World News and Trends: The importance of sea gates

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The importance of sea gates

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The recent alleged rape of a Japanese girl by an American serviceman based on Okinawa has led to increased demands for the withdrawal of American troops from Japanese soil. Islanders were already demanding the withdrawal or the scaling back of the numbers of troops. Previous sexual assaults and other antisocial behavior have led to bad feelings on the part of native Japanese who live on the island.

Meanwhile President George W. Bush announced, over the opposition of military commanders, that the U.S. Navy would cease to use the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a practice-bombing range because of outspoken and increasing local opposition. British bases in Cyprus and Gibraltar are also threatened. These bases, historically important in keeping both ends of the Mediterranean open to shipping during times of war, are less popular now as memories of their historic importance diminish with time. Recently 40 police were injured when crowds attacked a British base at Akrotiri, Cyprus. Angry Cypriots were rioting against new surveillance technology the British were introducing, fearing that it could cause cancer.

It has been more than a year since a crippled British nuclear submarine, HMS Tireless, limped into the colonial port of Gibraltar after suffering a small crack in the coolant pipe leading from its reactor. The submarine had been on routine maneuvers off the coast of Sicily when it suffered damage, necessitating the vessel to put in to the nearest British naval base, thereby emphasizing the continuing need for bases around the world.

After months of arguing between the United Kingdom, Spain (which claims Gibraltar), Gibraltar itself and the European Commission, the British decided to repair the ship in Gibraltar's naval dockyards, claiming it was too risky to send the vessel home by sea. The presence of the Tireless has angered Spain and given Gibraltarians cause for concern about the possible consequences to their health from the damaged submarine. In 1967 citizens of the colony voted 12,138 to 44 to remain British and have continued to resist Spanish claims to "the Rock," as Gibraltar is often called, since.

Although Spain claims the Rock, Britain has ruled it longer than Spain itself ruled it. British and Dutch troops captured Gibraltar during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1704, after only two centuries of Spanish control. The 1713 Treaty of Utrecht formally ceded it to Britain.

The colony's location at the mouth of the Mediterranean has made it a strategically important base for three centuries. During World War II Gibraltar was an important British air and naval base and was used by the Allies during the invasion of North Africa and in antisubmarine campaigns. It has more recently been used as a stopover for British troops in service in Sierra Leone. The strategic bases that the British and Americans have possessed were part of the blessings promised to Abraham's seed in Genesis 22:17 Genesis 22:17That in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is on the sea shore; and your seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;
American King James Version×
: ". . . Your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies." The loss of such strategic possessions is part of God's prophesied punishment for disobedience, that He would "break the pride of your power" (Leviticus 26:19 Leviticus 26:19And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass:
American King James Version×
). During the 1990s the two nations lost their bases and strategic territory in the Philippines, Panama and Hong Kong. Indications are they will suffer further strategic losses in the new decade. (To better understand how these trends fit in with biblical prophecy, request your free copy of The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy )