Recent reports from Syria have described the horrific persecution of Christians by some al-Qaeda-linked rebel forces, but one group of Christians in Aleppo is shedding new light on the Middle Eastern country's civil war, telling reporters that in fact it is part of the rebel coalition that has kept them safe.
A group of six elderly Christians living in the Mar Elias House, a church hostel for the needy in Aleppo, have argued that President Bashar Assad's regime has sought to paint all rebel forces as violent, al-Qaeda linked terrorists seeking to make Syria an entirely Islamic state. Although the Christians do confirm that some factions of the rebel coalition are religious extremists, others are more moderate activists seeking simply to have the Assad regime overthrown and install a new government in the country.
One such group with a presence in Aleppo is the rebel Free Syrian Army, a coalition of fighters backed by the U.S. The Free Syrian Army's tactics differ from another well-known rebel group, the al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front, that uses violent attacks against civilians, including Christians, in an attempt to make Syria a completely Islamic state. more >>
The American captain of the Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise and a 29-member international crew are being held at gunpoint by Russian authorities who stormed the ship on Thursday following protest against oil drilling.
The ship remained under Russian control in the Arctic as of Friday morning, and the latest updates said it was being stirred toward Russian territorial waters.
"The safety of our activists remains our top priority and we are working hard to establish what is facing them. They have done nothing to warrant this level of aggression and have been entirely peaceful throughout. In our last phone call with the ship, the crew said that their spirit remains high and they have been boosted by messages of support from thousands of people who stand with them to oppose dangerous Arctic oil drilling," said Ben Ayliffe, head of Greenpeace International's Arctic oil campaign. more >>
Arizona Senator and former presidential hopeful John McCain had an opinion column published in a Russian publication Thursday in response to Russian President Vladimir Putin's New York Times op-ed last week.
In his column, published by Pravda.ru, McCain addressed the Russian populace and wrote that he is "more pro-Russian than the regime that misrules you today." "I make that claim because I respect your dignity and your right to self-determination. I believe you should live according to the dictates of your conscience, not your government," wrote McCain.
"I believe you deserve the opportunity to improve your lives in an economy that is built to last and benefits the many, not just the powerful few." more >>
The world's top donors are as much as $2.7 billion short in aid money for Syrians affected by the ongoing civil war crisis, a report by international aid agency Oxfam has revealed.
"Too many donor countries are not delivering the level of funds that is expected of them," said Colette Fearon, head of Oxfam Syria program. "While economic times are tough, we are facing the largest man-made humanitarian disaster in two decades and we have to seriously address it. The scale of this crisis is unprecedented and some countries must start to show their concerns to the crisis in Syria by putting their hands in their pockets."
The two-and-a-half year civil war in Syria between President Bashar al-Assad's forces and rebel fighters has been called "the great tragedy" of the 21st century by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), in which over 100,000 people have lost their lives and over 2 million have fled as refugees. more >>
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 >>