Will the world intervene?
As the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria takes up a new military campaign—apparently to gain ground in the oil-rich Kurdish area in northern Iraq—the U.S. military reportedly will conduct an emergency airdrop to aid members of a religious minority that is being pushed up against a wall.
Such an intervention would be aimed at helping the Yazidi religious minority besieged on a northern mountainside by the Sunni extremists, according to U.S. officials quoted by The Wall Street Journal.
Yazidis, who follow an ancient religion with ties to Zoroastrianism, are considered by ISIS as apostates. Their ancestral homeland is Sinjar, a district of Nineveh in northwest Iraq that ISIS took over on Sunday.
Katrina Lantos Swett said this evening that the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) that she chairs is "heartened that the White House is considering additional steps that the US can take to alleviate the humanitarian catastrophe facing tens of thousands of Yazidis, Christians and others."
"This is both a humanitarian and a human rights crisis and we encourage our government to exercise its unique and indispensable leadership role in rallying the responsible nations to address this dire situation," Lantos Swett said in a statement emailed to Aleteia.
The Journalsaid the Islamic State is "also imperiling other parts of northern Iraq in a rapid new advance that is also threatening the long-stable city of Erbil, the seat of the Kurdish regional government."
The US State Department issued a statment this afternoon condemning the actions of the Islamic militant group, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
"The cold, calculated manner in which ISIL has targeted defenseless Iraqis, like Christians, solely because of their ethnic and religious identity, demonstrates a callous disrespect for human rights; it is nothing short of abominable," a Department spokeswoman, Pooja Jhunjhunwala, told Aleteia. "All those responsible for these abuses must be held fully accountable for their actions."
"We are working intensively with the Government of Iraq, the Iraqi Security Forces, and the Kurdish Regional Government authorities in the immediate area to support their efforts to address the security threat and the challenging humanitarian situation in Ninewa, Sinjar, and elsewhere," Jhunjhunwala said. "We urge all Iraqi authorities and international partners to work with the United Nations and its partners to deliver life-saving humanitarian assistance as soon as possible. We support the work done by the United Nations, non-governmental organizations, and other international and local humanitarian partners to meet the most pressing needs of affected populations in Iraq, including shelter, food and water, blankets, and basic medicine. We are in regular contact with religious leaders in northern Iraq to assess the needs of the displaced people in their care and track delivery of assistance to these communities."
Pope Francis issued an emergency statement earlier today, as did Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako. The Chaldean Church in Baghdad issued a second statemnt today calling for a quick response to the emergency.
“We…call upon all for an individual and collective action…to ask for food and material assistance from the central government and create an air bridge to deliver emergency aid, as well as contact civil society organizations and bishops conferences quickly to provide assistance,” said the statement.
The semiautonomous Kurdish region so far has been insulated from the militant takeover of parts of Iraq and a haven for the displaced from all over the country, the Journal said. But now ten