Iran Out of Cash!

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Iran Out of Cash!

How Iran is being forced out of Syria

Iran’s proxies across the Middle East are showing signs of financial strain. On March 28, the New York Times quoted an Iran-backed militiaman who had recently lost a third of his salary and other benefits. “The golden days are gone and will never return,” said the anonymous Shiite fighter. “Iran doesn’t have enough money to give us.”

Iran has cut the salaries of many of its militiamen in Syria. Many Hezbollah fighters also say they have missed paychecks and lost various perks. In Syria, fighters from Palestinian factions living in subsidized apartments have been kicked out of their apartments and seen their food quality diminished.

In April 2018, the Jerusalem Post wrote, “There are 80,000 Shiite militiamen, trained and recruited by Iran, in Syria.” Lebanon’s Hezbollah is the best-known supporter, but a large majority of the foreign fighters are from Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan. According to Associated Press, Iran recruited tens of thousands of Afghans, training and paying them to fight in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Some experts estimate as many as 15,000 fighters at one time came from the Afghan Fatimiyoun Brigade. These foreign troops cost Iran money to feed, equip and pay wages.

Iran’s worsening economic crisis is a result of United States sanctions imposed in May, August and November of 2018. Because Iran was violating the terms of the the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (signed by China, France, Germany, Iran, Russia and the United States in an attempt to curb Iran’s nuclear development program), on May 8, 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the deal. Since then, America has placed various sanctions on Iran, targeting its crucial banking, oil and shipping sectors, and preventing it from using the U.S. dollar for trade.

On Oct. 31, 2018, during an event at the Alexander Hamilton Society, National Security Adviser John Bolton said, “We want to achieve maximum pressure but don’t want to harm friends and allies.” The U.S. set the goal of driving Iran’s oil exports to zero, but it granted China, Greece, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey temporary waivers.

“In November, we granted eight oil waivers to avoid a spike in the price of oil. I can confirm today three of those importers are now at zero,” Brian Hook, U.S. envoy to Iran, told Reuters reporters. He did not identify the three countries. “There are better market conditions for us to accelerate our path to zero,” he continued. “We are not looking to grant any waivers or exceptions to our sanctions regime.” And it seems like it is about to get worse for Iran. Reuters reported on March 25 that a senior Trump administration official said the U.S. government is considering placing additional sanctions on Iran in May.

In a November 2018 Trumpet article, “The Imminent Iran-Syria Divorce,” Jerusalem correspondent Brent Nagtegaal wrote:

After almost eight years of war, Syria lies in rubble. Cities such as Aleppo, Raqqa and Homs, once home to hundreds of thousands or millions of people, are shells of their former selves, with entire neighborhoods flattened by the fighting. National infrastructure such as bridges, roads and the power grid urgently need repairs.

The cost of repairing Syria is astronomical. In August, the United Nations estimated that it would cost $400 billion to restore Syria to the point that the millions of displaced Syrians could return. Problem is, Syria lacks the capacity to do the work itself and is going to need outside assistance.

Jihad Yazigi, editor of the Syria Report, an economic analysis news site, told the New York Times on March 28 that given the worsening financial situation in Syria, economic support from Iran would be “extremely helpful,” but it is no longer able to provide funding. In the past, it gave financial aid to the Syrian government, but it recently failed to deliver on its promise of a new power plant and a credit line to help Syria import essential goods.

An alliance only lasts as long as it is mutually beneficial. Syria received financial and military support from Iran, so it gave Iran access to its strategic territory in its goal to project power and threaten Israel. But as Iran’s financial and military support wanes, expect Syria to resist its authority.

However, Iran will not easily relinquish Syria. Foreign Policy estimated that Iran has spent about $30 billion on Syria. As Nagtegaal wrote: “To complete the Shia Crescent, Iran needs to preserve its influence over the regime of Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shia Islam.” Iran also needs control of Syria to connect with its Lebanon proxy Hezbollah.

