ISIS Increases Attacks On Assyrian Christians
ISIS continues its targeted persecution of Assyrian Christians, kidnapping more residents in the last week, which brings the number of hostages to more than 200, reports The New York Times.
The Assyrian News Agency reported earlier this month that ISIS was selling seized property it confiscated during multiple raids last summer. The open market sales is the latest evidence of continued persecution of the Assyrian Christians.
Today, the Washington Post reported that valuable Syrian artifacts looted by ISIS have been smuggled into Britain and sold to raise money for the extremist group’s activities.
Among the attacks last summer, ISIS removed the Cross from St. Ephrem Cathedral in the Shoorta neighborhood in Mosul, one week after the church was seized on July 1; plundered Assyrians as they fled Mosul; and destroyed or occupied all 45 Christian institutions in Mosul.
Report: ISIS Presence Growing In North Caucasus
It is well-known that ISIS has been actively recruiting individuals from Western Europe, Canada and Australia, but the terrorist group also is making inroads into the North Caucasus, but its impact remains uncertain.
Chechen authorities are concerned about a possible increase in activities of militants with ties to the ISIS. According to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) Director Alexander Bortnikov the number of Russian citizens fighting with the ISIS has almost doubled to 1,700 from a year ago, most of whom are Chechens.
However, Mairbek Vatchagaev of the Eurasia Daily Monitor notes, the figure likely was understated in an attempt to downplay the level of danger Russia faces after its citizens return home from fighting in the Middle East.
“Moscow will urgently have to seek closer relations with Turkey, which has become the key transit country for those traveling to and from Syria. For Russia, Turkey is the only channel to obtain at least some level of on-the-ground intelligence about the jihadists fighting in Syria. If the number of Muslim volunteers from Russia continues to increase, Russia could become the main supplier of manpower for the jihadists in Syria and Iraq by the end of 2015,” he writes.
The Return Of The Great Power Competition
Robert Kagan argues that the United States should resist the temptation to return to a world of “spheres,” where great powers engage in rivalries driven by the desire to influence regions, rather than to ensure national security.
“If the United States wants to maintain a benevolent world order, it must not permit spheres of influence to serve as a pretext for aggression. The United States needs to make clear now—before things get out of hand—that this is not a world order that it will accept,” he writes in a web article for the Brookings Institution.
“Despite all of the loose talk of American decline, it is in the military realm where U.S. advantages remain clearest. Even in other great power’s backyards, the United States retains the capacity, along with its powerful allies, to deter challenges to the security order. But without a U.S. willingness to use military power to establish balance in far-flung regions of the world, the system will buckle under the unrestrained military competition of regional powers,” he adds.