1 | Egypt
That radical shift? It’s already here
For three decades, Egypt has been an ally of both Israel and America, and a bulwark for security and peace in the Mideast. For two decades, the Trumpet has said this status quo would change—that Egypt would shift dramatically toward radical Islam.
Now that shift is happening before our eyes—and quickly. Hosni Mubarak was only ousted in February, and Egypt hasn’t even held elections yet; it’s being run by a military council overseeing a caretaker civilian cabinet. Still, the nation’s foreign policy and political orientation is already visibly changing in a way that threatens to transform the region.
Most significantly, Egypt wants to revive diplomatic ties with Iran. On March 29, Nabil Al-Arabi, Egypt’s new foreign minister, held his first press conference and announced that Egypt is ready to turn over a new leaf in its relationship with Iran and with Hezbollah. “The Egyptian government doesn’t consider Iran to be an enemy state,” Al-Arabi said. “We’re opening a new page with all countries, including Iran.” Iran responded favorably. On April 18, Tehran appointed an ambassador to Egypt for the first time since the two nations halted diplomatic relations in 1978.
After decades of Egypt and Saudi Arabia providing a counterweight to Iran’s expanding influence, an Egypt-Iran axis would significantly alter the Middle East.
The Egyptian government has also reached out to Hamas, an Iran-backed Palestinian Islamist organization Cairo had previously shunned.
A Hamas delegation visited Cairo on March 28, meeting with Egyptian intelligence personnel, the foreign minister and an official from the organization currently running Egypt. Hamas officials provided security assurances to Egypt and expressed solidarity with the Egyptian revolution.
Cairo is also opening the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Mubarak had sealed this border when Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 in order to prevent weapons smuggling into Gaza and to clamp down on terrorism. The new government is apparently far more concerned with pleasing the anti-Israel sentiment of the Arab street.
In early May came the huge news of a reconciliation pact between the divided Palestinian leaders of Hamas and the secular Fatah. Remarkably, this pact, built on a common Palestinian desire to defeat Israel and establish a Palestinian state, was engineered by Egypt. Nothing more starkly illustrates the country’s radical new orientation.
Egypt has quickly moved from guaranteeing Israel’s security to inspiring the Arab cause against Israel.
Many in Israel and the West have underestimated the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood and the popular support for anti-Israel policies. Muslim movements organized by the Muslim Brotherhood are receiving a surge of support throughout Egypt. The rapid spread of Muslim political parties ahead of parliamentary elections in September has strengthened fears that radical Islamic movements will dominate Egypt’s new democracy.
“The Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt’s largest Islamic movement and the founder of Hamas, has set up a network of political parties around the country that eclipse the following of the middle-class activists that overthrew the regime,” the Telegraph reported. “On the extreme fringe of the Brotherhood, Islamic groups linked to al Qaeda are organizing from the mosques to fill the vacuum left by the collapse of the dictatorship” (April 17).
While the Muslim Brotherhood has promised not to field a candidate in Egypt’s presidential election, slated for September, a member of the group, Abdel Moneim Abul Futouh, announced in May he will run as an independent. Though Futouh is depicted in the Western media as a moderate, it appears this is a ploy by the Muslim Brotherhood to get an Islamist into the presidency.
As Islamists press their advantage, the 10 percent of the population that is Christian is feeling it, and more and more of them are fleeing the country. Islamists are demanding the governor of the southern city of Qena, a Coptic Christian and one of the few Christians serving in the government, be removed. For two weeks in April, demonstrators brought the city to a standstill, blocking roads and the railway and paralyzing public life. On May 7, 13 people were killed and 232 wounded in clashes between Muslims and Christians in Cairo, with a church being burned to the ground.
Watch for further radicalization of Egypt once multi-party elections are held and the Muslim Brotherhood gains a more direct role in Egyptian politics.
