WASHINGTON, D.C. — The deputy secretary of State appeared to lambaste Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposals to erect a wall along the U.S.-Mexican border and ban refugees from terrorism-linked countries at an unlikely forum for partisan election politics. The event was titled, “Conference on Threats to Religious and Ethnic Minorities under ISIL” (Islamic State).
Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s opening speech was the only segment of the conference at the U.S. State Department headquarters open to the press.
He seldom alluded to Christians, one of the minorities in Iraq and Syria suffering genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, also known as IS and ISIS.
Blinken did spend a few minutes seemingly criticizing Trump.
Without mentioning the GOP nominee’s name, the high-ranking Obama administration official said:
We come together at a time of extraordinary importance and challenge, but also a time when some around the world seem to be suddenly debating the value proposition of diversity and inclusion…
We hear it in the calls to build walls and turn away families seeking refuge from war. Yet, those who seem to find fault or danger in our difference misjudge an essential and universal truth about human kind — tolerance, respect, inclusion — these are not sources of weakness, these are not sources of vulnerability or insecurity. To the contrary, they constitute our greatest reservoir of strength and stability.
The United States as all of you know, it’s not immune to these debates.
Blinken urged the Iraqi people to come together, ironically lecturing the Baghdad-based government to be inclusive and noting that “competing agendas may distract from progress.”
Without concrete steps to address the needs and aspirations of all Iraqis, simmering ethno-sectarian divisions may arise, competing agendas may distract from progress, and old heated questions of disputed internal boundaries may emerge with a vengeance.
Blinken acknowledged that for religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq and Syria — namely Christians, Yezidis, Kurds, and Shiite Turkmen — “The last three years have been a living nightmare under the genocidal regime of Daesh [ISIS] for their survival for their way of life — their very existence — and that of centuries of religious traditions and cultural heritage.”
“Daesh sought to erase the identity” of those minorities, he also said, adding that the terrorist group nearly succeeded in doing so in some cases.
Emmanuel Khoshaba Youkhana, commander of an Assyrian Christian Army (Dwekh Nawsha) fighting ISIS in northern Iraq’s Nineveh plain, recently told Breitbart News that religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq feel like they have been “abandoned and forgotten” by the Obama administration.
The declaration by the administration condemning ISIS perpetrated genocide against minorities amounted to “all talk and no action,” said the Christian commander, adding that it has had no effect on the plight of the non-Arab groups in Iraq.
Echoing other U.S. officials, Blinken said ISIS’s defeat in Iraq and Syria is imminent. Youkhana made similar comments about the jihadist group’s fate in Iraq.
We gather today at a moment of great urgency and great consequence. A moment when we can clearly look forward to the day when Daesh is finally defeated… immense challenges… will follow its defeat…
The fight to defeat Daesh on the ground in Iraq and Syria is not over. There’s a lot of work to be done, cities to be liberated, millions of people still to be freed. There’s Daesh leaders to hunt down, illicit networks of oil, antiquities, and foreign fighters to stop.”
— Department of State (@StateDept) July 29, 2016