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Thank God we’re intervening in Iraq again

8 August 2014

Yesterday, I had a succession of texts from one of the priests in my local parish, Mgr Nizar, who heads the Iraqi Catholic church in London, asking, with increasing urgency, what could be done for the Christians in Quaraqosh, in Ninevah, where most of Iraq’s  remaining Christians live. ‘The situation is very bad,’ he wrote. ‘200,000 Christians are displaced. All the Christian cities fallen in the hands of ISIS.’ Another read: ‘Our cities are empty now and the people on the street sleeping and nowhere to go.’ The last time we spoke, he was agonised about the Christians displaced from Mosul, including most of his own family, under the threat of forced conversion or death by the army of the Islamic state, the one that several hundred young British Muslims have already joined.

Well, it seems his prayers have been answered, in some style. President Obama has announced that the US will undertake air attacks against ISIS forces on the grounds that the US consulate in the nearby Kurdish territory is threatened. As he makes clear though, he also has a straightforward invitation to intervene from the Iraqi government and besides, the US has a duty to prevent massacre. It turns out it’s not just Christians under threat but Yazidis too. They’re a shadowy community said to derive from the teachings of Nestorian Christians – who were a bit iffy about a couple of aspects of the Incarnation – but with an assortment of other beliefs including the transmigration of souls and some aspects of Islam. In fact, the plain of Ninevah is a kind of Lost World in the Conan Doyle sense, where some of the sheer diversity of religion in the first millennium is  preserved into our own, blander, time. The followers of John the Baptist have their own sect in Iraq too. Some, like the Christians of Ninevah, trace their origins to apostolic times, to the Apostle Thomas since you ask, some are more recent, but they all risk obliteration by ISIS, which goes out of its way to record for its followers its annihilation of non-approved religious monuments.

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Well, thank God for Obama’s intervention; it can’’t happen soon enough, even if it just starts out as humanitarian intervention. I was all against British and American involvement in Syria on the side of the Free Syrian Army but on this, it’s right and just. Mostly it’s because the west owes these people. Under the ghastly Saddam Hussein there were about 1.5 million Christians in Iraq; before the advent of ISIS, there were about 400,000; now there are…dunno, half that? Their ancient strongholds have fallen. And although Sir Malcolm Rifkind has this morning in an interview on the Today programme suggested that the Western invasion of Iraq was not entirely to blame, he conceded it did play a large part in the situation that ISIS now exploits. Don’t misunderstand: I do know that Muslims are numerically the greatest victims of the present war, but it’s more devastating to the other minorities in proportion to their numbers.

As I say, we owe these people, though Obama is right to draw the line at the deployment of ground troops. There are already troops on the ground, Iraqi ones, though their utter uselessness was evident in the fall of Mosul, when the commanding officers took off by helicopter leaving the cream of US weaponry to fall to ISIS. Kurdish fighters are another story.

But although I think we should be throwing humanitarian assistance at the refugees of all communities, and backing the US military intervention, I think we should hold it right there. I do not think we should be admitting refugees to Britain as some British bishops are urging the government to do. The aim should be to preserve what is left of Christianity and the other embattled communities in situ, not disperse them over Europe. Once here, they simply do not return. We’ve seen the same thing with Palestinian Christians: they leave, they don’t go back. Much better to support those communities where they are and enable them to return to their homes when the happy time comes that ISIS is seen off. And if it takes US air bombardment to do that, and if foreign jihadists are killed in the process, well, that’s the fortunes of war for you. But no refugees please; that would complete the annihilation of religious minorities that the Iraqi war initiated.

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Show comments
  • Damaris Tighe

    Canon Andrew White is an Anglican priest in Baghdad who has been working on behalf of Iraqi Christians for several years. He’s a very brave man having recently visited Christians in the north ‘under cover’. Readers who would like to support his work (which is done on a shoestring) can go to Small monthly DDMs are accepted.

