German Coalition Government Rattled by Another Resignation

The coalition committee of the cdu, spd and csu pose for a photo on March 14 in the Bundestag in Berlin, Germany.
Guido Bergmann/Bundesregierung via Getty Images

German Coalition Government Rattled by Another Resignation

Chancellor Merkel’s term could end sooner rather than later.

Andrea Nahles, leader of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (spd) and a major supporter of the current coalition government, announced her resignation on June 2. This could further destabilize the already fractured coalition, bringing a quicker end to Angela Merkel’s term as chancellor.

Nahles took over the party leadership in April 2018 in hopes of winning over more voters to the spd. She was the strongest spd supporter of the coalition with Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (cdu) and its sister party, the Christian Social Union (csu). However, it appears that her efforts have not done much good for the party, with spd popularity dropping 3 percent over the past year.

If the spd gets a leader who aligns it further with the left, the party may leave the coalition and potentially force snap elections and end Merkel’s chancellorship. Or Merkel’s party may make a minority government in partnership with the pro-business Free Democratic Party (fdp) and the Greens. These parties differ sharply on various issues.

Many have warned that the coalition could soon collapse, and various cdu members have called for “a new start” to renew the party’s image. Without it, they believe the coalition will be rejected by the people.

Olaf Scholz, vice chancellor of the spd and its most senior politician, has ruled out a coalition with the cdu. Even if the coalition does not collapse immediately, voters are tired of it and ready for change.

“Three grand coalitions in a row would not do democracy in Germany any good,” Scholz said during an interview with Tagesspiegel newspaper on June 1. “No one wants a continuation of the current coalition after 2021—not the citizens, not the cdu, and certainly not us Social Democrats.”

European election data has shown that voters in Germany are increasingly abandoning traditional parties such as Merkel’s cdu in favor of smaller groups.

In search of change, German voters are increasingly willing to challenge the status quo. In recent elections for the European Parliament, the Greens, which usually receive a small percentage of the vote, came in second only to the mainstream, center-right cdu and csu. This is a major upset in the traditional order: The Greens sent 18 members to European Parliament, while the spd sent only 16, winning only 16 percent of the vote.

Although still in the top spot, the cdu received its worst-ever results. Some polls now suggest that the Greens have surged ahead to become Germany’s number one party.

cdu and spd leaders are racing to reassure everyone that the coalition will not fall apart. “I expect the spd will make the now-necessary personnel decisions quickly, so as not to impair the ability of the grand coalition to act,” said Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, cdu leader and Merkel’s designated successor.

But the reality remains that the coalition is more fragile than ever. If resignations and loss of support in the polls continue, Merkel’s term as chancellor may be over sooner than expected.

Will her successor manage to fix the problem? Or will Germany continue having weak coalition governments? Although nobody can predict the intricate details of what will happen next in the coalition’s troubled saga, there is a way to know what will ultimately happen in this developing German leadership crisis.

The Trumpet looks at these events from a long-term perspective through the lens of Bible prophecy. The Bible prophesies that a strong leader will come to power in Germany. He will be “a king of fierce countenance,” who will subjugate the world by the combined power of a united Europe. He is prophesied to be a German, the leader of the biblical “king of the north” (Daniel 8:23-24; 11:40-45).

In our booklet on this subject, A Strong German Leader Is Imminent, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes:

This soon-coming ruler could literally be called a king. Even if he is not, the Bible gives him that label. When the Bible talks about a king, in most cases it’s saying that this is not a democratic government. Even if he doesn’t have that title, he is going to lead like a king. This vision in Daniel shows that the European empire is about to become a lot more authoritative.

The leadership crisis in Germany is another sign of a dissatisfied country, which will help bring about the rise of this undemocratically elected “king.” Last year, when similar coalition meltdowns were plaguing the German political scene, Spiegel Online called this new, divided epoch in German politics the “era of instability.” That instability is only getting worse.

In 2009, Mr. Flurry said in a Key of David program that this prophesied strong leader could “take advantage of a weak coalition” to enter power. The fractured political landscape in Germany is creating the ideal conditions for this to be fulfilled.

To read more about this coming strong leader and how a German-led Europe is about to radically change the world you live in, request a free copy of A Strong German Leader Is Imminent and read our Trends article “Why the Trumpet Watches the Rise of a German Strongman.”

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Millennials Are Poorer Than Any Living Generation

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Millennials Are Poorer Than Any Living Generation

Debt data reveals the true cost of putting career before family.

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are in worse financial condition than any previous living generation, according to data published by the Wall Street Journal last month. Although highly educated, they are staying in school longer, making harmful personal financial choices, and taking longer to start families. The true cost of these decisions is starting to be recognized.

Neglecting Family

Millennials are the generation responsible for bringing America’s birth levels to a 32-year low. The birth rate is currently only 1.8 children per woman. This means more than a shrinking population. It means that more and more retirees are supported by fewer and fewer workers. It is so low that if trends continue, social security payouts will run a deficit of almost $2 trilllion over the next 75 years.

