Saturday, January 8, 2011

The Week in Review

The religious group killing its way to power in Egypt, the would-be nation that wants sovereignty without giving up terrorism, a new place for China to buy debt, the Anglican Catholics, and where to find the land of the Neets.
Middle East
An attack on a Coptic Christian church 30 minutes into 2011 shows the growing power of Islamists in Egypt. Stratfor’s George Friedman says the attacks could point to a resurgence of radical Islam in the country (January 4). A radical Egypt, he says, would be dangerous for the whole world. The fact that the attack occurred at the same time churches were attacked in Nigeria and after al Qaeda threatened Egyptian Copts last month indicates that the Egyptian attacks could be part of a coordinated campaign. Egypt is especially vulnerable right now. Mubarak is aging and has left no clear successor. Islamic radicals could use this time to try to take over. The consequences of this could be huge. Egypt is changing, and although it may be hard to judge from just analyzing the news alone exactly how Egypt will change, Bible prophecy is clear on the matter. A radical Islamic Egypt will soon be here.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas visited Brazil December 31 to participate in the groundbreaking ceremony of the first Palestinian Embassy in the Americas. This is the latest development in the PA’s agenda to obtain international recognition of a Palestinian state—even though it refuses to forge a peace settlement with Israel. Over the past year, three other South American countries—Bolivia, Argentina and Ecuador—have recognized a Palestinian sovereign state, bringing the total number of states that recognize the Palestinian Authority—which is led by corrupt leaders and maintains a relationship with Hamas—as a sovereign state to a staggering 106. Following the constitutive method of state creation, if other nations are willing to say that you are a state, you are a state. This is exactly the precedent set in the case of Kosovo, of which Palestinians have taken note.
The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) reported December 30 that Iran smuggled about 1,000 mortar shells, hundreds of short-range rockets and dozens of advanced anti-tank missiles into Gaza during 2010. That is the estimated number of weapons that made it into the Gaza Strip. A clearer picture of just how much military support Iran is willing to give its terrorist proxy emerges when you include the number of weapons confiscated before they reached Palestinian trigger fingers. Tehran uses smuggling routes that go through Sudan and the Sinai Peninsula, and it’s not uncommon for Egyptian security forces to uncover stockpiles of weaponry. Israel knows from where Hamas is getting its weaponry to solidify its rule in Gaza and spread its tentacles to the West Bank, yet it lacks the will to deal with the cause of the problem. Iran continues to exploit this weakness and liberally gives Hamas the deadly tools to push at Israel.
EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Catherine Ashton was in Israel Wednesday to reiterate the need for Israel to open up Gaza’s borders for “reconstruction and economic recovery,” Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports. In response, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman stated, “If you want to bring about an end to the siege of the Gaza Strip, you have to take responsibility and set a strong, genuine and effective force to stop weapons smuggling.” Although Ashton denied today that the EU is seriously considering sending such a European force into Gaza, this trend for Israel to reach out for European assistance is being watched closely by the Trumpet.
Wednesday’s Haaretz reported that a recent visit by Jewish leader Malcolm Hoenlein to Damascus has ignited speculation that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be looking for a new way to keep the U.S. happy and his own coalition together: through mediation with Syria. reports that the United States is also reaching out to Syria, with President Obama recently appointing the first ambassador to Syria since 2005. reports that the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, believes that the solution to the growing threats Israel faces is a diplomatic initiative for a peace agreement with Syria. “The price of this deal is known: withdrawal from the Golan Heights in return for security arrangements and normalized relations” (Dec. 31, 2010). In other words, more land for “peace.”
According to a WikiLeaks cable published in Norway’s Aftenposten newspaper Sunday, Hezbollah can now hit Israel with up to 600 rockets per day. The Jerusalem Post reports: “Hezbollah … has 40,000 missiles as well as a number of Iranian-made Ababil unmanned aerial vehicles that have a range of 150 kilometers and can be loaded with explosives to bomb strategic targets in Israel.” Judging by the size of Hezbollah’s arsenal at present, the next clash with the Israelis could be absolutely debilitating for northern Israel.
Germany sought American help to construct a spy satellite capable of detecting objects 1.5 feet in diameter, working at night using infrared and processing information far quicker than current satellites, according to a WikiLeaks cable published by the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten. “Germany is taking concrete steps to achieve a full-spectrum, overhead reconnaissance capability by adding a space-based High Resolution Optical System (HiROS) to their already impressive suite of space-based radar and multi-spectral systems,” the cable, dated Feb. 15, 2009, states. “The German government believes that full spectrum overhead reconnaissance is an effective force multiplier, provides an instrument of national power, and politically frees Germany from dependence on foreign sources of imagery.” The German government denies that HiROS is a military project, saying that it is designed for public use. That response might have sounded more convincing had the leaked cable not stated that “To minimize possible political backlash from developing HiROS as an intelligence satellite, the program will be managed by a civil agency, possibly the Ministry of Economics and Technology (bmwi). For political optics, the satellites themselves would be operated by a ‘commercial entity’ created specifically for this purpose, but with tasking managed/controlled/coordinated by bnd [German Federal Intelligence Agency].”
