December 3, 2011

The Week in Review

December 2, 2011 | From
Radicals vie with ultra-radicals for the Egyptian vote, Hamas teams up with Fatah, Iranians attack the British Embassy, Germany deals weapons, the race for supercomputer dominance, and what British youth without hope resort to.

Middle East

Pakistan retaliates over death of soldiers: A bungled nato air strike last Saturday that killed 24 Pakistani soldiers, including two officers, has further damaged the already shaky U.S.-Pakistan relationship. Preliminary U.S. military reports said the Taliban attacked American soldiers in Afghanistan and fled across the Pakistan border to purposefully lure them into a firefight against a Pakistani troop outpost. Pakistan denies this version of events. A top Pakistani army general called the deadly strike “a deliberate act of aggression.” Pakistan’s Defense Committee of the Cabinet gave the U.S. two weeks to vacate Shamsi airbase, jeopardizing American drone operations. It also immediately closed the two crossings on Pakistan’s western border to trucks carrying fuel, food and vehicles to nato troops. Pakistan is now within a hair’s breadth of ending its cooperation with the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. This provides a strategic opening for both Russia and China.

Egypt-Israel pipeline attacked yet again: Egypt’s natural gas pipeline to Israel and Jordan was blown up Monday for the eighth time since Hosni Mubarak was deposed. The explosion, carried out by masked gunmen, struck the pipeline west of al-Arish in the Sinai Peninsula, and forced a shutdown and halt to exports. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack. However, the pipeline is unpopular among the Egyptian populace, who think Israel should pay more for the gas. Israel is heavily reliant on Egypt’s gas, with 40 percent of the Jewish state’s electricity being generated using natural gas. The Sinai has increasingly become a lawless area since Mubarak was forced out, and Israel is greatly concerned about the danger. Prof. Eytan Inbar, the head of the Begin-Sadat Center, warned about a possible collapse of law and order in Egypt. “Sinai could turn into Somalia,” he said during a security conference at Bar-Ilan University on November 23.

Egyptians vote in parliamentary elections: Egyptians voted in their first elections since the fall of Hosni Mubarak on Monday and Tuesday. It was the first stage of parliamentary elections that will be staggered over six weeks. “The question is not whether the Islamists will win, but what the size of their victory is going to be,” writes Samuel Tadros, a research fellow at the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom. “The real battle is not going to be between the Islamists and the imagined liberals. The struggle in most Egyptian governates will be between the Muslim Brotherhood’s Democratic Alliance and the more radical Salafist Islamic Alliance.” Last week, the ruling military council asked Kamal Ganzouri, who was prime minister under Mubarak from 1996 to 1999, to form a government. The military says that he will rule until July 1, by which time a president should be elected to replace him. Ganzouri has said, however, that he may pass his power to the newly elected parliament before then. Watch for Egypt to quickly shift further toward radical Islam.

Islamist party dominates Morocco vote: An Islamist party won the most seats in Morocco’s parliamentary election on November 25 in the latest sign of a Middle Eastern swing toward Islamism. The election was Morocco’s first since a new constitution came into effect in July transferring some of King Mohammed vi’s almost absolute power to parliament and to the prime minister. The king proposed these changes to the constitution in response to pro-democracy protests in Morocco and regime changes in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. The new constitution says the king, the latest ruler of a monarchy that has led Morocco for 350 years, must now select a prime minister from the winning party rather than naming whomever he pleases. That party, the Islamist Justice and Development Party, is the political wing of Morocco’s Uniqueness and Reform movement, which represents the Muslim Brotherhood. The party won 107 of the 395 parliamentary seats, which grants it its first opportunity to lead a coalition government. Morocco’s youth unemployment is at 31 percent and almost a quarter of its 33 million people live in severe poverty, which means the nation is primed for radical change.

