WorldWatch | Europe
What to do about persecution?
Following an attack on a Christian Coptic church in Egypt in December, European Union officials began a debate on how to confront the persecution of Christians increasing in the Middle East and North Africa.
Further such violence occurred on January 28, when a group of Muslims in the Nigerian city of Jos stabbed a couple of Christian students. Soldiers standing by did nothing. When some students criticized them, a soldier opened fire, injuring seven students. The next day, protests broke out. In the chaos, soldiers fired on some youths from a predominantly Christian community. This fueled Christian-Muslim tension and led to Christian protesters targeting Muslim homes and workplaces. On February 1, a predominantly Christian village was attacked, killing 19 people.
On February 21, EU foreign ministers denounced attacks on both Christians and Muslims. The move came after they previously failed to draft a declaration that referenced Christianity specifically in the text. The proposed declaration was rejected on January 31 as Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini said it showed an “excess of secularism.” He said, “The final text didn’t include any mention of Christians, as if we were talking of something else.” France, too, wanted Christians and Shiites mentioned, but Britain and several Nordic countries feared that references to specific religions might spark a “clash of civilizations.”
The Commission of the Bishops’ Conferences of the European Community (comece), a group that represents Catholic bishops in Europe, criticized the foreign ministers’ failure in January. The president of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Aneglo Bagnasco, said the persecution of Christians in some countries is reaching the level of ethnic or religious cleansing.
As it turned out, those wanting Christianity specifically included won out. “The Council expresses its profound concern about the increasing number of acts of religious intolerance and discrimination … against Christians and their places of worship, Muslim pilgrims and other religious communities, which it firmly condemns,” the February statement said.
comece welcomed the Council’s decision and urged the EU to follow up the words with deeds. “The fusion of ‘common sense’ and ‘political will’ has prevailed to secure the strong statement urgently needed to stop the widespread acts of terrorism and sectarianism against Christians worldwide,” comece said in a statement. “Yet the security and survival of Christian communities, especially in the Middle East, requires concrete action.”
Watch for a confrontation to continue to build between Christianity and Islam. Spurred on by the Vatican, Europe’s leaders are already starting to take action.
1 | France
Stop praying in our streets!
French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared on February 10 during a television interview that multiculturalism has failed, adding, “We have been too concerned about the identity of the person who was arriving and not enough about the identity of the country that was receiving him.” Sarkozy joins the ranks of German and other European leaders in criticizing multicultural policies for failing to successfully integrate immigrants into Europe. Sarkozy singled out Muslims, saying France doesn’t want them praying in the streets.
2 | Germany 3 | Russia
Helping the Russians—look out
Russian Defense Ministry officials signed a contract on February 9 with German private defense firm Rheinmetall to construct a combat training facility for Russia’s military on the Mulino base. Russian defense officials have also offered for Rheinmetall to manage the “support, repair and modernization of military equipment.”
The agreement is significant because Rheinmetall is the first foreign company to construct such a training facility in Russia, and the German company has a sobering Nazi-era history.
Moreover, the deal indicates a quickly warming relationship between Moscow and Berlin. History makes plain where such a relationship will lead. Any peace pact between the two countries indicates that one or both are gearing up for another imperialistic campaign.
Unmasking Europe’s Muslims
The German state of Hesse banned civil servants from wearing the burka on February 2; other states have signaled they may follow suit as a backlash against Islam builds in Germany. Hesse’s Interior Minister Boris Rhein said a headscarf is fine but the burka could be seen as “hostile to Western values.” Lower Saxony’s Interior Minister Uwe Schünemann said his state is considering a similar ban. “The burka has no place in the public service,” he said. Bavaria’s Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann also welcomed Hesse’s ban. Expect more such moves as Germany and other European states respond to the incursion of Islam.
2 | Germany 4 | Israel
How close are they really?
When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Israel this past February, she declared that Germany’s relations with Israel have “no parallel with any other country to which Germany has ties.” So close have the two former enemies become that they each take turns hosting an annual joint cabinet session of their governments in the other’s country. Merkel also declared that “the security of Israel is not just a two-state issue, but a global issue. We have to make certain that the security of Israel in secure borders is assured.”
Israel’s president, Shimon Peres, stated during that visit, “We are allies, Israel and Germany, and we have a great desire, on both sides, to strengthen our relationship and our bilateral cooperation. We also have the strong desire to advance peace and security in our region.” Chancellor Merkel replied, “We have similar values, which makes it very easy for us to cooperate.”
