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WikiLeaks: Ninewa Chaldo/Assyrians Concerned about their Future in Iraq

Posted: Sunday, October 23, 2011 at 06:22 PM CT


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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
06MOSUL5 2006-01-31 16:57 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL REO Mosul
This record is a partial extract of the original cable.
The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 MOSUL 000005 


E.O. 12958: DECL:  1/31/2016 



CLASSIFIED BY: H. Carl Gettinger, Team Leader, Provincial 
Reconstruction Team Ninewa, State. 

REASON: 1.4 (a), (b), (d) 


1.  (C).  REO Poloff met with members of the Beth Nahrain 
Patriotic Union (BNPU), a Chaldo/Assyrian political party, on 
January 31, to discuss national election results, security 
issues, and the future of the community in Ninewa.  BNPU member 
Yacoub Ibrahim said kidnappings and extortions against the 
community have increased dramatically in recent weeks and he 
sees a connection between current church bombings in Baghdad and 
Kirkuk with the situation in Ninewa.  BNPU members said they 
have "no faith" in local institutions, such as the provincial 
government and police, to help them because of corruption.  Aziz 
Gorgis believes incidents such as these, coupled with the lack 
of jobs and educational opportunities, force many 
Chaldo/Assyrians to "flee the country."  BNPU members claim a 
history of persecution, and since the party did not win a seat 
in the national election they believe they have "no voice" in 
the new government.  End Summary. 


2.  (SBU) REO Poloff met with members of Beth Nahrain Patriotic 
Union (BNPU), a Chaldo/Assyrian political party, in Mosul on 
January 31.  In attendance were Dinkha Patros Hirmis, Yacoub 
Ibrahim, and Aziz Emanuel Gorgis. 


3.  (C) According to BNPU members, Assyrians in Mosul and 
outlying Christian villages have been hit hard recently by a 
rash of kidnappings and extortions.  BNPU believes the events 
are most likely not a result of sectarian violence but rather 
politically motivated.  They claim a connection between recent 
church bombings in Kirkuk and Baghdad with events in Ninewa. 
Over the past 15 days, Ibrahim claims extortions have increased 
dramatically.  He offered a list of recent kidnappings, all for 
economic reasons, where the victims were told to pay a ransom 
ranging from 35,000 to 100,000 dollars, family members paid the 
ransoms, and the person was released.  Ibrahim also noted that 
several garage shop owners in the Hay Al-Sinaa and Hay Al-Shorta 
industrial neighborhoods of Mosul have been threatened as well 
and told to pay thousands of dollars in bribes or be kidnapped 
and/or have their businesses bombed.  Ibrahim contends that it 
is not only Christians who are being targeted in Mosul in these 
cases, but other groups as well.  He claims, however, that the 
majority of those affected are Assyrians. 

4.  (C) Hirmis said no one would come forward with knowledge of 
the perpetrators because they do not want to suffer from further 
reprisals and put their families in harms way.  And 
unfortunately, however, "nobody knows who the kidnappers are," 
said Hirmis.  Ibrahim submitted copies of letters, written in 
Arabic and left on the front doors of random households in 
Bashiqa and Bartalla villages, from an unnamed group claiming 
those responsible for the crimes are "Jews." 


5.  (C) Gorgis claims the events are not new, and both he and 
Hirmis believe recent kidnappings are part of an historical 
movement by their larger and stronger Arab and Kurd neighbors to 
control them.  Hirmis said the Chaldo/Assyrian community has 
always been neglected.  He said "no one" spoke out against the 
massacres of 1915 and 1933 where thousands of Chaldo/Assyrians 
were killed.  Gorgis claims harassment and other acts of 
terrorism against the community have occurred over the past few 
years, worsening every two months or so before improving. 
Ibrahim coldly said, "our community did not ask for the [USG] to 
invade our country."  But he believes that since "the fall of 
Saddam Hussein" the Chaldo/Assyrian community has been hardest 
hit because "Arabs and Kurds" believe the Christians "support 
the [USG]."  Ibrahim said the Christian community "welcomed 
democracy," but that now since they were "written out of the 
constitution" and did not win a seat in the new national 
assembly, the community is "quiet" and losing faith in the 
democratic process. 


6.  (C) Members of BNPU said they do not have faith in local 
government or the police because they view these institutions as 
the "root of the problem," according to Hirmis.  Although they 
said they are not averse to speaking directly to the provincial 
chief of police (PCOP), Wathiq Al-Qadir, Ibrahim claims 
involving "good men" such as Wathiq would only "get him killed 
like former governor Kashmoula," who was assassinated in 2004. 
Further, they believe the middle and lower ranks of the Iraqi 
Police (IP) are "working with insurgents," and speaking to them 
directly would put the community at risk.  Poloff urged the 
group to consider talking with the PCOP to help the community 
and allow the police to do its job to protect the citizens. 
BNPU members agreed to submit specific cases of extortion and 
kidnapping, as well as copies of harassment letters, to the PCOP 
for investigation.  Hirmis said the Christian community has 
little faith in the church since they believe church officials 
are "paid off" by the Kurds.  And infighting within the 
Chaldo/Assyrian political realm is complicated as well, since 
the community could not unify in time for the national election. 
As a result, there were three Christian coalitions, and 
smelling defeat many other candidates joined Kurdish or Arab 
coalitions for their own advantage. 


7.  (C) Part of the community's problems, said Hirmis, is that 
"too many Christians are leaving" the country.  He believes 
harassment and the lack of work and educational opportunities 
force many to "flee to neighboring countries," as well as to 
"Europe, Australia and the U.S."  And as more and more people 
leave the fewer numbers they have to build a community that 
could help change their condition in Iraq.  Ibrahim sees the 
situation as hopeless.  He does not believe that committee chair 
for minority issues in the national assembly, Dr. Haneen 
Al-Qaddo (a Shabbek from Ninewa), could help much either. 
Gorgis believes Al-Qaddo has "little ability" to help his own 
people, so "how is he supposed to take care of us?" 


8.  (C) Since the December national election, members of the Al 
Nahrain National List (#752) have sunk deeper into despair 
because they were not able to win a seat in the new government. 
Unfortunately, they are also losing faith in the democratic 
process as a way to help address their concerns.  They also do 
not yet see the merits of working through non-Christian 
representatives, the media, and the Chaldo/Assyrian community 
abroad to help them.  Rather, they watch scores of Christians 
leaving the country for economic and political security and fall 
further into hopelessness.  As we have reported in the past, the 
dynamic is one of a minority, such as the Chaldo/Assyrians, 
caught in the middle between the larger and stronger Arabs and 
Kurds.  And the Christian community's fear of being absorbed by 
these two groups is very real.  Although BNPU blames the USG 
directly and indirectly for their plight, they still hold faith 
that the USG can help find solutions to their problems.  The REO 
will continue to nudge them along and encourage them to work 
with Iraqi government institutions to address their issues and 
invest in their communities. 


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