Hamas and Fatah turn “real page in partnership”: Hamas and Fatah hailed a new era of cooperation as their leaders met in Cairo on November 24. “We want to assure our people and the Arab and Islamic world that we have turned a major new and real page in partnership on everything to do with the Palestinian nation,” said Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas agreed, saying: “There are no more differences between us now. We have agreed to work as partners with joint responsibility.” Their meeting was their first since the two leaders signed an accord on reconciliation in May. Abbas and Mashaal are scheduled to meet again starting December 20. Watch for this new cooperation to work in Hamas’s favor. As Courcy’s Intelligence Brief points out this week, with the Muslim Brotherhood on the rise—MB-affiliated parties winning elections in Tunisia and Morocco, and the MB set to win elections in Egypt—MB-linked Hamas is primed to gain strength in the Palestinian territories, “increasing its influence in the West Bank to go with its dominance of the Gaza Strip” (November 30). This is something the Trumpet has been watching to develop for some time.

Rockets fired on Israel from Lebanon: Four Katyusha rockets were fired from Lebanon landing in the western Galilee area of Israel overnight on Monday. The Israel Defense Forces responded with artillery fire in the direction of the attack. This is the first time rockets have been fired from Lebanon in two years. The Jerusalem Post reports: “If the rocket attacks are meant to be interpreted as a signal by Hezbollah, then Israel might need to be concerned. On the one hand, the Islamists might be signaling that they have the ability to ignite Israel’s northern border at the behest of their Iranian or Syrian patrons, both of which are facing major challenges. On the other, it could be Hezbollah’s way of reminding Israel of its capabilities as it contemplates the transfer of advanced military equipment from Syria to Lebanon due to concern over the stability of President Bashar Assad’s regime. Hezbollah is believed to have already brought in some advanced systems—possibly Scud missiles—that it was storing in Syria, but it has more there and is concerned that they will be lost once Assad is toppled” (November 29).

Iranians attack British Embassy: Britain has closed its embassy in Tehran and expelled all Iranian diplomats from London after the British Embassy and residential compound in Iran was stormed and ransacked on Tuesday. Both properties were severely damaged, with official and personal possessions seized or destroyed. One member of staff described the damage as “carnage.” While police secured the release of six embassy staff who were taken by the protesters and Iran’s Foreign Ministry said it regretted the incident, the students who carried out the attack included members of the paramilitary Basij militia and carried banners naming Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force, which runs the overseas operations of the Revolutionary Guard. “This may not have been a government-sanctioned operation,” writes the Guardian, “but it was an official one, with three conservative institutions, the parliament, the judiciary and the supreme leader, behind it” (November 29). The embassy compounds were stormed during a street demonstration in which windows were smashed, a car torched and the British flag burned in protest of new sanctions imposed by London against Iran. Two days earlier, Iran’s parliament had approved a bill to reduce diplomatic and economic ties with Britain, including forcing out the British ambassador within two weeks, in retaliation to the sanctions. This strongly suggests the ensuing attack had official complicity.

Another explosion in Iran: An Iranian nuclear facility in the city of Isfahan was hit by an explosion on Monday, the second such attack in under a month. Again, there is strong suspicion that the attack was an act of sabotage by Israel.


Germany dramatically increases arms exports: Germany’s revenue from exporting weapons and defense products jumped sharply in 2010 to its highest level ever, according to the government’s annual Defense and Exports Report. Arms exports generated €2 billion (us$2.66 billion), up from €1.34 billion in 2009 and €0.3 billion in 2002. “Most of the products exported were high-value armaments like submarines, warships and tanks,” reports Der Spiegel. German armaments manufacturers also agreed contracts worth €5 billion in 2010. Though two thirds of the weapons exports are to EU or nato members, United Press International reports that the Germans “are battling hard for military contracts in the Middle East.” Earlier this year, Germany agreed to sell 200 Leopard tanks to Saudi Arabia. “In her eagerness to support the German defense industry, Merkel is breaking with a traditional doctrine of German foreign policy,” wrote Der Spiegel at the time. “The fundamental principle used to be that weapons produced in Germany couldn’t be delivered to countries engaged in a conflict.” This rise in arms exports is the reflection of the new “normal” Germany—a nation unashamed of its history. The rise in exports to the Middle East also points to a new alliance—one the Trumpet has been forecasting for years—between Germany and the enemies of Iran.

