While the Kurds are a crucial part of Iraq’s political makeup, they are an ethnic group, not a distinct religious sect within Islam.
The Yazidis who have been fleeing the advance of the Sunni militant group ISIS in Iraq are a religious group of uncertain numbers and a long history of persecution.
Iraq and Iran are two of only a handful of countries that have more Shias than Sunnis.
Pope Francis is scheduled to visit Jordan, the West Bank and Israel this weekend, a region where the Christian population is in flux and where Francis has expressed concern about their well-being.
The American Israel Public Affairs Council meets in Washington starting Sunday to lobby on issues affecting that country, and it can look to American Christians as a source of support for Israel.