Secretary of State John Kerry has unexpectedly determined Islamic State is committing genocide against Christians and other minority groups in Iraq and Syria.
His decision is somewhat surprising. It appeared Wednesday evening as though he was set to miss the deadline, an appearance supported by a Department of State spokesman who said Kerry would eventually come up with a response, The Associated Press reports. That response was not supposed to arrive Thursday.
Officials told the AP Thursday morning a declaration of genocide will not obligate the United States to take any additional action and further added that criticism from Congress did not pressure Kerry to issue a decision.
Wednesday evening GOP Rep. [crscore]Jeff Fortenberry[/crscore] bashed the State Department for hesitating, saying, “There has been ample time for analysis.” Fortenberry forwarded a historic declaration of genocide resolution Monday, which passed through the House unanimously.
This is the second time the U.S. government has declared genocide. The first was in 2004, when then-Secretary of State Colin Powell came to a finding of genocide in Darfur. Powell made the determination after he was advised the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention would not legally obligate the U.S. to commit any resources to preventing the atrocities.
International organizations have joined Congress in pressuring the State Department to recognize the obvious, namely that ISIS wants to wipe Christians off the map in the Middle East.
The Knights of Columbus recently released a report providing detailed evidence of the ongoing genocide. From 2003 to 2014, 1,131 Christians in Iraq were slaughtered, and an additional 300,000 Christians have fled the region. In reality, these numbers are far higher, but the Knights restricted their findings to what they had solid evidence for.
Other prominent persons have urged the Obama administration to declare genocide, as well, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“What is happening is genocide,” Clinton said, according to ABC News. “Deliberately aimed at destroying not only the lives, but wiping out the existence of Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East in territories controlled by ISIS, and so I agree with you.”
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