Truth, Understanding, Insight

Watchman what of the night? Part 4

30th August 2010, hej


With Britain's PM Cameron visiting Turkey, India and the United States we are seeing a revival of Britain's role in the Middle East, specifically in relationship to strengthening of a historic role in the Gulf states. This is linked to their role as a global merchant nation and the revival of London as the centre of world finance.

Britain's increasing role with Arabs

In a recent watchman we wrote of how Britain and Pakistan are drawing closer. Britain is increasingly taking a lead in the Middle East. On the 7th of August it is reported,

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron and US President Barack Obama agreed during a telephone conversation on Friday that there is an urgent need for Middle East peace talks, officials said.
Cameron spoke with Obama following his meeting with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari in London, Downing Street said.

Shortly after, as if the Anglo-American alliance had made an agreement, on the 15 of August it is reported,

The United States has approved a long list of arms sales to friendly Arab countries in the Persian Gulf aimed at countering Iran’s growing influence in the region.
The unprecedented sales could reach over $60 billion in pending deals with Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

On the same day there was an editorial on 'Israeli-Saudi interests'. As the title suggests, they note a change since 1981, when Saudi's were supporting the PLO,

TO FULLY appreciate the change in relations between Israel and the Saudis, it is instructive to revisit the 1981 AWAC surveillance planes deal. It was only through the sheer force of his personality that the newly elected US president Ronald Reagan managed to push the deal through Congress. ....In contrast, today, the US, Israel and the Saudis are on the same page as far as Iran is concerned. In fact, the Gulf states seem the most gung-ho about stopping Iran.

Part of the change has been due to Britain's role in Saudi Arabia which, significantly, was begun in 1986 (the very year of the European SEA treaty). Since then, according to one source (which is anti-armaments),

From 1992-94 the UK's arms sales to Saudi Arabia were 75 per cent of its total arms exports (House of Commons Defence Committee, 1999). These surprising figures are the result of the Al Yamamah deals, the huge UK arms sales initiated in 1986 and 1988.

Since 1945 Britain was happy to see America have the leading role.

A historic meeting between Ibn Saud and President Roosevelt in Alexandria signalled the beginning of a 'special relationship', whereby Saudi oil would flow to the US in return for US technology – and protection. ...the UK government, whose forces were exhausted by the war, was not displeased by an arrangement that helped to tie the US to the defence of the Middle East (Louis 1984, pp173-93). Notwithstanding the frictions caused by US support for the state of Israel, the US-Saudi relationship deepened over the following decades.(as above)

But this was disturbed in 1973 as the Saudis backed the Palestinians and caused the energy crisis. Though arms sales continued, in 1983 during the Lebanon war there was considerable tension and pressure placed on Israel, there was also pressure in the US to stop sales to Saudis (for the same reason). Interestingly the seeds were planted for the modern 'peace' plans, and the Saudis began to recognise Israel (with conditions)

In 1982 King Fahd made a proactive move towards an Arab-Israeli solution by proposing a peace plan which for the first time recognised Israel's right to exist provided certain conditions were met. Sir John Wilton's report on the Fahd Plan to the House of Commons on 31 March 1982 proves that the UK government was well aware of Saudi Arabia's economic power and how its loyalties could change in volatile times. (Source as above)

Then in 1984 Iran began seriously taking on the shipping of the Gulf nations and as a result Saudi Arabia shot down an Iranian plane. Then, a series of curious events in 1985 resulted in the agreement called Al Yamamah, 'the Dove ',

on 9 September, the UK government triumphantly announced a 'memorandum of understanding' between Defence Ministers Michael Heseltine and Prince Sultan bin Abd al-Aziz concerning the sale of military aircraft worth an estimated £4bn (Times, 27.9.85). Mrs Thatcher had already interrupted a rare holiday in July to meet Prince Sultan's son, Prince Bandar, in Salzburg to initial a less formal agreement (Observer, 10.5.92).
A French spokesman said that the UK deal was "unexpected, incomprehensible and catastrophic" and that "this brutal change [was] of a political nature" (Observer, 19.3.89). ..If the US administration was not able to sell planes itself, it would prefer the Saudi deal to go to its loyal UK ally, which had been cooperative over the attack on Libya, rather than to the French, whose relations with Washington were chronically uneasy. It has also been suggested that, from the Saudi point of view, there were tactical considerations. .. Saudi Arabia fell back on the multi-role Tornado.. Either way, this great success for the UK arms industry was achieved by courtesy of the US. An 'aviation official' was quoted as saying that "the American Jewish lobby has done us a favour" (Times, 18.9.85).

