Volume IV, Issue 36
Kanoon II 18, 6748 January 18, 1999
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|The Lighthouse||Assyrian Nation & World War II|
|Good Morning Bet-Nahrain||Kurdish Summit Reaffirms Washington Agreement|
|News Digest||Assyrians Mourn the Loss of a Pediatrician in Chicago|
|Surfs Up||"more peaceful days than the previews years."|
|Surfers Corner||Population Census Planned for Northern Iraq
|Calendar of Events||Entertainment & Cultural Events|
|Assyrian Surfing Posts||Nakosha Magazine: January, 1999 Issue
Missing Links Discovered In Assyrian Tablets
The Assyrian Army Attacks a City
Raman Mikhail's Assyrian Artwork
|Pump up the Volume||Storm & Sea Storm|
|Back to the Future||The Last Tablets & the Arabs Invasion of Nineveh|
|Literatus||Iran Diary, Part III...The Khomeini Shrines|
|This Week in History||The First School|
|Bravo||Assyrian Aid Society in 1998|
All blue links throughout this issue are hyperlinks to other sections on this page or featured websites.
British Air Commander J. L. Vachell, some fifty years ago wrote the following in the English magazine, The Queen: "The period between the two wars they, the Assyrians, were primarily responsible for safeguarding our air fields in Iraq and for providing the ground forces which are an essential complement to air control. Not only did air control in Iraq save this country many millions of pounds, but is served as a model which was extended to several parts of the Empire. What is not generally appreciated is that, after severe disillusionment during that period, the services of the Assyrians during the present war have exceeded anything they did before. Had it not been for their loyalty at the time of Rashid Ali's German-inspired revolution in Iraq in May 1941, our position in the Middle East might have become most precarious.
This week's THE LIGHTHOUSE article is a small excerpt from one
of this century's most important Assyrian historical documents,
The Assyrian National Petition, written by Mar Eshai Shimmun in 1945 to Alger Hiss, the first
Secretary General of the United Nations. In defending the rights
of the Assyrians, Patriarch of the Church of the East eloquently
outlines the events during the two World Wars and reminds the
attendees to the first session of the United Nations of the injustices
committed by the unappreciative governments represented by the
European members of the Security Council.
ASSYRIAN NATION AND WORLD WAR II
[After the Assyrian massacre in 1933], efforts were made by the League of Nations to find a home for the Assyrians outside Iraq, but with no result. Finally the French Government offered a settlement in the region of the Ghab in Syria. However, owing to circumstances unknown to [me], the French later declared that the scheme could not be carried through. Thus the question remained unsolved and the Assyrians were left in a worse plight than before. Those in Iraq were left in the same condition as prior to the massacre, in addition to the fact that they were now hated and despised more than ever. About eleven thousand or so, victims of the massacre, who had been settled temporarily on the River Khabur in Syria, were told that they had to remain there.
This was the situation of the Assyrians in Syria and Iraq in 1937. All these years I have not been permitted to visit them. Nevertheless, we all hoped and prayed that time - the great healer - might in due course effect a cure; and the Assyrians may at last find peace and rest. In the meantime, however, the dark clouds of strife and war were growing daily more ominous, and it was clear that the nations of the world would soon find themselves locked in the deadliest combat of all times.
The British Government, fully realizing the seriousness of the situation, had once again embarked on an intensive campaign of recruiting every able-bodied Assyrian, and thus bring the Levy force to required strength.
The Assyrians again responded unanimously, so that by 1940 (when the war was declared) every Assyrian between the ages of 17 and 45 had volunteered in the Levies. It was the Allied cause again - the cause of democracy - which had failed them badly in the last war; nevertheless, they believed again that the Allies would this time do justice to their cause.
Therefore, when the well organized Axis-fomented rebellion broke out in Iraq in 1941, led by Rashid Ali Al Gailani, the Assyrian troops numbering a few thousand strong, were the only Force on which the British could rely to save this vital route of communication and supply for the Allied Nations. It must be remembered that in 1941 Great Britain was fighting with her back to the wall against all the Fascist hordes. She needed every friend and such friends in the Middle East were sadly lacking.
