Following the purge of Christians in the Iraqi city of Mosul and the destruction of a nearly 2,000-year-old Christian house of worship, fighters with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have continued to impose a grotesque and medieval form of Sharia Law on the city’s remaining Muslim residents.
On Wednesday, a United Nations representative claimed that the Sunni Islamist militant group order all women and girls of ages ranging from 11 to 46 to undergo the despicable practice of female circumcision. While a departure from past Islamist practice, this move would represent yet another violation of international human rights as defined by the United Nations.
“The ritual cutting of girls’ genitals is practiced by some African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities in the belief it prepares them for adulthood or marriage,” the BBC reported on Thursday. “The UN General Assembly approved a resolution in December 2012 calling for all member states to ban the practice.”
A UN official in Iraq told Reuters reporters in Europe that this disturbing development must be addressed by the international community.
The “fatwa” would potentially affect 4 million women and girls, [Jacqueline Badcock, the number two U.N. official in Iraq] told reporters in Geneva by videolink from Arbil.
“This is something very new for Iraq, particularly in this area, and is of grave concern and does need to be addressed,” she said, according to Reuters.
This report has not been confirmed and there are indications that it may be a hoax.
Shiraz Maher, a Senior Fellow at King’s College London specialising in the Middle East, had looked at the image for i100 – before the UN’s claims – and concluded it was a fake, likely spread by one of the many, many groups opposed to Isis.
Maher told us FGM was more “cultural” rather than having a specific association with Islamism, adding that it is “not something jihadists have ever really taken up” or “spoken about”.
Ms Badcock herself acknowledged that the order would represent a departure for the jihadists.
It is possible that few foresaw the horrors presently unfolding in Mosul but, according to a new report, the United States was aware that ISIS fighters were going to take the city at least three days before it fell.
“The Obama administration knew an attack was in the works three days in advance of the Islamic State’s offensive in northern Iraq, but U.S. efforts to mount a response were hampered by the Iraqi government’s insistence that it could handle the threat, two top U.S. architects of Iraq policy said Wednesday,” a report via McClatchy reporters revealed.
[State Department’s deputy assistant secretary for Iraq and Iran Brett] McGurk said the United States warned the Iraqi government on June 7 that American intelligence had received “early indications that ISIL was moving in force from Syria into Iraq and staging forces in western Mosul.” He said U.S. officials had sought the urgent deployment of Kurdish peshmerga militia forces to eastern Mosul to stop the extremists’ advance, but that the idea was blocked by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki’s administration.
“The government of Baghdad did not share the same sense of urgency and did not approve the deployments,” McGurk said. “Iraqi military commanders promised to send nine brigades of force to Mosul in response to our warnings and we stressed, however, that the forces would not arrive in time.”
McGurk described the resulting events as “catastrophic.”
It is entirely possible that, had a status of forces agreement been reached, that the United States could have checked ISIS’s rapid advance across north and western Iraq. In the absence of a SOFA, it is hard to see what the United States could have done to prevent the crimes against decency unfolding in Iraq.
Given the scale of the human tragedy in Mosul, however, it is certainly fair to blame the administration for forfeiting the gains America won in the last decade and consigning Iraqis to torture, mutilation, and persecution.