In this way the American Jewish lobby brought Britain back as the king of the South. In 1985 Israel was very unhappy with Britain, as the Saudis were still the enemy. In 1988 Al Yamamah II was described as

"the arms sale of the century", "the biggest [UK] sale ever of anything, to anyone", "staggering both by its sheer size and complexity" (Financial Times, 9.7.88).

Events were such that, with delays, the sale continued for a decade until 1998. Also the deal proposed Britain to invest in Saudi Arabia in that time. This has resulted in the Saudis dictating policy to Britain,

The UK's "overwhelming reliance" on Saudi contracts in the early nineties resulted in a "condition of dependency" which has repeatedly undermined the independence of its government (Cooper 1997, p149 & p134). UK government policy has frequently been dictated by the need to retain the Saudi market, often eroding public accountability and the integrity of government institutions..

This is repeated in the relationship with the UAE in relationship to the recent Dubai passports affair. The recent events are consistent with the history. Britain and the US have acted co-operatively, but Britain now is beginning to lead. It is to be noted that Britain has in the past been led by Saudi Arabia, as we see President Obama now also being led by the Saudis. From the Jerusalem Post editorial quoted above, Israel now isn't so worried about arms sales to Saudi Arabia. Whereas the Saudis once supported Israeli's enemies, now Iran is the common enemy, and the Palestinians are destabilising the Saudis themselves.

Step by step events have been leading these to an alliance in this order,

Sheba, and Dedan, and the merchants of Tarshish, with all the young lions thereof, (Ezekiel 38)

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states (with Yemen) are the leading voice, but Britain will be first and with them all 'the young lions', and they shall say as one,

“Art you come to take a spoil? have you gathered your company to take a prey? to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to take a great spoil?” (Ezekiel 38:13)

They have begun to unite thinking Iran (Persia) is their common enemy, but it is yet to emerge that the enemy will be Euro-Russia who even now is backing Iran (see jpost).

The remembrance of the Merchants of Tyre and their new Harlotry

Recent news reports have highlighted the re-emergence of Britain as Daniel's King of the South and Ezekiel's Merchant to Tarshish. After their withdrawal after the Suez crisis in 1956, it was tempting to think America would be the leading role in the king of the South. This shows that it is foolish to read the future by the present. As the sands are running out for the latter days, events should be falling into place.

It was predicted that the inheritor of Tyre (the 'daughter of Tarshish' through trade) would be 'forgotten' or 'mislaid' for 70 years, after which time she would 'return to hire' as a harlot. The absent minded loss of maritime supremacy began in the reign of Queen Elizabeth's father, and was hastened by their poor attitude to the establishment of the state of Israel in 1947-48. Britain bit by bit forgot or mislaid maritime trade.

The king of the south and the merchant of Tarhsish was clear at the turn of last century. From the 15th century

“the Merchant Fleet grew into the heart of the British Empire, bringing back all that Tea from China, the spices from the Orient, the fruits from Morocco and the gold from everywhere. Sailing ships became the heart of the spider web that connected Britain to its colonies and outlying Islands.” then, “Last Century sailing ships became steam ships and steam ships became fuel oil burning ships. Britain became in the middle of the last century the largest shipbuilder in the world with well over 70% of the ships being built in places like Newcastle, on the Clyde, in London and other famous Maritime Ports and Harbors of the UK. Britain also had the largest Maritime Fleet in the world and dominated Trade everywhere”

But then there was the forgetting, and it cannot be said better than by this Scottish based member of the Merchant Navy,

Thirty or so years ago the British Merchant Fleet size started to drop and the shipbuilding Industry started to wither away. Countries like Japan and Korea started building ships using cheaper labor and the cost of building a ship in the UK became prohibitive. Shipyards closed and workers were laid off in their thousands and these workers drifted into other occupations if they could or joined the long queues at the unemployment center. The fleet size reduced in their hundreds as companies either moved their ships to other flags (different countries for cheaper tax incentives) or sold off their fleets to foreign companies. The remaining British ships and the foreign ships sold laid off seafarers by the thousands and employed in their place cheaper crews from such places as India and China.
The British Merchant Navy dropped in size at such a rapid pace that it went from world dominance to nothing in a matter of a couple of years. The significance of the Merchant Fleet in the eyes of the public disappeared overnight and became an unknown quantity to the outside world.

