As he closed the door on American military involvement in Iraq, Barack Obama said: “Everything that American troops have done in Iraq—all the fighting, all the dying, the bleeding and the building and the training and the partnering—all of it has landed to this moment of success.” He avoided declaring victory outright, but he did say: “Iraq’s not a perfect place. It has many challenges ahead. But we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government that was elected by its people.”
At the beginning of December in that stable and self-reliant Iraq with a representative government, I received a chilling message from an Assyrian Christian in Iraqi Kurdistan. He wrote: “Today after Friday prayers, Muslim Kurds in Zakho (near Dohuk) attacked and besieged liquor shops, salons, hotels, massages that are owned by Christians. The security didn’t do anything and the rampage has continued till now!” Several hours later he wrote again: “The attacks haven’t stopped, and I just got the word that they are attacking a Catholic Diocesan office. The security is standing still and watching as I am writing this to you. Christian homes are being fired upon as well.”
As captured on video, the Muslim mob shouted “Allahu akbar,” “jihad” and anti-Christian slogans as it rampaged. One Christian liquor storeowner reported that the mob did half a million U.S. dollars’ worth of damage to his businesses—and stole $300,000 from his safe. Another Christian sent me pictures of a small club, destroyed in a fire the mob set, and explained: “This was a small social club for us Christians that we spend our nights. As you see, we live very poorly and humbly. They had no reason to attack us. All we want is to enjoy a beer after a hard day of work. Is that too much to ask? Are Muslim minorities in the West treated like this?”
No, they aren’t, but with all the media hand-wringing about “Islamophobia,” and Hillary Clinton’s closed-door meeting with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation last week to discuss strategies on how to outlaw criticism of Islam in a society that ostensibly protects the freedom of speech, one might be forgiven for getting the idea that Muslims in the U.S. were living in a virtual state of siege. The only besieged people are actually Christians and other non-Muslims in places such as the new, stable and self-reliant Iraq and the new, democratic “Arab Spring” Egypt.
The plight of Christians in Iraq is just one aspect of the chaos we leave behind there. In April 2003, when U.S. troops had been in Iraq for less than two weeks, I wrote in Insight in the News that the “primary opponents” of democratic government in Iraq would be those who held “that no government has any legitimacy unless it obeys the Sharia. Even if they lose in the short run, they will not disappear as long as there are people who take the Koran and Islamic tradition seriously. And that spells trouble for any genuine democracy.”
That has proven true. Post-American Iraq is dominated by Islamic hardline factions, each vying to impose its vision of Sharia upon its recalcitrant fellow countrymen. Just days after the jihad mob attack on Christian-owned businesses and churches, three bombs exploded in a crowd celebrating the Shi’ite feast of Ashura, murdering twenty-two.
That attack will most likely be avenged before too long, and bloodily, for the Shi’ites in Iraq have the long arm of Iran behind them—and Iran has been working for years to establish a Shi’ite client state in Iraq. With a president in the White House who appears incapable of doing anything to impede their plans, the Iranians have their best chance yet to establish such a state on a firm footing.
Nothing appears likelier in Iraq’s future than more jihadist persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, more Sunni-Shi’ite jihad, and more jockeying for power by Iran as it continues its jihad to become the leader of the Islamic world. Yet in Washington the level of analysis hasn’t improved since Condoleezza Rice said in 2007 that the Sunnis and Shi’ites were just “going to have to overcome” their centuries-old animosity.
That was and is about as likely as Iraq truly becoming a “stable and self-reliant” nation with a “representative government.”