Thursday, September 18, 2014

Experts see Qatar making tactical adjustment, not dropping Islamist support

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 18, 2014

"Qataris would not encourage Islamists to depart without serious threats from other GCC members."

Qatar's ruler, Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, reaches out to German Chancellor Angela Merkel September 17 in Berlin. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Qatar's gesture in reporting seven Muslim Brotherhood members does not represent a major strategic shift, but rather a temporary, tactical adjustment to overcome building pressure on the country, Gulf experts tell The Jerusalem Post.

Qatar had asked the seven senior figures from the movement to leave the country after its neighbors pressed it to stop backing the Islamists, according to a London-based Brotherhood official.

Israel, Egypt and other Gulf states have slammed Qatar for supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist movements in the region.

Qatar bankrolled the Muslim Brotherhood government of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi, who was overthrown by the military a year ago.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have since poured in money to support Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who led the takeover in Egypt and has since been elected president after outlawing and suppressing the Brotherhood.

A report in the London-based pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat on Tuesday said that Qatar may move to expel many more Muslim Brotherhood members and other Islamists from the country.

David Andrew Weinberg, a specialist on Gulf affairs and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told the Post that “Qatar’s foreign policy gains a lot in the short term from backing radical Islamists, but occasionally it has demonstrated a willingness to temper this support in response to consistent, targeted pressure from the outside.

“The Qataris would not be encouraging members of the Muslim Brotherhood – and now, apparently, Al-Gamaa al-Islamiya [another Egypt-based Sunni Islamist movement] as well – to depart without serious concerted threats from other GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] members,” Weinberg said. “Indeed, if the press reports are an accurate indication of what transpired, Qatar very possibly was facing serious additional sanctions from Saudi Arabia and the UAE leading up to the GCC summit at the end of August.”

The threat from Islamic State persuaded the Saudis to freeze their effort to punish Qatar, but “the handful of Brotherhood leaders who have already started leaving Qatar indicates that Doha didn’t get away without making any concessions,” he said.

“But Saudi Arabia – and especially the UAE, which is focused in on the Brotherhood issue with laser precision – are not going to be satisfied with only cosmetic changes to Qatari policy,” Weinberg argued.

Asked about the Al-Hayat report and possible additional deportations, Weinberg said it is unclear whether Qatar is going to follow through. “We’ve heard rumors of this sort before, but up until now all of the verifiable Qatari concessions on the Brotherhood issue have been insignificant.

“Qatar is making tactical concessions to prevent certain targeted costs that could be imposed by its neighbors,” he said, noting that there are no broader indications of Qatar going through a strategic realignment.

To read the entire article click here.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

'Jihadists use the freedoms of Western society in order to destroy it'

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 17, 2014

French anti-terror Judge David Benichou noted that radicalized citizens in Europe posed a unique risk.

Judge David Benichou is a speaker at ICT's annual international conference at IDC Herzliya.. (photo credit:KFIR BOLOTIN)

Home-grown jihadists "use the freedoms of Western society in order to seek to destroy it,” French anti-terror Judge David Benichou told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

Benichou, who recently spoke at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism’s annual conference, noted that radicalized citizens in Europe posed a unique risk, since they were fully integrated into society and could legally enter and leave its territory at will. “The big challenge is detecting who they really are,” he said.

Regarding the security of Jews in France, the judge said he would advise against wearing religious symbols in some neighborhoods.

Pro-Palestinian protests this summer in support of Gazans became violent and created a worrisome environment for Jews, he said.

Benichou said that anti-terror cooperation with Israel was “excellent, at least judicially, [as I know from] my experience with them for several years.”

France, like all Western democracies, is trying to deal with the issue of its citizens becoming involved with terrorist organizations both at home and abroad.

Individuals who join these groups abroad are dangerous, he said, because they are able to receive military training and become more radicalized ideologically.

Discussing the ICT conference, which took place at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya last week, Benichou said he had “rarely seen such a concentration of specialists from dozens of countries, such a mixture of businesses, academics, and people from all areas affected by terrorism.”