Men and women in their 30s are not only having fewer children, they are also marrying later—or not at all. Millennials are marrying less than any previous generation. Many blame their financial condition for the lack of impetus to get married.

Joseph Cochran and Tasha Brown are an example. Burdened with student loan debts, they wanted to marry but realized that combining their incomes will make paying off their income-based loans even more expensive. So they chose an unconventional approach: Although they are not legally married, they both wear wedding rings, and Ms. Brown legally changed her surname to Cochran. “If we had zero student loans, we’d be married,” she told the Wall Street Journal.

Worth Less

As a result of putting off major life decisions like buying a home or marrying and having children, millennials often accumulate less net worth than their predecessors. When adjusting for inflation, millennials possess 40 percent less than Generation X did in 2001, and 20 percent less than baby boomers had in 1989.

Only one third of millennials owned a home in 2016, compared to half of Generation X in 2001 and just under half of baby boomers in 1989. The St. Louis Federal Reserve stated that the median wealth of those born in the 1980s was a third below the level of what they expected when making predictions based on earlier generations.

House prices have risen dramatically compared to previous generations. This makes it much harder for millennials to own their own property and begin to accumulate wealth.

More Education, Less Money?

In terms of their credentials, millennials are the most highly educated generation ever. Nearly 40 percent of people between the ages of 25 and 37 hold a bachelor’s degree, compared with 25 percent of baby boomers and 30 percent of those in Generation X.

However, this has burdened millennials with crushing levels of debt. The average student loan owed by millennials in 2017 was $10,600. This is more than double the average Generation X owed in 2004, according to Federal Reserve economist Christopher Kurz.

Joy Brown, 32, is a millennial who owes $102,000 in student debt. She earns $75,000 a year, but she told the Wall Street Journal, “If I can’t afford a home, I definitely can’t afford kids.” This mentality is increasingly common. Millennials are putting off major life milestones in order to pay off student debt or save up for a home. “Myself and a lot of my peers still feel like we’re playing catch-up in the game of life,” said Brown.

Making it even more difficult for millennials to pay off these debts is their average wage levels. Adjusted for inflation, baby boomers earned 27 percent more than millennials and Generation X earned 18 percent more.

What causes these mounting levels of student debt and delayed home purchases and marriages? According to Kurz, when it comes to millennials, “their economic fundamentals are fundamentally different.” Millennials are focusing more on getting degrees and pursuing better careers than they are on joining the labor force and starting a family.

The intense pressure to be college-educated comes with a heavy price. Education was once a means to an end of starting a family. Now it is an end in itself.

How to Escape Debt

Editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in the April 2018 Trumpet issue, “Deficit spending is not limited to America’s government. The average American citizen loves to accumulate debt just as much as his government does! We are addicted to it at every level of society.”

Debt is indeed “a moral issue.” The Bible discourages debt and outlaws coveting and related sins. Addiction to living beyond one’s means is selfishness. Psalm 37:21 says, “The wicked borrows, and cannot pay back, but the righteous is generous and gives” (Revised Standard Version).

Today, it is common for people to live beyond their means and needlessly go into dangerous levels of student debt, credit card debt and other debt. But you need not live this way. There are solutions for escaping debt.

You can take action in your life to combat debt addiction and escape the stress and anxiety it brings. To learn more about getting out of debt and managing money God’s way, request a free copy of Solve Your Money Troubles!

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How Has China Changed Since the Tiananmen Square Massacre?

Hundreds of thousands of people attend the annual candlelight vigil service at the statue of the Goddess of Democracy at Hong Kong’s Victoria Park to pay their respects to those who lost their lives during the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.
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How Has China Changed Since the Tiananmen Square Massacre?

The Chinese Communist Party, which mercilessly slaughtered its own citizens 30 years ago today, is now supported by a strong majority of China’s 1.4 billion people.

Tiananmen
Is broad and clean
And you can’t tell
Where the dead have been
And you can’t tell
What happened then
And you can’t speak
Of Tiananmen.

(From “Tiananmen” by James Fenton)

In the spring of 1989, the Western world looked on China with admiration and hope. The admiration was for the millions of Chinese university students and other citizens who dared to question the country’s corrupt authoritarian Communist government. The hope was that these protests would bring real political reform to China.

“China in the late 1980s was in the midst of social, political and cultural ferment, a world that was heady with possibilities,” Ilaria Maria Sala, an exchange student in Beijing at the time, wrote for Quartz last month.

The possibilities appeared endless. China’s longtime dictator, Chairman Mao Zedong had died in 1976. Deng Xiaoping had dismantled the policies of Mao’s disastrous Cultural Revolution. Reformists led by Deng launched wide-ranging programs to transform the Chinese economy. They began moving some economic sectors, most notably agriculture, away from the collectivist, Communist model and toward privatization. “It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white: As long as it catches mice, it’s a good cat,” Deng often said to justify his adoption of certain capitalist-leaning policies.

