Autonomous Nineveh ‘Would Preserve Christians and Secure West’s Interest’

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By World Watch Monitor, World Watch Monitor
Boy waiting for his turn during food distribution in Ashti-2 camp (Erbil) hosting Iraqi Christian refugees.
A “protected area” should be set aside for minorities, including Christians, in Iraq’s north-east Nineveh plains after the ‘Islamic State’ has been defeated, a US advocacy group has argued.
The group, In Defense of Christians (IDC), made the suggestion at the National Convention (7-9 September) in Washington DC.

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IDC hopes to enlist the support of the US Congress to the venture, which would also need the consent of local authorities both in Baghdad and in the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan.

The idea of a “Christian safe zone” was urged in the autumn of 2014 after the jihadists’ offensive which, according to Amnesty International, saw more than 900,000 religious- and ethnic-minority Iraqis, about a quarter of them Christians, fleeing to the Kurdish region and beyond.

In March, US State Secretary John Kerry described minorities, including Christians, Yazidis and Shia Muslims, as targets of “genocide” by IS.

US Congress members attending this month’s Convention have expressed their support to the renewed initiative.

On Friday, Congressman Jeff Fortenberry, a Republican from Nebraska, introduced legislation calling for the U.S. and the international community to support the Iraqi authorities in recognizing a province in the Nineveh Plain, “consistent with lawful expressions of self-determination by its indigenous peoples.”

Fortenberry’s “sense of Congress resolution”, with 11 co-sponsors, both Republicans and Democrats, was referred to the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Dohuk-based American University of Kurdistan, meanwhile, has quoted a survey saying 90% of Christian residents in Ankawa – a suburb in Erbil – are in favour of the independence of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, of which a “minority safe zone” presumably would form part.

10 possible wars even if Islamic State beaten militarily

On 7 September, the Washington Post mapped out 10 possible conflict scenarios after IS has been completely defeated in both Iraq and Syria.

Supporters of an autonomous Nineveh Plains argue that, apart from preserving minorities, the resulting stability will be in the US and the West’s interest. They call upon the US to help resettle genocide victims in their homes.

“In Defense of Christians” is hoping for a US Congressional resolution to support the policy within a prism of a post-IS de-centralised Iraq.

IDC co-founder Andrew Doran said his group and others will work together to seek US Congressional action on ending the conflict in neighbouring Syria – where another war is engaged by similar players and where minorities likewise top the list of victims.

It’s not coming, it’s here — in our churches, our nightclubs and our public spaces.

Doran said these wars were breeding terror in its region and beyond it.

“It’s not coming, it’s here — it’s in our churches, it’s in our nightclubs and it’s in our public spaces and it will get much worse before it gets better,” he said. “If we move swiftly to end the conflict in Syria we can save lives there now and save American lives and other lives elsewhere in the decades to come.”

Support for Nineveh’s beleaguered Christians was echoed by a voice closer to home.

Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Raphael I has said there are “signals” of a “pre-arranged plan to secure the political structure of Iraq” but in this plan, he fears the rights of Christians and other minorities are not guaranteed.

Raphael called for a referendum to give Christians a choice on whether they want to be governed from Baghdad, to be part of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan or even place themselves under a “Sunni state”.

Fides says that, according to local sources it consulted, these conflicts over future plans are contributing to delaying military operations – which have previously been announced – for the liberation of Mosul from the control of the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

(c) Christian Telegraph