Michael A. Ledeen, a contributing writer for the Wall Street Journal, writes in his 2007 book The Iranian Time Bomb:

If the Islamic Republic can drive the United States out of Iraq, destroy the fledgling democracy in Lebanon, and damage or destroy Israel, the mullahs believe they can dominate the area. … If they are seen to fail, however, their destiny is uncertain. That is why they are pushing so hard on all fronts, hoping to score their own victories before they fall.

That is exactly the strategy Iran’s leaders have employed since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Iran has already gained significant control of Iraq (please read “Iraq Is Conquered—On to Jerusalem”). On April 6, Reuters reported that Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has urged Iraq to oust American troops “as soon as possible,” a demand the Iraqi parliament has been considering for the last month.

Iran has also been working subtly to destroy the democracy in Lebanon. Its proxy Hezbollah is a legitimate party in Lebanon’s parliament and deeply involved in Lebanese politics. It even controls the country’s Health Ministry. Khamenei said, “Hezbollah is going to do things today that are in Iran’s interest.” According to Iran, Hezbollah is more loyal to the ayatollah than to its own goals and ambitions. In other words, Iran controls part of the Lebanese government. It has effectively destroyed Lebanon’s democracy.

In order to damage or destroy Israel, Iran must control Syria. It is a vital corridor to supply Hezbollah with armaments, and it acts as a launching platform to attack the Golan Heights in northern Israel. But in its current economic crisis, Iran can’t finance Syrian reconstruction, and it can no longer afford to pay militias to offer military assistance. With America declaring the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization this week, and the possibility of additional sanctions against Iran coming next month, how much longer until Iran is forced out of Syria?

The Bible prophesies of this imminent Iran-Syria split.

Daniel 11:40 prophesies of a radical end-time power called “the king of the south.” Daniel’s prophecy states that this king will “push” against a mighty power to the north. In his free booklet The King of the South, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry identifies radical Islam, led by Iran, as the king of the south. Iran’s attempt to use Syria as a platform to invade Israel is a demonstration of its pushy foreign policy.

Yet the Bible says that Syria will not be aligned with Iran. Instead, Syria is grouped with moderate Arab nations in an alliance described in Psalm 83: “For they have consulted together with one consent: they are confederate against thee: The tabernacles of Edom, and the Ishmaelites; of Moab, and the Hagarenes; Gebal, and Ammon, and Amalek; the Philistines with the inhabitants of Tyre; Assur also is joined with them …” (verses 5-8).

In Bible prophecy, the Hagarenes refer to modern-day Syria. They were a semi-nomadic people who lived in the desert region between the lands of Gilead, Bashan and the Euphrates River, which is known today as Syria. They are mentioned as living in the same region from the 12th century b.c. during the time of King Saul (1 Chronicles 5:9-10) to 703 b.c., when they were referenced in Assyrian King Tiglath-Pileser iii’s Summary Inscriptions. The Psalm 83 prophecy identifies the Hagarenes as part of the Arab alliance. The Hagarenes specifically refer to the modern-day nation of Syria.

In “How the Syrian Crisis Will End,” published in September 2012, Mr. Flurry wrote, “What we are seeing right now in Syria is a major biblical prophecy in the process of being fulfilled! What happens in Syria will lead to mighty nations changing course and the foundations of this world being shaken!”

Iran will soon be forced out of Syria. It can no longer uphold its end of the partnership, so Syria will look elsewhere for help. For more information about where Syria will look for assistance, read our article “How the Syrian Crisis Will End.”

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Germany Expands State Spying Powers

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Germany Expands State Spying Powers

If passed, a new law could greatly expand the scope of espionage on foreigners and citizens alike.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has introduced a bill that would allow German spy agencies to hack into nearly any computer and conduct espionage on a wide swath of citizens and foreigners.

