Iran Threatens Red Sea Oil Trade; Israel Calls for German Help

Cargo ships are seen at Israel’s Haifa commercial shipping port in the Mediterranean Sea on December 13.
Mati Milstein/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Iran Threatens Red Sea Oil Trade; Israel Calls for German Help

Choppy seas near Yemen are morphing into a whirlwind.

Yemen’s Houthi movement announced an escalation of its war on Israel on December 9. The Houthis have been targeting Israel-connected merchant vessels in the Red Sea since October. But on Saturday, Gen. Yahya Saree announced that any ship heading to Israel, regardless of nationality, is now a legitimate target. “If Gaza does not receive the food and medicine it needs,” he said, “all ships in the Red Sea bound for Israeli ports, regardless of their nationality, will become a target for our armed forces.”

The Houthis are making good on their threats. Earlier that day, French frigate Languedoc downed two Houthi drones over the Red Sea. On December 12, the Houthis fired at a Norwegian oil tanker, the Strinda, in the Red Sea. The tanker’s owner, Mowinckel Chemical Tankers, claims it was headed to Italy. But the Strinda was scheduled to dock at Israel’s port at Ashdod on January 4. Nobody was hurt in the attack.

The Houthis are a Shiite jihadist terrorist group backed by Iran. They have been fighting Yemen’s internationally recognized government since 2014. The government’s main ally, Saudi Arabia, started peace negotiations in April. But the Houthis have reportedly started fighting the Saudis again since at least October. The Houthis control large sections of Yemen’s east, including most of its Red Sea coastlands and the capital, Sanaa.

Iran, the Houthis’ ideological inspiration and major supplier of weapons, is the power behind their activities. It may even be directly responsible for the attacks.

The Economist wrote on December 4, regarding attacks on vessels the day before:

Israeli intelligence [believes] that Iran ordered the attacks and that they are being coordinated by Brig. Gen. Abdolreza Shahlaei, a veteran commander of Iran’s expeditionary Quds Force.

The New York Times cited “two senior Israeli defense officials” on December 8 who claimed that “Iran’s leaders were pushing the [Houthis] to intensify their attacks against Israel.”

As an Iranian proxy, the Houthis were never friends of Israel. But the latest unrest is in response to Hamas’s October 7 invasion of Israel and the subsequent war. (Hamas, although following Sunni Islam, is also an Iranian proxy.) And Israel is taking the Houthi threat seriously. According to the Times’s sources, Aman (Israeli military intelligence) has recently established a special unit focused on Yemen due to the recent events.

Compared to other places hosting anti-Israel terrorist groups, Yemen is far away. The Houthis may seem like a minor diversion from more serious threats.

But the Red Sea is one of the most important trade corridors in the world. The Houthis jeopardizing its usability affects more countries than just Israel. According to two Iranian sources interviewed by the Times, Iran is prodding the Houthis “to destabilize maritime security, global shipping and energy supplies.” Iran wants the rest of the world to feel the pinch. But what if the world’s global powers get sucked into an active war?

Israel is reportedly encouraging its partners to get involved before Yemen explodes. Israel’s N12 News claimed “[Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu informed [United States President Joe] Biden and [German Chancellor Olaf] Scholz, if you don’t act against the Houthis, we will act militarily.”

Israel turning to Germany for help is intriguing. Assistance in areas like the Red Sea notwithstanding, the U.S. has been an unreliable ally, pressuring Netanyahu to back down from the war in Gaza. France has similarly vacillated.

In contrast, Germany has been almost completely supportive of Israel’s campaign against Hamas. Scholz’s threats to intervene against terrorist group Hezbollah likely prevented it from invading Israel when it said it would. He has deployed Germany’s special forces to Cyprus in case they are required for any operation in the Middle East. Whereas other Western leaders have tacitly encouraged pro-Hamas rallies, such rallies in Germany have been hit with a hard crackdown. Germany is looking like Israel’s best friend in this crisis.

The German government often touts its “special responsibility” to protect Israel after what Germany did to Europe’s Jews in the Holocaust. But Germany is one of the world’s largest economies. Its power depends in part on trade arteries like the Red Sea staying open. It has deep historical links in the Middle East, including what is today Israel, and wants a sphere of influence in the region. It also sells weapons to some of the Houthis’ adversaries, like Saudi Arabia. Whether most realize it or not, Germany “has a dog in the fight” when it comes to Yemen.

It’s unknown if Germany will heed Israel’s call with this particular skirmish. But circumstances in the Middle East remain volatile.

Because of events in Israel, Iran-backed terrorists are threatening a blockade of one of the world’s most important trade routes. Israel wants outside powers like Germany to protect it. And Germany has major interests in the region that need protecting.

The Trumpet has been predicting this scenario for decades. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry wrote in our July 1998 print edition:

The stage is being set for an Islamic group of nations to be led by Iran as the prophesied king of the south which will push at the king of the north, the European Union.

In our November-December 2006 print edition, he called Germany “a global leader and chief peacekeeper” Israel would trust in defense. In April 2015, he wrote: “Now that Iran controls Yemen, it can virtually close or open this spigot on Middle East oil bound for Europe. And Europe is taking notice!”

These predictions may have seemed unlikely at the time. But the latest incidents in Yemen show they are about to come to fruition.

He based these statements on a prophecy in the book of Daniel: “And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many countries shall be overthrown” (Daniel 11:40-41).

The prophecy dates to “the time of the end,” far in the future from when it was penned. There are two principal actors in the prophecy: “the king of the south” and “the king of the north.” Biblical and secular history shows the king of the north to be a united, German-led European power to appear in our day.

The other power is located south of Europe. It has a pushy, provocative foreign policy that puts Europe on edge. Verses 42-43 show it commands a sizable proxy empire throughout the Middle East and North Africa. Verse 41 references the “glorious land,” showing the Holy Land is sucked into this king’s warfare. Since the 1990s, Mr. Flurry has identified the king of the south as the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mr. Flurry first published his landmark work, The King of the South, in 1996. Iran was by no means “king of the Middle East” at that time. It has come a long way since then. But how does this king “push” at Europe? What causes Europe to respond with what the Bible describes as a “whirlwind”?

Mr. Flurry describes what will happen if the Red Sea becomes “lined with radical Islamic nations”:

This could give Iran virtual control of the trade through those seas. Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the U.S. and Europe!

Iran could also use these trade routes to get control of Jerusalem, Islam’s third-holiest site. I believe Jerusalem is even more important to Iran than oil is. …

If Iran gets control of that trade route, it could create enormous damage and chaos in America and Europe almost overnight. Germany and the Vatican, the heart of the Holy Roman Empire, are not going to allow the king of the south to take over Jerusalem and the world’s number one trade route!

The King of the South was republished last February, before there was a war in Gaza. The Houthis were softening their attacks. And Germany certainly didn’t look like Israel’s closest ally. In less than a year, all of this has changed. Bible prophecy is proving accurate.

To learn more, request a free copy of The King of the South.