Immigration Crisis: A Disappearing Christian Middle East

On October 2, 2015, in DCView, by Chuck Conconi

The article below, written by Chuck Conconi,discusses the effects that the current European immigration crisis has had on Christian populations in the Middle East. It originally appeared on The Hill

Overriding all the public ceremonies dominating Pope Francis’s trip to Washington this month will be his growing concern about the bloody turmoil in the Middle East that has set off waves of refugees and threatens the few remaining Christians living in the region. It is a topic that will surface when he addresses the Congress and when he meets with President Obama.

For more than 2,000 years, Christians have been a significant part of the religiously complex Middle East, living side by side with Muslims and Jews, but that is changing and with it a growing fear that they no longer will be at home in the region. It seems that the political leaders are impotent in finding any resolution to the crisis, affecting not only Christians, but Muslims and Jews.

Religious leaders are finding the courage of their beliefs and are beginning to develop leadership roles to confront the seemingly endless violence and mayhem. Terrorist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) mask criminality under the guise of conservative Islam, a convenient pretext to establish they are operating with the blessings of a God with a rigid code even for believers who don’t follow their narrowly defined tenets.

The diaspora of refugees desperately seeking sanctuary in Europe are Muslims as well as Christians. The Christian flight, however, is significant. While the statistical figures are not precise, The New York Times reported that the number of Christians in the Middle East has declined from 14 percent of the population to about 4 percent. Newsweek has reported a similar number, that the population in the region fell from 20 percent to 5 percent. In Iraq, the number of Christians fell from some 1.4 million to less than 500,000, and more than one-third of Syria’s Christians, some 600,000, have fled the country.

It is that festering crisis of fear and massacre that dominated a multi-religious conference this month in Athens, where top-level Christian and Muslim leaders met as part of a dialogue sponsored by the King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz International Center for Interreligious and Intercultural Dialogue (KAICIID) and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.

One of the principle participants of the interreligious gathering, Patriarch Aram I Keshishian, head of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia and the Armenian Apostolic Church, said in an interview that he and other religious leaders have already met in Rome with the pope and in Washington with the president and members of Congress on this issue.

An imposing man with a commanding voice and obvious self-confidence, he said that “Christians are an essential part of the Middle East. We all share the problems with what is happening in Iraq and Syria. What is happening in Aleppo is an existential issue. Christians are leaving the region. We are not a minority; we are part of the culture and society of the Middle East. We have to look to our neighbors who are our brothers and sisters.”

He continued in saying that history is a passing thing and that ISIS will not last. But, he added, “Muslim leaders should speak out, they have to take the driver’s seat and confront a global evil.”

Sheikh Abdel-Latif Derian, the grand mufti of Lebanon, echoed the patriarch’s concern when he emphasized, speaking before the conference, that the Middle East crisis was one “we all have to endure. We are Christians and Muslims, two parts of one society. Both of us are suffering from colonialism … we are all in the same boat.”

That was essentially the consensus in the declaration of the conference that the Christian and other religious and ethnic communities are an integral and inseparable part of the Middle East’s cultural and religious diversity. The conference statement issued a condemnation of those “who manipulate religion to justify violence against people of other faiths and desecrate sacred sites and symbols.”

The conference representatives were aware that there must be movement beyond dialogue, but emphasized the importance of talking to each other is a significant beginning. They are aware that they have influence and expect that their concerns will be part of the political agenda of Pope Francis when he is in New York and Washington.

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Zack Space is an American politician and a former Congressman, representing Ohio’s 18th congressional district from 2007 until 2011. He is a member of the Democratic Party. Space serve on the Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as on the Committee’s Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade and Consumer Protection; Subcommittee on Communications, Technology and the Internet; and Subcommittee on Health. Space currently serves as a principal for Vorys Advisors LLC, a subsidiary of the law firm Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease.

Transcript below: Continue reading »


Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy’s Sue Sheridan discusses the impact of GOP control of the Senate on transmission policy.

Sue Sheridan is the President and Chief Counsel of CFTP. Ms. Sheridan began her work on Capitol Hill as counsel to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power when it was chaired by Rep. Philip R. Sharp, after stints at the Department of Energy and the White House Domestic Policy Council. She worked afterwards at the Energy and Commerce Committee for Chairman John D. Dingell, and served as Chief Counsel to the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment when she left the Hill in 2008. Ms. Sheridan now works as a consultant and an adjunct professor at Columbia University’s School of International Affairs and the George Washington School of Law. Ms. Sheridan graduated from Duke University and Vanderbilt Law School.

