As we know only too well, the Islamic State (IS) has spread far beyond Iraq, recruiting fighters from Europe and even America. The Islamic State’s goal is a worldwide Caliphate. Sadly, U.S. Administration policy still fails to identify accurately the threat. Instead, this week the White House is hosting a summit on “Countering Violent Extremism.” What is needed for national and global security and for the preservation of religious minorities, like those in Iraq, is to counter jihad.
From the Middle East, Sudan, and throughout Africa, and from North America, England, France, and Denmark to Australia, acts of “violent extremism” — whether by so-called lone wolves or bloodthirsty packs of wolves like Boko Haram; whether by non-state actors, states like Sudan and Iran, or ideological states like the Islamic State — are perpetrated in aid of the end goal of a global caliphate.
But Christians and other minorities in Iraq cannot wait for the United States government to grasp adequately the ideology behind what it terms “violent extremism.” Even as the poison spreads, the Islamic State’s continued persecution and slaughter of Christians and other minority communities in Iraq is unrelenting. These beleaguered communities, and others like them, need help now.
A report by the 21st Century Wilberforce Initiative, a new Christian human rights organization, reveals the findings from a January 21-28, 2015 trip to northern Iraq . Led by 21 Wilberforce’s president, Randel Everett, and former U.S. Representative Frank R. Wolf, who is now a Distinguished Senior Fellow with 21 Wilberforce, the trip team investigated the situation of internally displaced Christians and Yezidis, Shabaks, Turkmen, and others.
You can download the trip report, Edge of Extinction: The Eradication of Religious and Ethnic Minorities in Iraq. The report warns, “Immediate action including fresh policy approaches and targeted humanitarian assistance is essential if these minority communities are to be protected within their historic homeland.” After relating in heartbreaking detail the experiences of Christians and other victimized communities, the report offers six recommendations to which the United States government should listen:
- Establishment of a Ninevah Plains Province for Christians, Yezidis, and other besieged minorities.
- Support the newly created Ninevah Protection Unit as a national guard to defend the Ninevah Plains Province.
- Press the Iraqi national government and the Kurdistan Regional Government to guarantee that all properties taken by IS be returned to its rightful owner.
- Strengthen and encourage the efforts of the Kurdistan Regional Government to foster democracy, religious freedom, and strong civil society.
- Provide ongoing and immediate humanitarian aid and assistance.
- Prosecute the Islamic State and its leadership for crimes against humanity, war crimes, and should it be determined, genocide.
Jihad must be countered by aiding immediately its victims, such as Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq. It must also be countered with truth about what it is. In Part 2 of this series, we will look at who is competing most successfully against the Islamic State in the war of ideas. And in Part 3, I will provide action items for THIS WEEK, for you to do your part in pushing for U.S. policy to counter jihad and assist persecuted Christians and other minority groups in Iraq.