Belgium—a queer twist left: Following 18 months of dithering where it has effectively had no permanent leader in power, Belgium has announced that the Socialist and Bildeburger Elio di Rupo will be appointed prime minister. Of Italian parentage, the 60-year-old has a reputation as a flamboyant leftist. He will be Europe’s first openly declared homosexual leader of an EU government. He is the sixth new government leader to take office in the embattled eurozone countries since the euro contagion commenced spreading through Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Italy and Spain. Appointed formateur by Belgium’s King Albert ii in May and delegated the task of forming a government, Di Rupo’s resultant negotiations with Belgium’s six political parties have been tortuous, given the sharp ethnic and political divisions that exist between Belgium’s Flemish- and French-speaking communities. If Di Rupo is able to cobble together a government that can last the distance—not by any means a given in today’s disruptive political climate in Brussels—it will face an almost overwhelming task in seeking appropriate remedies to its current debt crisis. Last week, Standard & Poor’s downgraded Belgium’s long-term debt. As the rest of Europe swings to the political right, it is a queer twist against the trend that the nation which has headquartered the European unification process from its inception, based on a strong right-wing Catholic foundation, would select a homosexual leftist as its leader. It may not be long before Di Rupo feels the heat from the predominant rightist Catholic elites and becomes yet another fall guy for an appointee more acceptable to Rome and Berlin’s Holy Roman agenda. All it would take is the collapse of the Belgian economy and the domino effect of government collapse for Berlin to apply another “Greek solution” to enable its control of yet another eurozone nation.

Iran plans to attack U.S. bases in Germany: Tehran may have plans to attack American military bases in Germany if the U.S. goes to war with Iran, Germany’s Federal Criminal Police Office said, according to the Bild newspaper (December 1). Though prosecutors are investigating information about possible attacks, a spokesperson said that “Despite the search, there are no indications that there was a planned crime nor an imminent danger.” Bild reports that Germany is investigating a businessman who they suspect is tied to the Iranian Embassy and could be helping to plan an attack.


New Report: China has up to 3,000 nuclear warheads hidden in secret tunnels: On Tuesday, the Washington Post reported that a Georgetown University study has concluded that Beijing’s nuclear arsenal may be several times larger than current estimates show. Under the instruction of a former Pentagon official, students of the university compiled the largest collection of public understanding yet regarding an intricate network of secret tunnels dug by China’s furtive Second Artillery Corps, the organization responsible for nuclear weapons. Although the 363-page report has not yet been published, it has been circulated among leading U.S. military officials, and has prompted a congressional hearing. The study of the tunnels indicates that China could have up to 3,000 nuclear warheads, instead of the current estimates, which span from 80 to 400. The findings of the report could prompt European nations to increase the size of their own nuclear arsenals.

China Outpaces U.S. in Race for Fastest Supercomputer: America’s chief political and military rival now runs neck in neck with the U.S. in supercomputer technology, Newsweek’s technology editor Dan Lyons wrote on Monday. Supercomputers are instrumental in developing nuclear weapons, aerospace engines, and vital drugs and chemicals. For decades, the U.S. had the biggest and fastest arsenal of such computers, but now China is taking great strides forward. Last November, the Chinese unveiled the world’s most powerful supercomputer. To analysts and world leaders who understand how precarious America’s position as a global power is, it was a Sputnik moment. But this time, it wasn’t Russia one-upping America in the space race, but China trouncing the U.S. in one of the most crucial sectors of national security. “[I]f the U.S. falls behind in supercomputing it could quickly lose its edge in all areas of science, in industries like oil and gas exploration and pharmaceutical research, and in security and military fields. In the race to develop the most powerful computers, both our economic prosperity and our national security are on the line,” Lyons wrote. China has “placed itself at the top of the technology world with a stunning demonstration of its newfound engineering prowess,” he continued. At present, China has 74 of the 500 biggest supercomputers on the planet, up from zero 10 years ago, making it second only to America. And while the U.S. scrambles to pay for new supercomputer development, Beijing is awash with cash to pursue its goals. This spring, Japan leapfrogged China by developing a more powerful supercomputer, but experts predict that Beijing will soon overtake Tokyo again. Steady news of China’s burgeoning power will hasten the decision of smaller Asian nations to abandon the sinking U.S. ship and begin to look to Beijing.


