A recent article from the Daily Beast states: “Interviews with survivors of the Islamic State (IS) onslaught in the region of Sinjar this month suggest that the Peshmerga and the political leadership in Iraqi Kurdistan misled them about the threat and abandoned them when they came under attack. Perhaps worse, still, many of their Sunni Muslim neighbors, with whom they had lived and farmed for centuries, turned against them.
“For years, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two ruling parties in the Kurdistan region, has poured money into the pockets of Yazidis in Sinjar who were willing to join the party. They also offered protection…. But in Sinjar, nestled at the southern foot of a large isolated mountain that rises like a vision from the surrounding plain, the KDP assured the residents — including Yazidis and a smaller Christian population — that they were safe. In return Sinjaris voted for the KDP in elections, paving the way for Kurdish political power in Ninewa province (sometimes called Nineveh province) where, otherwise, there was not much of a non-Yazidi Kurdish presence.”
On 11 MAR 16 NEC-SE posted an article entitled: “Assyrian: How an Eight-Letter Word Strikes Fear in the Hearts of Our Congressional Leaders.”
In the piece we stated: “Section 6 is unacceptable on several grounds. First, the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is praised for sheltering and protecting those IDPs arriving in the KRI. Such praise falls on deaf ears for those inhabitants of the Assyria Nineveh Plain who were systematically, programmatically disarmed by the KRI’s Peshmerga exactly 2 weeks before the ISIS assault on the Assyria Nineveh Plain [and] 2 days prior to the ISIS clearing operations of the approximately 70,000 Assyrians of the city of Qaraqoush, who witnessed the Peshmerga’s instantaneous retreat from the Assyria Nineveh Plain with their seized weapons as ISIS advanced. This also falls short given every single Assyrian and Yazidi captive—among them raped women and children—was abducted from either KRG or Kurdish administered areas in both Syria and Iraq while at the same time no Kurdish women were taken captive.
“Contrary to the depiction of the KRI as a source of protection, empirical evidence from the Assyria Nineveh Plain in August of 2014 strongly suggests Peshmerga facilitation of the cleansing of the region’s indigenous, Christian Assyrian inhabitants. Second, the statement ‘until they can safely return to their homes in Iraq’ suggests that those IDPs in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq have somehow been displaced to another country. They in fact are in Iraq as the KRI is part of that nation. The third concern flows from the two preceding issues, which is that the entire Resolution as framed appears to exploit the Christian Assyrian crisis as a means to promote ‘Kurdistan’ and to place the Kurdistan Region of Iraq at the level of a nation state. This is of grave concern for Assyrian Christians since it is due to the very pursuit of this policy that Kurdistan nationalists in the Kurdistan Regional Government have marginalized, victimized and all but destroyed Assyrian independent, legitimate and venerable political, security, and humanitarian organizations.”
What then is to be expected from Christian religious leaders in the region to help or jeopardize the well-being of Assyrians in danger? On 7 MAR 16 NEC-SE posted a piece entitled: “Is Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako a religious, political or a military leader of the Assyrian Christian community and forces in Iraq and Syria?”
In that article we felt compelled to urge greater common sense and reason concerning how the Church leadership needs to address regional issues. We stated: “Patriarch Sako is asking the remaining members of the Assyrian Christian Church and the Body of Christ in Iraq to sacrifice themselves once again by dying for the same leaders who abandoned them during the fight for Mosul. Just two weeks earlier these leaders had ordered and carried out the disarming of the citizens of the Assyria Nineveh Plain and their local Assyrian Christian security forces. Thus, when the Peshmerga forces left under the cover of the night just as ISIS attacked, they left the people they were supposed to protect–the people they had disarmed–defenseless before the enemy’s onslaught. Why is Patriarch Sako asking Christian Assyrians to sacrifice themselves for such people? To what purpose? Only God—his superior—truly knows.”
Again, the aforementioned Daily Beast article states:
“For years, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two ruling parties in the Kurdistan region, has poured money into the pockets of Yazidis in Sinjar who were willing to join the party. They also offered protection….”
That being the case, you may have your answer as to why the Assyrians and Yazidis will always face the problem of uniting to secure their future. It seems that the world community will protect them but will never allow them to become a strong, unified force because it is not in the interest of any of the regional players and their supporting global partners (including the region’s competing Christian religious denominations) to do so.
