U.S. exerts more economic pressure on Iran
The United States ratcheted up economic pressure against Iran on Nov. 5, 2018, reinstating yet another batch of sanctions. These sanctions target Iran’s most crucial industries—oil, gas and shipping—which earn most of the revenue and hard currency the nation desperately needs right now.
When President Donald Trump announced on May 8, 2018, that the U.S. was withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, he gave Iran’s trading partners 180 days to wind down their business ventures. Most of them scaled back their business dealings with Iran accordingly, including all major companies from Europe, where leaders have largely opposed President Trump’s actions.
The intended effect of these sanctions on Iranian leaders is to “squeeze them until the pips squeak,” as U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton explained. “[It’s] their choice. The mullahs in Tehran either change their behavior dramatically or face economic disaster.”
Iran appears restrained; its economy was forecast by the International Monetary Fund to contract by 3.6 percent by the end of this year. The U.S. appears to be surging in power and in favor among Iran’s enemies in the Middle East. Europe appears weak; its “diplomatic bravado” of appeasing Iran and trying to mitigate the effects of the sanctions, as the Straits Times wrote Nov. 6, 2018, “did not survive first contact with reality.”
This renewal of American power is prophesied, but it’s prophesied to be temporary. In Daniel 11:40, the Bible prophesies of a time in the near future when Iran will be unrestrained and implementing an aggressive foreign policy. At that prophesied “time of the end,” Iran will “push” not at the U.S. but at a European power. That power will respond not with diplomacy, but with an overwhelming, “whirlwind” military attack. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry expounds on this prophecy in his free booklet The King of the South.
China intensifies battle against U.S. dollar
Less than a year after China launched an oil futures contract denominated in the Chinese currency, the contract has been embraced by global commodities traders.
China launched an oil futures contract on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange denominated in yuan on March 26, 2018. Its trading volumes have now surpassed those of the Dubai Mercantile Exchange, making it the world’s third-most popular benchmark.
Due to the success, “China will now pursue de-dollarization head-on,” wrote Project Syndicate on December 3.
For some 50 years, the Trumpet and our forerunner, the Plain Truth, have forecast that a financial crisis originating in the U.S. will transform the current world order. Plain Truth editor in chief Herbert W. Armstrong wrote, “If the dollar is devalued, inflation will almost surely result—and eventual economic collapse for the United States” (co-worker letter, March 26, 1968).
Mr. Armstrong’s forecast was founded on Bible passages such as Leviticus 26, which reveal that if those who are descended from the ancient Israelites (which includes the modern Americans) reject God, He will curse them.
If China’s contract keeps luring nations away from the dollar, the conditions for the prophesied collapse of the U.S. economy could rapidly develop.
To understand more about the accuracy of Mr. Armstrong’s Bible-based forecasts, order your free copy of He Was Right.
Iran got far closer to a nuclear bomb than realized
Information gathered by Israel’s raid on a clandestine Iranian nuclear archive in Tehran on Jan. 31, 2018, has revealed the extent of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, which had been underestimated.
According to Congressional testimony from David Albright, a physicist, former International Atomic Energy Agency inspector and one of the experts invited by the Israeli government to analyze the archive, “Iran conducted many more high-explosive tests related to nuclear weapons development than previously known.” He told Foreign Policy in November that if Iran restarts its centrifuges, it could enrich enough weapons-grade uranium to build its first nuclear weapon in seven to 12 months.
Albright’s Institute for Science and International Security assessed that, by the end of 2003, Iran had managed to build the infrastructure for a “comprehensive nuclear weapons program” intended to produce five nuclear warheads, each with a 10-kiloton explosive yield.
Its report also indicates that there are still plenty of unknowns about what still remains of Iran’s nuclear program: “The program’s remains, and likely some activities, have continued up to today. The question of where all this equipment and material is now located is more urgent to answer.”
Bible prophecy does not say exactly whether Iran will develop a nuclear bomb or not, but it does state that Iran will trigger a devastating war that will involve nuclear bombs. That time might be much closer than previously realized.
Islamist revives terror in France
An Islamist terrorist killed five people and wounded 11 more in the French border city of Strasbourg on Dec. 11, 2018. The attack happened in the oldest Christmas market in France, dating back to 1570. It attracts 2 million visitors each year.
