Yesterday, insurgents seized the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. This is the second-largest city in the nation after Baghdad and an important center of the country’s petroleum industry. The fighters are believed to be part of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a group founded by al-Qaeda. Their victory is a major blow to Iraq’s government, which has called a state of emergency for the entire country. ISIS fighters also captured the Iraqi province of Nineveh.
Meanwhile, American and Iranian leaders are meeting in Geneva to continue work on a resolution to Iran’s nuclear development program. A July 20 deadline for the negotiations looms. Yesterday, Israel’s Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Iran the “number one threat” to his country. Clearly, progress is needed.
And Bowe Bergdahl continues to generate headlines. As you know, President Obama made the decision to exchange five Taliban leaders held at Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s freedom from Taliban custody. U.S. federal law requires the president to inform Congress at least 30 days in advance of transfers at Guantanamo Bay, but no such notice was given. The White House points to “unique and exigent circumstances” as justification for its action. They claim that Bergdahl was in poor health and in danger, and that a leak of the exchange plan could have led to his death.
Critics also warn that the exchange could give our enemies greater incentive to take U.S. hostages in the future, and that it violates our commitment not to negotiate with terrorists. The government claims that the Taliban is not a terrorist organization per se, and that our commitment to leave no soldier behind motivated its decision.
What is the ultimate answer to peace in the Middle East?
On June 8, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli President Shimon Peres met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. They did not negotiate peace treaties. Rather, they prayed together for peace. Their meeting concluded as the two presidents exchanged kisses on the cheek and then broke ground to plant an olive tree.
Jihadists are convinced that the West has been oppressing Islam since the Crusades, and that they are required by the Qur’an to attack us in defense of their faith. This is a spiritual battle that must ultimately be won with spiritual weapons. As Paul reminds us, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12).
Christians’ greatest contribution to this struggle is to pray for spiritual awakening in the Muslim world. More Muslims have come to Christ in the last 15 years than in the previous 15 centuries, many after seeing visions and dreams of Jesus. When we pray for Muslims to make Jesus their Lord, we are praying for that transformation which leads to true peace.
As our soldiers defend us on the physical battle field, we must join them on the spiritual. This battle will be won on our knees.