Iran Gets a Stranglehold on the Middle East

Iran Gets a Stranglehold on the Middle East


This terrorist nation has become the gatekeeper of the Red Sea and the Suez Canal.
From the April 2015 Trumpet Print Edition

Yemen is one of the most strategically important countries in the world. Recent developments there have shocked many people and will have dramatic effects that extend far beyond the Middle East.

In January, the Houthis, a rebel group sponsored and directed by Iran, overthrew the pro-American Yemeni government. After they conquered the capital city of Sanaa, throngs of Houthis began chanting “Death to America!” and “Death to Israel!” These are exactly the same battle cries that Iran uses.

This stunned many people in Europe and terrified many of the more moderate Arab states, especially those that rely on unlimited access to the Red Sea.

The Houthi takeover in Yemen proves that Iran is implementing a bold strategy to control thevital sea lane fromthe Indian Ocean tothe Mediterranean Sea.

We need to understand the gravity ofthis new situationin Yemen!

In order to reach the Mediterranean Sea from the Indian Ocean, a lot of seafaring trade—including 3.8 million barrels of oil per day—passes through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, the southern gate of the Red Sea. Measuring just 18 miles across, this channel is the closest point between the two landmasses of central Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. The northeast edge of the strait is in Yemeni territory.

The strategic importance of controlling this passage is equal to controlling the Suez Canal, since both are part of the same thoroughfare.

Consider the global ramifications: Nearly 10 percent of global seaborne oil supplies pass through the gates of the Red Sea. Roughly 20,000 ships pass through the Suez Canal and Bab el-Mandeb each year—an average of 55 per day. About 15 percent of global maritime trade travels through the Red Sea.

Now that Iran controls Yemen, it can virtuallyclose or open thisspigot on Middle East oil bound for Europe. And Europe is taking notice!

Historical Role of the Red Sea

By linking the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea has always played a key role in world affairs.

From antiquity until the 15th century, the Red Sea acted as the main thoroughfare for east-west seafaring trade. Goods from the east were transported by ship through the Gulf of Aden, through the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, and into the Red Sea, continuing north toward the Gulf of Suez. Once these convoys made land, they transported the cargo north and west toward Mediterranean ports, where goods were again loaded onto ships for transport to southern Europe.

However, when the Cape of Good Hope in southern Africa was discovered the 15th century, the Red Sea’s importance as a global trade route waned. Now that Africa could be circumnavigated, Portuguese and then Dutch sailors used powerful westerly winds to cut down on sailing time by taking the southern route toward Asia. With the invention of steam-powered ships, ocean traffic around the southern cape increased even more dramatically in the 19th century, and Red Sea ports lost much of their strategic value.

But then in 1869, the Suez Canal opened. Suddenly, the distance between European and Asian ports was slashed by half to two thirds. The distance between Kuwait and Liverpool was reduced from 13,500 miles around the Cape of Good Hope to about 7,000 miles via the Red Sea. The route from Singapore to Liverpool was also nearly cut in half. This reinvigorated the use of the Red Sea passage, causing a huge surge in shipping and trade.

The strategic value of the Red Sea increased further in the 1930s, when oil began to flow from the Persian Gulf to Europe and the United States.

Since then, oil has become a chief commodity driving economic growth and military preparedness around the world. Thus, ensuring stability in the Red Sea and its two gates—the Suez Canal and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait—became critical to global trade and economic activity—and for maintaining the peace of the world.

Yemeni Col. Hussain al-Yadoomi wrote for the usa War College in 1991, “One of the primary duties of the international community is to act as an alert guardian to ensure that the Bab el-Mandeb Strait is available to all navigation and at all times” (emphasis mine throughout).

Now, rather suddenly, Iran—the world’s greatest state sponsor of terrorism—has basically become the gatekeeper to this strategic asset. This really does threaten the peaceof the world!

Western nations, led by Britain and the U.S., have tried to ensure that the Red Sea remained open by supporting relatively Western-friendly regimes in the Middle East such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen. Of course, the drawback to such a policy is that in the volatile Middle East, governments can change as fast as the shifting sands. But for many decades, this policy of supporting certain Middle Eastern regimes—together with a strong naval presence in the Indian Ocean and Mediterranean Sea—worked. It kept the Red Sea open most of the time.

Today, the situation has changed radically. Britain is nowhere to be seen. And to its great shame, the United States is actually supporting the Iranian takeover of Yemen! You can read more about this in our article on page 6.

Iran’s Red Sea Strategy

The Houthis’ takeover of Yemen was not just a grassroots revolution. It was a part of a deliberate and calculated Iranian strategy to conquer the Red Sea. This strategy is revealed in a powerful prophecy in the biblical book of Daniel.

As astounding as it may sound, the Prophet Daniel foretold what just happened in Yemen! He even mentions names of individual nations along the Red Sea corridor that will be aligned with Iran.

