Iraqi Military, Christians Flee Islamist Onslaught
The crisis in Iraq is dismantling eight years of American sacrifice to stabilize that country. Al Qaeda-inspired jihadists are now marching their way toward Baghdad and taking key cities along the way.
It's a battle that has led to the collapse of Iraq's military and has the nation's Christians scrambling to find safety yet again.
The cities of Mosul and Tikrit have already fallen to the al Qaeda offshoot known as ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
Rami Khouri is director of the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs at American University of Beirut.
"This group of people now...tens of thousands of these guys and they now have a territory," he said. "They control territory, they control border crossing points, they control oil resources, mineral resources, trade income. They have a base in the middle of the Middle East."
What are the implications of Iraq's Islamist siege? CBN News' Erick Stakelbeck explains more, on The 700 Club, June 12.
This battle comes after America lost more than 4,000 soldiers fighting in Iraq and spent $2 trillion to help stabilize the country.
But instead of fighting, Iraq's military is on the run, leaving their American-made weapons and Humvees in the hands of these Islamists.
"They were at one time aligned with al Qaeda, but even al Qaeda said they are too extreme because they kill civilians," CBN News Sr. International Correspondent Gary Lane said.
"I think it shows you you can provide the most advance weaponry, the training, but what do you do about someone's will if they don't have the will to fight?" he noted.
"Many of these Iraqi fighters laid down their weapons," he continued. "They abandoned their uniforms. You can see them lying in the street. They don't have the will to give their lives for his government."
Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has asked citizens to take up arms as Iraqi forces are fleeing.
But citizens are on the run as well. A half million people are believed to have left Mosul, including Christians.
Nina Shea, director of religious freedom at the Hudson Institute, calls this the end game for the cleansing of Iraq's Christians.
"All of the Christians of Iraq have had to flee north to Mosul and beyond over the last 10 years because of severe persecution and so now we are seeing Mosul itself being cleansed of its Christians. There are virtually no Christians left and all the churches are closed," she said.
Shea is calling on the White House to take action on behalf of these Christians and innocent Iraqi people.
"The administration needs to get humanitarian aid to these people," she said. "I am hearing there is only food and water for about two days. Beyond that they need to appoint a special envoy for Middle East minorities."
Meanwhile, the Iraqi government has asked the United States to carry out airstrikes, but there's no sign the U.S. wants to get involved.