WorldWatch

From the July 2018 Trumpet Print Edition

Iran confronting Israel directly

For years, Iran has indirectly targeted Israel through terrorist proxies including Hamas and Hezbollah. The first direct confrontation between the two nations occurred on February 10. That’s when an Iranian drone penetrated Israeli airspace from Syria and was shot down by an Israel Defense Forces attack helicopter. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis said on April 13 that “the aircraft was carrying explosives” to conduct “an act of sabotage in Israeli territory.”

“This is the first time we saw Iran do something against Israel—not by proxy,” a senior Israeli military official told New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “This opened a new period” (April 15). David Horovitz wrote in the Times of Israel that the event shows that the Iranian regime is “now sufficiently emboldened as to directly attack Israel” (April 14).

Four days before Manelis’s announcement, the IDF bombed the T4 military base, striking the drone operations center that had launched the February 10 drone and killing seven Iranians. According to Israeli military sources, Iran had been building it into a fully functional air base with the ability to launch surface-to-air missiles at Israeli targets.

“We are facing a new reality,” said Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. “[T]he Lebanese Army, in cooperation with Hezbollah, the Syrian Army, the Shiite militias in Syria and above them Iran—are all becoming a single front against the State of Israel.”

The Bible indicates that Iran, the end-time “king of the south” of Daniel 11:40, will soon trigger a severe crisis in Israel—indirectly via the Palestinians and possibly directly. Read about it in Jerusalem in Prophecy.

March of Return

For six weeks, thousands of Palestinians protested on the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel during what Hamas called the “Great March of Return.”

The protests began March 30 and ended on May 15, which is known by Arabs as Nakba Day (“Catastrophe Day”). It is the anniversary of the day following the founding of the State of Israel in 1948. During their demonstrations, Palestinian rioters flung stones, rolled burning tires and flew kites with incendiary attachments and tried to cross the border into Israeli territory.

Israeli security forces killed more than 100 protesters and injured more than 7,000 others. Most of these protesters were not defenseless or innocent; they were terrorists or Hamas operatives and Palestinians who agreed with the goals of Hamas or were coerced by Hamas to the front lines of the riots.

May 14 was the day that the United States moved its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

“World events from today to the end of this age are going to revolve around Jerusalem,” wrote Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry in his August 2012 article “Watch Jerusalem!” “This city is going to be the very epicenter of all major events in the future.” The Bible prophesies that half of Jerusalem will fall to the Arabs. When that happens, Mr. Flurry wrote, “it will be like dominoes falling one after the other: one biblically prophesied event after another. This is all going to happen very fast and very violently, so you need to watch Jerusalem.”

Israel exposes Iran’s ‘atomic archive’

During a televised address from Israel Defense Forces headquarters on April 30, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu revealed a captured Iranian “atomic archive” of nuclear weapons information showing just how close Iran is to creating weapons of mass destruction.

According to Netanyahu, Israeli intelligence captured the stash of 100,000 files from a hidden warehouse in Tehran. He said the archive proved the following: “First, Iran lied about never having a nuclear weapons program. … Second, even after the deal, Iran continued to preserve and expand its nuclear weapons know-how for future use. Why would a terrorist regime hide and meticulously catalogue its secret nuclear files, if not to use them at a later date? Third, Iran lied again in 2015 when it didn’t come clean to the [International Atomic Energy Agency], as required by the nuclear deal. And finally, the JCPOA [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action] nuclear deal, is based on lies … Iranian lies and Iranian deception.”

Netanyahu also warned about Iran’s ballistic missiles and secret nuclear weapons programs, which the JCPOA did not address.

Netanyahu’s exposé was not entirely surprising: Negotiators of the deal obliquely acknowledged that Iran constantly lies about its nuclear ambitions when they conceded that the JCPOA was “not based on trust.” What most of them fail to acknowledge is how devoted Iran’s top leaders are to a clash of civilizations.