This is because the fight against terrorism encompasses all components of society, he said.

“I spoke on the subject of foreign fighters, particularly French ones found in the ranks of jihadists in Syria, and the challenges that this brings,” said Benichou.

Specifically, a fundamental legal question hangs over the issue: “Should the jihadists be considered criminals or irregular fighters?” Perhaps this should be considered a new kind of war, he suggested, adding that Western democracies needed to reconsider the kinds of methods they used to handle the influx of extremists.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Israeli Arabs overwhelmingly deny support for Islamic State

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 15, 2014

Israeli Arabs that went to fight with Syrian opposition are for the most part fighting with other groups, says community leader.

An Islamic State terrorist holds a flag with the group's insignia.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

the Islamic State earlier this month and in numerous conversations with The Jerusalem Post, Israeli-Arabs overwhelmingly rejected the notion that any more than a few individuals support the terrorist group.

Over the last few weeks, the Israeli media has reported about Israeli Arab individuals who have left to fight for Islamic State in Syria and Iraq and about the appearance of the group’s flag in public, but there appears to be no phenomenon within Arab society supporting the al-Qaida offshoot.

Jafar Farah, the director of the Mossawa Center – The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, told the Post in an interview on Monday that “Israeli Arabs are against the Islamic State” and that Sheikh Raed Salah, the leader of the Islamic Movement’s Northern Branch in Israel, spoke out against the group.

“The Israeli media is looking for an enemy where there isn’t one,” and is “telling lies” on this issue, he said, adding that all Israeli-Arab parties oppose the group.

“We know Arab society more than the Israeli media,” he said.

Israeli Arabs that went to fight with the Syrian opposition against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad are for the most part fighting with other groups, not Islamic State, asserted Farah.

Furthermore, noted Farah, “Not everyone who waves the flag is an Islamic State supporter,” saying that the flag contains a verse from the Koran that “anyone can use without meaning that they belong to Islamic State.”

The Islamic State flag contains the words “La ilaha illa-ilah,” which are the first part of the Shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith – “there is no God but God.”

In fact, said Farah, the Islamic Movement uses this phrase as well.

There are a few isolated incidents, but “there is not a story here,” he argued.

Asked about how Arab society views the civil war in Syria, Farah responded that it is divided between supporters of Assad and the rebels.

“The Islamic Movement is against Assad” and believes that the Islamic State does not represent Islam, he said.

Edwar Makhoul, a Christian Arab from the Galilee who studies Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University, told the Post that there are few Israeli-Arab Islamic State supporters.

People are not worried about the group because of Israel’s strong army and police, he said.

Christians in Israel think the group is devil-like and anti-Christian, added Makhoul. “Islamic State is dangerous for Christians in the Middle East.”

“Israeli-Arab Christians support Assad because there is no alternative for them,” he added.

To read the entire article click here.

Analysis: Turkey balks at helping West, prefers Sunni jihadists

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 15, 2014

Erdogan who supports the Muslim Brotherhood regionally, seeks Syria’s downfall at the hands of the Islamists.

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (C) and US Secretary of State John Kerry (R) leave a meeting in Ankara September 12, 2014. . (photo credit:REUTERS)

Turkey is barely lifting a finger for NATO against Islamic State, not because it mainly fears for the life of 49 Turkish hostages held by the group, but because it sympathizes with its Sunni jihadist ideology.

US Secretary of State John Kerry won backing on Thursday for a “coordinated military campaign” against Islamic State from 10 Arab countries – Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon and six Gulf states including rich rivals Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Turkey, however, was not one of them.

US officials played down hopes of persuading Ankara to take a significant role in any military involvement, saying Friday’s talks with Turkey focused on issues including its efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters crossing its territory and its role in providing humanitarian assistance.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, an Islamist, who, along with Qatar, supports the Muslim Brotherhood regionally – including Hamas – seeks Syria’s downfall at the hands of the Islamist- dominated opposition.

In the regional sectarian confrontation between Sunnis and Shi’ites, Turkey has thrown its support behind revolutionary Sunni movements.

