World View: Repercussions Start for Pakistan’s and Turkey’s Neutrality in Yemen

AP Photo
The Associated Press

This morning’s key headlines from

  • Holy Fire from Jerusalem’s Easter celebration arrives in Athens
  • Pakistan and Turkey refuse to support Saudi Arabia in Yemen
  • Pakistanis fear repercussions from neutrality on Yemen

Holy Fire from Jerusalem’s Easter celebration arrives in Athens

The Holy Fire from Jerusalem arrives in Athens on Saturday evening
The Holy Fire from Jerusalem arrives in Athens on Saturday evening

The Holy Fire that was lit in Jerusalem on Saturday morning arrived in Athens, Greece, on Saturday evening in time for the midnight Greek Orthodox celebration of Easter. The fire is lit each year on Easter Saturday in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City, believed to be built on the site where Jesus was crucified, buried and resurrected. From Jerusalem, the flame is sent to other nations.

The Holy Fire ceremony is possibly the most impressive celebration in all of Christianity, and is performed each year for Orthodox Easter.

On Saturday morning, Orthodox clergymen break the seal of the door to Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem and descend into the chamber. After a while, they emerge with lit candles. Believers say that the “Holy Fire” appears spontaneously from the tomb on the day before Easter to show Jesus has not forgotten his followers.

The fire is passed from candle to candle, and is flown to Athens and other cities, so that the Holy Fire can be shared by thousands of worshippers. In Athens, the ceremony begins at 11 pm on Saturday, when practically the entire country is in church. At midnight, the lights are turned off, and everyone’s candle is lit with the Holy Fire from the priest’s candle, as the priest says, “Christ has risen from the dead and in so doing has trampled on death and to those in the tombs he has given life.” Then people head home with their lit candles, and the entire city is lit by the candles with the Holy Fire. The ceremony dates back to the fourth century, and possibly as early as the first century. Greek Reporter and Times of Israel

Pakistan and Turkey refuse to support Saudi Arabia in Yemen

After several days of debate, Pakistan’s parliament adopted on Friday a 12-point unanimous resolution, calling on the government to maintain neutrality in the Yemen conflict.

The terms of the resolution included the following:

  • Pakistan would stand shoulder-to-shoulder with Saudi Arabia in case of any threat, but in this case the warring factions in Yemen should resolve their differences through dialogue. (LOL!)
  • And yet, there was concern that the crisis could plunge the entire region into turmoil.
  • Pakistan was grateful to China for helping evacuate Pakistanis from Yemen.
  • Muslims and the international community should intensify their efforts to promote peace in Yemen.
  • Pakistan should continue to cooperate with other countries to combat extremism and terrorism.
  • Urged the United Nations and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to bring an end to the Yemen conflict.

One really has to laugh that grown men could put stuff like this out.

However, this was only an advisory opinion. The final decision will be taken by Pakistan’s prime minister Nawaz Sharif, but he has previously said that any decision would require the backing of the parliament.

On Saturday, Sharif had a 45-minute phone call with Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Although the contents of the phone conversation were not revealed, it is believed that Turkey’s views are similar to Pakistan’s, and they want to “mediate,” not fight. Two days after the Saudi military operation in Yemen began on March 25, Erdogan openly announced Turkey’s support, promising logistical and intelligence assistance, and harshly criticizing Iran and Shias in general. Then Erdogan took a couple of trips, first to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s capital, and then Tehran, Iran’s capital. He did a complete U-turn in less than two weeks, and now says that Turkey is categorically against sectarian-driven policies in the region. The News (Pakistan) and Reuters and Hurriyet (Ankara)

Pakistanis fear repercussions from neutrality on Yemen

Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)
Children in Yemen war zone (Reuters)

Saudi Arabia’s official position regarding the current neutrality of Pakistan and Turkey is that it will not affect the military operation in Yemen, known as “Operation Decisive Storm.” According to Saudi Brigadier General Ahmed Asiri, Pakistan’s participation in Operation Decisive Storm would be an “addition to the coalition.”

However, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is harshly condemning Pakistan and Turkey for their neutral stance. According to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Mohammed Gargash:

The Arabian Gulf is in a dangerous confrontation, its strategic security is on the edge, and the moment of truth distinguishes between the real ally and the ally of media and statements. …

This is nothing but another chapter of laggard impartial stand. Tehran seems to be more important to Islamabad and Ankara than the Gulf countries. Though our economic and investment assets are inevitable, political support is missing at critical moments.

The vague and contradictory stands of Pakistan and Turkey are an absolute proof that Arab security — from Libya to Yemen — is the responsibility of none but Arab countries, and the crisis is a real test for neighbouring countries.

Indeed, Pakistani expatriates living in Saudi Arabia are concerned about repercussions from Pakistan’s neutral stance. There are nearly two million Pakistanis living in Saudi Arabia, and they contribute $4.73 billion per year to Pakistan through remittances, the highest ever sum from any single country. Some of these Pakistanis are expressing fear that they might face discrimination in Saudi Arabia as a result of Pakistan’s stance. Tribune (Pakistan) and Khaleej Times (UAE) and The News (Pakistan)

KEYS: Generational Dynamics, Holy Fire, Jerusalem, Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Athens, Greece, Orthodox Easter, Pakistan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iran, United Arab Emirates, UAE, Operation Decisive Storm, Anwar Mohammed Gargash, Ahmed Asiri
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