Drawn up by Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the bill greatly expands the espionage powers of Germany’s intelligence service, the bnd. Although Seehofer has been notorious for opposing the chancellor on many occasions, he seems to have persuaded her to support this latest bill. This time, opposition is coming from Merkel’s coalition ally, the Social Democratic Party (spd). The spd justice minister has expressed outrage at one clause in particular, which would allow spies to collect information on children under 14 years old. The justification for this clause rests on the 2016 case of a 12-year-old who was involved in a plot to bomb a Christmas market.

Many Germans are critical of the bill. “This amounts to a massive extension of intrusive surveillance,” said Sven Herpig, a researcher from the New Responsibility Foundation. Germany’s Left Party also condemned the bill, calling it a “catalogue of Orwellian fantasies.”

In the recent past, however, many similar “fantasies” have become reality.

In 2017, Germany proposed an “unprecedented spate of new surveillance and security laws.” Most of these were passed and are in force today, yet they are rarely discussed.

The biggest concern is currently the government’s State Trojan spyware law. This allows government spyware to be covertly installed on a target’s mobile phone. The spyware can lie dormant for a set period of time, remaining undetected for years, before being activated to collect data on the user’s calls, chats and Internet activity. And this isn’t limited to phones; the spyware can also be used to spy on people through smart devices, like speakers or fridges that can connect to the Internet, greatly infringing upon privacy rights.

Before the State Trojan law was passed, only the federal Criminal Office had the power to employ this method of espionage. Now this power is in the hands of the state itself.

The new law also grants permission for the bnd to use this spyware against foreigners. Both the Criminal Office and bnd have expressed a desire to “cooperate more effectively against ‘transnational’ threats, such as terrorism and organized crime.”

Airlines in Germany are bound to collect and retain the contact details of their passengers, means of booking, payment, and even seat choice, for up to five years. Although presented as an EU requirement, critics have said that this law goes well beyond what is required by Brussels.

Other laws passed in 2017 regulate increased video surveillance of public areas and more detailed research into the background of migrants, both of which came in the aftermath of the 2016 Christmas market terrorist attacks.

The government has even gone so far as to draft legislation allowing it to spy on itself. Critics have drawn attention to the fact that this law would allow the state to threaten social media firms with heavy fines if they do not delete content deemed illegal.

As the Times noted, German spy agencies have been growing more intrusive for a long time; the latest decision is only one example of “years of growth.” In addition to these new bills, Germany recently opened a new spy agency in the heart of Berlin.

Why is a peaceful democracy like Germany investing so much to spy on its citizens and foreigners?

The 2013 scandal that the U.S. was spying on Germany, even on the chancellor herself, prompted outrage in Germany. More recently, Germany has viewed America with less trust and more suspicion at every turn. Germans are now looking to their own power, not America’s, to ensure their safety.

The expanding reach of the bnd and other German spy agencies should concern us even if we don’t live in Germany, because their Nazi past points to Germany’s ominous future. The late Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of our predecessor magazine, the Plain Truth, used Bible prophecy to forecast Germany’s future with incredible accuracy. His Bible-based predictions are still being vindicated to this day. At the end of World War ii, he gave this warning to his radio audience:

We don’t understand German thoroughness. From the very start of World War ii, they have considered the possibility of losing this second round, as they did the first—and they have carefully, methodically planned, in such eventuality, the third round—World War iii! Hitler has lost. This round of war, in Europe, is over. And the Nazis have now gone underground. … Now a Nazi underground is methodically planned. They plan to come back and to win on the third try.

History shows that the ancient Holy Roman Empire has had six resurrections, but the Bible clearly says that a seventh will occur before Jesus Christ’s return. “And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space” (Revelation 17:10). Mr. Armstrong came to understand this prophecy during World War ii, the time when “one is”—the Nazi regime and fascist Italy. This prophecy is a dire warning for us. This world-destroying Holy Roman Empire will rise again once more. It will occur in our day, at a time when nuclear weapons have made it possible for humans to wipe themselves out of existence (Matthew 24:21-22).

