Trump Hotel cancels Christian aid group's prayer meeting for Kurds

Flags fly above the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel on its opening day in Washington, DC, U.S. on Sept. 12, 2016.
Flags fly above the entrance to the new Trump International Hotel on its opening day in Washington, DC, U.S. on Sept. 12, 2016. | (PHOTO: REUTERS/KEVIN LAMARQUE)

A Christian aid group that planned a prayer gathering to honor and pray for the Kurds at the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., said their event was unexpectedly canceled amid tension surrounding foreign policy in the Middle East.

The event, called "A Night of Prayer for the Kurds," was planned by Frontier Alliance International, a nonprofit Christian group that coordinates relief work and medical ministry throughout the Middle East.

According to The Washington Post, FAI administrator Charlene Struebing said hotel staff had expressed "security concerns" and decided against hosting the event. 

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“They said they’ve gotten a lot of security concerns and they couldn’t accommodate enough security,” Struebing said. “I think it’s more related to people protesting our event than it was anything we were doing.”

The Christian Post reached out to FAI for comment, specifically to ask if they believed President Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the region — a move that received bipartisan criticism as being yet another U.S. abandonment of a longtime regional ally — was a factor in the cancellation. A response is still pending. 

A Tuesday statement on FAI's Facebook page stated that the booking had "nothing to do with partisan allegiances and everything to do with leveraging recent events for long-term Kurdish advocacy."

"We urge those attending and watching this story unfold to not descend into criticism or cultural clamor, but to be undeterred in the better priority: forging a new era in the history of the Kurdish people, when it could once be said that only the mountains stood with them, but no more — for now, they have found better friends."

The night of prayer has been rescheduled for Sunday in the Constitution Ballroom at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in Washington, D.C.

A representative from the Trump Hotel in Washington told The Christian Post on Wednesday that the booking arrangement was contracted through a third party and it was not disclosed to them that FAI was the group hosting the event. The parties ultimately came to a mutual understanding about the cancellation.

Two days after Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned that a military offensive was planned, President Donald Trump ordered around 50 U.S. soldiers in the area to pull back, which paved the way for the Turkish offensive in the autonomous region of northern Syria in an attempt to expel Kurdish forces that were once backed by the U.S. in the fight against the Islamic State. Turkey has long maintained that the Kurdish rebels in Syria are “terrorist” outfits aligned with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), a Kurdish separatist group in Turkey.

A five-day cease-fire agreement was subsequently reached amid the fighting. Under the agreement, which ended on Tuesday, Turkey was to pause its invasion of Kurdish-held areas in Syria along the Turkish border for 120 hours, allowing Kurdish Syrian Defense Forces to withdraw from a nearly 20-mile-wide designated safe zone along Turkey’s southern border.

In exchange, the U.S. agreed not to place additional sanctions on Turkey and to lift sanctions recently imposed on Turkey if the cease-fire became permanent. The president announced Wednesday that those sanctions would indeed be lifted.

"The government of Turkey informed my administration that they would be stopping combat and their offensive in Syria and making the cease-fire permanent,” Trump said in remarks from the White House Wednesday morning. “And it will be permanent.”

“So the sanctions will be lifted unless something happens that we’re not happy with,” he added.

The president went on to note that many political pundits continue to advocate for yet another military intervention into the region, but said those who have called for such efforts do not possess vision to exit. He also said that too many American lives are being lost in a region rife with ancient sectarian conflicts.

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