Germany is “stronger” after Europe’s economic crisis, Chancellor Angela Merkel said in her New Year’s message. Germany, she pointed out, has its lowest unemployment rate since reunification. German unemployment was under 7 percent in October, according to the European Commission, 3 percent less than the EU average unemployment rate. “In spite of all economic worries, it turned out to be a good year for Germany,” she said. “And all of us can be happy about one thing—never have more people had work in reunited Germany than today …. We achieved what we planned to do. We even emerged from the crisis strengthened. This is above all because of your work, dear citizens.” Watch for the German economy to continue to grow in the next year.
It is not safe for Jews to walk around the state of Brandenburg in Germany while wearing a yarmulke or other visible symbol of Judaism, the state’s new chief Rabbi Shaul Nekrich said in an interview with the Berliner Zeitung published January 5. It is very dangerous for a Jew to wear a kippah, he said, unless “someone is versed in martial arts.” When asked if the state had an anti-Semitism problem, he replied, “I think so, even if I haven’t been here for very long. I hear the stories from the communities. They are wary of being recognized as Jews on the streets. The only way we announce events now is by e-mail. In [the town of] Bernau, the synagogue has been defaced with swastikas several times.”
Last month, former leader of the Netherland’s People’s Party for Freedom and Democracy Frits Bolkestein advised all Orthodox and active Jews to get out of his country. He did not give this warning because of any anti-Semitism of his own, but rather because of the Netherland’s growing radical Islamic population. “I see no future for them here because of anti-Semitism, above all among the Moroccan Dutch, whose numbers continue to grow,” he said. Anti-Semitism is growing across Europe.
The Catholic Church needs to convert more Germans to Catholicism, the archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Reinhard Marx, said in his New Year’s sermon. He is “disturbed as a bishop” by the number of people leaving the church, he said. “A new evangelization is the mission of the coming age,” he said. Watch for the Catholic Church to grow in power across Europe.
Forty-two percent of French and 40 percent of Germans believe that the presence of a Muslim community is “a threat” to their national identity according to a poll of 800 adults in both countries conducted by marketing firm ifop. Sixty-eight percent of French and 75 percent of Germans said that Muslims are “not well integrated” into their nation. Sixty percent in both nations said that Muslims refuse to integrate. “As Islam becomes a permanent and increasingly conspicuous fixture of European societies, public opinion is clearly tensing up, though disparities do appear between young and old and between left and right wing,” wrote France’s Le Monde on the subject. Its headline for the article was: “Islam and integration: French and Germans admit failure.”
Contributing to growing concerns over China’s rapidly expanding military might, photographs emerged on Wednesday indicating that Beijing has completed a prototype of a state-of-the-art fighter jet, its first known stealth plane. After years of secretive development, the J-20 underwent very public preliminary testing this week. “This is their new policy of deterrence,” said Andrei Chang of Kanwa Defense Weekly. “They want to show the U. S., show Mr. Gates, their muscle.” And it is no coincidence that U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is scheduled to visit Beijing next week. Gates recently estimated that China would be able to construct stealth jets by 2020, but if the photographs are legitimate, it would mean that China is a decade ahead of this forecast. Naval experts have also recently expressed concern over China’s new ballistic missile, which is capable of sinking U.S. aircraft carriers, thereby undermining America’s role as the traditional military hegemony in the Pacific.
South Korea and Japan will work toward an accord on military cooperation when Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa visits Seoul next week, according to a report by a South Korean official published on Wednesday. The deal will allow both nations to assist each other by sharing military logistics and information during periods of crisis. Korea and Japan have already been working together with joint military drills for humanitarian missions and personnel exchanges, and this accord marks a significant strengthening of those ties. A primary purpose of the agreement is to bolster mutual cooperation by arranging for both sides to share intelligence about North Korea’s nuclear armaments and other weapons. Disputes among Asian countries have generated tension in the region recently, but all of that military might will soon be pooled together and channeled against a colossal European enemy.
Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang visited Europe this week with an entourage of over a hundred high-ranking Chinese businessmen in the latest of Beijing’s efforts to strengthen Sino-European ties and to stabilize the euro. On the surface, the visit highlights Beijing’s deep interest in stabilizing the European currency: The EU surpassed the U.S. recently to become China’s largest trade partner, and China has been boosting its holdings of euro debt since the global financial crisis erupted in 2008. China has been lending Europe the money it needs, which, in turn fuels investor confidence and boosts China’s profits. Everybody wins. But Beijing also has political motivations. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao recently called on European policymakers not to pressure China about allowing the yuan to appreciate. When several EU nations rely on Chinese assistance to stay afloat, it boosts Beijing’s leverage on the currency issue, and China can effectively drive a wedge between America and the EU. When China gobbles up more European debt, the economies of Europe and China become more interdependent, which gives Beijing an insurance policy against trade protectionism in Europe. Such a move also takes attention away from the issue of China’s currency peg. The economic ties between China and Europe will hasten the destabilization of the American economic framework.
Latin America/Africa
A 7.1 magnitude earthquake hit southern Chile on January 2, causing tens of thousands to flee lest a tsunami strike in the aftermath. No tsunami came, and there have been no reported deaths.
On January 9, south Sudan will vote on whether or not it will become independent from the North. The elections seem set to go unexpectedly peacefully. As we pointed out several weeks ago, though, that still leaves south Sudan with some major problems. If the south votes for independence, as it almost certainly will, the new country will be divided between peoples that identify more with their tribe than their nation. Twenty-three different political parties attended a conference in October to agree on a transitional government. The south also faces huge poverty and food shortages. Its problems will not stop with the referendum. But there is hope for south Sudan. See our Nov. 24, 2010, article, “In Africa, a New Nation Struggles to Be Born” for more information.
The first Anglicans officially joined the Catholic Church at Westminster Cathedral on January 1. Three former Anglican bishops, two of their wives and three former Anglican nuns took communion in a Catholic service. The group was received into the Catholic Church and then confirmed as Catholics. The former bishops are expected to be ordained as Catholic priests on January 15. Between 40 and 50 Anglican clergymen and another three former bishops are expected to join the Catholic Church before Easter. The Ordinariate—the special jurisdiction for defecting Anglicans—is expected to come into existence in a matter of days. This is the small beginning of an organization that will soon impact the whole world. One thousand Australians will join the Ordinariate by June 12, according to the Traditional Anglican Communion’s (tac’s) John Hepworth. The rest of the 400,000-strong group could follow suit. A congregation in Calgary voted overwhelmingly toward the end of last year to leave for Rome. A congregation in Orlando, Florida, the Cathedral of the Incarnation, also a member of the tac, has voted to return to Rome. These are early days for the new Ordinariate, but before it has even been established, congregations around the world are lining up to join. Bible prophecy clearly shows that the Vatican will gather all its Protestant daughters back under its authority.
In Britain, 2.6 million people resorted to their credit card to pay their mortgages or rent during 2010, according to a report published by housing charity Shelter. Many, said Shelter, face a “daily struggle” to find the money to pay for their home. It could get worse this year if the Bank of England raises interest rates above 0.5 percent, as it is expected to do. The situation “is one which we fear could see thousands more families pushed into the spiral of debt, eviction or repossession and ultimately homelessness,” said Shelter chief executive Campbell Robb. Watch the credit crisis to continue to hurt in 2011.
Britain has more young people in neither education nor training than all but four EU nations, according to EU statistics office Eurostat. Even Bulgaria and Romania are doing better than the UK in this regard. In Britain, nearly one in five 18-year-old men and one in six 18-year-old women are “Neets,” that is, people “not in employment, education or training.”
Floods covering an area larger than France and Germany combined have hit Queensland, Australia, affecting 200,000 people. “This is without a doubt a tragedy on an unprecedented scale,” said Queensland Premier Anna Bligh. In the affected towns, drinking water has been contaminated and mosquito-borne disease could run rampant in the flood’s aftermath. Some estimate that the total cost to Australia’s economy could be $9 billion. The floods are also pushing up the price of metallurgical coal, as Australia accounts for 54 percent of global metallurgical coal exports. With the rainy season set to continue until late April, the floods could continue, pushing up commodity prices around the world. For more information on why the world is being hit by these weather disasters, see our Dec. 29, 2010, article, “The Year the Earth Struck Back”.
In another example of the natural environment being cursed, animals have been dropping dead in huge numbers around the world. On New Year’s Eve, around 4,000 red-wing blackbirds and starlings dropped dead in the city of Beebe, Arkansas. Five hundred were found dead in southern Louisiana. Millions of dead fish washed up in the shores of Chesapeake Bay. One hundred thousand drum fish were founded dead in the Arkansas River. Thousands of fish were found dead in Volusia County, Florida, and in Woolwash Lagoon in Australia. In England, 40,000 velvet swimming crabs washed up on beaches. Hundreds of fish were found dead in Wales; Victoria, Australia; the St. Clair River, Canada; and Coromandel Peninsula beaches, New Zealand.