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Current Issue
December, 2017
Volume 43, Number 4
  
25 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




By providing services like traffic management the rebels hope they can get locals to help consolidate their hold. Imran Khan reports. (video: Al Jazeera)

Iraqi prime minister rejects emergency ‘salvation’ government (BBC) Iraq’s Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has rejected calls for an emergency “national salvation” government to help counter jihadist-led Sunni rebels. Such calls represented a “coup against the constitution and an attempt to end the democratic experience”, he warned. The United States has led appeals to the country’s political leaders to rise above sectarian and ethnic divisions.

Ukraine helicopter shot down, ceasefire shattered (Vatican Radio) Ukrainian officials say nine people have died when a military helicopter was shot down by pro-Russia separatists, shattering a temporary ceasefire in eastern Ukraine and adding to fears of civil war…

Israel reins in West Bank military offensive (Christian Science Monitor) Israel’s military is starting to rein in its retaliatory offensive against Hamas in the West Bank amid concern that a campaign of arrests and raids following the disappearance of three teenagers may backfire by stirring Palestinian unrest. Since the abduction of three Israeli teens, Israel has arrested about 350 Palestinians, conducted sweeps of 1,800 locales, and raided 64 Islamic charities with suspected links to Hamas…

Chechen extremists threaten Jordan (Al Monitor) The exceedingly small number of foreign heads of state who have visited Grozny, the capital city of Russia’s Chechen Republic, increased by one last week when Jordan’s King Abdullah II met there with Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Though neither side offered any real detail on their discussions, the central topic may have been a profound one for the Middle East. According to Chechnya’s regional government, tens of thousands of Chechens live in Jordan, in itself an important topic for the leader of this relatively small ethnic group. Hardened veterans of Chechnya’s two unsuccessful wars for independence from post-Soviet Russia have become a significant component within the groups of international extremist Islamist fighters ranging across the Middle East and South Asia…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Jordan War Israeli-Palestinian conflict

24 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Kashmiri Shiite Muslims in Narbal, India, shout religious slogans as they take part in a 20 June protest against the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Saying the United States has a special responsibility to the people of Iraq, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for diplomatic measures rather than a military response to the crisis facing the country. (photo: CNS/Danish Ismail, Reuters)

Bishop Pates, Pax Christi U.S.A. call for diplomacy to resolve Iraq crisis (CNS) Saying the United States has a special responsibility to the people of Iraq, the chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace called for diplomatic measures rather than a military response to the crisis facing the country. In a letter to Susan E. Rice, national security adviser, Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, called upon the U.S. to urge Iraqi political leaders to “form an inclusive government” so that people who feel they have no voice in the country’s affairs are included in its governance.

In Mosul, Iraq, feared crackdown by militants has not materialized (Los Angeles Times) When gunmen broke through the city’s perimeter on 9 June amid a hasty retreat by Iraqi police and army units, with the mayor joining the exodus, many who remained braced for the worst. It came as somewhat of a surprise when residents awoke the next day to a city not under a harsh form of sharia, or Islamic law, imposed by foreign extremists, but one whose government offices were staffed in part by Iraqis allied with the insurgents against a Shiite Muslim-led central government that has little support among Mosul’s Sunni Muslim majority…

U.N. urges Israeli restraint in hunt for teens, warns of violence (Christian Science Monitor) A senior United Nations official on Monday urged Israel to exercise restraint in its search for three missing teenagers it accuses the Hamas Islamist group of kidnapping, while warning the Security Council that violence in the region could escalate. Israel’s army said it had detained another 37 Palestinians overnight as it searched and extended a crackdown on Hamas, which has denied having any knowledge of the missing teens. The Israeli military says it has detained 361 people since the Israeli students went missing on 12 June…

U.N. rights chief decries Egypt sentencing of journalists (U.N. News Center) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay expressed deep concern over a string of recent court decisions in Egypt, including the verdicts and heavy jail sentences handed down today to three Al Jazeera journalists, as well as 11 other defendants who were tried in absentia. “Proceedings that clearly appear not to meet basic fair trial standards, particularly those resulting in the imposition of the death penalty, are likely to undermine prospects for long-term stability…”