Notice it: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over” (Daniel 11:40). This is an end-time prophecy. It concerns the time we are living in right now, and it directly concerns these Middle Eastern nations.

For almost 25 years we have identified the king of the south as a radical Islamist power led by Iran, and the king of the north as a German-led European power. This prophecy reveals that the Iranian-led power will push at Europe. It may be that this push could take place in the very area of Yemen or the Gulf of Aden.

Notice what Michael Segall wrote for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs: “If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region, giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean. Arab commentators in the Gulf have warned in recent years about this Iranian push” (Nov. 3, 2014).

While Arab commentators may have speculated about this Iranian push in recent years, we have warned about this push for almost a quarter century! Taking over Yemen puts Iran in an even stronger position to make this push.

The following verses in Daniel reveal other nations that will align with Iran, the king of the south. Those mentioned include Egypt, Ethiopia and Libya (verses 42-43). These nations are all situated next to the Mediterranean Sea or the Red Sea. In April 2011, I wrote that these nations are “the key that unlocks the strategy of radical Islam. … They are on the two seas that comprise the most important trade route in the world! Whoever heavily influences or controls Ethiopia will undoubtedly also control the small areas of Eritrea and Djibouti on the Red Sea coastline. These areas only recently became independent of Ethiopia. Also, I believe the Bible view is that these small areas are included as a part of Ethiopia.” (My booklet Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy explains all this in detail. Read it online or request a printed copy; all of our literature is free.)

Recent reports also indicate that Iran has established itself in Eritrea. A January 27 Breitbart News report said Egyptian intelligence has found a secret Iranian base built “at the port of Assab in Eritrea on the Red Sea.”

Look at a map. Yemen is just a short 18 miles across the water to Eritrea, which was a part of Ethiopia until as recently as 1994. Controlling these nations could give Iran virtual control of the trade through these seas!

As I wrote in 2011, “Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the U.S. and Europe.”

It is not far-fetched to envision Iran using its power to control the flow of oil out of the Middle East. The supreme leader of Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, has threatened as much. And on January 17, the Iranian state-sponsored Tasnim News Agency published an article that said boldly: “Today, all the arteries of oil transport—from Bab el-Mandeb Strait to Suez Canal and the Strait of Hormuz—are under Iranian control, by means of Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, and within range of Iranian missiles” (translation memri).

Iran is aggressively securing its foreign holdings along the Red Sea—and boasting about how it could use them!

Yet the United States is apparently allowing Iran free course in an effort to win it over in nuclear negotiations.

Many commentators recognize what this takeover in Yemen reveals about Iran’s overarching strategy in the Middle East.

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer said this in an interview with Fox News: “Now, it’s true that the Houthis are against al Qaeda, but the real issue is that the Houthis are a client of, supported by, and in some ways advised by Iran. And as you saw on the map, the Saudis are looking at the Iranians in the north, the Iranian allies—which is essentially Iraq, Syria and Lebanon on one side and Yemen now—to the south and west under Iranian dominance, and they are scaredto death. That’s why this is a double attack on us. It’s the loss of an ally against al Qaeda, and it’s a huge geopolitical gain for Iran, extending its influence over Arab states.”

He and others are sounding the alarm about Iran’s growing hegemony in the Middle East. But what these analysts and commentators do not see is where this situation is ultimately leading. We need Bible prophecy for that.

How It Will End

Daniel 11:40 shows that as these events play out with Iran, the United States won’t be a factor! It is Europe that Iran is going to push against. And it is Europe that will respond.

A European superpower is rising on the scene that will have the boldness and the power to deal with Iran’s pushing.

Europe is very worried about what Iran just did in Yemen. And unlike America, this European power will act!

Daniel 11:40 says Europe will come at Iran like a whirlwind. Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon says the Hebrew word for whirlwind is “used of the commotion of a storm or a tempest; to sweep away in a storm.” Europe is going to throw everything it has at the Iranian-led radical Muslims and utterly defeat them!

That drama all starts with a push from Iran.

This is the same nation that is about to get the nuclear bomb. Iranian leaders and many of their people believe the 12th imam—their version of the Messiah—is about to return. They think his return can be hastened by creating violence and chaos. Several nations in this world have nuclear weapons—but only Iran has leaders who harbor such dangerous religious thinking! What will happen when they get nuclear weapons? What sort of nuclear chaos would they stir up if they thought it would cause their messiah to return? In the thrall of religious zealotry, they would not even care about their own destruction if they use a nuclear weapon!

But who is going to stand up toIran? If no one willstand up to it today, when it does notyet have nuclear bombs, who will stand up to it when it actually has the bomb?

The Bible does reveal that finally, after being pushed too far, the European power will stand up to the king of the south.

However, this prophecy about Yemen, the king of the north and the king of the south has a wonderful conclusion.

