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Volume VII
Issue 37
December 10, 2001
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This Week In Zinda

cover photo
cover photo

  The Singer of Edessa's Guile (Stratagem)
  Jalal Talabani Upholds Assyrian Rights

Turkish Leader Declares Sept 15 Genocide Day of the Turks

  Mar Meelis Zaia & The Karl Suleman Controversy
A Word of Advice

Dutch Union of The Middle Eastern Christians
100 Things You Should Know About Arabs in America

  Negotiating Assyrian Identity in Iraq, 1919-1933 (Part II)
  Natasha Brakhya
  Assyrians of Kirkuk
A Virtual Assyria
  Literature & Culture
  Visit to The Source of Tigris & The Christian Population of Aleppo
  Maddinkha Newspaper
  Christmas Party in Chicago



The Lighthouse


The Syriac people wrote numerous chronicles that bring back to us distant and previous events. One such work is very interesting and precious.

The author

The anonymous writer of this Syriac Chronicle may have been a monk who came from the city of Edessa (Urhai), in Mesopotamia. He lived at the time of the First Crusades. He was the contemporary of the events that took place in the first half of the thirteenth century. He was staying in Jerusalem, when the emir Salah ad-Din captured it in 1187.

The Chronicle

The "Chronicle to the year 1234" was written at about the year 1237 A.D. It underscores two sections, separating secular from ecclesiastical history. The Civil Chronicle continues to at least 1234, but should originally advance into the year 1237. The Ecclesiastical Chronicle, written first, but place second in the manuscript, tells the history of the West Syrians patriarchs. Very damaged, it stops at 1204 and completes the chronicle of the Syrian Orthodox patriarch Michael (1166-99). The author asserts that he has written others books that are lost today.

We chose an interesting anecdote from the Civil Chronicle, which shows the self-control, the spirit fortitude and the heroism of a Christian woman, an artist of Edessa in the eleventh century. She was able to act patriotically, to risk one's neck to save her fellow-citizens' life. She spoke two languages, and played an important role in the tragedy.

The Seljuk Turks in Edessa

The author relates to the arrival of the Seljuk Turks, a people from the plains of Central Asia. In 1055 they occupied Baghdad, little by little dominated Mesopotamia, and subjugated the Arab prince. Under the reign of the great sultan Malik Shah (1072-1092), they advanced into Syria, in Gâzartâ, in Anatolia, and conquered the largest part of Asia Minor. Upon the death of Malik Shah in 1092, (Abu-Fatah in the Chronicle) his very young children survived in the Persian region of Khôrâzân where he had lived. The governors of Syria held on to their cities and began fighting among themselves.

The Turkish general Buzan held the power in Edessa, a city that he had captured in 1087. He had appointed a Greek leader, Theodore, son of Hetoum. Buzan went to Damascus, made war on Tutus, the governor, defeated and arrested him. Tutus then sent soldiers to Edessa to capture the city, but the inhabitants refused to allow this. Tutus, angry with the city of Edessa, beheaded Buzan and sent it with the general Al-Firg who entered the citadel and occupied the city.
Tutus had given order to Al-Firg to leave Edessa to be plundered by his soldiers, because the town had not succumbed to him from the beginning. When Al-firg was staying in the citadel, every day his officers would insist on letting them to plunder the "rebellious city" of Edessa, and he would prevent them from day to day.

"One day, he offered a banquet in the citadel to the majors of his army. He sent for all the singers of the city and the singer called Qira Gali, a Christian woman. The wine cheered up Al- Firg's heart. The chiefs of the army approached him and asked him to carry out its promise to plunder the city. He made them oath that the next day, he would give the order to plunder the city. He spoke in Persian, but the singer understood the conversation. Immediately, she imagined a cunning guile: she began groaning with the stomachache. They asked for to her what she wished that one brought to her. However, she told them that she was in the habit of this stomachache and that when it took her, nothing relieved her than a bath. Then, they allowed her to go to the bath. Going down of the citadel, she went at once to Theodore, son of Hetoum, and informed him about this affair. Then, he said to her: "O woman, the blood of all the city is between your hands. See how you will save the city."

He gave her his own ring; when this one touched any food or drink, it killed immediately. So, she took the ring and went back up to the citadel, as if her stomachache had calmed down. The guests were delighted at it. In this enjoyment, she got up to dance, took a cup of wine and danced in a lascivious way. She dipped the ring into the cup after the dance, moved and presented it to Al-Firg. Having drunk the cup, he began complaining about the stomach. She said to him "Lord, please, hurry to go to the bath; because I, it is in the bath that I was delivered from my stomach-ache." He went down in the bath. She took off her clothes and entered with him. Once they entered the internal house, he gave up the ghost. She went out, saying to the eunuchs and servants who held in the door: "King sleeps, please, be careful not to disturb him." (A.Abouna, in CSCO 354/154, II, P. 38-39, translated into English by Ephrem-Isa YOUSIF)

The Turkish soldiers ran into the baths, found their dead commander and asked the inhabitants to let them safely go out of the city. Those that stayed in the citadel sent to inform Tutus of Damascus of what had happened. At that very moment, Tutus who got ready to come to Edessa with the troops fell ill and died. Theodore was then brought from the citadel to the chief of the Turks who went away.

