Experts predicted that there would be a return to the confrontation between Qatar and the four boycott countries of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain after the end of the World Cup last month since the agreement was viewed as a truce to ensure the success of the global event in Doha. Qatar did not agree to the 13 conditions imposed by the boycotting countries. The AlUla agreement was supposed to end the Gulf crisis. The Gulf states justified the boycott by accusing Qatar of supporting terrorism, harboring members of the Muslim Brotherhood, allowing foreign military forces on its soil, and continuing its relationship with Iran. Pray that Qatar will abide by the conditions and reconcile with the countries. Pray that the Qatari government will honor the process of reconciliation and for the Qataris to look to God for stress free life (The Bible, Isaiah 12:2).
Qatar jumped 11 spots from last year’s World Watch List and has escalated to the 18th position. Severe violence against Christians rose sharply. Churches were forced to stay closed after COVID-19 restrictions. The Christian believers in Qatar face intense pressures daily for following Jesus Christ. Qatar is an absolute monarchy ruled by Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani the Emir. The State of Qatar, unlike many other Middle Eastern nations, has successfully avoided the unrest and violence of the Arab Spring. The peninsula nation bordering the Persian Gulf and Saudi Arabia was part of the Turkish-Ottoman Empire and then operated under British protection. Nearly 80% of the population is Muslim, and it is forbidden to criticize the ruling family or Islam or to share the Gospel. Many expatriates have been forced to leave the country as a result of speaking about Christ.
Like most nations in Central Asia, Turkmenistan is coping with an unusually cold winter, with temperatures falling to -25 degrees C (-13 F). Schools have closed, those serving in the military are getting sick, thousands of cattle have frozen to death. Turkmenistan suspended its exports of fuel to Uzbekistan, Iran, and China in order to have enough fuel for its own nation. Pray for the health and welfare of children, elderly, and other vulnerable people. Pray for this nation to call on the Lord whose Father heart is always listening to the cries of the people, ready to rescue and strengthen with His righteous right hand (The Bible, Isaiah 41:10).
Although a country with mighty oil and gas reserves, in the past two years its struggling economy has resulted in widespread food shortages. Turkmenistan is one of the most isolated and consolidated authoritarian regimes in the world. It lacks basic freedoms, judicial independence, and accountable institutions, and it discriminates against ethnic minorities. Turkmenistan’s dictator seeks to control every aspect of life. The government justifies its tough methods with a need to prevent an escalation of radical Islam. On the World Watch List persecution ranking, Turkmenistan fell from 19 to 25, however, the country is still one of the world’s most oppressive. Christians are often labeled as “extremists” and face persecution from authorities and local communities. There are only about 1000 Christian Believers in this nation.