But remember where all this collaboration started. Our longtime readers know that we have long anticipated a close liaison between Germany and the embattled nation of Israel. But few realize just how soon after World War ii Israel began reaching out to Germany.
As early as 1960, Israeli intelligence leaders contacted Germany for help in stemming the rising, even overwhelming anti-Israel pan-Arab aggression driven by Egypt’s Gamul Abdul Nasser.
Paradoxically, the first meetings between the Israeli secret service and the postwar German intelligence service took place in Munich, Bavaria, in the villa once home to Martin Bormann, Hitler’s chief of the chancellery, the man who had signed the edicts giving Adolf Eichmann full power to slaughter millions of Jews in Nazi death camps. Yet, for the largely friendless, struggling nation of Israel, the threat to the nation’s survival led the Jews to seek aid from their former genocidal enslavers.
That first clandestine meeting between Isser Harel, head of the Israeli intelligence service Mossad, and Reinhard Gehlen, president of Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (bnd) and chief Nazi spy in Hitler’s Wehrmacht Foreign Armies East, marked a turning point in Israeli-German relations.
This situation was all the more remarkable in light of the fact that the bnd was infested with Nazis. Under the auspices of the United States and Britain, Gehlen was encouraged to create Germany’s postwar spy network. This he did, with the full connivance of the Allies, by culling ex-Nazis, former SS officers and Nazi sympathizers, especially from the Soviet East, into the bnd structure. These unrepentant Nazis were among the very group that Herbert Armstrong stated “went underground” toward the close of World War ii, still clinging to imperialist dreams of world conquest.
Of such were those who founded today’s German intelligence service. Of such came the postwar industrialists, bankers, businessmen and bureaucrats who formed the postwar Adenauer-era West German republic. That vision has been passed on to other generations of German elites by those who never did free themselves from the dream of global hegemony. Much of that vision is now embedded in the Lisbon Treaty/European constitution upon which the imperialist European Union is established.
Thus, when Harel entered that Bavarian villa to consort with some of the most extreme elements of Jew-hating Nazidom, he sowed the seeds for the fulfillment of the words of the Prophet Hosea.
As our editor in chief writes in Jerusalem in Prophecy, “The book of Hosea was written as prophecy for the end time. Again, the nation called Israel today is really biblical Judah. There are some specific prophecies about Judah in this book.” He then quotes Hosea 5:13: “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.” “Studying this verse in the original Hebrew reveals that both Ephraim (Britain) and Judah (called ‘Israel’ today) go to Assyria (or Germany …).” (These national identities are proven in our free booklets The United States and Britain in Prophecy and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire.)
Gerald Flurry then asks: “Why do the Jews go to Germany, and what is Judah’s wound?” He points to Obadiah 1:7, where another word for wound appears, defined by Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon as “falsehood; hence, fraud, insidious dealing … net, or snare.” As Mr. Flurry shows, that word “is directly related to being deceived by a peace pact!”
That initial meeting between the heads of Israel’s and Germany’s secret services began a process of intelligence and military cooperation between Germany and Israel that has continued for more than five decades. It resulted in the establishment of diplomatic relations, and most recently, Israel and Germany have publicly recognized each other as the closest of allies.
When one knows the history, and even more so the Bible prophecies relating to the current nexus between Germany and Israel, one understands that Hosea’s prophecy is well advanced in its fulfillment. It had an early start on that chilly winter evening in Bavaria. The venue, and the host, could hardly have been more indicative of the outcome. Harel’s visit would place Israel on a road to disaster.
Here is why this is so dangerous. In many end-time prophecies, God reveals how Israel will be the victim of a treacherous diplomatic double cross. Ezekiel 23 discusses this calamity. “Wherefore I have delivered her into the hand of her lovers, into the hand of the Assyrians, upon whom she doted” (verses 9, 12).
Our booklet Jerusalem in Prophecy is a timely read as insurrection is stirring throughout the region surrounding the tiny embattled nation of Israel. This present unrest is but a catalyst guaranteed to place the Middle East “peace process” back on the international agenda. But this time, watch for the U.S. to take a backseat—and for Europe, particularly Germany, to be right in the middle of it.
Desperately seeking WDMs
Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups are working to produce chemical, biological and radioactive weapons to attack the West, according to WikiLeaks diplomatic cables released by the Telegraph on February 1.
One cable revealed that India’s national security adviser warned U.S. senators that terrorist groups were trying to obtain the ingredients necessary for a dirty bomb. Cables also showed that Syria and Iran are still pursuing a chemical weapons program and that al Qaeda and other groups are working to produce a biological weapon.
