The Week in Review
The international community has promised $5.2 billion in aid to help Gaza rebuild, with $900 million of that coming from the United States. Many are concerned, however, that the money will benefit Hamas, both directly and indirectly. A large part of the aid is expected to be given to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (unrwa)—which systematically provides political cover for Hamas. “unrwa openly collaborates with Hamas,” wrote Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post. “Its workers double as Hamas combatants. Its refugee camps and schools are used as Hamas training bases and missile launch sites.”
Even as the international community is seeking to rebuild Gaza, Hamas is escalating its rocket attacks on Israel. The Israel Defense Forces have acknowledged that the numbers of rockets hitting Israel are now back to the same levels they were prior to Operation Cast Lead—which was supposed to halt these attacks. The idf says that Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have rebuilt their missile arsenals through both Iranian and local sources. They have even obtained anti-aircraft missiles capable of shooting down helicopters. Such is the result of Israel’s lack of will to win even a battle, let alone a war.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, called on Muslims around the world to rise up in support of the Palestinians against Israel. “The only way to save Palestine is resistance,” Khamenei said in an address to open a two-day global summit Tehran organized in aid of Gaza and the Palestinians. Of course, “resistance” is just another way of saying “terrorism.” He went on to refer to Israel as a “cancerous tumor.” Iran’s President Ahmadinejad and Hamas representatives also spoke at the conference, which was organized in opposition to the donor conference in Egypt two days earlier.
Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission has refused to support President Hamid Karzai in his call for early elections. Karzai issued a decree on Sunday ordering the presidential elections to be held in April as opposed to August. The commission says this is not possible due to security and logistical concerns. The bigger political problem in Afghanistan, however, according to Stratfor, is that the political structure in the country is unraveling. “The Karzai government, with all its shortcomings, has been the foundation of U.S.-led Western efforts to forge a post-Taliban republic. The events of the last seven years … have demonstrated that those efforts have floundered. … The growing domestic and international opposition to Karzai pushes the United States and its allies further into a weak operating position. … The uncertainty surrounding Karzai’s future and the political storm gathering next door in Pakistan … shows that the regional situation is deteriorating faster than the United States can work to contain matters” (March 2).
Geert Wilders used to be a fringe politician. In 2006 his party won only nine seats in the Dutch parliament. But recently his popularity has surged. According to a new opinion poll, his party would be the largest in the nation’s parliament if elections were held today. Wilders’s Party for Freedom (pvv) would win 27 out of the 150 seats, according to the poll. The Christian Democrats, currently the largest party in parliament with 41 seats, would win only 26. Europeans are beginning to see that the policy of tolerance and even capitulation to immigrants is not working. Watch for this to translate into moves by European states to crack down on immigrants.
Austria’s main far-right party, the Alliance for the Future of Austria (bzö), won a landslide victory in regional elections in Carinthia last Sunday. The Austrian Times reported: “With the death of firebrand governor Jörg Haider last October, critics had predicted the bzö’s iron grip on Carinthia to slip, but they came home with an astonishing 45.25 percent of the vote.” The Social Democrats won only 28.6 percent. The far right also gained ground compared to the more mainstream Social Democrats in elections in Salzburg. These election results show how mainstream some of the far-right parties are becoming. With Austria’s economic outlook grim, many are shunning the mainstream parties and voting right. Watch for this dangerous trend to continue across Europe as voters look for an alternative to the status quo.
nato foreign ministers have agreed to restart talks with Russia after seven months. nato chief Jaap de Hoop Scheffer stated on Thursday that the nato-Russia Council (nrc) would resume. The nrc is the main avenue of dialogue between the two sides. The nrc was frozen seven months ago, after Russia’s invasion of Georgia. “Russia is an important player, a global player,” said Scheffer. “Not talking to them is not an option.” Russia and Europe have too many common interests to stop talking for long. Despite Europe’s moral outrage over Georgia, it is more than willing to do business with Russia. For more information, see our June 25, 2007, article “Russo-German Pact Imminent.”
Southeast Asian government officials signed a series of trade deals last Sunday designed to integrate their economies and construct an economic and political union modeled on the European Union by 2015. The heads of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (asean), meeting in Thailand, agreed to the Cha-Am Hua Hin Declaration on the Roadmap for an asean Community (2009-2015). This plan looks to transform asean into a single, integrated market, albeit without a common currency, within the next six years. In addition, asean leaders signed a free-trade agreement with Australia and New Zealand. The development of trade and economic ties among Southeast Asian nations will foster unity in the region. As these nations integrate economically with each other and with nations such as China and Japan, the groundwork is being laid for future political and military alliances. Resources from Australia and New Zealand will feed this growing alliance with food and raw materials. This is exactly what the Bible prophesies.
Like many African countries, the little-known failed state of Guinea-Bissau is a brutal example of man’s inhumanity to man. On March 2, President Joao Bernardo Vieira was shot and killed, just one day after his political rival—the chief of the armed forces—was killed by a rocket-propelled grenade. Stratfor likened the presidential killing to a gang reprisal rather than a coup, and Guinea-Bissau has been left without any real leadership. Guinea-Bissau was already a reliable transshipment point for cartel leaders seeking to smuggle drugs into Europe. Now it could well become the central hub for Europe’s drug trade. Though the cartels are winning the drug war in Mexico, the expense involved in selling drugs to the U.S. has consequently gone up, and many have sought additional markets in Europe, with routes going through Africa.
United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proposed a high-level conference on Afghanistan that would involve Iran, the Washington Times reported Thursday. She suggested a compromise might be reached between “key regional and strategic countries” including Afghanistan, Pakistan, nato and other allies that have troops in Afghanistan, and global financiers. Clinton said that Iran and the U.S. “face a common threat and a common challenge” in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. “If we move forward with such a meeting, it is expected that Iran will be invited as a neighbor of Afghanistan,” she said. Iran has supported the insurgency in Afghanistan.
A survey of the mortgage industry found that 12 percent of Americans (5.4 million) were either behind on their payments or in complete foreclosure at the end of 2008. “The Mortgage Bankers Association said Thursday the percentage of loans at least a month overdue or in foreclosure was up from 10 percent in the July-September quarter and up from about 8 percent a year earlier,” the Associated Press reports.
A moral update from California: The California Supreme Court in San Francisco has heard arguments on three lawsuits intended to overturn the state’s voter-approved ban on homosexual unions. The vote on homosexual “marriage” came in specific response to the entity that legalized it in 2008: the California Supreme Court. Within 90 days, Californians and Americans will learn whether or not the California Supreme Court can overturn the people’s will to overturn the California Supreme Court.
In Britain, the Bank of England has cut its interest rates to a record low—0.5 percent—in a desperate attempt to keep the economy from keeling over. The European Central Bank also cut its interest rates half a percent to 1.5 percent, also a record low.
Auditors have “substantial doubt” that General Motors, which has lost $82 billion in the past three years, can continue its operations. The company said it may have to seek bankruptcy protection if it can’t execute a huge restructuring plan, Fox News reported Thursday.