Reading into chapter 12 of Daniel, which is still part of this prophetic vision, we see that this clash will lead to catastrophic world war—“a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (verse 1). Many other Bible prophecies talk about this period. Jesus Christ described it as “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21). This is the dramatic climax of this age of man—and once it is over, God will begin to intervene in world affairs in a powerful way.

Daniel 12:11 mentions an event toward the beginning of that “great tribulation,” when “the abomination that maketh desolate [is] set up.” Christ referred to this statement from Daniel in His famous Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24:15; Mark 13:14). He revealed that this “abomination” is actually “Jerusalem compassed with armies”—armies that are about to destroy the Holy City! (Luke 21:20). Putting all the prophecies together shows that these are the European armies of the king of the north after they have conquered the king of the south.

And notice the conclusion to Daniel 12:11: From the time that these armies are set up, “there shall be a thousand two hundred andninety days.”

Think about that! This prophecy reveals we are getting to a timewhere you can actually start counting days until the SecondComing of Jesus Christ! These events in Yemen show that we are almost able to begin to count the days. It was all prophesied thousands of years ago, and now every bit of it is being fulfilled before your eyes. These events are going to end with Jesus Christ’s return to Earth!

Europe Takes First Step Toward Building Military Headquarters

Europe Takes First Step Toward Building Military Headquarters

Philipp Guelland/Getty Images

The EU creates ‘the nucleus of a future European army.’

European Union leaders approved the creation of a new military headquarters on March 6. The agreement on Military Planning and Conduct Capability allows the EU to jointly run military operations abroad—the first time this kind of joint command has existed in its history. Deutsche Welle called the new facility “a military headquarters—in everything but name.”

Currently, the headquarters is limited to managing training missions. The EU is currently training local troops in Mali, Somalia and the Central African Republic.

EU leaders are clear that this is merely the beginning. “We are progressing steadily toward strengthened defense cooperation, and we will continue to do more,” said the EU’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini.

“It’s a first step,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. “A European army, maybe later,” he added. The EU Observer said that some see the new headquarters as “the nucleus of a future European army.”

The EU already plans to review the headquarters next year, when it may grant it the ability to command of combat missions as well.

“We took a very important step toward a European security and defense union, because we have become very concrete,” said German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen.

These are small beginnings. The headquarters will be staffed with only 30 or so personnel. After much debate, EU leaders decided that Finnish Lt. Gen. Esa Pulkkinen would not be known as the “commander” of the new command center, but rather as “director.”

The establishment of a European military command center adds to the list of military-related advancements the EU has made since Britain voted to leave the bloc last summer. On Oct. 6, 2016, the EU officially launched its European Border and Coast Guard Agency. On November 30, it launched a new fund for European defense research. The fund starts at $27 million but could expand to $530 million.

All of these steps have been made in the same direction. They are almost laughably small, but they establish some drastic principles. A border and coast guard with 1,500 guards is impotent. But establishing a shared force to protect the EU’s border is a huge step. A military headquarters that does not command combat missions is similarly immpotent. But the precedent has been sent, and issuing a combat authorization or expanding staff—even drastically—is easier than establishing it in the first place.

In 1978, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! The United States is not loved in Europe. European confidence in U.S. protection against their next-door Communist neighbor has been lessening and lessening.

Europeans want their own united military power!
They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussrpossibly stronger!

This is exactly what key leaders in Europe are pushing for. For more on this important trend, read “Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?

EU Takes Concrete Steps Toward a Military

EU Takes Concrete Steps Toward a Military

JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images

EU leaders say Europe needs a defense union so it can be a ‘superpower.’

Nations in the European Union have often talked about working together on defense. Many pro-EU politicians wanted some form of an EU army. But in terms of having actual, practical plans, they have had little success—until now.

On November 14, EU defense and foreign ministers agreed on concrete steps toward greater European military cooperation.

What they outlined was not a plan for an EU army, but specific, practical steps designed to start Europe down that road.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said the previous week that “we can only succeed in providing security to our citizens if we work together as a true Union, with the full potential of a superpower, in the field of security and defense” (emphasis added throughout).

“It’s more than just ‘blah, blah, blah,’” an unnamed EU diplomat said, according to the EU Observer. “There’s a new level of political ambition and a document with concrete tasks and a detailed timetable for implementation.”

The EU will now create a limited military headquarters. It will command training missions and logistics, but military missions will still be run by national governments. Italian Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said that this was “not yet a European general staff”—but it was intended to become one. They will also establish a European Medical Command.

This compromise sums up the progress that the EU made in November. A military headquarters that is not allowed to head military missions is absurd, but it’s all EU nations could agree on right now. Once operational, it would be a small matter to authorize it to head military missions as well.

The ministers also agreed that the EU needed its own joint military forces that could be sent to “situations of high security risk in the regions surrounding the EU.”

EU battle groups have existed for 10 years but have never seen action, in part, because participating states never wanted to foot the bill,” wrote the EU Observer. The ministers took some major steps toward changing that.

