It is a repeat of the Mount Sinjar situation, except a different minority group threatening to be wiped out by ISIS.
The United Nations has called for a concerted effort to end the siege of Amerli, a town 110 miles north of Baghdad, which is home to 18,000 Shia Turkmen.
The town has been encircled by jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) for the past two months. The majority of the residents of Amerli are part of the Turkmen ethnic group, who are descendants of Ottoman Turks and make up roughly four per cent of Iraq’s population. As Shia, they are directly targeted by Isil, who consider them apostates.
“It is a humanitarian disaster,” said Dr Ali Albayati. He told the BBC: “Twenty-thousand people in Amerli are fighting off death. There are children who are only eating once every three days. I can’t describe the situation. I just don’t know what to say.”The town of Amerili has no drinking water and little food or medical supplies.
On Friday, the most influential Shia cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, expressed concern over the plight of the town's inhabitants.Like Mount Sinjar, this town is also near Iraqi Kurdistan. So if they will be rescued, it will probably be the Kurds who do it again.
Residents say they have had to organise their own resistance to the militants and no foreign aid has reached the town since the siege began.
It occurred to me the other day that this part of the world has a common enemy (other than America and Israel) for the first time in centuries.
ISIS wants to kill ethnic Turkmen, so Turkey will eventually see them as enemies. They want to kill Shia, so Iran and Baghdad and Hezbollah see them as enemies. They want to kill Kurds, so various Kurdish communities see them as enemies. They want to kill Americans, so they are our enemy. They want to overthrow Assad, so they are the enemy of the government of Syria.
Plus they scare the governments of Jordan and Lebanon, and even the Sunni tribes in Iraq and Syria have no love for them.
My point is that a common enemy can make an opportunity to help resolve other long-standing grievances. Just as an example, Iran offered to help take care of the ISIS problem yesterday.
Iran is ready to join international action against jihadists in Iraq provided the West lifts crippling sanctions, Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Thursday.Iran then proceeded to deny this, but I'm willing to bet that the denial was less sincere than the offer.
ISIS also provides an opportunity for Baghdad and Iraqi Kurdistan to work through their long-standing problems.
Not to mention Turkey and their kurdish problem.
Who knows? If there was leadership with actual vision, maybe this disaster could all be turned into an opportunity.