|The Puzzle Unravels at the Ritz||Wilfred Bet-Alkhas|
|It Is All About Unity||Father Dimitri G. Grekoff|
|Iraqi Christian Unity Slate Registers with Seven Participants
ADO on the Damascus Declaration on Democratic Change
|Assyrian Father Killed Wife, Children Seek Mercy
Gen. Georges Sada Shares Tales of Life under Saddam
Long-lost Musasir Temple found in Azerbaijan
Joseph Ivanoff's Second CD Debuts in November
Direct Insult to the Readers
Baghdad Stripped From Assyrianism Full Of Arianism
|2006 New Year's Eve Party in San Jose|
|The Assyrian Institutions: Self-Destructive Enterprises
A Stern Journalistic Reminder To My Kurdish Co-Journalists
25 October British Parliamentary Debate
|Medicine Today & in 2000 B.C. Surprisingly Comparable||William Mullen|
The Puzzle Unravels at the Ritz
In a few days a lavish dinner will be organized by the Assyrian Aid Society of America at the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel in San Francisco to benefit the educational and reconstruction projects for the Assyrians in Iraq. Earlier this week another gathering at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Washington D.C. was put together to promote and profit a different population of Iraqi citizens. After meeting with the guest dignitaries in D.C. it became clear that the participants at the two events scheduled a week apart will have significant impact on the destinies of the Assyrians and Kurds of Iraq in the coming months.
On Tuesday, President George Bush welcomed Mr. Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdistan Regional Government to the Oval Office in Washington D.C. The next evening, at a reception held in his honor at Ritz-Carlton hotel, Mr. Barzani said the following to his Kurdish and Assyrian guests: “In Iraqi Kurdistan we have, for the past 14 years, accepted the idea that we are a diverse society. Ethnic and religious minorities -- Assyrian and Chaldean Christians, Yazidis and Turkomans -- all serve in the Kurdistan regional government and all have the right to educate their children in their mother tongues and to broadcast in their own languages. We firmly believe that the Middle East must accommodate all of its peoples and all of their languages and religions.” He spoke eloquently about the “brotherly love between the Kurdish and Assyrian residents of Kurdistan” and their role in promoting “democracy and progress”. Mr. Barzani spoke in Kurdish and Arabic, standing in front of the U.S. and Kurdish flags. There were no Iraqi flags in sight.
A group of Assyrians and Chaldeans had arrived from London, Chicago and Detroit to meet Mr. Barzani and other notable Kurdish dignitaries that evening. These included the members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, the Assyrian Democratic Movement, the Iraqi Sustainable Democracy Project’s Mr. Michael Yoash, and myself. After waiting for over 5 hours in the lobby of the hotel on Tuesday night, we left the Ritz ignored by Mr. Barzani. It was not until the next morning that we discovered another important Assyrian guest was also staying at the Ritz and was later on meeting with Mr. Barzani.
While waiting for an acknowledgment of our presence in the lobby I had the opportunity to meet with a few other Assyrians including Mr. Praidoun Darmo from London, Deputy Secretary General of the Assyrian Universal Alliance, and Dr. Odisho Khoshaba from Chicago. Both vehemently opposed the inclusion of the letters and articles against Mar Dinkha IV, patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East, in the recent issues of Zinda Magazine. Another Assyrian guest was Rev. Giwargis Toma from Chicago whose presence was quite surprising, until we discovered the next day that Mr. Barzani was having a special audience with His Holiness Mar Dinkha IV.
On Thursday morning Zinda Magazine was informed by very reliable sources in Washington and in North Iraq that the discussions between His Holiness Mar Dinkha and Mr. Barzani involved the construction of a multi-million dollar patriarchate complex in Ankawa in north Iraq. The complex will include a Cathedral, offices, a seminary, and a permanent home for the Patriarch of the Assyrian Church of the East who is expected to move from Chicago to North Iraq upon the completion of this project. That evening, we learned that on Wednesday Mr. Barzani did not receive the representative of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, but met with the members of the Assyrian Universal Alliance who accompanied His Holiness Mar Dinkha, Dr. Khoshaba and Rev. Toma.
According to Mr. Darmo, the executive committee of the Assyrian Universal Alliance is also meeting in Chicago this weekend. Mr. Darmo will be returning to London soon after, where Mr. Barzani and his entourage will be holding meetings with the British Prime Minister and the government officials. Mr. Yonadam Kanna, Secretary General of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a member of the Iraqi National Assembly, a few days ago was in London to discuss deteriorating conditions of his people in Iraq. The friends of the Kurdish people in the British government including Dr. Bob Spink (see Literatus) were at hand to paint a different picture for their colleagues in the Parliament, prior to Mr. Barzani’s arrival
His Holiness Mar Dinkha at the same time will be presiding over the Holy Synod of the Church of the East in Chicago next week, where the future of the relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of the East will be argued. But a livelier discussion may also be sparked at this meeting, surrounding the accusations made against His Grace Mar Bawai Soro in California. Mar Bawai was instrumental in the efforts which culminated in the ecclesiastical agreements between the Church of the East and the Roman Catholic Church in 1990’s. Zinda Magazine sources in Chicago indicate that His Holiness will be recommending that His Grace Bishop Mar Bawai, in order to appease the worried bishops of his Church, to accept relocation to a different diocese outside of the United States.
Gradually an interesting picture is emerging as the different pieces of an ill-matched jigsaw puzzle are finally dropping into their places in these final weeks before the parliamentary elections in Iraq. The easiest way to start solving this puzzle is to start with the straight-edged pieces that obviously belong on the outside: the Kurdish Regional Government, Iran, the U.S. In the center of the puzzle is a great hole which many political party members and Churches wish for this publication not to touch. Zinda Magazine will uncompromisingly identify these middle pieces and their positions in relation to other pieces in the next editorial.
It Is All About Unity
Father Dimitri G. Grekoff
The month of November is soon upon us and it is notable to the Church of the East for two reasons this year. First, the Holy Synod, perhaps the most important Synod of His Holiness Mar Dinkha's patriarchate, will begin October 31st. And second, the liturgical season of Annunciation, known as Advent in the West, will begin on November 27th. The season of Annunciation is very special to us as it begins the liturgical "New Year," the annual cycle of Scripture readings. Its importance is marked in our liturgy by a change from the typical consecration prayer of Addai and Mari (the "Nithi Mar') to that of Mar Theodore, which we use from the first Sunday of Annunciation until the Feast of Resurrection.
Sadly, most of our people will not notice the change because some priests do not use Mar Theodore and even if they did our people no longer understand the ancient Syriac. As one of five non-Assyrian English parish priests in the Church of the East in the United States of America, I often reflect on the number of Assyrians, young and old, who have told me after participating in an English Qurbana, "Qasha, this is the first time I really understood the Raza..." I find such comments both gratifying and rather sad. The Raza, the liturgy, is "the work of the people," not merely that of the priests and deacons. Liturgical reform is not on the list of subjects for this year's Holy Synod, nor is it the point of this article, but it does need to be addressed as I believe the above reflection demonstrates. Rather, my point is the theology of Church unity expressed in Mar Theodore's consecration prayer, one that I pray would guide our Prelates in this upcoming Synod.
The consecration prayer of Mar Theodore is much like Addai and Mari, only extended and with deeper spiritual expression. The particular aspect pertinent to this article is known in liturgical terms as "the Memorial of the Church" and it comes right before what is known as the "epiclesis," or coming of the Holy Spirit in the Nithi Mar. This is a true memorial because every priest, bishop, metropolitan and even His Holiness will offer this Qurbana on behalf of the "Holy Catholic Church" for 20 Sundays! Let's look at the beginning of this prayer.
"Now too, O my Lord, behold this Qurbana is offered before your great and awesome name for all the Holy Catholic Church that you may make your peace and tranquility to dwell within it all the days of the world. Yes, our Lord and our God, make your peace and tranquility to dwell within it all the days of the world. May persecution, violence, strife, schisms, and divisions be kept far from it. May all of us be joined one to another, in one unity, with a pure heart and perfect love."
What we find here is that this part of the prayer, divided into four sentences in English, represents the liturgical theology of the "church" within the holy tradition of the Church of the East. First, our Qurbana is offered to God's great, awesome and fearful name. That is to say it is offered most intimately and with awe before his majesty.
Second, it is offered for "all the Holy Catholic Church" not for "churches" in the plural, nor for some other Church or for our Church alone, but for ALL the Church which is Holy and Catholic. And what do these words mean? Without going into great detail "holy" means that which is separated from the world and dedicated to God. "Catholic" refers to the universal faith of the Apostles spread throughout the world and maintained by bishops, priests and deacons, mentioned following in this prayer, so that the Qurbana can be properly offered. In today's reality we offer this Qurbana for Romans, Maronites, Syrians, Chaldeans and all in union with Rome, Copts, Armenians, West Syrians and Ethiopians, all Orthodox, Greeks, Russians, Bulgarians and many more. All these have the hallmarks and history declaring them to be part of the Catholic Church for which we make this Offering.
Third, we pray twice that the Father would make his peace and tranquility to dwell within the Church, not just now, but "all the days of the world." And how can this be accomplished? By making sure persecution, violence, strife, schisms, and divisions be kept far from it. While the Church may experience persecution and violence from the world I think the context has more to do with how we treat one another. The Father's peace and tranquility is rejected when persecution, violence, strife, schisms, and divisions are permitted within the Church. To permit such causes a difficult and damaging dispensation in the Church, which is most certainly displeasing to God.
Lastly, this Qurbana is offered so that ALL of us may be joined one to another, in one unity, having a pure heart and perfect love. Again, every priest, bishop, metropolitan and even His Holiness will soon be making this prayer in offering the Qurbana. And all the people will second it with a humble "Amen."