Transcript below. Continue reading »


IESC’s Watchen Bruce talks Ebola, Liberian economy

On December 4, 2014, in DCView, by Focus Washington

Watchen Bruce is Chief of Party for USAID’s “Liberia Investing for Business Expansion Program” or IBEX. Implemented by the International Executive Service Corps’ consultants and volunteer experts, IBEX works on the ground in Liberia to support small- and medium-sized businesses by offering technical advice and facilitating access to credit. IBEX is also helping to raise funds and conduct crisis mitigation training to help local businesses to cope with the disruptive effects of the Ebola virus.
Watchen Bruce


By Cui Tiankai

Originally posted on CNN

Editor’s note: Cui Tiankai is ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the United States. The views expressed are those of the author.

News that U.S. President Barack Obama is planning to attend next week’s Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing has been extremely welcome. China is thrilled to have President Obama as one of our guests, especially as the success of any initiatives that emerge from APEC rest squarely on cooperation between China and the United States.

Such cooperation is as important as ever, and this meeting — an event I have been involved in for many years — offers an opening to ending confusion among neighbors in the Asia-Pacific region while setting the stage for vigorous economic cooperation and integration in the coming decades.

The reality is that without strong participation by China and the United States, APEC would not have made such remarkable progress. When China and the United States find ways to work together, all nations benefit.

But shared economic growth cannot come through the decisions or actions of a single country. Instead, economic integration should be seen as a vital driving force for economic growth and prosperity in the region. Continue reading »


Careers in International Affairs

On September 16, 2014, in DCView, by Focus Washington

In the book “Careers in International Affairs” published by Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, Qorvis MSLGROUP’s Rebecca Bouchebel-MacMillan wrote about a career in Public Relations in the world of international affairs. The award-winning career book is the ultimate job hunting guide for anyone hoping to work in the US government, international organizations, business, or nonprofits.

Editors: Laura E. Cressey, Barrett J. Helmer, and Jennifer E. Steffensen.

By Rebecca Bou Chebel- MacMillan

When Tiger Woods crashed his SUV into a fire hydrant at 2.25 am outside his Florida home he could not have anticipated the consequences – within days his life would be turned upside down and his public image damaged, possibly forever. By the time his managers came up with a strategy it was too late: a sporting icon and international household name had become damaged goods.

A good public relations campaign could have spared him the worst of the media onslaught but his team was too slow to act – they lost the golden hour and damage control became impossible.

The international free flow of information, globalization and the speed at which news is being disseminated via social media have made the fields of PR and Marketing imperative for any government or corporation.

From world-leading nations to small islands, global corporations to local businesses, all are finding themselves exposed and vulnerable to the speed of communication and the power of unchecked narratives channeled through the web. Today more than ever, they are vulnerable to crisis, as they are constantly put under the microscope. It is within this new media world order that the need for constant “engagement” and “relationship building” has become the bread and butter of PR and Marketing professionals. Continue reading »


Tom Miller is the President and CEO of International Executive Service Corps (, a U.S. nonprofit that promotes economic growth and stability around the world through programs that support private enterprise, business organizations and public institutions. He was previously U.S. Ambassador to Greece, U.S. Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Special Coordinator for Cyprus at the rank of Ambassador in his 29-year career as an American diplomat.


Throwback Thursday: Matt J. Lauer on Public Diplomacy

On August 21, 2014, in EmbassyView, by Focus Washington

Here is a  throwback to ten year’s ago when QorvisMSL’S Matt J. Lauer was executive director of the commission on public diplomacy at the U.S. State Department.  He discussed  the Bush administration’s report on public diplomacy which was instrumental in updating America’s public diplomacy from the cold war days.  Here he is on CNN’s “Diplomatic License.” Matt J. Lauer on Public Diplomacy Reform on CNN’s Diplomatic License

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Chuck Conconi sat down with Bob Cusack, Managing Editor of the Hill Newspaper, to discuss the resignation of Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki. Lawmakers and members of Shinseki’s own party called for him to step down under reports that VA hospitals falsified waiting lists.

“As a political story, this will fade. The problem that Shinseki had is that if members of your own team call for your head, you’re in trouble. A dozen Democrats called for his head. There will be congressional oversight on this issue,” said Bob Cusack. Continue reading »


WASHINGTON—May 19, 2014— The government of Equatorial Guinea has heavily invested its oil revenues in the country by focusing on improving education, developing human capital and diversifying its economy, Equatorial Guinea’s Ambassador to the United States, Ruben Maye Nsue Mangue, said in a recent interview with Focus Washington.

Ambassador Nsue Mangue called improved education one of his country’s most important accomplishments since independence. “Since 1979, the government committed to develop professional education and human development. When we gained our independence, we did not have any universities, but now we have two universities, and the president is building another university in the new town of Oyala.”

Education has been a top priority for the government. Equatorial Guinean has an adult literacy rate of nearly 100%–the highest in Africa.. Since 1979, citizens of Equatorial Guinea have received more than 500,000 scholarships to study in universities and professional and technical-training programs outside the country. This figure includes multiple scholarship recipients and people who have remained outside the country.

The West African nation has also experienced significant economic growth, and it has learned how to best use its oil revenues from the positive and negative experiences of other countries. Continue reading »


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