How long will US wait to save Iraq's Christians from extinction?

Kurdish fighters on the offensive against ISIS


Now is not the time to allocate blame.

Now is not the time to debate who “lost” Iraq – whether it’s President Bush’s fault for starting the war or President Obama’s fault for trying to end the war prematurely.

Now is the time to act.

In the aftermath of the Holocaust, the world’s leaders made a simple vow: “Never again.”


Never again would they stand aside and watch genocide happen. Sadly, that was an empty promise for Rwanda’s Tutsi minority and for the victim’s of Cambodia’s killing fields. Will it be an empty promise again for Iraq’s Christians and Yazidis?

There’s little question that we’re watching genocide unfold before our eyes.

The Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS) is the direct descendant of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), the terrorist force that our military fought to the brink of extinction during the Surge in Iraq.

Fleeing to Syria, they re-armed, formally broke with Al Qaeda (Al Qaeda leadership viewed them as too vicious), gained battlefield success against President Bashir al-Assad’s inept and brutal army and then returned to Iraq, in force.

They captured Mosul, one of Iraq’s largest cities.

They control much of the Anbar province.

They control a vast area of Syria.

They control territory the size of a nation-state, and they’ve declared the existence of an Islamic Caliphate, a Caliphate more savage than any seen since medieval times.

Like the Nazis marked Jewish homes and businesses, the Islamic State is marking Christian homes and businesses.

Like their ancient forebears, the Islamic State is demanding the Christians to “leave, convert, or die.”

In an action arguably even more brutal than ancient atrocities, the Islamic State is following through on its threats by beheading Christian children.

And if you think that the Islamic State is content with merely conquering parts of Iraq and Syria and slaughtering ancient Christian communities, think again.

Using a social media campaign under the hashtag #CalamityWillBefallUS, the Islamic State has posted photos of beheaded victims and declared, “We will kill your people and transform America to a river of blood.”

These are not idle threats. The Islamic State is now the richest, most heavily armed terrorist group in world history. The statistics are sobering.

The following is from our American Center for Law and Justice report (which I presented just weeks ago at an Oxford University, Exeter College course on Middle East Affairs) on the Islamic State’s history and capabilities:

ISIS has captured significant amounts of high-tech U.S. military equipment abandoned by the Iraqi armed forces. Fifty-two 155mm M198 howitzers have been captured by ISIS. These American-made weapons have a range of up to twenty miles and can incorporate GPS targeting systems. In addition to the howitzers, ISIS has captured 1,500 Humvees and 4,000 PKC machine guns that can fire close to 800 rounds per minute.

This weaponry has allowed it to dominate even the Kurdish “Pershmerga” militia in open combat. Kurdish weapons simply can’t penetrate the Islamic State’s armor, and even our bravest and most loyal Kurdish allies have been forced to retreat in the face of Islamic State attacks, raising the terrifying specter of the loss even of Kurdistan, our close ally and the only safe haven for Christians in Iraq.

Faced with this crisis, the Obama administration has responded with limited airstrikes, but this is a half measure. While these strikes are welcome, we have to do more.

We must arm the Kurds. We have a loyal and brave ally on the ground. We cannot allow them to be outgunned by a terrorist militia.

And we have to flood Kurdistan and other embattled Iraqi enclaves with humanitarian aid. Christians and other religious minorities like the Yazidi are literally dying of thirst in their flight from the Islamic State.

In 1973 our ally Israel faced a combined onslaught from the forces of Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. Taken by surprise on Yom Kippur, Israel’s defensive lines strained to the breaking point. With its ally in danger, the U.S. Air Force launched “Operation Nickel Grass” to save our ally from extinction at the hands of vastly larger forces.

Our airlift – combined with the bravery of IDF soldiers and pilots – saved Israel.

Now, our airlift, combined with the bravery of the Peshmerga, can save Iraq’s Christians, save our loyal allies in Kurdistan, and stop genocide.

What are we waiting for?

Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He also serves as a member of President Trump’s legal team.  Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.