Turmoil unleashed across the region as millions face crashing economies, food shortages, oppressive regimes
EASTON, Md. -- A U.S. organization focused on the Middle East and North Africa is casting the spotlight on what it calls the region's top 5 "evolving crises" at the start of 2023.
With the world's gaze fixed on Ukraine-Russia and muscle-flexing in China, "seismic events unfolding in the Middle East are simply off the radar for many in the U.S.," said Dr. Rex Rogers, president of faith-based Middle East multimedia organization SAT-7 USA (www.sat7usa.org).
"The Middle East and North Africa is a powder keg ready to explode," Rogers said. "The region -- the birthplace of civilization -- is on a knife's edge as we begin 2023."
5 Evolving Crises
- Iran on the Edge: Human rights protests continue amid the regime's deadly crackdown. On Saturday, two young men -- one a karate champion, the other a volunteer children's coach -- were hanged for supporting the protests. And Iranian soccer player Amir Nasr-Azadani was sentenced to 16 years in prison after being found guilty of "partaking in enmity against God" for joining protesters. Many others have been detained by the secret police since the protests began in September.
- Women, Girls in Dire Straits: In Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban regime continues to suppress the rights and freedoms of women and girls. Last month, the regime suspended all women from college or university, meaning girls in Afghanistan cannot study beyond primary school. In Türkiye (formerly Turkey), femicides -- gender-related murders -- are on the rise as violence against women soars to epidemic levels.
- Economic Turmoil: Soaring food prices are leading to a hunger crisis across the Middle East and North Africa, with a run on bread in Lebanon's capital, Beirut. The economic meltdown could get worse. Skyrocketing inflation and rising unemployment threatens to push millions over the edge in 2023.
- Fallout of War: Yemen, a small country on the Arabian Peninsula, is in the throes of one of the world's worst -- and underreported -- humanitarian crises. Back in 2000, 17 U.S. service members were killed in an al-Qaeda attack there. Prolonged civil war, hunger and disease have created a toxic combination of suffering. It's estimated 4 million people have been displaced. And there's no end in sight.
- Oppression of Religious Minorities: Officials in the North African nation of Algeria are ramping up efforts to clamp down on religious freedoms, especially targeting Christians and other minorities that make up less than 1% of the population. Algeria enforces severe restrictions on religious minorities, closing down churches, and arresting people on charges of "blasphemy" and "proselytizing."
Based on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, SAT-7 -- a free service -- broadcasts faith and education programs live in local languages via satellite television and social media platforms, attracting millions of viewers and online followers.
"More than anything, people across the region are crying out for hope," Rogers said. "We hear from thousands of viewers every month, people looking to SAT-7 for encouragement, prayer and advice, to be their voice."
Launched in 1996, SAT-7 USA (www.sat7usa.org) -- with its international headquarters in Cyprus -- broadcasts Christian and educational satellite television and online programs in the Middle East and North Africa. Its mission is to make the gospel available to everyone, and support the church in its life, work and witness for Jesus Christ. SAT-7 broadcasts 24/7 in Arabic, Farsi (Persian), Dari, and Turkish, using multiple satellite channels and online services.