Under the new plan, these groups will be funded from the EU’s budget. The ministers also agreed that EU nations should not be penalized as firmly if extra defense spending takes them into debt. Once implemented, the battle groups would attract other nations to help pay for military missions.

The agreement also paves the way for greater EU cooperation on developing weapons, such as combat drones.

“I was always for an operational Europe of defense, not a declaratory one; we are now an operational Europe of defense,” said French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian.

The ministers also agreed to examine the use of “permanent structured cooperation.” This is a provision in EU treaties that allows a smaller group of nations to move forward with a project, without the rest of the Union. So far, it has been used only in relatively minor areas, such as simplifying divorce proceedings or patent law. If the EU moves ahead with this, it will be a significant step to a so-called “two-speed” Europe, where a smaller group of nations moves rapidly toward becoming a superstate, leaving the rest behind.

In the meantime, the plans EU leaders are moving forward with have met little opposition. “Even London, after years of opposing any plan to strengthen EU defense for fear of weakening nato, said it did not oppose the plan,” noted Politico.

“The decisions taken by the EU defense ministers at their meeting ending yesterday largely meet the demands for the enhanced EU military cooperation that Berlin, for years, has been pushing for, particularly since last summer,” wrote It concluded the article by noting:

Mogherini and [Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean] Asselborn are picking up the cues that had been openly discussed in German think tanks more than a decade ago. The struggle to implement the concept of a “superpower EU,” until now, has been hampered by the numerous internal contradictions within the alliance. This process could now be entering its decisive phase.

Meanwhile, United States President-elect Donald Trump looms over everything EU leaders are doing. This meeting and its conclusions were planned before the U.S. elections. Now that Mr. Trump has been elected, America’s commitment to Europe’s defense has been thrown into question.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has been one of the loudest voices calling for Europe and Germany need to do more now that Mr. Trump is headed for the White House. “Europe has to prepare for the fact that it must provide for itself,” she said, noting that that would mean spending more money on defense.

President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker also renewed calls for setting up a separate army for the European Continent just hours after Donald Trump was elected.

This is one of the main events the Trumpet has been watching for the past few decades. In 1978, Herbert W. Armstrong wrote:

The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! The United States is not loved in Europe. European confidence in U.S. protection against their next-door Communist neighbor has been lessening and lessening.

Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussr—possibly stronger!

European leaders today are using this exact language. “Trump knows that the EU has the money, technology and know-how to be a global power equal to the U.S., and it is not his problem that Europe lacks the political will to harness its full potential,” wrote Guy Verhofstadt, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe group in the European Parliament. “We Europeans have assumed for too long that it is cheaper and safer to let the U.S. solve our problems, even in our own backyard. With Trump’s election (and given America’s checkered foreign-policy legacy), we must discard this belief.”

For more on what is coming and how Herbert W. Armstrong was able to make this prediction, read our article “Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?

Could an EU Army Actually Work?

Could an EU Army Actually Work?


Many say the EU’s latest push for a combined military is doomed to fail. Are they right?

“Our European Union is, at least in part, in an existential crisis.” That was the grim assessment of European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in his September 14 State of the Union speech. One solution: European military cooperation.

“Europe needs to toughen up,” Juncker said. “Nowhere is this truer than in our defense policy. Europe can no longer afford to piggyback on the military might of others or let France alone defend its honor in Mali.”

In a Europe hit by the euro crisis, a wave of terrorism, mass immigration and now Brexit, a European army is one of the few things most of the leaders can agree on. Leaders from Germany, France, Italy, Czechia (formerly known as the Czech Republic), Hungary, Poland and Slovakia have all called for a common military.

Federica Mogherini, the European Unions’s de facto foreign minister, said earlier in the month that this time the push for a shared military is “the real stuff.”

“Whenever I present the plan to ambassadors, ministers … my last slide is that all of this requires political commitment,” Mogherini said. “At the moment, I don’t see resistance; at the moment, I see readiness.”

Nonetheless, cynicism about the EU’s latest push abounds. “EU Army? Much Ado About Nothing,” was the verdict of EurActiv, for example.

There is good reason for thinking this. The EU has pushed for military sharing before, and it has failed—but not only because of Britain.

A Leadership Void

At a meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, on September 16, EU leaders—minus Britain—agreed on a timeline for developing this military cooperation. The European Commission will put forward concrete proposals in December, and governments will aim to form an agreement by June.

The meeting seemed like a success, but the conference ended on a sour note of failure. The French, Italian and German leaders had planned to put on a united front with a joint press conference. But Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi pulled out. “I cannot hold a press conference with [German Chancellor Angela] Merkel and [French President François] Hollande if I don’t agree with their positions on immigration and the economy,” he said.

Italy was not the only critic. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán called the bloc’s migration policy “self-destructive and naive.” And this came after European Council President Donald Tusk called Orbán and Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydło aside and asked them to be less critical of Brussels.