In his September 2015 article “Negotiating Human Survival,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote: “Though many don’t realize it yet, the Western world—and especially America—has been humiliated through this deal. … Instead of trusting people based on what they say, the Bible says we should ‘know them by their fruits’ (Matthew 7:16). Iran’s fruits show it will violate this next agreement. But this time, the stakes are much higher. … No words will stop this king of terror [Iran] because he believes he has a religious duty to bring upon the world a nuclear cataclysm so his messiah can return.”

Asia strengthens military unity

The Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a security alliance of Asian nations, held its 15th annual Defense Ministers’ Meeting in Beijing on April 24. Member nations Russia, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan pledged to enhance cooperation among their defense departments and armed forces.

The eight nations also agreed to hold major joint military exercises in Russia this September. The combined population of these nations comes to 3.2 billion people, which is close to half of the total global population. These upcoming war exercises by militaries representing such vast numbers will mark a historic event.

The meeting also marked the first time India and Pakistan participated as full members of the organization. Both became full members last year, adding their large populations and nuclear-armed militaries to the security bloc. But the balance of power remains with China and Russia.

Bible prophecy says a group of Asian nations called “the kings of the east” will work together in the end time and participate in a nuclear World War III. Scripture makes it clear that this group will be led by Russia and China, which may use the Shanghai Cooperation Organization to help achieve that goal. To understand the significance of a unified Asian bloc, read our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.

Japan creates first post-WWII marine unit

For the first time since World War II, Japan has commissioned a special marine unit capable of projecting military force in the East China Sea and possibly beyond. During a ceremony marking the establishment of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade on April 7, a senior official from the Japanese Defense Ministry said the marine unit “will show to the international society our firm resolve to defend our islands.”

This is a dramatic move, considering that Japan’s post-World War II pacifist Constitution allowed only defensive military capacity and explicitly forbade forming offensive units. But Japan has gradually removed its military restraints in recent years.

While Japan was still staunchly pacifist, educator Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “Japan today has no military establishment. But we should not lose sight of the fact that Japan has become so powerful economically that it could build a military force of very great power very rapidly” (Plain Truth, March 1971).

For decades, Mr. Armstrong’s forecast could have seemed alarmist to many students of geopolitics. But now that forecast no longer appears far-fetched.

Drug cartels assassinate politicians

Mexico is suffering its bloodiest election campaign in history. More than 80 political candidates have been assassinated in the lead-up to Mexico’s federal and local elections on July 1.

Drug cartels are undoubtedly behind the wave of violence. If drug traffickers can intimidate or control police and politicians, they can continue to expand their deadly business uninhibited.

Drug cartel violence is turning Mexico into a failed state, and it is not limited to nations south of the Rio Grande. Law enforcement officials estimate that Mexican cartels have infiltrated more than 3,000 cities in the United States.

An estimated 55 percent of all Mexican homicides—and 7 percent of all U.S. homicides—are related to drug trafficking. Conservatives say this problem can be fixed with a border wall, while progressives say that legalizing marijuana and even heroin and methamphetamine will help turn criminal cartels into law-abiding enterprises. But the truth is that politicians are being shot and border control agents are being bribed because a spiritual sickness has taken root throughout North America. Rampant drug use is funding these violent gangs, and the violence will continue until deeper causes are addressed.

China coaxing India away from U.S.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met Chinese President Xi Jinping in Wuhan, China, on April 27-28 for a landmark summit designed to reset relations between the world’s two most populous nations.

Xi and Modi, who together lead almost 40 percent of the global population, share the view that the 21st century belongs to Asia. Both understand that for this vision to be realized, Beijing and New Delhi need to normalize relations and collaborate on numerous matters.

“[T]he Wuhan meeting will be primarily remembered as a moment when Chinese and Indian leaders jump-started a fresh, virtuous cycle in Sino-Indian relations,” said Sourabh Gupta, senior fellow at the Institute for China-America Studies.