On May 2, 1941, the Iraqi Army marched against, and attacked, the Royal Air Force base at Habbaniyah near Baghdad. It was stated that the Iraqi strength around Habbaniyah was estimated at about 15,000 regulars and about 45,000 irregulars composed of Arab Tribesmen, and they were assisted by the Iraqi and the German Air Force, which was now operating from Baghdad, Mosul, and elsewhere in Iraq. The Assyrians fought valiantly -- assisted only by certain units of the King's own regiment which was flown from Egypt and a small number of Royal Air Force fighter planes - and finally defeated the enemy inflicting heavy losses upon them. The losses, on the part of the Assyrian defenders, were also considerable. They followed the enemy to Fellujah where it tried to make a last stand, but they finally defeated and destroyed him completely.
The value of the services thus rendered by the Assyrian troops at this juncture lies in the fact that they not only defeated a rebellion of considerable proportion and thereby put an end to similar uprising which might have been in the making; but its special significance for Allied strategy as a whole lies in the fact that:
By saving Iraq from the Axis, the Assyrian saved the Iraqi oil which was vital to the maintenance of the Allied fleet, as well as the air and ground forces in the Mediterranean theatre of war. They saved the only overland route by which the Allies -the United States of America, and Great Britain -were able to help the Great Russian Ally.
The occupation of Iraq by the Germans would have laid open the back door to Palestine, Egypt, and indeed the whole of the Middle East countries. They contributed to the defense of the whole of the Middle East - they have been employed in Iraq, Palestine, and Cyprus. Strong Forces of Assyrian troops have also been employed in Dalmatia, who have distinguished themselves against crack German divisions.
These are only some of the major exploits of the Assyrian troops. Thus, the Assyrian nation, the smallest ally, has proved itself to be of the greatest value to the cause of all the Allied Nations, and of which they are justly proud.
On the other side of the picture, however, lies a gloomy future, one that is based on the most bitter experience of the past. They have again been used to crush a rebellion by the Arabs of Iraq -- one that was equivalent to a holy war. In the struggle, though much against their desire, they had to kill many a Moslem -- a fact which no good Moslem can forget.
Mar Eshai Shimmun
Catholicos Patriarch of the Church of the East
May 7, 1945
GOOD MORNING BET-NAHRAIN
KURDISH SUMMIT REAFFIRMS WASHINGTON AGREEMENT
(ZNRF- Arbil) The Kurdish summit between Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) ended on 9 January. The PUK-KDP meeting was called to draft a joint accord to execute the terms of the Washington Agreement the two groups signed in September 1998.
The KDP specifically reaffirmed its commitment to ensuring the flow of funds from KDP-controlled areas to PUK-controlled regions which are under the supervision of the Higher Coordination Commission (HCC) of the Kurdish Regional Government. The two sides also agreed that the situation in Kurdistan should be normalized as much as possible. To this end, a KDP representation office will open in al-Sulaymaniyah and a PUK office will be established in Irbil. The two will release certain prisoners and people who had been evicted from their homes will be allowed to return.
U.S. reaction to the summit was very positive. State Department
spokesman James Rubin said on 11 January that "the fact that the
two parties are now sharing revenues is of major significance.
financial link established, it should be much easier to coordinate administrative programs throughout the three northern provinces."
ASSYRIANS MOURN THE LOSS OF A PEDIATRICIAN IN CHICAGO
The following article appeared in the 14 January 1999 issue of Chicago Tribune.
Dr. Margaret S. Georgis was the kind of pediatrician who offered patients a ride home if they had no other way of getting there and treated families without regard to their insurance coverage.
The best measure of her work, however, was the esteem she inspired
among the children she cared for.
"They really loved her," said Sally Krenger, whose two children were patients of Dr. Georgis' at Swedish Covenant Hospital in Chicago. "She took the time to talk about their interests, or what was going on at
school, just put them at ease."