Maronite bishops: Middle East turmoil threatens to change regional map (National Catholic Register) Maronite Catholic bishops expressed their concern about the war in Syria and Iraq and warned that Lebanon’s presidential vacuum poses a dangerous risk to the country, particularly amid the escalating regional turmoil that they said threatens to change the map of the Middle East. In a 19 June statement at the conclusion of their annual synod at the patriarchal seat of Bkerke, the bishops said they completely support the views expressed by Patriarch Bechara Peter about the presidential stalemate, and “his tireless efforts to push [parliamentary] members to perform their duty” and vote…



Tags: Iraq Egypt Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations Maronite Church

23 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A woman who fled fighting in Sloviansk, Ukraine, cries while holding a child at a shelter in the town of Makiyivka in eastern Ukraine on 4 June. (photo: CNS/Maxim Zmeyev, Reuters)

Ukrainian Orthodox Church calls for end of violence in Ukraine (Pravmir) “The clergy and believers from these regions are asking for all possible measures to be taken to stop the bloodshed, which is hurting civilians. Our believers in the eastern part of the country think that any contradictions should be resolved through dialogue and negotiation. Our entire church believes that problems should be resolved peacefully. Together we should do everything to prevent the deaths of civilians,” the Holy Synod of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church said in its address to President Petro Poroshenko, which was posted on its official website…

Assyrians in U.S. rally for Assyrians in Iraq (AINA) Assyrians in the United States held demonstrations in three cities on Friday in support of Assyrians in Mosul, Iraq, and other areas that have fallen under the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Mosul has been cleared of Assyrians and other Christians, as they fled the city after the onslaught of ISIS. Demonstrations were held in Chicago, home to 90,000 Assyrians; San Jose, home to 50,000 Assyrians; and Turlock, home to 15,000 Assyrians…

E.U. warns of Iraqi humanitarian crisis (Daily Star Lebanon) The European Union warned Monday of a looming humanitarian crisis in Iraq as Sunni militias advance towards Baghdad, and warned of the danger to regional stability of foreign fighters from Syria. There are reports that some fighters from the E.U. are already in Iraq…

Syrian rebels recruiting teens, says rights group (Vatican Radio) Syrian rebel factions have recruited teenagers as young as 15 years old to fight in the country’s civil war, using them in roles ranging from soldiers and snipers to stretcher bearers and suicide bombers, a rights group said on Monday. Human Rights Watch said rebel groups across the ideological spectrum have employed children in the conflict, including the Western-backed Free Syrian Army, the Islamic Front, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front as well as the Al Qaeda breakaway Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant…

The strong female voice of Hamas (Der Spiegel) Isra al Mudallal is the outspoken, strong-willed new spokesperson for the Hamas government in Gaza. Her goal is to become a role model for young girls — but first she has to overcome the region’s conservative traditions…

Egypt sentences Al Jazeera journalists to years in prison (Al Jazeera) An Egyptian court has sentenced two Al Jazeera journalists to seven years in prison and another to 10 years, on charges including aiding the Muslim Brotherhood and reporting false news. Al Jazeera has always rejected the charges against its journalists and maintains their innocence…



Tags: Ukraine Syrian Civil War Children Gaza Strip/West Bank Women

20 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




A woman walks past the site of a car bomb attack on 18 June 18 in Baghdad, Iraq. At least 13 people were killed and 30 others wounded in a car bomb explosion in Baghdad’s mainly Shiite neighborhood of Sadr City, according to police and hospital officials. (photo: CNS/Wissm al Okili, Reuters)

Caritas Iraq: Many Baghdad families fled fearing civil war (Vatican Radio) Nabil Nissan, executive director of Caritas Iraq, says that many of Baghdad’s inhabitants have fled the city for the Kurdish enclave in the north or other areas of Iraq because “they fear a civil war.” He said Caritas Iraq is mobilizing its resources to help care for the tens of thousands of displaced people, including Christians, who were forced to flee their homes in the northern city of Mosul after it fell to the ISIS militants…

Fuel shortages and power cuts dominate ISIS-controlled Mosul (Financial Times) Fuel shortages and power outages are putting pressure on the Islamist insurgents who last week seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city. The reports suggest Isis is either keeping a loose grip to maintain public good will or, as several residents described, has handed over control of the city, at least temporarily, to nationalist Sunni insurgent groups with a different social vision while the hardline group fights for control of other cities and the crucial nearby oil refinery at Baiji. “There is no Isis in Mosul. The ones controlling city are now the clans” or tribal armed groups, said a 58-year-old Mosul travel agency employee. “There are 12 different armed groups, but the power is with the tribes…”