A brave, artful, oriental woman, who looked like a heroine of the Bible, saved the city of Edessa. To save the town of Bethulie, a young girl, Judith seduced Holopherne, the general of Nabuchodonosor, king of Chaldeans, and cut his head when he was drunk. (The book of Judith)

Edessa returns to Romans until the arrival of the Crusaders. After the disappearance of Theodore in 1097, murdered by his subjects, French crusaders turned this city into their regional capital.


The unique Syriac manuscript of the Chronicle to the year 1234 was found in Istanbul in 1899. It is not complete. It is dated to perhaps the end of the fourteenth century.
The Chronicle was published by the Patriarch Ignatius Ephrem Rahmani, the first part of the text on 1904, the second part on 1911: Chronicon civile et ecclesiasticum anonymi auctoris (Charfet, 1904).

The complete work was published by J.B.Chabot, in CSCO 81 /Syr.36 et 82/Syr.37, 1916


J.B.Chabot provided a Latin translation for vol. I in CSCO 109/56, 1937

A.S. Tritton, JRAS, 1933, translated partially the chronicle into English language: "The first and second Crusades from an anonymous Syriac chronicle."

Anonymi Auctotis Chronicon AD A.C 1234 Pertinens II, by A.Abouna, Louvain, in CSCO 354/154, 1974, translated it into French, with notes by J.M.Fiey.

A. Abouna, Bagdad, 1986, translated the Chronicle to the year 1234 into Arabic.

Dr. Ephrem-Isa Yousif

Dr. Ephrem-Isa Yousif is the Director of the publishing company "l'Harmattan" in Paris. Dr. Yousif is a member of the Association of the Writers of French Language (A.D.E.L. F.) and a scientific counselor for the High Council of the French-speaking world.

Other articles by Dr. Yousif in Zinda Magazine:

A Chapter of History: Syriacs' Territory, Battlefield and Ruins

Sarah's Wedding



(ZNDA: Sulaimania) During a meeting with the leadership of the Assyrian Democratic Movement the Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Jalal Talabani reaffirmed his party's support for the rights of Assyrians, solidarity with Assyrian aspirations and continued cooperation and coordination between PUK and the Assyrian Democratic Movement.

The Assyrian Democratic Movement delegation was led by Yonadim Yousif Kanna, the Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement (Zowaa) and high ranking leaders of ADM: Toma Khoshaba, Salim Kako, Anmia Yuqa and Ishaq Ishaq. Both groups agreed to continue the close consultation process between PUK and ADM on a regular basis.

News Digest


(ZNDA: Ankara) Last week Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit in a statement broadcast on the Turkish State TV channel TRT 2 declared May 15th as the genocide day of the Turks of western Anatolia. The move was made in retaliation to the Greek government's earlier acknowledgment of September 14th as the Asia Minor Genocide Day.

Mr. Ecevit made the following statement: "Greece's decision regarding Asia Minor is so illogical and such a ridiculous allegation that Greek officials tried to conceal this decision for a long time. They were practically ashamed of it. In the end, of course, the decision was revealed. As you noted, we are also doing whatever is necessary, and we will continue to do so in the future as well."

Surfs Up!


"After reading your report titled "the Ripple effect of Karl Suleman's leap-frogging", I was urged to respond, for the sake of "TRUTH" and the Assyrian Community. And I have asked for the permission of His Grace Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia in this regard.

My intentions are not to shed more confusion and misleading information on the sad and misfortunate matter, rather, to enlighten your readers with the "TRUTH".

You would overwhelmingly agree with me in noting that it is extremely important for your magazine to enforce diligent care in addressing this issue prior to making unnecessary statements that could result in further damage to the community, individuals and the reputation of your magazine.

Please note the following:

1. As it is known, an invitation to the fund raising dinner attended by President Bill Clinton in support of the Westmead Children's Hospital was extended to Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia, other Assyrians, Australian Government leaders and Assyrian/ Australian political parties. His Grace kindly accepted the invitation as it was for a good cause "CHARITY" and also donated A$1000.00 to the hospital.

2. The entire Assyrian community including Clubs, Churches, Assyrians and non-Assyrians political parties, Assyrian Charitable Organizations in Australia, Iraq, and other countries were (fervent) supporters of Mr. Suleman in his efforts towards supporting the Assyrian community. In fact, he contributed in various ways such as Money, Raffle Prizes (motor vehicles) to social clubs and buses (21 seat) to Churches. The church of the East in Sydney, received the following generous donations from Mr. Suleman.

· One second hand bus (21 Seat), to the value of A$18,000, to be utilized by the Church Sunday School, the new St. Hurmizd Assyrian School and Assyrian Seniors Group. In addition a donation of A$25,000 was made to the Church building fund in Melbourne. Interestingly, Mr. Suleman's donations extended to other sister Churches in Sydney and abroad.

· To date, A$154,000 (Tax Deductible) has been donated towards the new School. To assist Mr. Suleman in refunding the monies of many investors, His Grace has offered to return the donated funds.

