CHALDEAN PATRIARCHAL ELECTION: A CRISIS OF LEADERSHIP
Next week, the synod of 22 Chaldean bishops from around the world will gather in Vatican to elect the new patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church, the largest Syriac-speaking church in the world. According to the Canon 72 of the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches, the Roman Pope can call for such an assembly and request an election by a two-thirds vote in the first ballot or by an absolute majority after a certain number of votes.
The Chaldean bishops met in August in Baghdad to appoint a successor to the much-loved Patriarch Raphael Bidawid, who died on 7 July in Beirut, Lebanon. No bishop received a two-thirds majority of the votes cast and the election was therefore postponed until the Roman Pontiff’s formal invitation for next week’s meeting in Vatican.
Since Zinda Magazine’s article titled “The Next Chaldean Catholic Patriarch” published on 18 August 2003, a great deal of campaigning among the more powerful bishops has taken hold of the religion-based politics of the Chaldean Church in the Middle East and the United States.
While the Chaldean bishops may agree on the fundamental precepts of the Church of Babylon as the Roman Catholics call their church, they differ in their political views and their vision of future. At the core of these differences are their opinion on the linguistic liturgy and the means of proselytization of the Chaldean faith to non-Syriac speaking populations.
As noted in our August 18th article, historically an important factor in the voting process has been the geographic origin of the patriarchal candidate. More specifically – whether the future candidate was from Telkef or a non-Telkef background. Telkef is a vibrant town and a Chaldean stronghold in north Iraq. This year’s election process has added another dimension to the Iraqi-based rivalry between the Telkefe and non-Telkef Bishops: the inclusion of the non-Iraqi bishops and those whose jurisdiction is limited to outside of the Middle East. To complicate this matter, the Chaldean bishops are also divided by their Order of allegiance to the Catholic Church, namely the Dominican Order vs. the Papal Catholics.
The Dominicans are called the preaching Catholics. Much like the Jesuits, their religious livelihood is based on poverty, penance, and preaching of the Gospel to the non-believers. They arrived in Mesopotamia as early as 1250’s, 300 years before the breaking off of the Chaldean Church from the Nestorian (Church of the East) Church. Several Chaldean bishops have been instructed in the Dominican Order and continue to emphasize the importance of preaching the Gospel to non-believers at the cost of arabization.
The other group consists of the bishops whose education has had a greater affinity for the Aramaic rite of the Chaldean Catholic Church. They are less concerned with the evangelization of the non-Assyrian-Chaldean populations. Historically, this group has been fostering a strong identity within Iraq and establishing strong ties with the central government.
Some current and recent Chaldean bishops are capable, honest, and effective leaders. However, there are also a few who plunge the Syriac-speaking Churches into despair and incite internal strife and bitter ethnic conflict. They are responsible for the declarations demanding the separation of the Assyrian and Chaldean ethnicities or the Arabization of the Chaldean Catholic Church.
Nearly all Chaldean bishops control the social and political lifeline of the Assyrian communities around the world. No Chaldean-Assyrian organization or federation works independent of the jurisdiction of its allied Chaldean See. Even the television, radio, and newspapers are somewhat controlled through the malign intimidation of the powerful local churches.
Next week’s elections must not be taken lightly. It is possible that for the first time since the Chaldean Catholic Church broke off from the Assyrian Church of the East – some 450 years ago – the head of the largest Assyrian church be an Arab speaker and marginalize the Syriac tradition of this Assyrian church. According to a thorough investigation of the internal politics of the Chaldean leadership conducted by Zinda Magazine, the candidate that has the most votes (as many as 13) continues to be the young and composed Bishop of Aleppo, Mar Antoine Audo. Personally, Mar Audo is a man of great integrity and ethics. Yet culturally and educationally, he remains at the farthest point of being called an Assyrian or even Chaldean. Hence, the election of Mar Antoine Audo in Aleppo, Syria is a grim possibility, leading toward the collapse of the Chaldean-Assyrian particularity in favor of an Arab Christian identity (see figure below).
