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WikiLeaks: 2008-08-21: 08BAGHDAD2688: Ninewa: Assyrian Christian Leaders Discuss Political and Security Concerns, and their Disdain for Islam

by WikiLeaks. 08BAGHDAD2688: August 21, 2008.

Posted: Sunday, September 08, 2013 at 05:12 PM UT


Viewing cable 08BAGHDAD2688, NINEWA: ASSYRIAN CHRISTIAN LEADERS DISCUSS

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Reference ID Created Classification Origin
08BAGHDAD2688 2008-08-21 15:20 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Baghdad
VZCZCXRO5866
OO RUEHBC RUEHDE RUEHIHL RUEHKUK
DE RUEHGB #2688/01 2341520
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 211520Z AUG 08
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 8987
INFO RUCNRAQ/IRAQ COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 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 002688 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 08/31/2018 
TAGS: PGOV PHUM KDEM IZ
SUBJECT: NINEWA:  ASSYRIAN CHRISTIAN LEADERS DISCUSS 
POLITICAL AND SECURITY CONCERNS, AND THEIR DISDAIN FOR ISLAM 
 
BAGHDAD 00002688  001.2 OF 002 
 
 
Classified By: Ninewa PRT Leader Alex Laskaris, Reasons 1.4 (B) and (D) 
 
This is a Ninewa Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) message. 
 
1. (C) Summary:  The Assyrian Catholic communities of 
Kermalais and Bartala in northeast Ninewa are focused on 
their future political status and the security of their 
communities.  Their stated demand for some form of autonomy 
under the Article 140 process reflects a desire for control 
of local governance to the exclusion of non-Christian 
communities as well as a desire for continued association 
with the KRG.  The two Christian communities are seeking the 
integration of currently functioning KRG-financed local 
security guards into the Iraqi police, but still under their 
own local operational control.  Leaders in both communities 
expressed contempt for the Islamic faith, to which PRT Leader 
responded critically and forcefully.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) PRT Ninewa visited the Assyrian Catholic villages of 
Kermalais and Bartala on August 8.  The visit was prompted by 
a UK press story alleging that the US Army in Mosul (sic) had 
approved the formation of a Christian militia in Bartala and 
was equipping it with radios.  The 3rd ACR Provost Marshal 
had earlier clarified that the guards had in fact been hired 
locally and had been paid for by KRG Minister of Finance 
Sarkis. 
 
SECURITY:  ASSYRIAN CHRISTIANS WANT COMMUNITY CONTROL OF 
POLICE 
-------- 
 
3. (C) We spoke with three priests, two mukhtars (village 
leaders) and a host of other local community members. 
Currently, there are 250 local Christian security guards in 
Kermalais, 650 in Qaraqosh, and 1,200 in Bartala.  The 
security guards, who are paid on a part-time basis, receive 
about USD 200 per month.  All of our interlocutors insisted 
that the Iraqi Police (IP) needs to recruit and train local 
Christians currently funded by the KRG and then needs to 
station them in their respective Christian communities.  All 
made clear their desire that these new Iraqi Police personnel 
would remain subject to local political control. 
 
4.  (C) PRT leader said that we fully support the integration 
of minority members into the IP and are pressing the Minister 
of Interior to act on application packets currently on his 
desk.  We said that police officers, unlike army soldiers, 
could be deployed primarily in their areas of origin, but 
also added that police officers need to serve the community 
as a whole, not one party or political tendency.  Fr. Aymon 
Dana Paulus, parish priest at St. George's Assyrian Catholic 
Church in Bartala, said that the USG and Iraqi Army (IA) 
share some of the blame for the current situation because 
they did not focus enough on security in Bartala and 
surrounding villages.  According to Fr. Aymon, the 
deteriorating security situation was largely due to the 
presence of the Islamic extremists within Bartala's growing 
Shebak community. 
 
IDPs:  ASSYRIAN CHRISTIAN CONCERNS ABOUT INFLUX OF SHEBAK 
---- 
 
5. (C) Fr. Aymon commented at length on Bartala's changing 
demographics.  He said that in 1977 only two Muslim families 
lived in Bartala; now there are more than 400, mostly Shebak 
refugees who moved there after 2003.  Fr. Aymon predicted 
that in 20 years Bartala would become a town with a Muslim 
majority.  Kermalais' Fr. Younis echoed these thoughts, also 
noting the growing number of Shebak IDPs in the Assyrian 
Christian villages of Ninewa.  Asked why they saw the Shebak 
as such a threat, both Frs. Aymon and Younis said they feared 
that, as minorities, Christians would receive little 
protection given the &Islamic nature8 of the current Iraqi 
government.  It was crucial, therefore, for Christians to 
maintain majorities in the communities they currently 
control. 
 
6.  (C) PRT told both Frs. Aymon and Younis that the Shebak 
were also a minority in Ninewa that faces serious threats. 
Told that Kermalais was actively opposing construction of a 
mosque for the Shebak, PRT leader said that the USG supports 
the rights of all to worship according to their traditions. 
Thereupon our interlocutors launched into a string of 
opprobrium directed at the Islamic faith (e.g., It is a fake 
religion, a religion of women, a religion that is out to 
dominate the world.  It is a religion of uneducated people 
who do nothing but make babies all day.").  PRT leader said 
that the USG did not agree with their views of Islam and that 
our commitment to minority rights applied equally to all 
 
BAGHDAD 00002688  002.2 OF 002 
 
 
confessions. 
 
ECONOMICS:  COMPLAINTS ABOUT UNDER-SERVED COMMUNITIES 
--------- 
 
7. (C) Frs. Aymon and Younis also discussed the dire economic 
situation facing their communities, citing inflation, 
unemployment and a lack of basic services.  Fr. Aymon and Fr. 
Younis both said that Zuheir Chalabi has not offered to 
provide any assistance to either community.  PRT and 
regimental personnel returned to Kermalais on August 15, at 
the joint request of the PRT leader and the commander of 3rd 
ACR's 1/8 battalion, whose AOR includes the village.  They 
discussed the needs of the community, and PRT will approach 
the GOI and USAID for appropriate assistance. 
 
10. (C) Comment:  On security, which is a serious issue for 
both Assyrian Christian communities, the KRG has enabled the 
communities to take action where the GOI has failed.  We need 
to continue to press the MOI to integrate minority recruits 
into the IP, but also ensure that they serve all members of a 
Hamdaniya Christian community that is genuinely divided over 
key existential issues.  The views we heard of the Islamic 
faith were contrary to US policy and we said so.  The lack of 
Assyrian Christian concern for the welfare of Shebak IDPs 
living in their areas was troubling.  We met with Shebak 
leaders in Bartala on August 14 (septel) and will need to 
coordinate our assistance efforts in the area to ensure that 
our concern for the welfare of Christian communities does not 
detract from our work on a Shebak community that is poorer, 
more marginalized, and exposed to even greater anger.  End 
Comment. 
CROCKER

 



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