  • Mrs Josephine Hyde-Hartley

    But surely a Christian , faced with a life or death choice should choose life eg tell the enemy what the enemy wants to hear and then change your mind when they’ve left the vicinity. That’s common sense.

    God knows what’s in the heart anyway and Jesus definitely doesn’t want anyone else to have to go through what he has been through- until he comes again to judge the living and the dead.

  • whs1954

    Weak weak weak.

    The only solution is to do to Muslims what Muslims want to do to to the Jews.

    And if that’s Islamophobic – oh no it’s not, it’s only Islamophobic if you open your eyes to what Muslims want to do to the Jews. Which liberal-left apologists for Islamism will never do.

  • Pat Conway

    It’s insanity when people threaten others to convert to their beliefs or die and all in the name of some imaginary god.

  • Gwangi

    So who do UK Muslims support – the Muslim ISIS or the non-Muslim innocent men, women and children they want to butcher and enslave.
    Let’s ask Baroness Warsi, shall we?

  • Gwangi

    The Christians will be so happy now they might even stop abusing atheists (which they happily do with Muslims and the rest).

    The Kurds have also got their whey… which is nice. We could even send the Kurdish version of Miss Muffet a tuffet, if we can work out what the F one of them is!

    • Augustus

      Ah! There we have the great Spider Man himself, who still hasn’t learnt that with great power there must also come great responsibility.

  • Bonkim

    Wait to comment until you see the action and what it achieves.

  • Roger Hudson

    I usually have a problem with people who rush around shouting ‘genocide’, it has become a bludgeon word used by self styled progressives to hit their opponents. The mass killing at Srebrenica is the best example, a massive war crime but not genocide, because if you intend to kill a whole ethnic group you don’t sent the women and children off to safety in trucks and buses, you slaughter them.
    That is why ISIS/IS is a genocidal gang, they will slaughter whole ethnic/religious groups in the name of their upstart belief, that is why the powers that can intervene must act now to save innocent civilians and kill ISIS on the battlefield.

  • swatnan

    A bit of isolationism would be welcome from Britain and Europe, and, let them fight it out. But deny any further arms sales to all the tribes of the ME including the Jews in Israel. And impose sanctions.

  • LaurenceBoyce

    Why on earth would you thank God?

    She’s the whole problem.

  • Brian K

    We’re not intervening. We’re doing nothing. Cameron is in Portugal pointing at fish.

    • Makroon

      Here’s hoping he has a long holiday, preferably in a place with no twitter service.

  • mightymark

    I assume the USAF will act proportionately.

    • Damaris Tighe

      If you visit the other article here on ISIS you will see people who vigorously objected to Israel’s war on Hamas recommending that ISIS be “bombed into the stone age”.

      • anotherjoeblogs

        Newt Gringich (?) was on CNN saying more or less the same thing – the left asking for restraint when dealing with Hamas but shouting ‘ kill ISIS now ‘.

  • saffrin

    And all because Saddam Hussein dissed George W’s dear old dad.

  • Mike

    Over at the Daily Mail they’ve finally woken up to the fact that as they put it “Horrific though events in Gaza have been, they were actually a sideshow
    to the appalling slaughter now raging across much of the Middle East as
    well as Libya in North Africa”. Well blow me down with a feather, I’ve been saying this for weeks now and few have had the cajones to say it in the media.

    Well better late than never but curiously the comments section was shut down much sooner than normal. Perhaps the deniers of inconvenient truths got at the editor for daring to have that obvious comparison in his paper and has now blocked posts. Bit of a dilema for the left to face the facts that far more people have been killed by Militant Muslims than by the Israelis fighting back against their attackers.

    Its time for ALL of the media and especially the left to draw up clear comparisons between Gaza vs Iraq,Libya & Syria, who killed who, how many were killed, what were the motivations behind the killings or acts of war and what part religion had to play in it.

    Only by analysing the truths rather than their false beliefs will solutions be found to this slaughter of innocent people. All the rubbish over ‘they have a bigger gun than us’ as in Gaza with the Israelis is total BS and doesn’t go to the heart of the problem and neither does ignoring the genocide elsewhere.