Aleppo fears new ISIS offensive (Al Monitor) The spectacular and shocking offensive in Iraq by ISIS that has seen the extremist terror group take large areas in the west of the country, including its second largest city, Mosul, has the entire region and the world rightly worried. ISIS is said to boast an army of 10,000 fierce fighters, more than $2 billion in assets and huge caches of weapons and equipment seized from the Iraqi army, making it a serious threat to global security. Rebels holed up in Aleppo worry that ISIS’ newfound power and advanced military hardware in Iraq will result in a renewed offensive on Aleppo…

Lebanon car bomb attack kills two, shatters months of relative calm (Los Angeles Times) A suicide car bomb that may have targeted Lebanon’s internal security chief exploded Friday on the Beirut-Damascus highway, killing at least two people and wounding dozens, according to official and media accounts. It was the first such attack after several months of relative calm in Lebanon and raised fears that the sectarian-fueled violence that has lately erupted in Iraq could be reverberating in this vulnerable Middle Eastern nation. Lebanon has long experienced episodes of spillover violence from the war in neighboring Syria…

Lebanon roads locked down over security fears (Daily Star Lebanon) After the news of the bombing spread around the country, security forces took extreme measures in closing off all major roads in the country, fearing further attacks…

Israel seizes political, military opportunity in teens’ disappearance (Electronic Intifada) Since three Israeli youths went missing while hitchhiking in the occupied West Bank on 12 June, Israel has mobilized all its resources “to crush Hamas in the West Bank and destroy the recently formed unity government as well as collectively punish the Palestinian people,” said the rights group Addameer in a fact sheet issued today on Israel’s ongoing West Bank military assault and the Palestinian hunger strike long underway in Israeli prisons…

U.N. says global population of displaced tops 50 million (U.N. News Center) World Refugee Day marks yet another somber milestone in a year of crisis. A new U.N. report reveals that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people has, for the first time in the post-World War II era, exceeded 50 million people…



Tags: Iraq Syrian Civil War War Israeli-Palestinian conflict United Nations

19 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




As Islamist militants battle Iraqi security forces for control of towns and cities not far from Baghdad, the capital has taken on the tense feel of a city under siege. (video: CNN)

Assyrians and Christians under attack in Iraq and Syria (AINA) With extremists battling for control of Iraq’s largest oilfield on Tuesday, raising the stakes in a burgeoning war against the central government in Baghdad, Iraq’s Christians once again find themselves at risk. Over the past 10 days, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, a fundamentalist Islamist group, has streamed across the Nineveh plains of northern Iraq from its bases in eastern Syria, capturing a line of towns and cities, including several with large Assyrian and Chaldean Christian populations…

Black flags fly over Iraqi refinery, as U.S. weighs cooperation with Iran (Al Jazeera) ISIL fighters, who want to carve out an Islamic caliphate stretching across Iraq and Syria, have reportedly made progress at Iraq’s largest oil refinery. The rebels hung their black banners on watchtowers at the Baiji refinery, 150 miles north of Baghdad, a witness said Thursday, though a top Iraqi security official said the government still held the facility…

Ukrainian Catholic leader appeals for Christian reconciliation (AsiaNews.it) Against the backdrop of the Ukrainian crisis, tensions are getting worse between local Catholics and the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow, which continues to denounce the Greek Catholic Church in Ukraine for its alleged involvement with Western policy vis-à-vis Russia. In making an appeal for reconciliation, Major Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk hopes Moscow will recognize the dignity of the Ukrainian people and open a sincere dialogue based on truth…

United Nations: ‘Climate of fear’ grips eastern Ukraine (U.N. News Center) With United Nations monitors reporting today that armed separatists have used killings, abductions and torture to instill a “climate of intimidation and fear” in eastern Ukraine, the world body’s human rights chief urged all armed groups to put down their weapons, end the violence and begin the process of long-term reconciliation…