The expanding scope and power of Germany’s spying agencies sheds light on a resurgent nation, more willing than ever to project its power abroad. After recently shifting bnd headquarters to Berlin, many Germans said that the move symbolized Germany’s return to importance on the world stage. Germany already leads Europe, and is fast becoming the seventh “king” described in Revelation 17.

If you would like to read more about these impending events, and how one man relied on Bible prophecy to predict the events we see in Germany today, order your free copy of The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy and He Was Right.

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Poll: Southeast Asians See America’s Decline and China’s Rise

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Poll: Southeast Asians See America’s Decline and China’s Rise

America’s retreat and China’s advance are deeply felt in the region.

Southeast Asian analysts and business leaders feel the diminishing influence of the United States and the growing power of China, according to a survey by the asean Studies Center at the iseas-Yusof Ishak Institute published on January 29.

Conducted from November 18 to December 5, the study interviewed over 1,000 Southeast Asian geopolitical experts, researchers, businessmen and other professionals. The research aimed to “present a general view of prevailing attitudes among those in a position to inform or influence policy on regional political, economic and social issues and concerns.”

When asked about the reliability of the U.S. as a “strategic partner and provider of regional security,” more than 68 percent expressed doubts. Of them, over 9 percent said they had “no confidence,” 25 percent had “little confidence,” and another 33 percent were “unsure.” In a related question, nearly 60 percent of respondents said that the U.S.’s “global power and influence” have either deteriorated (45.6 percent) or deteriorated substantially (13.5 percent). The survey also found that America’s strategy to contain China’s rise through the Indo-Pacific concept is not viewed as a success. The majority (61.3 percent) of those interviewed think that the concept is “unclear and requires further elaboration.” Overall, 74.6 percent of the respondents do not think that the Indo-Pacific concept contains China.

The poll also showed that many Southeast Asian nations are acutely aware of China’s growing military and economic clout. More than 70 percent of those interviewed said China has the most influence economically in Southeast Asia. Almost half said China has the most influence politically and strategically.

Regarding China’s ambitions, 45 percent, a significant portion from the Philippines and Vietnam, said it will become “a revisionist power with an intent to turn Southeast Asia into its sphere of influence.” Another 35 percent believe China will “provide alternative regional leadership in the wake of perceived U.S. disengagement.” The respondents came to the same conclusion when asked about their perceptions of the Chinese-led Belt and Road Initiative: Almost half said it will “bring asean member states closer into China’s orbit.”

As the U.S. retires its leadership role in the region, an increasing number of Southeast Asians are wary of who will fill the void. Three out of 4 Southeast Asians believe that China will replace the U.S. as the new regional leader—others considered the European Union, India, Japan and Russia as possibilities.

A strategic battle between China and the U.S. has ensued in the Asia-Pacific. More than two thirds of Southeast Asian respondents believe China and the U.S. view each other as competitors. Sixty-two percent are worried that asean is “becoming the arena of major power competition” between China and the U.S.

Tang Siew Mun, the head of the asean Studies Center and one of the authors of the study, said that the findings reveal a “degree of skepticism” regarding China’s expansionist goals not seen or felt before. “Concerns about China’s growing assertiveness have been simmering in the past decade, and are now coming to a boil. The survey reflects that heightened sense of wariness,” Tang told the South China Morning Post. “However, we should be careful not to interpret these findings as ‘anti-China,’ but as a wake-up call that China’s strong-arm tactics and attempts to mold the region in its image will face considerable pushback.”

Southeast Asian nations will probably “push back” against China in the short run. But without America, there is little they can do militarily or economically to stop China, so they may seek a compromise. In the May 2017 Trumpet issue, we wrote:

[T]hese course changes are happening mostly because Asian nations are acutely aware of America’s decline and China’s rise. Their desire for self-preservation prompts them to realign accordingly. …

These nations see China’s big stick hovering in the background, and also see that the U.S. can no longer be relied upon to protect them from it. So they are making a calculated realignment: If you can’t beat them, join them.

