Archive for August 2014

The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda

By: Ashur Sada

The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda. But there may still be time to act.

The US and the West miss the boat again with ISIS like they did with Al Qaeda. But there may still be time to act.

They fed the pet until it became a monster, and then it was too big to control!

For years in the 1980s, the US and the west in general supported the Mujahedeen (a precursor to Al_Qaeda) , to help it defeat the Soviets in their invasion of Afghanistan. It took the horrific attacks of September 2011 to wake them up and realize that they had created a monster that was now attacking the very people that helped and supported it. It was time to kill the monster. Not very easy. It would take over a decade and billion of dollars. And it continues to this very day: the war on terrorism.

Unfortunately, it seems like no lesson was learnt from this war on terrorism. Fast forward to 2012. The west started backing the opposition in Syria to topple the moderate regime of Bashar Al-Assad. But there was no organized opposition. It was a loose movement of various groups, mainly the ‘Free Syrian Army’ and some other Islamic ones. The Islamic Army, which had experience fighting in Iraq started to grow in power and numbers in Syria. Within a year or so, they established themselves as the most powerful and lethal opposition group in Syria. While this was happening-starting in 2013-the west continued to arm and support these opposition groups even if it was now led by a ruthless terrorist organization. Week after week, the Islamic army in Syria was growing more bloody and ruthless. Scenes of torture, beheadings, even eating the heart of a Syrian soldier, became a routine and something expected from this terrorist organization in Syria.

In 2014, the organization officially became ISIS: the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (now referred to as IS: Islamic State). By June 2014, ISIS had become too powerful to contain or ignore. On June 9, they took over the Iraqi city of Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. That was followed by the capture of various other Sunni, Yezidi and Assyrian Christian cities to the east, west and south of Mosul. And in the process, they killed, beheaded, tortured literally thousands of innocent civilians and soldiers. If that wasn’t bad enough,  they also drove hundreds of thousands of Assyrian Christians, Yezidis and other minorities from their homes in various nearby towns and villages (Sanjar, Nineveh Plain etc.)

As ISIS grow more and more bold, they set their sight on the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in northern Iraq. With the Kurds being a key US ally in Iraq and the middle east in general, the US finally woke up and decided to attack ISIS. To them, by attacking the Kurds, ISIS had essentially crossed a red line. In other words, it didn’t matter how many thousands of civilians it had killed before, it only mattered when the Kurds were attacked.

But there was a bigger wake up call. It occurred on August 19. That is when ISIS beheaded American freelance photojournalist James Foley. Suddenly, the US felt like ISIS is now a direct threat to it and not just to the middle east. Not to mention, there has been countless other direct threats made by ISIS members recently, vowing to attack US cities and other interests in the country. 

And that brings us to the main question: did the US and its western allies miss the boat on ISIS like they did with Al-Qaeda? Or is there still time to do something about it? The good thing is, while they did behead a US citizen, they still haven’t attacked the US mainland directly.  The bad news, that could just be a matter of time, especially with a president as incompetent and disengaged as US president Obama. The US and its allies armed the Syrian opposition to help it topple Syrian president Al-Assad. Unfortunately, the alternative was ISIS which is as barbaric as you can ever imagine.  With ISIS now controlling areas in Syria and Iraq as large in size as the country of Jordan, don’t think that hasn’t made them bold and motivated enough to expand their fictional caliphate state. With the US now helping the Iraqi army and Kurdish peshamrga to attack ISIS, the latter has become enraged and is vowing to take revenge from the US. They started it by the beheading of James Foley. And depending on any sleeper cells they have in the US, they may attempt to launch attacks in the US itself. Not to mention, given the disastrous state of the US-Mexico borders, the terror organization may try to sneak some of its own agents across the border. US homeland security has already alerted local enforcement agencies to be on alert and ready for any threats.

Why has the US become a country that only reacts to events after it is too late than to act while it is still early and prevent things from escalating? At this point, there is even talk about the US cooperating with the Syrian government to eliminate ISIS in Syria as well. What a difference a year makes: it was just last year that the US was busy trying to support the Syrian opposition and the main  benefactor from that was ISIS.

It may be a little late to react but they should still continue to attack ISIS-in cooperation with the Iraqi and Syrian armies-as hard as they can until they are virtually eliminated from the region. All those thousands of US soldiers didn’t die in Iraq only for it to be taken over by a terrorist organization whose teachings and governance is inspired by guidance from the 7th century!

