Current Events

Iran–Is the World Repeating Its Mistakes in Iraq?

It may appear this way. Der Spiegel Online succinctly pointed out in its article of April 20:

“The international community failed to agree on Iraq before the 2003 US-led war and is making the same mistake over Iran amid deadlock over how to deal with its nuclear ambitions, say German commentators. Meeting in Moscow this week, the veto-holding members of the United Nations Security Council yet again couldn’t reach a common position on Iran. China and Russia repeated their rejection of any proposals to impose sanctions against Tehran, depriving Washington of the hard line approach it is seeking to stop Iran’s controversial nuclear program. German newspapers on Thursday believe history is repeating itself. Center-left Süddeutsche Zeitung says the world community hasn’t learned from its mistakes over the Iraq war and is giving Iran a free ride… The veto powers on the Security Council are ignoring the most obvious options because they conflict with their own individual interests, the paper adds… Mass circulation Bild Zeitung points out that Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, is benefiting from the surge in oil prices caused by its ‘devilish game with the world community’s fear [of] an Islamic atom bomb.’ ‘Tehran doesn’t have atom bombs yet but it’s had an oil bomb for a long time. Both together make the terror regime hard to attack. And they’ve got to be slapping their thighs with joy when they see how week after week, the Security Council is unable to agree on a common policy.'”

And so, we should not be that surprised about Russia’s position, as explained by AFP in its article on April 21. The report pointed out Russia’s “economic interests” in Iran as follows:

“Russia has ruled out talk of sanctions against Iran without proof that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons as alleged by the United States, and vowed to continue military cooperation with the Islamic republic… Nikolai Spassky, deputy secretary of the national security council, said that… Russia’s proposal to enrich uranium on Russian territory for use as nuclear fuel in Iran remained on the table and described it as a means of ‘assisting’ Iran in developing nuclear power for as long as it took for international verification of its nuclear program… Russia… is helping Iran build its first nuclear power station.”

According to an article in Bild Online, which was published on April 21, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated that the United States could attack Iran militarily together with a “coalition of the willing,” irrespective of a resolution of the U.N. Security Council.

For more information, please watch our recent StandingWatch program, titled, “Is Nuclear War Coming?”

Afghanistan–the Lost Battle

Der Spiegel Online reported on April 20, 2006, that the war for Afghanistan is being lost–for all practical and objective purposes. The attempt of the Allies to bring peace to this war-torn country is FAILING. In fact, the situation has become WORSE, not better! Again, the lesson from man’s history has been reconfirmed: Man’s wars NEVER bring lasting peace. It also shows the accuracy of Biblical prophecy: That in these end times, America’s military endeavors are just not being blessed with success. The magazine pointed out:

“The Afghan capital Kabul is blossoming, but the rest of the country remains a war zone in which Western troops routinely encounter warlords, drug barons and the Taliban. And the situation isn’t improving… Instead of becoming safer in the past five years, Afghanistan has become more dangerous. Since the war in Afghanistan began in October 2001, 284 American soldiers have died, including 99 in the past year alone. And last year was the deadliest year since the arrival of the International Security Assistance Force…  in December 2001. A total of 1,600 Afghans were killed by terror attacks in 2005… The situation in the country’s south and southeast is already alarming. Despite the almost five-year-long, US-led campaign against the Taliban, the organization once again controls large portions of Pashtun provinces Nimruz, Oruzgan, Helmand, Kandahar and Paktika… The Taliban has forged an alliance with the drug mafia that could quickly jeopardize the West’s reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan. To ensure that farmers are able to continue cultivating their poppy fields, the Taliban has hired warlords and drug dealers to serve as a sort of security service against foreign military personnel. The income generated from opium production helps the Taliban and al-Qaida pay for weapons and vehicles, and drug dollars are apparently even being used to compensate the families of suicide bombers.”

Bush and Merkel–How Close Are They Really?

