Friday, January 27, 2017

Iraq's Indigenous Communities

MOSUL CAMPAIGN: The Fate of Iraq's Indigenous Communities (Ramsen Shamon, Fair Observer; rprt. AINA).
Remember who the US military first aided when American warplanes joined the battle against the Islamic State (IS) in 2014? It wasn't the Iraqi government. It was a religious minority known as the Yazidis, who were stranded and surrounded by the terrorist group on Mount Sinjar in northern Iraq.

Now, the fight to wrest control of Mosul from IS has the world fixated on Iraq's second largest city--and the uncertain fate of its remaining inhabitants caught in the crossfire. But the city's indigenous minorities, including Yazidis, Assyrians and a variety of other small sects who consider the area their ancestral home, have already been kicked out for not submitting to the Islamic State's radical version of Islam. And they have been largely forgotten.

Their only means of survival in the ethnic and sectarian cauldron that will likely remain for years to come may be the establishment of an autonomous region inside Nineveh Province, similar to what currently exists for the Kurds.

"Since 2003, we have been struggling because of the conflict between the big [players] in Iraq. They are fighting for our lands in Nineveh, without even counting us as the original people of this area," says Athra Kado, an Assyrian teacher and soldier with the Nineveh Plains Protection Unit, a fighting unit safeguarding local communities against Islamic militants in northern Iraq. "Our people and other minorities are asking for a province, Nineveh Plains Province, and that is the first step for having our own autonomy--to have our own economic percentage as any other province in Iraq. And to have our own forces in the area."

Cross-file under Yazidi Watch (background here and links) and Modern Aramaic Watch. Past posts on the recent and ongoing campaign to retake Mosul from Isis are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and links