In response to the slaying of Osama bin Laden at the beginning of May, the Muslim Brotherhood issued a statement referring to the terrorist leader by the honorific term “sheikh” and defending the “resistance” against U.S. troops in Afghanistan and Iraq as “legitimate.” It concluded by demanding that the U.S. “cease its interference in the internal affairs of any Arab or Muslim country.”
As far back as July 1993, Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry said a radical shift would launch Egyptian politics toward the Islamist camp. That shift is now well under way.
2 | Yemen
Giving al Qaeda room to bloom
Fighting and chaos continue in Yemen as forces trying to topple President Ali Abdullah Saleh clash with those loyal to the government. Yemeni opposition activists have been holding daily protests since January demanding the ouster of President Saleh. Meanwhile, at the end of March, the Yemen-based al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (aqap) declared Yemen’s Abyan province an “Islamic emirate.” Al Qaeda is filling a vacuum as security forces withdraw from some provinces. Islamist militants seized several towns in Abyan after the Yemen Army and counterterrorism unit were called back to protect areas closer to the capital. The chaos is giving space for al Qaeda and other Islamist groups to thrive. Counterterrorism activities have “ground to a halt,” U.S. officials told the New York Times. Considering U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has described Yemen’s aqap as “the most active and at this point perhaps the most aggressive branch of al Qaeda,” this is a serious setback for the U.S.
3 | Syria
Protest pressure builds
In Syria, security forces have arrested hundreds of activists and demonstrators in house-to-house raids across the country in a violent crackdown on anti-government protesters. Since the wave of protests began in March, over 600 civilians have reportedly been killed, hundreds more injured and thousands arrested. Most of the protests are uncoordinated, which has allowed President Bashar al-Assad to thus far hold on to power despite the fact that his Alawite tribe makes up only a small minority within the nation. Another factor working against the protesters is Iran’s support of the ruling regime. However, Bible prophecy indicates that a political reorientation is coming in Syria. Watch for a break between Iran and Syria to occur.
4 | Israel 5 | Lebanon
Storm clouds in ‘Arab Spring’
On May 15, Palestinians and their supporters celebrated the anniversary of Israel’s founding with violent protests on Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. There were also large demonstrations in the West Bank and clashes in East Jerusalem. An Arab Israeli in Tel Aviv went on a truck rampage that killed one person and injured 17. For weeks before the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe) Day, pro-Palestinian groups conducted an Internet campaign calling for “a third Palestinian intifada.” Israelis fear these eruptions presage just such a mass uprising.
6 | Palestinians
The enemy of my enemy
Hamas and Fatah signed a unity agreement in Cairo on May 4. Under Egypt’s direction, the two groups agreed to reconcile after a four-year split. Representatives of Hamas and Fatah will now discuss the details, including establishing an interim unity government, conducting presidential and parliamentary elections, and combining security forces.
While some are skeptical the deal will last, such opinions likely underestimate the common hatred for Israel that underlies the reconciliation, as well as the influence of an Iranian-aligned Egypt.
Hamas’s motivation was clear when the group’s political leader, Khaled Mashaal, stated at the Cairo ceremony: “Our common enemy is Israel. Israel must be fought both with force and through diplomacy.”
The Palestinian unity agreement is part of a greater strategy in the Palestinian Authority’s bid for international recognition, which is expected to come before the United Nations General Assembly in September. The Fatah-led government realized that its case for statehood would be weak unless it reconciled with its Palestinian enemy.
Palestinian unity will only compound the threat to Israel. Events are leading to a biblically prophesied clash with Jews.