    • Shazza

      I am soooooooooo looking forward to Jon Snow and the Hamas supporting BBC to report from Mosul for us!

      They will bravely be interviewing ISIS leaders (brothers in arms and ideals with Hamas) about the disproportionate attack from Obama and how these ISIS warriors are defending themselves from the genocidal Christians, Yazidi………….

      BTW and slightly off topic – go to the Gates of Vienna site and read Paul Weston’s excellent and factual report on how Hamas has won the propaganda war.

    • Makroon

      The same “usual suspects” on here, were, a few months ago, screaming for arming and direct intervention in favour of the “Free Syrian Army” and their “caliphate” buddies.
      Saddam and al Assad were the only effective bulwark against the Gulf-funded (more of our “friends”) lunatics.
      Inconvenient fact ignored by our “forgetful” Spectator blog-post journos.

    • Makroon

      Israelis wearing suits, will always be a higher priority for the US than Christians from the middle-east or Africa, whether they wear suits, keffiyahs ‘n jellabas, or dashiki. Strange but true.

      • Damaris Tighe

        Absolutely true. The other aspect is that Israelis aren’t seen as brown enough, despite the fact over half their population are in fact brown.

    • Damaris Tighe

      The Mail article even made the point that Israel had warned civilians before an attack whilst ISIS is deliberately killing civilians including women & children. Better late than never I suppose.

      • Mike

        After this is all over (if it ever is), we should force the left wing media to watch footage of ALL the atrocities carried out by Muslims againsts other Muslims, Christians and Iraqi Yazidis. Maybe when they’ve thrown up their dinners and champagne seeing beheadings, murder and barbaric acts, they might see the truth for once but I wouldn’t bank on it.

      • Wessex Man

        The Israelis can’t bevery good at getting their message out then, how would you feel being bombed out of your House, Hospital or School every three years, or living on a strip of land and not allowed to leave by the Armed Forces of another country.

        Before all the Cybernut Jobs start the actions in one country don’t justify the actions in another!

  • Northeus

    There are enough (Western) counter insurgency air assets between Turkey, Jordan and Iraq to trounce ISIS. So why does it fall to the US?

    • Mike

      Good point but the answer is they dare not as Islam trumps everything !

      • In2minds

        Exactly, ‘they’ can’t be arsed so why should we?

    • Makroon

      There is only one capable country – Turkey, and they are not about to intervene in favour of the Kurds, especially given their Salafist wannabe government.
      Expect some hand-wringing “disquiet” from Erdogan about American “intervention” any time now.
      And please try to speak English.

      • In2minds

        Turkey, capable, at what, have you been to Turkey? It’s a powder keg.

        • Makroon

          The Turkish army, as it has been for most of it’s history, is a highly capable force. (Gallipoli ring any bells ?)
          The army is the force restraining Erdogan from more foolishness.

          • In2minds

            Gallipoli, but nothing more recent?

  • CharlietheChump

    Interestingly the one country where Christians are still quite safe is Israel.

    • Mike

      Funny that, but true democracies tend to allow religious freedom unlike Islamofascism !

    • Makroon

      Nice sound-bite, but Christians (and jews) are ‘quite safe’ in Iran, Turkey and Lebanon.

      • froxfields

        As opposed to feeling “quite unsafe” in for example:

        Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Indonesia, Iran,Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen etc, etc…

        Spot a common thread?

        • Makroon

          A “common thread” ? Yes indeed – ignorance on your part.
          Iran has a huge (mainly Armenian) Christian minority who were invited to the country by Shah Abbas as skilled artisans, and who are still esteemed, Across the river from Esfahan, the town of Jolfa is predominantly Christian with many fine, ancient churches. The jewish community in Iran was protected (Cyrus freed the Israelites and paid for the restoration of the temple in case it had slipped your mind). Ahmedinejad’s ranting did cause many jews to leave for Israel however.
          And Malaysia has a flourishing Christian minority mainly amongst it’s Chinese, Indian and Sarani/Eurasian communities (who are probably far more worried about ethnic tensions).
          Ethiopia and Eritrea are, of course, predominantly proudly Christian countries.

