Over Half a Million Sudanese Christians Forced to Leave

Over Half a Million Sudanese Christians Forced to Leave

Reuters/Hereward Holland

A massive persecution of Christians by an Islamic government is under way in Sudan.

An estimated 700,000 Sudanese, most of them Christian, must leave the country for South Sudan by April under a law passed by the north after South Sudan voted to secede.

The law states that any deemed ethnically South Sundanese must leave the north or apply for “alien residency.” This is despite the fact that many—some studies even say most—of these people have lived their whole lives in north Sudan. Human Rights Watch warns: “Statements and actions of Sudanese government officials indicate that they are reading these laws to mean that anyone living in Sudan with even one great-grandparent born in South Sudan will lose their Sudanese citizenship, irrespective of whether they have acquired—or want to acquire—South Sudanese citizenship.”

“This proposal is intolerable, and flies in the face of international law,” said Refugees International’s (RI’s) Statelessness Program manager, Sarnata Reynolds. “First, the individuals targeted by this plan have a legitimate claim to Sudanese citizenship—since most have lived in Sudan their entire lives—and there is currently no way for them to apply for South Sudanese citizenship. Second, forcing men, women and children into deportation camps and shipping them off to a country that many have never seen would be a legal and moral disaster.”

“It has taken more than two years to move more than 350,000 people who volunteered to return to South Sudan from Sudan—and they had to overcome incredible logistical challenges,” warned Peter Orr, RI’s head advocate for Sudan. “Now, with fighting on the border between the two countries, and thousands of voluntary returnees clogging up roads and waterways, how long would it take for 700,000 to make the journey? Deporting such a huge number of individuals to the South at this time would be a logistical nightmare and a humanitarian catastrophe.”

This is just one example of persecution of Christians by Sudan’s Islamic government. In 2010, Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir warned: “If South Sudan secedes, we will change the constitution and at that time there will be no time to speak of diversity of culture and ethnicity.”

“Sharia and Islam will be the main source for the constitution, Islam the official religion and Arabic the official language,” he said. He is now following through on that threat.

Eric Reeves writes in the Sudan Tribune, a Paris-based news website: “In Khartoum there has been a marked increase in threats and attacks against churches, priests, and Christians of all denominations. Those perceived as Christians (‘southerners’) are often forcibly conscripted by press gangs working for renegade militias that operate, with Khartoum’s support, in South Sudan.”

Like the deportation of South Sudanese, much of this Christian persecution is indirect—targeted at ethnic groups that have a large number of Christians. For example, the Sudanese are attacking the inhabitants of the Nuba Mountains with rockets—the home of one of Sudan’s largest Christian communities. While there are armed rebels in the area, the rocket attacks occur at random, often killing civilians. One woman said that soldiers were targeting people with darker skin and also said “we don’t want anyone who says they are a Christian in this village.”

This conflict is part of a growing confrontation between Islam and Christianity. Across the Middle East and North Africa, Christians are under attack. Slowly, the Vatican is being roused. Expect this kind of persecution to lead to a violent clash between the Muslim and Christian world.

Iran Pumping Aid Into Syria

Forty tons of Iranian aid supplies arrived in Damascus, Syria, the morning of March 15. The shipment is the first of four planeloads that Iran plans to send to its most important regional ally.

Iran’s ambassador to Syria, Raouf Sheibani, said the supplies included medicine, medical equipment, tents, blankets, food and ambulances. He said the aid shows Iran’s support for Syria’s current government.

“Iran is standing fully behind the Syrian regime of President Bashar Assad as it battles armed rebel groups it describes as terrorists,” Sheibani said.

The Iranian aid package arrived in Syria on the first anniversary of anti-government uprisings there. The ensuing conflict has claimed an estimated 9,000 lives so far.

Iran maintains that Thursday’s aid package was free of any weaponry. However, the Washington Post quoted an unnamed U.S. intelligence authority who said that the increasing aid from Iran is “increasingly focused on lethal assistance.”

The last thing Iran wants is to see a regime change in one of its staunchest regional allies. Although the Trumpet has emphasized that Iran is becoming king of the region, Syria is one battle that the Iranians will lose. Bible prophecy describes two distinct camps emerging in the Middle East. One is prophesied to be led by Iran. The other includes Syria, and will join with a very different alliance.

Although many other things are playing into Tehran’s favor, the Iran-Syria alliance will soon fracture—regardless of the amount of aid Iran invests.