Dr. Georgis, 44, a Skokie resident, died Sunday of a sudden bacterial meningitis infection in Rush North Shore Medical Center in Skokie. Dr. Georgis' youngest brother, Chris, said she was intensely proud of her profession and her Assyrian heritage, contributing to numerous Assyrian causes. "She was a very noble person, and she always put other people ahead of herself," he said. Born in Baghdad, Dr. Georgis went to medical school in her native country before immigrating to Chicago in 1979. She completed a pediatric residency at Wyler's Children's Hospital at the University of Chicago, eventually earning board certifications in both pediatrics and pediatric infectious diseases.
Dr. Georgis also saw patients at Christ Hospital and Medical Center in Oak Lawn and Silver Cross Hospital in Joliet. She had been an assistant professor of pediatrics at Rush Medical School since 1985.
Survivors include her father, Shlemon Georgis Bakose; her mother,
Shamiran Georgis Bakose; and three brothers in addition to Chris.
Services were held Tuesday in Mar Gewargis Assyrian Church of
Tribune Staff Writer
Dr. Margaret S. Georgis departed this life on 10 January 1999 at 9:00 A.M. Dr. Georgis was born in Baghdad and was a '78 graduate of Mosul University, College of Medicine. She emigrated to Chicago in October 1978 and completed her residency at University of Chicago, Wyler Children's Hospital. She completed her fellowship in Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Wayne State University Children's Hospital of Michigan. Last summer she began her private practice located at Swedish Covenant Hospital Professional Plaza.
"MERRY X-MAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR 1999! I wish you a very happy new year and good times with Zenda. I hope that the new year will be the best year for the AUA and all of the Assyrians in the world . I hope that Assyrians in Iraq have better life and luck and more peaceful days than the previews years."
POPULATION CENSUS PLANNED IN NORTHERN IRAQ
With aggressive American prodding, the two main Kurdish groups
in northern Iraq, the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), met in Washington D.C. in September to discuss a reconciliation process to promote closer ties between the two warring sides. Following the Gulf War the various Kurdish groups had become embroiled in a vicious conflict that led to the deaths of thousands of people and the subsequent disintegration of the parliament in northern Iraq.
The recent American sponsored talks led to a final statement issued
by the PUK and KDP on September
17, 1998 that called for closer cooperation manifesting as the reformation of the previous parliament that
disbanded after the fighting. The agreement calls for reestablishing the parliament in three northern Iraqi
provinces including Dohuk, Arbil, and Suleimaniyah on the basis of a "unified, pluralistic, and democratic
According to the final statement, the new parliament will ostensibly
have seats "set aside for the Kurdish,
Turkomen, and Assyrian and Chaldean communities... based on the best available statistical data on the
population of the three northern governates and the distribution of ethnic and religious groups there." The
interim assembly is asked to "conduct a census of the area in order to establish an electoral register."
Former Illinois State Senator and current Secretary General of
the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA)
Mr. John Nimrod, the President of the Assyrian American National Federation (AANF) Mr. Sargon
Lewie, along with other Assyrian American representatives recently met with the leaders of the KDP and
PUK in Washington. Secretary General John Nimrod reportedly told Mr. Barzani and Mr. Talabani of the
KDP and PUK, respectively, that there are three million Kurds and two million Assyrians in all of Iraq and
that any Iraqi proportionate representation ought to be based on that ratio. Other Assyrian Americans
have noted the contradiction of recognizing the territorial integrity of Iraq by all parties involved yet only
counting those Assyrians in the northern three provinces where Kurds are more numerous rather than
counting Assyrians in the whole of the country.
Issac Issac, member of the Assyrian Democratic Movement in Iraq and Sharif Ali,
leader of the Constitution Monarchy Movement of Iraq, answer reporters question
during London meeting of exile groups.
The Kurdish plan to separately include categories of Assyrians and Chaldeans is also seen by Assyrian
Americans as a crude political scheme to split and trivialize the Assyrian community. Already ignoring the
bulk of the Assyrian community just to the south, the Kurds hope to further diminish the demographic
significance of these people by applying different religious or ethnic labels. Recent statements by the
Patriarchs of the Assyrian Church of the East and the Chaldean Church have affirmed that members of
these churches belong to one people. In addition, the AANF and the Chaldean Federation in the U.S.
have issued a proclamation confirming that their members are of one people.