During the season of Annunciation we will also celebrate the Feast of Epiphany (January 6) and the Memorial of St John the Baptist. On these special days we use not the consecration prayer of Mar Theodore, but that known as Mar Nestorius. Once again, there is a treasure hidden from our people in this liturgical prayer. One Assyrian priest told me he has never celebrated Mar Nestorius, nor did he know ANY Assyrian priest who consecrated according to this prayer. This saddened me greatly, for the teaching and theology of this prayer contains the following...
"We too, O Lord of Hosts, God the Father, commemorating this salvation given us, and all the things which have been done for us, and before all believing in and confessing you, God, the Father of truth, and the eternal begetting of the Godhead of the Only-begotten who is from you, … and furthermore, confessing the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, who is also from the glorious essence of your Godhead, who proceeds from you, Father. Who with you and with your Only-begotten Son is together worshipped, glorified, and honored above all, we offer to you this living, holy, acceptable, glorious, fearful, and spotless sacrifice for all creatures, and for the Holy, Apostolic and Catholic Church from one end of the earth to the other. May it be preserved, immovable and without harm, from all scandals. Yes our Lord and our God, keep it unmoved and without harm from all scandals, spotless, undefiled, and without wrinkle or anything of the kind, for you have said through your beloved Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that the gates of Sheol shall never prevail over her."
Consider this, my brothers and sister in our ancient Faith, during this prayer our sacred Qurbana is offered to the end that all scandals and every spot, defilement, wrinkle and ANYTHING even of the kind be removed and cleansed from the Church. Is this too much to ask of our Prelates and especially of His Holiness that this prayer, approved and used by our Church for over 1400 years, should become the standard for the priests, bishops and metropolitans under His Holiness? If "judgment is to begin with the household of God" (1Peter 4:17 ) then let this Synod act accordingly to rid its members of the scandals, spots and defilements that have caused disillusionment and disgrace to her members. Scandal and gossip are cancers, which can eat away the very body of the Messiah.
I have avoided taking sides in the years-long political arguments now dividing our Church, but as a priest, I cannot avoid being liturgical and theological, or even more importantly being true to Christ and sincere to my Church’s Holy Fathers. I know some may say that because I was ordained by Bishop Mar Bawai Soro and serve in his diocese that I am “on his side.” Let me state that I am on Mar Theodore's side; I am on Mar Nestorius' side who both pray for the unity of Christ’s Catholic Church. Our holy liturgy, "Qurbana Qaddisha" is the standard of our Faith, the highest expression of our theology and the depth of the spiritual deposit of the wisdom of our Mesopotamian Fathers who introduced and consecrated both of these two Antiochean liturgies. The prayers of Mar Theodore and Mar Nestorius are centered on the hope, no, the necessity, of unity among the Messiah's believers.
Where is there to be found blame for one who submits to the sacred Scriptures, especially our Lord's prayer to his Father for the unity of his followers? (John 17) Where is the just condemnation for one who upholds the holy canons of our Church? Where is there ANY legitimate litigation for one living out the prayers and directives of our liturgy? There is none to be found for those who act and live according to the liturgy we profess. And, so to punish a bishop who has for two decades dared to promote unity among our Christian brothers and sisters is in fact an abuse of who we are as Christians and as Church of the East followers. Punishing Bishop Mar Bawai for his advocacy of Christian unity is in reality punishing our liturgy and our theology, our canons and the Sacred Scriptures. Are we Church members of this Faith willing to require our prelates, priests, and parishes to live by the statutes of our Faith and the values of our liturgy? If not, then there is no justification needed, for there is no accountability or anything else required any more. That which is all about unity has become all about absurdity.
My prayer for the Holy Synod, which I humbly ask the readers of Zinda Magazine to join in, is that our Prelates express a willingness to answer our Lord's prayer, in deed not in rhetoric, for our unity and the expression of our liturgy that "all of us may be joined one to another, in one unity, with a pure heart and perfect love." Amen.
Iraqi Christian Unity Slate Registers with Seven Participants
(ZNDA: Baghdad) Yesterday, Friday, 28 October was the deadline to submit the names of all candidates and slates to the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq for the upcoming parliamentary elections in 15 December 2005.
After much discussions, at Zinda Magazine's press time the "Christian" groups that have agreed to join in on the "United Christian" ballot are the following seven groups:
There are still disagreements about the final name of the slate and the position of the various candidates listed on the slate.
The Christian Democratic Brotherhood Party has joined the Sunni slate and the Chaldean Democratic Union Party has joined the Kurdish slate.
Sunnis are participating in the elections as their requests have been submitted as well. The lotto process to assign numbers to each slate will take place on 1 November 2005.
ADO on the Damascus Declaration
Assyrian Democratic Organization
20 October 2005
Statement on "Damascus Declaration for National Democratic Change"
The "Damascus declaration for national democratic change " which was announced in a press conference in Damascus on 16/10/2005, is an important step forward en route to consolidating and unifying efforts of the democratic opposition in Syria for the sake of introducing real peaceful democratic changes in Syria, something, which all Syrians everywhere have been looking forward to, away from the intimidations and pressures from outside and the authorities' disregard to calls for reform. The Declaration has embodied a consensus which all the patriotic forces, with their various national and political affiliations in the past five years, have agreed upon.
The Assyrian Democratic Organization(ADO) has been invited by the National Democratic Assembly, the initiator of this move, to take part in the negotiations that preceded the declaration, with an aim of signing it alongside the other patriotic forces. From the start the ADO made some remarks on the method of invitation, and the way the Assembly's commissioning committee conducted the preliminary discussion, with each party separately. Because in our opinion, such a method would not allow all the expressed views to come to fruition. Moreover, we made our reservation about two main articles in the Declaration :
1-Concerning the religion: the Declaration stipulates that : "Islam, is the religion and the faith of the majority. It is considered the principle cultural component in the life of the people and the nation, with its noble aims, high values and tolerant Sharia. Our Arabic civilization has been formed within the framework of its ideas, values and morals in interaction with the other historical and national cultures in our society, through moderation, toleration and mutual interaction, away from fanaticism, violence and exclusion, with very special concern over the respect for the faiths and cultures and specificity of others, whatever their religious, doctrinal or ideological affiliations and openness on good and modern cultures ".
The ADO, being a secular organization, and, further, to ward off any sensitivities and misgiving, did not see any need for introducing an article related to religion. Furthermore, the article was incomplete, for ignoring many components of Syrian national identity and depending solely on one, which is Islam, something which is incompatible with truth and reality. Nevertheless, the Organization confirmed, if religion has to be included, the declaration should come to mention all the active forces in the society including the religious ones, hence, it is necessary to refer to the Christian religion as well, being the religion of Syria in the pre-Islamic era and. Further, it is from this land that Christianity spread out across the world carrying a message of peace and love, in addition to two million Christians who currently live in Syria coupled with several million of Christian Syrians expatriates who live in other countries. These people, together with their Muslim brothers and followers of other religions in Syria set an example of brotherly peaceful coexistence, that greatly enriched and strengthened the cultural diversity in Syria and served as a good message for inside and outside. As a matter of fact, this article with its ambiguous wording contradicts with other articles the declaration included, and in our view, the present wording of the article deepens a state of discrimination amongst the people of one country, between the Muslims and the followers of other faiths, and establishes a kind of hegemony by one group over the others in the name of religion and eventually paves the way, in the future, for imposing Islamic Sharia on the ground that Islam is the religion and doctrine of the majority and that it had been previously agreed upon that .
2- Our Organization has stressed the importance of mentioning and introducing the name of our Assyrian (Syriac) people in the article related to the minorities, not on account of partnership, but as an affirmation of the rights of our people which is considered one of the oldest indigenous people In Syria - and which had been subjected in the past to continuous and systematic attempts of fusion and dissolution- and, further, as a confirmation of the state of plurality and diversity and following the example of the case of the Kurdish people which was included in the article, "and this is fair ", finally, as a means of warding off the consolidation of national singleness or the duality of the Syrian society at the expense of the other national components. In fact, this demand by us, had won the approval of the Declaration drafting committee, as well as a number of other signatories, but we were surprised to find no mention of our people when it was announced at the press conference.
However, the Assyrian Democratic Organization, in spite of its reservation about some articles of the Declaration, finds in it many positive issues that can constitute a basis, in the future, for drafting a common national program for national democratic work, that all forces, aspiring for a democratic change in Syria, would participate in it. Moreover, we see in this initiative a serious starting point towards creating a broad-based national coalition with an effective role in the process of peaceful democratic changes, something, that all the Syrian people are looking forward to.
Hence, we confirm our positive cooperation with this initiative and our readiness to open dialogue and communicate with both, the signatories to the Declaration, and those who reused to sign it, aiming at reaching a more comprehensive and broad-base consensus that would eventually lay the foundation for building a homeland for all the Syrians, regardless of their political, religious or ideological affiliations .
Assyrian Father Killed Wife, Children Seek Mercy
Courtesy of the Associated Press
(ZNDA: Raleigh) The four children of Elias and Teresa Syriani once hated their father for stabbing their mother to death with a screwdriver. Now they're pleading for his life, convinced that executing him will bring them more tragedy.
"We just feel if this happens, we will be devastated," Rose Syriani, 28, said Tuesday when she joined her three siblings at the Legislative Building in Raleigh, North Carolina to appeal to Gov. Mike Easley for mercy. "I don't know if we will get through this again." "If this execution is carried out, we'll have two parents murdered," Rose told the audience. Her sister Sarah wiped a tear from her eye. "We've suffered enough," she said.
Elias Hanna Syriani, 67, is scheduled to die by injection on Nov. 18 for the death of his wife, Teresa Yousef Syriani. She was stabbed 28 times with a screwdriver while sitting in her car as their 10-year-old son tried to stop him. This happened shortly after filing for divorce. Teresa died 26 days later at the age of 40.
