Iraq’s Christians Seek Autonomous Community in a Free Kurdistan

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by Adelle Nazarian1
Iraq’s Assyrian Christian population is seeking to reclaim territory they have lost to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL/IS) since they overtook the region last summer and to create an autonomous region for themselves–in a free Kurdistan.

Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Iraq’s Christian population has been subjected to tremendous extremism in the form of radical Islam, culminating with last year’s attacks by ISIS in the region’s Nineveh Plains. This has forced over 200,000 Assyrian Christians to flee, according to The National. They are now seeking asylum and refuge within the Iraqi Kurdish area that borders Nineveh, in camps, but are ultimately displaced and brainstorming a future way forward.

The majority of these Assyrian Christian militiamen and women reportedly envision an autonomous region for Nineveh’s Christian areas, regardless of whether it is under Kurdish or Iraqi authority, yet they have reportedly lost faith in both the Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces due to the Islamic State’s rapid expansion and the lack of funding and military supplies their fighters receive to ward off ISIS.

“We would like be part of Kurdistan as an independent region. In this area its better to live with Kurds. Because the experience we had with the Arabs was not pretty,” Albert Kisso, the commander of a small militia called Dwekh Nawsha (which translates in the Syriac language to “one who sacrifices”) told The National. “We trusted the forces in Iraq, but they did not stay and fight, they did not even spend one bullet,”Athra Kado, an Assyrian Christian who joined the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit (NPU) militia last September, told the outlet.

Many of the Christians believe they would be better taken care of under the KRG than the Iraqi government, the report noted, suggesting the KRG has a history of protecting minorities with greater fortitude.