The latest brutal persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq by extremists belonging to the Islamic State (IS) group is putting ancient communities at risk of extinction.
Up to 300 members of the Assyrian community in northeastern Syria were kidnapped over the past week by IS militants. Most of the abducted are children, women and elderly. It is feared that the hostages will be killed as many others of their community have been already at the hands of the militants.
The IS cadres have also launched a campaign to destroy ancient artefacts and churches in northern parts of Syria and Iraq. Assyrians, Chaldeans and Syriacs are among the oldest Christian communities in the Middle East, tracing their genealogy back 2.000 years to the time of Jesus.
Now they are fleeing in their thousands to escape the wrath of the IS group – a fundamentalist Islamic network that proclaims a caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq.
The radical Wahhabist ideology of the IS ascribes all other religions as apostates, to be persecuted and killed. Shia and Sunni Muslim sects are also targeted by IS, along with Christians.
Underscoring the spread of IS and its brutality, the group released a video showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in the Libyan city of Sirte last month. That atrocity has prompted a mass exodus of Egyptian Christians out of Libya.
The United States government has issued strong condemnations against the violence meted out to the Christian communities by IS, also know as ISIL.
Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council said: «The international community stands united and undeterred in its resolve to bring an end to ISIL’s depravity. The United States will continue to lead the fight to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL».
Leading the fight to defeat IS is just more of the same delusional, vain nonsense that Washington excels in. The self-proclaimed «exceptional nation» has been the biggest factor in the creation of the IS network.
Before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 there was no such thing as Al Qaeda-type groups in that part of the world. Ten years on, large parts of the country, including the second city Mosul, are now over-run with Jihadists.
The US and its Persian Gulf Arab allies, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, have been instrumental in promoting Al Qaeda groups in their proxy war for regime change in Syria over the past four years. Billions of petrodollars have been pumped into Syria to finance an alphabet soup of Jihadists, from which IS has emerged as the most potent.
This was acknowledged in the past week by two imminent sources. Former NATO commander and US General Wesley Clark told US media that America’s Arab allies were responsible for creating the IS terror network.
Then Lakhdar Brahimi, the former UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, threw off diplomatic circumspect and bluntly said that the US was responsible for the growth of IS as a result of its invasion of Iraq a decade ago. «The US is to be blamed. It created conditions that allowed ISIL to grow,» said Brahimi in an interview with Al Hayat newspaper.
For tactical reasons of curbing a Frankenstein monster or for public relations concerns, the US and its NATO and Arab allies may have taken to launching aerial strikes on IS in recent months. But whatever the reasoning, it is all the same undeniable that the problem of Islamic extremism in the Middle East is an outcome of US imperialist war-making in the region.
The latest spate of kidnappings and killings against Assyrian Christians is reckoned to have been motivated as a form of revenge to US-led airstrikes in Syria and Iraq.
The US-led illegal occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, air strikes on Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, along with proxy wars in Libya and Syria, have all been tightly correlated with the surge in Al Qaeda-type terror groups.
It should therefore be obvious that US policy in the Middle East is the source of the problem.
Yet US President Barack Obama propagates the delusional notion that he and his allies are fighting a war against terrorism.
Hosting the Qatari Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani in the White House last week, Obama said: «Qatar is a strong partner in our coalition to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL. We are both committed to making sure that ISIL is defeated, to making sure that in Iraq there is an opportunity for all people to live together in peace».
Obama’s delusion is reinforced by a sequacious Western corporate news media, which wilfully ignores the obvious background of US-led war-making across the Middle East and North Africa as being the crucial context for the spread of extremism.
The criminal destruction of Iraq by the US under Presidents GW Bush and Obama – which cost more than one million lives – is somehow shoved down an Orwellian memory hole.
Ironically, the US considers itself to have a special ordinance from God to «lead the nations of the world».
Officially, it considers itself to be a pre-eminent exponent of Christian values. As ancient Christianity gets wiped off the map in the Middle East – the birthplace of the religion – the ultimate author of its demise is the self-righteous United States.
Finian CUNNINGHAM | SCF