“A summit that was supposed to be a display of unity revealed only further division,” concluded Guy Verhofstad, leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe Group in the European Parliament.

“The European Union’s list of crises keeps growing,” he wrote. “But beyond the United Kingdom’s ‘Brexit’ vote to leave the bloc, Poland’s constitutional-court imbroglio, Russian expansionism, migrants and refugees, and resurgent nationalism, the greatest threat to the EU comes from within: A crisis of political leadership is paralyzing its institutions.”

That is the root of Europe’s problems right now. Juncker is looking to a European army as one way to solve the Continent’s divisions. European military cooperation cannot possibly be that solution.

Does this make the current push irrelevant? No.

Europe still shows signs of making progress. It will come with the squabbles, holdups and messy compromises that accompany European politics—but progress nonetheless.

The New Push

Never before has a European military been so high on the agenda of Europe’s leading powers. Defense ministers from France and Germany, Europe’s most powerful remaining countries, sent a six-page paper to the EU’s Foreign Service on September 11. Süddeutsche Zeitung and Le Figaro both saw it. The latter reported the paper as stating, “In the context of a deteriorating security environment … it is high time to reinforce our solidarity and European defense capabilities in order to more effectively protect the citizens and borders of Europe.”

France is trying to fight terrorism by expanding its involvement in North Africa at the same time that it cuts its spending to deal with the economic crisis. The only way to square that circle is to get other nations to foot some of the bill, and an EU military is the best way to make that happen.

Meanwhile, Germany’s role in the world is going through a revolution. Having taken a back seat for decades—at least when it comes to military matters, Germany has declared that it is “prepared to take the lead.” But the German military has little recent experience in big overseas operations. It’s working on improving its military’s ability to deploy overseas—but the quickest way to do this is to work with other nations.

Brexit is also very significant. Britain wasn’t the only obstacle to strong cooperation, but it was a major one. Britain blocked “[e]very step forward,” former Italian Chief of the General Staff Gen. Vincenzo Camporini told La Repubblica newspaper. “The British position was crucial—everyone knew that without London, you couldn’t even begin to talk about a common European defense policy.”

The so-called “euroskeptic” nations of Eastern Europe are generally on border with the project too. They tend to oppose anything that seems like “more Europe,” but military cooperation—provided it is significantly robust—is something they’re all in favor of. They want something to guarantee that France and Germany will help them against Russia.

A Concrete Achievement

On October 6, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency officially launched. This was a major project, originally kicked into the long grass. EU insiders didn’t expect it to be completely ready until the 2030s.

Then the immigration crisis and terrorist attacks in France meant the project was fast-tracked and completed in under a year.

The border force gives a great example of what to expect from the latest push for an EU military.

At first glance it looks like a joke. It will have 1,500 border guards and an eventual budget of $360 million. By comparison, the United States Coast Guard alone has 42,000 active duty personnel, with thousands more in reserve, and a budget of around $10 billion.

The comparison is unfair; each individual EU nation also has a coast guard and border force. But 1,500 is a small number.

But the principles that this new force establishes are huge.

“Today is a milestone in the history of European border management,” said Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos. “From now onwards, the external EU border of one member state is the external border of all member states—both legally and operationally.”

That’s a major step toward a superstate.

Furthermore, the new agency will be able to deploy its border guards to an EU nation “on its own initiative.” It can send in its soliders, even if the country they’re going to does not want the deployment. EU nations are giving up the legal right to have a monopoly of force within their own borders. For the first time, there will be a pan-European military force with the right to go anywhere it wants within the Union.

Now that this border force has been created, ramping it up later would not be too difficult.

Current Plans

One of the key items next on the agenda is to create a single European headquarters and command structure. The EU has already engaged in military missions. It has already formed European battle groups, but they have never been used. Having a decision-making body and clear chain of command constantly in place can make those forces usable.

EU leaders are also aiming to cooperate on defense procurement projects. European militaries share some common weaknesses, such as a lack of air-to-air refueling, drones and air transport. EU leaders want to solve this on the EU level.

This would be a major practical step toward military cooperation. If this goes ahead, and Europe creates, for example, a common air transport fleet, then no individual nation would be able to launch a substantial overseas military operation without doing so on an EU level. Each European military would be dependent on the EU.

Related to this would be a new defense fund—“cash for an embryonic European air force and navy through the Brussels budget for drones, cyberdefence, air transport and naval vessels,” as the Times of London put it.

France and Germany have also called for a new European military academy, or for European military courses to be taught at national academies, in order to forge a European spirit within national militaries.

Many of these leaders have also noted that EU treaties allow a smaller group of nations to move forward on defense cooperation, even if others object.

Just like the border guards, they will probably be understaffed and underfunded. But they’ll establish important precedents and create the building blocks that could be assembled later to create a powerful force.

Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this military union for decades. In May 1953, he wrote that “10 powerful European nations will COMBINE their forces.”

In August 1978, he warned:

The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! …Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussr—possibly stronger!

But Mr. Armstrong also saw that this unification would not come easily. “The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited,” he wrote in the January 1979 Plain Truth. “They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite.” Mr. Armstrong went on to explain that it would only be through the Vatican, “uniting church and state once again,” as has happened repeatedly in history, that a united Europe will be achieved.

A strong leader will also be an important part of this coming unification. Even in the absence of that leader, however, important progress is being made. Once that leader is on the scene, he will be able to pick up the pieces very quickly. For more on why the Trumpet expects this leader soon, read our free booklet A Strong German Leader Is Imminent.

Mystery of the Ages Synopsis, Part 1: Who and What Is God?

This book will help you understand your Creator.

Herbert W. Armstrong felt that his book Mystery of the Ages was the second-most important book on Earth next to the Bible. It is so important because it is a synopsis of the entire Bible. Of the 96 books and booklets copyrighted by the Philadelphia Church of God, Mystery of the Ages receives the most requests by far. Thousands of people have said that this book gives their lives real meaning and real happiness.

The Bible is a coded book, a mystery to this world—to science, education and even religion. The cover of Mystery of the Ages asks, “Did you ever ask yourself: ‘Who am I? What am I? Why am I?’ You are a mystery. The world about you is a mystery. Now, you can understand!”

This is the first in a series of articles I am writing to summarize Mystery of the Ages and to inspire you to study the life-changing truth in this book. Let’s start with the first chapter, the first mystery: Who and What Is God?

God’s Absolute Authority

Human beings have made impressive developments in industry and technology. Yet our world of advancements is also full of alarming and appalling evils. So adept at solving challenges with solids, liquids and gasses, mankind has no clue how to solve their problems with each other.

Mr. Armstrong lived for 93 years and personally met dozens of prime ministers, presidents, kings, princes, emperors, ambassadors, legislators, judges and other world leaders. He also met thousands of ordinary people and those who were illiterate and in poverty. In his relationships with those he knew, he focused on life’s most important questions.

But Mr. Armstrong started out as clueless as anyone else. He grew up attending a Protestant church that never explained these important questions plaguing mankind. He saw mysteries everywhere he looked. He tried to read the Bible and reason out these mysteries, but he remained bewildered.

As a young man, Mr. Armstrong drifted away from religion because he couldn’t find any answers. But God jolted him with a dual challenge. In the Author’s Statement of Mystery of the Ages, he wrote:

It all started with the question of the theory of evolution and the religious question of Sunday observance. I knew that the Bible was the world’s number one selling book. Yet to me it had been an enigma. I could never understand it. I said, “The Bible says, ‘Thou shalt observe Sunday.’” I was asked how did I know? Had I read that in the Bible? I answered that I knew because all the churches observe Sunday and I supposed the source of their teaching was the Bible.

But my marriage was at stake on the question. I was forced into an in-depth study and research into the Bible and also into the theory of evolution, which was at that time rapidly gaining acceptance in the field of higher education. …

No longer was the existence of God taken carelessly for granted because I had always heard it or been taught it. I found absolute and positive proof of the existence of the Supreme Creator God and also of the absolute authority of the Holy Bible as the Word of God—the revealed message and knowledge of God for mankind.

How many people are forced to prove their beliefs like Mr. Armstrong was? He discovered that the Bible has God’s absolute authority behind it!

Jigsaw Puzzle

Mr. Armstrong discerned a common flaw in most people’s reading of the Bible. The Bible is not a book that you can read cover to cover and truly understand! He wrote:

Instead of putting the various pieces of the jigsaw puzzle properly and sensibly together, it has become the practice and custom to read an already-believed false teaching into each particular scripture, taken out of context. In other words, to interpret the Scriptures to say what they have already been taught and come to believe. The Bible needs no interpretation because it interprets itself.

The Bible interprets itself! God tells us not to rely on an educational institution or a scholar for understanding (Isaiah 28:9). Don’t trust in men; trust in God!

“[T]he Bible was a coded book, not intended to be understood until our day in this latter half of the 20th century,” he continued. God only intended for the Bible to be fully understood today, in the time just before the return of Jesus Christ to the Earth to teach this truth to the whole world!

“I learned that the Bible is like a jigsaw puzzle,” Mr. Armstrong wrote, “thousands of pieces that need putting together—and the pieces will fit together in only one way. Then the picture becomes crystal clear to the one willing to believe what God our Creator says. … As you read and reread this book, compare constantly with your own Bible.” Don’t trust in men! Meditate deeply on Mystery of the Ages as you read it. Prove all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21).

Cut Off

Why is the vast majority of mankind incapable of solving the mystery of God?