Syrian refugees in Turkey exceed 1 million mark (The Guardian) The number of Syrians in neighboring Turkey has surpassed 1 million, the Turkish deputy prime minister has said. There are more than 20 refugee camps in Turkey near the roughly 500-mile border with Syria housing more than 220,000 people. But the bulk of people who have crossed the border are living in Turkish cities, mostly in the provinces of Hatay, Gaziantep and Sanliurfa. They have taken advantage of the “open border” policy maintained by Turkey, a staunch opponent of the regime in Damascus, towards Syrian refugees…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Refugees Iraqi Christians United Nations

18 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Iraqi refugees are seen in a camp near the northern city of Erbil on 12 June. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub. (photo: CNS/Stringer, EPA)

Pope Francis appeals for concrete help for refugees (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis appealed to institutions to offer concrete help to the hundreds of thousands of refugees who continue to flee conflict and persecution in their homelands…

A country implodes: ISIS pushes Iraq to the brink (Der Spiegel) The militant organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has occupied vast portions of Syria and Iraq in the hopes of establishing a caliphate. The jihadists’ success lays bare Iraq’s disintegration and could ignite yet another civil war between Shiites and Sunnis in the country…

Chaldean archbishop of Mosul: Armed intervention does not solve problems (Fides) “In the villages in the Nineveh plain that accommodated part of the population fleeing from Mosul, the situation is worsening day by day. There has been no water and electricity for two days. Fuel is beginning to run out. And last night, a part of Mosul was bombed, causing a new exodus of civilians,” said Chaldean Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of Mosul…

ISIS and government forces battle for control of Iraq’s largest oil refinery (Christian Science Monitor) Iraq’s largest oil refinery is under attack by Islamic militants northwest of Baghdad, threatening domestic oil and electricity supplies and signaling the rapid acceleration of the group’s offensive against Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s Shiite government…

Ukraine president announces ‘unilateral’ cease-fire plan (Los Angeles Times) Ukraine’s president said Wednesday that government forces will unilaterally cease fire to allow pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country a chance to lay down weapons or leave the country, a potential major development to bring peace to the country…

Syria conflict: Toxic chemicals ‘used systematically’ in attacks (BBC) A team from the world’s chemical weapons watchdog believes toxic chemicals such as chlorine are being used in a “systematic manner” in Syria. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons sent a fact-finding mission to the country’s north last month to investigate several incidents. The inspectors’ preliminary report says information was gathered that seemed to corroborate the testimony of medics…

Palestinians freed in 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-swap back in custody (The Guardian) More than 50 Palestinians released in 2011 as part a high-profile deal to free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit are back in custody after they were arrested during Israeli military operations to locate three missing teenagers. The overnight arrests — 65 in total — bring the number of Palestinians detained during the military campaign to locate the teenagers to 240, the Israeli Defense Forces confirmed on Wednesday. Gilad Shalit was an Israeli soldier captured in Gaza by Hamas in 2006 and held for five years before being traded for the release of 1,027 Palestinians…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Refugees Syrian Civil War Iraqi Refugees

17 June 2014
J.D. Conor Mauro




Claiming it owes $4.5 billion in unpaid bills, Russia has cut off Ukraine from its gas supply. Ukraine’s prime minister claims the move is intended to destabilize Ukraine. Kim Vinnell reports. (video: Al Jazeera)

Russia halts gas supplies to Ukraine amid clashes (Vatican Radio) Ukraine says neighboring Russia has cut off all natural gas supplies to Kiev, in a major escalation of a dispute over outstanding debt between the two nations. The latest standoff comes after Moscow also expressed anger over a crackdown by Ukrainian government forces on pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s troubled east…

The Ecumenical Laboratory of Ukraine (Catholic World Report) In this interview with the Catholic World Report, Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, who led the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church from 2001 until his retirement in 2011, offers his characteristically candid insight into the role of the church in Ukraine’s Maidan movement, the question of ecumenism in Ukraine, and the oftentimes complex relationship between the Catholic and Russian Orthodox churches…

Iraq’s fleeing Christians find safe haven in Kurdistan (France24) Mosul, in northern Iraq, had a substantial Christian population of around 10,000 until Sunni Islamist militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria took the city in their lightning offensive last week. Most of them have fled, seeking refuge in nearby Kurdistan, an autonomous Kurdish territory where they feel protected from the hardline Sunni fighters by the local army…

