In his latest podcast for the Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, Ekklesia associate and regional adviser/expert Dr Harry Hagopian looks at the on-going fight to contain and repel IS/ISIS and the pressure on the borders of Iraq, Syria and Turkey. He also updates on moves to bring stability to Libya.
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.
‘It looks as if the end could be very near.’ This was the emotional response of Canon Andrew White, the Vicar of Baghdad this morning, when asked about the prospects for Christianity in Iraq. He was at pains to stress that Christians and Muslims in Iraq have lived and worked together peacefully for centuries: it is terrorism, not Islam that is the problem.
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.
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?