The Future Of Kurdistan | |
The Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the Chaldean Community Foundation (CCF) hosted an open discussion Sunday afternoon, March 26, with Dr. Fuad Hussein, Chief of Staff to Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani. The main issues discussed were the fight in Mosul and the process of liberation in Nineveh.

“We’ve had quite a long and good relationship with the Kurdistan government,” said Martin Manna, president of the Chamber and CCF. “What we would like to know is what’s going to happen in the future to Christian villages in Iraq? How will democracy take shape in Kurdistan? Will Barzani continue to be president for the next five to ten years?”

Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, KRG Representative to the U.S., accompanied Dr. Hussein. She reiterated how important the Christian community is to the region of Kurdistan. “Feel free to knock on our door whenever you’re in Washington,” said Abdul Rahman. “There are many issues you think affect only you, but they affect all of us.”

Dr. Hussein started his speech by recounting the details of the fight against ISIL that started in Mosul on October 17, 2016. He said that a military plan was developed by the Iraqi and American forces and the Peshmerga. While Iraqi soldiers and the Peshmerga experienced some sensitivities fighting side-by-side, they cooperated on the field, reached their military targets, and finished their job.

“The commanders on both sides were excellent,” Dr. Hussein said. “They worked together to fight the enemy and achieved great results. Unfortunately, the war was started without having a future plan. It’s important to talk about the political side the day after [the fight].”

The questions that now must be discussed, and resolved for all displaced minorities, include:

How can we get back the people that fled the areas?
How can we secure their safety in the future?
How can we build trust with other communities?
Who’s going to lead this process?
Who’s going to build and rebuild the villages?
“We must sit together and have a serious dialogue about how we will manage the area,” said Dr. Hussein. “The main question is, ‘What do you, as a Christian community, want?’ Because, at the end, it’s about you and your area.”

Dr. Hussein reminded attendees of President Barzani’s views on the Christians of Iraq, “I’d like for them to stay. This is their country. Either we will die together or we win together.”

“We want to build a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural, multi-religious Kurdistan,” said Dr. Hussein. “Kurdistan does not only belong to Kurds, but everyone who lives in it.”

Since 2011, it has been estimated that more than 16 million have been displaced from Syria and Iraq due to civil war and sectarian violence. More than 2 million refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) have fled their home towns and countries and found refuge in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), refugees and IDPs now represent 28% of the region’s total population.

“We open doors to those who are victims of terrorists,” explained Dr. Hussein. “We can’t close doors to those wanting to come to our society. Most Christians are originally from Kurdistan so this is their country. It’s our duty to be in regular contact with them.”

Writer Katrine Mikhail said that all these reassurances for Christians is not enough because of three factors: the Islamic theology, the disagreements between the Kurdish and Iraqi government, and the refugees leaving to other parts of the world.

“We have a lot of mistakes, but we believe in democracy,” Dr. Hussein. “We cannot have democracy without having Christians in the area. They have the right to stay in Iraq. We’re all refugees so we know what it’s like.”

His message to the Christians is, “You have a homeland and the homeland is Kurdistan.” Yet he recognizes that there are major issues to deal with.

“How can you force Yazidis to go back and live in Sinjar and live with the same people who killed and raped their women?” Dr. Hussein said. “Same with Christians. How can they live together with those who betrayed them? What if you reunite them and then maybe a few months later they will kill them?”

Another question he raised is, “Why can’t Nineveh be governed by several minority groups? Why can’t we do that?”

Then there is the destruction. Dr. Hussein said that one solution for that would be for each community to help rebuild its village. Going back into history, during the Baathist Party, each Kurdish village was destroyed up to two, three, and sometimes as many as 16 times. He had then asked its own people for reimbursement and some responded, “How do you ask us for reimbursement? We were victims too.”

“But the reimbursement is about the country,” said Dr. Hussein.

Eddie Bacall, businessman, wondered why Kurdistan couldn’t invest more into rebuilding the region, adding, “The land is in your ownership now.”

“Ownership of land relates to laws and warrants,” said Dr. Hussein and urged people not to use that as a Kurds vs. Christians factor. “That creates separation and it’s an insult to the reality.”

Manna pointed out, “We need to have a true partnership instead of be angry and point fingers.”
By: Weam Namou