ASIA/IRAQ - Controversy regarding the political representation of Christians and the future of the Nineveh Plain

Friday, 5 May 2017 oriental churches

Baghdad (Agenzia Fides) - A delegation of Christian politicians belonging to various Iraqi political groups wanted to meet the country's top institutional representatives to focus their attention on proposals and requests for the reconstruction of North-Iraqi areas freed from the self-proclaimed Islamic State (Daesh), and especially regarding the future political and administrative structure of the Nineveh Plain. On May 3, the group of five Christian politicians, including Iraqi parliamentarian Yonadam Kanna (Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement) and Romeo Akari (President of the Bethnahrein Party), were received by President Fuad Masum and Salim Abdullah al Jaburi, President of the Iraqi Parliament. The politicians - who presented themselves as representatives of the "Christian component" - submitted a list of requests to their interlocutors regarding, in particular, the implementation of the political guidelines - already approved by the Iraqi Parliament in 2014 - aimed at granting greater administrative autonomy to the Province of Nineveh, where the traditional territories of Christian Christian communities are concentrated. Among the proposals outlined by Christian politicians there is also a proposal to seek and obtain an international resolution that guarantees the protection of the demographic balance of the Nineveh Plain and the commitment to protect the populations of that area from sectarian violence.
While the political delegation carried out its round of consultations in the Iraqi capital, and met with Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the local media re-launched statements of leaders of the so-called "Babylonian Brigades", a paramilitary group that aims to present itself as "Christian militia" involved in war operations against Daesh. The leaders of the Babylonian Brigade rejected the allegation of the delegation composed by Kanna and other politicians to present themselves as "representatives" of the Iraqi Christian communities. "Actually" points out Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael to Agenzia Fides, "it seems that the competition to claim the political representation of Christians in view of the 2018 parliamentary elections has begun. And regarding the future of the Nineveh plain", adds the Primate of the Chaldean Church "the priority now is to support the return of refugees, the reconstruction of cities and villages devastated by the war. It is not the moment to lose sight of major projects, which, however, appear to have little realism, in an uncertain stage, also marked by the will of an autonomous state pursued by the Kurdish". (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 5/5/2017)