In 1978, he opened the Chinese economy up to the world.

The result of these reforms was stunning. Throughout the 1980s, China underwent astounding economic growth, and millions of Chinese were lifted out of extreme poverty. Censorship policies were also dramatically relaxed. Books, both Chinese and Western, that had been banned under Mao began to be circulated and taught throughout China. “The bookshops were full of translations from every language,” Sala wrote. “Magazines and newspapers were at their most interesting, with long investigative pieces” and the “literary world was challenged with new thinking every week.”

The people of China suddenly had some exposure to Western standards of living and ideas. And they were hungry for more. Sala wrote: “Anyone from abroad, no matter how young and inexperienced, was seen as being able to provide information from a still-inaccessible wider world.”

By spring 1989, millions of Chinese had learned enough to know that China still needed more reforms to become as free and prosperous as the West. Princeton University professor of East Asian studies Perry Link, who lived in Beijing at the time, explained the ambition: “Deng Xiaoping, introducing the reform and opening up era, had famously said: Cross the river by feeling the stones. But Deng never told what the other side of the river was like. But there was a river, a sense of going somewhere.”

University students took the lead in calling not just for further reform of economic policies, but also political change.

The students saw that communism and Mao’s related ideas had proved to be abysmal failures. They believed the Chinese Communist Party (ccp) should stop governing China dictatorially. They believed the people of China should have a say in how their lives were run, through individual rights, democracy and freedom.

On April 15, 1989, Hu Yaobang, a high-ranking ccp official who had encouraged democratic reforms, died. Tens of thousands of Chinese University students gathered in the ancient Tiananmen Square in Beijing, using Hu’s funeral as a chance to rally together in their calls for reforms and freedom. Over the next several weeks, the students and other individuals seeking change continued to assemble in the square. Artists among them built a towering plaster statue in the square’s northern end called “Goddess of Democracy.” The 33-foot-tall structure became the focal point for the movement.

Initially, the government only issued stern warnings to the growing crowds. But the students’ impassioned idealism was intense and contagious. The demonstrations began to spread to other Chinese cities, and took root in Shanghai, Nanjing, Chengdu and some 400 others. More and more people were joining in because they believed life for them and their children could be better than it was. They knew the ccp that controlled the country was self-serving. These people wanted opportunity, and a chance to live stable lives, without government bureaucrats growing fat off of their labor. The protests were infused with the hope that China could become a democracy and a land of opportunity and prosperity.

Change seemed imminent.

A few ccp leaders thought the government should negotiate with the protesters and make some significant changes. But the hard-liners, including Chinese Premier Li Peng, were terrified of where it might lead if the government started to give in. They feared that their power could come to an end and that they might personally suffer violence if a revolution were to break out. So the government determined to forcibly suppress the protests.

In the middle of May, the ccp declared martial law in Beijing. The government stationed troops from the People’s Liberation Army (pla) around the city. But due to protesters flooding the streets, the soldiers couldn’t reach the heart of the movement in Tiananmen Square.

On the evening of June 3, tanks and soldiers were given a new order: Advance to Tiananmen Square regardless of who or what may be in your path, and clear the square by early on June 4.

Jiang Lin was a 33-year-old lieutenant in the pla at the time. After keeping quiet about the carnage she witnessed in Tiananmen Square that night, she broke her silence last month in an interview with the New York Times. “How could fate suddenly turn so that you could use tanks and machine guns against ordinary people?” she asked. “The People’s Liberation Army is the people’s military and it should not enter the city or fire on civilians.”

Jiang said many in the Army opposed the government’s plan to use force. But the ccp leaders ignored these objections and reiterated the orders. And throughout the night of June 3 and 4, pla soldiers shot their way toward Tiananmen Square, mowing down any who stood up to them.

Describing the slaughter of innocent Chinese people that she witnessed that night, Jiang said: “It felt like watching my own mother being raped. It was unbearable. … The pain has eaten at me for 30 years.” Jiang left China last month just before her Times interview was published.

By June 5, the military had total control of Tiananmen Square and all of Beijing. And the Chinese Communist Party immediately went into damage control mode, airbrushing the entire event. They said the protesters had attacked the Army, provoking a reaction. They downplayed the number that had protested and said the death toll was minimal—just a couple of hundred.

But a British diplomatic cable written that day reveals the massacre’s true scope, and confirms the testimony of Jiang and numerous other eye witnesses. “Minimum estimate of civilian dead 10,000,” the cable states, citing a highly placed Chinese government source. The cable was written by Sir Alan Donald, Britain’s ambassador to China at the time, and was only declassified in December of 2017. This figure is in line with United States intelligence estimates about the number killed.

