Why the Middle East Is More Combustible Than Ever A look at increasing tensions in the Middle East, talks of a peace pact between nations, and more news in this week’s bulletin.
Image: Rifles and rifts: Houthi rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, December 2018. (Hani Al-Ansi/Picture Alliance/dpa/AP Images)
Why the Middle East is more combustible than ever Foreign Affairs
“The war that now looms largest is a war nobody apparently wants. During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump railed against the United States’ entanglement in Middle Eastern wars, and since assuming office, he has not changed his tune. Iran has no interest in a wide-ranging conflict that it knows it could not win. Israel is satisfied with calibrated operations in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Gaza but fears a larger confrontation that could expose it to thousands of rockets. Saudi Arabia is determined to push back against Iran, but without confronting it militarily. Yet the conditions for an all-out war in the Middle East are riper than at any time in recent memory.”
Image: Rifles and rifts: Houthi rebels in Sanaa, Yemen, December 2018 (Hani Al-Ansi/Picture Alliance/dpa/AP Images)
Saudi Arabia and Iran make quiet openings to head off war The New York Times
“After years of growing hostility and competition for influence, Saudi Arabia and Iran have taken steps toward indirect talks to try to reduce the tensions that have brought the Middle East to the brink of war, according to officials from several countries involved in the efforts. Even the prospect of such talks represents a remarkable turnaround, coming only a few weeks after a coordinated attack on Saudi oil installations led to bellicose threats in the Persian Gulf. Any reconciliation between Saudi Arabia and Iran could have far-reaching consequences for conflicts across the region."
Image: Saudi Arabia displayed what it said were the remains of Iranian weapons used to attack its oil facilities last month. (Amr Nabil/Associated Press)
Turkey launches offensive against U.S.-allied Kurdish forces in northern Syria Washington Post
“Turkey’s government launched a long-expected offensive into northeastern Syria on Wednesday, with airstrikes and shelling targeting Syrian Kurdish fighters who have played a central role in aiding the U.S.-led battle against the Islamic State militant group. The operation — with some ground forces crossing the border later — came just days after President Trump’s startling announcement that the United States would not stand in Turkey’s way, bringing sharp rebukes from even the president’s Republican allies. The Turkish foray threatened to further fracture a war-shattered Syria as Ankara moved to create a ‘safe zone’ after failing to agree on its size and nature during negotiations with the United States. Turkey’s goal is to push back the Syrian Kurds — considered enemies by Turkey — from the border region. Turkey also claims the buffer region would be fit for the resettlement of millions of Syrian refugees residing in Turkey.”
Image: Turkish-backed members of the Syrian National Army prepare Tuesday for an expected military operation by Turkey into Kurdish areas of northern Syria. (EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)
18 Arab female theologians and Christian leaders you should know about The Global Church Project
“Although it is not widely known, Arab women in theology have a very significant and important role and mission. In the midst of political, social, and economic changes in the Middle East, we are committed to fulfilling God’s greatest calling for our lives. In this article, we know you will be inspired to learn more about some outstanding and remarkable Christian women who write and serve within an Arab Middle Eastern context and perspective. We members of the 18 include authors, teachers, educators, theologians, counsellors, and preachers. Whether young or not-so-young, ordained or lay, we are keen to make a significant difference in our churches and societies. We pray and believe our voices will be heard through our spoken and written words. We stand united in our goal to be co-workers in the field of theology in Arab contexts and beyond...”
Churches for Middle East Peace (CMEP) is a strong supporter of women in leadership in the Middle East. Our 2018 annual summit featured all women-speakers and we will be hosting a summit in February 2021 in the Middle East featuring women leaders. More information coming soon.
Image: A painting of the Samaritan woman by the well from a Greek Orthodox church in Nablus, Palestine.
Israel and Gulf states working on ‘historic pact’ to end conflict between them Times of Israel
“Israel is reportedly negotiating with several Gulf states on a ‘non-aggression pact’ between them as they face off against an increasingly emboldened Iran. The deal, which Channel 12 news described as potentially ‘historic,’ aims to put an end to the state of conflict between the Gulf states and Israel, and reportedly provides for friendly relations, cooperation in a variety of fields, and no war or incitement against each other. Advancing the Israeli initiative, Foreign Minister Israel Katz met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly last month with several foreign ministers from Arab Gulf states.”
Image: In this photo released on July 1, 2019, Foreign Minister Israel Katz visits the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. (Courtesy Katz's office)
Israeli officials wrap up Netanyahu’s pre-indictment hearing AP News
“Israel’s state prosecutors and Benjamin Netanyahu’s lawyers were wrapping up the pre-indictment hearing over a slew of corruption allegations against the prime minister on Monday. Netanyahu’s lawyers arrived at the Justice Ministry in Jerusalem for the fourth and final day of the proceedings where they were meeting with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit and his team to appeal that the cases against Netanyahu be dropped. Mandelblit has recommended that Netanyahu be indicted for fraud, breach of trust and bribery in three separate cases that have dogged the long-serving premier. The hearing is the final step before the attorney general decides whether to issue a formal indictment.”
Image: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during his party's faction meeting in Jerusalem, Thursday., Oct. 3, 2019, ahead of swearing-in of the new Israel's parliament. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit)
CMEP's Bulletin is a weekly round-up of news from the Middle East and represents an array of perspectives on the issues we cover. CMEP does not necessarily agree with all the views expressed in the articles, and they do not speak on CMEP's behalf.