But he has noticed a change,

Today things are improving. Recent Tax incentives by the British Government have caused a turn around and certain shipping companies have started to increase their fleet size under the British Flag and other companies have switched their ships operate in the UK. London as the center of Maritime Affairs managed to retain the title of “Marine Capital of the World"...London with its hundreds of Marine Insurance Firms, Brokerage Companies, Lawyers, Import/Export Houses and Ship Business and Consultants (amongst many other support arenas) brings in over one billion pounds per annum to the UK economy. That is London alone and does not include all the other companies and offices situated around the Islands....The Merchant Navy today is improving in stature and in size in the UK. Merchant Navy & internet

This is confirmed by another site

UK shipping The UK-owned fleet has grown nearly threefold from a lowpoint of 7.2m tonnes at end-1999 to 21.3m tonnes at end-2008. Much of the increase is due to inward investment by international shipping companies, which have taken advantage of the beneficial fiscal and operating environment for shipping and maritime business in the UK.

Dating the events to the Royal reign, as the context suggests, a turnaround should be expected from 2007, which we have already seen beginning to occur. However the singing as a harlot would be most noticed from 2015 onwards.

Of note is how Britain mislaid her great maritime navy, by forgetting it, while still somehow maintaining a reputation as “maritime capital” (if people thought about it, which they didn't). The revival began with a London Greek sponsored school,

“Professor Costas Th. Grammenos established The International Centre for Shipping Trade and Finance at London's Cass Business School, City University, in 1984. ...the first to introduce inter-relationships between shipping, trade, and finance”. and credited with re-establishing London's reputation

The revival is marked by London becoming the world's leading centre for marine insurance, and has been since 2001, rising to having 23% of all shipping insurance in 2006-7.( p6)

But more than that

“The 13 major international Clubs, insuring about 90% of world merchant tonnage, all maintain management offices in the UK.”

We can see that the trade of Tyre has been remembered now as in 2008 an unparalleled step of the formation of a unified lobby called “one voice” was taken,

“to secure the long-term future of UK-based shipping and wider maritime services by making sure the government receives and understands our messages clearly.”

The interesting point to note is that Britain might not be building ships, they might not have the most ships registered, but most of the shipping lanes eventually lead to London or Britain in one way or another. In terms of International shipping and piracy in the Indian Ocean and Gulf of Aden research “finds the money trail and finds all roads lead to one destination: London.” The success of Britain's negotiators for a hire in freeing ships “has led to some criticism, particularly in Spain, that London is profiting from crime.”

Source and Image Source

Ancient Tyre the daughter of Tarshish, wasn't so much herself trading, but others were using her as a centre for their trade, which is why she was likened to a harlot. In fact it does not matter who transports the goods as they are servants, but rather where the capital is raised to finance trade, and where the profit goes once it's traded. And after 2007, precisely as expected in terms of the dates of reign of the king, London again emerged as the World leader. It is no co-incidence that the World Trade Centre was lost in 2001 and is now called “Ground Zero” and consists of a bunch of towers with one called freedom tower.

World Trade Centre: London

In 2007 New York realised with worry that they had lost their lead status to London,

“Goldman had only 50 employees in London a quarter of a century ago but now has 6,500 there, and the number keeps rising....This reflects the flow of business....London is rapidly emerging as a center of financial innovation. .. London has also outgrown New York to become the world’s center of over-the-counter derivatives. ...But politicians from Michael Bloomberg to Chuck Schumer are concerned about London’s resurgence.

