ICC Note: ISIS overtook Mosul, Iraq a year ago and Christians from the region still need help and sanctuary. Being the specific civilian target of the extremists, Christians are of top concern in Iraq. The big question is: what strategy can be implemented to protect these people? Some suggest safe havens, others suggest international military interference, and still others suggest a civilian militia. The answer isn’t clear but one thing is: these displaced people deserve a chance to rebuild their lives.
06-10-2015 Iraq (Hudson Institute) It has been one year since Islamic State began its conquest of a third of Iraq and its destruction of that country’s ancient Christian civilization. While a massive international aid effort has helped most of the exiled Christians to subsist, it is time to look for a new strategy to help them fully live.
In a blitzkrieg of mass deportations, beheadings, women-slave auctions, and imprisonment of children, ISIS captured Mosul on June 10, 2014, and from there the rest of Nineveh province, Iraq’s Christian heartland. Apart from some who were taken hostage or killed, most of Nineveh’s 150,000 Christian residents left behind all their possessions and managed to flee the jihadists’ “convert-or-die” policy. (Two new books chronicle these events in detail: Christian Persecutions in the Middle East, by George Marlin, and Defying ISIS, by Johnnie Moore.)
For the past year, these survivors have put their lives on hold in miserable conditions in church-run camps in Iraqi Kurdistan and nearby countries, while anxiously waiting for someone to liberate their hometowns. As the dust settles on Ramadi — where late last month an overwhelming Iraqi force made a disorderly retreat from ISIS — it is clear that that day may be years in coming.
So, the question becomes: Absent an overall ISIS strategy, can a strategy be found to help these Christians?
After all, the Christians face specific circumstances that require specific policy solutions. As one of the few non-Muslim minorities in Iraq (its Jewish and Mandean communities are now at the vanishing point), the Christians are among ISIS’s primary civilian targets and have no national or regional power to protect them. The preservation of this community — among the few remaining in Christianity’s cradle, with ties to the earliest Church — is upheld as a near-sacred commitment by Christians worldwide.