Born in Jerusalem, Elias was 10 when his community became part of
the newly created state of Israel. Israelis imprisoned his father
and released him to Jordan two years later. His family joined him
Her then-10-year-old son, John, witnessed the July 1990 attack. He and his sisters, Rose and Sarah, testified against their father at his trial the following year.
But now they say it would be a travesty if the state executed Elias Syriani just as they have transformed their hate, anger and bitterness into forgiveness, reconciliation and love - guided, they believe, by their mother's spirit.
"Love is the work of God, and my mother was a loving and forgiving woman. So I know that came from her," said Sarah Syriani Barbari, 27, of San Francisco.
John, now 25, wrote to his father within a year of the killing and visited him once in 1998. The sisters eventually visited their father at Central Prison in Raleigh last year.
Easley will hear the children's direct plea for mercy at a clemency hearing Nov. 8.
Syriani's appellate lawyers said he may have abused and killed his wife because of trauma he experienced as an Assyrian Christian in Jerusalem. Syriani's trial lawyer didn't hire a mental health expert who could have explained the abuse and argued that it had altered his mental state, say his appeals lawyers.
The Syriani children say their father has not pushed them to save his life. They started their campaign for mercy on their own.
Georges Sada Shares Tales of Life under Saddam
(ZNDA: Arkansas) Georges Sada, an advisor to Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari and the executive secretary of the Iraq Institute for Peace, is in Branson, Missouri this week to speak at the Revival Fires Word Mission Alliance Reunion. He is also in the United States to meet with Integrity Publishers, which will publish his book, "The Secret of Saddam," in early 2006.
He will share many of his experiences in Iraq — before, during and after Saddam — with those attending the reunion Friday evening — a free event open to the public.
Sada, an Iraqi Christian, was once a high ranking officer in Iraq's Air Force. He "retired" in 1986 when he refused to join the Ba'ath Party, Saddam Hussein's political machine. He was called back in August 1990 after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait and ordered to report on his country's military capabilities against the United States. He advised the dictator to take his troops back home to avoid a rout.
"Unfortunately, nobody listened," Sada said.
In 1990, Sada was unable to stop the U.N. invasion, but he was able to save the lives of American POWs whom Qusay Hussein, one of Saddam's two sons who later died in the 2003 war, wanted killed. Sada's efforts saved the pilots but put him in prison briefly. Saddam later released him from prison, and Sada was again out of the military.
Twelve years later, Sada joined a delegation of the International Center for Reconciliation to attend a meeting in England where that country voted to back an invasion of Iraq by the United States.
Sada called Tariq Aziz, then deputy prime minister of Iraq. "Sir, the decision of war is taken," he told Aziz, who was both "surprised and afraid."
Aziz held out hope that a meeting with the pope in February 2003 would turn the tide. It didn't, but an international religious committee worked hard to avoid war by arranging asylum for Saddam and his family in Russia, India or China, allowing for a peaceful transfer in the government, Sada said.
Saddam did not take them up on the offer, despite a delegation of Japanese monks who stayed in Iraq for nearly two weeks waiting to meet with the president and make the arrangements.
The war began in March while Sada was still in England, but in May he returned. He has worked with the provisional government since then.
Today, he sees his country in a "critical situation" with political and religious factions jockeying for position in a new Iraqi government. While votes are being counted in Iraq's recent referendum on a new constitution, the country faces continued strife.
Sada says he is "working to make peace in Iraq" despite the political upheaval and the destruction of the insurgency.
Before the referendum, the Iraq Institute for Peace and the United Nations held 12 conferences with the Sunnis, who have lost their traditional power base in Iraq, to get them to participate in the vote.
Another critical timeline for Iraq is Dec. 15 when an election of a permanent government is scheduled. As "a man who wants to create peace," Sada hopes to keep his country from falling apart before then.
Long-lost Musasir Temple found in Azerbaijan
(ZNDA: London) Archaeologists recently discovered a temple at the 3000-year-old site of Rabat near the town of Sardasht in Iran's West Azarbaijan Province which they believe is the long-lost Temple of Musasir, the Persian service of the Cultural Heritage News (CHN) agency reported.
Before the excavations, the German and American archaeologists working at the site had assumed that the temple was probably buried somewhere in Iraq or Turkey.
Musasir was a semi-independent buffer state bordering Mannai between Assyria and Urartu. It was a vassal state of Assyria yet Urartu had some claims over it.
Reza Heydari, an archaeologist of the West Azarbaijan Cultural Heritage and Tourism Department, said that the recent discoveries, which include a great number of glazed bricks, a brick bearing bas-reliefs of four winged goddesses, and geometrical shapes such as concentric circles inside square frames and chain links of circles, as well as the clay inscriptions left by the Assyrian king Sargon II, indicate that the discovered temple is Musasir Temple.
If future excavations prove that the temple is not the Temple of Musasir, the discoveries will still be very important sources of information for archaeologists seeking to identify all of the forty regional city-states which Sargon captured during his reign, Heydari explained.
King Sargon left many clay inscriptions in Assyrian in which he mentioned his attacks on the Mannai city states. He has indicated the direction of his movement from each point to the next destination.
He has specified all the directions, citing the rivers, forests, waterfalls, and mountains he crossed. Based on these clay inscriptions, the temple must be located at the ancient site of Rabat.
The route to Rabat taken by Sargon is in the same direction of today's Rabat Tepe. In conquering the region, Sargon captured 6110 people, 1250 sheep, 45 tons of gold, 400 pieces of jewelry, 44 swords and daggers, and several silver cups. These spoils show what a major state it was 3000 years ago, he noted.
Sargon also described his attacks on the region in clay inscriptions which were discovered in the Assyrian capital in Iraq. The attack on the Musasir Temple has also been referred to in the clay inscriptions.
According to the inscriptions, Sargon first plundered the palace and storerooms that belonged to Urzana, the king of Musasir, and then seized the even richer contents of the temple of Haldi, the god of the ancient kingdom of Urartu.
Rabat dates back to some time around 1000 BC. It is one of the richest archaeological sites of northwestern Iran. Archaeologists had estimated the site covered only a four-hectare area, but new studies have extended the area to 25 hectares.
Experts believe that Musasir was an ancient city probably located near the upper Great Zab River between Lake Urmia and Lake Van, the present Turkey. Musasir was particularly important during the first half of the 1st millennium BC and is known primarily from reliefs and inscriptions obtained during the reign of the Assyrian king Sargon II, who captured it in 714 BC.
Joseph Ivanoff's Second CD Debuts in November
(ZNDA: Chicago) Assyrian music producer and performer, Joseph Ivanoff's new CD will debut in November.
Joseph has performed with Linda George, Fatin Shabo, Albert Ninway, Janan Sawa, Ashour Sargis among other talented Assyrian artists. He has also worked on internationally known projects including collaborations with the Jive records, Billy Ocean, Samantha Fox, Fred White, and Lidel Townsel.
Joseph Ivanoff's musical style, according to his Marketing Director, Mr. Ninos K, is "modern, dynamic and unpredictable."
Joseph's vocal instructor is an opera singer who has studied with the greats in Italy such as Klaus Georg.
Joseph Ivanoff's first CD, "Qam Shadinaley" [She made me crazy] featuring the hit song "Lenwa Anna" [Wasn't Me!], Joe ushered a new era in the Assyrian musical performances, says Ninos K. Joe's debut CD entered Assyrian market strong and with a fresh new sound.
Joseph's second CD offers new exiting sounds of traditional and pop music. Samples of Joseph's new music and order information will be provided in the coming issues of Zinda Magazine. For more information click here.
A Response to Mr. Emanuel DeKelaita:
We have know Mar Bawai Soro since the days of Beirut, Chicago, Canada and later California. His Grace was hand picked by HH Mar Dinkha back in 1985 as part of an effort by leadership to prepare the next generation leaders of the church to entrust the flock into the shepherd.
The Church of the East invested in a leader, raised a young man. Mar Bawai became a lecturer, speaker, Academic, Writer, and internationally known. The Church patiently waited 17 years for Mar Bawai to complete his education and take his responsibility to start his devotion to the Church. Is this drama that we see these days what the church deserves as a result of this long 17 years of raising a leader.
The newly educated leaders are supposed to take the Church to the next level. Open schools, teach clergy, publish the theology and history of the church, build stronger youth bodies, mission beyond Assyrians.
It is not enough to say: He is most intelligent and most educated. Humans are judged by the seeds they plant and not by what they say. Wake up folks.
Sometimes we may have to think some people might be good thinkers, good writers but may not be good leaders. Maybe a more research role would fit Mar Bawai than a Shepard's role. We have to think about that.
H.H. Mar Dinkha's dream which is known to all of us is the unity of all three branches of the Church of the East. We do not understand why this Church is always attacked and finger pointed for being against unity.
Unity was initiated during the era of Mar Dinkha IV from day one and none from the other two sects. Let us be clear on that. Unity starts with intention then acceptance then collaboration then forgiveness then unity.
Starting with the Old Calendar
For decades the Patriarch of the Old Calendar used to speak and preach that Mar Dinkha does not want peace. Also the local politicians used to also stir that pot.
Mar Dinkha extended peace efforts to the Old Calendar. In one of the latest synod meetings in Chicago they accepted the consecration of Mar Toma Darmo and accepted the old calendar as ours.
After that Patriarch of the Old Calendar did not make the next move. His clear intention is to wait for the opportunity to take over the whole church one day. He does not care about Christ Body union. At least he is silent and does not speak against the Church anymore. He won a free card. Why do not you ask him to unite with the main branch Church?
The Catholic Church of the East
The Assyrian Church of the East known in the 60s for its orthodoxy tradition, made a bold move and changed the calendar to the western calendar. The main intention was to stay closer and close the gap with our Chaldean brothers. However that did not happen and the tragedy of the schism took place.