· Once again his Generosity was extended by donating a 5% share in future Froggy ISP Company to assist in the building of the new School. Due to the fact that the School was not registered for Tax deductibility at that time, Mr. Suleman registered the shares in the name of the Bishop as trust for the School (supporting documents are available). I can't help noticing, the person supplying your magazine with the far fetched reports, seems so keen to mention the Church, portraying a misleading image to those Assyrian outside of Sydney. Let me make it quite clear, the Assyrian Church of the East, St. Hurmzid Assyrian School and H.G the Bishop, did not, have not and will not receive any dividends from this share, not even a cent. Once again I would like to quite confidently advise Zinda and its beloved readers, that the Church under the Leadership of His Grace, is willing to return this share to Froggy and to Mr. Suleman, with the total amount of donations paid to the School, in order to help the investors to recuperate their losses and we wish this action will extend to all those who benefited from Mr. Suleman's generosity. It must also be clearly understood that the Church or Bishop did not commit any money towards this share. It was purely KSE's free initiative to help the historical and most significant project of the Assyrian Community in Sydney - the founding of the first Assyrian Private School in the western world. Keeping in mind the main reason for registering the shares in the name of the Bishop, His Grace has on numerous occasions approached the Church Lawyer, requesting the transfer of the share in the School's name, unfortunately this request was not fulfilled due to the hectic schedule of the Lawyers, who offer all their legal services to the Church at no cost. It is most worth mentioning that the Church in Sydney has recently acquired a bank loan of A$1.6 million to finalize the School building, which will be officially opened 20/01/2002. This proves that the Church did not depend on any individual to fulfill the dreams of the Assyrian people in Australia.

In regards to the Church of the East involvement, IN ANY WAY, with KSE - there were simply no participation, investments, promotions or support directly or indirectly towards KSE Schemes. It is sad that a few individuals who took the initiative willingly to invest in this scheme, are trying to shift the blame on other individuals, whether Churches or Organizations. The involvement and investment by individuals in this scheme whether Assyrian, Chaldeans, Australians, and other groups, was purely based on a personal judgment of that individual. The main vehicle behind this was greed, jealousy and get rich quickly. Disgustingly, there are some individuals who benefited unjustly by this scheme, having no consideration for the future of many families or the Nation, almost forcibly recruited investors in order to take share in the commission. These people must be brought to justice, and repay every cent they gained from enticing people into such schemes. Some even went further, in acquiring loans for the un-employed and pensioners. Whose fault is this? The Bishop, on many occasions, was asked, if he would deem it wise to invest or make any recommendations. His simple reply was "it is your money, your choice and your decision. But please! What ever you do, do not allow yourself to be indebted to the bank for the rest of your lives". Their reply was 'but the return is good and my friend has invested and he is doing excellently'! There is not much more one can advice and say in a world where legal actions are standing guard behind your back. If there were any claims made by Mr. Suleman himself, regarding his enthusiastic support to the Churches and community organization, enticed some individuals to invest, as claimed by some, then a logical answer is clear to all.

Regarding the brand New Car donated to the Bishop. Once again His Grace owned a car purchased by him in 1992. Mr. Suleman, again, out of his generosity, insisted to replace the vehicle with a later model BMW 2000 model. This car was leased by Mr Suleman to the Bishop and at present is still under this lease until further notice. Your question put by your reliable sources "Mr David Chibo" of the link of the Church, or its leaders in this scheme, is an attempt to smear indirectly the reputation of many people. Again shifting the blame is not a healthy exercise at this time. It is time to unite and think rationally in finding a solution to the problem, helping our people in elevating some of their pain and suffering. The Bishop is already working to assist in finding that hope. It is also vital to treat this issue cautiously. Making statements based on hearsay or sending signals of blame against prominent people in society could have serious legal results.

Furthermore Miss Suzy David is not Mr. Suleman's accountant - Miss David is Mr. Suleman's Legal advisor (Lawyer).

We appreciate your magazine and its efforts to inform the people truthfully of what is happening in the community. However, vigilant scrutiny of facts will assist you and the Assyrian Nation in finding solutions not complicating the matter further than what it is at the present moment.

I hope what has been addressed will satisfy your journalistic eagerness and put an end to further attempts to involve the Church in this matter.

The Bishop of the Church in Australia, has always praised your magazine and your services to the Assyrian Nation, he extends his sincere regards and blessing to the editor and staff of Zinda Magazine.

May the blessings of the Lord be with you.

Written by permission

Deacon Genard Lazar

[Mr. Karl Suleman, a former butcher, raised $131 million from 2,062 investors in a pyramid-type scheme under which earlier investors were repaid from the funds of later contributors. All had been promised returns of 15 per cent a month on parcels of $25,000. Mr. David Chebo is a member of the Nakosha Magazine staff and the Assyrian Youth Group of Victoria, Australia. Ms. Suzy David is an officer of the Assyrian Universal Alliance and a legal advisor to Mr. Karl Suleman. Neither Mr. Chebo nor Ms. David were contacted in the preparation of our investigative report on Mr. Kar. Suleman's failed financial enterprise. The information pertaining to the Assyrian Church and Bishop Mar Meelis Zaia was kindly provided by the Australian Financial Review.