Ironically, this new insistence by the PUK and the KDP to split
the Assyrian community is a departure
from the original understanding of the first parliament. As an example, Mr. Francis Shabo, a member of
the Chaldean Church won a seat in the parliament while running as a member of the Assyrian Democratic
Movement. Although Mr. Shabo was subsequently assassinated by gunmen who Amnesty International
suggested were affiliated with the KDP, his election none the less showed the irrelevance of classifying
Assyrians into different categories.
Kurdish goals appear crudely aimed at the sectarian splitting
of Assyrians under the pretext of "democracy
and pluralism". Meanwhile, the PUK and KDP do not allow their own classification under such terms as
Kurmanji or Badini, Sorani, Hewrami, and Feyli which apply to different and usually warring Kurdish
factions in Iraq that are linguistically, culturally, tribally, and geographically distinct. Furthermore, some
scholars describe so-called Kurds of Anatolia such as the Dersimlis or Kizilbash and the Zaza, as
ethnically distinct from the Kurds.
In response to these developments, Assyrian Americans are considering
pressing their political leaders in
the U.S. government to push for reconsideration of American support for the reestablishment of the
parliament if artificial splits are formally institutionalized. In addition, Assyrian Americans are considering
aggressively pushing for a boycott of the census and subsequent elections. In the past, the Turkomen have refused to join in the parliament. With the possibility of an official Assyrian boycott of the election process, the resulting all-Kurdish parliament will be seen as a radical institution whose singularly focused scheme is to promote Kurdish policy objectives. Without Turkomen and Assyrian cooperation, even the appearance of a "democratic and pluralistic" parliament in northern Iraq will vanish.
Assyrian International News Agency
31 December 1998
Photo courtesy of NBC-News.
Walk through the ancient palaces of the greatest of Assyrias
kings. View the bas reliefs depicting ceremonial rituals, hunting
and war scenes carved over 2600 years ago. A full historical record
of the Assyrian kings as well as a description of each image are
provided in both English and Assyrian. The CD-ROM is compatible
with IBM Windows 3.11, 95/98 operating systems. Go to our Internet
site and sample the shareware version of this CD-ROM: Click Here
Price: $35 AUS + Shipping & Handling - for further info contact the AYGV
The Assyrian Youth Group Of Victoria
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
NUZI & THE HURRIANS: FRAGMENTS OF A FORGOTTEN PAST
Hurrian settlements in Bet-Nahrain during mid-2nd millennium B.C. Hurrians settled between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers during the mid-second millennium B.C. The Pharaohs of Egypt sought marriage alliances with them and the Hittites feared them. More than 100 objects excavated by Harvard between 1927 & 1931
Harvard University's Semitic Museum
|Feb 6 - May 5||
TREASURES FROM THE ROYAL TOMBS AT UR
A presentation of 140 artifacts excavated in the 1920's by Sir Leonard Woolley at the 5000-year-old Sumerian site.
Frank H. McClung Museum
NINEVEH CHOIR IN CONCERT
Conducted by Mastro Nabu Issabey
MEETINGS & CLASSES
1031 McHenry Ave. Suit # 18
|Conducted in Assyrian
Provided by Nineveh Online
Call (209) 578-5511
||7:30-9 PM||Assyrian American Assoc of San Jose
20000 Almaden Road
San Jose, California
|Young Adult Assyrians in the SF Bay Area are invited to join
ASSYRIAN SURFING POSTS
Links to Other Assyrian Websites
Nakosha Magazine: January, 1999 Issue
Missing Links Discovered In Assyrian Tablets
The Assyrian Army Attacks a City
Raman Mikhail's Assyrian Artwork
PUMP UP THE VOLUME
BACK TO THE FUTURE
From the time of Alexander the Great onwards the use of the cuneiform script is increasingly restricted, being superseded by Aramaic; a few legal and literary texts were still written in cuneiform as late as 40 BC, and the last astronomical text is datable to 75 AD. The latest texts have a very cursive script and can be extremely difficult to read.
