Foreign Affairs

Plight of the Yazidis

Plight of the Yazidis

Barack Obama’s irresponsible abandonment of Iraq continues to bear bitter fruit.  Now it’s ethnic cleansing, genocide, and we just might end up going back into a ground war in Iraq after all, because not much else is likely to stop it.  If only Obama had done his job and negotiated that Status of Forces agreement… if only he hadn’t been in such a blind rush to “get out of Iraq” and please his anti-war (read: anti-Bush) base voters…

Ah, well.  If wishes were horses, the Yazidi people would ride off the mountains they’ve been forced into by the largest, richest, best-armed terror state in history, which formed on Barack Obama’s watch.  No wonder the White House has been nervously silent about the horror taking place, until late in the game.  This isn’t something any Obama supporter wants to talk about.  And much as the idiotic Obama State Department loves to prattle on about “smart power” and throw its weight against Israel, there’s nobody at ISIS waiting around to take a phone call from the Administration, or respond to one of its Twitter hashtags.

Bloomberg News reports:

Thousands of people from Iraq’s Yezidi religious group are stranded in northern mountains, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund, as they sought to escape execution and rape by Islamist militants.

About 140,000 people fled from regions in the north this week, including the town of Sinjar, where most of the population is Yezidi, according to UNICEF. While most escaped to Kurdish-controlled areas, about 50,000 people, half of them children, are stuck in the mountains, UNICEF spokeswoman Juliette Touma said by phone from Iraq.

“Their situation is the direst because we cannot provide assistance or provide essential supplies like water,” she said.

Water’s going to be big problem for everyone in ISIS’ path soon, since they’re making a big play to control  the dams in the area.  Having driven the Christians out of their conquered territory, the Islamic fascists of ISIS turned their wrath on the Yezidis, whose faith descends from Zoroastrianism (i.e. it’s not Islam, or even the “wrong” brand of Islam, which is pretty much all that matters to the Islamic State.)  The result allegedly includes mass graves full of children and female enslavement.

Haaretz posted a video of Vian Dakheel, a Kurdish Yezidi member of the Iraqi parliament, pleading for help against the ISIS onslaught.  The Muslim members were evidently uncomfortable with her charges of genocide carried out in the name of Allah.  She does not allow herself to be silenced.  “Brothers, I call upon you in the name of humanity, rescue us!”

As Vian Dakheel says, some Yazidis were able to flee into Turkey and find refuge, but many more have been driven into the mountains, where they are dying of starvation and thirst.  One Yazidi managed to get in touch with the BBC to describe their desperate situation:

We’re hiding inside caves. We have nothing – no food and no water.

We’ve been under siege for four days. We eat once a day – either in the morning or at night.

We’ve managed to get some basic food supplies from neighbouring areas, but three children died today because of starvation. Seven women and children have died since yesterday because of dehydration.

A lot of the people here have disabilities or suffer from serious illnesses like diabetes. It’s 50C here and we’re being bombarded indiscriminately.

Fifty degrees centigrade is 122 degrees Farenheit.  That’s not the record high in those mountains.

We need help. Until now, no humanitarian aid has been delivered and no help provided by aid organisations – not the Red Cross or the Red Crescent, or even the United Nations. The Iraqi government and the Iraqi president have not helped. Nothing at all.

There are clashes going on between the Islamic State [IS] and the Yazidis. But we don’t have weapons so what are we supposed to do?

When IS fighters arrived in Sinjar, they said there was no place for us in the area and that we had to leave. But where can we go? When they attacked Mosul, many people fled to Sinjar.

The Peshmerga [Kurdish fighters] have not helped us at all. We haven’t seen any of their soldiers. When they found out that IS was coming to shell Sinjar, they all left for Kurdistan.

On top of all the persecution and humiliation we have suffered, IS fighters now want to kill us. They want to slaughter us.

Bear in mind President Barack Fundraiser has known about this developing situation for quite some time.  It wasn’t hard to predict the Yezidis would get a dose of what Christians in ISIS territory were already getting.  Yazidi Kurds living in the United States have been holding public rallies all week.  A bipartisan group of congressional representatives sent a letter to the White House back in June, warning that without immediate action from Obama, the outlook for Christians and other religious minorities was “bleak and sobering.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) has been hitting the House floor to raise alarms about ISIS’s genocidal ambitions, and complain about the dead silence from the White House, every day for weeks.  He wrote another letter to Obama today, wondering when the President might think about convening his highly-touted Atrocities Prevention Board while there’s still time to do something more than draw a chalk outline around the corpses of an entire people:

In 2012, during an address at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, you announced the convening of the Atrocities Prevention Board, led by the White House, which would make the deterrence of genocide and mass atrocities “a core national security interest and core moral responsibility.”  You also stated “We’re making sure that the United States government has the structures, the mechanisms to better prevent and respond to mass atrocities.”  Throughout your speech, you repeatedly said “never again” would the world allow mass atrocities to occur.