“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever: Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken. So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life” (Genesis 3:22-24). Mankind today is cut off from the tree of life, or else he would eat of it and live forever in an unrepentant state. Mr. Armstrong wrote:

Even in these past 58 years I had not fully and clearly realized the significance of the fact revealed in Genesis 3:22-24—that, in fact, God had closed the Holy Spirit and eternal life to mankind in general until the removal of Satan at the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Traditional Christian teaching had always assumed there is a contest between God and Satan—that God has been trying desperately to “get the world saved,” but in this great controversy Satan has been winning. In other words, God had sent Jesus Christ at his First Coming to try to win this ongoing war against Satan. Traditional Christianity has taught that “whosoever will may come” and be “saved” through Jesus.

Mr. Armstrong finally understood the depth of this truth when he was 92 years old, not long before his death in 1986. God and Satan are not struggling for human souls today! The reason why the world wallows in darkness is because God cut human beings off from the tree of life thousands of years ago! God calls only a few to do His Work in this age.

Mankind in general does not have access to God because we won’t submit. We have followed the example of Adam and Eve. We enjoy the godless theory of evolution or the lawless platitude of false religion. No wonder most people don’t grasp the mystery of God!

Laden With Lawlessness

The greatest relationship man can have is with his Creator. But mankind today is so far from God that this relationship is actually his worst. Without being close to God, people just can’t understand the seven mysteries revealed in Mystery of the Ages:

1. Who and What Is God?

2. Mystery of Angels and Evil Spirits

3. Mystery of Man

4. Mystery of Civilization

5. Mystery of Israel

6. Mystery of the Church

7. Mystery of the Kingdom of God

Through this series of articles, you will understand how each mystery builds on the one before it. Understanding who and what is God is the foundation of all the other mysteries!

The number one problem facing humanity today is that of human survival. Nuclear weapons are proliferating all over the world. Physical human beings have no way to solve this deadly problem. The cause of this problem is man himself! We must solve the problem of human nature first.

Mankind could have a relationship with God, but they refuse it! Mr. Armstrong had an experience in India that made this sad truth more real. He wrote in Mystery of the Ages:

I was returning to my hotel in New Dehli some years ago from a private conference with the late Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India. Ever since arriving in India I had noticed cows and oxen wandering through the streets. I had never seen such animals straying loosely through city streets in any other country.

“Don’t these cattle stray quite a distance from home?” I asked of the car driver.

“Oh yes,” he answered.

“But when,” I asked, “they wander all over the streets so far away, how do their owners find them, to drive them back home for the night?”

The car driver smiled. “The owners don’t. But the cattle and oxen know their owners and where they live. They find their own way home in the evening.”

Immediately I thought of the scripture in the first chapter of Isaiah, which I had never understood so perfectly before this living explanation.

“Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the Lord hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me. The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider. Ah sinful nation, a people laden with [lawlessness], a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward” (Isaiah 1:2-4).

This is one of the most horrendous pictures in the Bible. Only the nation of Israel knew God anciently. Only the descendants of Israel—including America, Britain and the Middle East Jews—know God today. Only they could turn away from God like this! God says that even a dumb ox or donkey knows his owner better than Israel knows Him!

The nations of Israel are heavily weighed down with sinfulness and lawlessness. Our people are made grievous with sins! Only God can heal sinful mankind.

They Became Fools

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:18-22). We should be able to clearly see proof of God’s existence all around us. God condemns the self-proclaimed “educated” fools who purposely suppress the truth.

Something is horribly wrong with human nature! Why doesn’t man want to learn about His Creator and the most important relationship he could have?

“And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge …” (verse 28). People would rather learn about evolution or other theories. The Chinese and the Russians comprise over 1 billion of the 7 billion people on Earth, and most of them are openly atheistic! They don’t know who and what God is. They don’t even want to know.

The Apostle Paul preached the truth of God to the Gentiles, who were steeped in deception and paganism. “Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest, is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, to the unknown god. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you” (Acts 17:18-23). Anyone who will listen can uncover the mystery of God! Isn’t that amazing?

Anyone with an open mind can at least prove that God exists. Educational institutions today overwhelmingly point to evolution as the cause for human life. A rare few might believe in God, but only as a first cause. They do not want to know God! They entrench certain beliefs into the minds of their students instead of teaching how to think. God gave humans a mind like His own! Use it.

“The system of modern education has become entirely materialistic. The modern scientific concept denies the invisible and the spiritual as having existence. Yet all our seemingly unsolvable problems and the evils in this world are spiritual in nature” (ibid). Problems on Earth that are seemingly physical in nature actually have a spiritual cause: our human nature. It is naturally hostile toward God! (Romans 8:7). Because of human nature, people are passively, if not actively, hostile toward their Creator. Science will never discover that. The only way to get rid of human nature is by getting and using God’s Holy Spirit.

God Is a Family

The book of John records the earliest chronological point in the Bible. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:1-4). This is the earliest revelation of who and what is God!

