Every Monday, we bring to you the top five international stories of the week, with a particular emphasis on religious liberty, justice issues, and geopolitical issues that impact liberty and justice.
Shimon Peres, founding father of Israel and pillar of Israeli society, dies at 93. Peres served twice as Israel’s prime minister and served from 2007 to 2014 as Israel’s president. In the 1990s, Peres conducted months of secret negotiations with the Palestine Liberation Organization to conclude what would become the Oslo Accords. Peres, along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. From the NY Times obituary:
Mr. Peres, who frequently drew on historical allusions, thought of himself as a philosopher more than a politician. When asked about the 1993 Oslo Accords, he said: “There was no alternative. We had to do it.” He added, “An ancient Greek philosopher was asked what is the difference between war and peace. ‘In war,’ he replied, ‘the old bury the young. In peace, the young bury the old.’ I felt that if I could make the world better for the young, that would be the greatest thing we can do.”
Syrian and Russian assault on Aleppo continues, leaving 100,000 children trapped in the city. According to Unicef, of the 250,000 people trapped in Aleppo, 100,000 are children. Since the collapse of the ill-fated ceasefire, Russian and Syrian regime forces have ramped up their assault, pounding the city with airstrikes. The U.S. has threatened to break off all coordination with the Russians if the airstrikes on Aleppo do not cease. It is unclear what effect, if any, this threat has had. The airstrikes included an attack near a bread distribution center and two hospitals, killing seven people and taking one of the hospitals completely out of service. According to Doctors Without Borders, there are now [only seven surgeons left][bread lines] to treat a population of 250,000.
EU launches major cash-aid program for refugees in Turkey. The new $391 million program will provide aid for the most vulnerable refugees remaining in Turkey and will allow Turkey to more effectively care for this population. From Yahoo: “The refugees, living outside of camps, are to receive debit cards that will allow them to buy their own food and pay for other basic needs. The cards would be topped up monthly, with payments dependent on the size and needs of the families. The program has been billed as the EU’s largest humanitarian program.”
U.S. Congress votes overwhelmingly to allow 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia over the Kingdom’s alleged role in the attack. In what was the first veto override of the Obama Administration, Congress approved a new law that will allow the families of 9/11 victims to sue the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. The 9/11 Commission concluded that no senior Saudi government officials had knowledge of or participated in the terror attack, but some observers believe that the U.S. government has covered up the role of its important Middle East ally. The Obama Administration lobbied against the bill for years. In his veto letter to Congress, President Obama cited concern that the bill would put military and U.S. officials overseas at risk and create a precedent for other countries to allow suits against the United States.
Jordanian writer assassinated accused of insulting Islam assassinated on courthouse steps. Jordanian writer Nahed Hattar, from a prominent Christian family, faced criminal blasphemy charges over a cartoon he posted online that some believed insulted Islam. In a formal apology, Mr. Hattar insisted that the cartoon mocked the Islamic State’s conception of heaven. Mr. Hattar appeared at court to face criminal charges when an assassin decided the charges were not enough and took matters into his own hands, shooting Mr. Hattar three times. From the NY Times:
While presenting itself as a stable outlier in a tumultuous region, Jordan maintains a complicated balancing act of its own, split between traditional tribes, Palestinians, a potent jihadi community and now more than 650,000 refugees from the grinding civil war in Syria. As Jordan strives to stay neutral in Syria and off the Islamic State’s radar, the cartoon Mr. Hattar posted on Facebook proved just the sort of lighter fuel to feed the flames.
Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].