Clashes intensify between Kurds and Islamists in South Kurdistan
The Peshmerga fighters of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) of South Kurdistan are engaged in fierce clashes with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) even as the Islamists have made some inroads into Kurdish territories. The fighting now has reached the Kurdish regional capital of Erbil in North Iraq, Reuters reported on Wednesday. The gains of the Islamists have put religious minorities like Christians and Yazidi Kurds at high risk, even as media reports that ISIS has vowed to clear “infidels” from the areas occupied. Vian Dakhil, a Yazidi MP, addressing the Iraqi Parliament on Tuesday, emotively raised a plea for greater assistance for her community. “As we speak there is a genocide taking place against the Yazidis,” she said. Kurds are also disappointed at the collective silence of the International Community.
Ms. Dakhil, who is the only representative of the Yazidis in the parliament, alleged that around 500 men had been killed in a matter of days by the Islamists and women and children were being sold into slavery.
Yazidis, who are ethnically Kurds, are a minority in Iraq. Since they follow a pre-Islamic religion, they have faced several religious persecutions in the past.
While they had a respite under the secular KRG, the assault of the ISIS has made their position once again very vulnerable.
When the ISIS stormed their hometown of Sinjar, they had to flee to the mountains by the tens of thousands. They are currently still there without food or water supply.
Reports say that starvation deaths have already taken place by the dozens and the numbers are to multiply rapidly if there is no urgent action.
Apart from Yezidis, other civilian Kurds, Christians and Shias, have also been at the receiving end of the Islamist offensives in the past few days. The death toll could be anywhere between 500 to 2000, going by different reports.
While the Peshmerga have been putting up a stiff resistance against the Islamists, the pro-US Iraqi government has been slow in providing back-up to them.
Likewise, the US has also prevented the KRG from purchasing arms by their own, leaving them vulnerable.
Analysts allege that the US was more interested in preserving the unity of their puppet regime in Iraq than in aiding the Kurds against a force that has demonstrated its intention of ethnic cleansing.
In a statement on Sunday, Jen Psaki spokesperson of the US State Department said “The ISIL assault over the past 48 hours on territories along the border of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region and focusing on towns and villages populated by vulnerable minorities, demonstrates once again that this terrorist organization is a dire threat to all Iraqis, the entire region, and the international community.”
“We will continue to facilitate coordination between authorities in Baghdad and Erbil and provide direct assistance wherever possible. We further call on all Iraqi leaders to move swiftly pursuant to their constitutional timeline to form a new government that can help pull the country together and harness national resources against this common enemy.”