Mi­nori­ties purge re-draws Iraq

The Political and Business Daily - - WORLD -

Anew map is be­ing drawn across the plains of north­ern Iraq as Sunni mil­i­tants of the Is­lamic State purge the ru­ral land­scape of re­li­gious and eth­nic mi­nori­ties that have co-ex­isted for hun­dreds of years.

More than half a mil­lion peo­ple have been dis­placed across Iraq since June, when the north's big­gest city, Mo­sul, fell to Sunni in­sur­gents who have have har­ried Shi'ite Turk­men and Shabaks, Yezidis and Chris­tians.

Even be­fore the fall of Mo­sul, Yezidis, who fol­low an an­cient monothe­is­tic re­li­gion with el­e­ments of na­ture wor­ship and are branded devil wor­ship­pers by the hard­line Is­lamists, hardly dared set foot in the city, which has been a nerve cen­tre for the Sunni in­sur­gency since 2003.

Now the Is­lamic State's cleans­ing cam­paign has rid farm­land and vil­lages in the sur­round­ing Nin­eveh province and be­yond of long­time mi­nor­ity in­hab­i­tants, leav­ing the coun­try's north seg­re­gated along clear sec­tar­ian and eth­nic lines.

Much of the north is now di­vided be­tween the Is­lamic State and the Kurds, who have ex­panded their au­tonomous re­gion by as much as 40 per­cent as the cen­tral govern­ment's pres­ence has crum­bled. Mi­nori­ties are be­ing forced to choose which part of Iraq they be­long to, has­ten­ing the coun­try's de-facto par­ti­tion and trans­form­ing its de­mog­ra­phy, per­haps ir­re­versibly.

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