Saturday, November 8, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, November 8

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
Vladimir Putin took part in the final plenary meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club’s XI session. The meeting’s theme is The World Order: New Rules or a Game without Rules. In the full text of his address, Putin comments on the fall-out following the end of the Cold War and the troubling world order imposed by the victors.

This interview with Dr. Justin Tse of the University of Washington addresses the theopolitcal chess game between China and Hong Kong. Justin Tse speaks to the role of religion in the struggle, the nature of Church-State relations, and the Catholic strategy in the region.

This week in the office of readings for the Catholic Church, the story of the Maccabees and their battle to reconsecrate the desecrated altar in the Temple is told. At Mass on Sunday, our Lord will cleanse the Temple from the money-changers. In Jerusalem, that holy space of the Temple Mount is now covered by the Dome of the Rock, commemorating the site of Mohammed being swept up from prayer in Mecca to this site where he ascended into heaven for an encounter with the Divine and then returned to earth. The  Al-Aqsa Mosque is nearby. The Dome itself is not a mosque. This article outlines different claims to the holy site which has seen renewed violence this week. Orthodox Jews believe no one should enter what was once the Holy of Holies. Muslims believe only Muslims can pray there, but tourists can come if they don't pray. That position has been enforced by the Israeli government since 1967. At different times the Israeli authorities have banned Muslim men under 50, or under 30, from Friday prayer. An important fact not in the article is that the Hashemites of Jordan are considered by the Israelis as the official custodians of Islamic holy sites in Jerusalem. Disputes about the shrine are central to Israel/Jordan relationships, and the credibility of Jordan as a non-Saudi religious authority for Sunni Muslims. There is a growing movement in Israel to open the site for Jewish prayer.
In this 2012 interview with King Abdullah of Jordan, Abdullah explains the possibility of an Assad Alawite enclave, the breakdown of Greater Syria, and the early role of Russia in proposing political solutions. Assad cannot leave his people. His departure is no solution for the Alawites. Jordan is the one neighboring Sunni Arab nation which could possibly fill the state gap in the land now controlled by ISIS.

US Naval War College professor James Holmes examines China President Xi Jinping and sees a new Teddy Roosevelt building sea power to buttress national identity and strategy.

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