Sir Alan included some grim details about the massacre. He wrote that a few waves of troops were sent into the square unarmed to break up the groups of demonstrators. Then a military company called the 27 Army of Shanxi Province—selected because its soldiers were from outside of Beijing and wouldn’t have known any of the protesters—was ordered to attack both the protesters and those unarmed troops: “The 27 Army’s apcs opened fire on the crowd—both civilians and soldiers—before running over them,” he wrote. “Students understood they were given one hour to leave square, but after five minutes apcs attacked. Students linked arms but were mown down. apcs then ran over the bodies time and time again … and remains [were] collected by bulldozer. Remains incinerated and then hosed down drains.”

Sir Alan also gave horrific details about wounded female students who pleaded for their lives but were bayoneted to death. He wrote about a young mother who was shot as she tried to help her wounded 3-year-old daughter.

He added: “One thousand survivors were told they could escape via Zhengyi Lu [a pedestrian avenue], but were then mown down by specially prepared M/G [machine gun] positions.”

While visiting Tiananmen Square in the summer of 2017, with children playing in the sun and thousands of people posing for photos and sipping iced tea and lemonade, it was hard to envision the kind of brutality that had taken place there back in 1989. And that is precisely how the Chinese Communist Party wants the situation to remain. From the beginning, the ccp downplayed the significance of the event. And in the 30 years since, it has tried to scrub the massacre—and the people’s hunger for democracy that led up to it—from history.

Some Chinese people refuse to forget. In the early days of the Internet, they began using the code date “May 35th to talk to each other about what happened on June 4th. By this method, they were originally able to keep discussions from being flagged by China’s armies of censors. Now, however, even “May 35th” is banned from all online discourse within the Great Firewall of China. Tools to find and erase content regarding the massacre have achieved remarkable levels of accuracy. And anyone who brings up the Tiananmen Square massacre can be punished and even incarcerated.

The ccp’s crackdown on discussing the topic has been remarkably successful. And as the years go by, fewer Chinese are aware of the massacre and fewer are concerned about the ccp’s brutality. Rather than loathe the government for its slaughter and cover-up, most of the people of China today embrace the ccp. “While 6/4 may still resonate with journalists and China watchers, the vast majority of the Chinese public has moved on,” wrote Christopher K. Colley, assistant professor of Security Studies at the National Defense College of the United Arab Emirates, in the Diplomat last month.

Colley says the tendency of Western media to focus on Chinese dissidents such as Jiang Lin obscures the view of how politically unified post-6/4 China has become. “By focusing on fringe dissidents, this discussion on China’s rise risks missing the forest for the trees,” he wrote. “By cherry-picking individual Chinese dissidents who espouse Western democratic norms, we are neglecting the fact that most Chinese actually support the Chinese Communist Party.”

He continues: “The real story of 6/4 anniversaries today is … that times in China have never been better, thus providing a weak incentive for Chinese to resurrect the ghosts of 6/4. Whether the West likes it or not, the ccp has delivered to the Chinese people in a way that most would have thought impossible on June 5, 1989.”

Colley’s analysis is confirmed by Boston University’s Joseph Fewsmith, who says 85 percent of Chinese are “relatively or extremely satisfied with the central government.” It is further confirmed by political scientist Bruce Dickson who recently conducted face-to-face interviews with around 4,000 Chinese individuals in 50 cities, concluding that the ccpenjoys a surprisingly high level of popular support.”

The Chinese people’s approval of the ccp is especially significant in light of how powerful China’s current leader has become. In early 2012, Xi Jinping was basically unknown in Chinese politics. But he assumed the office of general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party in November of that year. In the time since, he has adopted a strongman approach indicating that there is little he wouldn’t do to preserve and expand his power. Most notably, Xi has rewritten the rules to erase presidential term limits, meaning he is free to rule China for as long as he lives.

On this 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, the world should remember that the same Chinese Communist Party that authored that savagery is still in power. It has never apologized nor expressed remorse for the brutality it authored that night. In fact, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Wei Fenghe said over the weekend that the crackdown was justified. “That incident was a political turbulence,” he said, “and the central government took measures to stop the turbulence, which is a correct policy.”

Under Xi, the ccp continues to justify its brutality, tighten its hold on China, and violently stamp out internal dissent. And rather than fearing this totalitarianism, a strong majority of China’s 1.4 billion people stand behind him and the ccp.

The world should be sobered to see Xi Jinping’s China armed to the hilt, and increasingly determined not just to dominate the Chinese people but also to project power beyond China’s borders. We should remember what the ccp is willing to do to its own people to keep power, and realize how much more it would do to outsiders who threaten it. We should understand that the threat Xi poses to global stability is significantly intensified by the Chinese people’s support of him. The people increasingly share in his vision of a China-dominated world—a world that could suffer Tiananmen Square-style crackdowns on any who dare to challenge the leadership.

The Trumpet watches Xi’s tightening grip on power because Bible prophecy reveals that as the U.S.’s influence in global affairs declines, two main powers will emerge in its place: one will be a European entity functioning in the tradition of the Holy Roman Empire, and the other will be an Asian bloc called in Revelation 16:12 “the kings of the east.”

Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has pointed to scriptures in Ezekiel 38 to explain that this Asian bloc will be headed by Russia, with China in a secondary leadership position. Revelation 9:16 says this Asiatic power will field an army of 200 million men. With 85 percent of China’s 1.4 billion people supportive of Xi, it is easy to see how such a massive army could soon emerge. And this will not be a force of hesitant conscripts, but of zealous troops driven by the leadership’s vision.

The Bible makes plain—in such chapters as Jeremiah 50 and 51, Daniel 11 and 12, Revelation 16 and Matthew 24—that a clash between this European power and this 200 million-man Asian military will contribute to the most violent conflict in human history. It will be many times more violent than what the Chinese who yearned for democracy suffered 30 years ago today.

The significance of Xi’s growing power and China’s increasing support for him and the ccp is revealed in these scriptures. These trends also indicate just how near this future clash between the Europeans and Asians may be.

This points to a dark and unprecedentedly violent time in the near term, but the Bible shows that the time of darkness will be closely followed by the brightest imaginable future. Our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy explains:

Are you awake to what is really happening in this world? Think about this: The soldiers of Europe, Russia and China today are some of the same soldiers that will march from Megiddo to Jerusalem to be destroyed by Jesus Christ Himself!

That is how close we are getting to the end of this age of man! Are you ready for what is about to occur?

Revelation 19 describes Christ’s triumph over the evil forces of man. This victory ushers in the World Tomorrow, when Jesus Christ will rule this Earth with His saints! For 1,000 years, the world will blossom in abundant peace and prosperity!

Seeing the global war that looms on the horizon and the “abundant peace and prosperity” that lies beyond it should stir us to get to know God and to work to escape the coming destruction. The Bible makes clear that individuals and families can be protected from the global suffering. To understand these prophecies, the hope that is interwoven in them, and how to avoid the fast-approaching devastation, read Russia and China in Prophecy and “There Is a Way of Escape.”

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Why You Don’t Want an Iranian Nuclear Referendum

This handout image supplied by the Iran International Photo Agency shows the reactor building at the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power plant in southern Iran.
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Why You Don’t Want an Iranian Nuclear Referendum

A look back at the destructive referendums of Iran’s past

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has suggested that the nation hold a referendum on its nuclear program. He referred to the vote as “a deadlock breaker” that “could be a problem solver at any junction,” reported the semi-official Iranian Labour News Agency on May 25.

With the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal nearly dead, a referendum would shape the future of Iran’s nuclear program—and thereby Iran itself. This would set the stage for major conflict with the West, something the Trumpet has forecast for decades.

A Clever Disguise

Rouhani has been enduring harsh open criticism from both the political class and general populace over the collapse of the nuclear deal. Iran’s clerics are upset because they feel negotiators conceded too much to America. The Iranian public is upset because the promised windfall from the deal never came. Meanwhile, the United States has applied sanctions and moved military assets closer to Iran.

Rouhani hopes to shield himself from international and domestic condemnation by putting the question to the people directly in a “democratic” vote. Some argue that a referendum would be a chance for the moderates to wrest control of the nuclear program from the hard-liners. Whatever Rouhani’s motivations are for the referendum, the truth is that nothing happens to the nuclear program in Iran unless it is supported by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

If Khamenei allows the referendum to happen, the result is already determined.

The proof is in Iran’s previous two referendums. Both were decided before a single vote was cast. Both led to the radicalization of the nation. And both ceded power to religious fanatics.

Referendum #1

Iran’s first referendum was held March 30-31, 1979. Iran voted to establish an Islamic republic. The vote was rigged from the beginning.

First there was the wording. The question was, “Should the old system be replaced with an Islamic republic?” With the nation in uproar against the previous Pahlavi dynasty, a binary choice between the “old system” and anything new could only go one way.

Other laws changed at the same time. Voting age was dropped to 16. Impressionable children with no life experience or understanding of politics were now involved.

Even the voting process itself was called into question. A four-man delegation of international jurists from the International Association of Democratic Lawyers monitored the vote. The Washington Post quoted the head of the delegation, saying, “[T]his is not the way we do things in the West, and it does not meet our criteria of democracy.”

The overwhelming majority of Iranians voted for revolution. Then came the “now what?” Returning from exile in France, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini was ready to answer. Iran’s second disastrous referendum was set for December that same year.

Referendum #2

The second referendum was to approve and amend Iran’s constitution. Since the March vote, three main groups had emerged: the Communists, the Islamists and the nationalists. Scared of the Communists, the Islamists and nationalists banded together and drafted a constitution.

Of course, the two had very different ideas of what the constitution should be. The nationalists wanted something based on a European model. The Islamists wanted something based on Ruhollah Khomeini’s sermons.

The end result was a bit of both: some democratic institutions overseen by unelected religious fanatics—a bizarre compromise that was never going to work. And Khomeini knew it.

But it was good enough for the supporters of both parties, and in December 1979, the referendum passed.

