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North Iraq fears pullout

By Betsy Hiel
Sunday, September 2, 2007

SULEIMANIYAH, Iraq -- Three years ago, Ahmad Rikaby started Dijla, an independent radio station in Baghdad. For many listeners, its talk shows became a unifying voice in the din of growing sectarian bloodshed.

That ended in May, when al-Qaida gunmen attacked and blew up the station, killing a security guard.

Rikaby, a Shia who supported the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, is back on the air -- this time from the relative safety of Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq.

He believes only divine intervention can save his country. If America's war weariness or presidential politics force the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, he expects the violence will worsen.

"We will have a more divided country and I think we will see more blood," he says. "Somehow, the U.S. presence is contributing to a balance."

In scores of interviews across northern Iraq, Kurds, Arabs and Assyrians, Sunnis, Shia, Christians and Mandaeans alike, insist their voices are not heard in the debate over Iraq's future.

Many of them came north to escape the sectarian- and terrorist-driven slaughter in the south. Most Kurds express gratitude and support for the United States, as well as dread of even more catastrophic violence if U.S. troops leave.

Nazar Jirjis, an Assyrian and Chaldean Christian, fled the blood-drenched Doura area of Baghdad with his family in 2006 as the Islamic State of Iraq, an umbrella group for Sunni Islamist insurgents, moved into the neighborhood. A chemist, he settled in Irbil, the semi-autonomous Kurdish region's largest city.

"If America leaves Iraq, the blood will flow just like a river," he says. With no militia to defend them, he and other minority Christians "will have to leave between the legs of these savages."

Jerjis Shamu Oshana, an Assyrian restaurant manager, was kidnapped and briefly held by Sunni insurgents before fleeing to Suleimaniyah. Without a U.S. presence, "it will be a real civil war between the Sunni and the Shia, and all the minorities will leave," he says.

Since the U.S.-led invasion, Omar Younis, 28, a Sunni from Baghdad, has sponged up everything he can about computers and become a fan of Michael Jackson. He fled to Suleimaniyah last year with the rise of the Mahdi Army, a Shia militia, in the capital.

"They look at your ID, and if it shows you are Sunni, they will kill you," he says.

Although he opposed the U.S. invasion, Younis does not want U.S. soldiers to leave now.

"What would happen if the Americans left is that each (Iraqi) politician would divide up areas of Iraq, and the Iranians would supply the Shia with more weapons," he says.

Kurds tout their region as "The Other Iraq" in a slick marketing campaign, complete with commercials thanking America for saving them. It is the war-torn country's one stable area. It has all the trappings of a state, with its own parliament, flag, school system, intelligence service, even a special Kurdish entry stamp at its two new airports.

It also is a safe haven for tens of thousands of refugees. Many of those are Iraqi Christians, such as non-Arabic Assyrians who make up an estimated 3 to 5 percent of the country's populace.

The Kurds are openly allied with the United States. They welcomed the U.S. invasion and still thank American visitors for freeing them from Saddam Hussein's brutal rule. And they see themselves as a vital ally in the international fight against terror.

Many believe a U.S. withdrawal will collapse the central government in Baghdad, along with the north's Kurdish Regional Government.

"It will be a disaster," says Muhammed Tofiq, of Wusha, a Kurdish research organization. He says that 95 percent of the Kurdish government's revenue derives from the Baghdad government.

Again and again, Kurds and other Iraqis here say they would welcome a U.S. military base. Other countries meddle so much in Iraq now, they say, that Iraqis will be at their mercy after a U.S. withdrawal.

They point to Iran's support of Shia militias and Sunni Islamist groups, Syria's allowing Arab insurgents to cross its border, Saudi Arabia's financing of Sunni insurgents, and Turkey's threats to invade.

"If the U.S. troops go back home, it (leaves) this country in chaos to extremist groups and the neighboring countries," says Asos Hariri, editor-in-chief of Aweina, a leading independent Kurdish weekly newspaper. "We have stability in this area. Who can guarantee this will continue with the U.S. troops leaving?"

At the Assyrian Democratic Party headquarters in Ankawa, a Christian enclave near Irbil, former parliamentarian Shmuel Benjamin says U.S. mistakes in Iraq have been deadly to the fleeing Assyrian community in particular, and to Iraq in general. Yet he, too, fears a U.S. withdrawal.

"This will be a third world war," he says. "Iraq is a wealthy petrol country. It will be divided by Iran and Turkey and Saudi Arabia."

Nawad Hadi Mawlood, Irbil's governor, terms a U.S. withdrawal a "tragedy" and predicts more bombings such as an Aug. 14 terrorist attack against the minority Yezidi religious sect that killed more than 500 people.

"Be sure that Turkey and Iran, and also these terrorists al-Qaida, will come to destroy everything," he says. "They want to have the United States stay, because they know what will happen."

Boulous Shamoun Ishaq, the president of Ankawa's Chaldean Culture Center, says his son is a U.S. Army officer serving in Iraq. Like others, he believes Baghdad's government cannot defend itself from its neighbors. He believes the United States has an obligation to Iraqis.

"America removed the statue (of Saddam Hussein), so they should continue until the end," he says. "America is the only one who can finish what it started."

Jirjis, the refugee chemist in Irbil, agrees.

"America must do something for Iraq before leaving. If they left Iraq before doing anything, it means that America lost and it failed," he says.

"If America leaves Iraq, it means that al-Qaida wins the war."










Letter2Congress: Send a Letter to Congress
Contact info to write your senators or member of Congress, or simply Copy, Paste and Send them an articles about the plight of the Christians of Iraq

church on fire

Dear Visitors

Hundreds of you everyday come to this site because you are troubled about the suffering of the Iraqi Christians.

Your compassion is admirable but such concerns are of little help unless you are willing to assist these unfortunate people either by donating to the organizations which help them or by writing, calling or signing petitions asking the politicians to protect them.


Please Sign this Petition: Save Christians of Iraq

Tabokh = August

North Iraq fears pullout sept. 02, 07

Defend the Persecuted Christian Minority in Iraq Sept. 2, 07

Under Siege: Iraq's Christians August 31, 07

The Iraqi refugees in Beirut who don’t officially exist
August 31, 07

Swedish Uproar After Turkish Threats to silence dialogue about the Assyrian Genocide August 29, 07

Iraq's Minorities Lose Out in Classroom August 29, 07

Tensions on Iraq-Turkey border send residents packing
August 29, 07

Iraq's Endangered Minorities August 27, 07

Mosul Christians in dire danger August 27, 07

U.S. Troops Must Not Withdraw, Say Iraqis August 26, 07

Just the Facts, in Words and Pictures August 24, 07

Kurdistan's Twin Towers: The Massacre of the Yazidi August 24, 07

UAT Instructor Creates Cuneiform and Hieroglyphic Translator August 24, 07

The Tale of Gilgamesh at The Ashby Stage August 24, 07

Iran: It Can Be Tough to Say Goodbye August 23, 07

Threats to Iraq’s Communities of Antiquity August 22, 07

The Plight of the Cristians in the Middle East August 21, 07

Crushing Iraq's human mosaic August 21, 07

Iraq's minorities face a rising threat August 20, 07

The situation in my country is tragic,” the man continued.
August 18, 07

Kirkuk poll seen unlikely on time August 18, 07

Wanton killing in Nineveh plains August 18, 07

Iraqi boy brought here for lifesaving surgery August 17, 07

Turkey's Dam will destroy Hasankeyf's unique heritage
August 16, 07

Video of beheading used to threaten Christians August 16, 07

Four suicide bombings kill 175 in Iraq August 14, 07

Controversy over a Mardin Assyrian monastery August 11, 07

Kurds Arrest Iraqis for Raising Iraqi Flag August 11, 07

Muhammad Shamsaddin Megalommatis betrays his Anti
Assyrian Bias
August 10, 07

Jordan to Let 50,000 Iraqi Children Into Its Schools August 10, 07

Iraqi Kurdistan Faces Trouble on Two Fronts August 10, 07

Prayers for the suffering Assyrians in Iraq August 10, 07

NEWS ALERT: Withdrawal US Troops Could Lead To
"Extermination Iraqi Christians", Group Warns
August 9, 07

Gunmen in total control of major Baghdad district August 9, 07

Mosul Christian Community Dwindles August 7, 07

IRAQ Mosul, "focal point" of Wahabi extremism in Iraq August 5, 07

Solidarity, Commitment by the Austrian Ruling Party for
Recognition of the Assyrian Genocide
August 5, 07

Helping Iraqi refugees should be part and parcel | of fighting
August 3, 07

A deadly day in Baghdad August 3, 07

EWTN - Special television program on Christian of Iraq
August 3, 07

Iraqi Christians flee ancient roots for uncertain future in Beirut suburbs August 2, 07

Report on the International Association of Genocide Scholars Conference August 2, 07

Assyrian wins Sweden journalist award two years in a row August 1, 07

An Eastern Christian in the Capital of the Islamic Revolution
August 1, 07

Tamuz = July

Iraq’s Christian Exodus July 30, 07

Iraq vs Bulgarian nurses, the international community’s double standards July 30, 07

U.S. commission hears testimony on Christians in Iraq July 30, 07

"Iraq's Christian community fights for survival" July 29, 07

Christian Persecution in Iraq Getting Worse July 28, 07

Sudden Withdrawal from Iraq will be Catastrophic for all Concerned July 28, 07

Ashur T.V. 3-hour program this Saturday, July 28, 2007 July 26, 07

Iraq Church Head: Christian Plight Worse Than Reported July 26, 07

New Schism within Christianity caused by the Vatican July 26, 07


Iraqi Christians living through brunt of war’s wrath July 23, 07

The Death of Iraq's Christians July 23, 07

Vilification of the Assyrians by the Naked Archeologist July 21, 07

Demonstrations in Los Angeles July 21, 07

In refuge in US, Iraq museum chief dreams of peace July 20, 07

Kurdish Soldiers Kill Assyrian Boy in Drive-by Shooting July 20, 07

Ashur T.V. Program July 21 July 20, 07

The Destruction of Iraq's Christians July 20, 07

Detroit's Mayor: No to Iraqi Refugees July 19, 07

US Commission Hearing on Threats to Iraq's Minorities July 19, 07

Swedish Report Reveals Kurdish Campaign Against Assyrian Women
July 18, 0

Kurdish Bribe as a Mean of Ethnic Cleansing July 18, 07

Christians Feeling Brunt Of Wrath in Iraq July 17, 07

Australian Contractors Killed As Assyrian Christians Face Daily Persecution in Iraq July 17, 07

Welcome to Mosul -- on Stockholm July 16, 07

Christian Assyrians head north to live uneasily among another minority. July 16, 07

Australian Conference Calls for Protection for Iraq's Assyrians
July 15, 07

Last Rites in the Holy Land? July 15, 07

Christians face uncertain future in anarchic Iraq July 11, 07

Rally to Save Mideast Christians Draws Support from Vatican, Holocaust Survivor, Politicians July 06, 07

Exodus of Christians Hits Another Baghdad District July 06, 07

Lettr to President Bush by 73 Members of Congress July 06, 07

Iraq's Christians Cry: "Please Don't Leave Us" July 06, 07

Four Christians abducted while fleeing Baghdad July 05, 07

Rights group: Kurds torture detainees July 05, 07

Islamic Group in Mosul Demands Christians to Leave the City
July 05, 07

Iraqis fleeing the violence, seeking safety beyond Iraq's borders
July 04, 07

Assyrians Thrown to the Lions July 02, 07

Video of ABC Report about Iraqi Assyrians
July 02, 07

Video of Chaldean Assyrian Rally in San Diego in behalf of Christians of Iraq July 01, 07

Khzeerun = June

Christians Assyrians head north to live uneasily among another minority. July 16, 07

Ashur T.V. Saturday June 30, 07 June 29, 07

Danish Scholar Needs Better Scholarship June 29, 07

Turkish shelling spreads fear in Assyrian border villages
June 29, 07

Stop the Genocide against Iraqi Christians June 28, 07

Two more Christians killed in an attack in Mosul June 28, 07

US House Approves $10M for the Nineveh Plains in Iraq
June 25, 07

Iraqi church leaders: Iraqi gov’t failing nation’s Christians
June 25, 07

Survival of the Assyrian community in Basra June 23, 07

Cardinal Kasper On the Church of the East June 23, 07

Young Christian driver abducted on the road to Mosul
June 23, 07

Rather survive in a ghetto than be slaughtered in the streets of Baghdad June 21, 07

Pope Tells Assyrian Patriarch Christians in Iraq Must Work Together June 21, 07

Catholic Relief Services Assists Iraqi Refugees In Syria, Lebanon
June 20, 07

8 Christian students and teachers are kidnapped in the Nineveh Plain June 20, 07

Iraqi refugees in Syria face poverty trap June 20, 07

The newest kurdish fibs,fairy tales and lies June 19, 07

Demonstration in Sweden in behalf Assyrians of Iraq June 18, 07

Chaldean Priest Abducted in Baghdad is Free and in Good Health
June 17, 07

AUA and AANF of Australia lobby in behalf of Iraq's Assyrians
June 17, 07

U.S.: 60 pct of Baghdad not controlled June 16, 07

Iraqi Christians’ most urgent needs according to a Chaldean priest June 16, 07

Welcome to New Assyria, Sweden June 16, 07

More than a thousand Christian families forced to flee home
June15, 07

Imploring the EU Parliament discuss the Ethnic Cleansing of the Assyrians in Iraq June15, 07

Who will protect us? June14, 07

US Congress Takes a Step to Help Iraq's Persecuted Religious Minorities June13, 07

Far From War, a Town With a Well-Used Welcome Mat June13, 07

Congresswoman Eshoo Urges Bush, Congressional Members to Protect Iraq's Christian Population June12, 07

U.S. House Subcommittee on State Approves $10 Million for Religious Minorities in the Nineveh Plains of Iraq June12, 07

Report Outlines Ethnic Cleansing Campaign Against Iraq's Assyrians June12, 07

U.S. Worth an Arduous Journey for Iraqi Assyrian Family
June11, 07

Killers of Fr. Ragheed and the three deacons wanted their conversion to Islam June10, 07

They slaughter us because we are not muslims June10, 07

German Society for Threatened People Intensifies
Human Rights Campaign for ChaldoAssyrians
June 9, 07

Update of the Ashur TV program June 8, 07

Iraq War Hurting Local Assyrians June 8, 07

UN Refugee Agency Spotlights Plight of Iraqi Christian Couple
June 8, 07

A Safe Haven for Iraq's Christians Would Not Be an 'Assyrian Ghetto' June 7, 07

Hundreds Attend Funeral of Slain Assyrian Priest in North Iraq
June 4, 07

600 Assyrian families have fled their homes in Dora Iraq June 4, 07

The Chaldean Church mourns Fr. Ragheed Ganni and his martyrs
June 4, 07

Chaldean Priest and three Deacons Murdered in Mosul June 4, 07

Terrorists sack and occupy a Christian convent in Baghdad June 2, 07

Call the White House June 2, 07

A Message of Solidarity from Rosie Malek-Yonan June 2, 07

Christian Minorities in the Islamic Middle East: Rosie Malek-Yonan on the Assyrians June 1, 07

Plight of the Assyrians a UNA Report
June 1, 07


April - May 07

February - March 07

December 06 - January 07

October, November 06

August, September 06

June, July 06
March April May 06
February 06
December05 Januray 06