German Army Continues to Swallow Its Neighbors

German Army Continues to Swallow Its Neighbors

Johannes Simon/Getty Images

Czech Republic and Romania are sending major chunks of their armies to the Bundeswehr.

A Czech and Romanian brigade will be integrated into divisions of the German army. The agreement is to be signed at a meeting of nato defense ministers tomorrow. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (faz), which broke the story on February 2, wrote, “The Bundeswehr is developing into the leading nato army in Europe.”

The agreement is the most dramatic of a series of arrangements Germany is negotiating to deepen its cooperation with other countries. The EU Observer summarized the faz’s report, noting, “The longer-term strategy would turn the Bundeswehr into the leading nato army in Europe, with small countries integrating their military forces into the German command structures.”

Two thirds of the Dutch army’s command structure began to integrate into the German army last year.

The faz wrote (Trumpet translation throughout): “This policy means Germany strengthens its own military power and, secondly, it creates practical road marks for the goal of European armed forces.”

The revolutionary handover of sovereignty from the Netherlands is already being seen as a proof of concept that other nations can follow, providing “the closest and most varied example of how far the military cooperation between two nato states can go” (ibid). Last year, German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen set out her ambitions to create “a multinational Panzer division” by integrating soldiers from other nations into the German army.

Die Welt explained, “This should create a unit with up to 20,000 active soldiers, which should be operational by 2021—which would be the nucleus of a European army” (March 17).

Now von der Leyen is taking further practical steps in that direction. The Czech 4th Rapid Deployment Brigade will be integrated into the 10th German Panzer Division and the Romanian 81st Mechanized Brigade will be assigned to Germany’s Rapid Force Division.

These are not mere token forces. The Czech Republic is integrating one of its two combat brigades into the German army (this does not include combat support forces, such as the 13th Artillery Regiment).

On February 13, Reuters reported that unnamed sources with the defense ministry say that Germany also plans to lay out plans to create a joint fleet of transport aircraft with France and to join a joint fleet of tanker aircraft with the Netherlands.

At first glance, the plans seem unimpressive. The Franco-German fleet would begin with 10 transport planes. The United States operates more than 5,000. However, Europe is so short of transport planes that even an additional 10 will make a difference. This move is also a proof of concept. If successful, it will serve as a platform that more and more units can be added to. With Britain on the way out, France and Germany are the European Union’s two largest militaries. If they can prove that they can share resources and work together, there’s great potential for cooperation.

Germany will also sign a declaration of intent to join the Multinational Multi-role Tanker Transport Fleet of aircraft led by the Netherlands. The group also includes Luxembourg; Belgium and Norway may also join. Germany said it could spend up to €1 billion on planes, which would be based in the Netherlands and in Germany.

Germany will also expand its cooperation with Norway, with plans to work together in buying submarines and missiles.

Germany has made no secret of the fact that it aims to build a European army through these deals with other nations. It is creating a network of military cooperation—with Germany at the center. In 2013 then-Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière concluded that efforts to create a European army in one sweep were simply not working. Instead, he aimed to create much deeper cooperation within individual nations, gradually building the nucleus of a European army out of bilateral cooperation.

“If Germany can prove that integration can work with the Netherlands and Poland—and they can save a lot of money doing so—other nations will want in. Once Berlin brings a few more countries on line, this project will gain critical mass,” we wrote at the time. “The result would be an EU army, or a very closely coordinated group of armies, centered on Germany.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence that Europe must bear the burden, the cost and the responsibility of defending itself is further encouraging this effort. Von der Leyen said that German requests to do more were “fair.” They certainly encourage other nations to sign up to the initiatives that Germany began long before Mr. Trump launched his bid for the presidency.

The timing of Germany’s push is deliberate. From February 17 to 19, national defense leaders, politicians and academics will gather in Germany for the Munich Security Conference. Talk of EU military cooperation is included in the conference’s annual report, which has been published ahead of the event. The report includes an infographic illustrating how far the Dutch have gone in integrating with the Germany army. With so much uncertainty about President Trump’s plans for Europe’s defense, extra attention is being focused on the conference this year to see what America will do, and how Europe will react. European military integration is definitely on the agenda.

The rise of a Europe capable of fielding a powerful military force, independent from the United States, would be one of the biggest geopolitical events in the last century and would revolutionize the balance of power around the world.

Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this exact 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!”

He saw that this cooperation would not come easily. But Europe is being forced in this direction. For more on how this force is coming together, read our article “Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?

