Tensions between Russia and Europe escalated hugely in August (see cover story, page 1). Russia’s invasion of Georgia shows that a bold and powerful nation is growing in the East. America’s lack of response shows that a weak-willed, divided nation is declining in the West. That leaves Europe in the middle. Prophecy reveals that it will coalesce into a unified and formidable force.
The pope wants a more robust role in this unified Europe. He is not happy with the state of Catholicism on the Continent. In July, he refused to meet with the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which invited him to speak as its principal Christian guest in its Year of Intercultural Dialogue. At an international meeting with the heads of various religious communities in July, Cardinal Franc Rode complained that Europe is “moving backwards in the area of religion because legislative bodies on the Continent are increasingly moving further away from Christian principles.” Watch for increasing efforts by the Vatican to reverse this trend. It is already scoring some considerable successes. Bowing to Catholic pressure, the Croatian parliament passed a law July 15 that will force businesses to close on Sundays. This particular law is prophesied in the Bible to be enacted and enforced throughout the Continent—and beyond. Request our free booklet Who or What Is the Prophetic Beast? to understand this vital prophecy.
Italy took an alarming lurch to the right in July. Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is now above the law apparently. He was facing trial in Milan, where he was accused of paying a $600,000 bribe to his former tax lawyer to give misleading testimony, when Italy’s senate on July 24 approved a law banning criminal investigations of the president, the prime minister, and the speakers of the Senate and Lower House.
A few weeks later, following a declaration of a state of emergency over immigration, the Italian government sent troops to the country’s major cities to confront crime and increase security. Three thousand troops were deployed to Rome, Milan, Naples, Bologna, Verona and Palermo to combat street crime, which is frequently blamed on illegal immigrants. These moves must be viewed in light of Europe’s history and biblical prophecy. They represent a step toward dictatorship and reveal a swing to the right in Europe.
Meanwhile, the final craft in Germany’s first spy satellite program launched from Russia July 22. The 1,700-pound sar-Lupe 5 satellite, outfitted with cloud-piercing and night-vision radar, is the fifth in the sar-Lupe project. Now completed and operational, this constellation of satellites can provide images of any location on the globe in an average of 10 hours and show objects as small as 3 feet. According to the deputy inspector general of the German Federal Armed Forces, this spy satellite network puts Germany “eye to eye with other countries.” Still, this fact went almost unreported in the media. The world has forgotten Germany’s recent and remote history at its peril. Watch Germany very closely.
It is growing more evident that the “Cedar Revolution” of 2005—when Lebanon supposedly kicked Syria out of its country—is dead. On August 13, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, agreed to establish full diplomatic ties for the first time since Lebanese independence more than 60 years ago. Suleiman was in Syria for a two-day visit, the first visit to Damascus by a Lebanese president since Syria withdrew its troops from Lebanon in April 2005. Now that Hezbollah has controlling power in Lebanon’s government, Syria is happy to deal with Beirut. But, as Global Politician stated, the establishment of friendly relations “will represent not the normalization of Syrian-Lebanese relations, but rather the enveloping of Lebanon into the regional alliance led by Iran, of which Syria is a senior member” (August 8, emphasis ours).
Israelis are growing concerned about East Jerusalem following two bulldozer attacks in July by Arabs from there. In the latest, on July 22, four cars were crushed, a bus smashed and 16 people wounded in an attack outside the King David Hotel in West Jerusalem. “Both attacks,” wrote Martin Sieff, “have to be seen in the context of a slow but steady escalation in terrorist violence against Israeli civilians and security forces over the past few months within Jerusalem itself” (Human Events.com, August 6). There have been five major attacks in Jerusalem, in which 12 Israelis have been killed, so far this year. According to Haaretz, during the first half of the year, the Shin Bet security service arrested 71 Palestinians from East Jerusalem suspected of being involved in attacks, compared to 37 such arrests during all of 2007. We are in fact witnessing the earliest stages of violence that will result in half of Jerusalem falling into the hands of the Palestinians, as prophesied in Zechariah 14.
Following a bevy of corruption charges leveled against him in recent months, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced on July 30 he would resign in September and not run in the Kadima primaries. Depending on whether the new leader can hold the ruling coalition together, we could soon see further political instability in Israel and even a fresh national election.
