Concern for Religious Minorities in Iraq
By Scott A Morgan

(AINA) -- The decision by US Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that the actions of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) were indeed Genocide was a critical point in the Situation. The question now becomes what will be the next step moving forward.

The report compiled by the Knights of Columbus was one of the most scathing reports ever generated regarding Human Rights Abuses since the Rwanda Genocide back in the 1990s. Recently USCIRF (US Commission on International Religious Freedom) released its annual report documenting Violations of Religious Freedom as required by Congress.

The findings by the commission are chilling to say the very least. While most of the World has focused on the Atrocities committed by ISIS committed against the Christians, Yazidis, Shi'a, Turkmen and the Shabaks have left these communities in a vulnerable state. However the PMF (Popular Mobilization Forces) which are Militias that are aligned with the Central Government in Baghdad are just as culpable in committing these acts.

Related: Timeline of ISIS in Iraq
Related: Attacks on Assyrians in Syria By ISIS

Throughout its History Iraq has been beset by Sectarian Violence. This has been a factor that has had a negative impact on the Human Rights Climate inside the Country. Saddam Hussein maintained order by intimidation and favoring the Sunni Community. The Government of Nouri Al-Maliki actually set forth some of the chaos that is currently seen today with his actions against the Kurdish Minority in the North.

Some of the numbers coming from the North are frightening. 1,562 Yazidis were killed during the summer of 2014. In 2015 a UN Agency revealed that 5,838 Yazidis were kidnapped by ISIS and sadly that 3,192 of them were women. Between January and August of last year 2,000 Iraqis were killed in the Nineveh Plain and 125,000 Chrisitians were forced to flee to the KRG for safety. Assyrian Monasteries have been destroyed and other Churches and Cemeteries have been desecrated.

The main focus right now among most observers right now is the situation around the City of Fallujah. It appears that the fighting has reached an impasse and Iraqi Government Forces and the PMF have encountered ISIL Defenses that appear to be centered on the use of Human Shields. The planners of this mission did not appear to take this tactic into consideration when the operation was launched.

This is just a sampling of the background into a volatile situation which led USCIRF to recommend that Iraq receive the status of a CPC (Country of Particular Concern). This is a status that was recommended back in 2008. It should be noted that a Post Saddam Government in Iraq has never been designated a CPC by the State Department which actually makes the determination.

The question about what the US should do next does not have an easy answer but there are several ways to move forward. Providing Assistance to those who remain to document these actions is a no-brainer. Maybe providing assistance to protect themselves will be the next step.

Scott Morgan is the President of Red Eagle Enterprises. Currently based in Washington, he specializes in US Policy towards Africa focusing on Security, Assymetrical Operations and Business Development South of the Sahara.

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