Goldstone: The report that wasn’t
On April 3, Richard Goldstone publicly reversed his stance on war crimes charges against Israel. Goldstone spearheaded a 2009 UN report that slandered Israel for its actions in Operation Cast Lead, an offensive against Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip that began Dec. 27, 2008. “If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document,” he wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. The UN Human Rights Council (unhrc) report criminalized Israel’s antiterrorism campaign, lambasting Israeli forces for “actions amounting to war crimes, possibly crimes against humanity.” The report has been widely used as a potent weapon against Israel. Israel has aggressively investigated every one of more than 400 allegations of military misconduct raised by the report. The resulting evidence convinced Goldstone, in hindsight, that in fact, “civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of [Israeli] policy.” After all the publicity his report received when it first came out, the mainstream press devoted little attention to his revelation of its falsity. For its part, the unhrc said Goldstone’s retraction was merely his personal opinion, not that of the committee; it still considers the Goldstone Report valid.
1 | Portugal 2 | Greece 3 | Germany
Economies tanking, except one
Europe’s economy remains in serious trouble. Portugal finally asked for a bailout on April 6 after the interest on its debt became unsustainable. Prime Minister José Sócrates announced on May 3 that the bailout would be a €78 billion (us$111 billion) loan—even after saying, “I know what this meant for Ireland and Greece, and I don’t wish it on my country.” Portugal must cut spending for 2012-2013 by 3.4 percent of gross domestic product and increase government revenue.
It is rumored that Greece will also need another bailout. Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s downgraded Greece’s debt to “B”—two notches below junk status—on May 9.
The story in Germany is different, however. Recent statistics show Germany’s unemployment rate at its lowest in 20 years, and it could fall yet further. Germany’s exports hit an all-time high in March. Watch for this economy to continue to soar.
Meanwhile, after a May 16 meeting, and with the endorsement of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it seems certain Mario Draghi will be the next head of the European Central Bank. Draghi is Jesuit-educated and a devout Catholic, with deep connections within the global banking and finance community. He also has historic Vatican Bank connections.
Speaking with one voice
The European Union gained speaking rights in the UN General Assembly on May 3. It now has the same rights as member nations to submit proposals and amendments, to circulate amendments, to reply, and so on. The EU president can address the UN chamber in the same way as a head of state. This is one more stride toward a European superstate.
Happy EU Day! Hello? Anyone?
The EU’s popularity is suffering in several European countries, especially Britain. May 9 was Europe Day—a day observed with pageantry in Brussels, but little enthusiasm everywhere else. Outside EU headquarters in Brussels, soldiers paraded the EU flag while the German Luftwaffe band played Europe’s anthem. In contrast, in Britain the government snubbed the EU by flying the British flag over government buildings rather than the EU flag. The EU’s budget demands are adding to its unpopularity. The European Commission wants to increase the EU budget by 4.9 percent next year according to a draft proposal released April 20. Britain’s bill would rise by £682 million to over £10 billion. Chancellor George Osborne called the budget increase “completely unacceptable.”
Britain isn’t the only country getting fed up with the EU. True Finns, a populist Euroskeptic party, did better than expected in Finland’s April 17 elections, taking 19 percent of the vote, coming third overall. The winners—the conservative, pro-Europe National Coalition Party—did little better, winning 20.4 percent. After the Portugal bailout was approved, True Finns’ popularity climbed even higher. When True Finns opposed the bailout, a popular survey showed that 22.4 percent of the population supported the party—making it the most popular political party in Europe.
Bible prophecy indicates that a European power made up of just 10 nations or groups of nations will emerge. The EU’s unpopularity in certain nations could contribute to the streamlining of Europe.
4 | Vatican
One popular pope
One and a half million people attended Pope John Paul ii’s beatification mass in Rome on May 1 making the event at least as popular as the April royal wedding in terms of numbers attending. Crowds also gathered in Poland, Australia, the Philippines and Mexico. John Paul’s funeral in 2005 too was a mass media event, with around 2 billion watching it on tv. The huge interest both in the pope’s funeral and his beatification is a testament to the work John Paul did toward building the Catholic Church’s popularity and power.
