Back in Iraq

First, U.S. aircraft dropped tons of humanitarian aid for tens of thousands of refugees in northern Iraq, who were fleeing from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Then, the U.S. bombarded the artillery of Sunni extremists.

This is how Washington returned to the Iraqi battleground, a country we left three years go after a turbulent invasion. The Bush administration could be blamed for awakening sectarian divisions with its intervention, but today’s scenario has a separate origin.

On the one hand, the war against the Assad regime in Syria drew together Sunni militants. They have the support of nations like Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, and ISIS is a division of al-Qaida, although with a more extremist religious vision. On the other hand, the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has isolated and even persecuted Sunnis. This mistreatment caused the Sunni population to sympathize with Sunni militants who took over parts of Syria and Iraq to declare them a caliphate—the most extreme application of Islamic law. The beheadings and executions they are leaving behind demonstrate their barbaric nature and are a signal of what happens to those who do not convert to their religion.

Now, there are tens of thousands of refugees who are fleeing from ISIS, and even Kurdistan itself is under threat. U.S. airstrikes will temporarily stop extremist advances and nothing else. It is a reaction to a crisis caused by religious hatred that Washington, logically, cannot resolve.

The United States has a responsibility toward Iraq, given the failed intervention. However, the responsibility for protecting hundreds of thousands of Christians, Yezidis and Kurds from extermination falls on developed nations. France’s decision to help, for example, is a first step, because more than moral support is needed to stop ISIS.

It is worrisome to once again see U.S. military action in Iraq. Fearing multiple ramifications is inevitable, but it is also tough to ignore the crisis that is underway. The solution to the political-religious problem is in the hands of Iraqis. Preventing a horrible massacre must be an international concern