Yazidis still trapped on Iraq’s Mount Sinjar

World Today

Thousands of Yazidis, members of an ethnic minority, have been trapped on Mount Sinjar for about a week by Islamic State militants. Some have been rescued by Kurdish fighters, but they have nowhere to go. They have moved from Iraq into Syria and now back into the Kurdish controlled parts of Iraq.

It is a huge humanitarian crisis. The U.S. and UK have so far conducted 14 airdrops of food and water as well as medical supplies and equipment, like solar lanterns that can also be used as cell phone chargers.

Many other countries including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Japan, Sweden, Australia, and Canada have been assisting and now the European Union is pledging more support as well.

U.S. officials are now saying they are working the British and the Iraqis to come up with a longer term plan for all these displaced people. The Pentagon said there have been 15 airstrikes so far, and that all of them have hit their desired targets. The strikes have provided a chance for the Kurdish Peshmerga forces to make some progress against the IS fighters but Kurdish military leaders say for them to really push back the Islamic State militants they need more ammunition plus better weapons.

The U.S. has agreed to help with that by re-arming the Peshmerga, probably working through the Iraqi military. The United States said it is considering sending more troops to assist and advise the Kurdish fighters, but U.S. officials insist that there will still be no U.S. troops on the ground.

There is a lot of uncertainty over what will happen next with the international community responding to the nomination of Haider al-Abadi as prime minister designate in Baghdad. Al Abadi has 29 days to form a new government, but current Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki said the nomination of Al-Ababi is unconstitutional and vowed to stay in office for a third term.

Maliki sent troops into the streets in Baghdad, which has made many observers wonder if he plans to use them to stay in power. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said the troops should remain neutral. Al-Abadi has the support of the U.S., the UN and other in the international community and now Iran is signaling support, which means Maliki may be running out of options.