WorldWatch

From the April 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

Germany arming Africa, Mideast

During the legislative period between 2014 and 2017, Germany exported more weapons than any prior German government, Germany’s public broadcaster ARD reported on January 23.

“Germany is the world’s third-biggest arms exporter, but weapons sales remain a domestically sensitive issue given the country’s World War ii history,” Reuters reported on January 23. Yet over the last four years, Berlin has approved a record $30.9 billion in weapons sales, according to the Economics Ministry. Exports to nations outside the European Union and NATO jumped 47 percent compared to sales approved by the 2010–2013 government.

Algeria imported the most German weapons ($1.7 billion), followed by Egypt ($867 million). Germany wants close cooperation with these two nations because of their strategic location in Africa. Algeria’s long coastline makes it a crucial partner in monitoring the Mediterranean Sea, so Germany sold Algeria two frigates in 2017. Egypt has control over both the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, the gateway for European imports from and exports to Africa and the Middle East.

In addition to weapons, Germany is also exporting weapons expertise. A former board member of Düsseldorf Rheinmetall Group’s armaments division is now the CEO of Saudi Arabian Military Industries (SAMI), which seeks to become a major weapons producer.

Turkey relies on Germany as its second-largest source of weapons after the U.S. and as a source of expertise for expanding its own weapons industry. It currently produces small arms, speedboats, mine-sweepers, frigates and submarines under German license. Turkish forces rely heavily on German-supplied tanks, and German manufacturer Rheinmetall is helping Turkey construct its own tank factory.

Jordan received $22 million in military equipment from Germany on January 14, including two training aircraft, 70 trucks and 56 vans for border security. Germany also has stationed 280 soldiers in Jordan to help fight the Islamic State.

Germany is after more than profit: It is strategically influencing foreign policy and building alliances that can stand up to Iran. This “Merkel Doctrine” seeks to counterbalance Iran’s power by arming Sunni Arab nations and Israel. At the same time, Berlin is justifying a more robust use of its military.

Psalm 83 describes an alliance between Arab nations and Germany that will turn against Iran (Daniel 11:40). Psalm 83 mentions Assur (Germany), Edom/Amalek (Turkey), Ishmaelites (Saudi Arabia and neighboring nations) and Moab/Ammon (Jordan). For more information, request our booklet The King of the South.

Turkey’s military operation in Syria

Turkey launched a military operation in northwest Syria on January 20 as part of its ongoing effort to solve the Syrian crisis and to combat what it calls terrorists.

Turkey says its Operation Olive Branch in the Afrin region aims to push an estimated 10,000 Kurdish militants out of the area and create a 20-mile-deep security buffer. The Kurdish rebels in the region are affiliated with the People’s Protection Units (ypg) and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party. The Turkish government considers them terrorists.

Six days before the incursion began, the United States had announced plans to support a 30,000-strong “border force” of Kurdish fighters in Syria. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had angrily reacted to the announcement, saying, “A country we call an ally is insisting on forming a terror army on our borders. What can that terror army target but Turkey? … Our mission is to strangle it before it’s even born.”

The New York Times reported on January 22: “The Turkish offensive, carried out over the protests of the United States but with the apparent assent of Russia, marks a perilous new phase in relations between two nato allies—bringing their interests into direct conflict on the battlefield. It lays bare how much leverage the United States has lost in Syria, where its single-minded focus has been on vanquishing Islamist militants.”

Some analysts say Russia acquiesced to Turkey’s invasion because it wanted to undermine the U.S. According to Sergei Markov, a former Russian politician, “Russia does not publicly support such a military operation, but it opened the gate for this operation because it basically starts a proxy war between Turkey and the U.S. [through the ypg].”

Turkey befriends Germany

While the war in Syria has, to a great extent, worsened Turkey’s relationship with the U.S. and, to a lesser extent, degraded its relationship with Russia, the Syrian crisis has fostered “a Turkish-German bromance,” Politico wrote on January 11. That’s primarily because the Turkish military heavily relies on German-made Leopard 2 tanks in its operations in Syria. Germany has expressed interest in helping Turkey in this way, and, as a Spiegel Online Turkey correspondent wrote on January 23, “Germany Is Becoming an Indirect War Party” in Syria.

These developments indicate that the war in Syria could help fulfill a prophecy in Psalm 83, which reveals that modern-day Turkey will be powerful enough to form a major political and military alliance with Germany and select Arab nations.

Iran detains at least 8,000 protesters

According to independent reports from Iran, the government has detained at least 8,000 people since protests swept the nation in December and January. Most of them are between ages 16 and 24.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran reported on January 16 that at least 50 people were killed during the government’s crackdown on protesters and that five of these were tortured to death.

Some of the alleged methods of abuse include battery, food and sleep deprivation, and poisoning. One activist told Fox News on January 9: “People inside [Iran’s Evin prison] are being tortured, maybe tortured to death.”

James Phillips, senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at the Heritage Foundation, noted: “While [United States] President Trump has been very vocal on the plight of Iranian protesters, many other Western leaders have turned a blind eye to the protests, fearful of alienating an Iranian regime that they hope to appease. … Many European and Asian allies seek to preserve the nuclear deal with Iran in order to maintain a business-as-usual relationship with the Islamist dictatorship in Tehran. They are fearful that if they admit that the regime represses its own people, then they will be asked to do something about it that could diminish trade with Iran.”

In his booklet The King of the South, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes about just how hardened the Iranian regime is. “Being spellbound by peace treaties has kept the Western world from fully seeing and recognizing Iran’s massive plot to control the Middle East,” he writes. “That will never be stopped by a peace treaty! Only a superior power could ever stop this extreme Islamic movement!” The King of the South identifies that superior power as a German-led Europe, under leadership much different from today’s.

Iran’s Mediterranean presence alarms Israel

Israel’s next proxy war with Iran “could see a focus on the [Mediterranean] Sea,” according to Israeli Adm. Shaul Chorev (Ret.).

The Jerusalem Post quoted the retired naval officer on January 28 warning that the strategy of Iran’s Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah, proves that “they will target Israeli strategic assets” with land-to-sea missiles or suicide vessels. Iran “is on the verge of reaching the Mediterranean, including the use of Syrian ports by the Iranian Navy,” Chorev said. “Iranian ports in the eastern Mediterranean are a real risk for Israel.”

On January 25, Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon took the extraordinary step of disclosing classified intelligence at a United Nations Security Council meeting to warn that “the Shiite crescent has reached [Israel’s] doorstep [and that] the Shiite crescent is alive and well; do not let Iran turn it into a Shiite horizon.”

Danon said that Iran controls 82,000 troops in Syria and has spent $35 billion on weapons factories there. “[I]f we turn a blind eye in Syria,” he warned, “the Iranian threat will only grow.”

Access to the Mediterranean is important to Iran’s pursuit of regional hegemony. This “explains why Iranian and Persian strategy has always focused on developing proxies or strategic relationships with countries amenable to its designs,” Geopolitical Futures wrote on January 3.

Iran has aggressively exploited the conflict in Iraq, the civil war in Syria, and the political strife in Lebanon to extend itself deeper into its western neighbors and thus create an 800-mile “land bridge” connecting Iran to the Mediterranean Sea.

Ambassador Danon criticized Europe for appeasing and empowering Iran through the Iran nuclear deal and for doubling Iran’s trade with the Continent. “The money the regime earns from your economic deals will be spent on ballistic missile testing, nuclear development and promoting worldwide terror,” he said. “[W]hile you are making a profit, Iran is building an empire. … Iran starts with Israel; it is you who are next.”

For more than 20 years, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has used Bible prophecy to warn that Iran will pose a real and immediate threat to Israel, as well as to Europe. The Mediterranean Sea is an essential part of Iran’s dangerous strategy.

Doomsday Clock moves to midnight

The minute hand of the symbolic Doomsday Clock moved forward 30 seconds on January 25, bringing the time to just two minutes to “midnight”—the symbolic hour of global nuclear destruction. This is the closest the countdown has come to “doomsday” in 65 years.

“[T]he world is not only more dangerous now than it was a year ago; it is as threatening as it has been since World War ii,” wrote the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists that runs the clock.

Created in 1947, the Doomsday Clock is a symbolic measurement of the likelihood that mankind will begin nuclear war, with midnight representing global destruction. The farthest from midnight the clock has ever been was 17 minutes to midnight, when the Cold War era ended in 1991. The closest was two minutes to midnight when the U.S. and the Soviet Union tested thermonuclear devices in 1953.