How could we not see all this. Why don't you all share some of the blame for the others?
On the other side let us not be foolish of what some of the political organizations are stirring. The infamous ADM in an attempt to deflect away all the losses it has encountered is actively mobilizing an anti-church movement to disguise its losses and blame it all on the Church. Let us be awake that Mr. Kanna need to answer to us about all the losses we took.
What has he done recently after the latest failure in the Constitution. When the liberators fail they blame it on the Church, but they never consult the Church for any help or assistance or prayers. They take it all by themselves.
I think we all need to pray and pray more and ask God for His help. In eastern Christianity we are known for reverence and respect for the clergy. It is not to the benefit of any what we are going through.
Without the backing of the Church of the East Mar Bawai would lose a lot. In terms of reverence and representation, and prestige. We should not allow for another scar to happen in the body of the Church.
We think Mar Bawai should focus on the mission of the Church, should engage in the missionary activity to extend the church to the next level beyond the scope of the Assyrian nationalism so that the Church would flourish and enlighten more people and bring the population to hundreds of millions of followers. We need a formula for today's Christianity. Enough of philosophical lectures. We need a medicine for our faith first.
I see Mr. Deklaita's anger and frustration and running out of excuses. He can say all what he can. It would be limitless. However it is clear to all of us that Mar Dinkha is fair and just. Mar Bawai failed to complete his responsibility.
Please be alert that we live in America where there is no room for Rayattai and Ashiratai; we're not living in Hakkari. This was 90 years ago. Please wake up.
Good bless you all.
Direct Insult to the Readers
This globe trotter... is an embarrassment to the very bishop (Mar Bawai) he is defending. An Assyrian I assume, Mr. Kalaita born and raised as a member of the Assyrian church would never call his Patriarch a Mafia boss and by association brand the very bishop he supports as a mafia member too.
What kind of a person in his right mind would stoop to such level and call the Assyrian Church's synod meeting a sommeka gathering? Has he no shame at all? Such opinion, regardless of how pressing and valid the issue he is grieving is a direct insult to the readers, and is utterly tasteless, disgraceful and above all an abomination which should not have been allowed to defile the pages of yours or any media.
This man has gone way beyond the limits of the freedom of expression the civilized world knows. My recommendation to this person is to please stay where he belongs, right there in the desert living and breathing the 15th century nomadic life where he rightly fits.
Dr George Habash
Under the current rule of 9 April 2003 the Assyrians continue to suffer by means of targeted killing, intimidation for the purpose of forced emigration and the pre-meditated political marginalisation.
The reason for this retreat in the advancement of the Assyrian cause is due for the fragmented and un-effective Assyrian and other Christian political establishments. Add to this the deficiency in the authority of the church in general.
An Assyrian national front is required to combine the efforts of the nation that would penetrate the corridors of power in the Baghdad zone or the ‘Green Zone’ or any zone and demand the Assyrian solution for the salvation of the Assyrian masses.
It is an eleventh hour but we have to do it and do it now otherwise it could be the last chance for our national existence. Our voice is still not heard and we have to make it heard everywhere.
The Assyrian national home or the autonomous region between the Tigris and Upper Zab is the only option left for us to survive as a nation and people. It will be the home and refuge for others to move in from other parts of the country and from distant foreign lands worldwide.
We have to say Yes when we mean Yes and No when we mean No without hesitation and we have to accept and we have to reject with determination according to our national interests; we must never capitulate or abandon our rights and our struggle. Otherwise we will continue to vanish at home and melt down in Disney foreign lands. We do it for the sake of our children and grand children and there will be no more Assyrians beyond that should we miss this last chance we are bothering about.
On Thursday 22 September 2005 assailants murdered four Assyrian paramilitaries and injuring a fifth one in a cold-blooded slaughter (see Zinda magazine, issue 24 September 2005). These innocent people and many before them sacrificed their lives for a cause beholden to us all and that is our liberation as a nation and people. Who is carrying that task?
All Assyrian media and the internet in particular conveyed the funeral ceremony of the four martyrs with their coffins covered partly with Assyrian flags and partly with Allah Akbar/Arian flags (see www.bethsuryoyo.com).
Allah Akbar is Arian slogan which means God is greater, but is almost translated wrongly and intentionally to God is great. The Arian heresy (Arius 256-336AD) is anathema to the trinity doctrine of the Gospel of Christ and therefore every Christian must reject the Arian flag.
How can we send our departed brothers to meet Christ covering with anti-Christ flags? We must reject what is anathema to us.
We have to raise our Assyrian flags and should we abide by the national flag, then we have to use the un-Arian-ed nation’s flags ie the ones without Allah Akbar.
We have to stand for ourselves and let no one stand for us; we reject to be ruled and that time has gone for good. We have to choose the path of living in liberty and dignity in the lands between the Tigris and Upper Zab.
2006 New Year's Eve Party in San Jose
The Assyrian American Association of San Jose proudly presents New Year’s Eve Dinner Dance
Franco & DJ Teymour
Saturday, December 31, 2005 at the Westin Hotel, located at 5101 Great America Parkway, Santa Clara.
Doors will open at 7:00 p.m. and dinner will be served at 8:00 p.m.
Ticket Sales Begin:
Saturday, October 29, 2004 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Please note: There will be no sales on November 23rd and December 24th.
10-29-05 thru 11-12-05 $85 member $100 non-member
You may purchase your tickets from the Assyrian American Association at 1352 Lincoln Avenue, San Jose. For more information please call (408) 519-5010
Please NO children under the age of 10. Babysitting services will be provided.
The Assyrian Institutions: Self-Destructive Enterprises
It is stated that the Assyrians' greatest enemies are Assyrians themselves. Oh how true that is! Why is it that a dozen of individuals or half dozen of organizations refuse to support, and/or work with, each other? What is it about these people and groups, who chose to be part of such destructive enterprise, especially in moments of great urgency?
We could excuse and forgive a naïve and uneducated person who does not know enough and makes a mistake, or exercises bad judgment, through which he/she might hurt his/her own people. How could we justify the destructive actions of individuals who are considered educated leaders of this nation? How could we claim to be Christians when we break every single commandment of God and go against every single value of human decency and morality? How dare we face the altar and pray to God and claim to be his humble servants, then come out and stab our brothers in blood and Christ in the back? What is it with this devious hypocrisy, and when would this madness stop?
We thought that tribalism was finally left behind us as we acclimated to certain healthy customs in western societies; however, the more we look around us, the more we see the tribal killer syndrome embedded in our society. Both the Assyrian Church of the East and Assyrian politics are run through tribal mentality. Many Assyrians question if we could do Assyrian matters justice when significant business in Church and politics considers tribal affiliation a requisite.
It is 2:30 a.m. and I just cannot go to bed seeing what is happening around us, listening to speeches of division and of deceit, and reading about so many declarations from clergymen and laity each asking for his/her separate demands from the Iraqi authorities. I want to scream, curse, go out on the street and run, may be I will get to a place where I could find reason. Nevertheless, I know that I could not face this despair by running away. I have so much to get out of my chest, but I always remember my father's words: Son think hundred times before writing about someone or something, consider the family, the relatives, the church, and the community before you do. At the same time, he had taught me to stand by and for the truth, always. We must not hurt one another, the Bible orders us; however, does the Bible order us not to point to the wrong and awful things around us?
We always hope that things will improve, but we continue to be disappointed with every opportunity that presented itself to us. My agony continues to get deeper and deeper. Those who yesterday were pinching our brothers in the back with a needle are stabbing them today with a sword and those who were digging a hole in front of our brothers yesterday are pushing them over a cliff today. Whereas the involvements of the few were a nuisance and inconvenience yesterday, it is becoming a matter of almost life and death for a nation today. If so, what is it with this silence of a nation and what is it with this complete apathy and indolence? Every human being must take certain responsibilities in his/her society and when we get involved, we are expected to serve the best interest of society. When one deviates from such norm, the people must in timely manner react and force aside those who are not serving the interest of the people the best, otherwise, the damage that such people could inflict on the well being and future of the community could be irreversible.
We have stood and watched AssyriaSat for almost two years attack, curse, humiliate, and belittle our only elected leader in Iraq and the only meaningful political group, and I am referring to Mr. Younadam Kanna and the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM), without a single protest. We stood and watched this destructive and biased satellite TV station present us no serious alternatives to our dilemma in Iraq besides shinny slogans and worthless commentaries as if to state foolishly that when it publicizes the mistakes and imperfections of others, it becomes by default the savior of the people. We have stood on the sidelines and witnessed self-destructing of a nation and we are yet to lift a finger to rectify the situation. What are we anticipating? This pathetic situation will not correct itself if we do not get involved. We have sat and listened to childish and silly poems by Rev. Barkho on AssyriaSat satellite TV, which exposed to the world a sample of the mentality of this nation's state of decay. Few others made references to Mr. Kanna that embarrass any decent human being when they unleashed their filth across media waves. Is this all what we understand of the meaning of democracy and freedom of speech?
We have sat and listened to speeches of clergymen inciting people to hate, when they should have been the promoters of love, sympathy, and forgiveness as they preach from their altars on Sundays. We have heard consistently from His Holiness Patriarch Mar Dinkha IV that clergymen would not get involved in politics; however, in many statements, speeches, letters to governments, and other actions, we see clergymen consistently being involved. I have no problem with clergymen giving guidance to their parishioners, since they are part of the nation, but the Church should stop this obvious contradiction between what it says and what it does. Finally, I listened to the speech of Patriarch Mar Dinkha last week. Was that not a political speech?