As a result of these developments, most Southeast Asian nations will probably ally with Russia and China. Ezekiel 38 shows that a union of Asian nations, led primarily by Russia and secondarily by China, will form during the end time. The book of Revelation calls this Asian bloc “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). Revelation 9:16 says that this union of Asian nations will field a staggering army of 200 million men. Troops from populous Southeast Asian nations such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Thailand, could be assimilated into this massive army. In his free booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia,’ Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes (emphasis added):

The Bible gives some important details about this largest army ever assembled on Earth. It tells us which nations will contribute soldiers to it. It shows it will include the combined forces from several Asian nations. It refers to this Asian confederacy as “the kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12). …

Current events show this army is taking shape already. You can see it in Putin’s growing authoritarianism, and also in his outreach to other Asian powers. …

With other Asian nations joining in, you quickly reach combined populations of 3.5 to 4 billion people! Under extreme circumstances like those described in these end-time prophecies, it is not hard to imagine 1 in 10 or 20 people going to war.

Bible prophecy indicates that one of the main catalysts for this Asian combine is, as the asean Studies Center survey highlighted, the deteriorating influence and power of the United States. In Leviticus 26, God outlines the blessings ancient Israel and its descendants would receive if they obeyed God and the curses if they disobeyed. Verse 19 states that God will break the pride of Israel’s power. One of the modern-day nations descended from ancient Israel is America. (For proof, request your free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.) A quick look at America’s wartime history after World War ii shows that God has indeed broken the pride of America’s power. The once great superpower that many Southeast Asian nations revered has lost the will to defend its allies from China.

To understand more about the assimilation of Southeast Asian nations into a gigantic bloc known as “the kings of the east” and America’s deteriorating influence, please read The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’ and our Trends article “America Has Won Its Last War.”

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This Week: Five Events You Need to Know (April 6)

This Week: Five Events You Need to Know (April 6)

Weapons of space war, the Algerian crisis, NATO’s future, and more

Here are five of the most important news stories this week, as well as relevant links to the full articles and videos here on theTrumpet.com.

Laser Guns in Xinjiang—China’s Futuristic Anti-satellite Weapons

“We are almost as dependent on satellites as we are on the sun itself,” United States Rep. Jim Cooper wrote in the foreword to the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ report titled “Space Threat Assessment 2019,” published April 4. Yet these satellites are “vulnerable to a wide array of intentional threats, such as killer satellites,” wrote Cooper.

China is developing the most threatening of those killer satellites.

Cooper continued: “The risk of a space Pearl Harbor is growing every day. Yet this war would not last for years. Rather, it would be over the day it started. Without our satellites, we would have a hard time regrouping and fighting back. We may not even know who had attacked us, only that we were deaf, dumb, blind and impotent.”

To learn more about this growing threat, read “Laser Guns in Xinjiang—China’s Futuristic Anti-satellite Weapons.”

Another Million-Man March in the Middle East

Massive protests in Algeria got results this week: The North African nation’s ruler, Abdelaziz Bouteflika, stepped down, leaving a political void that Islamists are eager to fill and Europeans are anxious about.

If Algeria destabilizes, the echoes will reverberate around the world. It is an important supplier of oil and natural gas. Can Europe cope with yet another failed and disintegrated state at its borders? With another wave of refugees pouring out of the country toward Europe? And what about the rest of North Africa, which is already struggling to contain radical Islamic violence?

What does Bible prophecy say?

NATO at 70: Is the Alliance Finished?

According to North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first secretary general, the British Lord Hastings Ismay, nato was formed to “keep the Soviet Union out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Its goal was to prevent one single power from dominating the European continent, instead uniting the nations of Europe against a common threat: Soviet Russia.

Now, 70 years later, nato’s existence revolves around Germany. Will the alliance survive this new dynamic?

Populists Win Dutch Elections

The recent election victory of the party of Dutch populist Thierry Baudet might not have been a eulogy for democracy, but it was a warning, the Brussels Times wrote on April 2.

