaign is underway in Russia to crown Russian President Vladimir Putin as the nation’s czar, according to a September 9 report by Ukrainian website Eizvestia.com.
The Moscow-based movement called “For the Coronation of the Russian President” is collecting signatures for its petition both online and at its offices across Russia.
The organization’s stated mission is to “reinstitute a monarchy in Russia and to appoint Vladimir Putin to the position of czar.” The organization’s website states, “We believe Putin has done so much for Russia and deserves to govern Russia until the end of his days, and then hand power over by inheritance to one of his sons or daughters.”
Russia was ruled by monarchs from the mid-ninth century until 1917 when Emperor of Russia Nicholas ii abdicated and then was murdered along with his family by Marxist revolutionaries, destroying czarist autocracy and bringing about the Soviet Union.
Several weeks before the earliest tensions of the Ukraine crisis began, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry identified Vladimir Putin as the “prince of Rosh” discussed in Bible prophecy. Since then, Putin’s power has increased and his popularity among his people has soared. He has increasingly wielded that power like a mighty monarch. The comparatively small czarist movement is unlikely to crown the president, but it adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting a monarchical component of the reign of Vladimir Putin, the “prince of Rosh.”
To understand the jaw-dropping significance of Putin’s reign, read “Vladimir Putin Is the Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’”
Syria: Desperate times, desperate measures
You know the situation must be bad when politicians leave partisan bickering aside for a moment during an election year and vote overwhelmingly for intervention in a war-ravaged nation in the Middle East tinderbox.
On September 17, the United States House of Representatives voted 273 to 156 in favor of authorizing the Obama administration to arm and train “moderate” Syrian rebels against the Islamic State. The following day, the Senate voted 78 to 22 for the same authorization. The U.S. can now legally spend $500 million to arm and train about 5,000 “vetted” rebels in Syria to fight the Islamic State’s nearly 20,000 militants.
That is the extent to which the Syrian crisis has deteriorated.
As recently as August, President Barack Obama was against arming any of Syria’s rebels. In a New York Times interview, he said that “it has always been a fantasy—this idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and [expect them to confront] a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah—that was never in the cards.” Yet now, that “fantasy” is reality, and Congress is supporting it.
At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing the day before casting his “yes” vote, Sen. Marco Rubio cited “credible reports” that asserted that the biggest enemy facing the “moderate” opposition forces in Syria is the Assad regime—not necessarily the Islamic State. Those reports said that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces were stepping up their fight against the “moderate” rebels that are battling both Assad and the Islamic State. Assad’s rationale is that eliminating the moderates would leave him as the only tolerable alternative for the U.S. to collaborate with against the Islamic State. The U.S. seeks to avoid that possibility by arming the moderates. “What we are asked to do now is approve funding to arm moderate rebel elements in Syria,” Rubio explained. “There is no guarantee of success. There is none. But there is a guarantee of failure if we do not even try.”
At a September 16 Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gen. Martin Dempsey admitted that Assad has killed more rebels than the Islamic State has. When questioned by Sen. John McCain whether the rebels the U.S. plans to train would only fight against the Islamic State and not the Assad regime, General Dempsey said he believed that “as we train them and develop a military chain of command linked to a political structure, that we can establish objectives that defer that challenge into the future. We do not have to deal with it now.”
When Rubio asked Secretary of State John Kerry whether the U.S. may need to protect those “moderate” rebels from Assad, Kerry’s response was similar to Dempsey’s: “[Islamic State] first. That’s our policy.” It doesn’t bode well for the world if America’s military leaders say their best option is to defer core problems to the future.
The crisis in Syria is a disturbing spectacle of the lack of leadership in the United States. This fulfills Isaiah 3:2-3: gone is “[t]he mighty man, and the man of war, the judge, and the prophet, and the prudent, and the ancient, The captain of fifty, and the honourable man, and the counsellor, and the cunning artificer, and the eloquent orator.”
Facing radical Islam, Christians look to Rome
Many Christians, even non-Catholics, look to the Catholic Church to lead the defense against radical Islam. That is what Church of England Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said during a speech on October 2. The church’s press release about the speech states: “Bishop Nazir-Ali said that with the growth of Islamic militancy and the persecution of Christians worldwide, many people were now looking to Rome as the voice that could stem the tide. He said these people included many evangelicals he knew who never, in the past, would have thought about Rome: ‘So the Catholic Church has both a great opportunity and also a great responsibility.’”