Allow me to put the issue of the nature of the speech aside and discuss the speech itself. There were some very encouraging remarks in that speech; however, we have heard too many of such speeches in the past. A speech that talks about the oneness of our Assyrian, Chaldean, and Suryani people without any meaningful steps and actions to institute that oneness is worthless. Talk is cheap. I personally expect more from the Patriarch in order to prove that he means what he says. I would expect from the Patriarch to pick up the phone immediately, reach out first to His Holiness Patriarch Mar Addai, and undo the mistake of 40 years ago that divided our church into two churches: Old and New Calendars. There should be no reason whatsoever that such step should not be addressed seriously in the Church synod that starts on Monday, October 31, especially now that the Ba'athist interference in church affairs is gone. Where there is will there is a solution; do we have the genuine will to move ahead? Next, Mar Dinkha should reach out to His Beatitude Mar Emmanuel Delly III and do whatever it takes to reach a common understanding now, because now is the moment to do something as we approach the elections in Iraq on December 15 and we do not want to miss this opportunity as well. Visionary leaders of the Church should have resolved all these issues since 1992 when many national and international observers anticipated a change in Iraq, but we missed that. Then came the elections of January 31, 2005, and we were crushed in defeat because of our division. Do we want to miss another opportunity?
My other concerns in the Patriarch's speech center around the followings:
In my humble opinion, the speech of Patriarch Mar Dinkha will accomplish nothing, unless it is followed by actions that go hand in hand and in that same line of the speech. In the past, we have listened to many of such speeches by different clergymen and politicians; speeches that excited us for that specific moment in which the speech was made. What have those speeches accomplished? The answer is nothing! The Kurds continue to take advantage of our division, and of the incompetence, indecisiveness, and weakness of most of our leaders. Kurds in northern Iraq (Occupied Assyria) continue to move ahead and progress at our people's expense. If we are serious about protecting and preserving our homeland and our people in Iraq by uniting the various fragments of this nation, the present leadership must revitalize itself. Genuine unity and cooperation is the key, nothing else will work. Assyrians are tired of the boring, empty, and useless speeches that are motivated by one reason or another. Our people demand actions just as the old and popular TV commercial questioned: where is the beef?
A Stern Journalistic Reminder To My Kurdish Co-Journalists And The Kurdish Presses!
Not bereft of anachronistic antecedents demeaning the legacy of Assyria as a properly identifiable nationality, par with that of the Arabs and the Kurds, on one hand, and categorizing it with that of the Turkomen, on the other, this article, is intentionally and in good faith, to be seriously considered, if not by the Kurdish political establishments, at least by the Kurdish Journalists and the Kurdish Presses.
This article specifically obstructs the true nature of history - both past and present - and tarnishes the field of correspondents in their zeal to seek and to press for the truth, at all the times and everywhere that is required.
Also, The Kurds just as much as the Assyrians are inadvertently imputed as insignificantly negligible dwellers of the northern occupied Mesopotamia, a.k.a. Iraq.
The Kurds have no obligation to extend a helping hand for the proud remnants of Assyria, by committing themselves to the democratic principles of occupied Mesopotamia. It is beyond Assyria to honor such a suffocating rescue apparatus, since it is a mere façade, which visits them on occasions, deemed necessary for self-advocacy. This chivalrously devoid sustenance of 'minorities', as Mr. Shojai puts it, appears and disappears with seasons of convenience. 'Le flux les apporte, le reflux les remporte'. [Bread cast upon the water].
The ephemeral recompense in trusting some nationals of Assyria with some Ministerial Portfolios, but describing them as purely Christians, is both hypocrisy and fraud.
The Kurds, as formerly oppressed minority of Iraq, ever since its inception, ought to be reminded that despite their assimilation into the ranks and files of both political and military establishments of Iraq, they fought back with all the power they could muster, to retain their identity and their independence.
Citizens of Assyria also happen to be a category of the same cleavage, and they resent, to work, for an occupied Mesopotamia, which may or may not remain Iraq in the future.
Just as the Kurds did not feel dignified enough to attain high positions within the Governments of Iraq, those die-hard citizens of Assyria cherish to attain their national dignity with all the attributes that the Kurdish minority has attained, and seeks to attain more. And, those elements of Assyria that do not wish to follow in the footsteps of their insubordinate brethren, both from within and without occupied Mesopotamia, for their forthright national aspirations, are not with Assyria, and are merely marching to the tune of insipidity in their struggle for Assyria.
Throughout the past four decades, this writer has vehemently defended the political and territorial rights of the minorities of Iraq, and the Kurdish rights were spearheaded, followed by those for Assyria.
If my mother were a streetwalker, I would still be her son, and she would still be my mother. We would still be an intertwined family entity. Assyria and Kurds have to remain inseparable in their quest for freedom and a dignified existence, just like any other nationality in the world, whether they like each other or not, whether they respect each other or not, whether they resent each other or not. The Kurdish media and its correspondents cannot enshrine and embellish their own parody of a quasi-Kurdish Republic, entombing the other minorities' national rights, within their own geographical boundaries.
The claim of Assyria is undisputable. Assyria shall press with vigor, for as long as might take, to retain its title to the land, proportionately allocated to it in the Province of Ninewah. That inexhaustible process of continuance and persuasion to persevere in their aim to attain a portion of real estate, and to call it Regional Government of Assyria, quasi-Republic of Assyria, or Republic of Assyria shall proceed for as long as Assyrians all over the world co-jointly follow the path to reach such a plateau.
Assyria has, throughout the past two-and-a-half millennia, continued to reside within its original indigenous habitat, hence it automatically fits into category of continuously possessing territory. If at times, its population has dwindled from some areas, it was due to oppression, persecution, mayhem and massacres. And, if by coincidence, these trends happen to be the Kurdish outcry, in their stance to attain nationhood, it, therefore becomes the basic core of the founding talisman for Assyria to follow through, in perspicuity.
It is preponderant to note that Assyrians are more nationalistic than many nations. They feel proper ties and personal patronage with their country of origin, even though some of them have never breathed the air of Mesopotamia.
Sovereignty of Iraq
Whenever, and if, Mesopotamia becomes sovereign once again, Assyria shall ask for no less than territorial integrity, par with that of territorial claims made by both Arabs and Kurds, excepting for proportional acreage.
To Assyria, political remunerations are nothing more than encumbrances, anathema to the sea of cultures alien to them. Democracy reenacts itself as profanity, since it dishonors a religiously oriented culture of Assyria by making it submissive to the majority rule.
Democracy is not a rampant dictum instrument. Democracy is not to enforce linguistic, cultural, religious, dress code, nutritional habits and many more facets of life by a majority over the minority. Democracy is not to forcibly unite nationalities. Democracy is to be respected in all aspects, and in the case of future Iraq, Assyria has to evolve as a national entity, with internationally designated boundaries. That is democracy. An ethnic, NOT a national referendum is the result of democracy and its ideals.
Democratization of Kurdistan is a lesson of futility for Assyria, since it shall remain vassal to the Kurd. Assyria tends and intends to be treated as an equal nationality, exactly on the same level as a Kurd aspires for the same equality among Arabs. After all, it is the same Kurd that harbored same aspirations for Assyria, as long as the oppression and political persecution hovered over the Kurd's horizons. And, it is the same Kurd who enlisted the young Assyrian men and women in their struggles from liberty and independence from the Arabs.
Assyria vs. Kurdistan
Assyria has never been, is not, and shall never be Kurdistan. Assyrians are inseparable from the Kurds, as close neighbors, as persecuted entities, and as unrecognized nationalities. Both lived within each other's vicinity for centuries, if not millennia, but they are different entities as people, and thus, ought to proclaim their nations as separate as possible, and, as much as they can muster, not only from each other, but, from free future Iraq. This last phase is preeminent, since both these nationalities shall enforce the issues that might play momentous, internationally acclaimed coups in the years, if not months to come.
Kurds absorbing Assyria, or vice versa is detrimental at least, and suicidal at most for both nationalities deemed to take their place in history, the Kurd for the first time, and Assyria for its rebirth.
And, if the Kurd believes that Assyria is too minute and does not deserve the treatment the Kurd is getting from the Arabs, then, that belief becomes fallacious. Out of 26 million citizens of Mesopotamia, there are no more than 3.5 million Kurds. But, there are no less than 1.5 million Assyrians of all denominations that go by different names. An elementary mathematical configuration shows the ratio to be 14-15% Kurds versus Arabs, and 40-42% Assyrians versus the Kurds.
Thus, if a Kurd is not destined to live under the Arab titular appendage, neither does an Assyrian destined to live under the titular appendage of the Kurd.
At press time, the power of Assyria is miniscule. But, do not underestimate its resources.
Over one-half of Assyria is spread throughout the world. These 1.5 million Assyrians live mostly in large metropolitan areas. They are urban residents. All their children go to schools, and all accomplish their studies in higher education No less than one-quarter of a million of Assyria are college graduates. Almost one out of eight Assyrians hold a certain level of a college degree. No nation on earth supersedes Assyria in its march to higher grounds of knowledge.
The more oppressed, the more interested Assyria becomes as times go by. There are many young, and old-timers that are profoundly enlisting their efforts to educate this corps of young resourceful generation to come to the aid of its citizens in Mesopotamia.
After all history cannot be ignored.
In 1945, when a Kurdish flag was hoisted for the first time ever recorded, in a Kurdish capital, throughout history, Mahabad, it was thanks to international politics from outside of the framework of, Iraq and Iran, that the late [General Mullah] Mostafa Barzani, founder of KDP, and (father of Mr. Masood Barzani, Regional Kurdish President), as a life-long combatant for independence of the Kurds, and Commander-In-Chief of the short-lived state in today's western Iran [1945-1946], had wrestled a huge chunk of real estate from Iran, and declaring it officially "State of Republic of Kurdistan", but was also referred to as "National Government of Kurdistan.
