THE BLOG
08/12/2014 11:36 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Obama, Carl Bildt and Other Leaders: Oil or Human Lives?

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Sunday, a day after the U.S. commenced bombings in Iraq, you, Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs, wrote an editorial for Expressen, one of Sweden's biggest newspapers. In it you wrote that connections between Sweden and Iraq are "strong," that there is "immediate concern" and that your phone is "constantly busy." Moreover, we were surprisingly informed that Swedish diplomacy is to be credited for the inclusion of ethnic minorities in the modern state of Iraq.

However, this time it's not about you, Carl Bildt. Because, Carl, these people are being forced to leave their homes at gunpoint. They are being robbed of everything they have. They are being forced to witness rape, murder and the destruction of their communities and lives, all because they were not born into and did not convert to what their tormentors call Islam. And you have suggested no concrete action to stop Iraq and its most vulnerable citizens from imminent death.

For 10 years we have asked for diplomatic help. We have been sending information -- hard numbers and facts -- to the U.S. State Department, and to you as well. No response and no actions have been taken to protect our men, women and children. You have even not bothered to mention the persecution we have been facing. You are Tweeting and blogging on a daily basis about things that you clearly deem to be of greater importance in this world than genocide, and yet you want to give the impression of being a sophisticated international politician.

But now that the United States has commenced its air raids, you suddenly feel a "strong concern for the ongoing atrocities." Today, you use the word "genocide" which was also uttered by the U.S. Secretary of State. I suppose we should be grateful?

A decade ago you had other concerns. Nonetheless, your views echoed those of the U.S. government. In 2003, you publicly announced your support of the invasion of Iraq in the New York Times. Military action was necessary. And in line with other conservatives and Republican lobbyists, you spoke freely of Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction and encouraged other countries to support the invasion.

Perhaps you should have read up on regional history: the religious, ethnic and cultural fault lines in the Middle East and the chronic failure to establish a secure, democratic state politics in Iraq for all Iraqis, before making yourself the errand boy of George W. Bush. It is not as easy as simply dropping bombs. When a regime is forcibly removed, measures need to be taken to protect minorities. This matter was wholly ignored by you. Then again: Iraq is a country rich with oil, and your and others personal interest in oil is not unknown.

Because what's worse is that this sudden engagement from Obama's side may not be a matter of protecting vulnerable minorities, but not want to risk control of the oil. I hope that it does not apply to you too Carl Bildt.

In Iraq, since you decided to side with the war, more than a hundred churches have been desecrated, bombed or destroyed. Religious buildings belonging to the Yazidi and Mandaean communities -- as well as historic shrines belonging to both Sunni and Shi'a Muslims -- have also been destroyed. Our children have been kidnapped and murdered. Women and men have been raped and killed. Our family members have been decapitated in front of video cameras. And this continues. Why?

Apparently, because we were born non-Muslims. However, we might as well have been born Swedish. Or even moderate Muslims. We are all the enemies of the jihadists of "ISIL", which is the American expression you've chosen to use. But they are in fact called the Islamic state -- IS -- and they demand the submission of us all. Those who do not eat, dress, talk and think like they want us to shall die under their rule. They do not only pose a threat to the minorities in the region, but to the entire Middle East and the whole world. This murder gang has no desire for negotiation, discussion or even survival. They wish to die for their faith and in the course of that mission to abolish the rest of us, sooner rather than later. As their press officer said in a recent Vice News documentary on the group -- "we live only for war." And that was a press officer.

The Islamic State has the funds to carry out their mission: in fact, the more entrenched they become, the more they can extract from the natural wealth of Iraq and Syria, through oil smuggling, looting, and tax. They already derive a lot of their funding from the property and territory they've seized. They possess high caliber weapons and artillery left behind by the retreating Iraqi army. They are recruiting new fighters from all over the world, including Sweden. And their aim is not just to terrorize, but to establish and expand a caliphate -- a territorial and political entity governed proudly by fear, hatred and violence. They already control land the size of Great Britain, and 6 million people live under their rule.

You call us a "a Christian minority." But we are not "just" Christians, Carl Bildt. You need to get your facts right. We are the indigenous people of Iraq. We have been living in the region for seven thousand years: we trace our heritage back to the cradle of civilization. The language we speak has its roots in the first languages of the world, and we carry on our tongue the origins of civilization. The fact that our ethnic identity has been taken from us and we are being lumped together under a belief system prevalent in the west is nothing short of a distortion of history. Assyrians/Chaldean/Syriacs in diaspora are taking notes of everything you and anyone else says. We are 120,000 in Sweden alone, you are our Minister of Foreign Affairs, and we do have the right to vote.

Next year marks the centenary of the Armenian Genocide, which included Pontiac Greeks, Assyrians/Chaldeans/Syriacs and Yazidis. The aim of the genocide was to eradicate us and any historical trace and knowledge of our existence. This genocide continues to this day. The goal is one and the same: to eradicate us. They want to seize our land and assets, abduct our women, and erase us from the pages of history. If they get their way, no trace of our existence will remain. As we speak, they are converting dozens of historic churches and monasteries to mosques and setting fire to all the manuscripts and objects inside them.

And now you, Carl Bildt, knowingly or unknowingly, side with our oppressors by robbing us of who are through your generic denominational language. It makes me want to cry. For the past 10 years we have been asking for help in preventing another full scale genocide. But now you choose to comment on it, although mostly mentioning yourself and your statesmanship favorably without even the courtesy of naming us correctly.

Assyrians, Yazidis, Kurds, Turkmen, the Shabaks, and Mandeans from the Middle East and their diasporas contact A Demand for Action every day in sheer despair over the ongoing genocide of their people. Many of them are fleeing from the Nineveh Plains, which is full of oil, and they have been forced to leave everything behind. Families have lost children, some as young as three or four, killed by IS.

We all have to act to stop this. You write that it's a matter for the United Nations Security Council, but you also mention the Council's "fragmentation and incapacity." I only wish that you would be more creative, and that you would truly act as a Minister of Foreign Affairs. In this moment of desperation, when the genocide in the Middle East is well underway, I would wish for more than an editorial for Expressen. I would hope for more vigorous action.

Iraq has lost its sovereignty to a terrorist group that respects no principle of international or human rights law. They are setting new standards of brutality that could define the entire region for decades unless they are stopped now. The UN is bound to act by its own convention in cases of genocide, which is how the Iraqi parliament and countless journalists and academics have described events in the north. We must rescue Iraq and all of its citizens from the darkness of theocratic fascism.

France has acted with the Security Council. Germany is politically active as well. What does Sweden have to show for its actions at the UN headquarters? What can you, personally, say or do within the EU? Have you called Turkey yet? What do you say to your American colleagues? We don't want you to be an apologist for the ongoing atrocities, we want you to actively support a safe haven for minorities in Iraq. Anything less won't be good enough. Now is the time, Carl Bildt, to be a Minister of Foreign Affairs for the oppressed, to be the forceful diplomat that you assume yourself to be. Pick up the phone and call Kerry, Ban Ki Moon and the others you need to contact.