Iraq is home to an ethnic and religious minority called the Yazidi, who have now fled into the mountains, another casualty of the beginning of ISIS’s plan to conquer the Middle East. Vian Dakhil, a politician representing the Yazidi, was in tears at a session of Iraq’s Parliament as she told of women being enslaved by ISIS fighters and her people hiding in the mountains of Iraq with no food and water.
The Yazidi community follows a faith that can be traced back to the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. They have been accused by ISIS of worshipping the devil, and are being kidnapped and executed. Dakhil reports that 500 Yazidi men have been killed.
The leader of ISIS is a 43 year old Sunni Muslim who goes by the name of Abu-Bakr-al-Baghdadi, who was once a prisoner of US forces beginning in 2005 and was released in 2009. Estimates of the number of ISIS fighters are from 7,000 to 10,000.
ISIS’s funding is a concern of many nations, and in June it was reported that ISIS had accumulated around two billion dollars from charity donations, private funding and robbery. Another source of money is Syria’s oilfields, which ISIS took over in 2012. ISIS also has sold raw materials it stole along with artifacts from archaeological sites that are up to 8,000 years old.
ISIS is just beginning its plan to control the Middle East, and they still have parts of Iraq to conquer. ISIS, which also has a foothold in Syria, is now facing off with the Lebanese Army. The group entered Lebanon using car bombs and suicide bombers then launched an all out battle with Lebanese forces. Hezbollah, a militant group in Lebanon has said they are not going to interfere in ISIS’s current assault but is assisting with logistical support for the Lebanese Army. 13 soldiers were killed in a battle with ISIS rebels while trying to retake the town of Arsal, which is on the border of Lebanon and Syria.
The deputy mayor of Arsal, Ahmad Flitti, reported that thousands of residents have fled the town, some of who already were refugees of the civil war in Syria. Flitti was very concerned with the dwindling supply of food and medical supplies as well as local hospitals nearing total capacity. A UN representative traveled to Lebanon to assess the needs of Arsal residents and to coordinate the delivery of supplies although they did not say when the supplies would arrive.
With ISIS seizing territory, displacing people and threatening to exterminate minorities, Iraq is just the beginning of the militant group’s plan to conquer the Middle East. Some donors of ISIS support them as a show of solidarity with Sunnis in Syria in hopes of rebels gaining ground against the Syrian army. Although the U.S. has pressured the governments in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to stop donors in those countries from funding ISIS and other extremist groups, these governments are placing the blame for donors backing rebel forces in Syria on President Obama’s failure to act against Assad, even after Assad crossed the red line set by the US and used chemical weapons against Syria’s citizens.
By Adrianne Hill