Ensuring safety for Iraq’s minorities: a complicated process

By October 20, 2020

Iraq (MNN) — The latest attacks in Baghdad underscore Iraq’s complexity. A handful of Shia militia groups backed by Iran act like puppet masters, pulling Iraq’s political strings and threatening Iraqi minorities.

On Friday, analyst Hussain Abdul-Hussain highlighted potential consequences of keeping Shia militants around:

Kataib Hezbollah has been busy building a “statelet” within Iraq. If the government does not act quickly, it will soon become stronger than the Iraqi state itself; it will dominate Iraq in the way Hezbollah dominates in Lebanon and will seal Iraq’s slide into failure as a client state of Iran.

On Saturday, Hashd al Shaabi supporters set fire to Kurdish Democratic Party offices, stirring tensions between Kurds and the Iraqi government. Security forces were slow to respond, TRT World reports, and “could not do much in reaction to the incident.”

Last week, a coalition of pro-Iranian militias agreed to a conditional ceasefire with the U.S. Samuel* with Redemptive Stories says the truce hinges upon a complete U.S. troop withdrawal by December 31st. “It creates an opportunity for the U.S. to pull out troops, which is its stated desire,” he explains.

Will troop withdrawal cost minorities their safety? The U.S. wants “the Iraqi government to deal with the Iranian militias that are across the country, and particularly up there in the north with the Sinjar province,” Samuel says.

“So far, they have been unwilling to do so.”

The conditional ceasefire described above and a Sinjar agreement signed several days ago are two of many multifaceted issues clouding Iraq’s future.

“It’s like this quagmire, for lack of a better term, that affects Iraqi politics, Iranian politics, U.S. politics, and then also Turkish [politics],” Samuel says. “I’m sure Russia’s got a hand in there somewhere as well.”

Why it matters

Last year, Gospel workers began voicing concern about Iranian militants’ budding power in Iraq. Seeking to control strategic geographic locations, the militants openly persecute believers and other Iraqi minorities.

Iraqi Christians

Christian homes in Mosul were marked with the Arabic letter “N” for Nazarite and “Property of the Islamic State.”
(Image, caption courtesy of Vision Beyond Borders)

“That northern part of Iraq – Mosul, Sinjar province – has been under dispute for a long time. There have been lots of different factions fighting for that land, including Turkey,” Samuel says.

Iraq’s government may not be able to protect believers, but you know the God who can.

“[Pray] that they would stand under the midst of this persecution; that they will be faithful to share the Gospel and to communicate Christ as they live among Muslims, Yazidis, and many other unique unbelieving sects throughout that area,” Samuel requests.

Pray also for Gospel workers assessing security changes and how they will affect the ability to help persecuted Christians.

“We need to care about the politics that affect [Iraqi Christians], but then also we need to pray for them.”

 

*– Name changed for security purposes.

 

 

Header image depicts woman walking through rubble in West Mosul. © European Union 2017 (Photo by Peter Biro/Flickr/CC2.0)