Iraq conflict: Clashes on approaches to Baghdad (BBC) Iraqi government forces are engaged in heavy clashes with Sunni insurgents who have made major advances in the past week. Parts of the city of Baquba — just 37 miles from Baghdad — were briefly taken over by the rebels. Reports say 44 prisoners were killed during fighting at a police station in the city…

Israel considering expelling Hamas leaders from West Bank (The Guardian) Israel is considering expelling Hamas leaders from the West Bank to Gaza as part of its response to the kidnapping of three teenagers, which it has blamed on the Islamist group. The deliberations come as Israel continued to round up members of Hamas in six West Bank towns for the third night running, including senior Palestinian lawmakers, in one of the biggest waves of arrests in recent years…



Tags: Iraq Ukraine Iraqi Christians War Israeli-Palestinian conflict

16 June 2014
Greg Kandra




An Iraqi refugee carries a mattress at a camp near the northern city of Irbil on 12 June. Hundreds of thousands of people who have fled their homes in Mosul are left without access to aid, officials said. Christians from the city say they were targeted long before Iraqi security forces abandoned the major political and economic hub. (photo: CNS/Stringer, EPA)

Pope asks for payers for Iraq (Vatican Radio) “I invite all of you to unite yourselves with my prayer for the dear Iraqi nation, especially for the victims and for those who most suffer the consequences of the growing violence, in particular the many persons, among whom are so many Christians, who have had to leave their homes.” Pope Francis made an appeal for prayers for Iraq on Sunday at his weekly Angelus address. “I am following with lively concern the events of these last days in Iraq,” the Pope said...

Chaldean patriarch calls for fasting and prayer for Iraq (Fides) The Patriarchate of Babylon of the Chaldeans, with a widespread appeal on Sunday 15 June, called on all Chaldean communities in Iraq and the world to “dedicate next Wednesday 18 June to fasting and prayer for the restoration of security and stability in Iraq. “Fasting and Prayer” — reads the statement released to promote the initiative — “are capable to change the hearts of people and encourage them towards dialogue and respecting each other through the blessing of God”...

Bombs kill nearly 30 in Aleppo (AFP) Syrian regime helicopters dropped barrel bombs Monday on opposition-held districts in the northern city of Aleppo, killing at least 30 people including several children, an activist group said. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that a number of people were injured, some of them seriously, in the attacks on the Sukkari and Ashrafiyeh neighborhoods....

Russian Orthodox church to rise in Paris (Bloomberg News) A stone’s throw from the Eiffel Tower and Paris’s famed Alexandre III bridge, Russia’s Vladimir Putin is putting his mark on the French capital. Construction of a new Russian Orthodox church with five golden domes in central Paris gets under way in the next few weeks, with U.S. and European efforts to slam Putin’s Russia for its incursions into Ukraine doing little to halt its progress. The yet-to-be-named church is being built on a plot of land sold in 2010 to Russia by the French state for 73 million euros ($99 million). The deal was sealed by Former President Nicolas Sarkozy. His successor Francois Hollande’s government says it’s “determined” to see the monument erected...



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Russia Russian Orthodox

13 June 2014
Greg Kandra




In this image from 2013, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri arrives for a prayer service at St. Peter’s Basilica. The cardinal, who is prefect for the Congregation for Eastern Churches, says he is following events in Iraq with “extreme concern.” (photo: CNS/Paul Haring).

Iraqis flee as militants close in (CNN) Radical Islamists pushed forward in Iraq as an increasingly nervous United States sought ways to stop the militants from closing in on Baghdad. As Iraq further disintegrated, residents fled Mosul in droves. Militants captured the country’s second-largest city this week after soldiers scattered, leaving their uniforms and weapons behind. Jittery families eager to leave sat in traffic jams stretching as far as the eye could see. Violence is spreading and security deteriorating in the nation, prompting U.S. President Barack Obama to say the beleaguered government required assistance…

Cardinal Sandri expresses concern for situation in Iraq (Vatican Radio) The Congregation for Eastern Churches has issued a press statement saying the Cardinal Prefect, Leonardo Sandri is following the unfolding of events in Iraq with extreme concern, and is united in prayer with Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael, all the bishops, priests and lay faithful of Iraq…

