Saving Christians From the Persecution of ISIS

Inside a Catholic church in Erbil, Iraq, where Christians fleeing Islamic State sought refuge in 2014. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES)
Inside a Catholic church in Erbil, Iraq, where Christians fleeing Islamic State sought refuge in 2014. (PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES)

A 1975 U.S. precedent: The rescue of South Vietnamese from Communist rule.

In 1975, as desperate Vietnamese sought to escape Communist rule, the U.S. embarked on what remains one of the greatest humanitarian rescue missions in history. Over the span of several weeks, Operation Frequent Wind, Operation Babylift and other missions by air or on sea saved and resettled tens of thousands of Vietnamese in the U.S., where they would become thriving American citizens.

Now another desperate population needs rescuing: persecuted Christians in the Middle East. Could there be an Operation Frequent Wind for them?

Mark Arabo thinks so. He is a Chaldean-American and the founder of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to get Iraqi Christians out before it’s too late. “There is historical precedent for this,” he says from his base in San Diego. “President Ford airlifted thousands during the Vietnam War and we need to do the same.”

An operation of this size would require extensive logistical planning, but Benjamin Weinthal, a research fellow for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, says Operation Frequent Wind is repeatable. “Incirlik, the U.S. air base near Adana in Turkey, is close to the Syrian-Turkey border,” he says, suggesting that U.S.-led special-operation teams could stage a mission in partnership with European countries. “There are service personnel and planes to accomplish a rescue operation for persecuted Christians.”

Since the rise of Islamic State, known as ISIS, about 125,000 Christians have fled the country. After ISIS took Mosul in June 2014, the city’s Christians flocked to Erbil, the Kurdish capital. In Syria, once home to nearly two million Christians, at least 500,000 have been displaced during four years of war. It is ISIS policy to kidnap and rape Christian women and girls. The terrorist group has razed Christian sites, including monasteries dating to the fifth century. Last October the ISIS magazine Dabiq referred to Christians as “crusaders” and vowed to kill “every Crusader possible.”

That should remind Western policy makers: Christians are not random victims, caught in the maw of Mideast strife. They are targets of genocide, much like the Jews during World War II. This entitles them to broad protection under the 1951 U.N. Genocide Convention, to which the U.S. is a signatory.



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SOURCE: The Wall Street Journal
Chloe Valdary

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