Outside powers are real, and have to be reckoned with. These powers are also seasonal, and although not dependable, they instill venomous punctures in the areas they attack.
Rest assured my Kurdish journalistic counterparts and the Kurdish Media, that this effort to reintroduce, and to inject nationalistic blood into new generation of Assyria, shall be persevered at all expense, and one day, we might also be banging the trumpets of national glory, instead of dancing to the beats of the drums on our Saints' Days Sheikhanis.
Assyria shall refuse to refer to Kurdish dominated area as Kurdistan, as long as a Kurd refuses to acknowledge Assyria.
WHAT SAY YA NOW? MY KURDISH CO-JOURNALISTS, AND THE KURDISH MEDIA!
25 October British Parliamentary Debate
Dr Robert Michael Spink (born 1 August 1948, Yorkshire) is a politician in the United Kingdom. He is Conservative Party Member of Parliament for Castle Point in Essex, and was first elected in 1992. He lost his seat in 1997, but regained it in 2001. The following debate began on the floor of the British Parliament on 25 Oct 2005 at 12.30 pm.
Bob Spink: Just this morning, there were two explosions in Sulaymaniyah. According to first reports, nine people were killed. Our condolences and our hearts go to their families. This terrible disaster—this terrorist atrocity—was the first such incident in Kurdistan for about a year.
Let me start by making two things clear. The people of the Kurdistan region of Iraq supported the war to remove Saddam Hussein, and they see us as a liberating, not an occupying, force. I was in Iraq during the run-up to the war in February 2003, and I went again in September this year. Therefore, I feel well placed to report on the progress achieved since the war, and I do so humbly in the hope that I can inform the debate.
I pay tribute to the many MPs who have been involved with the area. Hon. Members must often base their decisions on Government briefings. I trust Ministers to act honourably and to give briefings in good faith—they always do. However, we also speak and vote according to what we hear, read or see in sometimes sensationalised media coverage. If we go to war for a people, it is right, if we can, to learn what those people actually feel and think. That is why I have been to Iraq and why I am grateful to Mr. Speaker for allowing this debate so that I can help, in my small way, better to inform the House and the international community.
The bare facts are stark. Ninety-seven of our armed forces have been killed. Our spending approaches £6 billion, and our longer term plans remain relatively undeveloped, although I accept that we now have an honourable exit strategy. This is one of the more important debates of recent years, and addressing the facts at first hand is self-evidently the right approach. The hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk (Michael Connarty) has just entered the Chamber; he missed my paying tribute to him.
The UK forces are in Iraq at the request of the Iraqi Government and operate as part of a multinational force under resolution 1546 of the UN Security Council. They are providing the necessary support, training and security for the Iraqi Government to build a democratic, safe and prosperous future for their people. Any MP who does not believe that it is an essential part of our job to make the world a safer place, and to tackle human rights abuses wherever there is genuine need, is not following the time-honoured and honourable traditions of this mother of Parliaments.
I pay tribute to our armed forces. I am proud to have served in them myself, if only briefly. They are one of the best disciplined, most professional and most effective forces in the world, particularly in difficult peacekeeping roles. We must do all that we can to protect them, and we must bring them home safely as soon as we possibly can.
I pay tribute to the media who, although they sometimes sensationalise, work with dignity, bravery and professionalism. They do an excellent and necessary job. The 100 British policemen in Iraq have trained almost 15,000 Iraqi police and will end up training about 25,000, and there are many unsung British heroes who are helping in specialist areas. We can be proud of them all.
I gave the Prime Minister a message from Kurdish President Barzani, in which he thanked the British people for "all you have done to liberate his people and help them to secure a safe and democratic future" and asked the Prime Minister to "continue to keep sufficient troops in Iraq to enable the country to reform as a stable democracy".
It is worth putting the Prime Minister's response on record. He stated: "I was pleased you had a good exchange with President Barzani. We will continue to work with him and other leaders to help Iraq develop as a stable democracy. I believe we have a responsibility to the Iraqi people to see through this commitment. We will stay in Iraq for as long as we are needed and not a day longer."
The Prime Minister, like all MPs, must have the courage to make tough personal judgments and stand by them. It is called leadership. I am grateful to him for his responsible and honourable leadership during the post-war period in Iraq. As for the decision to go to war in Iraq in the first place, history will show that it was justified, because on balance it saved lives and suffering.
The Prime Minister said that Saddam Hussein slaughtered more than 1.5 million people. He certainly slaughtered 500,000 Kurds. Thus, on average, 1,000 people were killed every week of his evil regime, and the war stopped that slaughter. That gives moral justification for the war. If the war eventually delivers stability to Iraq and the middle east and enables human rights to progress and democracy to become established, they will represent additional reasons why Britain was right to go to war in Iraq. Whatever one feels about the decision to go to war, we are there and there we must stay until the job is done.
The attempted destabilisation of Iraq, which we saw with the bombs this morning, is driven by various motives. The mindless terrorism of al-Qaeda is a key factor, but perversely the insurgency and terrorism will prolong our stay. Remnants of the Ba'ath Party and some Sunnis remain unable to accept the new order. They do not like the majority Shi'a population gaining democratic controls. There are some who want to destroy the progressive political development and disrupt the co-operation of the three main groups, the Shi'as, Sunnis and Kurds, which has the potential to deliver stability and a better life for everyone in Iraq.
Religious fundamentalism is also playing a part in resisting democracy and progress in human rights. There is also an economic obstacle for some who do not wish to see a stable and prosperous Iraq delivering oil to the international market. Some may feel that it is unhelpful to others who supply that oil in the middle east.
Political, fundamentalist and economic pressures, as well as mindless terrorism, stand in the way of progress for the Iraqi people. Neighbouring countries may not wish to see the Iraqis and in particular Kurdistan achieve sustainable self-determination, but in reality and in the end, self-determination is what the constitution will deliver. That is why millions of Iraqis risked death to vote for it on 15 October.
An hour or so ago, the result came through, with 78 per cent. voting for the constitution, and 21 per cent. against it. Only two districts voted against it. The constitution has been carried with a massive democratic mandate.
Iraq's constitution may eventually fulfil the Kurdish dream and set right the historic injustice to those people. The international community must bring tougher pressures and better rewards to neighbouring countries to ensure that the Iraqi democratic process is not disrupted. The international community must be more relaxed and magnanimous about Kurdistan's development. Help is needed from Russia and other nations on Iran. We need a positive attitude towards Turkey from the European Union. I call on the Security Council to be uncompromising with Syria, and for Russia and other countries to support it.
Kurdistan has made great progress politically, socially and economically, and in developing sound human rights for all its people, including the various ethnic groups and others who live in its administered areas. That is why Kurdistan is planning an advert on CNN International in early November to promote Kurdistan and to thank Britain for the liberation of Iraq.
In planning my September expedition to Iraq, I determined the people whom I would meet and the places and institutions that I would visit. I was accompanied by Ms Bayan Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan regional government high representative to the United Kingdom. My trip was facilitated by the KRG and the Kurdistan Development Corporation. That interest has been declared in the Register of Members' Interests.
I aimed to revisit the people and the institutions that I met with the hon. Member for Linlithgow and East Falkirk in 2003. I focused on issues such as the validity of the war and our exit strategy, insurgency and terrorism, and the international community's action needed to stop it. I sought to review the Christian situation and to give a balanced and true perspective based on my findings. I considered the important economic progress made in Kurdistan, which is now accepted as the commercial gateway to Iraq. It is very much open for business and supports business-friendly and sustainable commercial laws and policies. I know that well, because I gave a 15-minute speech on it in Iraq while I was there.
I met NGOs and reviewed progress in hospitals and health care. I saw the startling growth of Salahaddin university from 15,000 students, when the hon. Gentleman and I were there, to 22,000 students at present. Massive progress has been made during those 13 months. The university now has 21 faculties. I visited Sami's park in Erbil, where the remarkably successful and peaceful DBX trade show took place, illustrating that normality is returning to Kurdistan.
Michael Connarty: I thank the hon. Gentleman for referring to our visit in straitened, stressful times before the war. I respect his view about the invasion of Iraq, although I do not share it. We visited internally displaced person's camps on our first trip. Are many of the internally displaced persons who were driven out of the two areas of Iraq still there? As for Salahaddin university, did the hon. Gentleman find out whether there was any response to my correspondence with certain faculty members who are being denied the right to come to the United Kingdom because they say they are not members of the Kurdistan Democratic party or the other Kurdish political parties, but are independent academics?
Bob Spink: The hon. Gentleman raises two interesting points. The IDP camps have mainly been disbanded, thank God. There are remnants, but they are being cleaned up quickly. Hopefully, within the constitution by 2007, the position of Kirkuk will be clarified and its remaining refugees can return to their communities and rebuild their lives. I did not deal with the university issue; it was not addressed to me, but I think that we should take it up together with the high representative for the United Kingdom, Bayan Rahman, who will find the answer.
It was moving to see ordinary Iraqis, Kurds and Christians working and playing together in Sami's park. That was named after its creator, Mr. Sami Abdul Rahman, who was tragically killed by terrorists. His dignity and selfless contribution to his country and his people will not be forgotten, and I pay tribute to him. I met about 20 politicians at all levels who represented various political and ethnic groups. President Barzani's message to the Prime Minister, calling for our forces to see the job through, was echoed throughout all sections of his people.
Kurdistan is a model for developing democracy in Iraq and throughout the middle east. It is in much better shape than the rest of Iraq, hence it is now known as "the other Iraq"—as we shall see in early November from the CNN international advertisement. The Kurds are building a decent democracy. Of course, they have had a 10-year start under the no-fly zone. They have the great advantage of the peshmerga. It is a formidable organisation and was one of the targets of the two bombs this morning. Rebuilding has been remarkable in all sectors—political, social and economic—and in terms of infrastructure.