Archbishop says Mosul now emptied of Christians (Vatican Radio) Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need, Chaldean Archbishop Amel Nona, said he thought Mosul’s last remaining Christians had left now a city which until 2003 was home to 35,000 faithful. The Christians are among 500,000 thought to have fled Mosul whose overthrow was followed by news of militant attacks on the Iraqi city of Tikrit 95 miles north of the capital, Baghdad. Describing reports of attacks to four churches and a monastery in Mosul, the archbishop, 46, said: “We received threats ... [and] now all the faithful have fled the city. I wonder if they will ever return there…”

Thousands of Syrian refugee children forced to work (Reuters) At least 50,000 Syrian refugee children in Lebanon are working, often in dire conditions and for 12 hours a day, to pay for food and shelter for their families, aid organization CARE said. More than a million Syrian refugees live in Lebanon, making up a quarter of the country’s population, having fled a civil war in its fourth year, which has left more than 160,000 dead…

Pope Francis: world economic system inevitably leads to war (CNS) Pope Francis said the world economic system inevitably promotes military conflict as way to enrich the most powerful nations. He also condemned religious fundamentalism, defended the controversial record of Pope Pius XII and said he does not worry about his personal security because, “at my age I don’t have much to lose.” Pope Francis’ words appeared in a wide-ranging interview published 12 June in the Spanish daily La Vanguardia…

Ukraine’s president offers safe passage for people fleeing (Vatican Radio) Ukraine’s new president has ordered security officials to create a corridor for safe passage for thousands of civilians fleeing eastern regions that have been rocked by deadly clashes between government forces and pro-Russia separatists…



Tags: Syria Iraq Lebanon Ukraine Refugees

12 June 2014
Greg Kandra




A member of the Iraqi security forces searches a man at a checkpoint in Baghdad on 11 June. Baghdad will cooperate with Kurdish forces to drive militants out of Mosul, the country’s second-biggest city. Christians are among 500,000 fleeing Mosul after Islamist forces seized
it in early June. (photo: CNS/Ahmed Saad, Reuters)


Iraqi militants take aim at Baghdad (The New York Times) Sunni militants consolidated and extended their control over northern Iraq on Wednesday, seizing Tikrit, the hometown of Saddam Hussein, threatening the strategic oil refining town of Baiji and pushing south toward Baghdad, their ultimate target, Iraqi sources said...

Two Arab countries fall apart (The Economist) Whoeveer chose the Twitter handle “Jihadi Spring” was prescient. Three years of turmoil in the region, on the back of unpopular American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, have benefited extreme Islamists, none more so than the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS), a group that outdoes even al-Qaeda in brutality and fanaticism. In the past year or so, as borders and government control have frayed across the region, ISIS has made gains across a swathe of territory encompassing much of eastern and northern Syria and western and northern Iraq. On 10 June it achieved its biggest prize to date by capturing Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and most of the surrounding province of Nineveh. The next day it advanced south towards Baghdad, the capital, taking several towns on the way. Ministers in Iraq’s government admitted that a catastrophe was in the making. A decade after the American invasion, the country looks as fragile, bloody and pitiful as ever...

Two Indians to be canonized in November (Vatican Radio) During mid morning prayer on Thursday in the Consistory Hall of the Apostolic Palace, Pope Francis gathered with the College of Cardinals to vote on the Canonisations of six Blesseds who will become Saints of the Church. They include two Indians, Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara who was a priest and the founder of the Congregation of the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate and who is remembered for his solid leadership. He is also recognized for having saved the Church in Kerala from a schism in 1861. The other is Mother Eufrasia Eluvathingal of the Congregation of Mount Carmel, of the Congregation of the Sisters of the Mother of Carmel; who was born in 1877 in Kattur and became known as the “Praying Nun”...

Pope issues message for opening of World Cup (Vatican Radio) Pope Francis delivered a video message to the organisers, players and fans participating in the 2014 World Cup tournament in Brazil. Delivered in Portuguese, the message expresses the Holy Father’s hope that, in addition to a celebration of sport, this World Cup can be transformed into a festival of solidarity between peoples...



Tags: Syria Iraq Pope Francis Kerala





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