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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
9 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A Palestinian woman reacts following what police said was an Israeli airstrike on a house in Gaza City on 9 July. The Israeli army intensified its offensive on the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, striking Hamas sites and killing dozens of people in a military operation it says is aimed at quelling rocket fire against Israel. (photo: CNS/Majdi Fathi, Reuters)

Holy Land bishops criticize ‘collective punishment’ of Palestinians (CNS) Catholic leaders in the Holy Land called for an end to the cycle of violence and criticized Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and its collective punishment of Palestinians. “Using the death of the three Israelis to exact collective punishment on the Palestinian people as a whole and on its legitimate desire to be free is a tragic exploitation of tragedy and promotes more violence and hatred,” said an 8 July statement from the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries of the Holy Land…

Gaza hospitals struggle to treat wounded (Al Jazeera) As Israel continues to pound Gaza with air strikes — carrying out 50 bombings overnight and more throughout the day on Tuesday — Dr. Ayman al Sahbani expresses concern about the capacity of the territory’s hospitals to attend to the many injured. Gaza also suffers from a shortage of medicine and medical supplies, Gaza’s Health Ministry spokesman, Ashraf al Qedra, told Al Jazeera. Gaza is completely missing about 30 percent of essential drugs, while 15 percent of the remainder is expected to be exhausted within days of an Israeli assault, he said…

Report: Israeli forces stole $3 million during West Bank raids (Euro-Mid Observer) During the course of Israel’s three-week campaign of mass arrests in the West Bank, ostensibly to search for the killers of three settlers, the Israeli military and police conducted an average of 18 raids per day into Palestinian homes, charities and businesses, stealing cash and property worth an estimated $3 million, documents a new report from the Euro-Mid Observer for Human Rights…

Head of Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Moscow Patriarchate dies at 78 (ABC News) The head of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church has died at 78 after leading it for more than two decades during the tumultuous post-Soviet period. Metropolitan Volodymyr Sabodan, who had been credited with stabilizing the church, died Saturday “after a long illness,” the church announced online Saturday. In his more than 20 years as head of the country’s largest church, Metropolitan Volodymyr weathered the breakaway of two groups that declared themselves independent of the Moscow Patriarchate. Observers say he succeeded in preventing even more splits…

Syria’s war widows fight for survival (Al Jazeera) According to United Nations figures, more than 145,000 Syrian refugee women have become the sole breadwinners for their families, struggling to provide food and shelter for their children and often facing harassment, humiliation and isolation. A report released Tuesday by UNHCR says that one in four Syrian households living in four major countries of refuge — Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Egypt — are headed by lone women…

Inside an Iraqi Christian ghost town (Al Jazeera) Christians are only 2 percent of Iraq’s mostly Muslim population. And while they have little to do with the ongoing fighting, as I witnessed in the Christian village of Qaraqosh in Northern Iraq this week, they’re suffering the consequences…



Tags: Syria Iraq Refugees Israeli-Palestinian conflict Ukrainian Orthodox Church

8 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Residents of Gaza are picking through the rubble of flattened homes on Tuesday morning, after Israel launched what could be an offensive against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (video: Washington Post/AP)

Israel launches major operation against Hamas in Gaza Strip (Washington Post) The Israeli army, air force and navy launched a major operation Tuesday against the Islamist militant group Hamas in the Gaza Strip, striking dozens of sites in the coastal enclave and mobilizing infantry troops along the border for a possible ground incursion designed to stop rocket attacks on Israel. Israel announced the beginning of “Operation Protective Edge” to strike Hamas and protect southern Israeli citizens from intensified rocket fire from Gaza…

Kidnappings of Copts are increasing, appeal to President Sisi (Fides) The Coalition of the Copts, an active organization in the Egyptian governorate of Qena, has addressed an urgent appeal to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi and to the Egyptian Interior Ministry to ask for action against the scourge of seizures, affecting with particular virulence the Christians of Coptic confession in the areas of Upper Egypt. In the city area of Nag Hammadi alone, there have been 72 kidnappings for ransom in the past three years…

We need to help Iraq’s Christians, before it’s too late (Vatican Radio) “The situation was already bleak but now it has got a whole deal worse. For the first time the ever, the bishops have raised the doomsday scenario of an Iraq emptied of Christians,” reports John Pontifex, spokesman for the UK branch of the global Catholic Aid Agency, Aid to the Church in Need…

