AINA Editorial
US, Europe Must Arm the Assyrians, Provide Immediate Humanitarian Aid
By The Editorial Board
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Assyrian refugees in a church in Dohuk, Iraq.
(AINA) -- The stunning advance of the Islamic State (ISIS) into Iraq, where it has captured large swathes of territory, including Mosul, has created a massive humanitarian crisis. The two groups who have been hit the hardest are the Assyrians and the Yazidis. The Assyrians have seen their last stronghold, the Nineveh Plain, where they were the majority, nearly completely emptied. 200,000 Assyrians have fled from Baghdede, Bartella and Karamles and from dozens of towns and villages in the Nineveh Plain north of Mosul (AINA 2014-08-07). The Yazidis Have fled from Sinjar and Zumar into the Shingal Mountain, where 40,000 are stranded without food, water and shelter. Thousands have died.

The Kurdish government security forces failed to protect these two communities. Multiple reports confirm that Kurdish forces withdrew from Baghdede, the Nineveh Plain and Sinjar and Zumar, leaving the population defenseless against ISIS. Ground commanders were ordered to withdraw from these areas by the Kurdish government without explanation. In Baghdede the commander was ordered to withdraw at 2:00 A.M. and the exodus of Assyrians began at 3:00 AM with the ringing of church bells.

The Kurdish government has a force of 100,000, the pesh merga. This force has engaged ISIS in three minor battles to date. Yet Western governments and the media have framed the narrative as the need to arm the Kurds to save them from impending doom. The Kurds have not been directly threatened, have not been uprooted and forced from their homes and villages, yet they are portrayed as weak, defenseless and in need of military aid.

President Obama, in announcing U.S. airstrike against ISIS, said "To stop the advance on Erbil, I've directed our military to take targeted strikes against ISIL terrorist convoys should they move toward the city" and "I've, therefore, authorized targeted airstrikes, if necessary, to help forces in Iraq as they fight to break the siege of Mount Sinjar and protect the civilians trapped there." There is nothing in these statements about driving ISIS out of the Nineveh Plain, Baghdede, Sinjar or Zumar.

Who can the Assyrians depend on for protection? It is clear that Baghdad cannot help them, as the Iraqi army is no longer in North Iraq. It is clear that the Kurds cannot help them, as they are concerned for their own security. Some analysts even suggest that Kurds are exploiting this opportunity, deliberately withdrawing their forces, showing "weakness" to gain more arms from the United States, and the Assyrians and Yazidis are pawns in this game, sacrificed for Kurdish interests.

No one will protect the Assyrians and Yazidis but themselves, because they have their lives, their way of life, their lands and their homes at stake. The right of self-defense is fundamental. Assyrians do not ask the world to defend them, only to be allowed to defend themselves.

The United States and Europe, under the auspices of the Unites Nations, must establish an Assyrian Defense Force for the Nineveh Plain, Baghdede and other Assyrian areas, as well as a Yazidi defense force for the area of Sinjar and Zumar. But before this happens ISIS must be driven out. World governments must resolve, therefore, to remove ISIS from north Iraq. It is the moral obligation of all free nations to stop this group, which is committing genocide and unconscionable crimes against humanity.

World governments must take the following immediate actions:

  • Offer massive humanitarian aid, as the scale of the crisis is beyond any NGOs to deal with
  • Expand airstrikes to include all areas under ISIS control, including Mosul, the Nineveh Plain, Baghdede, Sinjar and Zumar, to drive ISIS out
  • Establish a safe haven for Assyrians in the Nineveh Plain
  • Establish a safe haven for Yazidis in Sinjar and Zumar
  • Establish an Assyrian defense force to protect Assyrian areas
  • Establish a Yazidi defense force to protect Yazidi areas

Failure to take these actions will result in the dispersal of the Yazidis and the disappearance of Assyrians from their lands, lands they have inhabited since 4750 B.C.

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