At a meeting of creditors and Mr. Karl Suleman last Friday, the investors were told to begin accepting their big losses. A number of the more than 1,000 people became agitated and one person stormed out early after being told Mr Suleman and his legal adviser, Ms Suzy David, would not be attending. The creditors, most of whom are Assyrian and live in the Fairfield area, demanded action from the Federal Government for assistance. The liquidator of Karl Suleman Enterprises said he would write to the Prime Minister, John Howard, but added that it was probably not "the policy of the Federal Government to bail out failed companies''. ]



"Some time ago, I participated with you respectfully by posting an article, suggesting that we should be respectful towards each other, to be selective and constructive in our discussions, especially on such open forum. We should remember that the world is watching and judging us by our behavior towards each other. We are neglecting the principal objectives and the urgent needs of our nation. At the same time we have to appreciate the services of "open forum" provided freely to us by: the Assyrian international news agency, Chaldean on-line, Beth Suryoyo Assyrian and many others, giving us the opportunity to discuss intelligently and to offer sound solutions to heal this fragmented nation "Assyria". So that it could preserve its identity and move forward to gain its place in the civilized world.

Perhaps you may agree with me that we have too many independent political organizations throughout the world. The sad thing is that they all are at odds against each other! Each one is pulling the cart to one direction and claiming that they are correct. And they do not even have a dialogue among themselves. On the contrary, they are working against each other as if they hold the deeds of this nation! Therefore, in such circumstances how can we expect progress? And who benefits from all this? Naturally it is our enemy! We should stop shifting the blame on others; the problem is we, do you know why? The answer is simple: we put personality before duty! What a great achievement it will be, if we can make them to switch these two positions, so that they could work in harmony, and join forces where it is necessary, to achieve the best.

We can see the recent political turmoil happening throughout the Middle East. It is anticipated that very soon there are going to be major changes. The question is, are we as a nation, prepared to accept the consequences that may befall on our people?

Time is of the essence: therefore here is my recommendation: we need to communicate immediately with all these organizations and urge them to start a dialogue to work in harmony. Furthermore there is a need for a neutral party to undertake the hard task of becoming a mediator to bring all parties to a conference table, to resolve the differences and open a new chapter. Based on trust and respect towards each other and create a line of communications among them! And keep us, the public, informed of their needs and progress.

Having given the matter a serious thought, I believe that I can organize a conference for all to attend a three days meeting at a selected neutral city in U.S.A. To give it an atmosphere of a convention restricted to the delegates and their spouses only. Each to pay their share of expenses.

It is appropriate to declare that I am not a member nor affiliated to any organization. Yet I am well aware of all their activities. I am a devoted and humble individual serving my beloved nation "Assyria", discriminatingly for the past fifty years. Hence, I am willing to undertake the task, with god's grace, to bring peace and unity among our people to serve jointly the urgent needs of our people worldwide.

Feel free to give you're input and communicate with me through my e-mail."

Wilson P. Benjamin

Surfers Corner


The Netherlands
Almere City

10 December 2001

It is our pleasure to introduce our Dutch Union of the Middle Eastern Christians, which has started since one year by the Christian Communities of the Middle East in Holland as well as at the European Continent.

We witness that the World has been changed since the attack on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York city and he Pentagon building in Washington. This atrocity has been carried out by some Muslim fundamentalists, who believe in changing the world by violence and destruction.

Despite of the fact, that we have different faith, yet nobody in the Western Societies can recognize us because we speak the same language (the Arabic) and come from the same area the Middle East.

However, we believe that we are coming from another culture and background, but we have to work very hard to present it to the Western Societies such as USA and the European Countries.

We have read your relation on the Web site of your organization and we believe your sincerity, but we are all treated as Arabs.
There are certain points I would like to draw your attention to:

1. The Western Societies in general have no policy toward the minority groups of the Middle East, especially for the Copts in Egypt and the Assyrians of Mesopotamia.

2. The current policy is based on ideological support to the State of Israel and only buying the oil from some Arab countries. therefore, we would appreciate it if we can work together on the European and American Continent in order to consolidate our efforts to reach the decision makers.

Awaiting your reaction,
We remain sincerely yours,

Ayad B. Mossad
Dutch Union of the Middle Eastern Christians
Dokkumlaan 36
1324 AC Almere
The Netherlands.

Tel.fax: (36) 53 37 418
e-mail : abmossad@hetnet.nl



[On Sunday, 9 December, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel ran an article titled "100 Things You Should Know About Arabs in America". Numbers 13 through 16 caught our attention, hence we decided to share this information with our readers.]

13) Are there other groups from the Arab region?

Yes. Assyrians, Berbers, Chaldeans and Kurds have languages rooted in pre-Arabic times. There also are religious differences. The Chaldeans are the largest of these groups in the United States.

14) Who are Chaldeans?

Chaldeans are Catholics from Iraq. A religious and ethnic minority there, Chaldeans have some large communities in the United States, the largest in Detroit. The Chaldean Catholic Church has had connections with the Roman Catholic Church since 1551, and has been affiliated since 1830. The Chaldean Diocese of the Catholic Church in the United States has parishes in Michigan, California, Chicago and Arizona. It also has several missions. Churches offer Chaldean language services. Chaldeans and Assyrians, along with Arabs, are Semite people. The cultural foundation is similar, but the religious affiliation is different.

15) So, are Chaldeans Arabs, or not?