New York's leaders were concerned Britain achieved the 2012 Summer Olympics. In 2007 a report showed, “London has maintained its position as the world's leading financial centre, extending its lead over nearest rival New York”

The Global Financial Centres Index of 2010 lists the top ten financial centres and London is top (though equal)

=1 London

=1. United States New York City

3. Hong Kong (former British possession)

4. Singapore (member of Commonwealth)

5. Japan Tokyo

6. United States Chicago

7. Switzerland Zürich

8. Switzerland Geneva

=9. People's Republic of China Shenzhen

=9. Australia Sydney (Member of Commonwealth)

There is no doubt whatsoever that London in Britain is emerging again as Tyre. The Lord Mayor when speaking to the Chinese called it 'the City”,

I act as a worldwide ambassador (my italics) for the UK-based financial-services industry. The City of London and Wall Street are both international financial centres characterised by foreigners trading with each other. However New York has a much bigger domestic market whereas the City is truly international.
When I say 'City', I should point out that I represent the international financial and business services industry based in the UK, not just in the Square Mile - whether located across London or in regional centres. This industry is internationally-owned, internationally-staffed and international-managed.

Just as Ancient Tyre was a hub for international traders so is London. Just as Tyre traded in metals so to does London. According to the University of Florida,

"London, along with New York and Tokyo, is one of the world's three largest financial centres, with a dominant role in several international financial markets, including crossborder bank lending, international bond issuance and trading, foreign-exchange trading, over-the-counter derivatives, fund management and foreign equities trading. It also has the world's largest insurance market, the leading exchange for dealing in non-precious metals, the largest spot gold and gold lending markets, the largest shipbroking market, and more foreign banks and investment houses than any other centre."

In a report looking at change since 2003 in late 2005

London and New York have moved further ahead of Frankfurt and Paris as international financial centres. Indeed, those interviewed during the course of the research believe that there are only two genuinely global financial centres - London and New York

Britain dominated world trade in 1900, but rapidly was forgotten especially in the last 30 years as trade became global. A fair proportion of ships now are owned by multi-national conglomerates. Ships are often registered in a nation other than that of its operator and with the officers and and crew being different nationalities again, provided by hire companies based in two other entirely different countries. It should be pointed out that America was established based on the issue of the rights of the Englishman, and is therefore out of Britain. Britain, America and the young nations of Britain's Commonwealth were themselves instrumental in this. After WWII they opened up Germany and Japan and hosted Greece. And, as no others, they are still the voices for free trade.

The identifiable merchant navies listed in Wikipedia (which though not necessarily reliable does show opinion) belong to Britain, Canada, Greece, New Zealand, Poland, with the Swiss and the United States having Merchant Marines. Merchant navies and marines become part of a nation's war effort, if a nation goes to war.

Greece in 2006 had the largest number of 'Greek-owned' ships (which may sail under any number of flags) in the world, at approx. 16%, which shows how diffuse merchant trade is.

Greece and the Merchants

Originally Tyre's trade relocated to Alexandria with Alexander the great of Macedon. Isaiah stated Tyre would go to Kittim (Chittim) which is Macedonia, Cyprus, Cilicia and Italy. The Greeks (including Macedonia), just as those traders of Tyre had not one port but many.

But the main trading port of the large Greek fleet outside Greece was London,

“After The First World War, Greek-owned shipping firms continued to use Piraeus and London as their chief headquarters; however, numerous other locations were added as the network expanded beyond Europe and the Mediterranean.” ... The traditional ship-owning families in the twentieth century kept the customs of their ancestors....The most closed and exclusive circle of all was that of the so-called `London Greeks’.

The success of Greek shipping companies was due to their global location, and that success was due to London and New York. To run a successful shipping company they say,

The first is to achieve access to the main world maritime markets, London and New York; the second, to specialize in bulk cargoes; the third, a particular pattern of sales and purchases; and the fourth, to continue the historically high productivity of Greek crews....The practice of establishing Greek ship-owners in London was already 100 years old by the mid-twentieth century.”

In this we can note the truly international character of the Merchants. The Merchants of Tyre, were not necessarily of Tyre, but trade caused them to locate and trade from there. That Greece owes its success to a base in London indicates that London is the inheritor of Tyre. Greece illustrates how diffuse global trade is set up and how it was that ancient Tyre could attract traders, and the Greek experience in London illustrates how Tyre became the mart of the nations.

If Greece's shipping grew great due to London, then it shows that London dominates the sea of Tarshish which is the Mediterranean.

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