Charisma Caucus

John Kerry Makes Surprise Announcement About ISIS

John Kerry
Secretary of State John Kerry announced Thursday his finding that ISIS has committed genocide. (Reuters photo)

The Islamic State militant group has committed genocide against minority Christians and Yazidis as well as Shi'ite Muslims, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Thursday, a finding that is unlikely to greatly change U.S. policy toward the group.

"The fact is that Daesh kills Christians because they are Christians. Yazidis because they are Yazidis. Shi'ites because they are Shi'ites," Kerry said, referring to the group by an Arabic acronym, and accusing it of crimes against humanity and of ethnic cleansing.

While the genocide finding may make it easier for the United States to argue for greater action against the group, it does not create a legal obligation on the United States to do more.

On Wednesday, a State Department spokesman Mark Toner said: "Acknowledging that genocide or crimes against humanity have taken place in another country would not necessarily result in any particular legal obligation for the United States."

Islamic State militants have swept through Iraq and Syria in recent years, seizing control of large swathes of territory with an eye toward establishing jihadism in the heart of the Arab world.

The group's videos depict the violent deaths of people who stand in its way. Opponents have been beheaded, shot dead, blown up with fuses attached to their necks and drowned in cages lowered into swimming pools, with underwater cameras capturing their agony.

U.S. President Barack Obama has ordered air strikes against the group but has not made any large commitment of U.S. troops on the ground.

"It may strengthen our hand getting other countries to help. It may free us against some (legal) constraints, but the reality is that when you are fighting somebody, you don't need another reason to fight them," said Jon Alterman, director of the Middle East program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think tank.

Preventive Action?

Kerry argued that the United States has done much to fight the group since the start of air strikes in 2014, but did not directly answer a question on why the Obama administration had not done more to prevent genocide.

Historians have asked the same question about Darfur and Rwanda, both places where the United States also concluded that genocide had taken place.

Islamic State militants have exploited the five-year civil war in Syria to seize areas in that country and in neighboring Iraq, though U.S. officials say their air strikes have markedly reduced the amount of territory the group controls in both.

On-again, off-again peace talks got under way this week in Geneva in an effort to end the civil war, in which at least 250,000 people have died and millions have fled their homes. A fragile "cessation of hostilities" has reduced, but not ended, the violence over the last two weeks.

U.S. lawmakers urged Kerry last year to make a determination on whether atrocities committed by the militant group against Christians and other religious groups amounted to genocide.

The State Department earlier had predicted it would miss a deadline set for Thursday on this decision.

Republicans, who control the U.S. Congress, have been pressuring the Democratic Obama administration to call the militants' atrocities in Iraq and Syria acts of genocide. This week, one chamber, House of Representatives, passed a resolution labeling the group's violence against religious and ethnic minorities as genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

A U.S. administration has not made a genocide finding since 2004, when it determined genocide had occurred in Darfur and that the government of Sudan was responsible.

Asked if the genocide finding was likely to accentuate a view held by some that the West is engaged in a battle with Islam, a senior U.S. official noted that Kerry's determination included Shi-ite Muslims as well as Christians and Yazidis.

"A very large Muslim group is included in this," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The secretary isn't just singling out one group that has political support in the United States," he added, referring to Christians.

(Editing by Bernadette Baum)

© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.


To contact us or to submit an article, click here.


Get Charisma's best content delivered right to your inbox! Never miss a big news story again. Click here to subscribe to the Charisma News newsletter.

Five ways to deepen your relationship with God, increase your faith and save money!

  • Deepen Your Relationship with God with a FREE eCourse: Click Here to view all of our free e-Courses. Favorite topics include Fear, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Supernatural, and How to Hear God.
  • Super Discounts and Close-Out Specials: Click Here to view all our bundles and close-out specials and save up to 86%! Prayer, Holy Spirit, Anointing, the Supernatural and more.
  • God Wants to Anoint Women Now: Rise up and enter the anointing of Deborah, Anna, Esther, Ruth and Hannah. You were called to go higher. Click Here to learn more.
  • Change Your Atmosphere and Circumstances Through Prayer! John Eckhardt's prayer bundle gives you six powerful books to help you pray and change any situation. Click Here.
  • HUGE Bible Sale!: Click Here to save up to 50% off a great selection of Bibles. Plus, get a free gift with each order!

Subscription Special: Subscribe to Charisma for Only $24.97 and get a free gift. With your subscription, you'll receive Born For Significance by best-selling author Bill Johnson. View Offer

Attention Pastors and Leaders: Leadership training and development are crucial for success. Enroll in a FREE 1-hour leadership mini-course by Dr. Mark Rutland. View Details

Charisma News - Informing believers with news from a Spirit-filled perspective