Other cables contained details of where terrorists could obtain chemical, biological or nuclear material. Cables also noted instances of individuals trying to sell or transport nuclear material.
These leaked cables show that terrorists stand a good chance of getting hold of terrifying weapons that threaten us all.
WorldWatch | Middle East
1 | Israel
PA: The more things change …
Amid growing unrest in the Arab world, the cabinet of the Palestinian Legislative Council resigned February 14. Many saw the shake-up as an attempt to calm mob fervor against the government of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Prime Minister Salam Fayyad was immediately reinstated and commissioned by Abbas to fill the cabinet posts within six weeks.
This party reshuffle is unlikely to change life for Palestinians much, though it will give the sense of political change the populace yearns for. Abbas also called for Palestinian elections to be held in September. If that happens, it will be the first elections since Hamas won the majority vote in 2006. While Hamas has said it will boycott the September elections, the Trumpet expects the terrorist group to not only continue to reign over the Gaza Strip but also attempt to take over the West Bank. Instability in the Fatah hierarchy could help bring about that change.
Meanwhile, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat quit on February 12 after two decades in the diplomatic service, taking responsibility for the leak of over 1,600 documents stolen from his office. The documents, detailing dialogue between Palestinian and Israeli officials from 1999 through 2010, reveal Erekat and his colleagues were willing to give more to Israelis than they had made known to the public. But while the leaders might have discussed such concessions, Erekat’s resignation reveals they would have never flown with the Palestinian public. For 20 years Erekat was an outspoken critic of Israel’s methods for achieving peace, always blaming Israel for failed peace talks. His belligerence was exactly what the public wanted. One small revelation that he was actually willing to do what all negotiators do—compromise—and he is out of a job. Erekat’s resignation shows that the Palestinian public will not allow their leaders to make a peace with Israel that concedes one inch.
2 | Jordan
A different outcome
Jordanian King Abdullah ii fired his government and asked replacement Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit to form a new one on February 1 after three weeks of protests. The Muslim Brotherhood is a powerful political force in Jordan. Its political wing, the Islamic Action Front, had demanded the government’s resignation, reform of Jordan’s election law, and the formation of a new unity government with a prime minister chosen by the people rather than the king.
Don’t expect protests to overthrow the Jordanian regime, however. The leader of the Islamic Action Front, Hamza Mansour, said, “Unlike Egypt, we don’t want a regime change in Jordan and we recognize the Hashemites’ rule in Jordan.” Moreover, we can know that Jordan will not fall to radical Islam because the same Bible prophecy that says Egypt will be aligned with Iran also states that Jordan will not.
3 | Iran
Talk, talk, talk, talk, talk
Another round of nuclear talks between Iran and the UN Security Council plus Germany was held January 21-22. Though U.S. and European officials headed into the two-day negotiations with increased confidence that sanctions and covert actions were taking their toll on Iran’s nuclear program, the talks ended in stalemate. Tehran remains defiant toward the Security Council and continues to work toward its goal of becoming a nuclear nation. The talks never got past Tehran’s precondition that the “P5+1” nations recognize Iran’s “right” to enrich uranium and agree to drop sanctions before substantive negotiations could begin. Besides setting the agenda of the talks, Iran scored another victory by setting the location of the talks in ally Turkey.
WorldWatch | Asia
4 | Japan
Finally, a plan to turn it around
Following decades of energetic growth after recovering from World War ii, the Japanese economy fell into trouble at the end of the 20th century. Through the first decade of the 21st century, it continued to languish. Japan’s problem was systemic. Drastic surgery was needed to cut deep into the corporate and societal mores that were placing a drag on any effort for forward momentum.
Perhaps that surgery is now about to happen.
Japan’s current prime minister, Naoto Kan, following an unimpressive start to his premiership, has unveiled a package of initiatives designed to shock the nation back into a growth curve. Described by the Economist as “recklessly ambitious,” though making “economic sense, which is a novelty in Japan,” the program calls for a complete overhaul of the nation’s social security system, raising sales tax to offset the national debt, and enabling growth through joining the nine-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade zone. As the Economist opined, “For the first time since Mr. Koizumi, a prime minister is articulating a vision of Japan’s place in the world, as well as a response to a rising China” (February 3).
The catch is, will Japan buy the package? The whole electorate would have to suffer temporary pain for long-term gain. This will be a hard sell for the prime minister should he have the courage and his party’s support to take his proposals to the nation, even perhaps forcing an election over it at risk to his own prime ministry.
