03/18/2016, 18.49
IRAQ - UNITED STATES
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Christian 'genocide': blame the Islamic State, but also the US

by Bernardo Cervellera

US Secretary of State John Kerry called for an international probe into the Islamist group that has massacred Yazidis, Christians, and Shias in Syria and Iraq. US foreign policy however contributed to the rise of the Islamic State (IS) group by marginalising pro-Saddam Hussein Sunnis in Iraq, by "containing" it without fighting IS, and by selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, which ended up in IS’s hands in Syria. Iraq is now the second country in the world in terms of anti-Christian persecution.

Rome (AsiaNews) – US Secretary of State John Kerry said that the Islamic state (IS) group has committed genocide against Yazidis, Christians and Shias in Syria and Iraq. In view of this, he called for an independent international investigation and criminal charges for those thought to be responsible for the atrocities.

In the summer of 2014, IS fighters coming from Syria seized Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, forcing Christians to choose between fleeing, converting to Islam, or pay an exorbitant protection tax (jizya). More than 100,000 Christians, terrified by the massacres committed by radical Islamic militias, fled to Kurdistan.

In August 2014, it was the turn of the Yazidis on Mount Sinjar, near the border with Turkey. Deemed "pagan" and "devil worshipers", their fate was death. Hundreds of men and young people were slain. Women and girls, even the very young, were either killed or used as sex slaves, or sold as slaves in the markets.

In his statement, Kerry also mentioned the killing of Christians in Libya, as well as the murder of thousands of Shias in Syria and Iraq (considered heretics by radical Sunnis). This comes a few days after a vote in Congress designated IS’s crimes as "genocide".

This is only the second time that a US administration has declared a genocide during a conflict. The previous was in 2004 for the Darfur.

This could lead to action by the UN Security Council and bolster international resolve against IS.

However, Kerry has omitted to say that the United States has contributed to IS’s genocide, if not directly, at least indirectly.

It is no secret that IS emerged after the US under General Petraeus purged pro-Saddam Hussein Sunni elements out of Iraqi society, forcing them to flee into Syria, from where they made their way back to Iraq in 2014.

By excluding scores of officials (generals, but also judges, soldiers, bureaucrats, etc.) from the old regime, the United States created an environment favourable to IS’s rise. Now Saddam Hussein’s generals are back, well prepared, in command of genocidal troops.

Nor is it a secret that US ally Saudi Arabia with Qatar and Kuwait have given economic and military support to groups opposed to Bashar al Assad, who were overwhelmed by IS and forced to give up their most advanced technological weapons, bought from the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, etc.

Nor is it a secret that the United States, despite leading an international coalition that fought (and is fighting) IS, has preferred to “contain” IS in Syria, whilst fighting it in Iraq. Only after Russia intervened did the US-led coalition take some decisive action.

Open Doors, a Protestant NGO, lists the 50 worst persecutors of Christians. North Korea tops the list, Iraq is 2nd, Afghanistan is 4th, Syria is 5th, and Libya is 10th. Except for the first, all of them are countries where the United States intervened militarily with international coalitions.

In 2004, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was ranked 32nd; a decade ago, Syria was ranked 47th; Libya was 22nd; and Afghanistan was 11th.

According to the latest data, more than 7,000 Christians were killed for their faith in 2015 – almost twice as many as in 2014.

Thus, if IS is to be held accountable for genocide, the same should apply to its “collaborators”, more concerned about their own strategic or economic interests than the fate of the peoples with whom they come into contact.

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