Mar Audo was raised by Chaldean parents in Syria, not as a Chaldean but as an Arab. He does not speak the Syriac language nor does he celebrate the Chaldean Mass in Syriac (Aramaic). Despite having a personal piety and religious devotion, his education is Western and his spirituality Latin. He is not connected to his Chaldean-Assyrian heritage or identity. He has spent the peak of his intellectual reflection on issues not related to Eastern Christianity of Chaldean origin. Even his doctoral dissertation was an examination of the life and writings of one of the thinkers of the Syrian Arab Republic —a Baathist— having nothing to do with the Church of the East Christianity or Chaldean religious culture.
Zinda Magazine has learned that the Chaldean priests and bishops that are desperately pushing for Mar Audo’s patriarchal election are at best of equal persuasion and tendencies. The first among this group and the closest is the newly-elected bishop of Kirkuk, Mar Louis Sako. He is a well known liberal who cares less for maintaining the cultural identity of his Chaldean Church, whose writings and lectures advocate a line that promotes the Arab language instead of Syriac. Among the first steps that the newly elected bishop has called for is the complete transformation of the Chaldean liturgy from its Chaldean-Assyrian identity into Arabic language, so that is becomes more suited for the “Arab ear”.
The other bishop interested in the promotion of Mar Audo’s candidacy is the infamous priest of Telkef Parish, Father Lucian Al-Jamil. Of the opinion that the Assyrians would be a political liability for the Chaldeans due to their long-term ties with the West, he has attempted for years to slowdown the progress of the relations between the Chaldean and Assyrian Churches.
The Dominican Father Yousif Toma, another personality with complete repulsion for the preservation of the Chaldean-Assyrian culture and identity and the Church of the East is another of Mar Audo’s staunch supporters.
Clearly, the overall objective or the common ground that unites these individuals around their candidate of choice, is the Dominican ideal of promoting Christianity at the expense of identity and culture.
What will happen if the new Patriarch of the Chaldean Church, which constitutes 75% of all Christians in Iraq—is an Arabizer? Can the Chaldean religious and cultural particularity and the Assyrian identity in Iraq and indeed around the world afford such a blow in cultural continuity and ethnic diversion? How will the Church of the East deal with a Chaldean Patriarch who does not speak Syriac or does not celebrate the liturgy in the same tradition as the Church Fathers? What will happen to a Patriarch like Mar Audo when his vicars and assistants comprise people like Mar Louis Sako, Fathers Lucian Al-Jamil and Yousif Toma? How will our Chaldean-Assyrian People relate to these individuals and accept their ideas, especially those with roots in non-Arabic countries?
With the election of a Chaldean patriarch who is inherently non-sympathetic to the Syriac rites of his church, the “Chaldo-Assyrian” unity championed since the Baghdad Conference last month may lose momentum and the identity of the Christians in Iraq be expressed differently in the new Iraqi constitution.
Sadly, the Assyrian group most affected by these changes – the Chaldean groups in Iraq and the United States, seems to be less annoyed than their “Nestorian” counterparts. In light of such grim facts, the much controversial Chaldean Bishop Mar Sarhad Jammo has become a beacon of hope for the cultural continuity and ethnic survival of the Chaldean-Assyrian people.
During the past twenty years Mar Sarhad has struggled in the opposite direction of what likes of Mar Audo, Mar Sako, Fathers Al-Jamil and Toma are planning to accomplish in the near future. The tension between these two tendencies among the Chaldean clerics is very significant because the cargo for which they are fighting is equally precious—the Chaldean-Assyrian people of Iraq, their culture and identity.
Mar Sarhad’s advocacy among the Chaldeans has successfully brought the Chaldean-Assyrians on an equal footing with the Nestorian Assyrians, and away from the “Arab Christian” element which may constitute as many as 40 to 50 percent of the Iraqi Chaldean population. Perhaps this awareness among the Chaldean faithful has mustered enough awakening to avoid a crisis of electing a patriarch with anti-Assyrian tendencies next week.
Reliable sources to Zinda Magazine indicate that Mar Sarhad Jammo will not be running in next week’s elections. Instead, Mar Emmanuel-Karim Delly, another fellow Telkefi bishop may be asked to challenge the supremacy of his Syrian counterpart. Another possible outcome of next week’s elections is the appointment of an interim leader for the Chaldean Catholic Church during the occupation of Iraq by the coalition forces. A favored choice of the Vatican is Mar Shlemon Warduni who has been an active spokesperson for the Chaldean faithful in Iraq since the illness of the late Patriarch and during the post-Saddam crisis in Iraq.
