Tag Archives: Middle East
ISIS militants drive through the city of Raqqa

More News in the Fight against ISIS

News broke this weekend that ISIS had killed yet another American hostage. Peter Kassig, an American aid worker, disappeared in October 2013 while making a trip to deliver medical care in Syria. He was transferred late last year to a jail network in ISIS-held territory, where he became part of the group of hostages that included now-murdered American journalists Steven Sotloff and James Foley. Mr. Kassig, served in Iraq as part of the United States Army before founding an NGO that gives aid to Syrian civilians. His work models the highest ideals of pursuing justice and recognizing the dignity of every human being. Read more…

Sec. Kerry shaking hands

What’s New with the Iran Talks?

Just under a year ago, the P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council: France, China, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; plus Germany) made the historic announcement that they would be starting negotiations concerning Iran’s nuclear program. The goal of the negotiations was to, within six months, reach a deal to ensure Iran’s nuclear program could only be used for peaceful purposes (such as nuclear power), and in turn, have the United States roll back some of the economic sanctions placed on Iran. As a show of goodwill, the United States decided to relent with some of the sanctions (though most have been kept in place), while Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium beyond a certain point (5%)—one that could be used for non-peaceful purposes. Read more…

Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem

Israel Update: New Terror Attacks, and a Legal Battle over Jerusalem

The past two weeks have been scary ones for Israelis and Jerusalem residents, as three separate attacks on light rail stations have left three people dead and injured a dozen more. On October 23, a Palestinian man drove his car through a light rail station near Ammunition Hill in Jerusalem, killing a three-month-old infant who was also an American citizen, as well as an Ecuadorean woman. And just this Wednesday, a van rammed into another light rail station in Jerusalem, killing a border patrol agent and wounding two others. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Later that night, another van rammed into a three IDF soldiers in the West Bank, sending them to the hospital.

The attacks come in the wake of tensions over the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the Temple Mount in East Jerusalem. Right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick was shot there last week, prompting Israeli authorities to close Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, for a day. This in turn sparked riots near Al-Aqsa and the Temple Mount (which exists essentially on the same site), and has created diplomatic tension between Israel and Jordan.

Read more…

military airplane bombers flying over desert

Just What is ISIS, and Why Should We Care?

Like many self-styled foreign policy wonks, I’ve found myself incredibly disturbed by the extremist group known as ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. There’s no shortage of news these days on ISIS, from what we should call them to what life is like under ISIS control to why the U.S. should attack them to why the U.S. shouldn’t attack them to wondering whether all of this is legal. Read more…

many religious symbols

Concern for Religious Minorities Around the World

On Tuesday, Ronald Lauder of the World Jewish Congress published this Op-Ed in the New York Times, callingfor a collective voice standing in defense of the Christian minority being persecuted for their religious beliefs in Iraq and the Middle East.

He writes, “In a speech before thousands of Christians in Budapest in June, I made a solemn promise that just as I will not be silent in the face of the growing threat of anti-Semitism in Europe and in the Middle East, I will not be indifferent to Christian suffering. Historically, it has almost always been the other way around: Jews have all too often been the persecuted minority. But Israel has been among the first countries to aid Christians in South Sudan. Christians can openly practice their religion in Israel, unlike in much of the Middle East.”

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Update on Iranian Nuclear Negotiations

This past Sunday, July 20th, marked the original deadline set by the P5+1 countries (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France, plus Germany) and Iran to reach an agreement after months of nuclear negotiations in Geneva.  As many people, including politicians, journalists, and faith leaders, predicted, the countries agreed to extend the negotiations for an additional six months.  (This extension comes seven months after P5+1 and Iran reached an interim agreement in late November.  That agreement, which was implemented beginning on January 20, resulted in a roll back of a few sanctions against Iran in exchange for limitations on Iran’s nuclear program, including halting production at Arak, Iran’s heavy-water reactor.) Read more…

The Third Mother

When I opened my inbox this morning, I was struck by an email from Anat Hoffman regarding the tragic murder of three Israeli teenagers whose bodies were discovered yesterday.  To speak to the heartbreak we all felt upon hearing the news of the boys’ deaths, Anat shared this poem, The Third Mother, written by Israeli poet Natan Alterman: Read more…

The Nuclear Problem in Iran

Negotiations are currently taking place in Geneva, Switzerland on the future of Iran’s nuclear capabilities and the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) interim agreement arbitrated between Iran and the P5+1 (the 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council – United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom, and France plus Germany). The current terms of the 6-month interim accord allow for daily inspections of all Iranian nuclear sites and a discontinuation of work on or with centrifuges. In return, the international community has granted a reduction in a number of economic sanctions, allowing Iran access to $4.2 billion previously frozen assets. The P5+1 and Iran hope to agree upon the terms of the JPOA by July 20th, if not, negotiations will be extended by an additional 6 months. Read more…

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