Recent events in Lebanon threaten religious coexistence (Al Monitor) A new concern has been added to the fears of the Lebanese people, whose Muslim community in this confessional country is fasting during the holy month of Ramadan. The security concern that surfaced in debates and discussions even before the start of Ramadan on 28 June has now taken the shape of bombs and immediate threats to non-Muslim Lebanese and other residents in Lebanon. For decades, Lebanon has prided itself on being the only place of religious and cultural diversity in the Middle East. However, it seems that this situation has now changed…

Ukraine rebels retreat for last stand (New York Times) Separatist rebels retreated Monday from positions in eastern Ukraine, apparently blowing up bridges, and began building barricades in the two largest cities, Donetsk and Luhansk, in anticipation of a final stand against advancing government troops. The action on Monday came after a series of surprising successes by Ukraine’s underequipped and underfunded military, which in recent days has driven the rebels from some strongholds that were seized early in the three-month rebellion. It has accomplished this without encountering strong resistance or a reaction from Moscow…



Tags: Ukraine Violence against Christians Gaza Strip/West Bank Israeli-Palestinian conflict Copts

7 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Pope Francis tosses a wreath of flowers into the Mediterranean Sea off the Italian island of Lampedusa in this 2013 photo. The pope threw a wreath to honor the memory of immigrants who have died trying to cross from Africa to reach a new life in Europe. Marking the first anniversary of his Lampedusa visit, the pope said the the tragic deaths of thousands searching for a better future should trigger compassion and action, not indifference. (photo: CNS)

Pope Francis sends message to mark Lampedusa anniversary (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has sent a Message to mark the first anniversary of his pastoral visit to the island of Lampedusa, which is a major way-point for irregular migrants from North Africa who seek to enter Europe…

Eduard Shevardnadze, Soviet foreign minister under Gorbachev, is dead at 86 (New York Times) Eduard A. Shevardnadze, who as Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s foreign minister helped hone the “new thinking,” foreign and domestic, that transformed and ultimately rent the Soviet Union, then led his native Georgia through its turbulent start as an independent state, died Monday. He was 86. In 1992, he was baptized into the Georgian Orthodox Church, taking the name Georgy…

Besieged Palestinians in Syria refugee camp ‘will likely go hungry’ (U.N. News Center) Unable for more than a month now to deliver food and other supplies to Palestinians trapped in a refugee camp near Damascus, the United Nations agency tasked with ensuring their well-being said today it is urgently seeking to resume its humanitarian activities, warning that the civilians would likely go hungry…

Hamas: Israeli air strikes in Gaza kill 6 of its men (Daily Star Lebanon) Israeli air strikes killed six Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip Monday, the Islamist group said, in the deadliest attacks in a surge of violence exacerbated by the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli youths and a Palestinian teen…

Sisi: Egypt should have deported journalists (Al Jazeera) Egypt’s president has said he wished journalists jailed in his country had been deported rather than tried, less than two weeks after three Al Jazeera staff were sentenced to seven years in prison for “aiding a terrorist group.” Abdel Fattah al Sisi was reported by the Al Masry al Youm newspaper as telling a meeting of local editors that the trials had hurt Egypt…

Egypt’s Copts may soon regret supporting Sisi (Al Monitor) Most Coptic Christians will tell you that anything is better than the Muslim Brotherhood. Thus, the unequivocal support for current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi among Copts was no surprise. But now with the devastating curb of freedom of expression and the widespread crackdown on journalists and activists, the Coptic Orthodox Church is finding out, Copts, too, are not safe from the new government’s oppressive measures…

Christians displaced again by Iraqi violence (Al Monitor) An estimated 10,000 Christians have been displaced from the Nineveh plains to Iraqi Kurdistan during the past few days as a result of raids by the Islamic State, formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), surrounding the majority-Christian Hamdaniya district. Al Monitor has confirmed that shelters for displaced persons have been opened in the town of Ain Kawa, in Erbil province…



Tags: Pope Francis Gaza Strip/West Bank United Nations Georgia Immigration

3 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees line up to receive free food inside the Khazer camp on the outskirts of Erbil, Iraq, 29 June. Archbishop Bashar Matte Warda of Erbil told Catholic New Service by telephone on 28 June the situation was going “from bad to worse.” (photo: CNS/Stringer, Reuters)