    • you_kid

      I feel quite safe here in Europe too, thanks.

      • Damaris Tighe

        as I thought, you’re deluded

      • Steve Cantlow

        Try walking round Bradford, Leicester, Birmingham, East London, Paris, Etc with a support Israel wristband on and see how safe you feel!

        • Alexsandr

          Luton, Dewsbury, Northampton.
          even Worcester.

    • Wessex Man

      If that’s the case why are the Israelis bombing the sh** out of Gaza because of the rockets mostly missing ant targets?

      • McRobbie

        Hamas just need to be “lucky” a few times and israel citizens, jews or muslim or christians, will be killed. Of course israel is dong what it can to stop these attacks, wouldn’t you..but you may be a more honest warmonger who wouldn’t fire rockets from locations next to hospitals and may be, but I doubt it. Hamas can stop this now……just dont fire rockets.

    • Icarus-Progam

      Not really, as an increasingly hostile Zionist radical faction is beginning to surface there. The exceptionally ultra-orthodox Jews have an intolerance for everyone who doesn’t believe the Israel state should be preserved at all costs, no matter who is sacrificed whether it be Israeli boys or Palestinian women and children.

  • Jimmy O’Neil

    What that place needs is a strong armed secular dictator. Pity he had weapons of mass destruction and was involved in 9/11 and had to go. It’s great that the people now demanding more intervention are not sullied by their support of the removal of Saddam. Because we couldn’t trust that lot.

  • Kitty MLB

    Excuse me, we are not intervening America is.And although as Burke said: evil will flourish when good men do and say nothing,
    its still erroneous,a huge mess was made of intervening the last
    time, a lot of our own lives lost.The Middle East is like it is today
    as a consequence of that war.And we start again….so what was
    it for.
    They want an eternal war and to send the West to oblivion and
    are without an ounce humanity. We are weakened and vulnerable
    and they know it. So WW3 here we come…thankyou Mr Blair,
    more blood to be hands must be stained with blood as
    Your black void of a soul sold to the devil.

    • Makroon

      Calm down and carry on Kitty.

  • Blindsideflanker

    We are not intervening, America is.

    Cameron is still sending P45’s to our soldiers and thinks the military is there to make PC gestures about equality.

  • @PhilKean1

    Britain is NOT intervening in the Iraqi crisis – America is.

    “Britain’s punches above her weight as part of the EU”

    So, economic decline, a 3rd rate armed forces, diplomatic impotence, mediocrity and resignation – is what “punching above her weight” looks like?

    • telemachus

      Nonetheless Cameron should come back from his fish market in Cornwall
      And scramble the RAF

      • GUBU

        Or he could come back from his holiday in Portugal.

        And attempt to unscramble your brain.

        An altogether more difficult task, I suspect.

        • telemachus

          Sorry slip
          That was last year

          • GUBU

            No need to apologise.

            Given your often tenuous grip on reality, it’s perhaps unfair to expect you to manage the odd fact here and there.

        • CharlietheChump


      • Kitty MLB

        So Labour would stamp on graves of those who died
        in vein during the last Iraq war….an everlasting war
        that was not ours and for which they sacrificed their
        lives for. These people from the Middle East with their
        barbaric medieval ‘religion’ who have no humanity
        are rubbing their hands with glee now.

        • telemachus

          Until they are bombed to glory

          • global city

            You were celebrating ‘the battle of Cable St’ on here last week’

            • telemachus

              Not celebrating
              A timely analogy

              • global city

                OK, I’m glad, as the event was nothing of real significance anyway….lefties deifying themselves. The actuality is that all that happened is that a dozen thugs had a fist fight in the street, all of whom hated Jews and Black men.

          • vieuxceps2

            Glory? Thought they got virgins? Bit of a bummer when they find out…..

