Viewing cable 06KIRKUK131, C) ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT LEADER ON CHRISTIANS'
PP RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL
DE RUEHKUK #0131/01 2060911
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 250911Z JUL 06
FM REO KIRKUK
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 0694
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 0656
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE
RUEHKUK/REO KIRKUK 0722
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 KIRKUK 000131
E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/25/2016
TAGS: PREF PREL PGOV PHUM PINR PINS ECON KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: (C) ASSYRIAN DEMOCRATIC MOVEMENT LEADER ON CHRISTIANS'
STATUS IN KRG AREAS
KIRKUK 00000131 001.2 OF 002
CLASSIFIED BY: Tim Uselmann, Political Officer, IPAO, Department
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
¶1. (C) INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY: Assyrian Democratic
Movement (ADM) General Secretary, Salim Kako, stated on July 9
that poor security and ethnic discrimination were causing
Christians and Kurds to resettle to northern areas of Iraq,
which was straining the relations between Kurdish and Assyrian
Christian communities. Many of these imigris have not been able
to find housing or employment. The ethnic association of each
community was complicating the situation. Assyrian Christians
viewed themselves as Iraqis, while the Kurdish migrants have
rediscovered their own Kurdish nationalist identity.
Proselytizing activities of evangelical Christians were causing
the Iraqi Assyrian Christian community to lose numbers on the
national ethnic registry because they are being reclassified as
Kurds. END INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY.
(C) CHRISTIAN, KURDISH POPULATION SHIFTS NORTH
¶2. (C) ADM leader, Salim Kako, met with IPAO on July 9, 2006, to
discuss the current status of Christians in the Kurdistan
Regional Government (KRG) areas. He said that poor security in
central and southern Iraq was causing Christians and Kurds to
move to northern areas, which was straining the relationship
between the two communities. Both ethnic groups were competing
for scarce housing space and employment opportunities. Kako
said the only controls on this demographic shift were due to KRG
security measures, since migrants to KRG areas were required to
register with the local security office to prove they had an
extended family or other means of support, and also to identify
any political associations or activities.
(C) SOME ASSYRIAN AREAS AT RISK, OTHERS PROTECTED
¶3. (C) Between 85 and 95 percent of Assyrian Christians in Iraq
lived in the Ainkawa-Dahuk-Mosul triangle, according to Kako.
(Note: Ainkawa is situated on the outskirts of Erbil, and is
the seat of the Chaldo-Assyrian bishopric. End note.) He said
Assyrian Christians were especially concentrated in the villages
of Karakush, Karamlis, Bartallah, Tel Kaif, Tel Uskuf, Batnayah,
and Al-Qosh. Kako said the KRG had prohibited Kurds from
purchasing houses or land in Ainkawa to protect its traditional
Christian identity and to avoid potential ethnic tensions in the
KRG capital that could result as Kurdish ex-patriots returned
from abroad and bought up property. He said that in other areas
Kurds have been purchasing land from Christians who often used
the money to leave Iraq, and that this was causing problems
between the returning Kurds and the remaining Assyrian
Christians who increasingly found themselves in the minority.
Kako claimed the ADM had requested the KRG give land and
property to Christians but so far they had received none while
the Kurds continued buying Christian houses.
(C) "LIKE ICE IN WATER"
¶4. (C) Kako said the proselytizing activities of evangelical
Christians, mostly Anglican Protestants, were causing problems
within the Assyrian and Islamic communities. First, the
evangelical churches were causing the disappearance of Assyrians
from the national roster because Kurdish was the official
liturgical language of the evangelical churches in northern
Iraq. Kako stated that, upon conversion, former Assyrians were
automatically re-registered as Kurds since the national roster
was based on linguistic identity, creating a present but
invisible Assyrian community, like "ice dropped in water."
Second, Islamist groups such as Jami'a Islamiyya were blaming
all Christians for recent Muslim converts to the evangelical
churches, and used these proselytizing activities as
justification to attack Christians in general, to include
(C) RELATIONS WITH KDP AND PUK
¶5. (C) Kako dismissed the impression he said many people held
that Assyrian Christians had better relations with the PUK than
the KDP. He said this impression was due to geo-political and
cultural factors, namely that most Iraqi Christian cities fell
under KDP areas of control and because there was a Turkish
presence in Erbil which was more Islamist than in other areas.
Kako asserted PUK-controlled Sulaymaniyah contained a relatively
minor Christian presence and was also more open and tolerant.
(C) KURDS WANT MOSUL, KIRKUK; ASSYRIANS LOOK TO BAGHDAD
KIRKUK 00000131 002.2 OF 002
¶6. (C) According to Kako, there was a growing political
disconnect between the Kurds and Assyrians as the new Iraqi
government took shape. The Assyrian position vis-`-vis the
Kurds had changed since 2003, when Kurds openly started talking
about gaining Mosul and Kirkuk. The strife between Shia and
Sunnis positioned the Kurds to a new national power status, Kako
said, but the KDP and PUK cared only about getting Mosul and
Kirkuk, not about Baghdad, and put their Kurdish identity first.
He said the Assyrian community, in contrast, historically
looked to Baghdad because this was the political center,
Assyrians were traditionally well represented in government, and
because Assyrians considered themselves to be Iraqis.
¶7. (C) It is worth noting Kako repeatedly expressed concern
during the meeting over the Assyrian communities in and around
Mosul; he claimed the KDP appointed local leaders, had little
concern with true democracy, and wanted to "use" the Assyrians
to take control of the eastern portion of the city. The
villages Kako cited as having the highest concentration of
Assyrians are all situated just north and east of Mosul, and
thus annexation of these areas into the KRG would affect the
bulk of Iraqi Assyrians.