German military deadlier than it seems
The German military is considered under-financed. United States presidents have consistently demanded that it spend a larger percentage of its gross domestic product on its military in order to share the burden of financing the nato alliance.
Germany has increased its spending from 1.4 percent to 1.6 percent, still less than the 2 percent specified by nato. But few realize that Germany’s military strength does not lie in its numbers but in innovation. According to some measures, it has the seventh-largest military budget in the world, but if it commits to militarizing, it could quickly rise in rank. It has been a leading weapons exporter for decades and has established a global weapons industry that can produce such sophisticated hardware as laser weapons.
Germany’s weapons industry, its strong economy and its financial and political dominance of Europe could enable it to quickly build a world-class military. And, as Winston Churchill warned, history testifies that “Germany is a country fertile in military surprises.”
Revelation 13 prophesies the rise of a “beast,” a symbol for a war-making empire that other prophecies show will rise in this generation and be led by Germany. Nahum 3:16-17 also prophesy about this power, which has a multiplicity of “merchants” and whose captains are as numerous—and as elusive—as grasshoppers. After losing World War ii, German militarism went underground, like the grasshoppers; but though hidden, it is alive and ready to burst back into view.
Return of the dragon
Mario Draghi, former head of the European Central Bank, became Italy’s prime minister on February 13. This comes after Italy’s latest political crisis, when its broad coalition split up in January over how to spend the coronavirus relief package supplied by the European Union.
His government will include members from Matteo Salvini’s Lega Nord, the Five Star Movement and other parties with conflicting views. Since Draghi was not elected but rather asked to step in, the government will remain in caretaker status until the next elections, scheduled for 2023. Although caretaker governments are not supposed to be overly political, they are allowed to make economic reforms. This is Draghi’s speciality.
Draghi rose to prominence in 2011 when he became head of the European Central Bank. He led it for eight years and successfully navigated the period of instability following the 2008 crash, including the Greek debt crisis. He said in 2012 he would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro currency and succeeded, earning the nickname “Super Mario.” Some journalists called him “the man who saved Europe.”
At first glance, Draghi is an inconspicuous European banker whose name is not widely known outside Europe and the financial world. But he is one of the most well-connected men in Europe and is a strong advocate of greater unity among European nations. He is also a “Jesuit-trained Vatican supporter,” as late Trumpet contributor Ron Fraser wrote. “It is of interest in this context to note that the man possesses a Christian name that literally means war, warring or warlike—Mario. But the surname also intrigues—Draghi, meaning dragon. Interesting to think on.”
‘COVID Jails’ in Germany
On February 1, Schleswig-Holstein was the first German state to open a facility for detaining those who refuse to follow covid-19 quarantine regulations. Those who break the law are being detained for the rest of their quarantine period. Other German states are planning similar “covid jails.”
Thomas Strobl, interior minister for the state of Baden-Württemberg and member of the center-right Christian Democrats, told Der Spiegel magazine that “stubborn quarantine-breakers must be isolated.” If the German people accept this oppressive measure from their government, it is hard to tell how this law and ones like it could be used in the future.
These measures are particularly disturbing in light of Germany’s history. In Nazi Germany, an oppressive government rewarded certain freedoms only to those who complied. The Bible reveals that Europe is heading step by step toward a strict, dictatorial state. In “Coronavirus and the Holy Roman Empire,” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry noted: “Europe’s response to covid-19 has set the stage for dictators to rise.”
Germany, Turkey hoping to work together
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas visited Turkey on January 18, hoping to rekindle the relationship between the two countries. The United States recently sanctioned Turkey for its purchase of a Russian S-400 Missile Defense System. Prior sanctions and other circumstances have forced Turkey into a deep economic crisis, and many analysts believe this pressure from the U.S. is driving Turkey toward Europe.
Turkey is an important trading partner and strategic ally for European Union, and it has agreed to prevent many refugees from landing on the European coast. The EU and Turkey have had serious disagreements recently, including a Greece-Turkey dispute over gas reserves last year that could have ignited a military conflict but for strong pressures to work together.
Maas hopes that his recent visit will help solve the ongoing EU-Turkey diplomatic conflict. Cooperation between Germany and Turkey has flourished despite obvious human rights abuses by the Turkish government and the fact that Turkish armed forces are occupying foreign territory. Additionally, Turkey has been the main recipient of German weapon exports over the last few years.
Iran flexes its muscles with rocket launch
Iran tested a new domestically designed and manufactured rocket on February 1 intended for sending satellites into orbit. The same design could easily be adapted for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Iranian government claims the Zuljanah is for civilian use, but the military oversaw the launch, rather than the nation’s civilian space agency. Analysts characterize this as Iran sending a signal of strength toward Joe Biden and his administration.
Iran says its Zuljanah rocket can carry a payload weighing up to 485 pounds, contains its largest solid-fuel motor, produces 75 kilotons of thrust, can launch from a mobile platform, and can send satellites 310 miles into orbit. This is far more power than necessary for releasing a satellite, and launching from a mobile platform is completely irrelevant to satellite deployment—but highly relevant to military ballistic missile launches. If launched as a missile rather than as a rocket, the Zuljanah could fly a distance of up to 3,100 miles, far enough to reach Britain.
Last decade, Iran became the ninth nation to send objects into space, becoming a threat to assets in orbit and, if it mounts a nuclear warhead to a modified Zuljanah, entire cities on the surface.