As suggested in the August 18th editorial, the Chaldean intellectual
tradition must be fully realized in the being of a patriarch who
is sympathetic to the Syriac rite of this Church and the Chaldean-Assyrian
identity of her followers. While asking for divine guidance in
the election of the next patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church,
it behooves our religious and political leaders in the Middle
East and abroad to intervene in these spiritual affairs which
will surely ensue cultural and political ramification for the
next two decades.
WOUNDS AS DEEP AS THEIR HISTORY
[Z-info: The following is the full text of Mr. Alfred Mansour’s speech at the World Association for Non-Governmental Organization (WANGO) meeting in Sydney, Australia. Mr. Mansour is the head of the Gilgamesh Cultural Centre in Australia.]
Aristotle said human being is a creature that is able to speak. Yet, science and philosophy came with many meanings due to the Human’s ability to create boundaries between him and the other creatures.
But we can also say that the human being is a religious creature since religion is only an instant thinking gesture and the indicator of his realization of his surroundings. We can clearly see that in archeological tabloids that show the appearance of technology and religion as primary indictors for the start of human civilization. The majority of the production of human civilization is only the continuity of those two primary human characteristics.
Greek philosophy shows that religion is the inferior status of ideology and philosophy is its superior and grand status. They divide human ideology into 4 primary stages. First is magic, second is religion, third is philosophy and fourth is the experimental science. Other researchers say and show that the Greek philosophy was a contingent glimpse that died quickly in the face of religion and mythological expansion.
Today, as we gather here to discuss how to achieve a global peace and what role can religion play to achieve this, we need to understand the meaning of religion. Without this initial step we might find ourselves chasing and dwelling on secondary issues instead of discussing the essential issues.
The researcher William James says that religion is the feelings and emotions that individuals experience in their isolation and thereafter is translated into behaviors that represent the relationship between humans and what they consider holy and glorified.
The “Theory of Supernatural” describes religion as an ideology for whatever the human’s thinking and scientific approach cannot explain.
Herbert Spencer says that religions in spite of their differences in doctrine yet agree within their implied context that the existence of the universe is an unexplained mystery.
Max Muller says that religion is hard work for the sake of imagining what cannot be imagined and an aspiration for the infinity.
As for ancient Iraqis, they understood that religion is a part of human nature that existed from the start of humanity and cannot be separated from it. Therefore religion reflected on humanity with wisdom, respect and commandments.
Allow me to read to you an ancient Assyrian script (700bc), which is the commandment of a father to his son. It says:
“Restrain your tongue and control your words”
This script shows that the Iraqi is a creature full of love, mercy and morals.
Religion, similar to other ideal phenomena has different theories in explaining it not because we cannot define it but due to the variations and priorities of those who explain it. There are 3 levels of religion: the Individual Religion, the Group Religion, and the Religion Organization. What add to the variations in explaining religion are its three basic components: the beliefs, the rituals and mythologies.
Considering all the accomplishments achieved by our Iraqi ancestors and their ability to ask the right and hard questions that led them to many inventions and innovations, and comparing it to the deep dilemma that our Iraqi people live in these days, we call on the generosity of the international community to help them out of this dilemma.
Iraq and its people are wounded and their wounds are so deep … as deep as their history. Iraq who gave the world its civilization is facing alienation these days. It is the duty of all the good people, governments and humanitarian organizations of the world to work diligently to ensure that Iraq gets out of its suffering. I commend in particular the esteemed IIFWP for what it stands for to ensure and create a culture of peace in Today’s world that is full of destruction and hatred.
Dear guests, thank you for your attendance and for supporting our efforts to establish a global peace.
ASSYRIAN POLITICIAN ASSASSINATED IN IRAQ
Mr. Murado, a representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement party and a member of Basra's city council, was ambushed last Tuesday, said a party statement that condemned the killing.
"The body of our party member was discovered in a city suburb," it said.
The assassination is the second this week in the south of Iraq of people working with coalition authorities. In the town of Diwaniyah, gunmen last Tuesday killed the education ministry's director general for that province.
Guerrillas have warned that they will target any Iraqi who collaborates with occupation authorities.
