Catholic priest freed in Yemen
International | Plus U.S.-Russia relations, a declaration on religious freedom, and more international news and notes
by Mindy Belz
Posted 9/13/17, 12:41 pm
YEMEN: The Rev. Tom Uzhunnalil, the Catholic priest kidnapped in March 2016 during a deadly attack on a Missions of Charity home in Aden, was released by militants with ties to ISIS following coordinated efforts by the Vatican, Saudi officials, and the Sultan of Oman.
The cholera epidemic in Yemen has reached “enormous proportions” and will affect 850,000 people by year’s end—the “worst health crisis for a preventable disease in recent history,” according to the International Red Cross.
RUSSIA: In a document that’s “nothing less than a road map for full-scale normalization of U.S.-Russian relations,” Russian officials laid out a plan early in the Trump administration toward full-scale cooperation. Some key points of their plan—particularly cooperation over Syria—have come to pass.
LEBANON: Prime Minister Saad Hariri is in Moscow shopping for weapons this week. In July during his visit with President Donald Trump, Hariri said, “The main power today in Syria is Russia, so if you want to solve the issue of Syria, you’ve got to talk to the Russians … That was the unfortunate consequence of not acting. And now, since they are there, somebody has to talk to them.”
MYANMAR: The desperate plight of Rohingya Muslims, long persecuted in ways similar to Christians by Myanmar’s military junta, is complicated by a rising Rohingya insurgent group. ARSA has its roots far from the Southeast Asian highlands:
“The group was formed last year by Rohingya exiles living in Saudi Arabia, according to the International Crisis Group, which detailed ARSA’s origins in a report last year. It is led by Attullah Abu Amar Jununi, a Pakistani-born Rohingya who grew up in Mecca, and a committee of about 20 Rohingya emigres. ICG says there are indications Jununi and others received militant training in Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan.”
SINGAPORE: The predominantly ethnic Chinese city-state will swear in its first female president, who is also the first president from the ethnic Malay minority in 47 years.
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: On Wednesday, an array of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders gather in Los Angeles to promote progress on religious freedom in the Arab world and pledge greater cooperation with the signing of the Bahrain Declaration calling for religious freedom for all.
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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.