Before the angels, the universe, Earth and mankind, God and the Word existed; there was nothing else. The Word was the Spokesman of the God Family, or the God Kingdom at this point. He submitted perfectly to God’s will. These two eternal Beings lived in absolute peace and harmony.

But then, something changed between these two Gods. “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (verse 14). God became the Father; the Word became the Son, Jesus Christ.

“No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (verse 18). Christ came to Earth to declare His Father and the Family of God. The Father and the Son are preparing for the birth of billions more sons into the God Family. There is no third God called the Holy Spirit. There is no trinity.

Christ prophesied that so-called Christians in the end time would talk about Him instead of about His inspiring message about an endless family revolving around the Father (Matthew 24:3-5). Even God’s own people have failed to honor their Father! (Malachi 1:6). There is no bigger crisis in this age.

The Word transformed from spirit divinity to human flesh, begotten as a mortal human being inside Mary’s womb. He was crucified and killed by evil men who did not know who and what God is! His death and resurrection opened up the God Family to all mankind! All who have ever lived will have an opportunity to choose eternal life.

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness …” (Genesis 1:26). Image means God’s character and mind. We are in God’s likeness, or physical appearance, already! God has a face and eyes and a nose and ears and hands and legs and feet and toes and hair. Jesus Christ looked like any other man. We look like God. Why? Because God is recreating Himself in us!

God challenges us to be led by Christ and to eradicate human nature. He expects us to become perfect just like He is! (Matthew 5:48). Life is wonderful when you develop God’s giving character. It will add real meaning to your life and fill you with joy and understanding.

Christ is the firstborn Son of countless more to be born into the God Family. Those who do God’s work before His Second Coming will even be the Bride of Christ! By knowing who and what is God, you can begin to grasp your incredible potential.

Week in Review: North Korea Sparks Asian Instability, EU Command Center, Iran’s Military Spending, and Much More

Week in Review: North Korea Sparks Asian Instability, EU Command Center, Iran’s Military Spending, and Much More

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All you need to know about everything in the news this week

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Europe to build military headquarters

  • European Union leaders approved on March 6 the creation of a new military headquarters.
  • EU Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini said, “We are progressing steadily toward strengthened defense cooperation, and we will continue to do more.”
  • “It’s a first step,” said Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders. As for “a European army, maybe later.” The EU Observer said that some see the new headquarters as “the nucleus of a future European army.”

The rise of Iran’s financial empire

  • On Wednesday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran released a book titled Iran: The Rise of the Revolutionary Guards’ Financial Empire.
  • According to Rowan Scarborough, who reviewed the book in the Washington Times, “Iran has spent $11 billion alone on icbms [intercontinental ballistic missiles] from rogue state North Korea, based on a 2009 agreement.”
  • “Military spending has gone from $3 billion annually in 2008 to $13 billion in 2015. Tehran spends another $3.4 billion annually on internal security and $1.4 billion annually on the ‘export of fundamentalism.’”
  • Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote after the deal, “Iran changed nothing in its policies of aggression, subversion and sponsoring terrorism. It didn’t even say it would reform in any of these areas! Without giving in on anything, Iran was given all it needed in order to greatly accelerate its race toward getting the nuclear bomb.”

Hamas to change anti-Semitic charter

  • Hamas is set to update its foundational charter in a bid to reshape its public image.
  • The amendments to the 29-year-old document of the Gaza-based Palestinian group will be officially released in April, but here are some of the highlights: Hamas will endorse a Palestinian state along the 1967 lines; Hamas will officially break with the Muslim Brotherhood; Hamas will no longer be anti-Semitic.
  • Could this be the beginning of Hamas’s attempt to wrest complete control of the Palestinian cause from Fatah, not through an armed takeover, but rather a charm offensive that gets the international sponsors of the Palestinian cause on its side first?

Turkey and Germany fall out again

  • Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan likened the German government to Nazis on March 5, as relations between the two countries reached a new low.
  • In February, Turkish police held Deniz Yücel, a German-Turkish journalist and correspondent for Die Welt newspaper, for two weeks, before finally arresting and formally charging him. The incident led to outrage in Germany.
  • Two German local authorities seemingly retaliated by canceling rallies led by Turkish ministers who were campaigning for a “Yes” vote in Turkey’s constitutional referendum.
  • Erdoğan lambasted German authorities, saying, “Germany, you have no notion of democracy,” he said. “Your practices are not different from the Nazis of the past.”
  • The Telegraph reported Erdoğan saying, “I’ll come tomorrow if I want to, and if you do not let me in, or try to stop me speaking, I’ll start an insurrection.”

Other news:

  • On Monday, North Korea fired four missiles toward Japan. Three of them fell within 200 nautical miles of Japan’s coast.
  • Russia and China both now have the capacity to carry out critical cyberattacks on other nations that is significantly ahead of American capacity to defend against such attacks, a new government report says.

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