Consequently, that puts the country at odds with its southern neighbors: the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad and Shi’ite-ruled Iraq.

Turkey is also concerned about strengthening Kurds in Iraq and Syria, who the US-led alliance is seeking to aid militarily. Turkey’s own Kurdish insurgents waged a decades-long insurgency against the Turkish state and are engaged in a delicate peace process.

Francis Ricciardone, who was until late June the US ambassador in Turkey, said on Thursday that Ankara had supported groups including the Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s Syrian branch, in the fight against Assad, much to the dismay of Washington.

“Turkey’s lack of cooperation with NATO and the West is nothing new,” Prof. Efraim Inbar, director of the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, told The Jerusalem Post.

“Ankara adopted policies that vary greatly from NATO preferences,” he said, adding that “it supports Hamas, it circumvents sanctions against Iran and against Russia, and plans to buy a Chinese anti-aircraft and missile system.”

To read the entire article click here.

Monday, September 8, 2014

The trend of breakaway Islamists

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 8, 2014

Arab tribes have been fighting and allying with each other for centuries. And tribes also tend to unite against an invasion by outsiders.

ISIS fighter on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2104.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Islamic State, which broke off from al-Qaida, has distinguished itself by higher levels of ruthlessness and on-the ground results – conquering and administering territory in the heart of the Arab world – outshining its mother movement.

Though the two Sunni jihadist groups are not too dissimilar ideologically, it is the power Islamic State has achieved in practice that sways the masses of Muslims to its side.

It was Osama bin Laden himself who foresaw his organization’s demise: “When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse.”

Lee Smith uses this statement by bin Laden in his book, The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations, explaining, “The wars waged between Arabs according to the strong horse principle make the Arabic-speaking peoples of the Middle East a much graver threat to themselves than they are to anyone else.”

Arab tribes have been fighting and allying with each other for centuries. And tribes also tend to unite against an invasion by outsiders.

The ruling al-Saud family defeated or allied itself with other tribes in order to take and form Saudi Arabia.

In terms of Islamic State, the current strong horse in the Islamist world, it has a similar long term goal as other Islamist groups, the main ones being al-Qaida and the Muslim Brotherhood – of conquering the world under the rule of an Islamic Caliphate.

All three have different strategies on how to get there.

The Brotherhood, which is the basis ideologically for its two jihadist predecessors, al-Qaida and Islamic State, is a more pragmatic, patient group that prefers to bide its time, building followers from the ground up through its social welfare networks of schools, clinics and charities, before waging jihad.

Sayyid Qutb, the Brotherhood writer that led the way for the emergence of al-Qaida, wrote in his book, Milestones: “Indeed, Islam has the right to take the initiative. Islam is not a heritage of any particular race or country. This is Allah’s din [law] and it is for the whole world. It has the right to destroy all obstacles in the form of institutions and traditions that restrict man’s freedom of choice.”

Al-Qaida did not have the patience to build up support at the grassroots level, but wanted to strike its Arab and Western enemies immediately. And now Islamic State has paved the way for further radicalization.

Caliph Abu Bakar al-Baghdadi and his mentor Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and Qutb, have a similarity in that they all moved the ideology of their followers in a more extreme direction, though holding different roles.

Daniel Pipes, the president of the Middle East Forum, told The Jerusalem Post he agrees with that statement.

“These are similar processes of radicalization. The Islamic State appears to be the ultimate radical group, but who can say for sure these days?” says Pipes.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Israeli Arab town goes on strike in show of solidarity with murdered school principal

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
September 1, 2014

"The Jerusalem Post" spoke with residents of the city who appeared upset and complained about the lack of security.

Closed school gate in Taibe. (photo credit:Ariel Ben Solomon)

The Israeli Arab city of Taiba went on strike on Monday, keeping schools closed on the opening day of the school year, in solidarity with the high school principal murdered a week ago.

The Jerusalem Post spoke with residents of the city who appeared upset and complained about the lack of security in the city, many putting the blame on the police.

