President Obama's whispers to Russia's then-President Dmitri Medvedev were picked up on a hot microphone. "This is my last election," the president confided to the Russian under his breath, "after my election, I'll have more flexibility." ABC's Jake Tapper reported that exchange in March 2012, at a G-20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.
It remains one of the most shocking incidents in the history of U.S.-Russian relations. Medvedev quickly chimes in to say: "I understand." And he promised to carry the President's words to Russia's real strong man, Vladimir Putin.
What President Obama calls "flexibility" soon translated into flaccidity. The Russians have always been sensitive to weakness in their opponents. Nikita Khrushchev bullied the young, inexperienced Jack Kennedy at Geneva, in 1961. Kennedy would later tell associates, candidly, that Khrushchev "beat the hell out of me." Seizing the initiative, Khrushchev soon erected the Berlin Wall and took the alarming step of placing Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles in Cuba. Kennedy had to bring America and the world to the brink of nuclear war to re-establish American leadership. more >>
President Barack Obama must increase pressure on the Egyptian interim government to protect Christians who have been violently targeted in the past couple of months, urges a letter sent by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) on Monday.
"I respectfully urge you to speak out clearly and forcefully about the unprecedented sectarian attacks committed against Christians in Egypt that proliferated at a frenetic pace on August 14 and the immediate days thereafter," wrote USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George.
"It also is vitally important that the Egyptian interim government understands from you that it must promptly and thoroughly investigate violent incidents, prosecute perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law, and provide greater protections for Christians and their places of worship." more >>
Syrian refugees have said that they are "horrified" at the prospect of a U.S. military attack on the government to take down President Bashar al-Assad, while Muslims have shared their amazement at a Christian missionary group providing relief in the region.
"It is about divided, the opinion. Some believe the rebels did it, but the majority of the people I talked to believe that Assad gassed his own people. That's the general feeling in the camps," Dr. Terry Law, the founder and president of World Compassion Ministries, shared with The Christian Post in a phone interview on Monday.
"They are horrified by it. Anybody in the camps says 'no more bombing, no more violence, our homes are destroyed already' and they are begging 'please let there be no response from the U.S. Just leave us alone,'" Law added of what refugees think of President Barack Obama's warnings of a military strike on Syria to punish Assad for using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 people in August. more >>
The fate of the small, predominantly Christian town of Maaloula, Syria, remains uncertain after remaining rebel factions continued to clash with the occupying Syrian army over the weekend. Reports from the area indicate that most of the village's cathedrals and worshipping spaces were abandoned Sunday due to the threat of a continued rebel presence linked to al-Qaeda.
Although Syria's army, loyal to President Bashar Assad, claims to have re-taken control of the small town north of Damascus at the beginning of the weekend, reporters visiting the war-torn region have said that in the past few days, rebel fighters have remained on the fringes of the town, firing at army forces from nearby caves that overlook the small mountain city.
"There was hardly time to notice the white statue of Christ the Redeemer on the hillside before we were fired on, bullets aimed at our van, blowing our tire and holing the chassis. We screeched to a halt and scrambled clear," Bill Neely, the International Editor for ITV News, wrote in an Op-Ed for The Telegraph. more >>
The regime of Syrian president Bashar al Assad has hailed "victory" after the U.S. and Russia announced an agreement to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons, which pushes back the likelihood of a military intervention, though one of Syria's rebel groups have said this allows Assad to go unpunished.
"We welcome these agreements," Syrian National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar shared with a Russian news agency, according to NPR.org. "On the one hand, they will help Syrians come out of the crisis, and on the other hand, they prevented the war against Syria by having removed a pretext for those who wanted to unleash it (war)."
"This is a victory for Syria won thanks to our Russian friends," Haidar added. more >>
Rafiq Habib, a Christian researcher and son of the founder of a Christian social missions group, has reportedly become the acting chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) in Egypt, according to World Bulletin. Egyptian experts confirmed to The Christian Post about Rafiq's astounding support for the Muslim Brotherhood, but those who know him personally rejected the report that he is leading the Islamic political organization as true.
Michael Youssef, an Egyptian-born pastor and leader of Leading the Way ministries in Georgia, told CP in a statement Friday, "His father, Dr. Sam Habib, was a dear friend of mine." Youssef described the son as "a nominal Christian."
The Egyptian-born megachurch pastor disagreed that Rafiq had become interim leader of the Muslim Brotherhood's political arm in Egypt. "That is not true," Youssef wrote, adding "a spokesman denied this news." more >>