AUSTRALIAN  PRAYER  NETWORK  NEWSLETTER – INTERNATIONAL NEWS 9th SEPTEMBER 2013

  • WHO IS DEPLOYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA?
  • HOW MANY CHRISTIANS ARE THERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?
  • ALGERIANS STAGE PICNICS IN PROTEST AGAINST FORCED FASTING
  • MEXICAN MAYORS DECLARE JESUS IS LORD OVER THEIR CITIES
  • CHRISTIAN GIRLS REPORTEDLY ABDUCTED BY ISLAMIST TRAFFICKERS
  • TIDE TURNING IN SGYPT AS EVEN MUSLIMS BEGIN TO OPPOSE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD
     

WHO IS DEPLOYING CHEMICAL WEAPONS IN SYRIA?

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of carrying out the recent chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry saying that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.” However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges.

Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the gas attack.  A year ago President Obama warned the Syrian regime that using chemical weapons would be crossing a “red line” and inviting U.S, intervention. On Wednesday 21 August, reports emerged of a chemical attack in the Ghouta area outside Damascus. It was not the first reported chemical attack, but it was by far the largest. That chemicals were deployed and civilians are dead is not in dispute. The question is, “Who deployed those chemicals?”

Terrorism analyst Yossef Bodansky, notes, “The context of the attack is of great significance. Starting on August 17, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – a separate Syrian army trained and equipped by the CIA, Jordanian and other intelligence services – attempted to enter southern Syria from Jordan and start a march on Damascus. “Two 300 strong units crossed into Syria. Their aim was to reach Daraa quickly in order to prepare the ground for the declaration of Daraa as the capital of a ‘Free Syria’. However, the FSA forces met fierce resistance from the  Syrian Army, local jihadist forces, and even tribal units who fear the encroachment by outside forces on their domain.

By Aug. 19 and 20, the FSA units were surrounded in 3 villages not far from the Israeli border. “An attempt to use an Indian UNDOF patrol as human shield failed. The FSA commanders were, as of late August 21 pleading for massive reinforcements and an air campaign to prevent their decimation. Meanwhile, on Aug. 19, in Ghouta, more than 50 local opposition fighters and their commanders laid down their arms and switched sides. A few prominent local leaders widely associated with the opposition went on Syrian TV denouncing the jihadists and their crimes against the local population, and stressed that the Assad administration was the real guardian of the people and their interests.

More than a dozen ex-rebels joined the Syrian Government forces. “Hence, the last thing the Assad administration would want do is commit atrocities against the Ghouta area and the local population which had just changed sides so dramatically. For the opposition, fiercely avenging such a betrayal and petrifying other would-be traitors is a must. Furthermore, in view of the failure of the march on Daraa and Damascus by the FSA forces, there was an urgent imperative for the opposition to provoke a Western military intervention before the rebellion collapsed completely, and Assad consolidated victory.” It is very clear who loses and who gains from this chemical attack.

The White House declared the inability of “U.S. intelligence to find evidence on the use of chemical weapons”, before issuing a contradictory statement claiming that “the U.S. government is almost certain that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons against civilians”.  Contradictory information also came from the rebels who initially announced that the regime had initiated a massive chemical attack in Ghouta by means of “rocket barrage.” However the opposition then claimed that the chemical attack was part of a massive bombing by the Syrian Air Force. Yet, the opposition’s pictures show no casualties suffering shrapnel wounds consistent with aerial bombing.”

Stratfor Global Intelligence, an American security intelligence agency, reports that “The United States administration has made it clear through a series of media leaks that Washington will intervene militarily in Syria. Such an intervention has the potential to not only affect Syria, but inflict consequences on Syria’s neighbours depending on the type of military campaign launched. Even a targeted air strike will have some regional effects, while a full scale intervention in Syria will have the most potentially destabilizing implications, especially for Lebanon.”

The U.S. now claims to have “a crucial piece” of intelligence that has allegedly removed all doubts that the Syrian regime has used chemical weapons against its own people. On Sunday 25th August, White House National Security Adviser Susan Rice told U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power and other top officials that the U.N. mission was pointless because the chemical weapons evidence already was conclusive, officials said. It appears therefore we are on the brink of yet another “humanitarian intervention” out of which yet again the beneficiaries will be Islamic jihadists who will express their gratitude by driving out and killing off local Christians before turning their attentions to the West.

Source: by Elizabeth Kendal, Religious Liberty Monitoring

 

HOW MANY CHRISTIANS ARE THERE IN THE MIDDLE EAST?