Complicating matters is the fact that the US is stuck with a president who is removed from reality, for another 2 years or so. Obama in his very nature, is a president that reacts to events. And even then, he is often late. Hesitation and indecision are some of the best words to describe his presidency. But with an organization as ruthless, barbaric and bloody like ISIS, you simply can’t afford to wait. Frustratingly, with the Iraqi government in such shambles and stuck in a never-ending transition phase, there is no hope that they can put their house in order any time soon. Until then, the US should attack ISIS as ruthlessly as they can, with or without the help of the Iraqi government and army.

Failure to do so will mean that the US will soon have to fight ISIS in its own homeland in the near future.


Live updates: ISIS invasion of Mosul and other Iraqi cities and the Assyrian Christian suffering

***Scroll to the bottom for the latest updates***



ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) took control of the northern Iraqi city of Mosul (province of Nineveh) on June 9, 2014, and ever since, the terrorist group Iraq-ISIS-maphas been terrorizing the region, killing those who oppose it, toppling mosques and churches, imposing very strict shariah law and now trying to broaden its control by attempting to invade and take over other nearby cities, towns and villages.

From an Assyrian prospective, this has been nothing short of catastrophic and tragic. Tens of thousands of Assyrian Christians have been kicked out from their homes in Mosul. In fact, for the first time in almost 1800 years, the city is virtually empty of any Christians. The Christians had no choice, as they were given three options: convert to Islam, pay a Jizya (tax on the non-Muslims) or escape. Otherwise, the sword was awaiting them. Their churches have been demolished or converted to mosques. Properties and homes have been confiscated. A lot have lost family members as the direct result of ISIS bloody way of conducting its business.

With Mosul being close to the Nineveh Plain (a series of towns and villages that are populated by people with a predominantly Assyrian Christian identity) those people living there are also in direct danger of an impending ISIS march. People in the Assyrian town of Qaraqosh for example, have already had to flee their homes more than once, in fear of an approaching ISIS invasion of the town.

Given this as a backdrop, Assyrians and Christians from Iraq and currently living in the diaspora, have responded with force. Seeing the destruction and mayhem being caused to their people and ancestral homelands in Iraq, they have come out in force to protest and call attention to what is happening. Literally hundreds of thousands of demonstrators came out in the last few weeks to protest against what is happening in Iraq. Assyrians and non-Assyrians alike, Christians and Muslims, and so many in between, all came out in various cities around the world to show their support and solidarity with the Christians of Iraq and demanding an end to the violence against them.

Out of this global movement of protest came two rather interesting phrases or hashtags, that have been used literally tens of thousands of times on social media, posters and in various other forms, as a way of uniting the solidarity effort:

Arabic letter christian facebook twitter profile

The Arabic letter Noon (N) has come to become the symbol of protest against ISIS in Mosul, Iraq. The Arabic letter in this case stands for ‘Nasrani’ (a word used by Muslim terrorists to refer to Christians.) This is to help them easily distinguish these homes from other homes and be able to take it away from its Christian owners

-#WeAreN: when ISIS invaded Mosul in early June, they started marking Christian homes with the Arabic letter ‘N’ (ن) . The letter in this case stands for ‘Nasrani’ (a word used by Muslim terrorists to refer to Christians.) This is to help them easily distinguish these homes from other homes and be able to take it away from its Christian owners. In response to this heinous act, Assyrian Christians, Iraqis and many other sympathizers from all over the world came together and stood in solidarity with their Christian brothers and sisters in Iraq have declared that ‘We are All N’ . The ISIS attempt to kick people from their homes and cities, where they have lived for generations and generations, didn’t sit well with so many around the world and they have made it loud and clear. 

-#DemandforActions: this is another popular rallying hashtag that was born out of this whole thing. The name says it all: given the silence by Obama, the US government and many major world powers, Assyrian and other activists thought there was an immediate and urgent need for action. Those with power and influence needed to do something to stop this ISIS invasion from further getting worse and emptying the region of its ancestral and original residents: the Assyrian Christians!

Events are moving so fast that even social media, given its fast and timely nature, can’t keep up. At Assyrian Voice, we have already done our best to cover the events and report on them as much as we can. We have used our twitter account as well as our popular discussion forums to do so.  But we thought there has to be another way of doing this, centralized in one location, where most of the major updates are posted. This is it. We will use this to post major news and updates, including pictures, videos and translations from other Arabic sources. Check back often for new updates.