World Watch Today

Putin Plans to Establish New Eurasian Union

Recent moves by Moscow to re-establish its former sphere of influence throughout Central Asia and Eastern Europe have begun to cause alarm in Europe. In February of this year, Russia, together with Kazakhstan and Belarus, established the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC), an entity intended to be the first step towards integrating the three nations into a close economic and political alliance – a Eurasian union similar to the European Union. Last week, news site Euractiv reported on a presentation by the Russian Permanent Representative to the EU in Brussels, where representatives of the new EEC attempted to dispel concerns amongst EU leaders by claiming that this development will be good for business.

Despite representations from Moscow that a Eurasian union will be a positive step for establishing better economic relations, foreign policy experts tend to see the move as part of Russian President Putin’s overall plan to recapture a portion of the old Soviet Union’s sphere of influence. Part of that plan has also focused on the Ukraine. In a recent presentation to reporters, representatives of the Lithuanian government warned that Ukraine was in danger of falling under Russian control because of growing isolation between it and the European Union.

Concerns in Europe over the pro-Russian Ukrainian government’s treatment of the political opposition have led to a break down in diplomatic relations between Brussels and Kiev. Lithuania and other Eastern European members of the EU see this as a repeat of the situation that led to neighboring Belarus’ decision to break off relations with the West and embrace Russia. Commenting specifically on the failure of the West to cultivate relations with Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko, a Lithuanian government advisor provided the following comparison, as reported by Euractiv:

“Lukashenko got frightened, he started behaving irrationally and we then completely shut the door. And what happened: he went to Russia. He sold some of his assets, but he became more and more dependent on Russia. We are moving toward the same scenario with Ukraine.

If Ukraine were to cut loose ties to the EU, it could well mean that it would seek to join the new Eurasian union when it is created, and thus bolster the Russian dominated bloc’s political power.

What these recent developments seem to suggest is that a growing tug-of-war over countries that lie on the fringes of the EU is developing between Moscow and Brussels. What will be interesting is whether the European Union will be able to solidify a common response to Russia’s growing boldness towards extending its political hegemony over its neighbors.

WWT Radio:  Europe’s unification and end-time prophecy.

In the near term, Russia appears set to push its plans for establishing the new Eurasian union by 2015, complete with a common currency and parliament. Below is a news clip from Al Jazeera English covering this development.


Eye on Europe

Muslim Brotherhood Spiritual Guide: "Wage Jihad Against Israel"

Steven LeBlanc

The Muslim Brotherhood’s supreme spiritual guide, Chairman Muhammad Badi– said last week that waging jihad against Israel is an act of duty for every Muslim. Jihad Watch believes Badi is the true power behind Egypt’s presidency, with Morsi (recently elected President), acting as his puppet.

According to a recent edition of Al Wafd, during his weekly sermon, “Muhammad Badi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, confirmed the necessity for every Muslim to strive to save al-Quds [Jerusalem] from the hands of the rapists [Israelis] and to cleanse Palestine from the clutches of the occupation, deeming this an individual duty for all Muslims.”

The Muslim Brotherhood [Egypt] seeks to gain a following via a campaign of deception and penetration in Arab nations that have friendly relations with the West. The United States has now become a de facto enabler of a hatred driven ideology that ultimately seeks destruction of the Jewish nation in the Middle East.

Badi also stated that he believed Mubarak’s government had become weak because it had not subscribed to “Allah’s commandment to wage jihad…so that Allah’s word will reign supreme” over all non-Muslims. An Egyptian newspaper is reporting that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton travels to meet Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi on Saturday July 14th.

We believe that the Bible reveals that Egypt will play a major role in end time events. The pivotal Middle East prophecy of Daniel 11 clearly states that “the land of Egypt shall not escape” the military invasion by the king of the North (verse 42), launched in retaliation to provocation by the leader of an end-time Muslim alliance lead by the king of the South (verse 40).

