Joseph Stalin once asked an advisor rather perfunctorily, “How many divisions does the Pope have?” Dr Harry Hagopian, Middle East commentator and Ekklesia associate reminds us. Christians are part of the Middle East and North Africa region and their strength need not lie in their physical might alone, he suggests, surveying the implications of some recent interventions.
Operation Protective Edge: here is a new military initiative that has fired up many Israelis, infuriated many Palestinians, left the Arab leaders once more in tatters of nonchalance or fragmentation and challenged the moral fibre of the West in terms of its support or opposition to this campaign. Middle East expert Dr Harry Hagopian looks behind the horror and the headlines from Gaza.
In both Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Pope Francis offered his home in the Vatican as a place for the encounter of prayer. It was a potentially transformative moment. Now that the event is over, and both presidents have re-iterated their desire for peace, what happens next to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - more so since President Peres completes his term as president of Israel at the end of July? Regional expert and Ekklesia associate Dr Harry Hagopian explores the issues.
Well over two decades ago, one of my favourite university tutors in family law often delighted in reminding me of an expression that Charles Dickens had popularised in Oliver Twist. Was it not Bumble who had professed to Brownlow that the law is an ass - or to be more faithful to 19th century diction, "The law is a ass - a idiot [sic]"?
On 24 April 1915, close to a year into World War I, two hundred Armenian community leaders living in Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul) were rounded up and force-marched into detention by the Ottoman authorities.
April 24th saw another chapter in the difficult world of Armenian-Turkish relations 99 years after a horrible chapter in their shared history - the Armenian Genocide of 1915, which for some evokes inextinguishable pain and for others denial. Commentator and regional expert Dr Harry Hagopian re-examines the complex issues and looks at the way forward.
So Easter is upon us. But the darkness of Good Friday has to be endured before the time of waiting and the anticipation of resurrection. This is always the Christian story. The ashes and the glory go together - a thought which makes looking back on where we have come from this Lenten season an important part of the continuing journey forward.
The Catholic Ordinaries in the Holy Land and the Justice and Peace Committee issued a statement about the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. It is a highly significant document in the light of recent media attention to these issues, and repeated statements from Baroness Warsi and others. There are serious issues at stake here, but it is important that they are understood properly and in context so that the appropriate solidarity for all oppressed groups can be expressed.
The barbarity of the response to protest by the Syrian regime - bullets, shabihas and tanks that soon graduated to chemical weapons and TNT barrels - also weaponised an equally radical bunch of people who carry with them the cloak of religiosity although they do not care a jot about the future governance of Syria, says regional analyst Dr Harry Hagopian. So where do we go from here?