Ahmed Abdelsattar was 14 when Islamic State swept into Mosul and declared a caliphate in 2014. Fearing he would be indoctrinated and sent to fight by the militants, his parents took him out of school.
Three years later, he sells ice cream at a refugee camp for internally displaced Iraqis. His family have lost their home, and his father is too old for the manual labor positions at the camp, which means he is his family's sole breadwinner.
Senior leaders in Iraq’s minority Yazidi community say their wives and daughters, forcibly held by Islamic militants, are being given a choice: Convert to Islam and marry jihadists — or else.
Mirza Dinnayi, a senior Yazidi leader and a former adviser on minority affairs to the Iraqi president, said he has spoken on the phone with several women who cry out to him: “I love my husband; my faith is Yazidi.”
Others have attested to harsh treatment bestowed on members of the religious minority by the Islamic State militant group since its gunmen captured parts of Iraq earlier this week.
As many as 200,000 Yazidis left their homes in the Sinjar region of northwestern Iraq. Untold thousands are believed dead and at least several hundred women and children are being held prisoners.
Meanwhile, tens of thousands are stranded on the Sinjar mountain range without access to food or water in an ongoing humanitarian crisis.
Even in a long history marred by persecution, this week’s tragic events stood out.
By now most of the world knows the royal family in England is celebrating the birth of little baby George Alexander Louis. The commentators panted as they caught the first glimpses of the magic baby, about everything from the infant's apparent ability to withstand a media onslaught to the ever-so-newsworthy fact that his father drove the family home with his own two hands.
Meanwhile in Iraq, several hundred prisoners of the infamous Abu Ghraib facility escaped, many of whom were known or suspected members of Al Qaeda. Considering the attention given to the few dozen detainees still held in Guantánamo Bay, it seems reasonable to think that such a breakout would arrest the headlines around the globe.
But instead, we stayed focused for the most part on baby George. I remarked about this to my friend, sharing my concern about the apparent distortion of priorities. He suggested that it simply is a sign of cultural fatigue, or even resignation. Sometimes, after all, these stories that have international importance seem so big, so abstract, and so far away that it is hard to wrap our minds around them. It’s easier instead to set our attention on something more hopeful — albeit remarkably more superficial — that won’t keep us awake at night.
? U.S. troops on the front line believe that the war will go on for another 10 years after they leave.
? An audit shows that the surge of U.S. civilian advisers has cost nearly $2 billion.
? The U.S. mission in Afghanistan has suspended the transfer of detainees to several Afghan jails, following torture allegations.