There are early signs that business and the press are turning to support Prime Minister Kan. If he can mount a positive media campaign to gain the backing of a majority of the electorate, then any resistance from political opponents may well be overcome and Japan could find itself—for the first time in two decades—returning to its prior position as an Asian powerhouse economy, competing effectively with the rising giants of China and India. To understand how such a scenario would fit with biblical prophecy for our times, request our free booklet Russia and China in Prophecy.
5 | China
Dollar ‘a product of the past’
On January 16, the evening before he left for Washington, Chinese President Hu Jintao made the boldest statement to date about the U.S. dollar’s position as the global reserve currency: “The current international currency system is the product of the past.” Hu went on to lambast the U.S. for pumping dollars into the global market. The timing of his comments revealed China’s growing confidence. Beijing cares less and less what America thinks as it invests more of its cash—and its confidence—in Europe instead.
Tightening rare earth monopoly
China is stockpiling strategic reserves of rare earth metals. In recent months, it has built facilities able to store thousands of tons of the crucial technology-producing resources. China’s control of over 95 percent of the world’s rare earth production gives it substantial power, and its increased reserves will tighten its grip on that market. In January, Beijing nationalized 11 rare earth mines, effectively consolidating the industry and further strengthening China’s leverage in the rare earth market. Expect an increase in global competition for rare earths as a result of China’s stranglehold on supplies.
6 | Philippines
Reading the writing on the wall
In December, Philippine police arrested 14 Taiwanese citizens along with 10 Chinese nationals who were part of a fraud gang operating on Philippine soil. Taipei asked Manila to repatriate the criminals to Taiwan to face justice, but in February, the Philippines gave in to Beijing’s demand instead and extradited the Taiwanese gangsters to mainland China.
The move was the latest in a series of steps Manila is taking toward Beijing. The decision suggests that, from Manila’s perspective, mainland China and Taiwan are already unified. In recent months, Beijing and Manila have signed the first Sino-Philippine military agreement and collaborated on a code of conduct regarding the disputed Spratly Islands.
Historically, Manila has depended on the U.S. for assistance, but the U.S.-Philippines military relationship is cooling, and Beijing sees the trend as a chance to gain a foothold in the Philippines and expand its sphere of influence in Southeast Asia. Manila is reading the writing on the wall, and is positioning the Philippines for the inevitable demise of U.S. dominance in Asia.
WorldWatch | Latin America and Africa
1 | Colombia
China’s other ‘Panama Canal’
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos revealed February 14 that the Chinese plan on building a 138-mile-long railway across his country—from the Gulf of Urabá on the Atlantic coast to the port of Cupica on the Pacific coast. China, now the world’s second-largest economy, plans on using this new transportation thoroughfare to ship coal by rail from mines in eastern Colombia to Pacific ports, where it can then be shipped across the ocean. The railway is already being hailed as a sort of land-based Panama Canal. Since China already controls the Panama Canal, the completion of this railway will give Beijing almost complete control over all land-based and sea-based freight passing from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. If Beijing ever decides that it wants to cripple the world’s largest consumer of natural resources and assume control over it suppliers, America had best beware.
2 | Paraguay 3 | Uruguay Building a transatlantic trade bloc
While visiting Paraguay and Uruguay in early February, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht made a clear statement that he desires a wide-ranging economic collaboration pact with the Mercosur regional trade bloc to soon be signed. “I strongly believe in a trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur,” he said. “The moment has come and I’m convinced it can be reached.” EU leaders have been reluctant to sign such an agreement due to fear of a flood of cheap Latin American goods into Europe. Now that financial analysts are proposing increased trade between Europe and Latin America as a remedy to lift the EU out of recession, however, EU officials want a balanced free-trade agreement signed as soon as possible. Expect the relationship between the EU and Mercosur to continue to improve as they work to build a gigantic trade bloc that will increasingly isolate America on the world scene. Based on biblical prophecy, the Plain Truth wrote as far back as May 1962 that “the United States is going to be left out in the cold as two gigantic trade blocs, Europe and Latin America, mesh together and begin calling the shots in world commerce.”
4 | Zimbabwe
A dictator’s willing partner
China will invest $10 billion in Zimbabwe within the next few years in a bid to pump new life into the nation’s ailing economy, a Zimbabwean government minister said January 31. The news contributes to concerns about the nature of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe’s relationship with Beijing, whose human rights record has earned the ire of the West. China’s drive for resources is drawing it deeper into Africa, and intensifying the global scramble for the planet’s wealth. As China devours an increasing proportion of resources, watch for Europe to tighten its grip on its supply channels.
