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

Pence to skip meeting with Christians in Iraq, Egypt

International | Vice president’s Middle East trip will focus instead on boosting support for Israel among Arab allies
by Mindy Belz
Posted 1/10/18, 01:12 pm

EGYPT: U.S. Vice President Mike Pence’s rescheduled Middle East trip, set to begin Jan. 19, no longer includes visits with displaced Christians in Iraq or with Coptic Church leaders in Egypt. Instead, it will focus on shoring up support for Israel among Arab allies. In October, Pence gave a speech pledging administration support for Christians to return to their homelands in Iraq and Syria, then convened a meeting to coordinate the effort, promising, “Help is on the way.” But redirecting aid and other U.S. efforts in Congress and at the State Department remain stalled.

SYRIA: In Idlib, residents say the world has abandoned them. Nearly 100,000 people have fled government attacks this week (it’s only Wednesday, folks) as President Bashar al Assad’s government forces pound the province, one of two major remaining rebel strongholds. Turkey, of all the powers in this conflict, summoned Russian and Iranian diplomats to protest their ongoing support for Assad’s assaults amid peace negotiations. 

  • Facts matter, and the Assad regime has pushed Syrian opposition fighters into Idlib, claiming they are all terrorists as a way to win international support.
  • After a series of mysterious attacks on Russia’s main air base in Syria, involving 13 drones, Moscow is blaming them on the United States.
  • Despite the fighting and atrocities, residents in the former ISIS headquarters in Raqqa, with support from the opposition Syriac Military Council, reclaimed a central square ISIS used to behead and crucify Christians. In December, they put up a Christmas tree and a banner reading, “His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Facebook Facebook A Christmas celebration in Na’eem Square in Raqqa, Syria, where ISIS used to behead and crucify Christians

IRAN: The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution Tuesday supporting the Iranian people’s right to free expression, while condemning the country’s leaders for crackdowns on recent protests. In Tehran, members of the Iranian Parliament say authorities have arrested 3,700 people in the action against ongoing protests, and names of those who died in custody are beginning to emerge. Over on Instagram, Amad News and VOAFarsi continue to publish protest footage sent via Telegram.

SOUTH KOREA: South Korean President Moon Jae-in credits U.S. President Donald Trump with making a “huge” contribution to bringing the North and South together for landmark talks. The Tuesday talks included agreement on North Korea sending athletes to the Winter Olympics next month in South Korea and on future military talks.

SWITZERLAND: Unusually heavy snowfall and avalanche warnings have trapped 13,000 tourists at the base of the Matterhorn.

ENGLAND: On the second anniversary of David Bowie’s death, a new book looks at the British rocker’s creative genius and identity crisis:

“Bowie treated identity almost like a watercolor painting that he kept touching up and adding content to as the years wore on: fluid, undefinable, and constantly shifting in and out of focus, with no firm anchor as such to permanently mark the borders of grounded selfhood.”

ENGLAND: Evangelist Franklin Graham isn’t getting the same reception his father did in the 1950s for an upcoming festival in Blackpool later this year.

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Mindy Belz

Mindy is senior editor of WORLD Magazine and the author of They Say We Are Infidels. Follow Mindy on Twitter @mcbelz.

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