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Educating Charles Krauthammer About the Plight of Iraq’s Yazidis and Christians (Long) Before—and After—“The Surge”

August 20th, 2014 · Essays

The introduction to my full essay posted at PJ Media, today (Wednesday, 8/20/14) Conservative Delusions About Islam: Yazidis Slaughtered During Surge, Too, is included below. Sadly, once again (see four previous posts from 5/8/09, 3/12/10, 10/12/11, and12/27/11), the ubiquitous mainstream conservative icon, Charles Krauthammer, has used his high-profile platform at Fox News to promote a “narrative” redolent with basic ignorance, and intellectual dishonesty about Islam, and the uniquely Islamic institution of jihad.

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Reading the latter [Koran] is one of the most … instructive things imaginable because the eye easily discovers there, by very closely observing, all the threads by which the prophet held and still holds the members of his sect. … [T]hat the first of all religious duties is to blindly obey the prophet, that holy war is the first of all good deeds … [A]ll these doctrines of which the practical outcome is obvious are found on every page and in almost every word of the Koran are so striking that I cannot understand how any man with good sense could miss them.

—Alexis de Tocqueville, March, 1838

Iraq’s Yazidis are an indigenous, ancient, pre-Islamic non-Muslim religious minority whose syncretic beliefs derive, in part, from Zoroastrianism. Over the past 3-weeks, world attention has riveted on the Yazidis’ (Yezidis’) horrific plight, targeted by the latest jihad rampages of the “Islamic State” (IS/IL) butchers, and subjected to massacre, rape, enslavement, and forced conversion to Islam. Indeed, ever grudgingly, the non-Muslim world has been compelled to acknowledge IS/IL’s ghastly, murderous jihad rampages against both the Christian and Yazidi religious minorities of northern Iraq.

Per President Obama’s address Thursday evening, 8/7/14, the U.S. initiated both humanitarian air-drops to those Yazidi refugees stranded on Mount Sinjar, Iraq, and bombing runs against IS/IL positions outside Erbil, Kurdistan. Unquestionably, the Yazidis—and Christians—remain in a parlous state.

However, due to the efforts of the Kurdish PKK militia—a U.S.-designated terror group—some ~50,000 Yazidis were evacuated from the Sinjar Mountains within a week of President Obama’s announcement. Der Spiegel reported that PKK fighters who controlled the region on the Syrian side of the border, liberated the road to Sinjar, and established a network of refugee camps for the beleaguered Yazidis. The PKK’s successful evacuation undertaking prompted U.S. Special Forces—who landed in the Sinjar mountains last Wednesday (8/13/14)—to cancel their own plans to organize a rescue airlift for the (ostensibly tens of thousands of) stranded Yazidis.

Assessing these developments, last Friday, 8/15/14, mainstream conservative icon Charles Krauthammer sniped,

He [President Obama] declares victory with the Yazidis two days ago, and we hear about this horrific massacre [i.e., of 80 Yazidi men in Kocho, Iraq] today

Krauthammer’s self-assuredly mordant “take,” reflects a widely shared—albeit sham—mainstream conservative narrative dogmatically articulated by Iraq veteran, and another frequent Fox News contributor, Pete Hegseth, published 8/16/14 at NRO:

[T]he surge of U.S. forces in 2007 and 2008 created an environment in which a multi-ethnic, mostly moderate, and quasi-stable U.S. ally could (could!) flourish in the Middle East.