‘Iran Wouldn’t Use the Bomb’

‘Iran Wouldn’t Use the Bomb’

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What Israel has to fear, even if it doesn’t get nuked.

Iran wouldn’t be crazy enough to nuke Israel, so Israel doesn’t need to worry about attacking Iran. That’s the gist of the argument against war with Iran, being penned by columnists around the world.

That’s a big assumption, considering the aggressive language coming from Iran’s leaders.

But even if Iran doesn’t attack it, Israel still has plenty to worry about.

Would ‘Probably’ Be Good Enough for You?

That’s an important question. Would you feel safe knowing you probably wouldn’t be nuked? nasa scientists have spotted an asteroid that has a 1 in 625 chance of hitting the Earth in 2040. Some scientists are saying we need to start working right now on concrete plans to stop it hitting us.

For threats like these—destruction by an asteroid or nuclear weapon—being 624/625 sure isn’t enough.

It’s easy for people thousands of miles away to write about Israel probably being safe. It’s a much bigger worry for someone living in Tel Aviv.

Being a new nation, Israel is populated by Jews who have made Aliyah—immigrated back to their homeland. The mass immigration of skilled professionals has built a strong modern economy. But if Iran is there constantly rattling a nuclear sabre, this immigration could quickly dry up. Iran’s rhetoric about wiping out Israel wouldn’t stop if it got the bomb. Who would want to move their families to an area under the threat of nuclear war?

A Nuclear Umbrella

As Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointed out in his March 5 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (aipac): “A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella.”

“Let me try to explain what that means, a nuclear umbrella,” he said. “It means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack the United States, Israel, and other countries because they will be backed by a power that has atomic weapons. So the terrorism could grow tenfold.”

Iran could bring Gaza, the Sinai and Lebanon under its nuclear umbrella, saying that if Israel attacks these areas, Iran will respond with a nuclear attack. Even if Israeli leaders believe Iran probably wouldn’t follow through, it would still take a lot of guts to call Iran’s bluff.

Around 200 rockets have landed in Israel just since Friday. Israel has responded with air strikes, but that won’t get to the cause of the problem. If Israel won’t deal with this now, how will it have the will to solve the problem once Iran has nukes?

The range of the terrorists’ rockets is increasing, inching toward being able to reach Tel Aviv. A senior police official recently told the Hebrew newspaper Ma’ariv that “We know that terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip have long-range missiles with a range of 60 to 70 kilometers that are ready to be launched towards Israel,” according to Israeli business paper Globes.

As Mr. Netanyahu pointed out, how much bolder will these groups be once they know that a nuclear Iran has got their backs?

Crippling the Nation

Israel is about to become a very scary place to live. Even if nothing happens—and again, that is a big if—just being a scary place could cripple the nation.

Israel’s immigration could dry up. In fact, it could start moving the other way. Because many Israelis are recent immigrants, they still hold passports or citizenship elsewhere, and could leave.

Immigration has been key to Israel’s economic growth. Reverse it, and the growth reverses too.

Israel’s high-tech industry could go. This industry accounts for 45 percent of the country’s exports.

Israeli journalist Gershom Gorenberg wrote in his new book The Unmaking of Israel that “the engine of the Israeli economy is high-tech, an entirely portable industry.” Arguing against a one-state solution, Gorenberg warns that the resulting high taxes would mean that “Both individuals and companies will leave.”

Surely the threat of a nuclear bomb would do the same thing.

Coupled with this, Israel is facing some major demographic problems already. Firstly, Arab birthrates are much higher than Jewish ones, meaning that in the years ahead, Jewish Israelis could become a minority in their own country.

Israel’s economy is also threatened by a huge segment of the population that refuses to work and instead lives off government handouts. The ultra-Orthodox, or Haredi, Jews believe they must spend their time in prayer and study, so few go out to work. Sixty-five precent of Haredi men ages 35 to 54 don’t work. The Haredim make up roughly 10 percent of Israel’s population—so roughly 6 percent of Israel’s population is composed of Haredi not in employment. This is a drag on the whole economy.

This drag will only get bigger. Twenty years ago, only 3 percent of Israel’s population was Haredi. By 2028, it is forecast that 25 percent of children under 14 will be Haredi.

With growing numbers of Haredim and Arabs in Israel, neither of which have to serve in the army, generals are worried they could run out of troops.