After Angela Merkel became the new German Chancellor, replacing Gerhard Schröder in what many believe has become the most powerful office in Europe, expectations rose that the German-American friendship would be reestablished. But, as Der Spiegel Online correctly reported on April 20, not all is good between the two power blocs. In its article, “Merkel’s Double Approach With Bush,” the magazine pointed out:

“In public, Chancellor Merkel has spoken warmly about the Bush administration and stated her intention to improve trans-Atlantic relations that suffered under her predecessor Gerhard Schröder. But lately, the chancellor hasn’t shied away from giving Washington critical advice about how to manage its foreign policy… She has a lengthy wish list, and it’s getting longer by the day. Merkel is demanding changes in Washington’s policies towards Iran and Russia, and she’s not happy with the president’s lax treatment of nuclear power India, either… Merkel is half-openly distancing herself from her overseas friends. Speaking before a session of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Bundestag, she expressed her sympathy for the Russians, who have been the subject of considerable criticism from the US in recent months… The Germans are no less critical of the US nuclear deal with what Bush has called the Indian ‘superpower.’ The deal would see Washington providing technical know-how for India’s civilian nuclear program. Before Bush’s visit to India, Merkel called the president and urged him to exercise more restraint towards Delhi. It would be hard to argue that one could deny Iran what was alright for India, she cautioned.”

Threats From Russia

Not only does Europe have to be concerned about threats from the Middle East regarding its needs for oil supply–now Russia has joined in and warned Europe to keep its nose out of Russia’s oil business. Here is why: Russia does not need Europe, but Europe needs Russia. Der Spiegel Online reported on April 20:

“The Russian gas giant Gazprom on Thursday warned Europe not to interfere with its expansion plans. Otherwise, Asia may suddenly become a higher priority than the EU… The chief executive of Italian energy supplier ENI, Paolo Scaroni, told the European Parliament that fierce competition over dwindling gas supplies would likely characterize relations between Europe and other parts of the world in the future. Scaroni warned that ‘gas can be a formidable weapon when it comes to foreign policy.’… Earlier this year, a dispute between Moscow and Kiev led to Gazprom interrupting the supply of gas to Ukraine for several days, plunging households across the country into icy coldness.The event highlighted the economic and political power that the Russian natural gas monopolist wields. Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder recently took a post on the supervisory board of a new company — made up of Gazprom and two German companies — which plans to build a natural gas pipeline from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea.”

In light of these developments, Schröder’s new post, even though sharply criticized in Germany, might turn out to be–at least for Germany–the saving anchor in a stormy ocean.

U.S. Dollar Too Unstable

On April 21, 2006, RIA Novosti [Russian News and Information Agency] published the following article: “Russia cannot consider the dollar as a reliable reserve currency because of its instability, the {Russian] finance minister said Friday. ‘This currency has devalued by 40% against the euro in recent years,’ Alexei Kudrin told a news conference in Washington on the occasion of the opening spring session of the International Monetary Fund. According to the Central Bank of Russia, the dollar accounted for 70% of Russia’s gold and currency reserves, euro for 25% and other assets for 5% in late 2005. As of April 14, 2006, the reserves were $212 billion.”

As we predicted at the inception of the Euro, the Bible strongly indicates that the Euro would become the most powerful currency in the world.

England Prepares To Invade Germany…

… but only on the soccer field. At least, that is the hope. As Der Spiegel Online reported in its article of April 20, “To make sure England’s long rivalry with Germany stays on the soccer pitch during this summer’s World Cup, the British government is offering fans extra consular help and advice [on] how not to offend their hosts… The English are… dissuaded from making references to World War II, which might upset German sensibilities. Chants such as ‘two world wars and one World Cup’ and a song titled ‘Ten German Bombers’ — celebrating the RAF’s victory over the Third Reich’s Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain — remain extremely popular with England supporters when facing soccer rival Germany even 60 years after the war. But the ‘Avoiding Penalties’ guide [by the British government] also lets English fans hoping to taunt ‘The Hun’ know that the Nazi salute is illegal in Germany and using it could get them arrested. Britain’s brash tabloid media — known for its fondness for using World War II to bait the Germans — predictably was stunned by the advice.”

The article continued: “Some 100,000 England fans are likely to head to the World Cup in Germany this summer… British authorities said they plan to spend nearly £500,000… to help fans with 20 consular officers to help with emergencies. They are also hoping to keep Britain’s notorious football hooligans [considered by many as the worst in the world] in check by negotiating special security arrangements with the Germans. Over 3,000 British citizens previously convicted of soccer-related offenses will be prohibited from traveling to Germany, Britain’s Home Office said. Britain will also send 44 uniformed police officers to Germany.”

The World Cup is the most attended and watched sports competition in the world. Its political influence must not be underestimated. Even wars have started over something much less “significant” than a series of lost soccer games.

Will The British Monarchy Survive?