The Assyrian Democratic Movement, which represents Iraq's long-oppressed
Assyrian minority, is represented on Iraq's 25-seat Governing Council
set up by the U.S.-led coalition authorities.
IRAQI CHRISTIANS WANT RIGHTS, NOT PRIVILEGES, SAYS NUNCIO
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Christians in Iraq are looking for fair treatment, not special preference, says the papal representative in this troubled country.
"Christians in Iraq do not want any privileges; they only want their rights as citizens to be respected," Archbishop Fernando Filoni said in a homily on the occasion of the ordination of Louis Sako as the new archbishop of Kirkuk.
"As Iraqi citizens," the nuncio insisted, "Christians in Kirkuk will not fail to contribute to the good of the whole country."
Though elected to lead a local interim governing council, Archbishop Sako declined the leadership role.
ADP PRESENTS RECOMMENDATIONS AT THE BERLIN CONFERENCE
(ZNDA: Berlin) The Assyrian Democratic Party (ADP) presented paper at an Assyrian conference held in Germany. The paper was posted on the Internet in Arabic under the title "Our National Rights."
The paper, dated 16 November, explains that the presence of Assyrians in north of Iraq was an important factor in the League of Nations’ decision in 1926 to hand over the Mosul province to the newly-recognized nation-state of Iraq. At the same time a homogenous enclave in north of Iraq, a national home for the Assyrian population in accordance to the 1925 League of Nations' Iraqi-Turkish frontier commission, was being entertained. The latter was not implemented. The process of Arabization and Kurdification, according to this report, continues until today and especially within the Assyrian Triangle.
The paper then describes a series of events beginning with the 25
December 1972’s release of the Iraqi Decree which restored citizenship
of the Assyrian individuals including the Patriarch. The report states
that any attempt to “restore” citizenship for Assyrians
now is a mute act since it has been done already. The ADP pointed
that despite this, they have some reservations towards that decree.
1. The necessity to consider the 1927 Iraqi Census as the bench mark during any current and future negotiations. The Iraqi Citizenship Law then considered every person living in Iraq between 23 August 1921 and 6 August 1924 an Iraqi citizen. The 1957 Iraqi Census, meanwhile, prevents Assyrians from demanding the return of their usurped villages that were lost in 1933 or demanding compensations for those who experienced forced relocation or displacement. By 1957 many Assyrians had moved into cities like Baghdad and many Kurds from Turkey and Iraq were moving in their towns and villages.
2. The return of the displaced people to their original towns and villages and compensating them for their sufferings due to suffering, similar to what the Kurds have already demanded.
3. The settlement of the Assyrians in a homogenous enclave within the Assyrian Triangle according to the decision of the League of Nations # 69 on 15 December 1932.
4. The return of all Assyrian lands, which the Arabs and Kurds have traversed and trespassed and the removal of all traces of Arabization and Kurdification.
5. The establishment of an Iraq federal system, in where the Assyrian Triangle will be part of the Iraqi federal system. Otherwise, the ADP demands a democratic, pluralistic, parliamentarian Iraq.
6. The Assyrian ethnic, national, cultural, linguistic, and heritage name must be recognized in the Iraqi permanent constitution. The Assyrian rights in the Assyrian Triangle must be preserved. The Assyrian issue must not be addressed only through the Kurdish permissible guidelines. The Kurdification processes of the Assyrian villages and towns must be addressed thoroughly and the present reality must not be blindly accepted.
7. The ADP demands the recommendations of the Amsterdam Conference as the working ground to achieve Assyrians' ethnic and national rights.
8. The ADP calls for an urgent national conference in Baghdad for all Assyrian groups, organizations, and institutions working within and without Iraq to establish a united leadership that speaks for the Assyrian people. A single group cannot be allowed to decide the fate of the Assyrian nation.
9. The ADP calls all Assyrian groups to work and communicate with
other Iraqi ethnic groups, including Arabs and Turkomans, who make
up for more than 80 percent of the Iraqi population. Assyrians must
not work with Kurds alone, since all Kurdish leaders believe that
the Kurdish dream will not become a reality without erasing the Assyrian
national and ethnic rights in Iraq.