In 2010, a senior Israeli government economist warned: “The gaps in military service create a sense of injustice, but the problem of employment is really existential. We have about 15 years to resolve this. If we fail, Israel will not be able to sustain itself: For every worker, we will have four people not working.”

A nuclear Iran makes this problem even worse. If Israel’s richer immigrants and entrepreneurs leave and new immigration dries up, followed by “the engine of the Israeli economy”—the high-tech industry—disappearing, Israel risks declining into a Second World nation.

So even if Iran doesn’t use the bomb, Israel faces being regularly threatened with nuclear annihilation and attack by emboldened terrorists. Couple this with an increasingly radical Egypt on its southern border and it is obvious that Israel is facing an existential threat—again, even if a nuclear bomb is not used.

That’s not to say that attacking Iran would be a solution that would make all of these problems go away. It wouldn’t. In the short term it would make it worse, as former head of Mossad Meir Dagan recently pointed out.

In fact, Israel’s problems are so great that there is no solution—at least none that man has. Its only solution is to look to God for help. As these trends play out in the months and years ahead, this will become increasingly obvious.

Putin’s Empire

Putin’s Empire

Behrouz Mehri/AFP/Getty Images

Vladimir Putin has secured the Russian presidency, again. Now what?

In his 2005 state of the nation address, Russian President Vladimir Putin bewailed the collapse of the Soviet Union as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.

It was a significant revelation, and one worth considering in the wake of Putin’s recent reelection as Russia’s president. Putin’s lament of the collapsed ussr provides an invaluable glimpse into the mind of the man who runs Russia, it lies at the core of current international relations, and it gives much-needed clarity and simplicity to the sometimes confusing and contradictory movements of Russia.

Indeed, that single statement provides a key to understanding Russia.

Keeping apace of Putin is practically a full-time job. When Putin took the reins of Russia in 2000, he undertook a strategy to put Russia front and center on the stage of international relations. It has been successful. Over the past 12 years, the Kremlin has gained a place in every conversation and issue of major significance on the world scene. These days, when it comes to discussions among world powers on issues relating to the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe, East Asia, Africa, Latin America—as well as issues relating to energy, nato, nuclear weapons and proliferation—a seat must be reserved for Russia at the table.

The Russians are everywhere—whether it’s loudly voicing their opinions and pushing others around at major international conferences; establishing naval and air bases on the Black Sea; meddling with American interests in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Central Asia; agreeing to form a “rapid reaction force” with Central and East Asian nations; periodically turning off gas supplies to Western Europe; conducting naval exercises in Latin America; directing the renegotiation of longtime treaties; assisting Iran’s rogue nuclear program; leading calls to undermine the U.S. dollar; interfering in America’s war in Afghanistan; undermining nato expansion; or laying claim to resources in the North Pole.

If keeping up with Russia’s activities is challenging, understanding them can be near impossible. Of all peoples, the Russians probably come closest to defying the truism that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Nuanced at times and brutally transparent at others, Russian dialogue and foreign policy, at face value, are famously schizophrenic.

Former U.S. President George Bush could attest. He will forever be haunted by his remark after his first meeting with Putin when he said that when he peered into the eyes of Russia’s president he saw a man with a soul he could trust. Mr. Bush wasn’t the first to be fooled by the Kremlin, and he won’t be the last. The Russians are masters of obfuscation and circumlocution, and they continue to ply their crafty trade. Winston Churchill, a superior statesman who knew the Russian heart intimately, said it was impossibly hard to predict—a riddle, mystery and enigma all wrapped in one.

So how can anyone keep abreast of Russia, let alone decipher the truth behind its behavior? By understanding the first sentence of Vladimir Putin’s state of the nation address in 2005. Read it for yourself: “The collapse of the Soviet Union was the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.” That revelation was a rare, unadulterated glimpse into the supreme ambition of the man who rules Russia.

Vladimir Putin’s supreme motivation is to reverse the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century—and restore Russia to the status of anempire.

It’s that simple.

Some of the best analysis of the Kremlin’s activities is performed by the intelligence pundits at Stratfor. When Russia invaded Georgia in August 2008, Stratfor founder Dr. George Friedman wrote: “The war in Georgia … is Russia’s public return to great power status” (emphasis added). He continued: “This is not something that just happened—it has been unfolding ever since Putin took power, and with growing intensity in the past five years. … The war was far from a surprise; it has been building for months. … Russia has been an empire for centuries. The last 15 years or so were not the new reality, but simply an aberration that would be rectified. And now it is being rectified” (Aug. 13, 2008).