Queen Elizabeth turned 80 last week. Analyzing the institution of the monarchy in Britain, USA Today came to interesting conclusions. In its recent article, the paper stated:

“Queen Elizabeth II, who has been on the throne longer than all but three British monarchs, turns 80 today… As the popular Elizabeth enters her twilight years, some Britons wonder whether the sun should set on the 1,000-year-old British monarchy when it sets on her–especially with the unpopular Charles, 57, next in line for the throne. Advocates of maintaining the monarchy say having Elizabeth as the symbolic head of a great nation, performing ceremonial duties, is worth the $65 million it costs British taxpayers every year… Foes, however, portray the monarchy and its birthright of privilege and wealth as anachronisms in the 21st century… Prince William, tall and blond like his late mother, Diana, stays out of trouble and is quiet and well-mannered…

“British monarchs are not, however, chosen by opinion polls or popular elections. There is a line of succession. And there is no way that William will take the throne before Charles unless Charles voluntarily bypasses the job that he has spent his life training for or dies before he gets there. Because the queen will not abdicate, age indeed could be a problem for Charles. Although the queen is 80, she appears robust. Her mother, the Queen Mother Elizabeth, lived to age 101 and died in 2002. Historian Lacey dismisses much of the conjecture. He says Charles will become king and argues that the British monarchy and the mystique that surrounds it are larger than the personalities involved, including the prince of Wales… the British and royalty seem to go hand in hand. As Shakespeare put it: ‘This royal throne of kings … this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.’… Because the monarchy has been around for so long and survived so many personalities, Lacey doesn’t soon foresee a day when it will disappear.”

The Bible confirms that Britain’s monarchy will continue until the return of Jesus Christ. If you want to learn more about this remarkable and perhaps astonishing assertion, please read our free booklet, “The Fall and Rise of Britain and America.”

No Patriotism in Germany–So Far

U.S. Citizens may have difficulty understanding the following–as in America, waving and exhibiting the flag has almost become a routine and many times an obsession and an overdone expression of national pride–but in Germany, the waving of the German flag is still pretty much taboo. Der Spiegel Online explained in its article of April 21:

“Over six decades after the end of World War II, Germans still have a pathological fear of patriotism. Flying the flag is still a faux pas… National pride, especially when it comes to publicly displaying a love, or even a mild affinity, for Germany is still simply taboo. When Horst Köhler left a plum job as head of the International Monetary Fund to become Germany’s president — mostly a ceremonial position — in 2004, he said in his speech, ‘I love Germany.’ Reuters reported at the time that the sentence ‘sent a hush through the packed Reichstag chamber.’… Sixty-plus years after the end of World War II, German patriotism just ain’t in the cards. Even the memorials the country builds these days are more anti-monuments. The Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe is just the most recent example.

“Things are changing, of course. Germany’s participation in the Balkan military operation in the 1990s and in Afghanistan starting in 2002 were major steps forward. German military power, the country learned, can be associated with things other than mass murder. But asking a German whether he loves his country will generally elicit a quick ‘no’ or an uncomfortable silence. Köhler’s ‘I love Germany,’ was almost visionary. But the flag thing is weird. After all, there’s nothing to be ashamed about. Black, red and gold were traditional colors long before Hitler arrived — indeed he ditched the tricolor in favor of the swastika. The colors date back to those used by emperors during the Middle Ages and were again used by army volunteers resisting the Napoleon invasion in the early 1800s. During the 1848 revolutions across Germany, leaders officially adopted the tricolor as the movement’s flag. Still, though, the thing is a symbol for Germany and Germany is a problematic country for Germans to get worked up about.”

As the magazine said, however, things are changing. In this context, the EUobserver published an interesting piece on April 21, stating:

“The German government is stepping up its efforts to make German more prominent in the EU, demanding that EU documentation be translated into the language of Goethe- or else it will not attend meetings. ‘Germany has a right to have these documents in German,’ the deputy foreign minister, Gunter Gloser, told German news agency DPA on Thursday (20 April)… Bundestag president Norbert Lammert wrote in a letter to European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso that the German parliament would refuse to debate EU documents that were not printed in German. Berlin on Thursday said it wanted a reply from Brussels on the matter before the next EU summit in June. The Berlin move is the second promotion for German in recent weeks, as the EU Ombudsman in late March asked that German be considered for a language choice on EU presidency websites [At present, presidency websites are only available in English and French]. With the union’s enlargement towards the east in 2004, the second EU language is German, spoken by 12 percent of citizens. French is spoken by close to 11 percent, while Russian shares the fourth slot with Spanish… Currently, 62 percent of EU institution texts are drafted in English, and large parts of EU-information on-line is never translated into the mother tongue of readers–particularly those speaking smaller languages.”

