Globe Trot A summary of international news compiled by senior editor Mindy Belz

A new disaster in Mosul

International | Ferry boat sinks during Kurdish New Year celebration
by Mindy Belz
Posted 3/22/19, 12:00 pm

IRAQ: Protesters in Mosul Friday confronted President Barham Salih, as he attempted to visit the site of Thursday’s ferry sinking on the Tigris River, with 91 people confirmed dead and 112 missing. The incident—blamed on an overloaded ferry during the celebration of Nowruz, the Kurdish New Year—reignited public frustration over the lack of a coordinated plan for rebuilding Iraq’s second largest city after it was liberated from ISIS control in 2017.

ISRAEL: The United States will recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights, President Donald Trump announced by tweet Thursday, following a week of speculation that securing the disputed area could become part of a new peace plan the Trump administration is expected to put forward in the coming weeks. Trump’s statement coincided with an earlier visit to the Golan by Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s meeting in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

  • Israel seized portions of Golan during the 1967 Six-Day War, and the contested border with Syria has become increasingly strategic during that country’s civil war, with both Islamic militant groups fighting nearby and Iranian military commanders taking part in Bashar al-Assad regime offensives. In 2017 I reported from the Golan on Israel’s intent to protect its threatened border.
  • Germany, France, the European Union, and the UN Human Rights Council all promptly reaffirmed their rejection of Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan, which remains a contested border under UN Security Council Resolution 242.

SYRIA: One eyewitness reports the “suffocating smell of death” and scores of dead bodies in the area liberated from ISIS two days ago by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). But the SDF spokesman said some fighters and their families remain squeezed along a stretch of the Euphrates River.

ITALY: “It was a miracle, it could have been a massacre,” said Milan prosecutor Francesco Greco after police rescued a busload of school children hijacked by the bus’s own driver. Of Senegalese descent, the driver doused the bus in fuel and set it on fire, saying he wanted revenge for the thousands of African migrants who have died crossing the Mediterranean.

BRITAIN’s Home Office has refused asylum to a Christian convert from Iran, saying Christianity is not a religion of peace as the applicant claimed. The refusal letter cited six excerpts from the book of Revelation and said it is “filled with imagery of revenge, destruction, death and violence.”

BURUNDI: Scribbling on textbook photos of President Pierre Nkurunziza is a punishable offense, discovered schoolgirls in the Kirundo province, who were arrested and could face up to five years in jail.

I’M READING In the Enemy’s House by Howard Blum.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy wrote WORLD Magazine's first cover story in 1986 and went on to serve as international editor, editor, and now senior editor. She has covered wars in Syria, Afganistan, Africa, and the Balkans, and she recounts some of her experiences in They Say We Are Infidels: On the Run from ISIS with Persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Mindy resides with her husband, Nat, in Asheville, N.C. Follow her on Twitter @mcbelz.

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