Prime Minister Tony Abbott has not ruled out Australian troops returning to Iraq, to protect the Yazidi religious minority from Islamic extremists.
The ABC reports that Tony Abbott has said, “We’re talking to our partners – and our partners in this instance are certainly much wider than simply the United States and the United Kingdom – but we are talking to our security partners about what we can usefully do to help.”
“No-one wants to stand aside in the face of the potential genocide,” he continued. “There is a world of difference between getting involved to prevent genocide and the kind of involvement that we’ve seen in recent years by western countries in the Middle East. Just a world of difference. And no-one should conflate the two.”
Back in June, Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop also announced $5 million in aid for those fleeing from ISIS.
By ALI MAMOURI, Australian Catholic University
US president Barack Obama has confirmed that the US military made targeted airstrikes and carried out a humanitarian operation in Iraq, marking the deepest US engagement in the country since US troops withdrew in 2011.
The humanitarian aid drops targeted areas populated by the persecuted Yazidi minority, as well as cities and villages northwest of Mosul. These included Qaraqosh, the biggest Christian city in Iraq, which fell under control of Islamic State (IS) militants a few days ago. At this stage, the US operation will be very limited. There will be no troop presence on the ground.
This means that the IS threat won’t be removed from Iraq – at least in the short term. The IS fighters will continue their massacres after the limited US operation has finished.
Iraq is rapidly spiralling into an unprecedented situation that is already much worse than it has been in recent decades. However, the international community is standing idly by, apparently indifferent to Iraqis’ suffering.
Who are the Yazidis?
The Yazidi community, whose numbers have been estimated at upwards of half a million worldwide, are the residue of one of the world’s most ancient ethno-religious groups.
The Yazidi faith is unique, as it is a monotheistic adaption of ancient dualism. The name Yazidi is derived from the ancient Persian term yazata, which means “who deserves to be worshipped”, originating from a Zoroastrian concept. Yazidis believe in one creator with two different main actors in the universe: God and Satan. They believe Satan is a creation of God and his role is a sacred duty. Consequently, they respect Satan and oppose any insult of him.
The Yazidis’ unique religion has resulted in many stereotypes about them, which has had serious adverse consequences for their community. The most damaging of these is the commonly held belief that they are Satan worshippers.
Due to these stereotypes, a common misconception has arisen that Yazidis are a dangerous people who lack ethical principles. The resulting hostile attitudes towards Yazidis are not unique to fundamentalist Islamic theologians. It was also shared by classical orientalists and early Western explorers such as John Ussher and Wallis Budge, who reinforced this falsehood.
Yazidis have long been subjected to discrimination and racism in Iraq. They have been at the centre of identity crises in Iraq; both pan-Arab and pan-Kurd ideologies have attempted to impose their identity on them. This is while they demand to identify them as a separated identity in a multicultural society.