5 | Britain 6 | Spain
Fighting over the Rock
Britain and Spain continue to row over Gibraltar. On May 3, the Spanish naval vessel Atalaya traversed British territorial waters near Gibraltar, calling on commercial ships anchoring at port to immediately leave the area. The Royal Navy responded by dispatching the armed patrol boat hms Scimitar. This was the second violation of the British zone by the Spanish within a two-week period. On April 23, a Spanish police vessel was reportedly damaged in a confrontation with the Royal Gibraltar Police after entering territorial waters ostensibly to pursue drug traffickers. These are just the most recent of a string of territorial incursions by Spain in recent years as Spanish authorities seek to mount pressure on the British government for the return of Gibraltar. Biblical prophecy strongly implies that Britain will lose possession somehow.
7 | China
Sparking an arms race?
The vast majority of Chinese citizens support Beijing’s plan to launch its first aircraft carrier, despite believing that the move will trigger an arms race across Asia. A poll published on May 5 showed that nearly 80 percent want China to launch the carrier, and 57 percent anticipate increased risks of a region-wide arms race as a result of the launch. Analysts say China could launch its first aircraft carrier this year. Taiwan announced on May 9 that its military has begun equipping its warships with anti-ship missiles in anticipation of just such a launch. Asian nations’ military buildups are largely fueled by a desire to protect themselves from other Asian states.
Cyberleaping past the U.S.
An April 14 Reuters report said that in this era of increasing cyberspying between China and the U.S., experts believe Beijing has the upper hand. “[A] series of secret diplomatic cables as well as interviews with experts suggest that … China has leaped ahead of the United States,” the report said. Investigators say China has already stolen terabytes of top-secret American data, and cyberattacks from China are on the rise.
8 | India
World’s hugest trade club
China and India determined on April 13 to restore full defense cooperation between the two countries whose combined population is 2.5 billion. The two sides also agreed to continue talks regarding increased economic cooperation. China is already India’s largest trade partner, with bilateral trade in 2010 totaling more than $60 billion. They aim to boost that figure to $100 billion by 2015.
9 | Russia
Follow the money
Russia had the world’s seventh-largest defense budget in 2009, with spending totaling around $38 billion, according to data published May 11. Only a few years ago, Russia ranked 11th in defense spending. Clearly, the military is becoming a higher priority for Moscow; its long-term budget allocates $700 billion to defense in the next decade.
What the world needs now …
Leaders of the brics nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) met in China in mid-April to discuss creating an international reserve system less focused on the U.S. dollar. These nations represent 40 percent of world population and account for almost half of global economic growth. Though brics members disagree on some fronts, they are unified by a goal to challenge U.S. leadership of the global economy.
10 | Japan
Tsunami heroes: the military
The death toll from Japan’s March 11 earthquake and tsunami has reached 14,998, according to data from Japan’s National Police Agency released May 12. Over 9,760 others are considered to be missing. Relief work continues and the threat of major nuclear leaks remains.
The Wall Street Journal wrote on April 14 that “the heroic and indispensable actions of [Japan’s military] in the wake of the March 11 earthquake may have changed Japan’s relations with its military forever.” Since World War ii’s end, Japan has struggled over the legitimacy of its armed forces, and constitutional restrictions on Japan’s military have marginalized the nation’s role in global affairs. Attempts at expanding that role have always met resistance from the Japanese public, which is suspicious of moves toward militarism because of Japan’s actions in the war. However, the Japanese military’s rescue missions in response to the March 11 disasters are instilling within the Japanese a newfound acceptance of the country’s armed forces. The Journal said the people’s shifting attitude could change “how Tokyo chooses to normalize the role of the military in protecting Japan’s interests abroad.”
11 | Ukraine
Russia: Well, what’s it going to be?
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on May 18 that Ukraine’s plans to enter into the customs union made up of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan will be at risk if Kiev continues forging closer ties with the EU. Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych wants Ukraine to have both associate member status in the EU and a free-trade agreement with the Russian-led customs union, but Russia says Kiev must choose one or the other. At present, both Russia and the EU are vying for influence in Ukraine.
