The collapsing security situation in Iraq prompted members of San Diego's Iraqi community to head to Washington, D.C. in hopes of convincing President Barack Obama to take action against a militant offensive. Among them was Mark Arabo, a life-long resident of El Cajon and spokesman for the Chaldean community in San Diego. KPBS "Morning Edition's" Deb Welsh spoke to Arabo about the trip.
An estimated half-million Iraqis, many of them children, have become refugees almost overnight. They’ve been forced from their homes, fleeing with little more than the clothes on their back, as violent Islamic militants have captured their cities on their march toward Baghdad.
"There is no safe haven for Christians or minorities in modern day Iraq. It’s a terrible situation," said Mark Arabo, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association, and a spokesperson for the Iraqi Chaldean community in San Diego County.
WASHINGTON — An alarming spike in sectarian violence in Iraq is pinning the Obama administration between its goal of strengthening Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in his fight against Sunni extremists and pressuring the Shiite-led government to stop what the United States considers the political mistreatment of Sunnis.
As al-Maliki makes his first visit to Washington in more than two years this week, security concerns have largely eclipsed Washington’s political quarrels with him.
Mark Arabo, president and CEO of the Neighborhood Market Association, received an invitation from the Iraqi Embassy to meet with the Iraqi prime minister. He hopes to discuss ways to improve conditions in Iraq for the minority Chaldeans.
As the situation in Iraq continues to deteriorate, a new Congressional resolution expected to be introduced this week could provide much-needed help to members of Iraq's religious minorities fleeing violence, persecution and killings in their war-torn homeland.
"Every day is getting worse," said San Diegan Mark Arabo, president of the Neighborhood Market Association and a leader of the local Chaldean-American community. "This is a global humanitarian crisis."