HRW: Syria, Iraq governments fueling Islamic extremism and must reform
HRW: Syria, Iraq governments fueling Islamic extremism and must reform

[JURIST] Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] on Thursday released its annual World Report [PDF], in which it criticized the role of Middle Eastern governments in sustaining the Islamic State (IS). HRW Executive Director Kenneth Roth [official profile] credited much of the emergence of IS to the sectarian and the abusive rule of former Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive], who took control of security forces and supported the Shia militia that persecuted and the minority Sunnis. Roth stated [press release] that the need for a reform to Iraq’s judiciary and implementation of current Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s [BBC backgrounder] calls for and end to “abusive, exclusionary rule” are immediately necessary, as they will be “at least as important as military action to protect civilians from ISIS atrocities.” Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad [official website; JURIST news archive] has attacked civilians in rebel-controlled ares, using barrel bombs and other indiscriminate but conventional weapons, and Roth states that protecting civilians is essential to fighting ISIS in this region.

The US-led coalition has taken on ISIS, but no nation&#8212whether adversaries like the US, or backers like Russia and Iran&#8212have increased pressure on Assad to stop the slaughter of civilians. The two cannot, and should not, be so easily separated. This selective concern has been a gift to ISIS recruiters, who portray themselves as the only ones willing and able to stand up to Assad’s atrocities. Simply attacking ISIS is clearly not going to end its appeal. A broader concern with protecting Syrian civilians is required.

HRW emphasized the importance of rebuilding the social and political order through moral reform in the Middle East as well as facing security challenges in the years to come.

The Islamic State [JURIST backgrounder], also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has caused increasing international alarm over its human rights abuses [JURIST report] since its insurgence into Syria and Iraq in 2013. In November UN commission of inquiry for the Syrian Arab Republic [official website] reported [JURIST report] that IS is responsible for war crimes on a “massive scale” in Syria. Also In November HRW reported that IS militants tortured and abused [JURIST report] Kurdish children in Syria. The UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic [official website] expressed grave concerns [JURIST report] in October about escalating violence against civilians. In September, the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Prince Zeid bin Ra’ad criticized [JURIST report] IS for its recent killings and human rights violations of women in IS-controlled areas in Iraq.