“Youth walk the streets carrying handguns and even large automatic weapons,” said a worker at a local market across from city hall, who did not want to be identified.

“Just the other day a kid shot at the police, and he escaped without being caught,” said the worker, adding that when one calls the police over a burglary, the police fail to act.

A masked gunman shot and killed Yussuf Haj Yahya, the principal of a Taiba high school, a week ago before a horrified group of teachers.

Yahya was speaking to a group of teachers at a meeting in his office when the assailant walked in and shot him several times in the head and chest before fleeing on foot.

Paramedics rushed Yahya in critical condition to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where he was pronounced dead shortly afterward.

The strike was kept quite strictly, especially when compared to other strikes observed by thePost in other Israeli Arab cities, which were called for more national issues such as Land Day.

But this murder was taken personally by many in the city who did not even know the successful school principal personally.

United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi criticized the police and told the Post that there is “discrimination against Arabs – both living and dead.”

“If someone would use a weapon against the state, the person would be caught immediately,” argued Tibi. “The police are not solving crimes and this encourages criminals to engage in criminality and murder.”

Friday, August 29, 2014

Jihadists in Syria not likely to open a new front against Israel – for now

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 28, 2014

The battle to oust Assad currently takes precedence over waging jihad against Israel, despite the fact that ideologically, Islamist groups see Israel as an enemy that needs to be overrun.

IDF soldiers stand atop tanks in the Golan Heights near Israel's border with Syria. Photo: REUTERS

Al-Qaida’s Syria wing, the Nusra Front, and other Islamist fighters took over a border crossing linking Syria to the Israeli part of the Golan Heights on Wednesday and may use the seized territory to fire a few rockets at Israel, but are unlikely to open up a new front for now.

The fighters, many of whom see Israel as an enemy that ultimately should be conquered, took over the Quneitra post from the Syrian Army.

The rebels are unlikely to open up a front against Israel now because they fear its response and are busy consolidating their gains in Syria and battling to oust President Bashar Assad.

The Islamist groups are the most powerful rebel groups in Syria, with the Nusra Front and the Islamic State in the lead; they fight each other at times, and both also fight against others in the opposition camp.

It is possible the Nusra Front could carry out a token attack in order to upstage its rising rival, the Islamic State.

For now, these Syrian fronts take precedence over waging jihad against Israel, despite the fact that ideologically, Islamist groups see Israel as an enemy that needs to be overrun.

“The offensive launched this morning to take Syrian Army positions involves Ahrar al-Sham, Nusra Front, Liwa Fallujah Hauran, Saraya al-Jihad and Jabhat Thowar Souriya, which together represent a fairly broad spectrum, from Western-backed Free Syrian Army units to the Salafist Ahrar al-Sham and to al-Qaida affiliate the Nusra Front,” Charles Lister, a visiting fellow at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, told The Jerusalem Post.

Taking the military post bordering on Israel is “clearly a risky move for any Syrian rebel group considering the delicate state of dynamics in that area,” said Lister. However, he said, such a move should be seen as part of the rebels’ wider campaign goal of ridding Syria’s southwest Quneitra Governorate of regime forces.

Asked if rebel forces would attack Israel, Lister responded, “It is extremely unlikely that Syrian fighters, including from the Nusra Front, would seek to launch an attack on Israel anytime soon, as they’re well aware of the potential consequences of doing so.”

To read the entire article click here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Tehran seeks to overcome Western influence by supplying weapons to Kurds

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 26, 2014

Iranians have been present in Kurdistan and pushing for their interests for a long time, says expert.

Kuridsh Peshmerga fighters walk at Mosul Dam in northern Iraq.Photo: REUTERS

Iran has supplied weapons and ammunition to Iraqi Kurdish forces, Iraqi Kurdistan President Massoud Barzani said Tuesday at a joint press conference with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Arbil, capital of Iraq’s Kurdish region.

The direct arming of Kurdish forces is a contentious issue because some Iraqi politicians have said they suspect Kurdish leaders have aspirations to break away from the central government completely.