Iraqis flee to Kurdistan region (Al Jazeera) Since ISIL seized Mosul earlier this month, long-standing sectarian and regional rifts permeating Iraq have created a landscape that many now worry is irrevocably fragmented. However, because the fighting has largely been driving southward, and because of the presence of a well-trained Kurdish armed force, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in the north has remained largely stable. This stability has drawn hundreds of thousands of people fleeing Mosul and the surrounding areas…

Tensions spike along Gaza border amid airstrikes as Israeli troops deploy (Christian Science Monitor) Israeli airstrikes against Hamas targets in Gaza overnight and the return fire of 14 rockets into southern Israel is intensifying concerns of a full-blown conflict after the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers as well as a Palestinian teen…

Authorities dismiss threats against Christians in the Bekaa (Daily Star Lebanon) Lebanese authorities Thursday dismissed threats by a shadowy militant group against churches in the Bekaa Valley as bogus, a security source told The Daily Star. The so-called Free Sunni Brigades in Baalbek is nothing more than a group with a Twitter account, the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said. “Security forces do not take this group seriously ... but the nationwide security plan inherently provides reinforcements outside places of worship,” the source added…

Chechen in Syria a rising star in extremist group (Washington Post) A young, red-bearded ethnic Chechen has rapidly become one of the most prominent commanders in the breakaway Al Qaeda group that has overrun swaths of Iraq and Syria, illustrating the international nature of the movement. Omar al Shishani, one of hundreds of Chechens fighting in Syria, has emerged as the face of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, appearing frequently in its online. Syria’s civil war, in its fourth year, has attracted militants from around the world. Some estimates run as high as 10,000 foreign fighters in the country. But the Chechens — hardened from years of wars with Russia in the Caucasus region — are considered some of the best fighters…

Reaching out to Eritrea: Italy seeks to encourage end to isolation (Vatican Radio) After the tragedy of the boat that sank off Italy’s Southern Island of Lampedusa, came Pope Francis’ first the appeal for a global response. Recently, Catholic bishops in Eritrea issued a pastoral letter calling on Eritreans to do some soul searching. Now Italy is reaching out to the Eritrean government. The Italian deputy minister of foreign affairs, Lapo Pistelli, visited Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki to restart Italian-Eritrean relations…

Andra Pradesh bishops launch web network for Dalit youth (Vatican Radio) Spearheaded by Jesuit Father Dusi Ravi, the rector of Andhra Loyola College, Indian bishops have launched a network for Dalit youth to help them share information on jobs, scholarships and other opportunities…



Tags: Syrian Civil War Israeli-Palestinian conflict Iraqi Refugees Eritrea Indian Bishops

2 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Violence in eastern Ukraine has resumed following the expiration of the cease-fire. According to residents of Kramatorsk, the first bombshells slammed into the city just minutes after the cease-fire ended. (video: Al Jazeera)

Palestinian teen killed in suspected revenge attack by Israeli settlers (Al Jazeera) A 16-year-old Palestinian boy from East Jerusalem was abducted and killed early Wednesday by Israeli settlers, Israeli police said — a suspected act of revenge for the killing of three Israeli youths that comes amid heightened tensions. The murder highlights a growing fear that there will be more cases of violence not between the Israeli military and Palestinian armed groups, but by vigilante groups on both sides taking matters into their own hands…

Latin patriarch of Jerusalem calls for end to cycle of revenge (Fides) “It is not worthy of political and religious leaders to support, feed and foment revenge. Revenge calls for revenge, blood calls for blood. And innocent people who are killed, all the children killed, are victims sacrificed on the diabolical altars of hatred. We pray for the parents and families of all these young people kidnapped and killed,” said Fouad Twal, Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, regarding the news of the slain Palestinian teen…

Christians find refuge, aid in biblical Iraqi town (AINA) The advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has left few safe havens for Iraq’s Christians. Many fleeing Christians found refuge in parts of Iraqi Kurdistan, such as the northern Ninevah town of Alqosh. Alqosh is mentioned in the Bible — it was the hometown of the Old Testament prophet Nahum. Today, it is one of the rare all-Christian cities in the region…

Iraq will disintegrate, Chaldean leader predicts (Aleteia) Patriarch Louis Rafael I, head of the Chaldean Church, spoke with international Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need on 28 June. The patriarch reported no hope that Iraq will remain a single, unified state. “Perhaps a symbolic unit and the name of Iraq will continue to exist,” he said, “but de facto there will be three independent zones with their own budgets and armies…”