            • Alexsandr

              its not virgins. its raisins.

              • vieuxceps2

                Raisins,eh? Not too bad then.

      • @PhilKean1

        Scramble the RAF? Both of them?

        Cameron already HAS scrambled the RAF. He gave 83 of Britain’s hardly-used Harriers to the Americans for the boot-sale price of just £105 mln, disbanded squadrons and done away with vital areas of capability.

        • telemachus

          Oh for Tony Blair

          • @PhilKean1

            Yes, just look at how quickly Britain has gone from world power to laughing stock since that dreadful day in 1997..

          • girondas2

            “Oh for Tony Blair”

            Really, Tony Blair?: The leader of the Party responsible for the horrors currently being unleashed in Iraq. Iraq, telemachus, is what you get when our country is governed by a political party that has lost its political, philosophical and moral principles: All that we are left with is a gang of spivs on the make, where “policy” is devised by spin monkeys with an eye for a quick headline, and war is decided by a couple of clowns sitting on a sofa.
            Even after all of this, you have learnt nothing have you? Your policy and statements over the crises in Gaza are geared solely towards shoring up the labour vote in the muslims ghettos of our inner cities. It is important to keep all this at the front of our minds because we cannot allow people like you anywhere near the levers of power again. We can’t afford the coffins and the body bags.

            • vieuxceps2

              Quite so,and let’s not forget Blair’s postal vote system which has so democratised the lives of muslim women that they don’t even need to find where their pencil is any more….

            • telemachus

              Tony and GWB prevented just the debacle we are seeing now
              Saddam was imminently presiding on a Syrian type situation except that geography and history would indicate an early takeover by ISIS
              Obama and Cameron caused the current situation by jumping ship

              • girondas2

                “Tony and GWB prevented just the debacle we are seeing now”

                pass that by me again.
                Tony and GWB prevented that which subsequently happened.
                Yeah right.

              • Alexsandr

                blair and bush created the omnishambles by failing to manage iraq properly after toppling saddam, leaving a black hole of governance for criminals and islamonutters to take advantage of.

            • Wessex Man

              You must make allowances for tele babe being a brain dead computer propaganda machine left on when Gord left office.

              • girondas2

                Naah – a computer would make more sense.

  • MaxSceptic

    It is folly for the West to get involved (again).

    The whole region is not worth the bones of one British serviceman.

    Air strikes will not dislodge the spread-out and mobile forces of ISIS.

    The only way to do so is ‘boots on the ground’ – finding and killing every single last arms-bearing male and giving them the martyrdom they so crave. As we have not waged war in that manner for some centuries, the best thing we can do is hope that they work through their religious and sectarian wars, kill each other, and perhaps in a couple of centuries they may enter a period of Enlightenment.

    • Mike

      Perhaps we should at least offer sanctuary for all non Muslims caught up in this genocde and get them out of the country whilst the root cause (Islam) continues its blood letting. I give it 500 years to reach enlightenment as they’re 500 years behind Christianities blood letting phase !

      • MaxSceptic

        Surely you are not suggesting a population exchange whereby we accept ME Christians and we send them our Muslims?

        • Mike

          We can certainly start by revoking UK citizenship on those who left the UK to join ISIS and welcome in those who are happy and willing to adopt British culture.

          Then we can round up and deport all of those who are illegally in the UK from Islamic countries and judging by their estimated numbers, that would easily exceed a few thousand genuine refugees !

          • Jackthesmilingblack

            Revoking British citizenship of those that sufficiently disenchant HMG? A slippery slope.

        • vieuxceps2

          “Send them our muslims”-Now there’s a noble thought…..

          • Wessex Man

            don’t know if the head of practise at our surgery will be happy with that, having been born in this country and having been season ticket holder at Aston Villa for thirty years.

            • Alexsandr

              well if he is a true scientist he will realise that imaginary friend, of whatever type, are just bunkum, so dumping Islam will be easy for him then.

            • vieuxceps2

              Villa supporter? Send him anyway

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