The Moslem Arab forces of Umar attack and capture Nineveh and Mosul (the twin cities). The Christian city of Tikrit had already been taken. The inhabitants of these cities who had stayed behind and not departed were granted protection.
The History of al-Tabari- Vol XIII, Translated by Juynboll
THE KHOMEINI SHRINES
In Tehran as well as in Urmia, several in our travel group were house guests of family or friends. The rest of us stayed at the Laleh Hotel for several days prior to leaving for Urmia. This hotel offers very good accommodations, and it is centrally located. It also features a large, well-furnished lounging area, which was especially suitable as an Assyrian "meeting place" during our first week. Assyrian residents of Tehran appeared to know of our arrival, and often they were the first to know the details of our daily agenda. Many of them would come to our lobby to socialize. Some Assyrians from abroad whose travel to Iran was not associated to ours also came to mingle, often joining in on group activities.
A displeasing discovery at the Laleh was the two-tier pricing system. Visitors bearing Iranian passports paid a rather modest price. All other hotel guests were charged prices 5 to 10 times more. Iran is desperately short of hard currency, but one expects that in time other methods will be devised to pursue this need. Incidentally, any person wishing to visit Iran who was born there will not be admitted to visit Iran without first obtaining an Iranian passport. The savings which such persons will realize on their hotel costs should somewhat alleviate any objection they might have to applying for such a passport.
Our first day in Tehran -- the first day our heads cleared following two long flights -- we boarded a spacious, comfortable bus, headed for two unusual stops.
First, we aimed southward across much of the city, and perhaps 20 kilometers beyond it, in the direction of Qum. We reached our destination well short of that holy city, stopping at the resting place of Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini. Here, at Beheshte Zahra, in an otherwise barren landscape, Iran has erected a vast complex to memorialize the life (and especially the passing) of the greatest Imam of modern times.
We disembarked and headed towards a cavernous hall. We shed our footwear at the door and on entering we faced a veritable riot of colors. One could see beautiful carpeting everywhere, hanging banners and buntings which imparted a tone of pomp and solemnity. There was an unmistakable aura of patriotism and fervor in the air. A very large wreath stood a few feet ahead of us inside the entrance; our group came to a stop before it. My thoughts did not dwell so much on Khomeini as on the thousands upon thousands of Iranian troops who were mowed down in suicidal assaults against Iraqi lines, all in the name of Allah. Assyrians who have studied the Iran-Iraq conflict recognize that while thousands of Iraqi Assyrians were killed and maimed, there were relatively few Iranian Assyrians among the casualties. After all, we can still remember that for Iran (but not for Iraq), the religious element of the struggle was central.
A smartly uniformed honor guard soon flanked our group on three sides. Two of these guards lifted the wreath and moved forward slowly, with John Nimrod (Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance) symbolically maintaining hand contact with the offering. We proceeded forward at a deliberate pace for less than one hundred feet towards the tomb. On reaching the above-ground crypt, John Nimrod was assisted in placing the wreath at the site. He then paused a respectful moment before moving away. The rest of our group then paraded past the crypt, each also pausing a moment, then moving on.
By our dress and general comportment, it must have been very obvious we were foreign visitors. There was a very large crowd of Persians in the hall, and the curiosity on many of their faces was apparent as they observed our diplomatic gesture. Among the many Persians there, we also saw a group of young students who had come to learn first-hand about their leader.
From this place, we were led to a reception hall, richly-endowed with striking carpets, where we were served tea, juice, and fruits. Persian journalists and photographers duly recorded this Assyrian event with an interview of John Nimrod.
After the visit to this memorial site, our bus returned us to Tehran and proceeded to Jamaran, a northern suburb. On his return to Iran at the time of the Islamic Revolution, Khomeini established himself in the holy city of Qum. But because of his health, his physicians recommended that he leave Qum. It was thus that he moved to Jamaran, where he spent the last ten years of his life. Jamaran has now become a shrine, which features Khomeini's modest residence, and the adjoining hall quite familiar to CNN viewers, where he regularly exhorted his followers. On viewing this latter, known as "the building of Hosseinieh", I felt as if I had already been there. For me, it was certainly a case of déjà vu: I recalled how often the camera captured the image of the Ayatollah addressing his audiences sitting at the balcony, often flanked by his son. In fact, when the director of the site led us to the interior to explain its history, once could see the extremely large portraits of the Ayatollah and his son, placed near their old sitting place.
The Jamaran complex also features a newly-created museum, small in size. It is the repository of many of Khomeini's personal effects, including some of the travel papers during his years of exile. There is abundant wall-hanging artwork extolling the leader and his Islamic roots.
Many Assyrians are unsympathetic to the political situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran. But regardless of such opinions, there is little doubt for me that participation in these two events was a far greater benefit to the Assyrians than to Iran. The Assyrian population of Tehran -- in fact, the Assyrian population of all of Iran -- is now numerically a feeble shadow of its former self. There are no exact figures, but a broad range of estimates places the number between 8,000 and 12,000 for the whole country, and it continues to diminish due to relentless emigration. In other words, Assyrian presence is inconsequential to the policies or to the destiny of that country.
In a sense, any foreign group visiting Iran during this thawing period will benefit from a lot of attention and hospitality, and this should be kept in mind. An important faction of Iranian politics (personified by President Khatami) is sending signals of reconciliation to the West, and this is the only side of Iran which dealt with us. At the same time, the continuing free fall in world oil prices has literally eviscerated economies such as that of Iran, and the country desperately seeks hard currency from foreign tourism and from overseas investors.
It is in this context that the AUA and its principals were able to choreograph events such as these. The special attention accorded to our Assyrian group needs to be viewed with this perspective. Therefore, we should try resisting the Assyrian habit of exaggeration, while at the same time we should not dismiss its significance. This entire exercise was far more than mere chimera or hype. The AUA deserves credit for capitalizing on Iran's 'open window' and for steadfastly calling attention to the Assyrians (those in Iran and those in the diaspora) in many meetings held with various government officials. In relative terms, this kind of exposure is invaluable, because nothing in our prior experience can come close to it (whether it is TV, radio, cultural associations, news releases, or varied internet activity). For once, thanks to the unprecedented communication reach of a government, our Assyrian identity was front and center in the national media of Iran. This experience and this performance represent a wonderful building block. But let's not forget it is only a "building block," and only time will tell if an edifice can follow.
Francis Sarguis is the English Language Editor of the Journal
of the Assyrian Academic Studies. To View Mr. Sarguis' Part I
& II essays click here: PART I & PART II
THIS WEEK IN HISTORY
January 18, 1836: The first modern school in Iran opens its door in Urmia. Its first-year roll call included the names of seven Assyrian students.
ASSYRIAN AID SOCIETY ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 1998
According to a recent message from Narsai David, president of the Assyrian Aid Society of America, the six chapters of the AAS in the United States continued to provide financial and moral support to Assyrians in northern Iraq. Among these were:
According to its most recent financial summary, as of September 1998, the AAS had raised $92,511.00 from its American chapters and received $ 40,778.00 in donations. $154,750.00 were disbursed to support several worthy projects in northern Iraq.
Future plans for the creation of an AAS website are underway. To join the AAS Lifeline Pledge Project and make regular tax-deductible contributions to the AAS contact your local chapter representatives or write to: AAS, 350 Berkeley Park Blv., Berkeley, CA 94707.
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This Week's Contributors:
in alphabetical order
|Evelyn Anoya||Chicago||News Digest|
|David Chibo||Australia||Assyrian Surfing Posts|
|Ashur Malek||Toronto, Canada||The Lighthouse|
|Andreas Schmidt||Germany||Good Morning Bet-Nahrain|
|Ed Williams||Chicago||News Digest|
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