Cherif Chekatt, 29, entered the market’s secure zone and began attacking people, apparently at random, with a knife and an automatic pistol. He then took a taxi driver hostage and fled. Authorities tracked him down in the city two days later, and he was killed as they tried to arrest him.
The attack caused massive disruption. A few miles away, the European Parliament building was locked down with members of Parliament, officials and journalists locked inside. Across the city, thousands of others had to stay put, including 5,000 spectators stuck at a basketball game until 1 a.m.
Eyewitnesses reported that Chekatt shouted “Allahu akbar” as he opened fire. Islamists have a history of attacking Christmas markets. In 2000, a well-developed plan by al Qaeda to attack the same Strasbourg market was uncovered and stopped. Two years ago, an Islamist terrorist killed 12 and wounded 56 in an attack at a Christmas market in Berlin.
In 2015 and 2016, Islamist terrorists killed more than 200 people in France, including (but not limited to) a mass shooting at a satirical magazine’s office; shooting, grenade and suicide bombing attacks at restaurants, bars, concerts and a soccer stadium; and a 21-ton truck ramming hundreds of people. December’s attack reminded the nation that Islamist terror is still very real—and has the potential to prompt Europe to take dramatic action in the Middle East.
Germany chooses ‘mini Merkel’
Germany’s ruling party, the Christian Democratic Union (cdu), met on Dec. 7, 2018, to choose its course for the future and its new leader. Chancellor Angela Merkel, who had led the party since 2000, aims to remain chancellor until the next election. The new cdu leader is her heir, in line to succeed her as chancellor if the party wins the next federal election. The new leader could even have a shot at forcing Ms. Merkel out of her job sooner.
In the end, the vote came down to a simple choice. On the one hand Friedrich Merz, a strong critic of Merkel, wanted to move the party much further to the right. On the other hand, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer was Ms. Merkel’s preferred candidate. Kramp-Karrenbauer has some differences from Merkel, but not enough to keep some from calling her “mini Merkel.”
Kramp-Karrenbauer won 51.8 percent of the vote.
But Germany’s politics are in turmoil. According to some polls, the Social Democratic Party—which is traditionally Germany’s main left-wing party and one of the top two parties in the nation—dropped to fourth place in December. One insa poll put the far-right Alternative für Deutschland at 15 percent of the vote and the far-left Left Party at 10 percent. That means 1 in 4 Germans wants to vote for these radical, smash-the-system groups.
Facing all this turmoil, the cdu voted for more of the same.
Kramp-Karrenbauer’s election is not going stop any of the political turmoil roiling in Germany. If anything, it will make it worse, as the elites opt to keep the same course, while many on the street want a new direction.
Anti-Semitism still rising in Europe
Nearly 90 percent of European Jews believe anti-Semitism has increased in their home country in the past five years, according to a Dec. 10, 2018, report by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights.
Twenty-eight percent of those surveyed claim they have been harassed at least once in the past year. Of these, 79 percent said they did not report the incidents to the police, because they felt that nothing would change.
More than 16,000 Jews in 12 EU countries participated in the agency’s online survey, making it the largest survey of its type. The 12 countries are home to an estimated 96 percent of Europe’s Jewish population.
In the survey, 38 percent of Jews said they had considered leaving their home countries altogether because they felt it was unsafe to be a Jew in Europe.
A cnn-ComRes poll of 7,000 native Europeans from Austria, France, Germany, Hungary, Poland, the United Kingdom and Sweden found that 10 percent had an unfavorable attitude toward Jews. In Poland, the figure was 15 percent, and in Hungary, it was 19 percent. Of those surveyed, 20 percent said they believed the Jews were too influential in political affairs around the world, and 33 percent of Austrians surveyed said that Jews have too much influence over financial matters. It also found that 34 percent of Europeans surveyed said they knew nothing or very little about the Holocaust.
European history in the 1920s and 1930s reveals anti-Semitism as a precursor to war. It began with anti-Semitic rhetoric, then violent attacks, then war and systematic mass murder. That is exactly what is stirring in Europe today. Just like in the 1930s, gradual acceptance of anti-Semitism has led to an increase in violence against Jews, and many European Jews fear what will come next.
