ASIA/IRAQ - Chaldean Patriarch: the right to talk about the future of Nineveh Plain are mainly the people of the region

Tuesday, 4 July 2017 oriental churches   middle east   area crisis   geopolitics  


Mosul (Agenzia Fides) - Discussions and even divisions among the Iraqi Christians increase around the future political-administrative settlement of the so-called Nineveh Plain, a region which has recently been liberated from the jihadist occupation of the self-proclaimed Islamic State, considered a site of traditional rooting of the Christian communities of Mesopotamia. But according to Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako, the right to decide on the future of the Nineveh Plain is essentially reserved to "indigenous people of the region, with the question of whether there are united political parties that truly represent them for all their political aspirations", says the Primate of the Chaldean Church.
In a message shared by the other Chaldean Bishops, Patriarch Sako expressed appreciation for the advice and interest shown for the future of the Nineveh Plain from those who have left the Country many years ago and live in the Chaldean communities of the diaspora, but firmly asserted that they cannot claim to have a decisive role on this matter because they are "away from the current situation and what is really going on. They cannot talk about the concerns of the region’s inhabitants". If there is need to draw a map of the Nineveh Plain - the Patriarch observed in his speech, released by the media of the Patriarchate and sent to Agenzia Fides - the Christian inhabitants of that area must draw a map of the region with their Muslim and Non Muslim neighbors. This map should be feasible and far from any "foreign agendas or personal narrow-minded interests". The Primate of the Chaldean Church also renewed the invitation to "be realistic and rational after all that they have suffered " considering paradoxical that the discussion on the future political-administrative settlement of the Nineveh Plain takes place without taking into account the worrying situation in which the majority of Christians in the region live, whose houses were demolished or damaged during the jihadist occupation. The need to discuss together to find a shared position, both with the central government of Baghdad and with local and regional governments, including that of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, according to Patriarch Sako does not exclude the possibility of requesting forms of international protection on the area, that reassure people who feel uncertain and fearful of what they have been facing in recent years.
The message from the Chaldean Patriarch follows that of the Conference on A Future for Christians in Iraq organized in Brussels, at the headquarters of the European Parliament, on the initiative of the European Mp Lars Adaktusson, representative of the Christian Swedish Democratic Party. Various political organizations animated by Iraqi militant Christians participated in the conference, along with two Patriarchs of the Eastern Churches present in Iraq, Syriac Orthodox Ignatius Aphrem II and Syriac Catholic Ignatius Youssif III Younan. Other Parties claiming the political representation of Iraqi Christian communities, such as the Assyrian Democratic Movement, instead boycotted the event. "All participating parties" said Adaktusson at the end of the Conference, "co-signed a final document of historical importance. They have now agreed that the Nineveh Plain in the North of Iraq should become a province with a self-government within the framework of the Iraqi constitution. In the longer term, the goal is that the area should become a province, providing an even greater degree of autonomy".
Another episode helps to capture the interests and political games that are moving around the future political-administrative set-up of the northern Iraq regions liberated by Daesh: in past days, Chaldean Archbishop of Kirkuk, Dominican Yousif Thomas Mirkis, made a courtesy visit to the local headquarters of the Democratic Party of Kurdistan at the end of Ramadan, and immediately local Kurdish media reported that Chaldean Archbishop expressed his favor for the independent referendum convened by the government of the Autonomous Region of Iraqi Kurdistan, scheduled for September 25. The Archbishop himself had to release a statement of denial, saying that during the meeting with members of the Democratic Kurdistan Party no political issues had been addressed in any way. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 4/7/2017)