The Republic of Cyprus has entered the maelstrom of the world's most volatile region thanks to new-found gas and oil reserves combined with an erratic Turkish foreign policy and a civil war in Syria. Even as leaders of this Mediterranean island show skill dealing with these novel threats and opportunities, they need support from a strong U.S. Navy, something not now available.
Cypriot underwater gas and oil discoveries follow directly on ones found earlier in Israeli seas, located adjacent to them and uncovered by the same American (Noble) and Israeli (Delek, Avner) companies. The current estimate of 5 trillion cubic feet (tcf) as well as some oil has a value estimated at US$800 billion, a huge sum amount for a small country whose current GDP is a mere $24 billion.
The great majority of this energy will likely be exported to Turkey or Europe. A pipeline to Turkey would be cheapest and easiest but so long as Turkish troops continue to occupy 36 percent of Cyprus, this will not happen. A recent court decision permitting the Israeli government to decide what quantities of energy to export now offers other possibilities: Cyprus could swap gas with Israel that then goes to Turkey or the two allies could jointly build a liquefied natural gas terminal in Cyprus. more >>
What's worse than the silence of Western Christians concerning the Muslim persecution of their coreligionists in the Islamic world? Answer: Cynically exploiting that persecution for a political agenda-in the case of a recent Daily Beast article, to excoriate the state of Israel and its supporters.
Titled "Why Won't the West Defend Middle Eastern Christians?" and written by Diarmaid MacCulloch, a Fellow of St. Cross College, the article touches on the persecution of Christians, but primarily as a springboard to attack American Christian support for Israel. Consider the following excerpt:
… one of the silences which I find most frustrating is precisely the lack of noise from Western Christians about the fate of ancient Christianities in the Middle East. At the heart of the problems in the Middle East is seven decades of unresolved conflict between Israel and Palestine... more >>
The Vatican news agency Fides reports today that two new mass graves containing a total of 30 bodies were found in Sadad, an ancient Christian town of some 15,000 people between Damascus and Homs, bringing to 45 the number of residents killed there by Islamist militias since October 21.
Surviving relatives and friends uncovered the graves after government forces recently recaptured the town from rebels. Those killed were reported by the local Syriac Orthodox metropolitan, who presided over 30 of their funerals this week, to be Christian civilians, including women and children. A list of their names was provided to the Catholic press. The Islamist rebel militias of Al Nusra Front and Daash were identified by eyewitnesses as responsible for this war crime.
The battle also resulted in the destruction and looting of the town, including its homes, hospitals, schools, government buildings and electrical, telephone, and water capabilities. St. Theodore's Syriac Orthodox Church and a number of the 4,000-year-old Assyrian town's 14 other churches and a monastery have been desecrated. more >>
Christians in Indonesia have united together to create an intercessory prayer movement that they hope will result in improved relations between Islam and Protestant believers since their nation is home to 13 percent of the world's Muslim population.
Five million Christians are participating in non-stop prayer throughout hundreds of cities while focusing their prayers on the government, media, youth and social and religious issues of concern.
"24 hours a day, we are praying for the churches in Indonesia, all pastors and leaders. No single hour or day passes without prayers for our country," said Jeffrey Petrus, an organizer of the movement, according to NoticiaCristiana.com. more >>
How important, really, is history to current affairs? Do events from the 7th century-or, more importantly, how we understand them-have any influence on U.S. foreign policy today?
By way of answer, consider some parallels between academia's portrayal of the historic Islamic jihads and the U.S. government's and media's portrayal of contemporary Islamic jihads.
While any objective appraisal of the 7th century Muslim conquests proves that they were just that-conquests, with all the bloodshed and rapine that that entails-the historical revisionism of modern academia, especially within Arab and Islamic studies departments, has led to some portrayals of the Muslim conquerors as "freedom-fighters" trying to "liberate" the Mideast from tyrants and autocrats. (Beginning to sound familiar?) more >>
Pastor Saeed Abedini has revealed that he and fellow prisoners in Tehran are waiting on Iran to follow through with promises to start releasing thousands of prisoners of conscience, which so far has not happened.
"In recent weeks, hopes had been high that Iran was preparing to do the right thing and release Pastor Saeed and other prisoners of conscious as part of a good faith showing under newly elected president Hassan Rouhani," said a statement by the American Center for Law and Justice, which is representing Abedini's wife, Naghmeh, and their two children in the U.S.
The Iranian-American pastor has been imprisoned in Evin Prison in Tehran for more than a year, serving an 8-year sentence. The ACLJ has said that the pastor is being punished for his Christian faith – a fate that a number of other prisoners of conscience in the Islamic country are also facing. more >>