Michael Connarty: I believe that the peshmerga, which the hon. Gentleman mentioned, is a force of 75,000 troops. There are concerns that it sees itself as an independent Kurdish force, and as yet there is no proposal or move to mix it in with the rest of the Iraqi forces. Were there any indications that it would become part of an Iraqi force or does it still see itself—as it did when we were there—as a defence force for the Kurdish area?
Bob Spink: It is my understanding that the peshmerga still sees itself as being quite independent. It is a formidable force and that is one of the many issues with which the politicians in Kurdistan and Iraq will have to grapple. I know that President Barzani is carefully examining how he can move to a more democratic and normal arrangement in that country. We are talking about a country that has been oppressed for many years and is in transition. It is making great progress and we must support it so that the progress continues, and that includes the peshmerga.
Human rights have improved fast in Kurdistan and there is increasing optimism among the people. The students at Salahaddin university represent an important sector of Iraq; in many ways, they are its future. They spoke passionately from their hearts, both privately and in an open vote, after a detailed and sometimes critical debate. They felt safe to exercise free speech in private and in public. They spoke forcefully and gratefully of liberation and of being given a safer and better future by the removal of Saddam. They are like any other students around the world: challenging, questioning, hungry for information and freely giving of their views and ideas. Iraq has a great future in them. They are superb kids.
I was keen to get the views of the Christian community. I spoke to Christian MPs, including the Speaker, Mr. Adnan Mufti, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Sarkis Aghajan Mamendu. I met the Christian Bishop and Father William Jacob, a Kurdish Christian church leader in Sweden who may soon return to Kurdistan, and Christian community leaders. I also visited the Christian community of Ankawa and spoke with ordinary Christian people, both Iraqis and expats from this country and from America, who have lived there for years.
Such people are supportive of the KRG and are pleased with progress. They are concerned at what they see as propaganda by people largely from outside their communities in Iraq who call for an autonomous administrative region for the Christian communities. That is being sold as a safe haven, but from what I saw and heard first hand from the Christian people in Iraq, and from their democratically elected representatives and community leaders, the concept of a safe haven is wholly inappropriate.
Let me set out just a sample of the recent progress that Christian MPs told me about. The KRG has returned Feesh Khabur village to the Christians and is trying to return other villages, many of them places that the Christians lost decades ago. It reconstructed 1,200 houses in the past two difficult years and much more work is in progress. It has provided new water supplies for 26 Christian villages. It built or rebuilt nearly 40 churches since 1991. I visited one being built; there were Christian crosses in the main road leading to it.
There are, pro rata, more Christian MPs than Kurdish ones. There are five Christian MPs. Strictly, proportional representation would dictate that they deserve only two. They were awarded three important ministerial seats in Government, including Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister. Thousands of Christians are employed by the KRG, and there are two new Christian radio stations. We could do with some of them in this country. The KRG region has more than 30 Assyrian language schools, which have almost 10,000 students and 500 teachers, and 90 Christian schools and cultural centres have been opened. Those are not acts of oppression but of enlightenment.
Christian MP Romio Acarie said that they were not allowed to use Assyrian names under Saddam Hussein but now, of course, they can. He said: "Comparing life under Saddam with life under the KRG is like comparing Earth with Heaven".
As a result of all this progress, and much more I have not had time to mention, some 5,000 Christians have in recent years left other areas of Iraq to settle in Kurdistan, and they are still moving there—voting with their feet. For context, the Christian population is about 38,000, within a Kurdistan population of 4 million—that is the figure from the last United Nations census, although it is now probably nearer 5 million.
Of course, Kurds lost much under Saddam; they are waiting for their new roads and schools, and for their Kurdish villages to be rebuilt, yet the KRG is positively discriminating to help the Christians. In any event, the Iraqi people's new constitution recognises the cosmopolitan religious and ethnic make-up of Iraq; the Kurds argued for that. It prohibits discrimination on racist, ethnic, religious or other grounds, and it protects minority languages. I feel that the KRG is genuinely trying to help the Chaldo-Assyrians, the Armenians and other Christian groups.
I challenge those outside Iraq who make adverse claims to come to Iraq with me, and to meet and talk to the people themselves. They could question Mr. Shlemon, the Christian deputy governor of Duhok, who said: "Our Community in the Kurdish region in Iraq works successfully with the KRG and with all the peoples of the region. In this peaceful and progressive way, in tandem with those around us, we are developing our homelands, improving our livelihoods and protecting our rich heritage."
I found no evidence of institutionalised discrimination against Christians; quite the contrary—although there are, of course, individual events.
Kurdistan still has much to do for all its communities, such as to repair Saddam's evil slaughter of 182,000 Kurds in his Anfal campaign, in which he razed 4,000 Kurdish villages to the ground, seeking to ethnically cleanse them in an act of brutal genocide. I call again on the international community to accept that that was genocide.
Some people think that we should pull our troops out now; I disagree. I will not succumb to the terrorists. Like all MPs, I have a duty to give leadership on difficult issues, to be honest and to speak the truth as I see it. I hope that people will respect that.
The Iraqi people are risking death by voting. In doing so, they are demonstrating their commitment to the new order. It is in the interests of the middle east—and even, possibly, of world stability—that we see through to the end the job that we have started. I welcome the excellent progress made in the Kurdish region of Iraq since the war.
Mr. Mike Hancock (in the Chair): I hope that eight minutes is long enough for the Minister to respond to the debate.
The Minister for Europe (Mr. Douglas Alexander) : Thank you, Mr. Hancock; I will give it my best shot.
I thank the hon. Member for Castle Point (Bob Spink) for raising this important subject, and for the update he gave on the situation of the Chaldo-Assyrians in northern Iraq. Such first-hand, objective accounts help us to assess progress in our commitment to stand by the Iraqi people as they work towards securing a democratic and stable future.
There is still an enormous amount of work to be done by the international community and Iraqi leaders to ensure that Iraq makes a successful transition from being a country blighted by over 35 years of Ba'athist oppression to one which can regain its rightful place in the international community. A founding member of the United Nations, Iraq needs the help of its neighbours, the region and the donor community to get back on its feet.
Northern Iraq is no exception. Saddam Hussein and his regime inflicted immense hardship and suffering on all the peoples of the north—the Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Christians and others. However, as the hon. Gentleman generously recognised, the protection afforded by the no-fly zone enabled northern Iraq to move forward. Since the fall of Saddam's regime, that progress has accelerated.
In security terms, the northern provinces of Dohuk, Irbil and Sulaymaniyah are among the quietest in the country. Incidents in the north are, in general, less severe and far fewer than in other parts of the country. That is not to say that those areas have been spared terrorist attacks. We have received reports today of a car bomb in Sulaymaniyah, which has caused casualties. That is just the latest example of terrorists attempting to derail the political process. Through the multinational forces, we will continue to support the Iraqi security forces in their courageous efforts to defeat all forms of terrorism in their country.
The north's economy continues to develop, as the KRG gradually builds critical infrastructure. There are signs of progress everywhere, the most obvious being the recent opening of airports in Irbil and Sulaymaniyah. The KRG is keen to draw on external expertise to lay solid foundations for the region's future economic growth. Its immediate priority is to develop the agriculture, tourism and manufacturing sectors using local skills, and to expand internal markets so that the economy is less dependent on external markets.
The people of northern Iraq are equally committed to strengthening the political process in the region. They turned out in huge numbers for the January elections, and did so again for the referendum on Iraq's draft constitution. Our consul in Kirkuk had the opportunity to observe voting at a polling station on 15 October. He reported that the voting process took place peacefully.
The fact that nearly 10 million Iraqis nationwide took part in the referendum is eloquent testimony to their determination to exercise their democratic right and to decide the political future of their country. Whatever the result turns out to be—there have been indications of the result this morning—that is a major achievement. It is democracy in action. As Prime Minister Jaafari said, whether Iraqis "vote yes or no is not the point. The victory for Iraq is that they are voting."
What is important now is that all Iraqis participate fully in the political process to ensure that Iraq's Parliament and Government are genuinely representative of all the peoples of Iraq. The UK has provided funds for outreach programmes that set out the political options available, help to explain to the Iraqi electorate the importance of the draft constitution, and broaden understanding of the content. The programmes will focus on explaining the electoral system for the December elections.
Unlike last January's elections, in which Iraq was treated as a single constituency, the December elections will be conducted on a province-by-province basis. The Department for International Development is supporting the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq's public outreach programme to encourage civil society organisations, particularly at province level, to get involved in the electoral process.
Kirkuk is a good example of why political participation, dialogue, compromise and consensus are critical if Iraq's transition is to succeed. The city brings together several communities within its boundaries. The majority of citizens are Sunni Muslims, but Kirkuk also has a sizeable community of Christians and a small Yezidi community. Iraq's leaders will therefore need commitment and determination to find a solution to the legacy of Saddam's policy of forced Arabisation of Kirkuk. They have agreed to set up a committee that will work towards finding a permanent solution on that difficult and sensitive issue. We will continue to encourage them in their endeavours, and we will continue to encourage and urge all minority groups in Iraq to take part in the political process. The UK Government maintain a close, open dialogue with leaders and representatives of such groups.
The hon. Gentleman made specific reference to the situation facing the Chaldo-Assyrians. Foreign Office officials in London met Mr. Yonadam Kanna, secretary-general of the Assyrian Democratic Movement, during his visit to the UK last week. His primary concern is that the rights of Chaldo-Assyrians be protected. He recognises that the Chaldo-Assyrian community must participate fully in the December elections if it is to be represented in the next Iraqi Parliament. Equally, Chaldo-Assyrian leaders will need to agree a common approach and to identify like-minded political allies in the next Parliament if they are to advance and to protect the rights of all Chaldo-Assyrians. Making such alliances is a key part of parliamentary politics and, of course, would have been unthinkable under Saddam's regime.