Chaldeans and Arabs share some issues, but they have different identities. The Chaldean language is different from Arabic and, in Iraq, Chaldeans are religiously distinct from the Muslim majority. While Chaldeans foster a separate identity, they also have an Iraqi nationality and some shared concerns with Arabs. These nuances are lost by federal classifications, which sometimes reclassify Chaldeans as Arab or Iraqi. It is best to ask people how they would like to be identified, to be specific and, when relevant, to explain.

16) Is Arabic the only language spoken within the Arab world?

No. For example, Assyrian and Chaldean services use a dialect of the original Aramaic. Berber and Kurdish are other non-Arabic languages of the Middle East.




Part II

British Patronage in Mandate Iraq

How did the British in Iraq contribute to the formation of a distinct political identity among the Assyrians? The symbiotic relationship between the British colonial administrators and their Assyrian clients arose from the peculiar refugee status of the Assyrians following World War I. Emboldened by promises of Russian support, the Assyrian patriarch declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1915. By the end of the war, the Assyrians in the Urmiyah region had suffered staggering losses from Turkish army offensives and attacks by local Kurds. In 1918, nearly 70,000 Assyrians began a perilous 300-mile trek to seek protection at British base at Hamadan in western Iran. During this journey, it is estimated that nearly 20,000 Assyrians perished from starvation, exposure, and marauding attacks by Iranians, Kurds, and Turks. Unable to fully accommodate these destitute refugees, the British authorities transferred the surviving Assyrians to a British-sponsored refugee camp in Iraq at Baquba, forty miles north of Baghdad.

Upon assuming the mandate in Iraq, British colonial authorities faced serious challenges from Kurdish unrest and a perceived Kemalist threat from Turkey. Seeking to suppress these disturbances while at the same time minimizing the burdensome costs of empire, the British developed a unique strategy of indirect rule. Their method of policing the mandate relied heavily on the use of local proxies, backed up by the authority and firepower of the Royal Air Force. For this purpose, the Assyrian refugee community at Baquba proved to be an ideal recruiting pool.

The recruitment of Assyrians into a British-officered military force known as the Levies beginning in 1919 was a fateful step in the development of a distinct Assyrian identity in Iraq. British partiality toward the employment of Assyrian Christians as imperial proxies stemmed in large measure from the British colonial theory of the ‘martial races.’ As practiced in India and Africa, this peculiar European belief held that certain ethnic groups or sects-- Gurkhas and Berbers for example--were better suited to soldiering and warfare. With valuable experience fighting in mountainous terrain, the Assyrian men of the Baquba refugee camp were viewed by the British as a "hardy, virile race," who were inherently superior to the settled townsmen or the Kurdish tribes. Here is the British Colonial Office estimation of Assyrian soldiers in a 1921 report:

Led by British officers, they are a native force second to none...their quickness in picking up discipline and their mettle in battle has surprised and delighted all who have been concerned with them.

In addition to their martial prowess, British reports praised the Assyrians for their "high standard of morality" and drew attention to the virtual absence of venereal disease among the Assyrians, compared to the significantly higher rates among Kurds and Arab townspeople.

A more visible signal of British partiality was the outfitting of the Levies in British military uniforms. The effect that these distinctive uniforms had on transforming the Assyrians from a group of armed "irregulars" into a more official arm of British policy should not be underestimated. The uniforms signified Britain’s recognition that the Assyrians were perhaps less "oriental" and more worthy of trust than their Arab and Kurdish neighbors. They altered the self-perception of the Assyrian community by visibly linking the Levies to the British government. For the Iraqi Arab populace, the Kurds, and Iraqi nationalists, these uniforms served as a continued reminder of British domination.

Emboldened by their uniforms, higher pay, and better training, the Assyrian Levies often derided and ridiculed the Arabs of the Iraqi army. What British officials mildly termed "esprit de corps" was perceived by Iraqi Arabs as haughtiness and, in many cases, blatant racism. Frequent contact with Royal Air Force and British army officers undoubtedly influenced Assyrian notions of distinctiveness and autonomy. In 1923, Gertrude Bell wrote that British officers were "constantly reminding the Levies that they’re good British soldiers, not dirty little Arabs."

Aside from this preferential treatment, the decision by British authorities to let Assyrian soldiers keep their rifles and 200 rounds of ammunition following their discharge from the Levies played a critical role in the community’s subsequent confrontation with the emerging Iraqi state. In the eyes of Iraqi nationalists, particularly after the termination of the British mandate, the presence of armed Christians in the north was a serious challenge to the centralizing power of the new government. Yet Assyrian men--their community surrounded by frequently hostile Kurds--viewed the retention of arms as a vital means to protect their families and an essential condition of their service in the Levies.

On the eve of the massacre, the Iraqi government mutassarif for Mosul made this statement about the proliferation of firearms:

The ultimate policy of the Iraq Government is to minimize the number of rifles in possession of tribes throughout Iraq; when the time comes for the execution of this policy the Assyrians would be required to surrender a number of their rifles at the same time as the Arabs and Kurds do so.

