08/11/2014, 00.00
IRAQ - MIDDLE EAST

US air support is not enough. We must save Islamic-Christian coexistence and Iraq

by Bernardo Cervellera
The raids near Erbil risk fuelling the division of the country. Oil rich Kurdistan attracts a lot of interest. The dream of a disintegration of the Middle East along ethnic and religious lines will not eradicate the danger of fundamentalists. The Chaldean Patriarch and Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani campaign for Islamic-Christian coexistence and the unity of Iraq.

Rome (AsiaNews) - Christian refugees from Mosul and Qaraqosh, huddled in churches (Pictured) and on the streets of Erbil; Yazidi families forced to flee under the scorching Iraqi summer sun onto the Sinjar desert: these harrowing images are urging the international community to mobilize a humanitarian and military response, albeit slowly.

For the past three days American aircraft have been striking the Islamic army positions (ex ISIS) near Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, while launching supplies of food and water to those fleeing towards any possible point of salvation.

President Barack Obama has already drawn his lines, saying that there will be no real war, but targeted operations. The risk is that these precision operations, in an attempt to keep out of the Iraqi crucible, will only further endorse a situation already presented as fact, and that would be terrible for Christians - who Obama says he wants to save - and for all Iraqis.

Just today, the Patriarch of Baghdad Louis Sako pointed out that the US raids are only interested in saving Erbil, capital of Kurdistan, and not Mosul and Qaraqosh from where Christians, Yazidis and Shiites have fled. The US air support is simply an attempt to reduce tension rather than stopping the cruelty and violence of the Islamic Caliphate.

Some in the United States hypothesize that the US military intervention is motivated by a desire to protect Erbil the administrative capital of Kurdistan home to a quarter of Iraq's oil. The Kurds argue that in the case of independence, their state would be ninth in the world in terms of oil reserves.

For some time now, the United States (and Israel) has been flirting with Kurdistan's claim for independence. Having now made ​​ aircraft available at the request of the Kurds - and not at Prime Minister Al Maliki's first request a month ago - Washingtin seems to be leaning towards closer ties with Erbil and abandoning Baghdad.

News agencies are reporting the Italian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Federica Mogherini of speaking about "support, including military support, for the Kurdish government".

It is highly likely that Italy is also concerned about the oil wells and supplies to Europe.

The problem is not saving Kurdistan, the problem is we need to stop ISIS.

Even giving the United States and Italy the benefit of the doubt that there actions are not motivated by affected selfishness, I believe that if they want to operate in Iraq they need to seriously consider the following issues:

1) The Islamic Army's greatest support base is drawn from the Sunnis and former Baathists of Saddam Husseinm, frustrated by the exclusivist politics of Al Maliki who has totally marginalized them. This is why the birth of a national unity government is urgent.

2) At the same time it is important not to undermine the central authority in Baghdad and not reinforce the division between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. For this, the offer of aid, including military, must pass through Baghdad.

3) The Islamic Army military force - with top of the range weapons - survive on funding that Western countries, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have paid to the so-called "anti-Assad resistance". The same militias that were approved by the West in Syria are today the enemies of the Christians, Yazidis, the Shiites in Iraq. And their threats regard the West. To halt the Islamist's victorious conquest all we have to do is stop financing them and force Gulf allies not to sell any more weapons to them which the West has so generously procured.

4) Stop encouraging the dream of a Middle East made up of many ethno-religious statelets.  This would only multiply inter-ethnic wars and massacres and above would leave intact the Islamic state (or caliphate) which already has oil wells and dams and promises a holy war against the whole world. In addition, in this ethno-religious chess game Christians would have no home, being a trans-national-community, rooted in the different ethnic groups of the region.

5) Help Christians remain in Iraq. As dozens of Muslims in the Middle East have always testified, their presence is the best guarantee of an educated Islam against fundamentalism. It is not by chance that the coexistence between Christians and Muslims and the unity of Iraq are the shared principles of both the Chaldean patriarch of Baghdad that the Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani.

 

 

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