Our aim is to help all Iraqis to create a nation where all Iraq's citizens are safe throughout the country, irrespective of race or religious belief. National unity is key to securing long-term stability and prosperity in Iraq. In the transitional process so far, we have seen important symbols of that unity at work. The appointment of an Iraqi Kurd as President of Iraq is a powerful and eloquent signal that the political process can, and does, support the appointment of a non-Arab to high office. President Talabani has used his position to send out a consistent message that Iraqis should come together to support the transitional process. There may be deep disagreement about the way forward; that is too often what politics is about. However, for the vast majority of Iraqis, the only way forward is through peaceful, participative politics.
We have been encouraging the Iraqi Transitional Government to include all Iraq's communities in the political process. Chaldo-Assyrians, Turkomans, Yezidis and Mandaeans all had representatives on the Constitutional Commission. Those representatives were tasked with ensuring that the views of their communities were included in the draft.
I commend the draft constitution to the House. It reflects the multifaceted religious and ethnic make-up of Iraq and offers guarantees of full freedom of religious belief and practice to all individuals. It prohibits discrimination on racist, ethnic, religious or any other grounds, and it protects minority languages. The draft constitution strives to strike a balance between a wide range of views. The final draft text illustrates the extent to which, in the end, all parties were prepared to compromise.
Should the constitution pass at referendum—it seems to be emerging today that it will be passed—that, of course, will not be the end of the process. The text will not be set in stone. A review mechanism has been included in the draft. That will see the establishment of a constitution committee, which the constitutional draft stated will be made up from "the principal groups in Iraqi society and members of the Council of Representatives"—that is, the next Parliament. That committee will be tasked with presenting a report to that Parliament within four months with any proposed amendments to the constitution. That shows the value of sustained and intense engagement in the political process by all Iraq's communities, and that means contesting and voting in the coming elections.
Preparations are well under way for December's elections and the United Nations is working closely with the Independent Electoral Commission of Iraq to ensure that those elections are conducted openly and transparently.
Medicine Today & in 2000 B.C. Surprisingly Comparable
Courtesy of the Chicago Tribune
In the world's first cities 4,000 years ago, people came to doctors for help with much the same problems they do today--everything from impotence, depression, tuberculosis and cancer to gluten hypersensitivity, hemorrhoids, narcolepsy and migraines.
The treatment they received in ancient Mesopotamia is also familiar in many respects, with medical specialists writing prescriptions for pills, potions and patches that patients would take to a pharmacist.
Studying medical texts inscribed in cuneiform, the first system of writing, Chicago researchers JoAnn Scurlock and Burton Andersen found the physicians of the earliest civilizations were delivering surprisingly sophisticated, knowledgeable and effective health care 2,000 years before Christ lived.
In fact, citizens received treatment superior to what Americans got in George Washington's time, according to the researchers. The first president died in 1799 after doctors bled him in an effort to rectify the "imbalance" of his bodily "humors."
Scurlock and Andersen describe their findings in a newly published scholarly tome titled "Diagnoses in Assyrian and Babylonian Medicine." At 900 pages and $150 a copy, it is not a likely bestseller.
But the book may well upend conventional wisdom about the history of medicine, which has always given a hallowed place to ancient Greek physicians and dismissed medicine in ancient Mesopotamia as primitive superstition.
Mesopotamian treatments evolved through hundreds of years of careful experimentation and observation, the authors say. Some are still in use, such as surgically draining the pus that sometimes develops between the lungs and chest wall of pneumonia patients. Their precise instructions to "make an opening in the fourth rib [with] a flint knife" to insert a lead drainage tube pretty well match present-day procedures.
The ancient Greeks, by contrast, subscribed to the idea that the body is composed of four "humors"--yellow bile, black bile, water and phlegm. The Greek model of medicine persisted in Europe and America as late as the 1850s.
"Their best known treatments were bleeding, purging with laxatives, puking and starving," said Andersen, a retired professor and chief of infectious diseases at the University of Illinois at Chicago. "We now know, of course, all four of those are injurious and very seldom helpful in any circumstance."
"The Greeks are our intellectual ancestors, but these Mesopotamians are the true ancestors of modern medicine," said Scurlock, a professor of ancient history at Elmhurst College.
In fact, their medicine appears so good that the authors hope to discover overlooked treatments that could be useful in tackling difficult conditions today. "That is the hope," said Andersen. "It's not likely, perhaps, but it is possible."
Scurlock and Andersen's new book, published late this summer by the University of Illinois Press, is based on their studies of nearly 1,000 clay tablets found in modern-day Iraq and covering a period roughly from 2000 B.C. to 150 B.C. Key among them were remnants of a standard diagnostic handbook used for hundreds of years to train and inform doctors. Researchers have been able to reconstruct about half the estimated 3,000 entries it once contained.
If injured or ill, citizens of a city/state like Nineveh or Uruk would seek out a doctor, called an ashipu. Often the physicians were specialists in areas like pediatrics, obstetrics, gynecology, neurology, infectious diseases, dentistry, vision and even veterinary medicine.
The doctors were religious figures and worked in temples. They and their patients usually viewed diseases as punishments from various gods, ghosts or demons. In the handbook and other texts, diseases are rarely named; instead they are described and attributed to the "hand" of the god responsible.
One tablet, describing severe arthritis, states: "If he has been sick for five, ten, fifteen [and then] twenty days. .. the digits of his hands and his feet are immobilized and so stiff that he cannot open [them] or stand [on them], `hand' of Istar."
Without timepieces, doctors measured pulse by comparing a patient's to their own or to an assistant's. They noted body temperature by feel. Some of their diagnostic procedures continue to be used today, including using metal hammers to tap just below the knee to test reflexes.
As a cure, the doctors prescribed offerings to placate the offending gods and spirits. The offerings, however, took the form of medicinal treatments using plant, animal and mineral material. Treatments were administered with nearly every delivery system used today except for needle injections into the blood system, a method apparently unknown to them.
There were pills and potions, rectal and vaginal suppositories, enemas, medicinally saturated ear tampons and transdermal patches--salves spread on bandages that were bound to the skin. They were careful to keep surgical wounds clean with bandages treated with antiseptics like cedar and ginger.
"A couple of tablets describe night blindness when a patient can see in daylight but is blind at night," Andersen said. "They talk about cutting off a piece of liver and having the patient eat it. Night blindness, we now know, is caused by Vitamin A deficiency, and liver is loaded with Vitamin A."
The doctors had a system of putting plant material to burn on a hooded brazier, then telling the patient to stick his head under the hood to inhale the smoke. Scurlock said she is certain they used medical marijuana in that way.
"It seems to have been used to relieve pain, as an antidepressant and nausea," she said. "It seems also to have been used to treat impotence, but they recognized that it was a double-edged sword. It could create desire, but too much could be the cause of impotence."
What they couldn't treat, they were honest about, giving the patient and family the sad but inevitable prognosis.
The diagnostic handbook is almost poetic in its description of the sad hopelessness for a patient with dementia: "his [mind] is continually altered, his words are unintelligible, and he forgets whatever he says, a wind from behind afflicts him; he will die alone like a stranger."
A strong ethical code prohibited doctors from prescribing expensive treatments and magic rituals for patients who were obviously dying, Scurlock said. Instead, doctors were bound to do what they could to ease the patient's suffering, saving families from false hope and unnecessary expense.
The researchers say some diseases appear to be deadlier then than now, such as herpes, which apparently could cover people's bodies with sores and kill them. Some of the described diseases seem to have no modern counterparts.
"Humans since these texts were written have had thousands of years to develop disease immunities," Andersen said. "We may have evolved defense mechanisms that make herpes less serious now than it was then. There may be old diseases we have never seen because we developed immunities that long ago rendered them extinct."
Scurlock and Andersen's book deals mostly with the diagnoses and prognoses of disease by the early physicians, leaving treatments and therapies as the subject for a second volume still being researched.
The first book is so exhaustive and specialized that other scholars have barely begun to refer to it. Gary Beckman, a University of Michigan professor of Near Eastern studies, said his sampling of the contents has been enough to convince him the book will be invaluable to other cuneiform scholars--and also to question some findings.
"Most of these texts were known before, but most have never been available in transliteration before and gathered in one place," Beckman said. "Now it will be easier for others to approach these texts.
"It's difficult to know in fact if their conclusions are correct. Certainly they show there was more to this than mere magical belief. To say it is like scientific medicine might be difficult for others to accept."
The authors said it will prove impossible to figure out the contents of most Mesopotamian medicines because so many were plant-based. Scholars have identified about 200 to 300 Mesopotamian plant names, but that does not tell us what present-day plants they represent.
Without pictures or written descriptions of most of the plants, experts can only try to deduce what the plants are by deciphering the context in which they were used. By that means, Scurlock is fairly certain the Mesopotamians used henna, best known today as a hair dye, in many medicines.
"They didn't get everything," she said. "But it's amazing what they did find.. .. It makes you proud to see what human intelligence could do back then without all the machines and computers we have now."
Ancient name: Sagkidibbu ("affliction of the temples")
Ancient name: Nahshatu
Ancient name: Kuraru
Dr. Scurlock and Dr. Andersen presented their book "Diagnosis in Assyrian & Babylonian Medicine" at the Assyrian National Convention in Boston in September 2005. Dr. Norman Solhkhah, a Chicago-area Assyrian philanthropist and founder of the Assyrian Museum of Chicago, provided the funding for the publication of this book. Recently, the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago dedicated the Dr. Norman Solhkhah Family Assyrian Empire Gallery. Dr. Solhkhah generously donated a copy of the said book to Zinda Magazine. To order your copy, please send your name, address, city, state, zip and telephone plus a check payable to "Mesopotamian Museum" for $150.00 to:
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