SAT-7 CEO, Dr Terence Ascott, today voiced the broadcaster’s grave concern for religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq following the latest surge by Islamic State (formerly ISIS) fighters in the country’s north.
Most of the 50,000 population of Iraq’s largest Christian city, Qaraqosh, fled after the advance on Wednesday night. Christian refugees previously sought refuge in the town and smaller towns in the area following the fall of Mosul in June. Meanwhile, another 40,000 civilians – mostly from the pre-Islamic Yazidi community – fled IS fighters to the mountains from Sinjar in Iraq’s north-west.
In the last 24 hours, the USA and Turkey began working with the Iraqi government to deliver aid to people on Mount Sinjar and President Obama confirmed he would authorise air strikes against IS if they advance on Iraqi Kurdistan, which has previously withstood Islamist forces.
SAT-7 CEO, Dr Terence Ascott commented on the latest assault on Iraq’s Christians and other minorities. He said, “It is important to give urgent aid and protection to innocent civilians, and to strengthen the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraqi Kurdistan that are now protecting so many minorities displaced by years of sectarian violence.” (see photo below)
But he stressed, “The solution to what is happening today cannot just be a military one. There has to be the will for a political plan, involving all moderate ethnic and religious parties in Iraq, as well as key international players. The Qataris must stop their funding for extremist groups like the IS; and the Turks and the Iranians have key political and strategic roles to play, along with the Saudis, the USA and other Western powers.
Dr Ascott continued: “Over the past decade of civil conflict, Iraq’s Christians have been seen by all parties as “blameless” victims; and both Shi’a and Sunni moderates have become increasingly disillusioned by the atrocities committed in the name of God. But, unless this silent majority are ready to say that they have had enough, and are willing to raise their heads above the parapet and speak up, there will be no end to the bloodletting, and sadly there will ultimately be no place left in Iraq (or Syria) for its Christian and other historic minorities.”