Meanwhile, on August 12 Haaretz reported that Olmert offered Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 93 percent of the West Bank for a future Palestinian state. The Palestinians’ response? Abbas’s spokesman said the proposal was “not acceptable,” calling it “a waste of time.” With Olmert desperate to get a deal in place before he leaves office, expect the Palestinians to hold out for their demands—which include an Israeli withdrawal from Jerusalem—without budging an inch.
Iran believes it has victoriously outmaneuvered the West over the nuclear issue. August 2 was the deadline that the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany had given to Iran to respond to an offer of economic incentives in return for freezing the expansion of its nuclear work—an offer that actually amounted to an acceptance by the Western world of a nuclear Iran. By ignoring the deadline, Tehran sent a clear message. While hosting Syrian President Bashar Assad in Tehran, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad defiantly announced that Iran wouldn’t back down “one iota” in its tussle with the West over its nuclear program. Meanwhile, the 118-nation Non-Aligned Movement endorsed Iran’s right to peaceful uses of nuclear power on July 30. The endorsement, said Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, acts to “remove this notion that the international community opposes the nuclear activities of Iran.”
It appears Iran is stepping up its efforts to thwart the U.S.-led coalition’s operations in Afghanistan. According to the Afghan daily Anis, Iran has become the main thoroughfare for jihadist traffic leaving Iraq for Pakistan’s tribal belt. The paper described Iran as a “tunnel for terrorists” to Waziristan.
President Pervez Musharraf announced his resignation August 18 rather than face a threatened impeachment. Musharraf, who had already lost most of his power following U.S.-pushed elections in February, had been the closest thing the United States had to an ally in Pakistan. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry foretold the likely result of Musharraf being pushed from power in his January article “Pakistan and the Shah of Iran,” asking whether the U.S. was about to repeat the blunder it made in 1979 with Iran.
Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (akp) narrowly survived after the country’s Constitutional Court on July 30 rejected a case filed by the public prosecutor to ban the party on charges of trying to undermine the secular nature of the republic. Fines were, however, imposed on the akp. While the European Union had condemned the attempt at banning the ruling party as being undemocratic, don’t expect this outcome to help Muslim Turkey in its bid to join the Catholic-dominated European community.
Amid the pomp and splendor of the Beijing Summer Olympic Games, China experienced an increase in Islamic terrorism on it western border. In early August, Islamic separatists in the Xinjiang province released two videos threatening the Olympics. These separatists also conducted a series of violent attacks on government establishments and security personnel within Xinjiang. The stringent security crackdowns and omnipresent controls the Chinese government enacted in response to these events, however, only succeeded in pushing many radical Islamists across the border into Pakistan and Afghanistan. The influx of Muslim jihadists from China into these terrorist safe havens will likely strengthen the global jihadist movement.
Despite continuing human rights abuses in Tibet, U.S. President George W. Bush chose to meet Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing and repledge America’s commitment to fostering good ties with China. Though Bush did utter some words of criticism about China’s lack of religious freedom before he met with Hu, they amount to empty words. America relies heavily on China to finance its government spending—and Chinese leaders know it.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin visited China on July 26-27 to meet with Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan for talks on energy cooperation. China’s rapidly industrializing economy desperately needs access to Russian oil and gas, while Russia—always on the lookout for new customers to increase its leverage over its European regulars—is also looking to secure its sparsely populated eastern borders.
Speaking at an industry conference held in late July, Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin uttered just five sentences of criticism against Mechel, a Russian coal and steel company, and it triggered a 38 percent nosedive in the company’s shareholder equity. The event shows the power Putin holds over the Russian economy. It also revives memories of the governmental takeover of Yukos, once the largest oil company in Russia, which collapsed under dubious back-tax bills and saw most of its assets pass into the hands of state-run Rosneft. As with Yukos, Putin’s criticism of Mechel involved tax evasion. It would not be surprising if Mechel soon finds itself a state-owned corporation.