ASSYRIAN REFUGEE NEVER LOST HOPE
(ZNDA: Melbourne) An Assyrian-Iranian refugee who has mental illness has new hope of living permanently in Australia after an 11-year ordeal.
Vilperit Betkhoshabeh has been living quietly in suburban Melbourne since former Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock approved his release from the Maribyrnong detention centre in July.
Until his release Mr Betkhoshabeh had spent just 18 months of 11 years in Australia as a free man.
Mr Betkhoshabeh, 42, has been released into home detention with his brother in Tullamarine.
Although there are restrictions, Mr Betkhoshabeh said his conditions were a vast improvement on life in detention.
"After 10 years, of course I am happy," he said.
"Always I hope that one day I would be released. I never lost hope."
His family and supporters hope that now Mr Betkhoshabeh has proven he is not a threat they can persuade the Government to rescind a decision to deport him.
His release came after a finding by the United Nations Human Rights Committee that he should be freed and compensated for "cruel, inhumane and degrading punishment".
In total, Mr Betkhoshabeh spent more than nine years behind bars after arriving in Australia on a one-way ticket in the middle of 1992.
An Assyrian Christian, he claimed he faced arrest, torture and possibly even execution if he returned to Iran.
Mr Betkhoshabeh was placed in custody but was granted a refugee protection visa and permanent residency in 1995.
But it was revoked in 1997 because he was a jailed for 18 months for burglary and making threats to kill. The offences were caused by his paranoid schizophrenia.
After finishing his release Mr Betkhoshabeh was placed in detention.
ONE-DAY SEMINAR FOR WOMEN IN SAN JOSE
Bet-Eil Assyrian Church
“I Am the Lord’s Servant…”
This seminar will look at Mary’s life as an example of obedience and complete surrender to the will of God
Suggested Donation: $5.00 (includes lunch and refreshments)
To obtain tickets, please call: Bet-Eil Women’s Ministry at (408) 489-5879
HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF
It is interesting that history repeats itself to some extent in light of the recent bombings in Istanbul. There are some interesting parallels and differences in the events of 1931 and 2003.
The current Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyib Erdogan of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) like President Ataturk in 1931 faces the twin problems of Muslim extremists and serious financial problems. On the latter issue Erdogan , a moderate Islamic politician, was once jailed for reciting a poem about Islam. He faces the difficult task of combatting indigenous and external Islamic terrorists groups - Islamic Great Eastern Raiders Front (IBDA-C) and Al-Qaida. The AKP is trying to improve the political, economic, legal and social institutions to meet the entry criteria laid down by the European Union.
Ataturk, on the other hand, crushed what was essentially an internal revolt by one of the Dervish orders that wanted the restoration of Islam as the chief religion in Turkey. This ran contrary to Ataturk's fierce desire of establishing a modern secular state. (1) Alarm bells momentarily rang out in Anglo-Turkish relations in December 1931 over an Islamic Congress that was staged in Jerusalem. The Turks were concerned that the issue of the Caliphate (the equivalent of a Moslem Papacy) might be raised with Abdul Mejid being appointed Turkish Caliph. They tried unsuccessfully to have the British cancel the Congress. (2) It should be noted that Grand National Assembly abolished the Caliphate in 1924 and Caliph Abdul Mejid and his family were ordered to leave Turkey permanently. (3)
The Turkish military are regarded as the guardians of the Secularist State. They would be prepared to use force against any Islamic group or political party who threaten or undermine the secular nature of Turkey. There are examples of the crushing of Dervish revolt in Menemen in December 1930 and the removal of Islamist Prime Minister Necettin Erbakan in 1997. It should also be noted that the Turkish military crushed a series of Kurdish revolts in the 1920’s, 1930’s and more recently was involved in a protracted struggle with the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in south-eastern Anatolia between 1984-1999 resulting in over 30,000 deaths.
The financial crisis requires some clarification. Under Erdogan’s leadership, the Turkish Government is making further attempts towards trade liberalization, reducing inflation, improving budget outcomes and privatizing government enterprises. There is no doubt that the Turkish economy has improved since the two devastating earthquakes of August and December 1999. However the current political situation in Iraq, the present “uncertainty” in US-Turkish relations and poverty levels including unequal incomes between the urban and rural areas might jeopardize Turkey’s economic performance in the short to medium term.