Hamas Installs Yahya Sinwar as Leader in Gaza

Hamas Installs Yahya Sinwar as Leader in Gaza

Ramadan El-Agha/Pacific Press/LightRocket/Getty Images

Hamas has elected a literal killer with violent views to lead the Gaza Strip into conflict against Israel.

“Is War With Israel on the Horizon With Hamas’s New Gaza Leader?” was the title of the Jerusalem Post’s report on this week’s election of Yahya Sinwar to the highest office in the Gaza Strip. The election inside the Hamas terrorist organization replaces Ismail Haniyeh with Sinwar as the undisputed leader of the territory. While Hamas operatives are notoriously brutal, Sinwar may be one of the most ruthless to ever rule Gaza.

According to the Post:

Sinwar is the first Hamas leader to be selected for this post from the military wing. In Israeli terms, he can be compared to a former general, with a strong background and leaning toward the military, who is appointed as a political leader.

In order to effectively and quickly find, condemn and eliminate suspected collaborators with the Israeli government, Sinwar received a fatwa from Hamas’s spiritual leader, Sheikh Ahmed Yassin. The fatwa granted him the ability to execute anyone who confessed without a formal trial. During this period, Sinwar became known as “the Man of the Twelve,” a reference to the 12 suspected collaborators he murdered with his own hands.

He was eventually captured and tried by an Israeli military court in 1989, which sentenced him to four life sentences. The Post wrote:

Inside the walls of the jail, he rose into prominence among Palestinian inmates in general and those affiliated with Hamas in particular. Within a decade, he became the undisputed leader of the thousands of Hamas inmates in Israeli jails. From his cell, he communicated with the commanders of the military wing and demanded the kidnapping of Israeli civilians and soldiers to be used as bargaining chips in prisoner swaps.

After receiving life-saving cancer treatment while in prison, Sinwar was released back to the Gaza Strip through just such a prisoner swap. He was part of the highly controversial 2011 deal, which exchanged 1,027 Palestinian prisoners for one Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit. However, as an example of his no-compromise approach toward Israel, Sinwar actually argued against the specific deal that led to his own freedom. He regarded the terms of the deal as surrendering to Israel’s conditions. He said he was willing to remain in prison in order to get even more Palestinians released.

Sinwar’s 22 years in prison did not moderate his views. Israel’s weakness in allowing such a deal only emboldened Sinwar. Immediately following his release, he delivered a rousing speech before 200,000 Gazans, demanding a military onslaught on Israel. He espoused a new approach whereby Hamas would “take the battles into the enemy’s side”—which the Post says was the beginning of the terror tunnel strategy.

(Sinwar’s speech and celebration following his return to Gaza on Oct. 18, 2011)

Now Sinwar has risen through the most violent contingent of Hamas to now hold the highest political position in Gaza, which also reveals how powerful the military wing of Hamas has become inside the Gaza Strip. The Post wrote:

It is now apparent that the military wing is cementing itself as the dominant force of the movement, which has touted itself as an alternative to the [Palestinian Liberation Organization] plo and the Palestinian Authority. And since the military wing is more interested in building an army and less interested in developing social welfare and political institutes, its “nation-building” will be less important.

Given Sinwar’s position, it’s unlikely he will be willing to compromise at all with an Israeli government. There are already reports that Sinwar intends to reach out further to Iran to provide Hamas with military hardware and funding needed to begin another offensive against Israel.

The increased funding from Iran, in conjunction with Sinwar’s charismatic leadership, could very well increase Hamas’s popularity, not just inside the Gaza Strip, but also among Palestinians in the West Bank territory. Given the dismal approval ratings of the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority, which is currently in charge of the West Bank, this is very likely.

The Trumpet has forecast for the past decade that Hamas would indeed rise to prominence, not just in the Gaza Strip, but specifically in the West Bank. Continue to watch as Hamas strengthens its power base in Gaza and entrenches itself in the larger territory of the West Bank. For more details on Hamas’s role in end-time events, please read “The Coming Arab Takeover of East Jerusalem.”

Oroville Dam Crisis: More Proof That California Is Cursed

Oroville Dam Crisis: More Proof That California Is Cursed

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

Why can’t America’s Golden State catch a break?

Last week, massive rainstorms hit parts of northern California. The rain brought much-needed relief to the drought-stricken state but also another crisis. Water levels in Lake Oroville, a reservoir held back by the nation’s tallest dam, rose more than 50 feet in just a few days.