On April 18, Ukraine announced it will join the Russian-Belarusian military exercises “Union Shield 2011,” to be held in September. The exercises will involve around 12,000 troops. On April 20, Ukraine pledged to enhance cooperation with China in all areas. This country represents the dividing line between Asia and Europe, two massive powers prophesied to clash in the end time.
1 | Ecuador
Don’t like our corruption? Then you’re free to leave
The government of Ecuador expelled U.S. Ambassador Heather Hodges in response to a WikiLeaks cable published on April 4 by the Spanish daily El Pais. The cable revealed that Ambassador Hodges alleged that widespread police corruption may have occurred in Ecuador with the knowledge of the country’s president. In response to this expulsion, the U.S. State Department in turn expelled Ecuadorian Ambassador Luis Gallegos. Hodges’s expulsion leaves America without ambassadors in three Latin American countries—Ecuador, Bolivia and Venezuela. The nations of Latin America are swiftly turning their backs on their northern neighbor.
The EU of South America
On March 11, a treaty creating a new supranational institution known as the Union of South American Nations (unasur) came into force. This treaty, originally agreed to in 2008, officially merges other regional unions such as Mercosur and the Andean Community of Nations into an EU-style political-economic bloc for South America.
unasur will be headquartered in Ecuador. The bloc, with a combined population of 396 million people, is expected to become the dominant supranational institution for the region. Already, unasur includes a regional military integration scheme, a plan for the gradual reduction of national borders, and a plan for eliminating passport and visa requirements between member states. Members have even discussed creating a continental currency along the lines of the euro.
The obstacles to political, economic and military integration in Latin America are made easier to hurdle by South America’s being the only multinational continent united by a common language (with the exception of Brazil), a common culture and a common religion.
As Latin America attempts to unite, expect its people to look increasingly to Europe for political direction and religious guidance. The European, Roman Catholic heritage that hails back to the region’s Spanish colonial roots only awaits a stimulus to awaken it to action.
Latin America will soon be recolonized by a European superpower dominated by Germany and the Vatican. For proof, read “Europe’s Latin Assault” in our free He Was Right booklet.
2 | Brazil
Case in point …
Brazil and the EU are engaged in discussions designed to improve educational and cultural exchanges between the two regions. Androulla Vassiliou, the European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, was in Brazil in April meeting with the country’s foreign minister, minister of education and minister of culture. The primary purpose of the meetings was to make it easier for students and academics to travel between Brazil and the EU.
3 | Cuba
President Raúl Castro of Cuba on April 19 made the most significant change to his country’s leadership since the 1959 revolution by naming a non-relative to fill the second-highest position in the Cuban Communist Party. The man is party stalwart José Ramón Machado, age 80, who fought at his side in the mountains during the rebellion. Rumors abound that Machado may be Castro’s successor. Considering that Machado is a year older than Castro, however, his succession would indeed be short-lived. Castro himself admitted that his generation had lagged in preparing young leaders to take their place. Clearly, far-reaching changes may be on the horizon for Cuba. Bible prophecy indicates that the entire region from Havana to Tierra del Fuego will come back under Catholic control. Watch for initiatives from the Vatican to consolidate the church’s power through winning the loyalty of its Cuban parishioners.
4 | Venezuela
In case there was any doubt they wanted to rankle the U.S.
Iran is planning to build a missile base in Venezuela, Die Welt wrote on May 13. The German daily earlier reported that Iran and Venezuela signed an agreement last October to build it; now, “security insiders” say they have a location for the base and have begun planning. Engineers from a construction firm owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards visited the site in February, accompanied by the head of the Guard’s air force. Iran reportedly will be deploying Shahab 3 rockets, with a range of 800 to 930 miles, Scud-B missiles, with a range of 180 to 205 miles, and Scud-C missiles, with a range of 185, 310 or 435 miles. This would leave America outside of Iran’s range. However, the Federation of American Scientists states that a modified variant of the Shahab 3 has a range of 1,200 miles. This would put Miami just within reach of Iran’s rockets.