Last week also marked the seventh anniversary of a cataclysmic “mid-surge” jihadist attack on Iraq’s Yazidis—conveniently and unanimously ignored by Krauthammer, Hegseth, and all conservative “surge” romanticizers. August 14, 2007, when the surging U.S. had 166,000 troops on the ground in Iraq—not the mere one-fifth (or one-tenth) residual numbers pined for by those who insist the failure to secure a 2011 status of forces agreement with the al-Maliki regime sealed the undoing of Iraq’s “stability”—796 Yazidis were slaughtered, and another 1562 wounded, in one day, during four gruesomely synchronized jihadist bombings. (see here, here, and U.S. army confirmation of death toll, here). Veteran Middle East journalist Tom Gross provided this characterization of the events:

[T]wo tons of explosives detonated in four coordinated explosions in the northern Iraqi villages of Qahtaniya and Jazeera on August 14, 2007, the target was Iraq’s Yazidi ethnic and religious minority. 796 people died and over 1,500 were wounded as a fireball led to the collapse of mud and stone buildings on families trapped inside; many were then burned alive.

Such a glaring lacuna in honest, self-critical discourse, i.e., omitting all discussion of the 8/14/07 mass-murderous, “mid-surge” Yazidi catastrophe, is pathognomonic of a broader, much more disturbing ethical and intellectual travesty: ongoing attempts by mainstream conservatives to rationalize their uninformed, witless adherence to the utopian “Lewis-doctrine”-inspired “Islamic democracy” fiasco in Iraq. Born of sheer willful ignorance about living Islamic doctrine, and history, this deficient mindset begot a corollary dangerous absurdity: embrace of the Petraeus “COIN” theory, a see no jihad, see no Islam military strategy designed, perversely, to somehow “defeat” the ancient-cum-modern forces of global Islamic jihadism.

The current predicament of Iraq’s Yazidis, and Christians, past as prologue, illustrates, starkly, mainstream conservative ignorance and dishonesty about Islam, and the creed’s timeless sine qua non institution, jihad.

Please read the entire essay at PJ Media.


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ISIL’s Ottoman “Caliphate” Forbears Brutally Slaughtered 250,000 Assyrian-Chaldean, and Orthodox Christians A Century Ago

August 15th, 2014 · Essays

Albeit belated, and ever grudgingly, the non-Muslim world has been compelled to acknowledge ISIL’s ghastly, murderous jihad rampages against both the Christian and Yazidi religious minorities of northern Iraq.

Even now, however, no U.S. television network has been willing to air the explicit testimonies of both Yazidi and Christian refugees from these jihad depredations about the following salient issue: how local Sunni Muslims, their erstwhile “neighbors,” not only aided and abetted ISIL, but were more responsible for killings, other atrocities, and expulsions than the “foreign” invading jihadists. For example, Sabah Hajji Hassan, a 68-year-old Yazidi, lamented,

The (non-Iraqi) jihadists were Afghans, Bosnians, Arabs and even Americans and British fighters. But the worst killings came from the people living among us, our (Sunni) Muslim neighbors. The Metwet, Khawata and Kejala tribes—they were all our neighbors. But they joined the IS [Islamic State; ISIL], took heavy weapons from them, and informed on who was Yazidi and who was not. Our neighbors made the IS takeover possible.

The Yazidi Hassan’s observations independently validated this prior, concordant assessment (video here) by an Christian refugee from Mosul:

[Unnamed Christian refugee]: We left Mosul because ISIL came to the city. The [Sunni] people of Mosul embraced ISIS and drove the Christians out of the city. When ISIS entered Mosul, the people hailed them and drove out the Christians. Why did they expel just the Christians from Mosul? There are many sects in Mosul. Why just the Christians? This is nothing new. Even before, the Christians could not go anywhere. The Christians have faced threats of murder, kidnapping, jizya [deliberately humiliating “poll-tax,” per Koran 9:29, imposed upon non-Muslim Jews/Christians/Zoroastrians, vanquished by jihad, along with a slew of other “sacralized” debasing regulations] This is nothing new. [...] I was told to leave Mosul. They said that this was a Muslim country, not a Christian one. I am being very honest. They said that this land belongs to Islam and that Christians should not live there.

[Interviewer]: Who told you that?

[Christian refugee]: The people who embraced ISIS, the people who lived there with us…

[Interviewer]: Your neighbors?

[Christian refugee]: Yes, my neighbors. Our neighbors and other people threatened us.