Evangelicals and other Christian groups that just a few decades ago viewed the Catholic Church with suspicion or hostility are now looking to Rome for leadership. This marks a remarkable shift in religious history. The rise of Islamist groups like the Islamic State and the worldwide persecution of Christians are just two of several pushes in this direction.
Hamas: bold West Bank aims
If you wonder whether Hamas deep down wants peace with Israel, a senior Hamas leader has an answer for you. Mahmoud al-Zahar, the terrorist organization’s co-founder and political bureau member, told Al-Ayyam newspaper on October 1 that his group wants to seize the West Bank and then destroy Israel.
Speaking to the Ramallah-based Palestinian newspaper, Zahar explained: “[Some] have said Hamas wants to create an Islamic emirate in Gaza. We won’t do that, but we will build an Islamic state in Palestine, all of Palestine.”
To those who doubt Hamas’s capabilities, Zahar bragged, “We know exactly how to liberate the land of Palestine, and we know how to hit every inch of Palestine with our hands, brains and money.” If Hamas were to “transfer what it has or just a small part of it to the West Bank,” he said, “we would be able to settle the battle of the final promise with a speed that no one can imagine.”
In Gaza, Hamas has a government, installations from which it can launch missiles at Israeli civilians (as it did during Operation Protective Edge), and a thriving hotbed for rabid anti-Semitism and terrorism. Hamas also enjoys majority support in Gaza, and that support has been swelling in the West Bank, which is currently controlled by Hamas’s political opponent, Fatah.
According to an opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, 57 percent of West Bank Palestinians support Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, compared to 33 percent who support Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. An August report from Israel’s internal security agency, Shin Bet, revealed that while Hamas was fighting Israel from the Gaza Strip, it was simultaneously working on an elaborate plan to unleash mass murder on Israeli civilians and use the turmoil to violently overthrow Fatah’s Palestinian Authority and take over of the West Bank.
Palestinian Media Watch explained that the “final promise” Zahar mentioned is a reference to a Koranic passage about Jerusalem and its total destruction.
At the United Nations General Assembly on September 29, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu likened Hamas to the Islamic State. Yet the United States (and much of the world) characterizes the terrorist organization more positively.
The longer the leash on Hamas extends, the more vulnerable Israel becomes. The Bible prophesies that half of Jerusalem will soon be violently overtaken (read about this in our free booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy). This most likely will be orchestrated by Hamas.
Leverage: Iran and the Islamic State
Since its inception in 1979, Islamist Iran has relied on connections with terrorists to force its will on other nations. During the P5+1 talks in September over Iran’s nuclear program, its mullahs hinted that they were ready to use a new lever: Islamic State terrorists.
An Iranian official who spoke with Reuters on September 21 said his country was ready to help apply pressure against the Islamic State. The equal and opposite reaction? The West must ease the pressure against Iran’s nuclear program. Western nations have already promised incentives for Iran to dismantle about 90 percent of its uranium-enrichment centrifuges, saying it does not need them all if Tehran is, in fact, using them only for peaceful purposes.
Iran insists on keeping all 19,000 of the centrifuges—10,000 of which are operational. The West has been hesitant to reach full agreement in the talks out of concern for Iran’s potential breakout capacity to produce nuclear weapons.
The possibility of cooperating militarily is complex and controversial for Iran and the United States, which Iranians refer to as the Great Satan. But it has not only been entertained—it has now been fairly openly publicized.
Iran has indirectly cooperated with the U.S. by supporting Shia and Kurdish Peshmerga militants in their fight against the Islamic State. On September 5, BBC reported that, according to sources in Tehran, Iran’s Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had authorized Gen. Qassem Suleimani, commander of Iran’s elite Quds Force, to work with the U.S. against terrorists in Iraq. Iran later denied that report and has since been much more critical of the United States.
On September 17, Khamenei said Iran would not cooperate with the U.S. against the Islamic State, saying America’s “hands were dirty and intentions murky.” President Hassan Rouhani derided U.S. strategy as “ridiculous.”
As far back as June, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke of the possibility of working with Iran. He said the U.S. was “open to discussions” with Iran and that it “would not rule out anything.” But Kerry responded to questions raised by Sen. Marco Rubio at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on September 17 by insisting he “never said anything about coordinating” with Iran or Syria. But, he said, “if we are failing and failing miserably, who knows what choice they might make” in an effort to “take on [the Islamic State].” Two days later, Secretary Kerry said at a United Nations Security Council meeting on Iraq that “there is a role for nearly every country in the world to play, including Iran.”
The murkiness surrounding United States-Iran cooperation shows just how much leverage Iran can wield in nuclear negotiations when it comes to fighting the Islamic State.