5 | South Africa
Flood waters cost South Africa
Floods in South Africa in January killed more than 100 people and displaced about 20,000. Thirty-three municipalities across eight of nine provinces were declared disaster areas, and the flooding is expected to cost the farming sector about 2.8 billion rand (us$392 million) in damages. South Africa is the continent’s main breadbasket and some observers fear future food insecurity as above-average rainfall is forecast for the region over the coming months.
6 | Sudan
It’s nearly unanimous: There’s going to be a new country
On February 8, the result of January’s independence referendum in South Sudan was announced: 98.83 percent of South Sudan’s predominantly Christian population voted to break away from the Muslim-controlled north. Many north Sudanese Christians began packing up and heading back to their homeland in the south due to fears of an Islamic crackdown. Saints Peter and Paul Parish, the second-largest Catholic Church in greater Khartoum, has lost about three quarters of its parishioners. As tensions between Christians and Muslims rise across Sudan and the rest of Northern Africa and the Middle East, expect the Vatican to get increasingly involved.
WorldWatch | Anglo-America
Parliament defies EU court
In early February, British members of Parliament in the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to reject a European Court of Human Rights demand that Britain give prisoners the vote. The Council of Europe, which enforces the court’s judgments, immediately retaliated in a strong statement declaring that it was “deeply disappointed” by the defiance of the ruling.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the British government was now caught in a dilemma: “Parliament … has clearly expressed its distaste for granting votes to prisoners. The court has made it very clear that we are now in breach of law ….”
Other senior politicians are now calling for a showdown. London Mayor Boris Johnson urged Prime Minister David Cameron to make a stand against the meddling court at Strasbourg: “I think we’ve come to a real crunch point. There is absolutely no way that we can allow Parliament to be overruled in this matter. … This is not a matter for Strasbourg, it is a matter for the sovereign Parliament of this country …. I hope … the prime minister … forces a showdown.”
Since its creation in 1959, the European court has passed judgment on 418 British rulings, 80 percent of which Britain has lost and then meekly complied with. But it now faces a growing revolt by MPs keen to assert the country’s sovereignty, as well as a judicial backlash.
The February 10 parliamentary vote showed that Parliament, after decades of submissively ceding power to Brussels, has taken the first bold step of reasserting its strength and independence. In doing so, Britain has in effect declared war on a foreign court that has ruled consistently against Britain’s interests.
The question now is whether Prime Minister Cameron has the stomach for a major fight with the European court that would lead to Britain opting out of its jurisdiction.
“Let’s Say Goodbye to Strasbourg and Its Daft Decisions,” headlined the Sunday Telegraph. If Britain opted out of Strasbourg’s jurisdiction, the article said, “We would avoid its silly decisions. There would be a lot of shouting from Europe’s lawyers and politicians, but short of military invasion, they can’t force us to submit” (February 5; emphasis ours).
“Military invasion” is an interesting phrase to use in light of Bible prophecies relating to the outcome of Britain’s membership of this imperialist European institution. The result of this tussle for power with a foreign European court has already been foretold in Bible prophecy and made crystal clear in Herbert W. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy (request your free copy).
You’ll find this of interest
Interest on the national debt became a major talking point when President Barack Obama spotlighted it in a February 15 news conference. By 2014, net interest on the national debt will exceed the amount spent on education, transportation, energy and other discretionary programs outside defense. By 2018, interest payments will exceed Medicare spending as well, and only defense and Social Security will be costlier. The interest is the fastest-growing portion of the federal budget. Last fiscal year, interest costs rose more than 13 percent, more than any other category.
One disaster after another after another
On February 5, a cyclone the size of Italy slammed into Queensland, Australia, right after floods inundated 75 percent of the state. Cyclone Yasi, an Australian Category 5 storm, brought sustained winds of up to 155 mph, with gusts peaking at 170 mph. Reuters estimated the storm would cause $3.5 billion in damage, which would make it the second-most damaging cyclone on record. Added to damage caused by the catastrophic spring floods, the total economic loss for Australia could amount to more than $20 billion, Impact Forecasting said.
Why everything is bigger in Texas
Census figures reveal huge growth in the number of Hispanics living in Texas. Hispanics account for two thirds of growth in the state over the past decade and now make up 38 percent of the population. Texas has grown 20 percent over the last decade, double the national rate of 9.7 percent.
Americans’ tax dollars at work
A pair of videos in early February exposed the actions of employees at Planned Parenthood abortion clinics. They record one clinic manager in New Jersey and another in Virginia dispensing advice about prostitution. The group that filmed the sting videos says the problem is institutional, and some are calling for the abortion services provided to be stripped of taxpayer funding.