West should arm Assyrian Christians and Yazidis, editorial says

The ISIS seal. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

(JNS.org) The United States and European Union should help arm Assyrian Christians and Yazidis to protect their ancient homelands from the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) terror group, an editorial by the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) argued.

“The United States and Europe, under the auspices of the United Nations, must establish an Assyrian Defense Force for the Nineveh Plain, Baghdede and other Assyrian areas, as well as a Yazidi defense force for the area of Sinjar and Zumar,” AINA wrote.

Most Iraqi Christians belong to an ethnic group known as the Assyrians, who largely inhabit the region known as the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq. The Assyrian people consider themselves to be direct descendants of the numerous ancient Mesopotamian civilizations such as the Sumerians, Akkadians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.

According to AINA, more than 200,000 Assyrians have fled from their homes in the Nineveh Plains north of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. Additionally, tens of thousands of Yazidis have fled their homes due to the ISIS threat. 

Many Assyrians and Yazidis have fled to Iraq’s Kurdistan region, where Kurdish Peshmerga forces have fought to protect the region from ISIS fighters. But after ISIS fighters threatened Erbil, the capital of Kurdistan, the U.S. began providing air support and weapons to the Kurds as well as helping Yazidis flee to safety. The French and British governments have also promised aid for the Kurds.

While the Kurds have provided protection to the Assyrians and Yazidis, AINA believes the latter two groups should also have a right to protect themselves. 

“No one will protect the Assyrians and Yazidis but themselves, because they have their lives, their way of life, their lands and their homes at stake. The right of self-defense is fundamental. Assyrians do not ask the world to defend them, only to be allowed to defend themselves,” AINA’s editorial stated.

Posted on August 14, 2014 .