The move could also be seen by some as a prelude to Iran taking a more direct role in broader Iraqi conflict.

“We asked for weapons and Iran was the first country to provide us with weapons and ammunition,” Barzani said.

Insurgents from the Islamic State have clashed with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in recent weeks and taken control of some areas on the periphery of Iraqi Kurdistan.

Mordechai Zaken, an Israeli expert of minorities in the Middle East and a former Arab affairs adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that the Iranians have been present in Kurdistan and pushing for their interests for a long time.

Zaken pointed out that there are many Kurdish Iranian refugees and fighters in Iraqi Kurdistan due to longterm tensions and fighting with the Iranian government.

However, the Kurdish rebellion against the Iranian government has stopped for now.

Iran does not want to use its soldiers to fight the Islamic State so it prefers to send weapons to the Kurds to help do the job, he added.

Zarif met on Sunday with Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, the highest ranking Kurdish minister, who is also the uncle of Kurdistan president Barzani, Zaken said. This meeting probably facilitated the current deal, he added.

To read the entire article click here.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Analysis: Hezbollah not looking to join Hamas in battle

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 25, 2014

For the Shi'ite movement, the sectarian conflict and payback for abandoning its alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad trumps any other considerations now.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah. Photo: REUTERS

No one has yet taken responsibility for rockets fired at Israel from Lebanon and Syria, though it appears at this point that Hezbollah is not looking to join Hamas in the battle against the Jewish state.

If Hamas were a fellow Shi’ite movement like Hezbollah, and also closely connected ideologically with Iran, we would have expected that Hezbollah would have gone all out to defend Hamas in Gaza by now.

However, this is not the case, and the sectarian conflict and payback for abandoning its alliance with Syrian President Bashar Assad trumps any other considerations now.

Moreover, the group’s deep involvement in defending Iranian interests in the region, especially in Syria, leaves it with little desire to open up another front at the moment.

“Hezbollah enjoys looking at what is happening to Hamas, the traitors who betrayed Assad, their host and protector for more than 20 years, by not supporting him in his struggle against the Sunni jihadists,” Mordechai Kedar, director of the Center for the Study of the Middle East and Islam (under formation) and a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University, told The Jerusalem Post.

“This is the reason for not taking any step to support Hamas – not even one missile,” said Kedar.

However, he added that the situation could change “only by an Iranian directive, which would come after Hamas repents.”

To read the entire article click here.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Powerless to stop Islamic State, West may have to join forces with Iran, Hezbollah

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 22, 2014

Israel, Sunni world wary of any Western rapprochement with Iran; Israeli expert says West is helpless, doesn't know what to do against Islamic State.

ISIS fighter on a street in the city of Mosul, June 23, 2104. Photo: REUTERS

US attacks on the Sunni Islamic State in Iraq and its cooperation and arming of the ruling Shi’ite government there is the latest signal that the West is moving toward an arrangement with the Shi’ite Iranian axis, which includes Hezbollah, Iraq and Syria.

Such an alignment has been feared by the Sunni world and Israel for some time.

For example, the Obama administration has allowed Iran to drag out negotiations over the country’s nuclear program and reportedly indirectly shared intelligence with Hezbollah to counter Sunni jihadists in Lebanon.

Seeing the wind blowing its way in the region, Iran has jumped at the chance to use the crisis with the Islamic State in order to gain Western concessions on nuclear talks.

“If we agree to do something in Iraq, the other side in the negotiations will need to do something in return,” Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif said in remarks late on Wednesday carried by state news agency IRNA.

“All the sanctions imposed on Iran over its nuclear activities should be lifted in return for its help in Iraq,” he said.

Eyal Zisser, a Middle East expert from the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University, told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday that “the West is helpless and does not know what to do against the Islamic State.”

“I am afraid that at the end of the day, the West will come to the conclusion that it has no choice but to collaborate with Iran and Syria on this issue,” he said.

To read the entire article click here.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Israel not taking Jordan, Egypt, and the Saudi’s belated criticism too seriously

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 13, 2014

Former senior US official to ‘Post’: This bloc has given Israel extraordinary latitude to fight Hamas.

