Assyria: Provisions in New U.S. Defense Bill to Help Minorities in Iraq
Following a formal declaration recognizing ISIS’s committal of genocide against Christians, Yezidis and other minorities in Iraq by the U.S. Congress, the House of Representatives has now taken concrete steps to support the victims. These steps are contained within two amendments introduced by Congressman Jeff Fortenberry in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017. This bill now includes two new goals: to secure ‘safe areas’ for genocide victims to return back to their homelands, and to empower Christian and Yezidi security forces in the military campaign against ISIS.
Below is an article published by the Assyrian International News Agency:
Washington -- Congressman Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) today commended passage of two amendments he introduced in the National Defense Authorization Act for 2017 (H.R. 4909). Fortenberry's amendments would further strengthen protections against the horrific ISIS genocide against ethnic and religious minorities in Iraq.
"Two months ago, Congress declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and other minorities." Fortenberry said. "The House of Representatives has now taken concrete steps to support the victims.
"The National Defense Authorization Act that has passed the House contains two new policy goals. First, the United States strategy in Iraq now includes securing 'safe areas' so that genocide victims can return to their homelands. Second, a new provision empowers minority groups, including Christian and Yezidi security forces, in the integrated military campaign against ISIS.
"Christians, Yezidis, and others should remain an essential part of the Middle East's once rich tapestry of ethnic and religious diversity. They now have new cause for hope."
Fortenberry's first amendment expresses the sense of Congress that safe areas should be secured for the resettlement and reintegration of ethnic and religious minorities, including victims of genocide, into their homelands, further affirming that this position is critical to the security strategy in Iraq. The second amendment empowers local security forces in Iraq--including Christian and Yezidi groups--in the military campaign against ISIS.
Earlier this year, the United States House of Representatives passed a bipartisan resolution introduced by Fortenberry naming and decrying ISIS atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities as "genocide." The legislation passed in a vote of 393-0.
Fortenberry serves on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations.