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ADO: An Apolitical Petty Bourgeois Organisation
or a Mature Political Leadership?

Nineb Lamassu
United Kingdom 

Assyrian Democratic Organisation is the first Assyrian organisation established as a political response to the tragic events of the World Wars and the subsequent policies of Turkification and Arabization.

ADO's birth was of great momentum. It gave hope to a war torn people, to a nation that lost everything by placing its aspirations on the allies' poker table. During a period of political negations beyond Assyrian comprehension and from the wretched phase of hopelessness, ADO flourished as a clandestine movement representing the aspirations of a denominationally divided nation.

Since its inception ADO believed and advocated the salvation of our people outside any denominational terms and under the nation's true and historical name: Assyrian. No doubt ADO has made a great contribution for the Assyrian nation; I am sure you will not find two to dispute this fact. But the question posed here is: is ADO a matured political organisation capable of politically leading the masses or has it cocooned in a rotten state of conservatism due to its petty bourgeois tendencies?

To respond to this question, one has to address the current political stance of ADO. This can only be done through ADO's official literature. This article will concentrate on ADO's stance on the political changes in Iraq, and how they are affecting the Assyrian people. It will also address the internal factions within ADO's political bureau and how they are translated in political reality.

ADO together with ADM formed the entente cordiale of the famous Baghdad Conference. Together they agreed on a compound name for the Assyrian nation. ADO espoused and became one of the few proponents of the compound name, thus betraying their organisation's principles. Some construed this action as a political solution peculiar to the plight of the Assyrians of Iraq, and justified ADO's advocacy.

In the first Iraqi elections ADO called for total participation of the Assyrians, and propagated the slate led by ADM. After Mr. Kanna failed to ratify the compound name in the Iraqi constitution, for whatever reasons, and I am sure they are many, ADO issued a press release blaming Mr. Kanna for not walking out in protest. According to their official press release [1] they believed that Mr. Kanna should have protested rather than signed a constitution that denied the historical unity of our people by placing the "and" between the ChaldoAssyrians. According to this release, they would have been satisfied with the ChaldoAssyrian term without any "and".

For the recent December elections ADO issued another press release indirectly contradicting their release for last year's election. This is an extract from the last paragraph of their release [2]: "We, in the Assyrian Democratic Organization, call upon our people in Iraq and in the Diaspora who are eligible to vote to cast their ballots for the candidates who have proven their labor and struggle in the national field. Please cast your ballots for those qualified candidates who can truly represent the aspirations of our people." If one is to juxtapose the two releases one can understand the latter any way one may wish. This was an opaque stance lacking any transparency. The question is, was ADO lobbying for ADM ­ in light of their earlier criticism of Mr. Kanna - or was it telling the masses otherwise. The golden answer is: neither of the two. In fact, ADO had no idea who to support. ADO has strayed from its founding principles and it is politically confused and unable to lead the masses. A true political leadership leads the masses and not ask the masses to decide what slate represents their aspirations. That is why the people need political parties; that is why political parties need leadership; that is why a leadership needs to be politically matured, and that is why it should not include any petty bourgeois elements whose interests differ from that of the people.

ADO is a Chameleon that has succeeded to disguise itself for far too long, but in an official letter to His Holiness Moran Mor. Zakka Iwaz; Patriarch of our Universal Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch; ADO has displayed its true colour [3]. ADO is now calling the Patriarch to take a stance and rectify the injustice which has been committed against our people thus by placing the "and" between the ChaldoAssyrian in the current Iraqi constitution.

The communiqué makes the following statements [4]:

1) In the beginning it criticises the "and" which is separating our name in the constitution.

2) Then it is blaming the prelates of our other churches which prevented the addition of "Seryani" along with Ashuriyoon wa Kildan which they see as a great injustice. Because according to their wording: Syriani is one of the "NATIONAL" components that make up this nation. Note the "NATIONAL" and not denominational terminology!

3) Towards the end of it all, it is hinting about how our name should go down in the constitution as one holistic historical name.

Now let us analyse each of the statements. Their first statement means they accept the compound name and the ratification of the "ChaldoAssyrian" term would have sufficed. In their second statement, ADO is betraying itself and everything that it represented for so many years. Moreover, it is deceiving all its gallant members who are steadfast in their Assyrian belonging. By this statement it is not only proving to the people of what it has been accused of by ADP (Assyrian Democratic Party) for so many years, it is also ridiculing the suffering of all its noble members that experienced discrimination ­ very much like apartheid ­ from the church and clergy for believing in their Assyriansim. Their third statement, however, is nothing but a redundant statement. It is there just as a backup, something to fall back on when faced with such criticism.

It is worth clarifying here that this is not some spontaneous change of policy of the ADO. This is ADO's current political line, and it has been for quite sometime. In a published research -the journal was published in 1991- written by the general secretary of ADO (Mr. Bashir Saadi) titled; "The Syrians and the Name Controversy" [5] , we read the following assertion: "There are some Syrian Nestorians that claim to be Assyrians". This parallels the Baathist policy of Arabization!

Many Assyrian sympathisers of ADO believe it has been penetrated by the Syrian Intelligence Services and that this has caused the ADO to abandon its principles. Many believe that this will continue as long as the political bureau remains in Syria.

I am afraid lately this is the true face of ADO. I personally believe that a change in its current leadership is necessary to save it from cocooning in a state of conservatism and that the new leadership needs to be based outside Syria to escape Syrian pressure. These steps, if taken, may prove to the people that ADO is more than an organisation only capable of cultural activities, and that it is a matured political organisation ready and capable to lead the masses in any challenge. This is more important than ever, considering the wave of change that is sweeping the region.

Those that follow the Assyrian political events perceived a firm stance from Mr. Slaiman Yousif Yousif, a member of ADO's political bureau [6]. He was like a voice in the wilderness representing the true principles of ADO and calling for a change. Many of us saw Mr. Yousif's articles; the press release issued by Mr. Bashir Saadi in the name of ADO against Mr. Yousif, the support Mr. Yousif received from many youth organisations of ADO [7]; especially Mr. Yousif's article, "The Winds of Change Storms ADO" [8] , as an inevitable wave of change.

But much to everyone's surprise Mr. Yousif issued a rather unexpected communiqué withdrawing everything that he stated in his earlier articles and apologising for any direct accusations [9]. This apologetic communiqué and Mr. Yousif's change of stance can only result from one of the two:

1) Mr. Yousif's articles and criticism were based on hierarchical struggle, and his stance had nothing to do with the nation's interests and rights. As soon as he received some recognition and maybe some benefits from re-shuffling within the political bureau, he diverted from his rebellious position proving to be just another apologist.

2) Mr. Yousif had accused Mr. Saadi and the ADO's leadership as stooges of the Syrian Intelligence Services [10]. It is very understandable that Mr. Yousif received direct intimidation from the intelligence services for speaking out against the tyrannical regime and its Assyrian stooges from within ADO's political bureau. It is possible that he received such threats and that he would capitulate to them.

In conclusion it is sad to see ADO in such a sad state and I am sure many will agree with me that ADO can continue to be a prominent player in Assyrian politics. Conservatism and petty bourgeois tendencies can not continue to dictate ADO's policies. ADO has a strong base and followers among Assyrians of all denominations. There must be capable and sincere individuals among ADO's members that can bring about the needed changes and re-direct ADO to its initial and founding principles [11]. These members need a leader to lead them through this struggle, and Mr. Yousif can exploit this opportunity and demonstrate to us that he is neither a position-seeking apologist, nor a capitulating coward entertaining himself with revolutionary hysteria every now and then. If Abd al-Haleem Khaddam did it, Mr. Yousif, you can do it too. In fact do it now before it is too late.

I will not address the question of Syriac Orthodix prelates' claims on our people being Arabs. Because The article which Moran Mor. Zakka Iwaz published in around the elections was nothing but a re-print of one and the same article which was published in 2000. In the Patriarchal Journal Vol. 38 Jan-Feb-Mar No. 191-192-193. Thus this article was not our Syriac Orthodox's new stance after the failure of the ChaldoAssyrian name, due to some of our other church prelates separatist declarations.
See: "Journal of Socialist Studies" (Majallat Al-Dirasat Al-Ishtirakiyya), Al-Syrian Wa Ishkaliyat Al-Tasmiya; March 1991; Syria.
Read the following to learn of Mr. Yousif's stance:
Read this article written by an old time ADO activist (now outside of Mr. Saadi's circle of trust), Mr. Aziz Thomas:,22762.0.html. This article is a testimony that many ADO members do not agree with ADO's current policies.


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