The Bulletin said the primary nation that has intensified the nuclear threat is North Korea, whose weapons development saw “remarkable progress during 2017” and “reflects new resolve to acquire sophisticated nuclear weapons.”

In 2002, when the clock was moved from nine to seven minutes to midnight, Gerald Flurry noted, “The world should have jolted out of sleep at the news. Headlines should have splashed across all the media. But no real alarm was sounded. … [M]any still slumber on as the world heads toward self-destruction” (May 2002).

Nearly 2,000 years ago, Jesus Christ prophesied of a time when human survival would be in jeopardy if not for divine intervention (Matthew 24:21-22). To learn more, read Mr. Flurry’s booklet Nuclear Armageddon Is ‘At the Door.’

U.S. satellites vulnerable to attack

Russia and China are developing weaponry that can destroy vital American satellites, according to a new report by the Pentagon’s Joint Staff intelligence directorate. The Washington Free Beacon quoted officials familiar with the report on January 30 as saying, “China and Russia will be capable of severely disrupting or destroying U.S. satellites in low-Earth orbit” by 2020.

In May 2017, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats said in a testimony to Congress that Russia and China “are increasingly considering attacks against satellite systems as part of their future warfare doctrine. Both will continue to pursue a full range of anti-satellite weapons as a means to reduce U.S. military effectiveness.”

More than 800 satellites currently operate in low-Earth orbit, including many used by the United States military and by the Orbcomm, Iridium and Globalstar systems. All of these will soon be vulnerable to Russian or Chinese weaponry.

Our booklet Russia and China in Prophecy discusses the increasing military power of Moscow and Beijing, and the threat it poses the United States, saying, “It is evident that both Russian and Chinese officials are working to form a new alliance and counter American dominance of world affairs.”

The booklet examines numerous Bible scriptures showing that the rise of Russia and China now underway was prophesied thousands of years ago. The Bible shows that the expanding military power of these countries is setting the stage for a nuclear World War iii.

To understand these Bible prophecies and how they are being fulfilled in today’s headlines, order your free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.

China pressures Taiwan

China has increased pressure on Taiwan in recent weeks in its ongoing efforts to regain sovereignty over the democratic island nation just off its coast. In January, China illegally launched new civilian airline routes near Taiwanese airspace, increased bomber, fighter and surveillance flights inside Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, and breached the zone by sailing its aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s president called the provocations threats that destabilize the region.

China’s former government founded Taiwan in 1949 after fleeing the communist takeover of the Chinese mainland. The communist government continues to claim sovereignty over the Taiwanese, but has never invaded due to Taiwan’s alliance with the United States. Its recent provocations indicate that it is growing bolder in testing U.S. resolve to defend the Taiwanese in the event of an actual invasion.

Photos show Chinese militarization in South China Sea

Newly published photographs reveal that China has nearly completed its dramatic transformation of seven disputed reefs in the Spratly Archipelago into “island fortresses,” as part of its push to control the South China Sea.

The high-resolution aerial photographs, taken in the last half of 2017, were obtained by the Philippine Daily Inquirer and published on February 5.

The photos show seven reefs—Fiery Cross, Subi, Hughes, Johnson South, Mischief, Cuarteron and Gaven—equipped with completed or nearly completed naval docks, barracks, radar systems, airfields, fortified hangars, communication towers, ammunition storage depots, lighthouses, shelters for anti-ship cruise missiles, and defensive structures.

“[T]hey showed the reefs that had been transformed into artificial islands in the final stages of development as air and naval bases,” the Inquirer said.

Five years ago, all seven of these locations were partly or wholly submerged coral reefs. China used fleets of dredgers to pump huge amounts of sand from the seafloor onto the reefs, then paved over the sand with concrete.

The South China Sea is among the most valuable and important areas of ocean on the globe. It is immensely wealthy in natural resources, containing an estimated 11 billion barrels of oil, 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 10 percent of global fisheries. Even more importantly, this seaway is used for more than 30 percent of total global shipping.

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has said that China’s takeover in this strategic region is “steering the world toward war.” In our July 2016 issue, he said that China’s island building and militarization in the Spratly area shows that it “is being aggressive and provocative,” challenging “seven decades of American naval dominance in the Pacific Rim,” and displaying aggressive behavior that “should alarm the world!”