BEIRUT: The United States is indirectly responsible for the violence in Iraq that has seen more than half of the Christian population displaced, Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako said Thursday, after a media report quoted him saying "America is behind ISIS."
“The U.S. is indirectly responsible for what is going on in Iraq as it said it would ensure democracy and the well-being of the people, but 10 years have passed and on the contrary we have gone backward,” Sako told reporters at Beirut's airport.
He was responding to a question following remarks attributed to him in the local daily Ad-Diyar in which he accused the U.S. of supporting ISIS.
“ Iraq has been divided ... and the Americans left Iraq in the midst of a vacuum where there was no army to protect [the people] and ISIS and these jihadist groups have been present for four years,” he said, before boarding a plane to Iraq.
“There were about 1 million Christians in Iraq and more than half of them have been displaced. Only 400,000 are left while displacement is still rising,” Sako added.
Sako was quoted as telling Ad-Diyar that “America is behind ISIS, which is the crime of the century, and they want to brazenly displace Christians from their homes and churches.”
“The West watched us and it seemed they have ignored our suffering,” he said. “But we will not leave our land, whatever the sacrifices.”
Sako had also criticized Muslim countries for lack of support.
“Our Muslim neighbors did not help us,” he said, as he urged Muslim preachers to issue a religious ruling against the killing of all innocent people.
“Issuing a fatwa preventing Muslims from killing fellow Muslims is not enough,” Sako said.
He also slammed Wednesday’s meeting that gathered Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai with representatives of the five permanent members at the U.N. Security Council.
“They were not helpful. We don’t want statements,” he said of the meeting, which he also attended, in Bkirki, the seat of the Maronite Church.
“America is responsible for what happened to the Christians in the East. And the patriarchs did not beg Arabs nor others to instill [peoples’] rights,” Sako said.