Abdullah, Abdullah and Sisi Photo: REUTERS

The Egyptian-Saudi-Jordanian bloc has given extraordinary latitude to Israel during Operation Protective Shield, according to a US Middle East expert.

Michael Doran – a senior fellow at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, who previously served as US deputy assistant secretary of defense and a senior director at the National Security Council – told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that “we are witnessing the solidification of an Egypt-Saudi-Jordanian bloc to counter not only the Muslim Brotherhood, but also Iran.”

These governments “are threading a line between their strategic interest and popular Arab opinion, which supports the Palestinians,” he said.

“After more than a month of conflict, it is difficult for them to remain silent.”

Jordan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia have come out belatedly against Israel’s attacks on Hamas in Gaza in response to rocket fire, as their antipathy toward Hamas has been overshadowed of late by anti-Israel rhetoric meant for the masses.

When the war against Hamas began, these three Arab countries and the UAE were uncharacteristically silent. The New York Times ran an article highlighting this point on July 30, titled, “Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent.”

But as the war dragged on and casualties mounted, with pictures of dead children plastered across the Arab media, it became difficult for the leaders of this bloc to continue that silence while the masses seethed in anger.

These status-quo powers are fighting to maintain their regimes’ stability against revolutionary Islamic regimes and terrorist groups.

Whether it is the Muslim Brotherhood movement; its Palestinian version, Hamas; the Islamic State; or the Shi’ite axis of Iran and Hezbollah, and its ally Syria, the states in this bloc are coordinating and aiding each other against such players.

As of late, however, the bloc has become jittery and begun to lash out at Israel.

Jordan’s King Abdullah, in an interview with the country’s Al-Ghad newspaper on Sunday, criticized Israel harshly. And in what seems like a move to placate international public opinion, his remarks were published in English on the website of the Jordanian Embassy in the US.

“The pain and suffering that we have been witnessing and living through during this aggression, which has indiscriminately taken the lives of innocent people, refutes Israel’s claims that the war is justified,” said Abdullah.

To read the entire article click here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Yazidi writer: ‘Defend us from the massacres’

by Ariel Ben Solomon
Jerusalem Post
August 13, 2014

“Thousands of men were killed in front of their families and many old men have died from thirst and illness,” says Khalida Khalil.

Displaced people from the minority Yazidis rest Monday near Iraq’s border with Syria while fleeing Sunni militants. Photo: REUTERS

As the Islamic State closes in on the Yazidis, trapped in northern Iraq, bringing death and creating refugees, a member of the community told The Jerusalem Post that her compatriots’ situation is dire.

Khalida Khalil, an independent Yazidi writer, academic and consultant in the Kurdistan Parliament, who is living in Arbil, but born in Sheikhan, Iraq, said to the Post on Sunday that she called on “the international community to save us” and “defend us from massacres occurring in Sinjar now.”

Khalil said that there were around 200,000 stranded people trying to survive in the mountains – hanging between life and death – hoping that they can be saved from slaughter.

Khalil said that no precise statistics were available, but she claimed that thousands of Yazidis have gone missing and that 200 children starved to death or have been murdered by the Islamic State.

According to UNICEF, 25,000 children are under threat of death from hunger and thirst in the mountains.

“Thousands of men were killed in front of their families and many old men have died from thirst and illness,” she said, highlighting that the Islamic State kidnapped more than 1,000 women and girls.

“Yazidis and Kurds share a common nationality, but are separated by religion,” Khalil explained.

Asked about prospects for an independent Kurdistan, Khalil noted that it depended “on political developments, particularly in the bordering states, since we don’t have a port.”

Mordechai Zaken, an Israeli expert of minorities in the Middle East and a former Arab affairs adviser to the Prime Minister’s Office, told the Post that the idea of an independent Kurdish state failed to gain widespread support in the West, and particularly from the US, because of Turkish opposition and the wish to prevent the breakdown of the Iraqi state.

To read the entire article click here.