Christians are leaving the birthplace of Christianity in large numbers. Just how large those numbers are, however, is a matter of conjecture, according to a new report on Christian migration from the Middle East. A precise accounting is impossible, but report author Markus Tozman says seeking accuracy is important because the fate of the Christian population in the Middle East affects human rights in the region, as well as power structures across the Arab world. “The real number of Christians in the Middle East is highly contested and part of an ongoing debate. It fluctuates depending on the group presenting the numbers and on the intentions of that group,” the report says. 

Tozman is a graduate student of the Middle East at Johns Hopkins University. Tozman is a contributing author to a 2012 book documenting the gradual disappearance of Syriac Orthodox Christians from their native Turkey. The report is published by the World Watch List, a unit of Open Doors International, a global non-profit organisation that provides support to pressured Christians. Tallying the absence of people is tricky enough. The task is made more difficult by census counts across the region that, when conducted at all, tend to be irregular and their documents kept from public view, Tozman writes. 

It is regularly reported that the Coptic Christian population of Egypt is about 10% of the country’s 82 million people. The late Coptic Pope Shenouda II put the number at 12 million, though several of Shenouda’s own bishops acknowledge they don’t have any hard numbers for their regions. Tozman puts more faith in a study by Arab West Report, which estimates the true number to be about 4 million. Another widely circulated number, the 100,000 Copts who reportedly have left Egypt since 2011, has its own weakness. The number originates with Najib Jabrail, a Coptic human rights lawyer. “However,” Tozman writes, “he was never able to explain where he received his numbers from.” 

Across the five countries covered in the report — Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey — the story is much the same. “Mere estimates and analyses of primary and secondary sources are in many cases not enough to gain a completely accurate picture,” Tozman writes. Only one of the sources Tozman contacted directly, cited the origin of their numbers, he said.  Nor do other countries offer much of a clue, the report notes. While anecdotal evidence suggests Christians in the Middle East have stepped up their flight to countries in Europe, the Americas and Australia, none of those countries keep track of the religion of newcomers. 

Head counts of Christians, the report states, are often shaded up or down for political reasons — inflated by minority Christians to retain representation in government; deflated by majority Muslims to undermine Christian claims for benefits. In the absence of accuracy, Tozman reports, the very arithmetic of population becomes politicised. Clouding the issue even more are the civil war in Syria and the political upheaval in Egypt, the report claims. “All their implications for their neighbouring countries completely change the situation and dynamics for the Christians in the whole region,” Tozman says.

“This is particularly worrying since Egypt, Syria and Lebanon were home to the majority of Middle Eastern Christians. If these countries fall deeper into chaos, the consequences will be disastrous. It would be a fatal blow to the last remnants of a vivid Christian community in the heartland of Christianity. No one can predict how the numbers of Christians in the Middle East will develop over the next few years, but a further decline is likely.”  Rev. Andrew White, the pastor of an Anglican church in Baghdad, said Iraq’s Christian population had shrunk from 1.5 million to just 200,000 within the last decade. He said this trend could be witnessed across the whole of the Middle East.

Source: World Watch Monitor

 

ALGERIANS STAGE PICNICS IN PROTEST AGAINST FORCED FASTING

Around 200 people ate a public lunch together in the town of Tizi Ouzou during Ramadan to protest against the “persecution of non-fasters and creeping Islamisation” in the Kabylie region in northern Algeria. Sandwiches and soft drinks were shared during a picnic held just a short stroll from the headquarters of the local law enforcement agencies, which looked on but did not act. In Algeria, where Islam is the state religion, breaking the Ramadan fast in public is punishable by fine and imprisonment. Picnickers circulated a petition, which claimed that the Algerian government was intruding into private life and persecuting non-fasters.

“We call on the citizens of the world who identify with the values of tolerance and respect to support the initiative of the Kabylie people by signing the petition for the right to freedom of conscience and tolerance and to guard against any suppression.” Protesters said the picnic was organised as a response to the alleged intimidation of non-fasters by police in Tigzrit, 35 km north of Tizi Ouzou. “We were sitting quietly in a cafeteria, which opens during the day throughout Ramadan,” said one protester, named Malik. “The police came and started taking down the names of people who were in a cafeteria during Ramadan. We don’t understand. We should be free to fast or not to fast.”