It is a defining reality in international relations today: Russia was an empire for centuries, and under Putin it’s working furiously to be one again.

That supreme goal underpins every move made by Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. Every major action, every major decision, every major speech, every major agreement, every major treaty and even every concession by the Kremlin is carefully calculated in the context of the broader goal of restoring the Russian empire. Ultimately, every major policy and foreign-policy decision is cast in the same mold: Will this decision, this action, this policy help restore the Russian empire?

This key explains why Russia invaded Georgia in 2008. That war was a warning to America, Europe and nato against further encroachment into the Russian periphery. It was a warning to former Soviet satellite states that their national security swings on a Russian hinge, and that they had better avoid slipping into bed with America and Europe. The same goes for Russia’s support of the brutal Assad regime today in Syria, its constant undermining of Western efforts to penalize Iran, and with every foreign-policy theater in which Russia operates. In each instance, the Kremlin’s goal is to both defend and reclaim its influence over the geographic territory of the former Soviet empire.

Lastly, it is important to consider the time frame within which the Kremlin must achieve its end goal. Putin doesn’t have time on his side. Russia’s conventional military and its nuclear arsenal are both aging quickly. Demographically, birth rates are plunging precipitously. “The Russian leadership is well aware that it is operating on borrowed time,” Stratfor observed. “This is not to say Russia as a state will die in the next few years, but instead that it needs to push back Western influence as far as possible before its own (probably terminal) decline begins” (ibid.).

Putin is running out of time to restore Russia to empire status.

Don’t expect Russia to drop from the headlines in the coming months. In fact, expect Russia to ramp up its efforts to restore the Soviet empire. Among other activities, this will likely mean the forging of a major agreement with Germany and Europe that will assuage both European and Russian vulnerability. Expect Russia to continue to be highly active in defending and enlarging its periphery. Don’t be surprised if there are more conflicts like the one in Georgia.

Finally, don’t be surprised if the Kremlin tramples on and exploits the United States’ naive willingness to, as Vice President Joe Biden stated, “push the reset button” with Russia. The Kremlin is already pushing the reset button—it’s just a different button than America wants to push. Washington wants to push a button that will create a clean slate with Russia. That’s not going to happen.

Reality is, Vladimir Putin is pushing a reset button—one that is returning Russia back to the glory days of its empire.

The Fallout From Iran’s Election

The Fallout From Iran’s Election

Alireza Sotakbar/AFP/Getty Images

Ayatollah Khamenei has become the most powerful man in the Middle East.

Are sanctions against Iran working? Will renewed efforts to resume inspections and negotiations deter Iran’s nuclear program?

A big no, and a bigger no—if recent election results are any measure.

Talk about Iran’s nuclear capacity has been tough lately. America and Europe have cranked up sanctions against the country, and Western leaders have expressed hope in signs that the pressure is having its effect.

But then came Iran’s March 2 parliamentary elections. The results certainly didn’t signal a people hoping to make peace—but one bunkering down for war. They consolidated the power of the hard-liners, and shifted Iran away from democracy toward full-out totalitarianism.

Put aside wishful thinking and look at these results squarely.

This was Iran’s first vote since the presidential ballot in 2009 that provoked accusations of fraud and massive protests that embarrassed the government. In the time since then, the regime has worked to unify its key institutions and lay the groundwork for cementing its power. And for this election, it left little to chance. A body of clerics and jurists vetted all candidates for their loyalty to the Islamic establishment before they were allowed to run. Leading reformist groups (those that didn’t eliminate themselves by voluntarily boycotting the election) were banned.

But there was more at work here than just a heavy thumb. The fact is, Iran is on the rise. The “Arab Spring” has substantially boosted the country’s clout within the region, and its influence is now heavy in Egypt, Libya, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Among many Iranians, national pride is swelling.

Another point of pride is the nation’s nuclear program. The regime’s defiance against Western pressure to stop is rallying Iranian support. Some analysts say it is, in fact, preparing them for battle.

Election results seem to bear that analysis out. Voter turnout was impressive: 64 percent—much higher than the 50 percent in the 2009 election—higher even than America’s last presidential election.

