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WikiLeaks: 2008-08-17: 08BAGHDAD2607: Ninewa: Some Hamdaniya Christians Argue for Local Autonomy, Others See it as a Kurdish Plot

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2607: August 17, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 05:03 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD2607, NINEWA: SOME HAMDANIYA CHRISTIANS ARGUE FOR LOCAL

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2607 2008-08-17 07:42 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO2402
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2607/01 2300742
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 170742Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8877
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/HQ USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE IMMEDIATE
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAGHDAD 002607 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KIRF KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA:  SOME HAMDANIYA CHRISTIANS ARGUE FOR LOCAL 
AUTONOMY, OTHERS SEE IT AS A KURDISH PLOT 
 
Classified By: Ninewa PRT Leader Alex Laskaris, Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
1. (C) Summary:  During meetings in Mosul with Senior Advisor 
for Northern Iraq Tom Krajeski, Iraqi Assyrian groups from 
Hamdaniya District in Ninewa Province expressed varying views 
on the desirability of an autonomous Christian region and 
affiliation with the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG).  A 
group of Christians from Bartella strongly advocated for 
local administrative autonomy for Christians, including 
control of local development budgets and police forces.  In a 
separate meeting, a group of Christians from Qaraqosh said 
the push for Christian autonomy was a Kurdish plot to obtain 
support for Kurdish territorial claims in Hamdaniya.  End 
summary. 
 
2. (C) Senior Advisor for Northern Iraq Tom Krajeski traveled 
to Ninewa Province August 11 and 12 for meetings hosted by 
PRT Mosul and in the western Ninewa towns of Tal Afar and 
Sinjar.  In Mosul, Krajeski met with two groups of Christians 
-- Assyrian Catholic leaders from the Hamdaniya District town 
of Bartella, headed by George Maya of the Chaldean Assyrian 
Syriac Council of America (CASCA) and Father Aymon Dana 
Paulus, and Christian leaders from Qaraqosh, also in 
Hamdaniya, led by Sargon Nimrud, a high ranking member of the 
Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) who runs the Assyrian 
Ashor TV station.  In all meetings, S/A Krajeski stressed USG 
concern for the welfare of all religious and ethnic minority 
communities in Ninewa:  Christian, Yezidi and Shabak. 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
One Group Demands Local Christian Control 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
3. (C) Fr. Aymon said he strongly favors "autonomy" for 
Christian communities (distinguishing this from "self-rule," 
which he defined as control of local administrative 
structures and which already exists in many Christian 
villages).  "Autonomy" is the only way to protect Christian 
communities in Hamdaniya and ensure their rights as a 
minority are respected, he said.  Asked whether a Christian 
enclave would be practical, given that there are Christian 
communities dispersed throughout Iraq, Fr. Aymon said that 
autonomy did not necessarily mean a physical homeland. 
Rather, autonomy to him means:  A) full constitutional rights 
for Christians; B) Christian control of the budget in 
Christian localities so that they direct their own economic 
development; and C) Christian political control over 
Christian towns and villages, including control over Iraqi 
Police units with Christian officers. 
 
4. (C) Aymon said the Iraqi Constitution does not protect 
minority rights, so legally, Christians are treated as 
&third class citizens.8  Even if Christians had adequate 
legal protections, the precarious security situation in the 
country would undercut full enjoyment of those rights.  He 
complained that Shia Shabaks were moved into traditionally 
Christian areas as part of the former government's policy of 
purposeful demographic change.  Fr. Aymon and his colleagues 
said that, absent expeditious action, the Christian community 
in Iraq will disappear ("it is on the verge of extinction") 
within five years due to continuing violence and resulting 
pressure to emigrate.  While he did not address specifically 
whether Christian areas should be absorbed into the KRG, Fr. 
Ayman and his group have not come out in opposition to 
Kurdish territorial claims in Hamdaniya, although he told S/A 
Krajeski "we are proud to be Iraqis." 
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
A Second Sees Calls for Autonomy as a Kurdish Plot 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - 
 
5. (C) Sargon Nimrud and the Christian leaders from Qaraqosh 
presented a somewhat different view from the Christians of 
Bartella.  (Comment:  Nimrud and other ADM officials allege 
that CASCA is politically tied to and supported by the KRG. 
End comment.)  Nimrud, who strongly rejects KRG territorial 
claims on Hamdaniya, said Christian autonomy in areas 
incorporated into KRG will mean Kurdish domination and 
Christian suffering.  Nimrud alleged that those Christians 
asking for autonomy are pawns of Sarkis Aghajan (KRG Minister 
of Finance, an Assyrian Christian), who is paying for their 
militias in an attempt to buy support within the Christian 
community for Kurdish expansion.  Nimrud and his delegation 
share Fr. Aymon,s concern over security for Christians, but 
blame Kurdish obstacles at the provincial level.  For 
example, Nimrud said that Kurdish elements in the IP are 
actively preventing the recruitment of Christians into the 
police. 
 
 
 
BAGHDAD 00002607  002 OF 002 
 
 
CROCKER

 



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