Trump and Erdogan’s tête-à-tête over Syria
International | Plus, a pastor’s bold witness in China
by Mindy Belz
Posted 12/14/18, 01:13 pm
SYRIA: U.S. President Donald Trump spoke Friday morning by phone with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the two leaders, according to Reuters, “agreed on the need for more efficient cooperation over Syria, without giving details.” Tension at the Syria-Turkey border has spiked this week, with Erdogan threatening direct military action against U.S.-allied Kurdish militias near an area where U.S. ground forces are based. Manbij—the area where Erdogan’s contends “Arabs” have been “forced to surrender” to the Kurdish YPG (or People’s Protection Units)—was in fact, until Turkish incursions started last year, a diverse region of Kurds, Yazidis, Christians, Alawites, Turkmen, and Arabs. The Turkish action last year paved the way for Ahrar al-Sharqiya—one of the Islamist militant groups fighting the Syrian regime—to take over Afrin, to burn the city’s Church of the Good Shepherd, and now occupy it.
CHINA: Authorities have charged Early Rain Covenant Church Pastor Wang Yi and his wife, Jiang Rong, with incitement to subvert state power, which could result in a five- to 15-year sentence, reports WORLD Magazine’s June Cheng. Jiang is reportedly to be kept in solitary confinement for six months, in a form of residential housing where torture and forced confessions are common. Authorities also charged seven other church leaders and members with crimes of internet provocation and illegal business operation. The charges follow the crackdown on the Early Rain church in Chengdu, where 100 church members were detained last weekend in one of the largest crackdowns on China’s most influential unregistered church.
Pastor Wang Yi released a statement titled “My Declaration of Faithful Disobedience,” written beforehand to be published 48 hours after any detention.
NETHERLANDS: Hundreds of supporters from The Hague and abroad have held non-stop services at the Bethel church for more than six weeks to block the deportation of the Tamrazyan family from Armenia—and are hoping for a Christmas miracle allowing them to remain in the country.
AUSTRIA: Throughout the year, WORLD has followed the plight of Iranians invited to apply for asylum in the United States under the Lautenberg Amendment, then rejected on national security grounds by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In the United States, The Nazarene Fund has provided $60,000 this year to assist the asylum-seekers with social care, legal assistance, and medical treatment. This week, it sent a team to visit with the Iranians, providing another gift of $10,000. Vienna’s Catholic Cardinal Christoph Schönborn has taken one of the families into his personal residence, and is providing support for all the families, as most have run out of their own funds while in limbo.
- For wiring donations via Cardinal Schönborn:
Bewegung Mitmensch–Maria Loley
Bank Austria, BLZ 12000
IBAN: AT 26 1100 0086 1580 0300
Subject line: Iran
- On court appeal, DHS has again denied formally some of the cases, and all have received official notice from the U.S. government declining to issue them visas.
YEMEN: Yemen’s warring factions agreed on Thursday to a cease-fire for the embattled city of Hodeidah—within hours of the U.S. Senate voting to end U.S. military support for the war in Yemen. The action, a rare GOP-led rebuke to President Trump, could halt U.S. support for the Saudi bombing campaign of Hodeidah, and the Senate also formally blamed the Saudi crown prince for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
SUDAN: World Vision was operating with a $49 million budget in Sudan and serving 1.5 million people yet somehow did not know the government-aligned Islamic Relief Agency it partnered with was a U.S. Specially Designated Global Terrorist. See my column in the just-released special year-end double issue of WORLD Magazine.
LETTUCE: Message from the underdeveloped world to Americans enduring repeated outbreaks of E. coli in store-bought greens, courtesy of missionary Laura Bracy (in response to our podcast story):
“There is one responsible party that was not even mentioned—the consumer. I am a missionary in a third-world country. Our produce is grown without any regulations whatsoever. Cows and other animals always roam free. It is sold in a dirty, smelly marketplace with lots of flies and cockroaches. And yet, we never get sick. Why? Because every piece of produce in our house is peeled, or cooked, or soaked in bleach water. I have the responsibility to protect my own health. … Maybe we should educate consumers on how to properly clean their produce and ease up the regulations and expectations for farmers. It would probably also save a lot of money.”
GLOBAL: The year 2018 in volcanic activity is something to behold.
READING: Because #foreignrightsfriday is apparently a thing, do let your international friends know that my 2016 book, They Say We Are Infidels, is now available in Dutch, Polish, and British editions. And it’s made at least one reading list for 2019. Meanwhile, I’m reading Come, Thou Long Expected Jesus by Nancy Guthrie and Operation Caesar by Garance Le Caisne.
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