Article  International Issues

Top five international stories of the week

Every Friday, 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.

1. State Department issues new Countries of Particular Concern, adding Tajikistan, leaving off Pakistan for 14 years in a row. The State Department quietly announced its update to the Countries of Particular Concern list last Friday. The Obama administration added Tajikistan to the list, but opted to take no action against Tajikistan. John Kirby, State Department spokesman, announced that the Obama administration also waived sanctions or actions for three other countries on the list: “We have waived application of presidential actions with respect to Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan following determinations that the important national interest of the United States required exercising this waiver authority.” The State Department's most recent International Religious Freedom Report was issued last October. The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in its report recommended adding Central African Republic, Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Syria and Vietnam to the CPC list; no action was taken on these countries.

2. Five hundred migrants feared dead in Mediterranean capsize incident. The EU has implemented new rules in coordination with Greece, which are aimed at stemming the tide of migrants leaving the Middle East and North Africa for Europe. New York Times: “If accurate, however, the testimonies suggest that human smugglers are operating as aggressively as ever on the Mediterranean route even as a recent European Union deal with Turkey has stemmed the flow across the Aegean Sea.”

3. Saudi-Iranian tensions may prevent Iranian Muslims from making Hajj this year. The Hajj is the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, made by Muslims from all around the year. But in January this year, Saudi Arabia and Iran broke off diplomatic relations with each other over the Saudi's execution of a Shia cleric, Nimr al-Nimr, which prompted rioting at the Saudi Embassy in Tehran. One consequence of this incident is that there is now no formal mechanism for granting visas for Iranian visitors to enter Saudi Arabia for the Hajj.

4. Major terror attacks rock Jerusalem and Kabul. In Jerusalem, a suicide bomber attacked a bus, injuring 21 and killing the bomber. The attack was claimed by Hamasfirst such attack since 2011. In Kabul, a massive explosion killed 28 and injured 329. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber connected to the Taliban. The majority of the casualties were civilians, although the attack occurred close to the Ministry of Defense and other government offices.

5. Police officer in Cairo shoots three, killing one, in dispute over the price of a cup of tea, sparking riots in Cairo. Reuters: “The Interior Ministry said in a statement that a policeman got into an argument with a vendor over “the price of a drink” and shot him dead, injuring two others in the process. A judicial source told Reuters the policeman shot the three men with an assault rifle and fled. The victim died from a bullet to the heart, the judicial source said.”

Bonus: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Islamic State.

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



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