Cyprus Takes Over EU Presidency and Seeks Help From Russia


Cyprus takes over the Presidency of the European Union this month, and thus the President of Cyprus, Dimitris Christofias (pictured left), will now serve as the ‘head of state of the EU’. Mr. Christofias is a communist, which means that over twenty years after the fall of the Iron Curtain, Europe will now be led by a Russian educated communist politician. Be that as it may, the position of “President of the EU” is largely ceremonial and administrative, and comes with little real, political power. What is more interesting, in terms of the long term ability of the EU to function, is that Cyprus has recently applied for a financial bailout, as the fifth EU member state to succumb to the European debt crisis. However, what makes Cyprus a bit different than its European counterparts is that it is also seeking a bail-out from Russia – in addition to the EU.

Why does that matter? In terms of economics, Cyprus is a relatively small economy, thus it does not have a great impact on the rest of Europe in the economic sense. But from a political standpoint, what this indicates is that Russia (and possibly China) may be seeking a role in helping certain European countries – those which are its “ friends” – in these difficult times. Those who accept Chinese or Russian money would certainly be expected to reciprocate with a pliant foreign policy.

Not since the fall of the Iron Curtain has Russia had client states within the boundaries of the current EU, but could that change if individual EU members start to look to China and Russia to help them? If so, how would Germany react to having its efforts to lead the EU undermined by Russian financial assistance to those member states who resent Berlin’s austerity measures? An interesting development – we’ve posted a short news summary covering the assumption of the EU Presidency by Cyprus.

WWT Radio: Does Bible prophecy reveal that Europe will be unified in the end time?

Eye on Europe



President of the European Commission Lashes Out at British Conservatives and European Leaders

Interesting excerpt below. European Commission President Barroso delivered a fiery speech to the EU Parliament on the issue of unity earlier this week. A couple of takeaways from this five minute segment: First, President Barroso singles out British Conservative members of the European Parliament for expressing satisfaction and even glee over the troubles in the eurozone. Noting that their party leader, British Prime-Minister David Cameron, maintains a pro-eurozone line, President Barroso blasts the Conservative members of the European Parliament for undermining European unity at this time of crisis. This highlights the growing problem faced by Mr. Cameron, where members of his own party are becoming increasingly vocal in their anti-EU statements, while he attempts to maintain a diplomatic posture in favor of the euro currency. Second, at the end of the five minute excerpt, Barroso chides leaders of the member states for squabbling during the crisis. Interestingly, Mr. Barroso recalls Europe’s violent, war-torn history in admonishing leaders to show unity, and not give in to historical prejudices and divides. He makes the point that the “European project”, a reference to the EU, came about as a means of ensuring peace on the continent. It is worth remembering that many European leaders see the EU as a guardian of intra-European peace. This partly explains why there is such reluctance to see Greece exit the eurozone, despite its economic mismanagement. There is a lot more than just economic cooperation vested in the success of the European Union. The question then becomes, to what lengths are political leaders willing to go to ensure that the EU or some form thereof, succeeds?

WWT Radio: Europe’s role in end-time prophecy.


Eye on Europe


Morality at the Heart of London Banking Scandal

The prestige which comes with hosting the Olympics is just a short time away from being bestowed on London, yet this famous city is now dogged by a scandal that threatens to undermine one of the key economic pillars of its success. In recent weeks, an investigation involving Barclays Bank, the fourth largest bank in the world has enveloped the financial center of this city forcing the resignation of a number of high profile executives and further casting doubt on its future as a leading capital of international finance.

The scandal concerns the manipulation by traders at Barclays of what is known as the London Interbank Offered Rate or LIBOR: the average interest rate estimated by leading banks in London that they would be charged if borrowing from other banks. This rate is set by the British Banker’s Association, based upon data provided by its members, such as Barclays. The scandal has errupted due to revelations that Barclays’ employees succesfully manipulated LIBOR rates for their own gain,  through the  submission of false data. The following excerpt from an Australian newspaper describes the scandal:

At the height of the financial crisis, the British investment bank lowered its Libor submissions to give the illusion it was in better financial shape than its true borrowing costs were reflecting. In its defence, Barclays claims other banks were already underpricing their own Libor rate submissions. This left Barclays exposed as an outlier while submitting accurate rates (see chart) potentially stoking concerns over its health. But regulators claim the rate-rigging occurred as early as 2006, suggesting trading profits were also a motivation. Barclays has been fined the equivalent of $440 million by regulators in the US and Britain.