As water levels rose, engineers had to open the dam’s main spillway, a concrete channel that diverts water away from the dam and into the Feather River below. Prior to the storms, the primary spillway channel was suffering from lack of attention and poor maintenance and marked with craters. As the water rushed down, cracks started to emerge, and the spillway began to break apart, then eroded away as water continued to spill out uncontrollably.

(video of the primary spillway)

To alleviate the flow on the primary spillway, engineers relied on the emergency spillway, an earthen channel with a holding basin, which had never been used in the dam’s history.

The emergency basin functioned until Sunday, when it too began to erode away, sending an uncontrollable volume of water into the river below.

The overwhelmed dam prompted state authorities to quickly call for the evacuation of over 180,000 residents living in the flood plain below the dam. The rain has since stopped, however, and water levels are receding. Now workers are rushing to make repairs before the next series of storms hits.

(video of the emergency spillway)

Blame for the potential catastrophe is being passed around. The state ignored warnings back in 2005 from three environmental groups that called for the dam’s emergency spillway to be reinforced with concrete. Yet last week’s rain produced water flows well below the maximum amount officials believed the basin could hold, and it was still enough to erode the channel. Ailing infrastructure and government oversight are partially to blame. But, explaining why California went from extreme drought to crisis-level flooding is the question many people cannot answer.

The Atlantic described California’s flooding problem as a “bitter irony” to a state that has been so plagued with drought.

Are California’s problems just a matter of happenstance?

In recent decades, America’s Golden State has experienced record wildfires, extreme drought, massive earthquakes and flooding. Even an excellent human government could not withstand such a barrage of environmental disasters.

PT201410_EN How Bad Is California’s ‘Record’ Drought?

The October 2014 issue of the Trumpet magazine included an infographic about California’s record drought. Lake Oroville was one of many reservoirs in California that was well below average capacity. It took only a few days of rain in 2017 for that image to change from a dried-out reservoir to a torrent of raging water ripping apart the dam’s spillways and causing the evacuation of almost 200,000 people.

The Editorial Board of the Sacramento Bee wrote a short piece asking for politicians to set aside differences and focus on fixing California:

We may think we tame nature. We kid ourselves. An earthquake can strike at any time, liquefying seemingly solid ground, lifting entire buildings off their foundations, and fracturing bridges. Parts of Malibu can slide into the Pacific in one rainy season. A few months later, fire can destroy entire communities in the Sierra foothills.The current situation cannot be attributed to climate change alone. Scientists say no single event can be laid at the feet of global warming. But they also say climate change leads to extreme weather patterns. And California certainly is experiencing extremes. California is ending five years of drought, and now is experiencing one of the wettest rainy seasons on record.

Yet California’s extreme weather problems demand a much more serious solution than stopping climate change or ending partisan politics.

In 2003, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry asked, “Is California Under a Curse?” In his article, he wrote, “God does punish us with ‘natural’ disasters.”

The solutions to California’s problems are far beyond climate change, infrastructure choices or politics. In his article, Mr. Flurry refers back to a piece he wrote in 1993, saying, “One disaster after another is striking California. These deadly disasters are repeatedly labelled the ‘worst ever’! … With all the disasters that have struck California the past few years, it’s as if the state is under a curse.”

That article is as timely today as ever. These weather disasters are warnings from God designed to get people’s attention. Here is what we wrote in our free booklet, Why ‘Natural’ Disasters?:

The God of the Bible is not impotent. He wields the punitive sword of flood and mildew—and also that of drought (Deuteronomy 28:22; 11:17). Sometimes He uses both at the same time in order to heighten their corrective power: “And also I have withholden the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest: and I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city: one piece was rained upon, and the piece whereupon it rained not withered” (Amos 4:7). Notice—this is God talking through His Prophet Amos. God causes these weather disasters! In one region God sends a drought—in another region, floods—and it all happens right before harvest time. And why? God causes it because we haven’t returned to Him (verse 8). Amos is trying to help us see the connection between extreme weather upsets and human sin.

These extreme weather events are going to worsen in parallel with the worsening, not of partisanship, emissions or budgets, but of the nation’s sins. California went from five years of crisis-level drought to devastating floods in just a matter of days. It’s time we start asking, Why ‘natural’ disasters?

For more on this topic, read your free copy of Why ‘Natural’ Disasters? along with Mr. Flurry’s 2003 article “Is California Under a Curse?

Fulfilled Prophecy Proves That God Reigns Supreme Over His Creation

Fulfilled Prophecy Proves That God Reigns Supreme Over His Creation

Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on Feb. 14, 2017.

Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Prophecy is a taunting challenge that the skeptic dares not accept!” World events are occurring almost daily that are fulfilling the Bible’s most dramatic prophecies. God’s Word is daily reinforced by these events to the point where it’s impossible for any skeptic to refute the Bible’s authority. On today’s radio show, Stephen Flurry reviews some of the startling prophetic events occurring today and explains how they prove the existence and power of God.

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Get Ready for Drastic Change in Syria

Get Ready for Drastic Change in Syria

Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Is Iran about to regret calling for Russian assistance in Syria?

Understanding the complexities of the Syrian civil war is extremely difficult, even for the most seasoned analysts. In its simplest version, a civil war normally involves a significant part of a nation’s populace rising up against the ruling authority. Usually, this starts in a non-violent way through protests and civil strife, as it did in Syria during the Arab Spring in 2011. Generally, the government then has a choice: Either reach some sort of accommodation with the protesters, or as President Bashar Assad’s regime has done in Syria, don’t give an inch and move to stamp out the movement quickly and viciously.

Sometimes those brutal tactics prevent a civil war.

But sometimes they don’t.

In Syria’s case, the Assad regime likely failed to recognize initially just how many Syrians were willing to fight for change. Instead of quelling the movement, Assad’s brutal tactics only further mobilized the masses to violently overthrow the government. That is how the civil war began, and if it stayed that simple, it’s likely the Syrian civil war would have ended years ago, with Bashar Assad gone from power, replaced by some sort of new Sunni-led government.

Yet that’s not what happened.

Instead, as the war enters its sixth year, around half a million people are dead, almost 5 million refugees have fled the country, and about 10 million people are internally displaced. And there is reason to believe the war is still far from over.

International Proxy War

The reason why the Syrian civil war breaks from the cookie-cutter model is it has largely evolved into a proxy war for other nations. Many other nations are using the war to further their own national ambitions. Nations such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Russia and the United States, have at different times throughout the war either supported the rebels or Assad regime, providing weapons, finances or diplomatic maneuvering.

Here is a quick, overgeneralized summary of foreign involvement in Syria over the past five years:

In 2012, under increasing pressure from the swelling ranks of the rebels, Assad called his chief ally, Iran, for assistance. Tehran then quickly tapped Hezbollah in Lebanon to join the fight to even the odds. Saudi Arabia then increased its supply of armaments to numerous Sunni rebel groups, each with varying end goals but with the same initial goal of defeating Assad. Many foreign fighters also entered Syria under the nose of Turkey, who had its own longstanding interests in Assad’s departure. For its part, the United States gave unreliable support to some rebel groups but avoided further intervention so as not to upset its broader foreign-policy objective of détente with Iran.

Fast-forward to mid-2015: Assad and Iran had their backs against the wall. Realizing they needed serious help, Iran covertly flew Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander Qasem Soleimani to Moscow to plead for Putin’s assistance. Recognizing the opportunity to further its own strategic interests in Middle East, such as showing up the United States as well as ensuring the future of its Mediterranean naval port on Syria’s coast, Russia obliged Iran and joined the fray in late September. Russian aircraft provided powerful, essential aerial support to the Syrian regime, which was also now supported by an additional 40,000 Iranian-paid Shiite mercenaries from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Iran’s Russian Gamble

From Iran’s perspective, Russia’s entrance into the war began paying off immediately. The lethal tandem of Russian jets in the skies combined with Iran’s proxies on the ground halted and then pushed back rebel fighters. Key territories were taken back, ensuring the survival of the Syrian regime. At last, Tehran started to feel relieved that Assad would remain in power, allowing Iran to maintain its goal of a Shiite highway from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea.

The last major objective for the Russian-Iranian alliance was Aleppo, the largest of Syria’s cities before the war, yet mostly rebel-controlled since 2012. Four years of fighting in and around the city had left it decimated; yet still the rebels continued fighting. Then, in June 2016, a powerful campaign by the Russians and Iranians led to the encircling of the city. The besiegement and constant air bombardment formally ended in a truce in late December, and the remaining rebels were allowed to leave the city.

However, it was in the aftermath of the taking of Aleppo that cracks began to emerge in the Iran-Russia alliance. Russia felt that taking Aleppo meant that its own interests in preserving the Syrian state had been achieved. With the rebels beaten back, they would likely be ready to make a deal. Turkey, the nation that represents the rebel groups, was ready to make a deal as well. Nevertheless, Iran was not ready to give up the fight. So the Iranians attempted to undermine the ceasefire through their proxy militant groups.