There is another more significant, yet equally verboten truth about ISIL’s jihad. The carnage presently wrought by these avatars of a revitalized Caliphate, simply mirrors, in all its gory, and seemingly depraved detail, the actions of their Ottoman Caliphate “prototype” forbears—also abetted by local Muslims—vis-à-vis the region’s indigenous, pre-Islamic Yazidis, and Christians.

Riveting upon the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Syrian Orthodox Christian populations of northern Iraq (then Mesopotamia), and eastern Anatolia, historian David Gaunt’s pioneering 2006 study described their horrific plight under the Ottomans in 1915. Gaunt noted that “an intense extermination of the Christians was completed in a short period between June and September 1915”—killings on a grisly scale of magnitude far beyond ISIL’s exploits. Most of the 250,000 eventually slaughtered during the years between 1914 and 1919 were killed in this compressed 4-month time frame.

After describing the “concrete details” of what he characterized as the “Ottoman ethnic and religious wars and the full scale of religiously-inspired massacres,” Gaunt concluded with this summary assessment which conveyed the sheer horror and depravity of these jihad ravages:

The degree of extermination and the brutality of the massacres indicate extreme pent-up hatred on the popular level. Christians, the so-called gawur [also giaour or ghiaour] infidels, were killed in almost all sorts of situations. They were collected at the local town hall, walking in the streets, fleeing on the roads, at harvest, in the villages, in the caves and tunnels, in the caravanserais [an inn with a central courtyard], in the prisons, under torture, on the river rafts, on road repair gangs, on the way to be put on trial. There was no specific and technological way of carrying out the murders like the Nazis’ extermination camps. A common feature was those killed were unarmed, tied up, or otherwise defenseless. All possible methods of killing were used: shooting, stabbing, stoning, crushing, throat cutting, throwing off of roofs, drowning, decapitation. Witnesses talk of seeing collections of ears and noses and of brigands boasting of their collections of female body parts. The perpetrators not only killed but humiliated the victimsIn several instances, decapitated heads of well-known Christians, such as Hanne Safar of Midyat and Ibrahim the Syriac priest of Sa’irt were used as footballsIn Derike, the Syriac Catholic priest Ibrahim Qrom had his beard torn off and was then forced to crawl on all fours with a tormentor on his back, while others kicked him, stabbed him, and finally cut him to pieces.

Virtually every deportation caravan and village massacre was accompanied by serial mass rape of the women. Young girls were abducted as sex slaves and children as household servants. Even when they were not killed outright, the women were often stripped of their clothes. The homes of Christians were broken into, plundered, furniture smashed, windows, and doors removed, set on fire. Sometimes a survivor had little to return home to.

The number of perpetrators of the local massacres was staggering. Apparently the local officials….or the local politicians…had no difficulty in motivating the populace for extermination. The officials established death squads from middle-aged Muslim men. National Assembly deputies…agitated among the Kurdish tribes and even managed to get notorious outlaws…to cooperate in return for loot, adventure, and a promise of amnesty. On a few occasions, Muslim women were present, for instance…at the public humiliation of Christian dignitaries, but mostly the perpetrators were males. There were literally thousands of perpetrators, most of them locals.

How tragic that a century later, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose. The question remains: how much longer will U.S. policymaking elites across the political spectrum persist in their denial about how such jihad carnage is a recurring, grass roots, traditionalist Islamic phenomenon?


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ISIS/L Panel Part 2: Whither the “War Within Islam?”, With Steve Malzberg

August 9th, 2014 · Essays

See my discussion from December 2008 about how there was no “War Within Islam” when it came this clear demonstration of resolve: marshalling the vast pooled military resources of the 56 Muslim nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (now dubbed Organization of Islamic Cooperation) and organizing an OIC expeditionary force, to per its own 2008 Dakkar Summit, “enact the utmost severe punishment” for Al Qaeda and Taliban “perpetrators” of (alleged) “anti-Islamic” acts of terrorism.


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