Top 5 international stories of the week

July 22, 2016

Every Friday, we bring 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.

1. Elements of Turkish military attempt to overthrow the government, failing within a few hours. Late last Friday night, a small group within the Turkish military closed several bridges in Istanbul and Ankara, closed the airport and conducted low flyovers over Istanbul and the nation’s capital. But a few hours later, President Erdogan, who was not in Turkey at the time, appeared via FaceTime on state media, calling on supporters to take to the streets. And they did, leading to a dramatic turn of events where civilians swarmed military positions, taking back control of the government. From start to finish, the entire episode lasted less than 24 hours, but the effects will likely linger for years.

2. Turkish government fires or suspends more than 50,000 state employees in wide-ranging investigation into the causes behind the attempted coup. From my piece at ERLC.com: “Whether what unfolds in the coming weeks can be characterized as an investigation or a purge will determine the validity of what Erdogan does to bring the military back under the control of the government. . . . But beyond these questions, the fundamental issue is what kind of Turkey will emerge from this conflict. Will freedom of expression be permitted back into Turkish society? Will religious and ethnic minorities like Alevi Muslims and Kurds be allowed to flourish? All of this remains to be seen. In the next few weeks, the future of a democratic and vibrant Turkey hangs in the balance.” Yesterday, Turkey declared a state of emergency, effectively suspending its human rights under international law.

3. Trump casts doubt on the future of NATO if he becomes President. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump gave a wide-ranging interview to The New York Times. One of the topics of discussion from the interview was the future of NATO. From that interview: “Asked about Russia’s threatening activities, which have unnerved the small Baltic States that are among the more recent entrants into NATO, Mr. Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing if those nations have ‘fulfilled their obligations to us.’”

4. Massive corruption case involving Malaysian sovereign wealth fund unfolds. The U.S. Department of Justice has accused individuals close to Malaysia’s prime minister of embezzling a staggering $3 billion from the fund. The assets seized include: “A $30.6 million penthouse at the Time Warner Center in Manhattan, overlooking Central Park. A $39 million mansion in the Los Angeles hills. A $17.5 million tear-down in Beverly Hills.”

5. In Egypt, protests grow over promised bill that would allow for church construction and renovation. When Egypt’s new constitution was ratified in 2013, the Parliament was required in its first term to pass a law reforming existing laws for church reconstruction. These existing laws, which date back to before the Mubarak era, required a Presidential decree for any construction or renovation at churches, including even minor bathroom renovations. Egypt’s eight million Christians have been waiting for the new law to pass for months, and the legislative process has been shrouded in secrecy.

Have suggestions for a top 5 article this week or think there’s an issue we should be covering? Email me at [email protected].

Travis Wussow

Travis Wussow serves as the Vice President for Public Policy and General Counsel. Travis led the ERLC’s first international office located in the Middle East prior to joining the Washington DC office. He received a B.B.A. in Finance from The University of Texas at Austin and a J.D. from The … Read More