Iraq’s Yazidi minority, a small group of Kurdish people who cling to an ancient religion, were virtually unknown before coming under siege by ISIS last summer. Now they, much like the larger Kurdish nation, are seeking Israel’s aid in battling their Islamist foes.
In a telephone interview with Al-Monitor last week, a top Yazidi militia commander said his people, most of whom remain trapped on Mt. Sinjar in northern Iraq, would eagerly forge ties of friendship with the Jewish state.
“The Arab countries do not recognize us, nor do they recognize you,” said Lt.-Col. Lukman Ibrahim. “We regard you as a friendly state, with an opportunity for relations on the basis of neutrality and respect.”
While the Yazidi militia has managed to recruit no fewer than 12,000 fighters from a population numbering just over 200,000 in the region today, they are largely untrained and sorely under-equipped.
“We appeal to the Israeli government and its leader to step in and help this nation, which loves the Jewish people,” said Ibrahim. “We would be most grateful for the establishment of military ties.”
Israel is no stranger to aiding the Kurds in their battles against Arab neighbors. Kurdish-Israel ties are a poorly kept secret, and if a Kurdish state is ever realized, there is little doubt it would immediately become the Jewish state’s closest friend in the region.
Like the wider Kurdish nation, the Yazidis see Israel as a natural ally.
“We are not Arabs, nor are we Muslims. We see ourselves as sharing a fate with the Israelis, who went through similar pogroms,” said Majdal Rasho, a Yazidi who immigrated to Germany, but returned to help fight ISIS. “Those besieged on the mountain approached me and asked, ‘Maybe our Israeli brethren could lend a hand?’”
The Yazidis are adherents of a monotheistic faith linked to ancient Zoroastrianism. They believe in God as the Creator of all, but hold that He has given rule of this world to seven powerful archangels, the chief among them known as Malek Taus (the Peacock Angel). Muslims regard the Yazidis as devil-worshippers because according to Islam, Malek Taus is the archangel who fell from God’s grace and became Satan.