The Bible predicts that Germany will become the most powerful country in continental Europe, economically, politically and militarily. To an extent, it already is! And when a very charismatic German leader arrives on the world scene who will not only make promises, but also deliver, then the Germans will follow him–as will the rest of Europe. But we have not reached that period just quite yet. In the meantime, we are called upon to wait, watch and observe.

Italy, Europe and the U.S.

The International Herald Tribune published an article on April 22 about the anticipated future rocky relationship between the USA and Italy, as well as Italy’s increased involvement to bring about a United Europe. It stated:

“The wafer-thin victory of Romano Prodi’s center-left coalition over Silvio Berlusconi’s center-right alliance is another setback for the Bush administration’s foreign policy, and ushers in what is likely to be a complicated period in U.S.-Italian relations. Berlusconi gave uncritical support to the Iraq war in the face of overwhelming opposition from his own electorate. This hurt him politically, even though Italy’s stagnant economy and his own erratic and undignified performance in the election campaign were probably more important factors in his election defeat.

“For most of the postwar years, a close association with an American president was a major plus for a European political leader, particularly an Italian one. Alas, those days are now past. President George W. Bush made a major miscalculation when he arranged for Berlusconi to address a joint session of Congress on the eve of the Italian election, and endorsed his re-election in a joint press conference. The Italians, and particularly the leaders of Prodi’s victorious center-left coalition, will not soon forget this blatant interference in Italy’s domestic affairs, television reports of which were run over and over on Berlusconi’s three private television networks as well as on the three state television networks under his control.

“Prodi and the leaders of the coalition of reformed Communists and moderate democrats that will form the main element in his government are not anti-American, even though most of them are anti-Bush. During the election campaign, they denounced the decision to invade Iraq as both a strategic mistake and a violation of international law, and made clear that they would withdraw Italy’s 3,000 troops in Iraq as soon as possible… Unlike the Euroskeptic Berlusconi government, Prodi will try to promote a common European foreign policy and a credible European military capability. He will also seek more active European involvement in the Israel-Palestinian conflict.”

Iraq Is In The Midst Of Civil War…

… but very few want to admit it. At least, that is the assessment of many thousands of Iraqis who are fleeing the country. The Associated Press reported on April 21:

“Within Iraq, thousands are on the move as death threats drive them to neighborhoods where their sect has more strength, international and Iraqi officials say. Reprisal killings between Shiite and Sunni extremists have sharply increased… In addition, neighboring countries have seen greater numbers of Iraqis arriving, according to international officials… Most of those leaving have gone to Jordan and Syria, and some to Egypt… officials in Jordan say there are 250,000 Iraqis legally residing in the kingdom. Unofficial estimates put the number at 600,000, at least…

“Ban Istefan is one of them. Her Christian family was threatened in Iraq about a month ago and fled to Jordan. The 34-year-old biology lecturer… said both her Christian family and a next-door Sunni neighbor received letter threats saying, ‘The time has come for the infidels to be punished.’ Asked if Iraq was in the midst of civil war, Istefan said, ‘Of course … but no one wants to admit it.'”

Israel Preparing To Retake Gaza Strip?

The Associated Press reported on April 21 about some frightening prospects in Israel and the Middle East, which could set the whole world on fire. The report explained:

“In a growing barrage of Israeli pressure against Hamas, a senior military commander said Israel is actively preparing to reoccupy the Gaza Strip and a powerful lawmaker said the entire Palestinian Cabinet could be targeted for assassination after the appointment of a wanted militant to head a new security force. Officials said there were no immediate plans to strike at the Hamas-led government. But the comments reflected rising Israeli impatience with the Islamic militant group, which has refused to renounce violence, defended a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv this week and failed to halt militant rocket fire from the Gaza Strip… Israel withdrew from Gaza last summer, ending 38 years of military occupation. Since the pullout, militants have fired rockets into southern Israel on a nearly daily basis.”
The Telegraph reported on April 24, 2006: “Iran’s nuclear programme is the most serious threat faced by Jews since the Nazi holocaust, Israel’s defence minister [Shaul Mofaz] has said… [Calls] by Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, for Israel to be ‘wiped from the map’ have increased tensions between the two countries.”