And whom did Iranian voters empower? “The staunchest anti-Western political camp in the country,” reported Today’s Zaman. Of the parliament’s 290 seats, loyalists of Ayatollah Khamenei took control of three fourths. Several are Revolutionary Guards members. “Iranians have chosen those who would respond in the harshest manner to intimidation by the West,” explained Hasan Kanbolat, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Strategic Studies in Ankara.

The reformists are simply no longer an institutional force within the parliament. Conservatives dominate, and though they differ on some points, their support for Ayatollah Khamenei is virtually unconditional. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose thinking has been perceived as increasingly diverging from the ayatollah, lost considerable leverage within the parliament this election; observers say he will serve out the remainder of his presidency as something of a lame duck.

Certainly the ayatollah’s hand has been strengthened. He has always been the ultimate authority, but Iran’s political system is actually quite a complicated mixture of democratic and theocratic elements that have constrained him. This election marked a big step toward eliminating those constraints. As Asia Times put it, it was a “critical milestone” helping the regime to “institutionalize the shift toward maximum regime unity.”

“More than three decades after its founding, the Islamic Republic appears to be eschewing the populist democratic model for the classic authoritarian system marked by minimal popular participation and a dominant state,” wrote Times analyst Mahan Abedin. “This significant shift will have profound consequences across a wide range of political and economic factors, in addition to adding greater rigor and robustness to the country’s foreign policy” (emphasis added throughout). As if Iran’s pushy foreign policy, which is tying the international community into knots, didn’t already have enough rigor and robustness.

“The net outcome of the latest elections is simple: Iran’s theocratic nature will become more pronounced,” wrote Osama Al Sharif in the Gulf News.Khamenei can now turn Iran into a full-fledged theocracy with undisputed clerical powers vested in him.”

It is a remarkable development. For two decades, the Trumpet’s editor in chief has been forecasting that Iran would surge into a leadership role within the Middle East. He has said that it would be driven by its radical religion, and that its aggressive foreign policy would increasingly provoke other nations. He has maintained that outlook even as Western leaders have placed their faith in the strength of Iran’s not-insignificant reformists. He repeatedly drew attention to its terrorist activities. He predicted Iran’s infiltration into Iraq even before the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein. He predicted its rising influence in Egypt years before President Mubarak was pried loose.

The reason for the consistency in his analysis was its basis in biblical prophecy, which he explains in his booklet The King of the South. The fact is that God, thousands of years ago, foretold the role Iran is vaunting itself into today, and God is bringing that prophecy to pass.

Now, just look: Iran is stronger than it has been for decades, even centuries. Though the founder of the Iranian Revolution, Ayatollah Khomeini, set the country on its present course, it has been Khamenei who has overseen the biggest surge in power. When he took over after Khomeini’s death in 1989, Iran was weak, depleted, beaten down from nearly a decade of warring with Saddam’s Iraq. Today, Iran is the most powerful nation in the region, and Khamenei is the most powerful man.

Sanctions against Iran, efforts to resume inspections and negotiations—these have done and will do nothing to stop this nation from fulfilling this important prophesied role.

What is that role? Just look at the prophecy: This increasingly authoritarian nation, now certain to assume a foreign policy of greater rigor and robustness, is about to spark a nuclear world war!

Nine Foreign Ministers to Discuss New EU Constitution in Berlin

Nine Foreign Ministers to Discuss New EU Constitution in Berlin

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EU needs a new constitution that reflects ‘new centers of power in the world,’ says German foreign minister.

The European Union needs to debate a new constitution, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said March 9 at a meeting of EU foreign ministers in Copenhagen. Nine EU countries are expected to discuss the idea in Berlin on March 20, Reuters reported, citing an anonymous EU diplomat.

“We have to open a new chapter in European politics,” Westerwelle told reporters. “We need more efficient decision structures.”

“I think we have to reopen the debate about a European constitution again,” he said. “We have a good treaty, but we need a constitution … as there are new centers of power in the world.”

Many EU nations disagree. Britain vetoed an earlier plan by Germany to enforce EU oversight of nations’ budgets in an amendment to the treaty. Reuters reports that Germany, Belgium, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain and Denmark are expected to attend a seminar on the subject in Berlin. But others have criticized the idea. “I don’t think the priority in the European Union at the moment is to start a new constitutional debate,” said Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

The Trumpet has long forecast that Germany would lead the push toward greater integration, but that not all EU nations would be willing to follow. Ultimately, 10 nations or groups of nations will rapidly push toward greater integration and common government. Countries like Britain and Sweden will be left behind.