WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) Last week, America’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, met with Nadia Murad, the UN Goodwill Ambassador for Dignity of Survivors of Human Trafficking who endured Islamic State’s (IS) sexual slavery, and Amal Clooney, who represents the victims of IS’ brutalities.
After their meeting, Haley tweeted, “The U.S. is committed to bringing ISIS to justice, not just on the battlefield, but in the Judicial system as well.”
Barack Obama’s UN Ambassador, Samantha Powers, renowned for her work in exposing and denouncing genocide, probably wanted to make such a statement, but never could. The Obama administration was not prepared to make that commitment—even rhetorically.
Rather, the Obama administration hid behind Baghdad. It held that Iraqis were in the lead on this issue. Thus, in responding to a question from Kurdistan24 last August, the State Department Spokesperson stated, “We [support] the efforts of the Iraqi Security Forces and authorities to hold the perpetrators of Daesh’s [the Arabic acronym for IS] atrocities accountable.”
It was basically for Baghdad to act, and Baghdad did very little.
This US passivity was just one more manifestation of Obama’s reluctant confrontation with IS, colored above all, by his fears, and those of his top aides, of becoming involved again in a Middle East war.
Neither President Donald Trump nor his top national security aides have any such apprehensions. Rather, they believe security comes from strength, and the best defense is a good offense.
This stance is already taking on a moral dimension absent from Obama’s policy. The Trump administration is assuming a stronger position than Obama did in support of IS’ victims.
On Thursday, when Kurdistan24 again asked the State Department about holding IS members accountable for their crimes, the response was much more vigorous than it had been seven months before.
Acting State Department Spokesperson Mark Toner replied, “We’re appalled by the horrific acts being committed by ISIS against people from a wide variety of ethnic and religious groups in Iraq and Syria, and that includes, of course, the Yezidis [Ezidis].”
Toner explained that the US Ambassador to Iraq had “just completed a visit to Bashiqa in northern Iraq, where he met with Yezidi and Christian communities to better understand and assess their situation.”
“We also, of course, welcomed the determination by the House of Representatives last year with respect to the genocide of Yezidis,” Toner added. “And we stand with all the innocent victims of ISIS’s inhumanity.”
Indeed, March 14 marked the first anniversary of the House passage of a resolution declaring that IS atrocities “against Christians, Yezidis, and other religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria constitute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.”
Vice-President Michael Pence, himself a former Congressman, marked the anniversary with a tweet recalling the resolution’s approval and noting its significance.
The resolution passed the House unanimously, and that increased the pressure on the State Department to formally declare IS atrocities to be “genocide.” Three days later it did so—but hardly anything has been done about it thus far.
Senior figures in the new administration, however, seem to be signaling that this will change. There are, at least, some good reasons to be hopeful.
Editing by Delovan Barwari