But Khomeini had no intention of sharing power. Thanks to the second referendum, he found himself constitutionally plonked at the top of the political heap. Indicating what was to come, he said, “What the nation wants is an Islamic republic, not one word more and not one word less. Not just a republic, not a democratic republic, not a democratic Islamic republic. Do not use the word ‘democratic’ to describe it. This is the Western style.”

An Islamic republic is what they got.

Just a few months later, Iraq invaded. It was perfect timing for the ayatollah. Iran cried out for a strong leader, and Khomeini never looked back. During the eight years of conflict, he consolidated power to himself and the clerics. By voting to give a little power to the religious leadership, the people had unintentionally relinquished it all.

Unelected bodies, such as the judiciary, started barring reformists from elections. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps dragged protesters from the streets. Newspapers and media outlets were shuttered. The nationalists never stood a chance.

In just one decade, Iran transformed from a pro-Western monarchy to a radical state sponsor of terror. In no small part thanks to two hijacked referendums.

Nuclear Referendum, Nuclear War

In light of this history, would a vote on the nuclear program be any different? How would it be posed? Would citizens get a say in determining where the program went after the vote? History says no.

Iran’s radical leaders are spoiling for a chance to kick the nuclear program back into high gear. They recently quadrupled uranium enrichment production capacity. They stress that it is only to the 3.67 percent outlined in the nuclear deal.

Referendum or not, Iran will likely forge ahead with the nuclear program. How fast it proceeds likely depends on the strength of the United States’ deterring power.

Bible prophecy indicates, however, that Iran will eventually plow ahead with its program.

Few consider what the Bible says regarding world events. But God has much to say about the rise and fall of nations. It is, after all, God who places kings and rulers in their positions (Daniel 2:21).

Through the Prophet Daniel, God announced the rise of a pushy future world power known as the king of the south. Daniel 11:40-43 indicate that this power will include Egypt and Ethiopia. But who leads this power? For years, the Trumpet has forecast that this will be Iran. (Request our free booklet The King of the South for proof.)

Thankfully, that rule will be short. Verse 40 indicates this radical Islamic power will provoke a far stronger power—the king of the north—into battle. The result is nuclear world war.

Notice what is written in Habakkuk 3: “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls” (verse 17). Why are the trees not blossoming? Not even the destruction of World War ii stopped that from happening. Never until the proliferation of nuclear bombs could such an event come about. Amos 5:1-3 speak of widespread destruction; up to 90 percent of people wiped out from cities. Again, it points to nuclear war. God prophesies it will happen.

This war sparks to life in the Middle East. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in “The Unthinkable Will Happen!” about Daniel 11:40 and Iran triggering world war:

Looking at current events, I believe this will happen after Iran gets the nuclear bomb. And that prophecy tells us that Iran is going to provoke a mighty European empire—a nuclear-armed power—into a war. From there, the destruction will only escalate.

Iran’s actions today are leading to a nuclear World War iii!

To read about this in detail, please order Mr. Flurry’s free booklet The King of the South.

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Hezbollah’s Cash Problem Continues

Pro-Iranian Hezbollah fighters take part in a parade to mark the annual al-Quds Day on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
Marwan Naamani/picture alliance via Getty Images

Hezbollah’s Cash Problem Continues

Suffering from U.S. sanctions, Lebanese terrorist group scrambles for more funding.

Many reports indicate Hezbollah is running out of funds. United States President Donald Trump is waging financial warfare against Iran and its terrorist network. Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist proxy in Lebanon, is receiving the brunt of the attack as the Trump administration works to pry it away from Iran.

Hezbollah receives $700 million in annual funding from Iran, accounting for 70 percent of its annual revenue. It needs Iranian cash to survive.

The majority of this funding comes from Iran’s oil industry. In 2017, crude petroleum made up about 72 percent of Iran’s trade exports. However, Iran’s crude oil production this May fell to its lowest levels in nearly 30 years.

Iranian Oil Exports Plummet

Reuters oil tanker tracking data shows that Iranian crude exports in May fell to around 400,000 barrels per day. That means Iran is exporting less than 20 percent of what it was exporting in April of last year. That was the month before President Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal and began reimposing financial sanctions against Iran.

In November 2018, President Trump imposed a number of hard-hitting sanctions on Iran, most notably its crucial oil sector. The president declared that those who purchase oil from Iran must cut all crude oil imports from Iran. To avoid shocking the oil market, President Trump granted eight nations a six-month oil trade extension.

On May 2, the U.S. ended trade waivers and began fully enforcing sanctions. Of the eight waivers given out, only Turkey and China publicly announced their desire to continue Iranian crude purchases; though it seems Turkey may cave in to U.S. demands. Whether the Trump administration will allow China—the largest importer of Iranian oil—to continue importing has yet to be seen. However, the administration has stated that the waivers will not be extended.

Reduced oil exports mean reduced funds for the Iranian regime, which means less funding for its terrorist proxies.

Financial Strain

Hezbollah is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. In 2018 alone, the U.S. Treasury Department added over 30 Hezbollah-related sanctions. As a result, Hezbollah is under significant financial strain.