Keep your eyes on the Middle East. It is there, as well as in Europe, where history will be made!

America’s Battle With Illegal Immigration

The Associated Press reported on April 25, 2006, that “President Bush had a blunt message Monday for fellow Republicans focusing only on get-tough immigration policies: He said sending all the nation’s estimated 11 million illegal immigrants back to their home countries is not the answer… With Congress coming back from a two-week spring recess to a long election-year to-do list and tensions flaring nationwide over immigration, Bush urged lawmakers to adopt a middle-ground policy. He called a Senate bill, which creates a way for illegal immigrants to work legally in the United States and for many to eventually become citizens, an ‘important approach.’… As for Bush’s comment on deportation, a Time magazine poll in January found 50 percent of the country favored deporting all illegal immigrants…

“Well aware that November elections could end GOP control of Congress, Bush is walking a fine line on the emotional immigration issue, between his party’s conservative base which wants a clampdown on illegal immigration and business leaders who believe the economy needs immigrants to fill jobs. All sides are exerting pressure. With armed citizen patrols popping up in border states, leaders in Arizona and New Mexico have pleaded for better policing of U.S. borders while other communities complain about the pressure that burgeoning immigrant populations are placing on local services. At the same time, tens of thousands of Hispanic and others – a potentially important voting bloc – have taken to streets across the country in the past few weeks to demand more immigration-friendly policies… The House has passed a law-and-order immigration bill that would erect fences along the Mexican border and treat people who sneak across as felons to be deported. An alternative Senate measure would set up a temporary guest worker program… but require all illegal immigrants to leave the United States before they could apply for the visas.”

Deadly Terror Attack in Egypt

The Associated Press reported on April 25 about the most recent deadly terror attack in Egypt, and the reaction of the international community. It was stated:

“Egyptian authorities, already struggling with elusive terror cells in the rugged Sinai Peninsula, moved quickly Tuesday–arresting 30 men in the triple bombings that ripped apart a resort town on a tranquil holiday evening. Radical Muslim groups moved just as rapidly to distance themselves from the Dahab attacks, which killed 24 people. The leader of Egypt’s banned Muslim brotherhood condemned them as ‘aggression on human souls created by God.’ The militant Palestinian Hamas organization called them a ‘criminal attack which is against all human values.’ Many frightened tourists fled Sinai coastal resorts where two previous bomb attacks–like the Dahab blasts–bore the hallmarks of al-Qaida-linked groups that appear to have a free hand to continue operations in the barren, backward and extremely rugged Sinai Peninsula.

“Egyptian authorities–despite massive sweeps by thousands of troops and hundreds of arrests after each previous Sinai attack–appeared increasingly frustrated by the ease with which terrorists continue to hit the country’s vital tourism industry. It brought in $6.4 billion in 2005 and is the top source of foreign exchange. ‘This incident is addressed to the whole of Egypt, there is no reason for it other than an attempt to destroy the economy of Egypt by attacking tourism,’ said Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif as he visited blast victims in a Sharm el-Sheik hospital. President Hosni Mubarak, who oversees an already-stagnant economy with unemployment rising in lockstep with the population explosion, called the attack a ‘sinful terrorist action.’… Arabs throughout the Middle East voiced outrage, signaling a growing backlash as fellow Muslims increasingly bear the brunt of terrorist attacks. Of the 24 dead in Dahab, 21 were Egyptians… All three Sinai bombings were timed to Egyptian national holidays when resorts were especially crowded with local tourists as well as foreigners who flock to the seaside towns, the world-renowned beaches and extraordinary reefs… The German Foreign Ministry said a 10-year-old German boy was among the dead.”

Exxon’s All-Time High Profit

Reuters stated the following on April 27, 2006: “Exxon Mobil Corp., the world’s largest publicly traded oil company, on Thursday reported quarterly profit surged, driven by rising oil prices. Net income in the first quarter was $8.4 billion, or $1.37 a share, up from $7.86 billion, or $1.22 a share, a year earlier. Revenue jumped to $88.98 billion from $82.05 billion. Crude oil prices have risen steadily from about $20 a barrel in 2002 to over $75 last week, handing oil and gas companies a long-running profit bonanza. But the fat profits have also angered U.S. drivers grappling with rising gasoline prices and provoked sharp criticism of Big Oil from lawmakers and consumer advocates.”

Our newest Standing Watch program, titled, “What Concerns Americans The Most?” addresses these and other problems which plague the United States.

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