Displaying items by tag: Middle East
Abdo Saade is one of the most powerful men in Lebanon. He owns 4,000 electricity generators across Lebanon, which keep the lights on in the absence of a reliable power supply. He turned Lebanon's tattered electricity grid and inept state utility into a lucrative business, nicknamed 'Generator Mafia'. Millions of Lebanese pay enormous sums from their meagre salaries each month on two separate bills: one to the state electricity company, the other to their local 'generator man'. Without Mr Saade’s syndicate the country's economy would grind to a halt. A fuel shortage has further disrupted daily life, and two main power plants closed for 24 hours on 9 October. This week businesses have shut, hospitals anticipate mass deaths from power cuts to ventilators, water supplies to four million are threatened, and there have been fistfights and shootings at petrol stations.
Some churches in Lebanon cannot turn on the lights or run fans to combat the heat because of extreme fuel shortages. There have been times when they have not been able to meet because people do not have enough fuel to drive their car or cannot access public transport. Some have turned to solar power to keep some lights on. Unfortunately, only wealthy people have access to this technology. Lebanon is ideally situated for solar power, seeing about 300 days of sunshine per year. The power shortages mean Christians lose access to the internet, and therefore to Zoom meetings or Facebook Live which bring services to people unable to attend. After a year’s wait Lebanon finally formed a new government, but it remains unclear if the new officials will do much to stop corruption and help the people.
Deterioration of democratic policies in the Palestinian leadership has caused a coalition of nongovernmental organisations to call it ‘political corruption.’ For years this coalition, named AMAN, focused on administrative and financial corruption. Now the eroding integrity of the Palestinian leadership has forced Transparency International to tackle a corrupt political system that among other things cancelled a long-overdue national election and ordered its security forces to harm a Hebron critic, that led to his death. They have also violently cracked down on demonstrations calling for accountability. An AMAN manifesto recently called Palestinians to reject the anti-democratic slippery slope and ‘fight this political corruption by creating a coalition that can contribute toward a more honest governance structure.’ If the current political corruption is not checked, Palestine will move into a dangerous zone.
Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid, has called the Biden administration’s plan to reopen the US consulate in Jerusalem a ‘bad idea’ that could ‘destabilize’ Israel’s new government. He said it would send the wrong message not only to the region or to the Palestinians, but also to other countries, adding, ‘We don’t want this to happen’. His comments come after Biden reportedly discussed the issue with Israel’s ultraconservative prime minister, Naftali Bennett, last week at the White House. The Times of Israel cited unnamed officials as saying the Biden administration agreed to wait to open the consulate until after Bennett’s fragile new government passes a budget in November.
Pastor Said Deeb, in Beirut, had a strange feeling on the day of the explosion. ‘ I felt something bad was going to happen,’ Deeb explained, ‘as if the Holy Spirit was saying, “Go! Go! Go!”’ He was uneasy, sent 34 staff home, and cancelled Bible classes for 200 children. ‘They thought I had lost my mind, but it was the Holy Spirit's prompting’, he explained. Then the unthinkable happened - 200+ people dead, 7,000 injured, and 300,000 made homeless. ‘I thought this was the end, but the Lord had another plan. Despite the horror of Beirut’s deadly explosion, God is bringing something good from the ashes. I'm seeing people come to Jesus like never before, never! - and a big number of priests coming to deeper faith, priests coming for the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the signs and wonders following. So it's the time for Lebanon.’
19 rockets fired by Hezbollah into northern Israel on 7 August sent local residents into the towns’ shelters. These barrages, the first since the 2006 second Lebanon War, followed similar attacks the previous day. More provocations from Tehran by the new hard-line leader, Ebrahim Raisi, and his proxies increase the likelihood of Israel’s retaliation. The defence minister recently indicated that Israel is ready to counter Iran's aggression. The UN peacekeeping mission in Lebanon said the situation is ‘very serious’ and urged everyone to cease fire. But on 11 August rockets were fired again from Lebanon into Israel, which increases the threat of major hostilities after fifteen years. Pray for an end to these ongoing games of brinkmanship so that harmony between Israel and Hezbollah holds. May the prospect of full-scale war be a disincentive for either side to push too far.
The Asphalt Princess tanker was hijacked and boarded by nine armed men and ordered to sail to Iran through the congested approach to the Strait of Hormuz. Israel's prime minister Naftali Bennett said there was ‘evidence’ that its long standing foe Iran was responsible. Iran's Revolutionary Guards dismissed the reports as a pretext for ‘hostile action’ against Tehran. The tanker is owned by a Dubai-based company that had one of its ships hijacked two years ago by the revolutionary guards. The following day the hijackers left the tanker. A week earlier the Israeli-owned Mercer Street was attacked by a drone, killing two security guards. The US, UK and Israel blamed Iran for the attack - a claim it strongly denies. These attacks appear to be the latest escalation in an undeclared ‘shadow war’ between Israel and Iran. For months there have been several attacks on both Israeli- and Iranian-operated vessels, which are seen as tit-for-tat incidents. See
Israeli fighter jets have launched air raids on neighbouring Lebanon following a second day of rocket fire from Lebanon into Israeli territory. Fighter jets struck the launch sites and infrastructure from which the rockets were launched. Israeli aircraft routinely target Palestinian armed groups in Gaza and suspected Hezbollah or Iranian targets in Syria, but this was the first time since 2014 that they had hit targets in Lebanon. Previous acknowledged military actions mostly involved artillery shelling. Israel fought a 2006 war against Iran-backed Hezbollah, which is the dominant force in southern Lebanon. The border has been mostly quiet since then. The escalation came as thousands of grief-stricken Lebanese took part in a protest march on the first anniversary of a devastating explosion in Beirut that killed over 200. Lebanon’s situation has worsened since then - economic crisis, poverty, increasing, Covid, no hospital beds, no medicine, no electricity, no fuel - people feel that the government has forgotten they exist.
Most of Jordan's population have not heard a good gospel message. Ways of changing this include literature, media ministry, friendship evangelism, development programmes, home meetings and camps. Pray for a sensitive witness to Muslims and protection of converts amid persecution. Pray also that the growing number of Muslim-background believers have the legal right to convert from Islam. Palestinians are a majority in Jordan. Many are second- or third- generation residents after leaving their traditional homeland. Some integrate into Jordanian life; others suffer from disillusionment, bitterness, and frustration which only the Man of Calvary can heal. Due to the Gulf Wars a million Iraqis also fled to Jordan. Years later, nearly half of these are unable or unwilling to return home. Christian work among them produces a good response. Jordanian churches have effective and widespread ministry to these refugees but need to be granted permission to educate them.
The USA is resuming unconditional financial aid to the Palestinians without any stipulation that the PA end human rights violations and assaults on public freedoms. Lawyers for Justice said that the forms of torture in the PA-controlled Jericho Prison included hanging detainees from the ceilings, beatings, verbal abuse and electric shocks. ‘The Future List calls on all electoral lists approved by the Central Elections Committee, all human rights bodies and all honourable people of this country to form a united front to confront the arbitrary political arrests that aim to silence every free voice that rises in the face of tyranny and corruption practiced by the Palestinian Authority.’ It appears the diplomats care little that the PA is arresting, torturing and intimidating social media users and political activists. Western journalists loudly raise their voices when damning Israel. International silence and absolute support for the PA encourages Palestinian leadership to continue their repression.