Iraq: Christians, Yazidis Seeking Semi-Autonomous Region

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LALISH, IRAQ – NOVEMBER 11: Yazidi men line up before starting a religious ritual outside the holiest temple of the Yazidi faith while attending friday rituals on November 11, 2016 in Lalish, Iraq. Lalish is the site of the tomb of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir, the central figure of the Yazidi faith. In 2014 thousands of Yazidis fled to the villages of Lalish and Shekhan after ISIS took control of Sinjar and other Yazidi populated towns. Many Yazidi resettled in Mosul and Bashiqah but were forced to flee again when ISIS took control of the cities. The liberation of Bashiqah four days ago by the Iraqi army and the continuing Mosul offensive has given many Yazidi ‘s hope they will soon be able to return home. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images) Chris McGrath / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images/AFP
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

by Edwin
Several representatives of Iraqi minority groups considered to be some of the oldest inhabitants of the country, including the Assyrian Christians and Yazidis, have joined forces to urge Baghdad and the international community to allow them to establish a semi-autonomous region in northwestern Iraq.

The minority groups’ alliance, which also includes members of the Shiite Turkmen and Shabak community, has agreed to call their territory the Al Rafidein Region, according to David Lazar, chairman of the American Mesopotamian Organization. Lazar said in a statement:

Finally, in 2017, after all of the genocides, ethnic cleansings, persecutions, abuse, and injustice, representatives of the Turkmens, Assyrians, Yezidis and Shabak peoples are declaring a new coalition to brings their peoples together for the defense of their lives and the assertion of their rights as specified in the constitution of the Republic of Iraq.

“The coalition has an aggressive legislative strategy in place, one that will engage members of the United States Congress, Ministers of the Iraqi Parliament, and key members of the international community,” he added. “Their aim is to establish this region as a semi-autonomous area with its own parliament, policies and defensive force, similar in composition and function to the Kurdish regional area in northern Iraq.”

The coalition has brought together various groups representing the different minority groups, including the Turkmen Rescue Foundation (TRF), representing the Shiite Turkmen; the Al Rafedin Organization, representing the Assyrian Christians; and the Yazidi Independent Supreme Council, representing the Yazidis.

Dr. Ali Akram Al Bayati, a Shiite Turkmen who serves as TRF chief, told Breitbart News of the coalition:

We support it. The only way for us to keep our nations and people away from continuous attacks of terrorism is by establishing some form of self-administration under the Iraqi constitution and with the support of the international community, as they have supported the creation of northern Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).

In November 2016, Al-Monitor reported that some Christians were seeking to create an autonomous territory in the Nineveh Plain region, home to many of the nation’s Christians and Yazidis. The region would take in refugees fleeing the city of Mosul after its liberation from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

Mosul, considered ISIS’s last major stronghold in Iraq, is expected to soon fall under the control of U.S.-backed local forces.

Also in November of last year, various Assyrian Christian militias came together to fight as an alliance to recapture their historical homeland in northern Iraq from the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL).

The Nineveh Plains, a region in northern Iraq’s Nineveh province, is the historical homeland of the Iraqi Christian community, considered one of the oldest in the world.

Christians, Yazidis, and Shiite Turkmen have been victims of genocide at the hands of ISIS and other jihadist groups, the United States and the United Nations have acknowledged.