Where terrorists train: ‘like bees to a honeypot’
Thirty-five of the terrorists in Guantanamo Bay were indoctrinated in Britain, according to files released by WikiLeaks. Senior U.S. military commanders at Guantanamo Bay wrote that the Finsbury Park mosque in north London was “an attack planning and propaganda production base.” These terrorists “were drawn like bees to a honeypot by Britain’s uniquely self-destructive combination of a generous welfare state, a long tradition of turning a blind eye to foreign political dissidents, and a judiciary and political class which had effectively decided to tear up Britain’s border controls in the cause of ‘universal human rights,’” wrote Melanie Phillips (Mail Online, April 27).
Royal Navy to pirates: Free food! Take that!
After capturing 17 Somali pirates in February, the Royal Navy frigate hms Cornwall simply fed and then released them, journalist Tom Mangold said on bcc Radio 4 on April 12. The pirates were caught aboard a hijacked boat they used as a mother ship with nine ak47s and a rocket-propelled grenade launcher. “The Brits do not want Somali pirates on trial in London,” said Mangold. Commenting on this debacle for the Telegraph, Con Coughlin observed, “In Nelson’s time the Royal Navy made its name by striking fear into the hearts of Britain’s enemies through its daring and ruthlessness. Now we find that our Senior Service is more committed to observing the strictures of human rights and health and safety legislation than the defense of the realm” (April 12). No wonder the Royal Navy has lost its effectiveness.
How to get free government money in Britain
Over 80,000 are receiving the incapacity benefit from the British government because of their addiction to drugs or alcohol, or obesity according to government statistics published April 21. Those claiming the benefit do so because they supposedly cannot work. They receive at least £71.10 a week from the government. As of August 2010, 37,480 drug addicts claimed the benefit, along with 42,360 alcoholics and 1,830 obese people.
Nasdaq to the rescue! … oh wait
America seems determined to let the New York Stock Exchange go to German owners. Nasdaq, an American corporation, proposed a merger with the nyse in order to fend off an offer from foreign rival Deutsche Börse and to keep it in the American family. But on May 16, U.S. officials squelched the proposal.
Justice Department officials expressed concern that combining nyse and Nasdaq operations would create an unacceptable monopoly in domestic share listings and other services—as if that would be worse than foreign ownership. Antitrust regulators threatened to file a lawsuit against the proposed merger. Following this strong opposition, Nasdaq withdrew its offer.
It is now almost inevitable that Deutsche Börse will end up owning this American corporate jewel. The German company has offered $9.8 billion for the nyse Euronext group, which owns the stock exchanges in New York, Paris, Amsterdam, Lisbon and Brussels, as well as a highly sought-after derivatives exchange. From Germany’s perspective, it couldn’t have come at a better time. With much of the periphery of Europe in economic crisis, Germany is pushing for greater economic union—on its terms. In return for bailout money, Germany is forcing indebted countries to turn over national sovereignty. Gaining ownership over the largest stock exchanges in Europe will just add additional firepower to Germany’s already impressive financial weaponry.
Apparently none of that gives American regulators any cause for concern.
America’s ‘economic recovery’ continues …
· In May, independent ratings agency Weiss Ratings downgraded America’s sovereign debt rating to “C”—two notches above junk status. Also in May, the U.S. dollar hit a three-year low against other major currencies; analysts expect it to sink further still.
· For the first time since the Great Depression, American households are receiving more in cash handouts from the government than they are paying in income taxes. According to a Fox Business report published April 20, U.S. households received $2.3 trillion in government support in 2010—including expanded unemployment benefits, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and stimulus spending. U.S. households paid $2.2 trillion in taxes over the same period.
· As of February, one in seven people in the U.S. receive food stamps, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In April, Americans claiming unemployment benefits rose to 474,000, the highest number since August 2010.