Africa, Latin America
On July 24, Zimbabwean leaders finally began talks to resolve the country’s political crisis, which churns in the wake of failed presidential elections and the subsequent illegitimate reelection of incumbent Robert Mugabe. No results have been announced as of this writing. Meanwhile, Zimbabwe’s official inflation rate is just over 2 million percent—though many economists believe the real rate to be much higher. Zimbabwe announced its latest economic panacea on July 30: eliminate the last 10 zeros on its currency. The 10 billion-dollar bill is now the one-dollar bill.
China’s announcement on July 30 that it will invest $5 billion in Niger to develop oil production has sparked concerns of exploitation. According to the bbc, Niger’s mining union says the deal was made with contempt for regulation and in great secrecy. This follows China’s pattern of economic exploitation in Africa.
Tens of thousands of South African workers stayed home from their jobs on August 6, crippling parts of the country’s most important economic sectors—mining and manufacturing. The strike was in protest of skyrocketing food and electricity prices and, according to the Wall Street Journal, could hardly have come at a worse time. The South African economy is already suffering from high inflation and an unreliable transport and energy grid. Especially hard-hit is the gold mining sector, which saw production drop by 12.3 percent in June compared to the same month last year. China has now surpassed South Africa as the world’s largest gold producer. Falling production levels are adding another financial burden to the cash-strapped South African government.
Newspaper reports of July 23 said Russia intends to station nuclear bombers in Cuba. Stratfor said the plan under consideration is for a refueling base, not a nuclear base. Either way, it is a major provocation aimed at Washington.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sechin, a former kgb man with ties to the Castros, was dispatched to Cuba on July 30, reportedly to discuss Russian energy investments. Stratfor said his visit was “intended to grab the attention of the U.S. administration”; in other words, the Russian government deliberately publicized the visit so Washington would know Moscow is active in Cuba again. As Latin America begins to unify against the U.S., Moscow is evoking memories of the Cold War.
Venezuela is no longer America’s fourth-largest supplier of crude oil, having been overtaken by Nigeria. Falling Venezuelan shipments to America are the result of increasing sales to China and crumbling oil infrastructure. Exports to the U.S. from January through May this year were down 10 percent from the same period last year. As Venezuelan imports continue to decline, expect the competition for resources to heat up.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has banned 272 officials from participation in November’s elections, prompting an uproar. Chavez blamed the objections to the ban on the U.S.
When the American economy falls, no one will be able to say the writing wasn’t on the wall. Some recent writing on the wall came in the form of Morgan Stanley, the second-biggest securities firm in the United States, telling clients in early August that they are not allowed to withdraw money from their home equity lines of credit. The decision followed a report by the American Bankers Association that consumers nationwide are falling behind on home-equity line payments at the fastest rate in 20 years. Morgan Stanley is largely an investment bank for the rich, which begs the question: If the rich are now a credit risk, what does that say about the rest?
Even with the federal government scrambling to cover the banking sector under the latest financial bombshells, analysts are predicting that still more American banks will fail. Loan defaults and the continued slide of home prices could cause as many as 150 of the nation’s 7,500 banks to fail within 18 months, financial experts are saying. The International Herald Tribune said that other banks might shut down branches or seek mergers.
Overall, inflation in the U.S. continued to surge in July due to increasing food and energy prices. This was the third month in a row of rapid inflation; in the previous 12 months, prices rose 5.6 percent, a spike not seen since 1991. Retail sales fell as well, constituting the weakest performance in five months. Consumers’ purchasing power was at an 18-year low. Food prices rose 1.2 percent from June and energy prices jumped 4 percent.
In the United Kingdom, the economic picture is also bleak. The number of people losing their homes for failing to make their mortgage payments rose over 40 percent during the first half of this year. The number of households that are over three months late on their mortgage payments rose from 129,600 at the end of 2007 to 155,600, making up 1.33 percent of all mortgages. Repossessions are now at their highest level in over a decade.
The strongest earthquake to hit a populated area of Southern California in more than a decade rattled buildings and nerves July 29. The 5.4-magnitude quake occurred 29 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles and was felt from L.A. to San Diego, and 230 miles east in Las Vegas.
The Washington papers reported in July that the “race card” had entered the election campaign between John McCain and Barack Obama. The presumed Republican nominee said that Obama had played the race card to bolster his chances following comments Obama made on the campaign trail in Missouri. The issue continues to be extraordinarily touchy in American life. This news is significant because it presages prophesied race conflict in America.