IRAQ: Al-Qaeda forces have gained control of Fallujah, a key battleground during the nearly 10-year U.S. war in Iraq. Its Anbar Province, where nearly one-third of U.S. troops killed in Iraq died, is now on its way to becoming a showcase for the resurgence of the reconstituted Al Qaeda in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS.
The extremist takeover is making havoc for civilians and service providers, including doctors and a group of expat nurses working at Fallujah Hospital. Reported one nurse over the weekend: “Let the whole world know that life in Iraq is miserable, every gunshot takes away one life, which leaves many dependents, abandoned, helpless, and sufferers for a lifetime.”
SOUTH SUDAN: The fighting in South Sudan is about much more than ethnic conflict. Interpreting it that way is superficial at best, and potentially dangerous. WORLD’s Jamie Dean reports on the latest with a good overview of what’s led to the internal conflict, and our Africa correspondent Moses Wasamu argues for peace negotiations that include church and civil society leaders, avoiding the mistakes of other African nations.
ZERO DARK THIRTY: Here’s the latest on the Obama administration’s failure to hold accountable top officials who leaked classified information to Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal. While then CIA Director Leon Panetta is directly responsible, investigators have instead gone after those who disclosed the existence of a report fingering Panetta.
PAKISTAN: Terrorist attacks and suicide bombings increased by 39 percent across Pakistan in 2013. Perspective on one of those attacks, the bombing of All Saints Church in Peshawar, is here.
EASTERN CHRISTMAS: Tomorrow is Christmas in the Coptic and other Eastern-rite churches. It’s a good time to pray for persecuted believers across the region, as Egyptian authorities and others are beefing up security at churches in anticipation of attacks.