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The slow genocide of the indigenous Assyrians, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, in Iraq now sits at the tipping point of a relentless, inexorable genocide leading to ethnic extinction. Six hundred thousand Christian Assyrians, approximately half of Iraq’s pre-war population, has fled the country. The flight has only accelerated since the October 31st massacre of 56 congregants and 2 priests at the Lady of Salvation Syriac Catholic Church in Baghdad last year.
On May 16, we witnessed a brutal decapitation of Ashur Issa Jacob, a 29 year old Chaldean youth in Kirkuk after a $100,000 ransom demand. His eyes were gouged out, his ears were cut off, his face was skinned, and his head almost fully decapitated. (Reports with pictures of the incident may be found at http://www.aina.org/news/20110516141347.htm and http://www.ankawa.com/english/?p=5050#more-5050).
The response of the United States to this crisis, a crisis magnified in the wake of the war that we began, has been woefully inadequate. History demonstrates that the concerted persecution witnessed by Assyrians is a precursor to overt genocide, but it is not too late for the United States to play a pivotal role in ending this crisis positively.
The United States must endorse and support the Nineveh Plain Province Solution, the development of a new, separate province in the Nineveh Plain under the central, federal Government of Iraq. The silence of the United States on this evolving crisis must end. The United States must offer political support in its dealings with the Government of Iraq in favor of this policy and must provide direct financial assistance in the amount of $128 million for security and infrastructure development in the Nineveh Plain.
A consensus has emerged in the Christian Assyrian, including Chaldean and Syriac, community that the only effective solution for the indigenous Assyrian people to remain in Iraq is the creation of new province in the Nineveh Plain, the heart of the ancestral Assyrian homeland. Today, this land is shared with a multitude of other indigenous minorities as well as Arabs and Kurds. Local control would allow for these indigenous people to gain a stable foothold within the country from which they could sustain, develop, and grow a base population in a secure and stable environment. This Nineveh Plain Province Solution is consistent with the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, which has been recently endorsed by the United States.
The development of a robust federal structure that promotes effective and legitimate democracy in Iraq is clearly in the direct interests of the United States. Without a Nineveh Plain Province Solution, Christian Assyrians, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, will continue to flee the country, and eventually the moderating force they present in Iraq and the Middle-East will be lost. As Christian refugees are unwelcome in neighboring countries, Assyrians fleeing Iraq will eventually seek resettlement in the West. The United States and its Western partners can hardly afford nor absorb the mass resettlement of hundreds of thousands of Assyrian refugees.
Without aggressive American intervention, the Christian Assyrian community is on the verge of overt genocide or exodus on a scale unknown in modern times, potentially 1.2 million refugees in a span of a decade. Once gone from Iraq, Assyrians will never be able to return. The fabric, culture, and politics of Iraq and the Middle-East will be forever transformed, and as Assyrians in diaspora slowly assimilate into new cultures, the world loses an enduring Biblical culture.
Democracy is taking root in the Middle-East. Assyrians, including Chaldeans and Syriacs, need to be able to live in peace and freedom in their homeland. But without the Nineveh Plain Province Solution, Assyrians will disappear from their homeland in Iraq. In light of the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle-East, revolutions supported by the United States, it is imperative and of vital American interest that the United States take leadership to end this Assyrian crisis that threatens the long-term stability of Iraq and the Middle-East.