Sunday, 10 August 2014

The Iraqi conflict – where Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, Iraq Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces, and Iraq government forces – battle for control, is largely over water, oil and power, instead of religion, according to an article in UK-based newspaper The Sunday Times.

Much of the world’s media attention is over the plight of the Yazidi ethnic community, who, under the threat of ISIS that they should convert to Islam or be executed, have been forced into Iraq’s mountains in the north.

On Sunday, Iraq’s human rights minister claimed that at least 500 Yazidis had been killed by ISIS, with some of the victims – including women and children – being buried alive. Meanwhile, almost 300 women had been kidnapped as slaves, he added.

But fuelling the wiping out of religious minorities such as Yazidis and Christians is heavily fuelled by ISIS’s attempts to increase its economic clout, the article states. With ISIS’s recent seizure of Iraq’s biggest dam, the militant group now wields the wide control over the country’s water supply, and even has the capacity to flood the capital Baghdad.

Additionally, the group also continues to secure oilfields, selling the oil on the black market, which enable it to finance its operations.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish-controlled north, where most persecuted minorities have fled to, is now threatened by ISIS. Its Peshmerga fighters, “low on cash and weaponry, will be tested to the full in the coming weeks and months,” the article states.

Earlier this week, a senior Kurdish official said that Iraqi Kurdistan faces an “existential threat.”

While ISIS seeks further offensives to widen its area of control, many of the groups it fights against – such as the largely Sunni Kurds – adhere to a belief in the same God, according to the article.

“The biggest irony is that all the religious groups struggling to coexist in this region believe in the same God, however they choose to address him or whatever symbol they choose to represent him — be it a peacock, a cross, the sun or simply an abstract geometric pattern. Proof, if ever it were needed, that this conflict is less about religion than about water, oil and power,” the article states.

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