In addition to its lenient arms policy, Britain’s use of the Levies in the suppression of dissident uprisings in Iraq branded the Assyrians as imperial collaborators in the eyes of Iraqi nationalists. During the 1920 revolt in Iraq--a rare instance of cooperation among Shi’is, Kurds, and Sunnis--the Assyrian community aided British efforts to restore order and quelch the uprising. Iraqi nationalists from the Mosul branch of al-Ahd al-Iraqi issued a manifesto to the Assyrians in May 1920 urging them to join the revolt and ignore British attempts to foment divisions among the Iraqi populace.

Dismissing this appeal, the Assyrian Levies proved to be a formidable bulwark against nascent Iraqi anti-imperialism. The British view of the Assyrians’ utility in suppressing this revolt is reflected in the remarks of the British commander, General Haldane, who wrote that without "the entirely fortuitous support (of the Assyrians), is possible that a large portion of the Mosul Division might have been swamped in the wave of anarchy." This gratitude was not unnoticed by the Assyrians; as late as 1945, an Assyrian petition for an autonomous enclave in northern Iraq cited the valuable service the Levies had rendered in preserving British rule against internal dissent.

The employment of the Assyrian Levies as a counter-insurgent force and the broader British favoritism it reflected also exacerbated tensions between the Kurdish and Assyrian communities in northern Iraq. Since the 1920 uprising, the Levies were used almost exclusively against the proto-nationalist revolts of Kurdish leader Shaykh Mahmud, earning them the enduring enmity of the Kurdish tribes. In May of 1924, following a dispute over prices with a local shopkeeper, a group of Assyrian soldiers massacred nearly forty Muslims in the town of Kirkuk in southern Kurdistan. In response to this event, Shaykh Mahmud proclaimed a jihad against both the British and the Assyrians and assembled his forces for an attack on Kirkuk—actions which elicited an aerial bombardment of his headquarters by the Royal Air Force. Since the Levies were under an entirely separate jurisdiction than the Iraqi army, a British court martial handled the prosecution of the case. Although it found nine Assyrians guilty, the British tribunal later pardoned them and failed to launch an exhaustive inquiry. Provoking outrage in the Iraqi nationalist press, the Kirkuk massacre and the lenient British response deepened the hatred of the Assyrians by both Kurds and the Iraqi nationalist elite.

More importantly than the suppression of internal Kurdish unrest, the Assyrians were used as a buffer against Kemalist attacks from Turkey. For the British in Iraq, the Kemalist threat became a major preoccupation; official correspondence is filled with rumors of Turkish agitation among the Kurdish tribes or Kemalist propaganda among Indian imperial troops. Beginning with their first military operation against Turkish forces near Rowanduz in 1921, the Assyrian Levies established themselves as a valuable pillar in Britain’s frontier confrontation with Turkey. Sir Percy Cox believed that the Assyrians’ armed presence on the northern frontier was "the main reason which induced the Kemalists to abandon their projected attack."

By serving as a buffer, the Assyrians enabled Britain to preserve its interests in the Mosul province during frontier negotiations with Turkey and the League of Nations. In 1924, the British initially used the Assyrian refugee population under its protection as an argument for the inclusion of the Hakkari province within the mandate of Iraq. When this failed, Britain pressed for the Mosul vilayet, again citing its concern for the Assyrians. Thinly disguising its interest in the oil deposits of the Mosul region, the British Colonial Office Report to the League of Nations states:

The advantages to the Assyrians and to the Iraqi State alike, in securing a frontier that would include these areas in Iraq (Amadia, Dohuk, and Aqra) are obvious. The Assyrians for their part, would share in the benefit of British advice and assistance offered by the present Treaty...Instead of Turkish rule, they would be in Arab hands, who apart from any influence exercised by Great Britain, have shown themselves benevolent to Christian communities. The Iraq Government, on its side, would see its frontier garrisoned by a race of sturdy mountaineers whose vital interests were involved in resisting attack from the north.

A League of Nations Commission, convinced that the majority of the inhabitants of the Mosul region preferred British over Turkish rule, awarded the Mosul vilayet to Iraq. Yet the bulk of the territory formerly inhabited by the Assyrians was allotted to Turkey. This decision created a new political context for Assyrian ambitions by officially precluding the return of the community to their former homes in Hakkari.

End of Part II


10 Lieutenant Colonel R.S. Stafford, The Tragedy of the Assyrians (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1935), 30-35. Also, Joseph, 137-144.

11 Originally founded in 1915, the Levies were initially comprised of Arabs and Kurds, yet by 1921 the British had begun to recruit almost entirely from the Assyrian community. Brigadier-General J. Gilbert Browne, The Iraq Levies (London: Royal United Service Institution, 1932), 1-15.

12 David Killingray, "Guardians of Empire," in Guardians of Empire: The Armed Forces of the Colonial Powers c. 1700-1964, eds. David Killingray and David Omissi (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 14.

13 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Report on the Administration of Iraq, October 1920-March 1922 (London: HMSO, 1922), 69.

14 Ibid., 110.

15 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Report by His Britannic Majesty’s Government to the Council of the League of Nations on the Administration of Iraq for the Period April 1923-December 1924 (London: HMSO, 1925), 39.

16 Khaldun S. Husry, "The Assyrian Affair of 1933 (I)," International Journal of Middle East Studies 5 (April 1974): 166.

