U.S. official: Iraq works to protect the churches

With growing concern about the plight of Christians in their native land, local Iraqi Americans met this week with the highest-ranking State Department official in charge of Iraq policy when he made a three-day stop in Detroit.

But Michael Corbin, deputy assistant secretary of state for Iraq in the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, faced an angry crowd that shouted him down during one of his meetings with Chaldeans, illustrating the frustrations many have about the perceived erosion of Christianity in Iraq and Chaldean refugees facing deportation.
Some Chaldeans approached the stage, forcing Corbin to quickly leave a Troy center Tuesday night and prompting a police response.
Corbin spoke with the Free Press by phone last week.
QUESTION: Some local Iraqi Chaldeans say the U.S.-led invasion has caused the erosion of Christianity in Iraq. How can they be helped?
ANSWER: We’ve acknowledged that mistakes were made after the invasion of Iraq. But … the Iraqi government has committed to protect churches, protect religious observances, festivals, religious holidays. This is important. These communities are vulnerable. They don’t have militias.
Q: How is the security situation in Iraq?
A: We’re so far from 2006, when the country was on the verge of sectarian warfare … where commerce and business were completely shut down, where people were fleeing the country in droves. …We’ve seen an increase in the professionalism of the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi security forces that has come about through the training that we’ve given them. … In the end, it gets back to the economic situation, where the Iraqis can create jobs and the economy can pick up and foreign investment is encouraged. Then, the likelihood that people will support this tiny group of insurgents and extremists … will diminish.
Q: Is Iraq better off now than before the U.S.-led invasion?
A: That’s up to the Iraqis to determine. Certainly, we wish that things were better, but the progress that Iraq has made is what you should focus on. You see optimism for the future. We see the opening of the oil industry. We see the return of some refugees to Iraq. We see the possibility for a future that is bright.
Q: Was the Iraq war worth it?
A: It’s not up to me to say whether it was worth it or not. It will be up to the records to show what happens in the future. … We will see what happens.