Displaying items by tag: Turkey
The fighting in Syria grows more complex as Turkey aims to interrupt the line of territory held by Kurdish forces along its border and the US works with the Kurds to prevent battle escalation and focus on IS. Pray for this tense situation where Turkish and US goals are in disagreement. Pray also for the third round of peace talks sponsored by Russia and Turkey that began on 14 March. In Iraq, the campaign to retake Mosul from IS progresses despite fierce resistance. Iraqi commanders are hopeful they can overcome IS within six months. Many civilians have been prevented from fleeing by IS, and horrific sites of mass burials have been uncovered in captured areas. Pray for the future for Mosul, for peace-building and reconstruction to be given as much thought as the current military campaign. The two-year conflict in Yemen has killed 7,700 people, including 1,500 children. The fallout is that over 18 million people need food aid.
Efforts to free an American pastor held in a Turkish prison for his Christian faith have failed. Andrew Brunson was arrested on 8 December and charged with ‘membership in an armed terrorist organisation’. On 29 December a Turkish court denied his appeal for release. Brunson has preached the gospel in Turkey for twenty years and hoped for permanent resident status. But according to the American Centre for Law Justice (ACLJ), Brunson was arrested for unspecified reasons. In a statement, the ACLJ says ‘the charging documents do not present any evidence against him’ nor did the court specify which ‘terror’ organisation Brunson had supposedly joined. Experts say Brunson's case is part of a growing climate of intolerance against Christians and other minority faiths in Turkey.
2017 is set to be fraught with challenges for the people of the Middle East, Christian and Muslim alike. A brief summary: 1) Iraq will remain precarious, even though the battle to retake Mosul is making progress: Shiite-dominated rulers in Baghdad face conflict with an unwilling Sunni minority. 2) Turkey’s stability is threatened by challenges from IS and from Kurdish militants, who have killed some 1,000 Turkish soldiers in the last two years. 3) There are hopeful signs in Iran, though changes could be slowed by the death of former President Rafsanjani and the expectation of more hostile US policies under Donald Trump. The poor health of supreme leader Ali Khamenei might mean a potential leadership change soon, which could have serious implications for the entire region. 4) The mood in Syria seems to be turning towards a ceasefire and acceptance of Assad staying on as president, at least in the short term. 5) Egypt is expected to see new protests and tensions with continued terrorism, and the economy will remain the number one challenge. The whole region remains in much need of continuing prayer: yet every challenging phase is also a chance for Christians to rise up as salt and light, and to offer reconciliation and restoration where they are desperately needed.