17 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Special Report by His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland to the Council of the League of Nations on the Progress of Iraq during the period 1920-1931 (London: HMSO, 1931), 268.

18 Quoted in Husry, 165.

19 Royal Government of Baghdad, Correspondence Relating to the Assyrian Settlement (Baghdad: Government Press, 1933), 42.

20 Eliezer Tauber, The Formation of Modern Syria and Iraq (Portland OR: Frank Cass, 1995), 263.

21 Quoted in Sir Arnold Wilson, Mesopotamia, 1917-1920: A Clash of Loyalties (London: Oxford University Press, 1931), 291.

22 Assyrian National Petition, Presented to the World Security Conference, San Francisco, California USA on May 7, 1945; available from http://www.atour.com/Assyrian_Nation.html; accessed on 2 December 2000.

23 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Report on the Administration of Iraq, April 1923-December 1924, 19.

24 Ibid., 21.

25 Stafford, 47.

26 Ibid., 68.

27 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Report on the Administration of Iraq, October 1920-March 1922, 114-117.

28 Ibid., 110.

29 United Kingdom, Colonial Office, Report on the Administration of Iraq, April 1923-December 1924, 20.

30 Phebe Marr, A Modern History of Iraq, (Boulder CO: Westview Press, 1985), 43.



Assyrian Surfing Posts

Assyrians of Kirkuk
[ http://www.assyriansofkirkuk.com/ ]

A Virtual Assyria
[ http://www.musakad.se/musik-medier-mang/cyberland/index-e.html#A%20virtual%20Assyria ]

Pump Up the Volume

Literature SIP / RA / YOO / TA
Feminine Assyrian Literature: Siprayoota Atooreta
Culture MAR / DOO / TA Feminine Russian Culture: Mardoota Roosneta



The story of the international artist. Natasha Brakhya. could rightly be called the story of the Assyrian people during the 20th century. In fact, Natasha and her family were present during some of the most turbulent periods of our modern history.

Born in Lebanon, Mrs. Brakhya describes her childhood with a positive glow. "I was the daughter of a blessed family," she says. Her father, also a sculptor, was to have a profound influence on her life and career. "I inherited this gift from my father, my hero." Her father was also very open in allowing her the freedom to pursue her talents, when not influenced by local community pressure. This was in stark contrast to community attitudes that frowned upon a female artist, much less a female sculptor!

"In Lebanon I always felt as though I was doing something wrong," she explained. So she decided to keep her talent a secret and spent many hours working day and night on pieces that inspired her.

Openness was also evident in her other family members as her brother noticed her talent and decided to pay her way through an expensive foreign owned Art school in Lebanon. She was elated and spent a year discovering and refining her hidden talents.

When the Lebanese civil war broke out in 1975 she was forced to give up on art school and become a volunteer for the Red Cross, where she spent many long hours working to ship in medicines to sick and isolated Assyrian communities. It was during this time that her hidden talents were noticed by the Red Cross. Thirty-five of her pieces of artwork were requested by the Red Cross, which they were to later sell in France in order to raise funds for relief work. It was then, at the height of the Lebanese civil war, that tragedy struck Mrs. Brakhya's family, yet again.

"My father, the last survivor of his family that was killed during the Assyrian Genocide of WWI was killed on 3rd August, 1989. During the civil war
he remained stateless till the day he was killed."

Sincc losing our homeland, my family has been made refugees four times and lost family members: these are the words introducing Mrs. Brakhya's painting of what appears to be herself in Lebanon. The oil on paper piece is titled Escaping from Hell and depicts a young female fleeing into a night while a destroyed church is evident in the background.

She fled Lebanon and arrived in Australia in 1983. "My family's experience is typical of the experience of all Assyrian refugees, stateless and wandering around the world seeking refuge."

Having arrived in Australia she was overwhelmed by an acute sense of loss and isolation. "I felt very, very lonely," she explained softly. After successfully taking part in an art exhibition in which she sold three pieces, she enrolled in the Victorian College of Arts where she studied further and developed her talent for another five years.

According to Mrs. Brakhya, "art is comparable to having something in you that you can't get rid of." As for her medium of art, "sculpting is a combination of enjoyment and struggle."

Also influenced by our ancient sculptors Mrs. Brakhya proudly states, "If it weren't for our ancient sculptures no-one would know who we are today. They show how advanced our level of civilization had become."

In 1998 she was elected president of the Lebanese Art exchange group, from where she went on to organise the highly successful Awakening exhibition. The Lebanese community successfully conducted this exhibition, along with another fourteen.

They say that human tragedy and suffering have been catalysts for some of the most inspiring and famous works of art ever produced. Mrs. Brakhya's works, far from possessing just aesthetic beauty, are also the turbulent pages of Mrs. Brakhya's life.

David Chibo
Nakosha Magazine
September 2001

Back to the Future

(852 B.C.)

The Assyrians realized that their monuments were liable to be mutilated as soon as the army left. So their artisans were instructed to carve these monuments in inaccessible places. One such carving is that of Shalmaneser III's visit to the source of Tigris river in Balawat. It shows animals being brought for sacrifice, and men with torches exploring the care from which the river begins.

Assyrian Sculpture, Reade

(1740 A.D.)