According to Ynetnews, monthly cash shipments from Iran have already been cut in half.

This year, Hezbollah cut salaries for its fighters for the first time. Some of its militiamen have only received two thirds of their usual pay in the past three months. It has laid off half of its reserve fighters because it can’t keep up with paychecks. Reports indicate Hezbollah is selling off property and reducing aid to its fighters. It is also laying off staff and reducing pay to workers of its al-Manar television network and al-Nour radio station.

To survive, Hezbollah will have to look elsewhere for support.

For the first time since its inception 37 years ago, Hezbollah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has appealed for donations in a public address in March.

In response, the Houthi-run radio station called on its listeners to support Hezbollah. The donations are funneled through one of its many social welfare institutions. Senior analyst for the Arabia Foundation Fatima Abo Alasrar said that, in the past month, the campaign raised $120,000. Houthi-run Saba News Agency said the fundraising efforts will “have a significant impact in strengthening the Axis of Resistance,” referring to Iran’s proxy network.

Iran’s financial crisis is actually bringing its terrorist network closer together.

Power Swap

The Trump administration’s sanctions against Iran and its proxies are working, but their dedication is proving resilient. While U.S. sanctions are delaying this Islamic terrorist alliance’s rise, it may only be temporary.

Under the Trump administration, the U.S. is moving toward a more isolationist foreign policy. On Dec. 19, 2018, President Trump announced America’s withdrawal from Syria. Though he has compromised on his plan due to public backlash, it shows the mindset that America is in retreat.

Daniel 11:40-43 describe an end-time clash between two power blocs, a modern Islamic alliance (“the king of the south”) and a German-led European power (“the king of the north”). The Islamic alliance will include Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya and will be led by Iran. Lebanon is not part of this alliance. Instead, Bible prophecy indicates it will be part of an anti-Iranian confederation of Arab nations (Psalm 83:6-8).

This could happen by either of two ways: Hezbollah decides to break from Iran or it loses power in Lebanon. Hezbollah’s current military and political power mean that the only way Lebanon could join an anti-Iran alliance is if it had Hezbollah’s support or if it gained control over Hezbollah. The U.S. could have a large part in bringing about this transfer of power.

The U.S. is working hard to specifically target Hezbollah and pry it away from Iran. Hezbollah may either give in or collapse as economic pressure intensifies. Alternatively, if Hezbollah’s resolve proves unbreakable, the U.S. may be forced into military confrontation. If it comes to open conflict with Hezbollah, the U.S. would likely make use of the Lebanese Armed Forces (laf). The U.S. is the laf’s number one supporter, providing it about $222 million annually. However, since Iran gave Hezbollah $700 million before it was sanctioned, that means Iran was outspending the U.S. roughly 3 to 1 in Lebanon. Even if Iranian funding is halved, it will still be outspending the U.S. Hezbollah has a fighting force about half the size of the laf, but with more funding. America would have to considerably increase its financial support.

Whether the U.S. will be successful in tearing down Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon remains uncertain. But if it doesn’t, another power will.

Europe, primarily France and Germany, are increasingly becoming more involved in the Middle East. After the U.S., Germany is the second-largest financial supporter of Lebanon. France also supports Lebanon financially and militarily. These two nations may become a significant impediment to Iranian influence in the region.

Historically, Lebanon has been the Christian center in the Middle East. Today, 40 percent of Lebanon’s population still belongs to a Christian denomination. This will be the linchpin factor for Europe’s involvement in Lebanon. Iran wants to reposition itself to push the Christians out of power in the Lebanese government. Europe will not allow that to happen.

In “Why You Need to Watch Lebanon,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote, “Europe coming into the Middle East is going to infuriate Iran. And it is such European intrusion that will cause Iran to push at the king of the north.” Iran will attack Europe with a lot of force, but that attack will lead to Iran’s destruction.

U.S. sanctions are crippling Iran’s economy and slowing the rise of this Islamic nation. However, it is also increasing tension. Eventually, the Middle East will explode into war. For more information, please read “Why You Need to Watch Lebanon.”

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China Threatens Ban on Rare Earth Mineral Exports to U.S.

Rare earth mine in Bayan Obo, a mining town in Inner Mongolia in China
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China Threatens Ban on Rare Earth Mineral Exports to U.S.

Early warning signs of a dangerous future for the American economy and for American society

China’s National Development and Reform Commission, the department responsible for economic planning, indicated on May 28 that it may restrict exports of rare earth minerals to the United States as part of the ongoing trade war between the two nations.

Rare earth minerals are a group of 17 metals that the U.S. Geological Survey deems critical to the economy. They are important materials for manufacturing smartphones, cameras, ear buds, wind turbines, jet engines, lasers, missiles and missile defense, night vision devices, satellites, and the processing of crude oil into gasoline and jet fuel.

