The Iraq Crisis Just Took a Dramatic Turn for the Worse

The Iraq Crisis Just Took a Dramatic Turn for the Worse

The news: The Sunni militant faction known as the Islamic State has escalated the conflict in Iraq into what appears to be a full-blown genocide. 

On Friday, during an interview with CNN, Chaldean-American businessman Mark Arabo said there is a "Christian genocide" happening right now in Iraq, as "children are being beheaded, mothers are being raped and killed and fathers are being hung." 

The atrocities don't stop there. Arabo continued, "There's actually a park in Mosul where they actually behead children and put their heads on a stick."

On Sunday, as the deadline to convert to Islam or perish passed noon, at least 500 Yazidis, a religious group being persecuted by Sunni forces, were killed. According to Reuters who spoke with Iraq's human rights minister, among the slain were many women and children, some of whom were buried alive in mass graves. 

The background: The latest events are part of the Islamic State's ultimatum that began in Mosul in mid July. The insurgents threatened Christians with two choices: either convert to Islam or die. 

As Sunni insurgents have gained traction in other Iraqi regions, they are enforcing the same parameters. The aggression is no longer just limited to Christians but has now expanded to all minority sects. 

Image Credit: AP 

As many as 40,000 Yazidis, "a mostly Kurdish-speaking people who practice a unique, syncretic faith — fled the advance through northern Iraq of the Islamic State's Sunni jihadists, who have set about abducting and killing hundreds of members of this religious minority," explains the Washington Post's Ishaan Tharoor. They found themselves marooned on Mount Sinjar, a barren mountaintop, where descending roads were blocked by militants and some of the population began to die from hunger and dehydration

In response, President Obama authorized airstrike attacks on the Islamic State that began on Aug. 7 to deter Iraq's genocide. Obama has been hesitant to intervene in the country's conflict, especially since the American withdrawal in 2011. So, U.S. involvement is deliberate in timing and manner. 

Image Credit: AP

The Islamic State's attack: The insurgents are persecuting religious sects that do not abide by their belief systems. Many foreign religious leaders have spoken out against the militants force and severe commitments to Draconian laws that jeopardize others. Some have asked countries like the U.K. to open their borders to some of the 1.2 million displaced Iraqis

"[Sunni militants] are killing because they are utopians," wrote Slate's Reihan Salam. "They want to live in a world that is quite literally cleansed of those who do not share their deranged beliefs, and by killing Yazidis and Christians and members of other religious minorities, they believe that they are serving a noble and just cause. The Taliban are awful, but given their willingness to cut deals with the Afghan government and the United States and its allies, they aren't quite so insane."

Imagine that? The Islamic State is so bad they make the Taliban seem like a non-violent, well run organization. Yes, it's gotten that bad.