Writing for Arab News, Sinem Cengiz summarized the different Russian and Iranian objectives this way:

To Russia, Assad is dispensable, but to Iran he is not. For Moscow, a strong Syria as a Middle East ally is a must in order to protect its strategic interests, but for Tehran a weak Syria is desirable so as to easily control the country for its future aims.Russia’s naval base in Tartus and airbase in Latakia are very important for its long-term Middle East plans, as Syria is a good market for its military exports. Moscow wants to turn its advances on the ground in Syria into diplomatic gains in talks with the West. Therefore, it wants the upper hand in political decision-making, which jeopardizes Iranian interests in Syria and the region.While Russia approaches the Syrian war from a geo-strategic and realist perspective, Iran’s stance is based on sectarian concerns. Syria is the heart of its strategy to create a “Shiite crescent” across the region. Tehran is struggling at all costs to ensure the Syrian regime’s survival, aware that it is a necessary tool to connect with a valuable ally in Lebanon, namely the Shiite group Hezbollah, which is fighting in Syria along with Iran.

President Vladimir Putin understands that while Russia’s actions have preserved the Assad regime, Assad himself will be forever a toxic leader and eventually must be removed if there is to be stability in Syria. However, Iran’s future in Syria is tied to Assad or another Assad-like figure, rather than the Syrian institutions.

On February 7, the War Is Boring blog reported that there was probable cause to “believe that the Russia-Iran rivalry has played out within the Syrian army.” While highly speculative, the source reported that at the end of January there was a possible Iranian coup and then Russian counter-coup in Damascus, with each attempting to install its candidate of choice as the Syrian president.

Then on February 8, Defense News wrote an editorial citing a possible Russo-Iranian split over Syria. Frederic C. Hof wrote:

Diplomatic activism by Russia in Syria is producing speculation about the Kremlin’s possible willingness to encourage genuine peace talks and spur transition from corrupt, incompetent and brutal family rule toward something stabilizing and inclusive. If Russia proves genuinely interested in converting military success to a sustainable political settlement, it would put Moscow sharply at odds with Iran and with the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Is Russian President Vladimir Putin truly prepared to turn a page in Syria? …Hypothetically, therefore, Russia might be interested in a political transition formula that gradually marginalizes Assad and vests executive power in a national unity government. Iran, however, would have no such interest. Tehran knows that, beyond the Assad family and entourage, there is no Syrian constituency accepting subordination to Iran and putting the Syrian state at the disposal of a Lebanese terror organization.

According to Hof, the impending defeat of the Islamic State will make it very obvious as to the future of the Russian-Iranian alliance.

Iran Is Prophesied to Lose Syria

At the beginning of the Syrian war, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry made a bold forecast. In “How the Syrian Crisis Will End,” he wrote that by the time this war is over, Syria would no longer be aligned with Iran.

That forecast was not based on insider information but rather on a prophecy found in Psalm 83, which discusses an alliance involving Syria but not Iran. While the prophecy in this case is not so specific as to say that Russia would be involved in bringing about that split, it is obvious that Iran had to lose sway over the Syrian regime, or that there would be a complete regime change. Watch Gerald Flurry forecast Iran’s split from Syria back in 2012:

But this Psalm 83 indicates that Syria is going to have a break with Iran, that they’re going to break away. Now, you don’t see much of that in the headlines today, but you do see enough violence there to see where it might be able to do that, but most people don’t draw that conclusion. We do because we’ve been prophesying it for, well, close to twenty years now ….

However, that same prophecy found in Psalm 83 indicates that even Russia’s involvement inside Syria is only temporary. To read who is destined to control the end-time alliance involving Syria, as well as many other Sunni Arab states in the Middle East, read “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”

World War Is Not Over

World War Is Not Over

Listen to the Trumpet Daily radio program that aired on Feb. 13, 2017.

Many people are aware of the terrible problems plaguing our world. They can see the troubles in cities, the wars between nations, and the childish leadership that only further compounds the problems. But almost no one is willing to admit where it is all leading! Most people believe World War ii was the end of global conflict and that humanity has moved beyond the possibility of a third world war! Throughout his 50-year ministry in the mid-20th century, Herbert W. Armstrong warned that the period after World War ii was only a recess preluding the greatest global war in history. Stephen Flurry discusses this and Mr. Armstrong’s signature prophecy on today’s Trumpet Daily Radio Show.

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