China is the world’s leading supplier of rare earth metals, accounting for 90 percent of global supply, a virtual monopoly. The U.S. imported nearly $92 million worth of these minerals in 2018.

If China suddenly stopped rare earth metal exports, “[i]t would affect everything—autos, renewable energy, defense and technology,” the founding director of Adamas Intelligence, a strategic metals consultancy firm, told ForeignPolicy.com. This scenario would create large disruptions in the global economy. However, it is important to note that China is not the only nation that possesses rare earth metals. Other nations friendly to the U.S. do as well, such as Australia.

A full trade embargo on rare earth metals “would be a drastic measure that would permanently raise alarm bells in global national security circles,” Sagatom Saha, an energy policy analyst, told ScientificAmerican.com. By cutting off rare earth material exports to the U.S., China would damage its reputation as a reliable supplier, leading other nations to search for alternatives. But there is no denying that it is highly aware of how powerful this weapon would be in a trade war.

As demand for rare earth metals increases, both within China and around the world, every developed nation will be pressured to decrease dependence on China and establish new supply chains.

Although China currently dominates this field, some nations have basic infrastructure in place for extraction and processing, wrote Geopolitical Futures. A Chinese embargo would increase demand, providing incentive to start their own production. The U.S. recognizes the danger of relying almost exclusively on China for rare earth materials. In 2017, President Donald Trump issued an executive order to begin preparing American industry to mine and process minerals that are currently being imported.

Chinese President Xi Jinping added to the speculations over Chinese intentions recently when he visited a rare earth metals plant, accompanied by an aide for trade negotiations with the U.S. The visit was interpreted as symbolic of China’s willingness to use rare earth exports as leverage in trade talks with the U.S.

Xi himself called for a “new long march,” referring to the Chinese Communist Party’s temporary retreat from nationalist forces from 1934 to 1935, prior to its eventual victory in 1949. Xi has made the Long March a metaphor for China’s current position in the trade war.

State-run media is amplifying Xi’s message. Government-sponsored People’s Daily wrote that rare earth minerals could be the next “weapon” China deploys to “strike back” at the U.S. In a similar vein, a provocative anti-American video surfaced on the government-controlled platform Watermelon Video. The video included footage of cargo ships and American companies, and told Chinese citizens that “China must be prepared to fight a protracted war” with the U.S.

There is plenty of debate and government propaganda about who, if anyone, will finally win the trade war. What then is the long-term significance of Xi’s statements?

China’s threats to shut the United States out of trade are exactly what is described in Bible prophecy.

To the Israelites, the people who became today’s prosperous nations of the United States and Britain, God promised great wealth. (Request a free copy of The United States and Britain in Prophecy, by Herbert W. Armstrong, for detailed proof.) That power has been shown in America’s dominance of world trade over the past century. However, God prophesied that U.S. trade and economic strength would become besieged as a result of its sins.

Deuteronomy 28:52 says, “And he shall besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land, which the Lord thy God hath given thee.”

The current trade war is prophesied to end with Asian and European nations drawing together to shut America out of global trade (Isaiah 23). (For a full explanation, request your free copy of Isaiah’s End-Time Vision.) The Bible foretells of an alliance between Asian economic powers, as well as European nations, which will cooperate for a short time to create an unmatched economic superpower.

Trumpet contributing editor Brad Macdonald explained this prophesied alliance and how it will come together to oppose America’s trade interests in “Trade Wars Have Begun.” He wrote:

The Prophet Isaiah forecast a massive global trade network in the end time and said it would revolve around a German-led European superstate. You can study this prophecy in Isaiah 22 and 23. In Isaiah 23:1, China is called by its ancient name, Chittim. The same verse calls the German-dominated European combine Tyre, which was a major economic power extant at the time the prophecy was written.

In this prophecy, the end-time Tyre is shown to be in a trade relationship with China and other Asian peoples. The mention of the sea (verses 2, 4, 11), oceans (“great waters,” verse 3), ships (verses 1 and 14), and seaborne merchant traffic (verse 8) indicates this is a trade alliance. Verse 3 calls this a “mart of nations.” Mart means emporium, trade or merchandise. Verse 13 mentions Italy (Chaldea). Italy is here depicted in association with Germany, whose biblical identity is Assyria, or Asshur.

Clearly, this is a prophecy about an end-time trade axis between Europe and Asia!

Notice too: America and Britain are not part of this “mart of nations.” Why not? Because this trade emporium is a rival of the U.S. and Britain. It is infused with strong anti-American and anti-British sentiment. This “mart of nations” exists to compete with America and Britain!

Whoever wins this current trade war, one thing is certain: It is another step toward the fulfillment of this prophecy. America will be besieged and eventually attacked militarily. However, as these ominous events draw closer, another, more positive prophecy is equally certain: Trends, such as China’s increasing aggression and America’s eventual expulsion from global trade, point to the imminent return of Jesus Christ.

To read more about the prophesied economic siege coming to America and other Western nations, request your free copy of Isaiah’s End-Time Vision, by Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry.