Western Nineveh Province, Iraq
Desert Battles are unfolding in hidden and faraway places. Bullets snapp through air, then splap through flesh and men fall. Bodies crumple onto the desert, a fly lands on the lip of an open mouth, fingers twitch as the flesh dies and the winds kick up and dust settles on unblinking eyes. The dry earth drinks their sticky blood and they are forgotten. Their families do not know they are dead. They came to kill Americans and innocent Iraqis. Instead, they were killed themselves. In a desert landscape, sometimes the color of a war can bleed out into black and white.
Interestingly, the people who accuse Yezidis of being devil-worshippers are responsible for the deaths of perhaps a million people in the last few decades. They are the ones who put Yezidis on “reservations,” poured chemical gases on Kurds, set oil wells ablaze, poisoned the water with oil, and encouraged suicide attacks. What do Yezidis want from us? Not much. They want to thank Americans for beating back Saddam. They want Americans to know they appreciate the sacrifice. They don’t ask for much, but since the Iraqi government remains mostly inert, if you’re offering, they’d like to have a school in their community—a real school, not a place of religious indoctrination. They want their kids, including their girls, to get university degrees.