The scandal now seems to go beyond just Barclays,  stretching deeper into the heart of British banking. In particular, WSJ reports that the evidence implicates the involvement of the Bank of England, and its assumed next director:

The Libor affair isn’t solely a Barclays problem. In the U.K., the scandal has quickly touched other top figures in the British political and finance establishment. That is partly because Mr. Diamond sought to deflect some of the blame by saying that Mr. del Missier, one of his deputies, believed that by lowering Barclays’s Libor submissions he was acting at the behest of a top Bank of England official, Paul Tucker. That allegation is explosive, since Mr. Tucker has been regarded as a front-runner to become the central bank’s next governor.

The LIBOR rate is used the world over as a standard for setting interest rates in international financial and trading contracts, foreign housing mortgages and even by central banks, such as the Swiss National Bank. Thus the fact that it was wrongfully manipulated has implications that go far beyond the domestic, British economy.  The following excerpt from the Economist explains:

IT IS among the most important prices in finance. So allegations that LIBOR (the London inter-bank offered rate) has been manipulated are a serious worry. LIBOR is meant to be a measure of banks’ own borrowing costs, and is used as the foundation for a host of other interest rates. Everyone is affected by LIBOR: it influences the payments made on mortgages and personal loans, and those received on investments and pensions.

The Economist, in the same article, estimates that LIBOR affects 360 trillion US dollars worth of financial contracts – almost five times the global domestic product.

Find our more about LIBOR from this short video by Euronews.

One may ask, if the LIBOR rate is of such importance for the world economy, why is it set in London by the British Bankers Association? The simple answer is trust. Centuries of good practice, rule of law, consistent respect for private property by the government, and a culture of hard work, have made London a financial center renowned for being trustworthy. Thus as the global financial industry has grown and developed, institutions like LIBOR have become poles around which other markets orient their transactions.

But because of this scandal, London is now rocked by questions over its trustworthiness as a custodian of institutions like LIBOR. The information that has been released by the inquiry into Barclays’ practices has shocked the financial community around the world, as quotes from contemporary emails reveal bankers and traders joking and congratulating one another as they engage in, what appears to be, blatant attempts to fraudulently rig the LIBOR rate for personal and company-wide gain. In one email, widely cited as an example of the cultural decadence pervasive in London, traders from two separate banks agree to split an extremely expensive bottle of champagne after submitting false data as part of this fraudulent scheme.

Referring to it as “sickening”, “immoral” and “disgusting”, politicians, senior bankers and commentators have condemned the practices revealed by this evidence. On his Tuesday show, CNN International’s financial reporter, Richard Quest harangued guests and delivered desk pounding monologue arguing that the banking industry was becoming rotten to its core. Some might say, however, that these protestations to shock and outrage by British politicians and leaders are a self-serving attempt to get ahead of this story. The truth, as Financial Times columnist, Martin Wolf, points out, is this scandal reveals that western banks, in particular those in London, cannot be trusted any longer to be honest brokers:

My interpretation of the Libor scandal is the obvious one: banks, as presently constituted and managed, cannot be trusted to perform any publicly important function, against the perceived interests of their staff. Today’s banks represent the incarnation of profit-seeking behaviour taken to its logical limits, in which the only question asked by senior staff is not what is their duty or their responsibility, but what can they get away with.

For all the discussion of complex interest rates, international finance and high level corporate life, the problem boils down to simply a choice to tell the truth or lie.  In London, this recent scandal has revealed that the city harbors a culture struggling with this basic issue of morality – a problem which now threatens to undermine its long held reputation as a standard setting capital of finance. As sad as that is, one cannot help but acknowledge the irony that this scandal has erupted on the eve of London’s hosting of the Olympic Games – an event that is supposed to uphold honest competition as a preeminent virtue.

Eye on Europe


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