Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 9, 2016

Catching Up With ISIS


Sako speaks at a news conference in Arbil, the capital of the autonomous Kurdish region of northern Iraq, on Tuesday. (Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images)

The airliner-crash tragedy in Ukraine and the fighting in Gaza over the past week have nudged aside what had been the biggest foreign policy story of the summer — the rise of the Islamic State (aka ISIS aka ISIL) in Iraq. The insurgent force is still causing its share of turmoil, though.

Islamic militants have ejected Christians from the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, and reports say that few — if any — Christians remain. They were given an ultimatum between converting to Islam, paying a tax or facing death.

“The threat is the latest blow to the dwindling Christian population in Iraq, where the faith has been present for almost 2,000 years, clerics say, brought by early disciples to the fertile plains of the Tigris and Euphrates,” writes Nabih Bulos for the Los Angeles Times.

Over the weekend, Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the head of the Chaldean Catholic Church — Iraq’s largest Christian denomination — said the militants were worse than Genghis Khan.

Bloomberg Businessweek’s Jason Motlagh reports that about 20 miles away from Mosul, militants have blocked pipes that connect Qaraqosh and nearby Christian villages with the Tigris River: “Without a sufficient number of deep wells to fill the gap, the city must have water trucked in, at huge cost, from Kurdish-controlled areas just 15 miles away.”

Also near Mosul, the Mar Behnam monastery, dating to the 4th century, was overrun by Islamic fighters, according to the BBC.

Washington still has its eye on the conflict, of course. This week two congressional committees are holding hearings on the issue: House Foreign Affairs on Wednesday morning, and Senate Foreign Relations on Thursday morning.


Comments (23)

  1. George Weiss

    July 25, 2014
    9:51 a.m.

    How can the christian world remain silent about this while at the same time counting every arab hurt in Gaza? Is there a conspiracy here?

    • pang si tay

      Aug. 16, 2014
      6:53 p.m.

      israel will stop if rockets stop

  2. anObserver

    July 29, 2014
    3:07 a.m.

    These Christians are the ‘Real Christians’ – they are followers of Jesus. They are not the crusading types, like the ones converted by the Romans, after killing Jesus. May be, that is why the Europeans (including Americans) prefer Muslims to these folks.

  3. Yeshuratnam

    Aug. 17, 2014
    12:27 p.m.

    Yazidi refugees are projected ignoring Iraqi Christians. House Democrats option for boots on the ground should also include urgent help for displaced Iraqi Christians.Obama has not uttered a single word about the Christians who are camping temporarily in Erbil. Previously home to more than 50,000 Assyrian Christians,Qaraqosh was emptied of Christians last month as the battles between the radical militants of the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS) and the hardened fighters of the Kurdish Pesmerga crept closer to Qaraqosh. When Peshmerga couldn’t defeat IS terrorists, the Christians started their flight from Qaraqosh and surrounding towns and villages across the Nineveh plain. An estimated 200,000 more joined this latest wave fleeing the violence.
    “They have nothing,” Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako, told ICC on August 9. “Food,water, medicine, shelters,” the absolute basics to sustain life, is what hundreds of thousands desperately need. They have lost their homes, belongings and are now lying on roads. “. Chaldean Patriarch Louis Sako told ICC. Local churches became the temporary housing site for hundreds of these families, but these were quickly filled leaving hundreds more to sleep on the streets. “There are 700 or 800 families who couldn’t find anywhere to sleep and are on the streets now,” a Christian leader from Erbil told ICC following the latest surge from Qaraqosh. If Obama is not prepared to help them, Christian countries such as Britain, Germany and France can give them asylum in European countries before the rampaging IS I terrorists reach Erbil.

    It may be recalled that Cameron and Sarkozy played a pivotal role in overthrowing Qadaffi in Libya, while Obama was watching the bloodbath of Assad in Syria. Cameron was bold enough to acknowledge openly that Britain is a Christian country. Christians worldwide should try to give asylum to helpless stranded Iraqi Christians..Christian countries are flooded with Muslim
    immigrants, and it is indeed a puzzle Christian countries have not come forward to give asylum to displaced Iraqi Christians.Obama has opened the floodgates to immigrants, but has no word for displaced Iraqi Christians. . Cameron and Merkel should take urgent steps to give asylum to Iraqi Christians before ISIS jihadists advance into Erbil, instead of relying on Obama. It is gratifying to note that Australia has agreed to give asylum to about 5000 Christians. Will this offer break Obama’s silence?

  4. zizo

    Aug. 18, 2014
    4:19 a.m.

    In response: The UN will condemn Israel.

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