Experts: Why the White House Brunson strategy has failed
International | The United States focuses on the pastor’s release while Turkey holds two other Americans hostage
by Mindy Belz
Posted 8/24/18, 03:45 pm
TURKEY is the third largest market for U.S. cotton farmers, who face potentially drastic losses over U.S. sanctions. The White House sanctions strategy to release Andrew Brunson has failed in part, argue two experts, because it singles out the American pastor. Brunson is one of three Americans held by the Erdogan regime as part of a “hostage diplomacy” strategy that represents wider stakes.
SYRIA: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, released his first recorded speech in more than a year, quelling rumors he died in Syrian airstrikes, though his whereabouts remain unknown. Urging followers to persevere despite territorial losses, the speech appears to be recent. It promised “dark days” ahead for ISIS foes and gives its fighters credit for “breaking the halo” of U.S. power.
Baghdadi highlighted U.S. sanctions on Turkey imposed Aug. 1, “Just to release the pastor,” a reference to Brunson.
IRAQ: Thursday was a good day for Yazidis, whose population has been decimated by ISIS, as hundreds returned to the Sharfadin shrine, one of their holiest sites. In 2014, a band of 18 Yazidi fighters fought off ISIS from the area, waiting months for reinforcements.
CHINA: A layer of secrecy shrouds Beijing’s clampdown on Muslim ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, and authorities continue to deny the existence of frightening reeducation camps holding an estimated 1 million Uighurs.
SOUTH AFRICA: Expropriations of white-owned farms have begun—starting with two luxury game farms in Limpopo (no dummies, that African National Congress government)—but there’s no evidence of “large scale killing of farmers,” as President Donald Trump tweeted.
SAUDI ARABIA: An uneventful haj of 2 million Muslim pilgrims ended Thursday.
TUNISIA is becoming the new launchpad for migrant boats, after European leaders have worked to shut down migrant trafficking from Libya and other North African ports. One boat sank on its way to the Italian island of Lampedusa, with five bodies recovered.
CLARIFICATION: The Hudson Institute became a target of Russian hackers most likely over its tough-minded reports on Moscow aggression and standing among conservatives, notes president Kenneth Weinstein—not because it’s among “conservative American think tanks that have broken with President Trump,” as The New York Times said in its Tuesday lead (which was followed by zero evidence supporting the claim). I bought the spin.
WEEKEND READS: To celebrate William Wilberforce’s birthday, his A Practical View of the Prevailing Religious System of Professed Christians is free on Kindle. I’m reading Dambiso Moyo’s Edge of Chaos.
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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.