Asia analyst Keegan Elmore said, “China will be keen to woo India away from a U.S. alliance against Beijing.”

India has long been a close friend of Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Now its relations with China appear to be improving dramatically. It is not difficult to envision India contributing its vast population and its military power to a biblically prophesied Asian bloc led by Russia and China.

Europe reviving religious identity

Beginning in June, every government building in Bavaria must hang a cross at its entrance. The new law was approved by the Bavarian cabinet on April 24. Bavarian Prime Minister Markus Söder said the cross emphasizes the “commitment to identity” and the “cultural character” of Bavaria (Trumpet translation throughout).

Söder emphasized that the cross symbolizes “our Bavarian identity and way of life,” and added that the cross should not be seen as “a sign of religion.” If symbols of the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified and killed are, in fact, viewed as a sign of religion, this would violate Germany’s neutrality law that demands strict separation of church and state.

The reappearance of religious symbols on government buildings marks an important change in direction for Germany. Since World War II, Germans have trended less and less religious. This is part of a trend in the opposite direction.

This was not the only religious news to make waves in Germany. Days after Germany’s government was sworn in, the new interior, construction and homeland minister sparked a new dispute. Horst Seehofer told Bild in an interview published on March 16 that “Islam does not belong to Germany.” Other members of the new government criticized Seehofer’s remark, but a survey conducted by the firm Civey found that 74 percent of Germans agree with him.

Religion is also resurging in French politics. In a speech to the Bishop’s Conference of France on April 9, French President Emmanuel Macron told the bishops that “the link between church and state has been damaged, that the time has come for us, both you and me, to mend it.”

Christianity is not motivating people to attend religious services or to obey religious rules, but it is being used to drive people to vote for religious-sounding leaders.

The trend is even more visible in Eastern Europe.

Herbert W. Armstrong forecast for decades that Europe would form a superpower, led by Germany. “In only one way can this resurrected Holy Roman Empire be brought to fruition—by the ‘good offices’ of the Vatican, uniting church and state once again, with the Vatican astride and ruling …” (Plain Truth, January 1979).

Germany to lead NATO forces in the Baltic

In 2019, Germany will become home to NATO’s new naval headquarters. The base in Rostock will command NATO’s naval operations in the Baltic Sea.

Poland, with its long coastline, is most concerned about recent Russian aggression, so the nation is working more closely with Germany on defense. Rostock will soon host a joint naval headquarters of German and Polish fleets.

In mid-February, NATO defense ministers charged Germany with the mission of building a new NATO headquarters focused on rapid-troop movement across Europe. Like the naval headquarters, it is designed to prepare Europe to withstand increased Russian aggression.

Eastern Europe won’t stop militarizing

Polish leaders made history on March 28 by signing the largest arms deal their country has ever made. Polish Defense Minister Mariusz Błaszczak and other members of the government signed a $4.7 billion contract to purchase Patriot missile defense systems from United States-based firm Raytheon.

The purchase is an effort to modernize Poland’s aging military. “It is an extraordinary, historic moment; it is Poland’s introduction into a whole new world of state-of-the-art technology, modern weaponry and defensive means,” said Polish President Andrzej Duda.

A few days later, Russia held a three-day naval exercise in the Baltic Sea, only miles away from the coasts of Poland and Latvia. Although it did not violate international law, the drill was conducted closer to Latvia’s coast than ever before.

In his 2004 article “Russia Frightens Europe—and Fulfills Bible Prophecy,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry discussed the biblical significance of Russia’s rise and its effects on Europe. At the time, he focused on the Russian elections and the consolidation of Putin’s grip on power.

Many scriptures refer to a future clash between Europe and Russia. Referring to a united and armed Europe, Daniel 11:44 states: “But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him [the king of the north].” This passage declares that in the end time, the very time we are in today, news from the northeast will cause Europe great alarm and anxiety. What major power is northeast of Europe? Russia.