Pope says there are more Christian martyrs today than ever (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis said on Monday that there are more persecuted Christians in the world today than there were in the first centuries of Christianity. The pope’s words came as he celebrated Mass at the Casa Santa Marta on the day in which the church remembers the first Roman martyrs who were martyred during Nero’s persecution in 64…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Violence against Christians Iraqi Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict

1 July 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




The parents of Naftali Frankel attend his funeral service in Nof Ayalon, Israel, on 1 July. Ayalon was one of three Israeli teens found dead in a West Bank field 18 days after they disappeared trying to hitchhike home. Israel blamed the Islamist movement Hamas and launched targeted airstrikes into the Gaza Strip. (photo: CNS/Jim Hollander, EPA)

Israel launches airstrikes on Gaza, forces kill teen in West Bank (Al Jazeera) Israeli aircraft bombed dozens of sites in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, soldiers shot and killed a Palestinian teenager during an arrest raid in the occupied West Bank, and violent settler attacks against Palestinians were reported overnight. The violence came after Israel found the bodies of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank after they went missing on 12 June. Israel has blamed Hamas for the teens’ abduction near a Jewish settlement, though it has not provided evidence to support that allegation…

Chaldean patriarch appeals for the release of the abductees (Fides) Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I has made a public appeal to “those who are holding the nuns and orphans kidnapped in Mosul three days ago” to release their captives…

Iraqi archbishop: Christians ‘fed up’ with situation in the country (Vatican Radio) The new Iraqi parliament has convened amid international pressure on lawmakers to quickly choose a new prime minster who can confront the ISIS offensive that threatens to rip the country apart. The conflict left 2,400 civilians dead in June, many of them women and children, and the Islamists are threatening the capital. According to Chaldean Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil, many members of the Christian community are thinking seriously about leaving the country…

Eastern patriarchs deplore regional violence (Daily Star Lebanon) The patriarchs of Eastern churches Tuesday deplored raging violence in Iraq and Syria that has caused massive displacement of people, calling to maintain the Christian presence in region’s war-torn countries and preserve their lands. Maronite Patriarch Bechara Peter, Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III, Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignatius Joseph III, Syrian Orthodox Patriarch Ignatius Aphrem II and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Youhanna X attended the conference…

Ukrainian forces attack separatists in east as cease-fire ends (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian government forces attacked pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine Tuesday, shortly after President Petro Poroshenko ended a ten-day cease-fire that failed to calm violence in the restive region. The resumption of what the government calls an antiterrorism operation will intensify fighting in the east. It also raises uncertainty over how Moscow — which officially supported the cease-fire, while also massing troops along the Ukrainian border — will respond. Russian President Vladimir Putin is scheduled to make a foreign policy speech later Tuesday…

Female prisoners in Egypt suffer rampant abuse (Al Monitor) At a time when the Egyptian government has recognized the need to stop physical and sexual violence against women, human rights organizations have registered dozens of cases of physical abuse against women in Egyptian prisons pending trial for political issues. On 23 June, ten Egyptian human rights organizations filed a joint complaint — of which Al Monitor obtained a copy — with the Egyptian general prosecutor. They requested that the latter quickly investigate the complaints of female prisoners being subject to torture and physical and sexual abuse, and demanded that protection be speedily provided if the complaints are shown to be valid…



Tags: Middle East Christians Iraqi Christians Israeli-Palestinian conflict Eastern Churches Patriarchs

30 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Rana, a 31-year-old a Syrian refugee living in Jordan, adjusts her 8-year-old daughter’s hair at their home at a refugee camp in Amman on 2 May. (photo: CNS/Muhammad Hamed, Reuters)

Syrian women refugees suffer in Jordan (Al Monitor) Most Syrian refugees in Jordan live in cities, outside of the camps set up to accommodate them. The suffering of refugee women adds a new chapter to the suffering of women in general in Jordan. Women are subjected to various forms of violence, among them domestic violence, which includes beatings at the hands of their husbands, sexual abuse of female children and violence related to forced marriage. This is in addition to pre-existing societal violence — rape, sexual abuse, harassment at the workplace and in education institutions and more. Moreover, this violence includes the trafficking of women, forced prostitution and forced labor…

