(JNS) The Simon Wiesenthal Center joined interfaith human-rights organizations in pleading with U.S. President Joe Biden to keep U.S. troops in Iraq.
“We beseech you on behalf of two historic and endangered peoples, Assyrian Christians and Yazidis, to continue the presence of American troops in Iraq,” read an open letter to the president from the Iraqi Christian Relief Council and Yazda Organization, which was also published on Change.org. “Mr. President, we urge you to resist pressure to withdraw all troops from Iraq. Recent blood-soaked history has shown that without such a presence, the history of Assyrians and Yazidis on their ancient lands would end.”
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean and director of Global Social Action at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, read parts of the letter out loud at a meeting in New York on Tuesday that was also attended by Juliana Taimoorazy, founder and president of the Iraqi Christian Relief Council, and Rev. Johnnie Moore, human-rights activist and president of the Congress of Christian Leaders. Jameel Chomer of the Yazda Organization joined live from Iraq.
According to the letter, there were 1.5 million Iraqi Christians and 600,000 Yazidis in Iraq 20 years ago. Today, there remains no more than 150,000 Christians and 400,000 Yazidis in the country.
“This loss of over one-and-a-half million indigenous people of Iraq portends the even worse ethnic cleansing that will surely overtake us without the presence of U.S. troops,” stated the letter. “Even a modest contingent of Americans brings a significant degree of deterrence. It makes the extremists think twice before overrunning our communities and unleashing murder and mayhem on innocents.”
The authors told Biden that the complete removal of American forces in the region “runs the real risk of a complete takeover of the region at the hands of ISIS, the Iranian extremists and their proxies. If, God forbid, a takeover like that occurred, the last remnants of the historic Eastern Christians and Yazidis would surely be lost forever.”