American evangelist Pastor Paul Begley, known for his apocalyptic forecasts, says that the events going down in the Middle East forebode the end times. He believes that the recent outbreak of locusts in Saudi Arabia and Jordan is tied to Biblical prophecies.
The doomsayer substantiated his claims by citing Chapter 9 of the Book of Revelation, the last book of the New Testament, which describes the events leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus.
Chapter 9 details how swarms of locusts came out of a 'bottomless pit' and were ordered to attack people without the seal of God on their foreheads.
"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man."
In his weekly show The Coming Apocalypse, Begley insisted that these scenes are unfolding at the moment. "Whatever we got right now is bad," he said. "I believe it's a precursor to Revelation 9."
"Locusts swarming throughout Saudi Arabia and Iran, Jordan, and headed to the Red Sea, the Holy Land… Folks, we're living in the end times."
"How in the world do you explain a plague of locusts?"
The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) raised the alarm on the locust outbreak in northeast Africa and Saudi Arabia in February, saying that heavy rains and cyclones have boosted locust breeding since last October.
On 3 May, the FAO's Locust Watch announced that breeding had intensified in Iran and Saudi Arabia, and occurred on a smaller scale in southwest Pakistan.
"A few small adult groups moved from eastern Yemen to northern Oman where they laid eggs in April and limited control operations were conducted," the agency noted, saying that small-scale breeding is also expected to continue in Oman.
According to Iran's Agriculture Ministry, "unprecedented" swarms of insects have devastated farmlands in several provinces of the country, and a failure to bring the problem under control would jeopardise nearly $30 billion worth of agricultural products.