According to the Aleppo Court Records, on this year there were 8,120 adult Christian males residing in the city. Among the Christian immigrants to Aleppo were the "Syriani" speakers from Mardin and Diyarbakir who were skilled in weaving a type of black and white striped cloth marketed as "Iraqi".

Al-Mashriq Magazine. Vol 41 (1947): 252-53, Taoutel

This Week In History

DECEMBER 15, 1913

The first Assyrian newspaper, Maddinkha, is published semi-monthly in Tbilisi (Tiflis), Georgia under the direction of Qasha Greegorious.

[We stand corrected! In last week's issue we mistakenly identified Surmi Khanom as the sister of the late-Mar Shimun Ishaya. She was indeed his aunt. We thank our reader, Mr. William Mikhael, for brining this error to our attention.]


Calendar of Events


Share your local events with Zinda readers.    Email us or send fax to:  408-918-9201


Dance Party




December 4

Join us for a night of poetry and art with Rabi Hannibal Alkhas

Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
5303 Carter Avenue
8:00 PM

December 6

"Rational vs irrational: did Greeks use Babylonian medicine?"
Lecturer:  Mark Geller
British Academy, 10 Carlton House Terrace, SW1. BSAI Lecture
5:00 PM
Contact: Joan Porter MacIver, c/o British Academy
Telephone:  01440 785 244.        bsai@britac.ac.uk

"Max and Agatha at Nimrud"
Lecturer:  Joan Oates 
6.30 PM

BP lecture theatre, British Museum, Gt Russell St WC1. 
Tickets £7.50. BMF event. Contact 020 7323 8566

December 18

A Public Lecture presented by Georgina Herrmann
London Centre for the Ancient Near East
Basement lecture theatre, SOAS, WC1 
6:00 PM

December 25

Assyrian American National Federation, Midwest Region Proudly presents 

Christmas Party With Multi-lingual Performances by
Bandoleros (from Chicago)                          
Albert Mansour (from California)

7:00 PM - 2:00 AM

Hanging Gardens Banquet 
8301 W. Belmont 
River Park
Admission: $15                                                                                              
Dress Code Required!

December 25

Sponsored by the Assyrian Aid Society of San Diego, California
Entertainer:  Walter Aziz
St. Peter's Church Hall - El Cajon
For Information call: (619) 337 0484

December 31

Sponsored by the Assyrian American Association of San Diego, California
Entertainer:  Juliana Jendo
St. Peter's Church Hall - El Cajon
For Information call: (619) 337 0484

December 31

Assyrian Athletic Club of Chicago (Winged-Bulls)
Entertainer:  Walter Aziz
Radisson Hotel
For more information call 847-486-1845

December 31

Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly presents 
An unforgettable New Year's Eve Dinner Dance with Charles Tooma 
Famous Assyrian Singer from Sydney, Australia 

The Marriott Hotel 
46100 Landing Parkway 

Tickets can be purchased at AAA of San Jose starting November 24, 2001: 
Every Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. 
Every Wednesday from 8:00 to 10:00 p.m. 

There will be a special priority purchase for AAA of San Jose on Saturday, November 24, 2001 from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. 

Ticket Price: 
From November 24th through December 14th 
   $75 member        $85 non-member 
From December 15th through December 29th 
   $80 member        $90 non-member 

Please inquire about the special Marriott Hotel's room rate and our Baby-sitting services 

January 16
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques

"Women in Syriac Christian Tradition"
Lecturer:  Prof. Susan Ashbrook-Harvey, Brown University

University of Toronto
St. George Campus
8:00 PM

[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]

 March 6
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques

"Resafa-Sergiupolis:  From A Roman Desert Castle to A Christian Metropolis"
Lecturer:  Dr. Stephen Westphalen, Univeristy of Gottingen

University of Toronto
St. George Campus
8:00 PM

[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]

March 17, 2002

Revealing Agatha Christie the archaeologist and how her discoveries in the Near East influenced her detective writing. 

The hitherto unknown interests and talents of the great crime writer are told through archaeological finds from the sites on which she worked with her husband Max Mallowan at Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Important objects from these sites in the Museum's collections are combined with archives, photographs, and films made by Agatha Christie herself. 

Personal memorabilia and souvenirs of travel in a more leisurely age are only some of the exhibits which range from first editions of those novels inspired by her other life to a sleeping compartment from the Orient Express, from a lethal 1930s hypodermic syringe to a priceless first millennium ivory of a man being mauled to death 

Admissions £7, Concessions £3.50

West Wing Exhibition Gallery Room 28

May 1
La Societe Canadienne des Etudes Syriaques

"Bar-Hebraeus & His Time:  The Syriac Renaissance & the Challenge of a New Reality"
Lecturer:  Prof. Herman G.B. Teule, University of Nijmegen

University of Toronto
St. George Campus
8:00 PM

[Zinda Magazine is a proud Corporate Sponsor of CSSS.]

July 1-4, 2002

"Ethnicity in Ancient Mesopotamia"
Leiden University
Dept of Assyriology & Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten

Registration Form:  http://www.let.leidenuniv.nl/rencontre/mailform.html 
Registration Fee:  Euro 70 by April 1, 2002


Thank You!

Zindamagazine would like to thank:

Nicklaus Scott Deyring


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