Vice President of the United States Mike Pence in a tweet reiterated the fact that President Trump’s administration is committed to protect Iraq’s persecuted Christians and other religious minorities. In keeping with a statement issued from the White House Vice President Mike Pence spoke with Prime Minister of Iraq Haider al-Abadi by telephone.
The White House Statement says that Mik Pence spoke with Iraqi Premier in order to discuss “upcoming May elections in Iraq, reports of Iran attempting to meddle in Iraq’s election and government formation, and the need to ensure free and fair elections that include Iraq’s citizens displaced by the fight against ISIS”.
Vice President in a tweet detailed: “Spoke [with] Iraq PM @HaiderAlAbadi about our Admin’s commitment to PROTECT persecuted Christians & religious minorities in Iraq & the Middle East. Also congratulated PM on Iraqi Sec Forces success against ISIS & highlighted the partnership [between] them & US military & coalition partners.”
In keeping with United States Commission on International Religious Freedom in its annual report says: “Severe religious freedom violations continued in Iraq throughout 2016. Iraqi and international efforts against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) recaptured a series of important cities, including Ramadi and Fallujah, but the terrorist group continued to ruthlessly target anyone who did not espouse its extremist Islamist ideology, including members of the Christian, Yazidi, Shi’a, Turkmen, and Shabak communities, as well as of the Sunni community.
In March 2016, then Secretary of State John Kerry declared that ISIS’s persecution of these groups amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity. ISIS is by far the most egregious perpetrator of religious freedom violations. The group has caused the displacement of over 3.4 million Iraqis, many of whom have fled to the area controlled by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has made efforts to curb sectarian tensions between the Sunni and Shi’a communities of Iraq; however, it has not been able to halt attacks on Sunni Muslims by the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF).
Lastly, while the KRG has sheltered and provided some level of support for large numbers of displaced minorities within its territory, there were also charges of appropriation of Christian lands and lack of effective representation for minorities in the Kurdish system. Based on these concerns, in 2017, USCIRF places the government of Iraq on its Tier 2 and finds that ISIS merits designation as an “entity of particular concern” for religious freedom violations under December 2016 amendments to the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA).”