Viewing cable 06MOSUL5, NINEWA CHALDO/ASSYRIANS CONCERNED ABOUT THEIR FUTURE IN
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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
TAGS: PREL PINS PGOV PHUM IZ MARR PINT
SUBJECT: NINEWA CHALDO/ASSYRIANS CONCERNED
ABOUT THEIR FUTURE IN IRAQ
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.
INCREASE IN CRIMES AGAINST THE COMMUNITY
¶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."
A HISTORY OF PERSECUTION
¶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
NO FAITH IN LOCAL INSTITUTIONS
¶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.