Patriarch Sako’s Authority and the Link to the Pope’s Recent Travels
It is important to note that in 1551 Yohanna Solaqa broke away from the Assyrian Church of the East, only to have his followers later named by the Roman Catholic Church as “Chaldeans,” which meant that the Chaldean patriarch forfeited full autonomy to the Roman Pontiff. In practical terms, the Chaldean Patriarch, who leads a rite in communion with Rome, is equivalent to a Roman Catholic cardinal.
This is a crucial concept to understand. It means that Chaldean patriarch exerts influence over a portion of the remaining few hundred thousand Assyrians in their homeland. Not coincidentally, it appears, is the timing of Patriarch Sako’s statement that the Christians should fight under the banner of Iraq or the KRG. Nor is it a coincidence that Pope Francis recently met with the Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill in communist Cuba. The choice of Cuba as a meeting place is significant. Within the Roman Catholic Church (RCC), there have been a number of movements that could be described as “communistic.” Cuba is a communist nation. The Russian Orthodox Church is strongly supported by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who once remarked that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century.”
The Catholic Church strengthens its footprint in KRI
Even more interesting is the timing of a newly opening Catholic University in the KRG capital, not for the purpose of converting Kurdish Sunni Muslims to Christianity but to re-Christianize the Christians who are not part of the RCC. One must ask who those Christians are.
The Influencers Behind the House Resolution 75 language
The passage of HR 75 (and its mirrored bill in the US Senate) at this juncture is, to say the least, a “curious” development. One is compelled to ask, why now? A century has passed since the genocide of the Assyrians (and Armenians and Pontic Greeks) during World War I. The current persecution of Assyrians and Yazidis in Iraq has been ongoing since 2014 and there is ample evidence coming out of Iraq to show that it meets the criteria for a formal declaration of genocide. Why is genocide now a matter of concern? And why was the word “Assyrian” removed from the original version of the bill? Who—or, more to the point, what organization—is the main influencer of the changed wording of HR75?
That last question can be answered by the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s organization, and lobbyists for the Kurdish Regional Government lobbyists. These groups, both of which exercise considerable political clout on Capital Hill, have asserted that the Yazidis are Kurds and have been the main influencers in the change made to the draft resolution.
The reality is that as a result of intensive lobbying efforts in DC by these two groups the Yazidis were the only ethnicity identified by name in both the House and Senate versions of the resolution. Both groups have also endorsed the language in both houses of Congress which praise the KRG for its efforts in providing a safe haven for the Assyrians, Yazidis, and other Christians and minorities in the region.
On 10 FEB 16 NEC-SE posted the article: Obama’s Recognition of Yazidi Genocide Used To Bail Out KRG From Financial Woes
In the article we stated: “For the longest time the NEC-SE has looked at the open source link analysis to see why the Obama administration was more interested in recognizing the Yazidi-and not the Assyrian-genocide. It now seems clear — [it is] doing so in order to keep the KRG from failing financially, more than doing so for the need to save the Yazidis and Assyrians who have been destroyed by ISIS.
“[The] KRG has had financial issues, which finally exploded into protests across multiple provinces and cities of the KRG starting last week. The riots were part of the larger issues afflicting the KRG — corruption, financial inability to pay the civil servants, and President Masoud Barzani’s reluctance to step down although his term has already expired.”
It therefore becomes very clear that the removal of the term “Assyrian” as an ethnicity from HR75, Patriarch Sako’s statements, the meeting of the Pope and the Russian Orthodox patriarch in Cuba, the protection and arming of Kurds by Russia in both Iraq and in the Khabour River Valley, the buying of influence within the Assyrian communities in Syria, the opening of the new Catholic university in the KRI, and the relentless efforts of the KRG to buy Assyrian fighters (by paying Assyrian community leaders) to serve in Peshmerga have all created a perfect multi-pronged storm amounting to a de facto assault on the indigenous Assyrians of Iraq and Syria.
And this storm comes at a time when various regional actors are plotting the takeover of the Assyria Nineveh Plain for their own political, economic, and religious lines of effort.
NEC-SE hopes that the exclusion of the Assyrians as a named ethnic group in the Senate and House resolutions on genocide is the result of bad advice and misjudgment rather than deliberate political calculation. If it is the latter, we can only conclude that our government representatives are seeking to shape our Middle Eastern in a way that will simultaneously lead to the destruction of the Assyrian people in Iraq even as empowers Vladimir Putin in his drive to achieve Russian dominance over Middle Eastern affairs.