Iran targets Ethiopia for terror
Ethiopia arrested 15 suspects on February 3 over a plot to attack the United Arab Emirates Embassy in the nation’s capital, Addis Ababa. An unspecified quantity of weapons, explosives and documents were confiscated from the suspected terrorists. The Ethiopian Press Agency reported, “The group took the mission from a foreign terrorist group and was preparing to inflict significant damage on properties and human lives” (February 3). The agency said a second group was planning a similar terrorist attack on the U.A.E. Embassy in Khartoum, Sudan.
Israeli officials have said that the foreign terrorist group giving the orders was Iran, and that the attacks were intended as retaliation for last year’s assassinations of its top general, Qassem Suleimani, and its top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh. Israel and the U.A.E. also recently signed a deal normalizing their relationship, facilitated by United States President Donald Trump.
On February 1, Israeli news reported the arrest of several Iranian agents who had scouted Israeli, United States and U.A.E. embassies in an unnamed East African country. It is unclear whether these are the same 15 suspects arrested in Ethiopia.
In either case, the active plots show Iran’s intent to continue its sponsorship of terrorism generally and its expansion into Ethiopia specifically. (The plot comes just months after Ethiopia’s security agency arrested 14 radical Islamists for plotting terrorist attacks.)
Ethiopia has a strong Christian majority, but look for it to join Iran’s Islamic bloc.
“No matter what angle you view it from, the picture is the same: Ethiopia is under extreme pressure to come under the influence of radical Islam!” Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in Libya and Ethiopia in Prophecy. “You need to watch Libya and Ethiopia. They are about to fall under the heavy influence or control of Iran, the king of the south.”
Will Russian protests drive Putin from power?
Russians are protesting falling living standards and the arrest and imprisonment of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Some analysts say this could ultimately force president Vladimir Putin from power.
“Putin should recognize his time is up,” the Observer wrote on January 24. “The biggest protests in years … could spell the beginning of the end for Vladimir Putin,” the Independent wrote the following day. “Sooner or later the situation will explode,” Boris Akunin wrote for Echo of Moscow.
Putin’s government claimed Navalny’s sentence of two years and eight months at a penal colony is punishment for his failure to attend probation appointments last year related to a previous fraud conviction. But the original fraud conviction was false, and Navalny failed to make the appointments only because he had been poisoned by a weapons-grade toxin that only a Russian government official could have accessed.
Many Russians understand that Putin’s imprisonment of Navalny is politically motivated and unjust, and in January and February, great numbers of them mounted the largest nationwide demonstrations in nearly a decade. Their anti-government sentiments were further inflamed by economic hardship, particularly after Navalny’s team published a video featuring an extravagant $1.4 billion palace on the shores of the Black Sea that was allegedly built for Putin in recent months.
The pressure against Putin is significant, but the Trumpet believes he will remain in power because of statements in the Holy Bible. Prophecies in Ezekiel 38 and 39 say a “prince of Rosh” (Russia) will soon come to power over a vast multinational Asian military force (Young’s Literal Translation). Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry writes in his booklet The Prophesied ‘Prince of Russia’ that this leadership role will be filled by Putin. “His track record, his nationality and his ideology show that he is fulfilling a linchpin Bible prophecy,” he writes. “The time frame of his rule also shows that nobody else could be fulfilling the Ezekiel 38 and 39 prophecy.”
South China Sea: The solution to China’s energy cravings
China’s dependence on foreign energy imports will increase in the years ahead, Oil Price wrote on Dec. 25, 2020. This means you can expect China to further tighten its grip on the South China Sea, through which most of its energy imports transit.
In 2018, China brought in 440 million metric tons of crude oil from other nations, 70 percent of its total crude for the year. By 2019, China’s foreign oil dependency ratio was an estimated 72 percent. And despite increases in domestic production, demand is still outpacing supply. Energy consulting company icis China says it expects the share of imported energy to continue climbing.
More than 60 percent of China’s maritime trade, equating to 40 percent of its total trade in goods, passes through the South China Sea. Around 80 percent of China’s crude oil imports come through this waterway, mainly from the Middle East.
China’s dependency on energy imports is a major part of the reason it has been building and militarizing islands in the South China Sea, and why it has been antagonizing other nations in the region. The ruling Chinese Communist Party is determined to control this trade route in order to secure the energy that fuels its economy. As its energy import dependence grows, expect China to continue tightening its grip over the South China Sea, challenging other nations’ territorial claims and destabilizing a vital region.
China authorizes hostilities in South China Sea
On January 22, the Chinese government passed a new law authorizing its Coast Guard to open fire with handheld, shipborne and airborne weapons against foreign vessels in waters that it illegally claims. The legislation authorizes the Coast Guard to “take all necessary measures, including the use of weapons, when national sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction are being illegally infringed upon by foreign organizations or individuals at sea,” and it authorizes the boarding and inspection of foreign vessels and demolition of structures built by other nations.
The law escalates the conflict over the South China Sea in particular, large parts of which international law defines as falling within the exclusive economic zones of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. China claims nearly the entire sea as its own sovereign territory.
Notably, the law concerns not China’s navy but its coast guard, which is the largest in the world. Defense analyst Chester Cabalza told the South China Morning Post that since the law transforms a “white” force intended for search and rescue into a militaristic “gray” force, it is a “game changer” that makes war “plausible” in the South China Sea.
Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry has warned that China’s increasing aggression in this region is leading to open conflict. In our July 2016 issue, he wrote: “China is intimidating the nations of Southeast Asia into submission to its will. It is forcing these countries to do what it wants. Everything is headed in the direction of war.”