Israeli police forcibly end African migrant protest (Christian Science Monitor) Israeli police today forcibly broke up a three-day desert sit-in by hundreds of African migrants who bolted a detention center to march toward the Egyptian border, where they were rebuffed by Egyptian soldiers. The march and sit-in marked a new defiance of Israeli government policy, which recently began ordering African migrants who entered the country illegally years ago to leave work and homes in Israeli cities and report to the Holot desert detention camp. Photographs uploaded to Twitter by human rights activists showed police dragging migrants to buses…

For Iraqi Christians, return to captured city is fraught mandate (NPR) Mosul is northern Iraq’s largest city and the takeover by ISIS has prompted an exodus of the last remaining Iraqi Christians there. The seizure raised fears that a thousand years of Christian culture would vanish. But in recent days, some Christian families have returned to Mosul and surrounding villages. And soon the archbishop of the Chaldean Church will join them. NPR’s Deborah Amos caught up with him in nearby Erbil…

Ecumenical patriarch sends greetings to pope on Sts. Peter and Paul feast (Vatican Radio) Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew has expressed his “sincere gratitude” for the series of encounters this year with Pope Francis in a letter marking the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. The patriarch was represented by a special delegation at the Mass marking the feast in St. Peter’s Basilica, where the pallium was given to new archbishops…

Egyptian law seeks to control political speech at mosques (Al Monitor) Enforcement of Egypt’s new Law of Oration, which regulates Friday sermons in mosques, shut down hundreds of small mosques with unlicensed imams in Egypt. Moreover, dozens of citations were issued against imams who took the pulpit in mosques without a permit. The law stipulates that religious oration and lessons may only be conducted by Al Azhar graduates who hold a permit from the Ministry of Endowments…



Tags: Syria Refugees Iraqi Christians Migrants Women

27 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A girl kisses her wounded father in a hospital on 5 June after a car bomb attack the previous day in Hilla, Iraq. The bomb killed at least 14 people, police and medical sources said. (photo: CNS/Alaa al Marjani, Reuters)

Iraqi Christians live in fear of ISIS (Der Spiegel) Iraq is a culturally divided country, and in cities like Qaraqosh this division is most evident. There are few places in the Middle East that are home to as many Christians as the population of 40,000 residing here, with 12 churches rising above the city like stone sentinels. Two weeks ago, radical Islamist ISIS militants seized control of Mosul and then proceeded to advance to within seven kilometers of the Christians. The people of Qaraqosh have been living in a state of fear ever since…

Even in Iraq’s refugee camps, sectarian divide is apparent (Al Jazeera) Many of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who used to live in Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, are filling up refugee camps in the Kurdish region that — like the fighting — is itself divided along ethnic and religious lines…

Ukraine signs landmark accord with E.U. (Washington Post) Ukraine on Friday signed a landmark trade deal to bind itself to the European Union, a monumental step that came in defiance of months of Russian efforts to block the country from turning westward. The agreement will have “serious consequences” for Ukraine’s relationship with Russia, a top Russian diplomat said immediately after the signing ceremony in Brussels. The decision was also sure to complicate efforts to end more than two months of separatist violence in eastern Ukraine…

Aleppo’s water crisis adds to local suffering (Al Monitor) Aside from the horrors of indiscriminate targeting and bombing of civilians, the people of Aleppo have had to endure orchestrated campaigns of sieges and deliberate starvation. A crumbling infrastructure and collapsed public services mean that for many, what once were basics were now luxury items, well out of reach. With lack of access to utilities and basic health care, new forms of death threaten the inhabitants of this unfortunate land. Now, rebel attempts to cut the water supply to regime-held areas have backfired, disrupting drinking water supplies to the entire city…

Priest in Ethiopia decries poverty stemming from unjust economic system (Fides) Poverty in Africa is the result of a global economy based on injustice. Chronic hunger seems a completely normal phenomenon. “No one can imagine the horror of the consequences of poverty,” says Father Ángel Olaran of the White Fathers, who has been in Tanzania for twenty years and for the same number of years in one of the poorest regions of Ethiopia where people die of hunger…

Pope to ROACO: Continue work, pray for families (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches — ROACO — on Thursday. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered during the audience, Pope Francis confirmed his closeness to all the churches of the East…



Tags: Iraq Iraqi Christians Aleppo Water ROACO

26 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Members of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces take their positions during clashes with the militant Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in the city of Ramadi on 19 June. (photo: CNS/Reuters)

Clashes between Kurds and Islamists, Christians fleeing Qaraqosh (Fides) On 25 June, Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) attacked the city of Qaraqosh, situated in the Nineveh Plain, about 17 miles from Mosul, home to many Chaldean Christians. The Kurdish militia repelled the attack thanks to the intervention of contingent reinforcement from Iraqi Kurdistan. Local sources consulted by Fides Agency confirm that the clashes have caused many deaths on both sides, and that since Wednesday evening, the civilian population has begun to flee en masse from Qaraqosh and other predominantly Christian villages in the region, heading towards Erbil and safer areas of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan…

Vatican embassy official talks about Syrian and Iraqi situation (Vatican Radio) Lebanon is hosting more than a million refugees from the civil war in neighboring Syria, a greater number than any other nation. More recently, the insurgency in Iraq by the ISIS Islamic militants is causing concern among many Lebanese people about the risk of further destabilization in the Middle East. Monsignor Jain Mendez, a councilor at the Apostolic Nunciature in Lebanon, spoke to Susy Hodges about those fears…

Hundreds flee Sunni advances in Iraq (Al Jazeera) Hundreds of Iraqi villagers fleeing advances by Sunni militants crowded at a checkpoint on the edge of the country’s Kurdish-controlled territory Thursday to seek shelter in the relative safety of the self-ruled region, as Britain’s top diplomat arrived in Baghdad to urge the country’s leaders to unite against the insurgent threat…

Shiite violence traps Baghdad’s Sunnis, haunted by a grim past (New York Times) For now, sectarian assassinations do not nearly approach the wholesale slaughter of the years 2005 to 2007, when as many as 100 bodies a day sometimes showed up at the morgue, some of them Shiites killed in suicide bombings but many Sunnis who had been executed by Shiite militias. Still, the specter of that grim past preys on the thoughts of Baghdad’s Sunnis, who suddenly find themselves in a Shiite-dominated city threatened by extremist Sunnis, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and its allies, who want to kill all the Shiites…

Ukrainian rebels scheduled to meet with government Friday (Christian Science Monitor) Ukrainian separatist rebels have agreed to take part in further peace talks on Friday to end the conflict in Ukraine’s eastern regions, Interfax news agency said on Thursday…

Jordan shaken by threats from ISIS, Iraq, Syria (Al Monitor) Jordan has reacted swiftly to reports that the border crossing point of Treibel, on the Iraqi side, had fallen into rebel hands, including possibly fighters from the Islamic State in Iraq and al Sham (ISIS), by beefing up military presence on the eastern front and heightening the state of alert. The Jordanian armed forces confirmed on 24 June that it has reinforced its units along the 112-mile border with Iraq. It said the action was taken after the Iraqi army withdrew from the border crossing, and that the army and security personnel were ready to deal with any contingency…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Iraqi Christians War Iraqi Refugees

25 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




By providing services like traffic management the rebels hope they can get locals to help consolidate their hold. Imran Khan reports. (video: Al Jazeera)

Iraqi prime minister rejects emergency ‘salvation’ government (BBC) Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has rejected calls for an emergency “national salvation” government to help counter jihadist-led Sunni rebels. Such calls represented a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience”, he warned. The United States has led appeals to the country’s political leaders to rise above sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Ukraine helicopter shot down, ceasefire shattered (Vatican Radio) Ukrainian officials say nine people have died when a military helicopter was shot down by pro-Russia separatists, shattering a temporary ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and adding to fears of civil war…

Israel reins in West Bank military offensive (Christian Science Monitor) Israel’s military is starting to rein in its retaliatory offensive against Hamas in the West Bank amid concern that a campaign of arrests and raids following the disappearance of three teenagers may backfire by stirring Palestinian unrest. Since the abduction of three Israeli teens, Israel has arrested about 350 Palestinians, conducted sweeps of 1,800 locales, and raided 64 Islamic charities with suspected links to Hamas…

Chechen extremists threaten Jordan (Al Monitor) The exceedingly small number of foreign heads of state who have visited Grozny, the capital city of Russia’s Chechen Republic, increased by one last week when Jordan’s King Abdullah II met there with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Though neither side offered any real detail on their discussions, the central topic may have been a profound one for the Middle East. According to Chechnya’s regional government, tens of thousands of Chechens live in Jordan, in itself an important topic for the leader of this relatively small ethnic group. Hardened veterans of Chechnya’s two unsuccessful wars for independence from post-Soviet Russia have become a significant component within the groups of international extremist Islamist fighters ranging across the Middle East and South Asia…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Jordan War Israeli-Palestinian conflict





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