A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Yazidis' Last Stand in Jabal Sinjar?

 There is an old Kurdish proverb, "The Kurds have no friends,except the mountains." But for Kurdish-speaking Yazidis, the mountains may not be a refuge: The Washington Post: "Iraqi Yazidis stranded on isolated mountaintop begin to die of thirst." Estimates are said to be between 10,000 and 40,000, numbers which certainly verge on the genocidal. Surrounded and isolated, having retreated to a barren mountaintop, these people need rescue.

At least when the Christians were driven from Mosul by the "Caliphate," Western Christians took note (even if they did little else). But outside of some Yazidi Diaspora groups in Europe and, to my surprise, Lincoln, Nebraska, where my wife went to college, the Yazidis get even less than the grudging concern accorded the Christians.

A Yazidi member of the Iraqi Parliament collapses in tears after pleading for her people (English subtitles):
Because I try to keep a certain objectivity even while expressing my opinion, I didn't post that much about Gaza, since the whole human rights community was loud and clear. But here we have a clear case of outright ethnic cleansing or even full scale genocide. IS considers Yazidis "devil-worshipers" and worthy of extermination (No collective group is, though I'm starting to wonder if IS is an exception.)

Unlike Gaza, my tax dollars have not gone to buy the ammunition killing the Yazidis (though maybe they have, since some was captured from the Iraqi Army). But US policy broke Iraq, and out of that breakage came the horror that is ISIS/IS/the Caliphate.

Regardless of how we got here, we're here, and an entire distinct ethnographic/religious group is in imminent jeopardy of destruction. If you ignore Kristallncht, you will have the death camps.

Sad to say, that's also true. I'm not urging US re-intervention in Iraq. But the international community has, I believe, the ability to supply the dying Yazidis on the mountain, and even to evacuate them from the damned mountaintop. And if that's not feasible, mount airstrikes against the IS forces down the mountain to save the Yazidis.

Gaza was and may soon be again, a horror. But that is no excuse to shrug off other horrors.

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