In 1931 the Turkish economy was in the midst of the great depression which affected so many nations. Foreign trade had collapsed, taxation revenues declined forcing the Turkish Government to reduce its expenditure in public works, education, army, finance and national economy. It is worth noting that National Defense expressed as a percentage of total government expenditure for the years 1929-30, 1930-31 and 1931-32 ranged from 31.4%, 30.0% and 32.0% respectively. (4)
(Source: A981/4 Tur13 Part 1 Turkey -Internal General Internal and Political Situation 1923-1940, National Archives of Australia, Canberra, ACT)
(1) The British Ambassador in Constantinople (Istanbul), Sir George Clerk in his annual report on Turkey of 1931 sent to the Foreign Secretary in London noted that " The beginning of 1931 found the Government suffering from nerves of the affray at Menemen in December 1930 between Government forces and adherents of one of the suppressed Dervish orders, burning to restore religion to its former predominant place in the State. The Government which fears religious revival as the greatest obstacle to its policy of modernizing Turkey socially and economically..." (Sir George R.Clerk, Constantinople to Sir John Simon, January 7, 1932 Annual Report on Turkey 1931, p.14 National Archives of Australia, Canberra, ACT A981 Tur 6 Part 1 Turkey-Annual Reports 1926-1933)
(2) Ibid. p.6
(3) Cyril Mango, Ataturk: The biography of the founder of Modern Turkey, The Overlook Press, Woodstock and New York, 1999 pp.405-06
(4) Sir George R.Clerk, Constantinople to Sir John Simon, January 7, 1932 Annual Report on Turkey 1931, pp.19-20 National Archives of Australia, Canberra, ACT A981 Tur 6 Part 1 Turkey-Annual Reports 1926-1933)
[Z-info: Mr. Stavros T.Stavridis is a historian
and a researcher at the National Center for Hellenic Studies and
Research, Latrobe University, Bundoora, Victoria, Australia.]
THOSE UNGRATEFUL IRAQIS!
`Those ungrateful Iraqis! We freed them and now they wont even help us turn in the terrorists . . ` go the letters we seem to receive all of a sudden.
The main thought behind them seems to be that having fought a war to liberate the Iraqis why are they not rising up to support us and help turn in the `bad guys` and help the troops in what they are doing.
First, I was in Iraq before the war. I experienced live under Saddam
not in the comfort of a government arranged hotel taken around the
country by government minders as others did. I am an Assyrian. We
are the indigenous or original people of Iraq and are Christians.
As an Assyrian I stayed with family, went around with family and
at no time had any interaction with
It was clear carefully speaking with hundreds of Iraqis of all persuasions that they hated Saddam and were desperate to get him out. They wanted it done peacefully but saw in the UN and the other `anti-war` countries the hypocrisy of being for them but not willing to do anything to help get him out.
I went to Iraq against the war but when I saw the terror they lived in daily and their desperate desire to get him out I had to change my position. It got so bad towards the end that many were going to commit suicide if the Americans did not come. They could not stand being let down again.
As my Uncle would say to me `Look at my grandson! He studies Saddam
every day! What kind of life and what kind of a future is that?
Look at my son in law! He gets up every morning, takes a shower,
has breakfast and then goes off to work - at the main prison - the
prison Saddam has just emptied. There are no prisoners but he goes
to work every day just to keep from losing his mind! Is this living?
Sure we have food, a house but we live in an Orwellian nightmare!
Nearly 1 million of our young have died for Saddams stupid wars!
If a few thousand have to die - if I am one of them - to get him
The feeling of the Iraqis before and after the war except for the estimated 20% that were in some way connected to Saddam was and is clear. They despised him and are grateful beyond measure that he is gone and that the Americans have liberated them.
This is where the difficulty begins. In the Middle East as well as much of the world for that matter perception is everything. The people excepted the US to come in with overwhelming might, get rid of Saddam and then give them their freedom again.
This happened. The problem of reluctance on the part of the everyday Iraqis is this. They do not feel the US will be there for them in the long term.
The primary reason that intelligence is not forthcoming, the `bad guys` as the letters keep mentioning are not being turned in is because the Iraqis much as they are grateful for being liberated do not trust the US to be there for them tomorrow.