Tragically, mass atrocities are happening again today – and on your watch.  Genocide is taking place today in northern Iraq, where the Christian and Yezidi populations are being exterminated by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  There is no question that systematic and targeted brutality is occurring.  Yet, as I said on the House floor last week, the silence from you and your administration is deafening. Why have you not spoken up, and why has the Atrocities Prevention Board not taken action?  Just today, the editorial page of The Washington Post described your administration’s response to this emergency as “listless.”

Over the weekend, approximately 200,000 Yezidis were forced to flee their homes.  Your own administration has reported that anywhere from 35,000 to 60,000 of these Yezidis took refuge in the Sinjar Mountains without any protection from the elements and little access to food and water.  Children and the elderly are dying of thirst, families are being separated and women and young girls are being raped and sold into slavery.

As I wrote in my letter to you earlier this week, ISIS has systematically destroyed and looted churches, monasteries, mosques and other significant historic landmarks, including Jonah’s tomb.  The homes of Christians and other religious minorities have been marked with spray paint to target those who live there.  Families have been force to flee, often on foot, with nothing but literally the shirts on their backs.

We cannot pretend these atrocities aren’t taking place; there are now videos on the Internet being promoted by those sympathetic to ISIS proudly displaying their brutal and grotesque slaughter and abuse of Christians, Yezidis and other religious minorities in Iraq.

Your administration is aware of what is going on, yet you are doing nothing.  Just what is the point of having an “Atrocities Prevention Board” if it takes no action to prevent or stop atrocities?  When was the last time this board has met?  Has the board even been convened to address the genocide taking place in Iraq?

Wolf concludes, “It is now clear to the nation and the world that your words were hollow; your “presidential directive” apparently was nothing more than a token gesture.  You will come to sincerely regret your failure to take action to stop the genocide in Iraq.  Your conscience will haunt you long after you leave office.  Mr. President, say something; do something.”

Obama himself still doesn’t seem to be saying much (at least, not to people who don’t pay $35,000 a pop to hear him speak) but on Thursday, a tepid response finally bubbled out of the White House press shop, as related by Fox News:

The White House stopped short Thursday of committing America’s military to stopping a potential “genocide” in Iraq, declining to say whether doing so is in “America’s core interests.”

Officials say the administration nevertheless is weighing options ranging from military strikes to the delivery of humanitarian aid for ethnic minorities driven from their homes by Islamist militants. Senior U.S. officials told Fox News the administration is strongly considering plans to conduct a humanitarian aid mission that would provide food and water to the 40,000 or so religious minorities stranded on a mountaintop in the country’s north after Islamist militants forced them to flee.

These officials say any such mission would come with serious risks — therefore, the administration would need to consider some sort of airstrikes in order to disrupt the militant strongholds at the base of the mountain and clear the way for a safe delivery. Officials say an announcement is expected later Thursday.

President Obama discussed the crisis with his national security team Thursday morning as the Islamic State (IS), the militant group formerly known as ISIS, made further gains. Airstrikes in particular would mark a significant shift in the U.S. strategy in Iraq.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, though, would not say at Thursday’s briefing what would trigger a military response.

He said the situation is nearing a “humanitarian catastrophe” and is one “we are deeply concerned about and closely monitoring.” Earnest claimed Obama has demonstrated a willingness to use military force to protect America’s core interests.

Yes, you guys just keep “monitoring” that situation.

Earnest also said “there is no American military solution to Iraq’s problems and the country must seek a political solution.”  I guess the Yazidis could politely ask ISIS to stop murdering them – maybe try to reach a political compromise where only half of them get wiped out.

The United Nations has reportedly been able to rescue some of the trapped Yazidis, while the Kurdish Peshmerga – which somewhat unexpectedly withdrew before the advance of ISIS forces, after running low on supplies and ammunition – are evidently back in the game.  There were reports late Thursday afternoon of air strikes against ISIS positions, presumably carried out by the Iraqi government.

The ISIS persecution of Christians is also moving along at a brisk pace, as Fox News reports ISIS has seized control of Qaraqoush, the largest Christian city in Iraq, “reportedly telling its residents to leave, convert or die and sending tens of thousands of civilians and Kurdish fighters fleeing from the area, according to several priests in northern Iraq.”  Hopefully the White House will “monitor” that, too.

Update: Maybe the “monitoring” period is finally over at the White House, because the U.S. has reportedly air-dropped supplies to the Yazidis, and possibly also delivered a few bombs onto nearby ISIS forces, although the Pentagon denied those claims as of Thursday evening.  [Further update: the Pentagon is denying humanitarian airdrops, too.  So I guess the "monitoring" is still in progress after all...]

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