Washington, D.C. – As the United States works to stabilize Iraq following the defeat of Islamic state militants, that effort should include restoring religious minority communities such as Christians and Yazidis, according to a new report from the Center for American Progress.
These groups are still at risk of extinction, the report says, and helping to restore them makes both strategic and practical sense when it comes to enhancing the development and stability of the country and the wider region.
Restoring persecuted religious communities in Iraq has several benefits:
- Religious minorities can directly contribute to Iraq’s economic growth by pursuing economic activities, some of which are unavailable to the Muslim majority
- They can encourage a nonsectarian national identity by serving as a buffer between larger ethnoreligious communities in political debates
- Religious minorities may be effective in establishing dialogue across sectarian lines.
But these communities must be integrated into the broader society, the report says, so they are not seen as competitors for international resources to majority communities. And U.S. officials must avoid policies that harden divisions between Christians, Yazidis and the Muslim majority. Promoting interfaith dialogue among these groups is essential, as well as building programs to allow them to engage in the political process.
Read the report: “Economic Integration and Political Reconciliation in Iraq,” by Peter S. Henne.
For more information or to talk to an expert, please contact Sam Hananel at email@example.com, or 202-478-6327.