This is what will happen as they see it. They hear of something going on. They tell it to the Americans. The incident will be stopped or the person caught. It is ok that far, but if the Americans do not create a regular government with a secular constitution and a bill of rights and some form of local autonomy and do not stay around to make sure it works then the moment the Americans give up power all those scores will be settled and they and their families will be killed.
It is a very simple but critical reason for the current difficulties. The announcement that the Coalition provisional Authority is considering closing in June and turning the government over without a constitution in place, without elections being held and without a parliament or any form of local autonomy has sent shivers down the spine of every Iraqi and effectively stopped any thought in any way of cooperating with the Americans.
Who in their right mind would turn in a neighbor, relative, friend or some piece of information if months down the line they would be killed for it. It is not the ungrateful Iraqis that are the problem is the lack of a clear resolve to be there that is the problem.
What can be done?
The solution is relatively simple and if done right will immediately stop much of the daily terrorism by mmediately giving the confidences to the everyday Iraqi who can give the much needed information the confidence that he or her will be protected.
First - and we have been calling for this since the fall of Baghdad when we brought into Iraq the first postwar relief truck with 20 tons of water, food, medicine and satellite telephones there needs to be a professional, quality 24 hour Television Station that can be seen on regular TV`s and heard on the radio by all Iraqis.
The current attempt is a disaster. I have watched it many times. It is a laughing stock in Iraq - tragically so! The purpose of the TV Station is to counter the incessant propaganda from neighboring Iran and other stations that are the root cause for the confusion. Their daily dose of intimidation, radical islamic propaganda and virulent anti-coalition programming should be prevented from coming into the country. It is the cause of the current problem and must be immediately and effectively countered with the best America can offer as the world leader in Television.
With no effective news from the coalition, no effective message being communicated that `The Americans will be here for you! They will not leave! You will be protected! Do not fear` who would you believe? Nobody truly believes that the Americans are purposely not turning on the electricity for example but if you watched five stations that daily said it was an American conspiracy to humiliate the Iraqis and no message otherwise from the Americans after a few weeks of poor electricity you would begin to think otherwise!
This is `job one` and would effectively turn 20 million Iraqis into overnight intelligence agents if they were convinced that the Americans were going to stay and they would not be abandoned. Something like a 24 hour tip line for people to be able to call in and give the information and then be assured of protection. .
Second, the immediately and effective closing of the borders. It is appalling that even now the borders are not sealed. This must be immediately and effectively done.
In spite of what is being said Iraq is the place to go for a poor muslims to be paid to kill Americans, blow up tanks and if they die their families will be paid! It is business pure and simple.
Third, a clear message communicated to all Iraqis on a daily basis
that the US will not turn over any distractive responsibility until
a secular constitution, a bill of rights, elections and a parliament
has been installed. Even after this is done their will be a permanent
If this simple but profound message can be communicated throughout the country on TV, on posters in the villages, on radio, in the newspapers and then repeated over and over and over the people will rise up with confidence and begin to support the effort.
The Iraqis are not ungrateful! They have just suffered for 35 years under one of the most brutal dictators in history and seen their fathers and mothers and brothers and sisters and sons and daughters slaughtered.
The fear and the psychological trauma is so great that only heroic efforts to assure them that they will be safe and protected and not abandoned will ever convince them to be party of the solution and that they have a future.
At the same time this simple message of hope, strength and a future conveyed will change overnight the situation on the ground.
Will the US do it? This is the question! Weakness always breeds contempt and strength always respect!
Now is the moment! The people are eager and ready for a new life and want the Americans to succeed The common people are the best friends the Americans have. Their hands must not be tied and they must be given the confidence and assurance that they have a future so over night the Occupation Forces can move from 130,000 to 20 million - then and only then will the liberation of Iraq be truly a liberation and the dominoes of all the other thug regimes thought the region and the world begin to fall!
TWO CDS FEATURE MAR BIDAWID & ASSYRIAN GENOCIDE
The Assyro-Chaldean Voice of France has produced two new CD's in Eastern Syriac (Sureth Swadaya) about the biography of Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Mar Raphael Bidawid including a speech by His Beatitude (55 minutes) and a CD about the Assyrian Genocide of 1915 (61 minutes).
Cost: 10 Euros in France / 15 US Dollar (including
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