Atrocities in the Congo: Millions of voters cast their votes for president and parliament last Monday in the Democratic Republic on the Congo’s second-ever federal election. Sporadic violence resulted in the deaths of at least five people at two polling locations outside the capital as political tensions ran high. Ethnic prejudices and widespread government corruption have made the Democratic Republic on the Congo one of the most violent nations on the planet. The eastern part of the country has been called the “rape capital of the world” by UN Special Representative Margot Wallstrom. Reports indicate that 48 women are raped every hour. This is one nation that desperately needs the return of Jesus Christ to restore peace and happiness.


English riot inquiry finds hopelessness ‘a danger for society’: An appalling lack of hopes and dreams in English youth contributed to the riots last summer, the independent inquiry set up by the government said in its interim report published November 28. “We were shocked by the number of young people we spoke to who had no hopes or dreams for their future,” wrote the chairman of the Riots Communities and Victims Panel, Darra Singh, in the report’s foreword. There is a “collective pessimism about the future,” he wrote. “The fact that many people abused society’s moral and legal codes when the opportunity arose paints a disturbing picture. Most disturbing to us was a widespread feeling that some rioters had no hope and nothing to lose.” “The absence of hopes and dreams amongst many we spoke to is a danger for society,” the report says. The book of Proverbs concurs, saying, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

Britain suffers biggest strike for a generation: One and a half million public sector workers went on strike November 30, closing six out of ten schools in England and disrupting services at hospitals, courts and various government agencies. The strikes were called in response to the government’s attempt to deal with its out-of-control finances by reforming public sector pensions—trying to bring public workers’ extremely generous pension provisions closer to what can be expected in the private sector. Such disruptions will only get worse as nations struggle to deal with their deficits.

British marriage rates continue to decline: Married couples made up only 48 percent of the adult population in England and Wales in 2010, according to new figures published by the Office of National Statistics. “One of the main reasons for the decrease in the married population and the increase in the single population is the growth of cohabitation by unmarried couples,” it said. As fewer couples are marrying, the divorce figure is also shrinking—114,000 couples divorced in 2009, the lowest number since 1974.

Britain facing water rationing next spring: After Britain’s driest year since records began, many parts of the country could have water shortages next spring if this winter is dry, Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman warned December 1. Anglia Water has been granted a drought permit—allowing it to take more water than usual from local rivers to stock up reservoirs. South East Water has also applied for one.

Violence mars Black Friday: Black Friday sales across the United States were marred by violence as crazed shoppers literally fought over the best deals. Several incidents occurred at Wal-Mart stores as millions of Americans loaded up on holiday purchases. One female shopper at a Los Angeles, California, Wal-Mart—desperate to get her hands on some discounted electronics—actually pepper-sprayed an entire crowd of people in an attempt to keep them away from the merchandise she wanted. Chaos erupted at a Wal-Mart in Rome, New York, when several fights broke out in the electronics department. Two shoppers ended up in hospital for minor injuries. A discount-seeking shopper in San Leandro, California, was shot and critically wounded during a robbery outside a Wal-Mart. Similar shootings occurred in Fayetteville, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Des Moines, Iowa. It is astonishing how violent and self-centered human beings can be when a materialistic craze comes over them. If people will explode like this over discounted plasma tvs, imagine what will happen when America starts to experience food shortages.
Canada redirects oil routes toward Asia: Now that the Obama administration has postponed making a decision on Canada’s Keystone oil pipeline to Texas, Canadian politicians and energy executives are ratcheting up support for several big infrastructure projects aimed at redirecting the country’s growing oil output to thirsty Asian markets. “We favor the construction of infrastructure that will move resources to markets that want them,” in particular China and Asia, Canadian Energy Minister Joe Oliver said in an interview. Two proposed projects envision pumping crude from landlocked Alberta to the Pacific Ocean, where the oil could be shipped to Asia by sea. Canada is currently America’s largest oil provider. The fact that it is now seeing an alternative energy markets does not bode well for America, especially since oil is already near $100 per barrel.

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