Established in 2016, Baudet’s party won more seats in parliament than Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s center-right party. With this election, Baudet achieved what Foreign Policy called “one of the greatest political upsets in Dutch political history”

Baudet’s victory speech contained references to Roman mythology and allusions to religion and nationalism. His “appeal to a shared past” was intended to “fill the void that globalization and secularization have left behind,” wrote Hans-Martien ten Napel, an associate professor of constitutional and administrative law at the University of Leiden.

Baudet is part of a new breed of European leaders that are set to dramatically change Europe—and the whole world. So says Bible prophecy!

Yemenis Rally in Support of Houthi Rebels

On the fourth anniversary of the Yemeni civil war, tens of thousands of Yemenis waving the national flag gathered in the capital of Sanaa to show their support for the Houthi rebel movement that toppled their government in 2015. According to Deutsche Welle, protesters held placards calling for persistence against Saudi aggression and chanted slogans against Saudi Arabia and the United States.

The Houthis, and their Iranian sponsors, appear to be winning this war. The prophetic ramifications of this victory are far-reaching—militarily, economically and politically.

“This Week” appears every weekend. To receive an update on our latest stories in your inbox ahead of time every Friday afternoon, subscribe to the Trumpet Brief daily e-mail. Sign up by clicking here or by visiting theTrumpet.com home page.

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EU Passes Dangerous New Internet Directive

Europe to force Internet companies to filter their content

After months of talks, votes, consultations, protests and petitions, the European Union finally passed one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in its history on Tuesday.

Inventor of the World Wide Web Tim Berners-Lee, cofounder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales and 70 other Internet pioneers signed an open letter to the president of the European Parliament warning that it was about to pass a directive that was “an imminent threat to the future” of the Internet. Over 5 million people signed Change.org’s largest-ever petition to try to get the EU to reconsider. Hundreds of thousands turned out to protest last weekend.

None of it mattered. The European Parliament passed its new Copyright Directive, its largest-ever attack on a free and open Internet.

The troublesome part of the directive revolve around two clauses, more dangerous than they first appear. Article 11 sets up the “link tax,” which doesn’t allow quoting more than a few words unless you pay the supplier. It sounds great—journalists will get paid for their content. But it’s been tried before, and the reality is that people stop quoting and linking to journalists, especially small publications. It can even be used to silence people who disagree with you and quote your material in order to argue your points.

The one that has really grabbed everyone’s attention is Article 13. It forces various Internet companies to check everything the public uploads for copyright infringement before it goes online. So content like this video you’re watching right now would have to go through some kind of a filter before it is posted.

The trouble is, computers get things wrong all the time. Parody could become much harder, and so could political commentary. If I quote an article or post an extract of news footage, a computer may rule it to be illegal, even if it is legal.

Even more concerning, this directive forces Internet companies to build a filter that could be used for almost anything. Once it’s up and running, the EU could mandate that it shift from just copyright infringement to “hate speech,” which may just mean a filter that blocks out anything the EU doesn’t like.

This is why Berners-Lee and his fellows warned that “Article 13 takes an unprecedented step towards the transformation of the Internet from an open platform for sharing and innovation, into a tool for the automated surveillance and control of its users.” Diego Naranjo, senior policy adviser at European Digital Rights, warned that “Article 13 of the Directive sets a dangerous precedent for Internet filters and automated censorship mechanisms—in the EU and across the globe.”

This restrictive move to control the Internet is exactly the kind of move the Bible tells us to expect from the EU. Here at the Trumpet, we have taught for years that the EU will morph into the beast power described in the book of Revelation—a dominant, authoritarian empire. Revelation 13 describes this beast power trying to control what people buy and sell. That prophecy shows that this power will try to clamp down on what people say and what people believe.

The EU looks harmless, useless even, and very bureaucratic. But it is already moving in this authoritarian direction. To read more about the new censorship law and these Bible prophecies, read my article “This Article—Soon Blocked by the EU.”