Kucinich: US 'occupation' triggered spread of jihadists in Iraq

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Former Ohio Democratic congressman and Fox News contributor Dennis Kucinich blamed the U.S. government Wednesday for the growing persecution of Christians and religious minorities by Islamic militants in the Middle East.

"It's been going on since the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq," Kucinich said on Fox News' "America's Newsroom." "Al Qaeda didn't have a presence until the U.S. invaded in 2003. And so, we have to realize that Christians are in effect receiving the blowback from the U.S. war against Iraq. Three out of every four Christians who were there before the U.S. attack in Iraq are now gone in Iraq."

"So, what you're saying -- it's our fault?" co-host Bill Hemmer asked.

"I'm saying absolutely that the United States, when it attacked, when it lied -- our country's leaders lied to the American people to get us to go into Iraq ... the religious minorities were absolutely targeted by jihadists who did not have a presence in Iraq prior to the U.S. invasion," Kucinich responded.

Asked what the White House can do now to avoid the threat of genocide in the region, Kucinich said the U.S. must first revisit its international policy of interference that's "fueling insurgency."

"If we're concerned about ISIS waging genocide, then we should be concerned about the fact that the U.S. government helped to fund jihadists who were wiping out Christians in Syria," he replied. "The American people have to understand that these groups that are right now working inside of Iraq and in Syria have basically been supported with money from Saudi Arabia and resources from the United States."

The Pentagon sent additional military planners to Iraq on Tuesday to plan a possible rescue and relocation of tens of thousands trapped civilians. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asserted that the deployment was "not a combat boots on the ground kind of operation."

"That's not credible," Kucinich responded. "The U.S. cannot go back to Iraq and we can't pretend that our hands were clean from the beginning in this. The U.S. is trying to play a game of global power politics here, which is against the interests of the American people. The American people do not want another intervention."

"What we have to do is try to work to create peace in the region, and the United States can't do it by our presence and our intervention."