Russia ramps up aggression on Ukraine
The Russian Navy captured three Ukrainian naval ships on Nov. 25, 2018, after opening fire on them in the Kerch Strait, marking an escalation in tensions between the two nations that have been mired in conflict since 2014.
The Kerch Strait, off the eastern edge of the Crimean Peninsula, is a vital shipping route connecting the Black Sea to the Sea of Azov and two of Ukraine’s most important ports. The Crimean Peninsula was part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory until 2014, when Russia forcibly and unlawfully annexed it. In May 2018, Russia completed construction of a 12-mile-long bridge across the Kerch Strait, connecting Crimea to Russia.
A 2003 treaty designates the Kerch Strait and Sea of Azov as shared territorial waters for Russia and Ukraine. But since completing the bridge, Russia has sporadically blocked access to Ukrainian vessels transporting grain and steel exports to and from eastern Ukraine, effectively creating temporary choke holds on the Sea of Azov.
Due to Russia’s ongoing and unlawful aggression there, Kiev-based analyst Taras Revunets told the Trumpet on Nov. 26, 2018, that the Kerch Strait has become “the South China Sea of Europe.”
In 2005, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the demise of the Soviet Union “the greatest geopolitical disaster” of the 20th century. He has been working ever since to reverse that demise and to restore Russian power to its Soviet levels.
In August 2008, Putin showed the world that he was willing to use force to re-create the Soviet Union’s geography when his forces invaded the former Soviet republic of Georgia, defeating all resistance. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the October 2008 Trumpet that the attack “was the first military strike of a rising Asian superpower,” and said, “there will be more!” He continued: “Will a crisis occur over Ukraine? That area is the breadbasket of Russia, and surely it is willing to wage war over that as well.”
Time proved that forecast accurate, with Russia’s March 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. Putin has redrawn the borders of Europe—twice. And now, as evidenced by the Kerch Strait incident, Russia continues to tighten its grip on former Soviet territories.
You can learn more about Putin’s crucial role in Bible prophecy in Mr. Flurry’s booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia.’ Mr. Flurry explains that Putin is personally described in ancient Bible prophecies in Ezekiel 38 and 39, and that his rule indicates that “[w]e are entering into the worst crisis ever in man’s history.” But, Mr. Flurry adds, these prophecies are “super-inspiring at the same time.”
Chinese theft of trade secrets fulfills prophecy
A Nov. 1, 2018, report by the United States Justice Department shows that billions of dollars worth of patented American technology was stolen by a Chinese state-owned company. The victim, Micron Technology Inc., said the theft of its patented dynamic random-access memory (dram) chip technology was worth up to $8.8 billion.
This technological theft is far from an isolated incident. For more than a decade, China has fueled its economic growth largely with systematic theft of American commercial technology and intellectual property. In addition to Micron’s dram chip technology, the Chinese have been caught stealing U.S. intellectual property regarding jet engines, wind turbines, biopharmaceutical products and genetically modified rice.
Even when China’s operatives are caught, its leadership remains undeterred. FBI agent John Bennett told the LA Times on Nov. 16, 2018, that Chinese leaders “don’t care if they get caught or if people go to jail. As long as it justifies their ends, they are not going to stop.”
Despite getting caught from time to time, as with the Micron case, China’s efforts as a whole are largely successful. Experts say that, altogether, China’s intellectual property theft costs the U.S. between $225 billion and $600 billion each year.
Deuteronomy 28, sometimes called one of the Bible’s “blessings and curses” chapters, lists specific ways God promised that He would bless the nations of Israel if they obeyed Him, and specific ways He would curse Israel if they rejected Him. (“Israel” here refers mainly to the United States and Britain. This is explained in our free book The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong.)
Verse 33 states: “The fruit of your land, and all your labours, shall a nation which thou knowest not eat up; and thou shalt be only oppressed and crushed alway.” In China’s ongoing theft of American intellectual property and trade secrets, it is clear that this prophecy is being fulfilled.
To understand more about China’s role in Bible prophecy, please order your free copy of Russia and China in Prophecy.