Malik said the police asked the café’s owner to report to the police station and confiscated some of his legal documents. Another picnic was held simultaneously in the neighbouring Béjaïa province, which attracted over 100 people. A number of local Islamic associations expressed their indignation and called on the state to punish those involved. Meanwhile, the Algerian Minister of Religious Affairs Abu Ghoulamallah said the picnics were “provocative and ridiculous. A total of 800 mosques are built in this province and 1.3 million Muslims are living there. So, 200 people do not represent the region and their act was meant to offend Muslims, but they humiliated themselves instead.” 

The state news agency APS reported that the protestors were “not attacking Islam” but asking for “freedom of worship and conscience which is guaranteed by the Algerian law”. However, APS’s claim that the non-fasters included “followers of the evangelistic church who drank beer” was contested. One picnicker said “From the first moment to the last, I did not once witness the presence of any evangelist who drank beer.” Another told the BBC: “We’re saying to others that this is Kabylie, and here we do what we want. We have to respect our culture, our traditions, our individual and religious freedoms. It doesn’t matter if they’re Jewish, Christian or Muslim.”

Source: World Watch Monitor

 

MEXICAN MAYORS DECLARE JESUS IS LORD OVER THEIR CITIES

Northern Mexico continues to struggle with crime, violence and kidnappings, which is why Alicia Cervantes, the mayor of Monterrey, Mexico, is giving the city over to God. In a pre-prepared statement May Cervantes said  “I, Alicia Margarita Arellanes Cervantes, give Monterrey, Nuevo León, to our Lord Jesus Christ, so that his kingdom of peace and blessings may be established. I open the doors of this municipality to God as the ultimate authority. Lord Jesus Christ, welcome to Monterrey, the house that we have built. This is your home Lord Jesus, Lord of Monterrey.” 

Arellanes isn’t the only Mexican mayor to have dedicated her city to the Lord lately. According to The New York Times (NYT), “it turns out that the mayors of Guadalupe and Juárez, two towns close to Monterrey, and of Ensenada, in Baja California, have already done the same.” Not surprisingly, Arellanes’ speech has caused quite a stir to many in Mexico, both positive and negative responses from citizens, legislators, and the media. Those who have responded positively see it as a powerful answer to the intercession of thousands in Mexico and the USA who have united in prayer to invite God’s transforming presence back to the two nations and to their common border. 

Please pray:

*  thanking God for the boldness of these mayors and asking that others may follow their lead in claiming their cities for Christ. Pray God would give holy boldness to others in influential positions in Mexico and the USA to make a public stand for righteousness.

*  for God to raise up a shield of protection for those who are speaking out for You, both on a professional and personal level.

*  for a multiplication of the intercessors praying on both sides of the border–that a shift in the spiritual atmosphere will occur. Pray that  communities will be delivered from a culture of death and despair and instead will foster life and hope.

Source: International Prayer Council

 

CHRISTIAN GIRLS REPORTEDLY ABDUCTED BY ISLAMIST TRAFFICKERS

According to news reports, with all the turmoil in Egypt, in the first and then second revolution, there have been increased attacks on Christians, notably, in the form of trafficking of Christian girls. Reports state that since the deposal of President Morsi, Islamist attacks on Christians have ramped up, and a greater number of Christian girls have been abducted and trafficked. A Helsinki Commission hearing, last year, cited more than 800 cases, noting that the “number of disappearances and abductions of Christian girls is increasing.” “This is very a sensitive issue for us,” Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, Tawadros II told CBN News.

“We try with the government, with the local authorities… sometimes we are successful, but sometimes no success” Tawadros II said. Some Christian families have chosen to move to Christian villages hoping to avoid attacks, however, often relocation presents further challenges for the families, such as the parents finding new work. However, even amid this situation, Christians are reportedly thankful for the overthrow of Morsi’s Islamist regime. According to reports from a number of Christian sources, the Christians in Egypt consider the ouster of Morsi to be a miracle.

Source: CBN News

 

TIDE TURNING IN SGYPT AS EVEN MUSLIMS BEGIN TO OPPOSE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

As tension continues between the Muslim Brotherhood and Egyptian Security Forces, some reports are revealing that the Brotherhood’s attacks against Christians in the country have caused many Muslims to turn against the terroristic group. One Cairo report says “The Muslim Brotherhood has lost all sympathy due to their violence. The majority of Egypt’s citizens are “solidly behind the military” which is firmly standing against the Brotherhood’s attacks. Moderate Muslims are now dominant and not deceived anymore with fake words that the Muslim Brotherhood is defending Islam. We hope that foreign countries will stop misunderstanding us and the situation now in Egypt.”

Source: Fox News