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Iraq May Break Into Three Separate States in Response to Islamic Attacks: Kurdish Official

By , July 18, 2014 1:20 pm

Iraq May Break Into Three Separate States in Response to Islamic Attacks: Kurdish Official

Distribution of items for refugees in Kurdistan, Iraq, in June 2014 (photo: World Compassion Terry Law Ministries).Iraq could break apart into three separate states in response to the extremist Islamic group ISIS, which declared an “Islamic state” in Iraq and Syria, a Kurdish government official predicts.

“Baghdad seems to be pushing us into that direction, and we’re closer than ever,” said Karim Sanjari, minister of Interior for the Kurdish region, according to Christian relief group World Compassion Terry Law Ministries.

Jason Law, vice president of Operations for World Compassion, told The Christian Post in a phone interview on Thursday that Iraq splitting up into Shia, Sunni and Kurdish states is very much a real possibility.

“In my personal opinion, I think that is the only solution. Out of the people I have spoken with, that seems to be kind of the consensus. Everyone believes this is the only solution,” Law told CP.

“There needs to be a Shia, Sunni and a Kurdish state. Kurdistan is already more developed along those lines than anybody, and I think they are definitely moving forward toward declaring independence,” he continued.

“I think that’s the answer, and I think we’re seeing those lines being drawn now. It’s unfortunate that it’s taking war to do that, but I do believe that’s the solution.”

Law said that thousands of refugees fleeing Mosul and other regions in Iraq being targeted by ISIS are now living in refugee camps in the autonomous region of Kurdistan. Along with refugees from the ongoing Syrian civil war, there are as many as 750,000 people who need help with all sorts of necessities in the camps.

World Compassion is providing assistance at the refugee camps, coming and finding the items that families need, such as toiletry items, kitchen supply items, baby formula, shoes, and various other things.

“It’s a very difficult, very tough situation, especially with the time of the year it is happening. The heat is tremendous. We were there at 10 a.m. in the morning — when we arrived at camp it was over 100 degrees, and they expected it to get up to 120-125 degrees that day. It’s literally right off the highway coming off Mosul up north, in the desert. So they really are just out in the field,” Law told CP about his trip to Kurdistan in June.

The heavy weight of taking care of so many refugees is falling on the shoulders of the Kurdistan government, which has greatly welcomed help from World Compassion and other humanitarian organizations.

“[Sanjari] is super appreciative, very honoring and inviting for organizations like ours. He really believes that it’s the smaller NGOs that make the bigger difference. Some of the bigger ones, they move really slow, they can respond to an immediate crisis, but then the ongoing support can be little bit difficult,” Law said.

“He knows that we are a Christian organization, and our agenda is that we want to share the love of Christ with people. He’s a Muslim man, but he’s open to that because I genuinely believe they want to see a place where there could be a true democracy, and hopefully one day freedom of religion.”

Law said that the impact on the Kurdish regional government has been “tremendous,” because even before the breakout of the ISIS militants, it had faced cuts in its funding from the central government in Baghdad.

With the influx of refugees, the need to provide infrastructure, electricity and water has put a strain on the people themselves.

The United Nations reported on Friday that at least 5,576 Iraqi civilians have been killed this year alone in violent attacks, while more than 1.2 million people have been displaced.

“ISIL and associated armed groups have … carried out many of these attacks in a systematic manner heedless of the impact on civilians, or have systematically targeted civilians and civilian infrastructure with the intention of killing and wounding as many civilians as possible,” the report, compiled by the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq and the U.N. Human Rights office, stated.

“Targets have included markets, restaurants, shops, cafes, playgrounds, schools, places of worship and other public spaces where civilians gather in large numbers.”

The militants, which have also been active in Syria, have captured several cities in Iraq, including Mosul and much of the Nineveh province.

In June, the militant group declared that an “Islamic state” has been established in Iraq and Syria, and vowed to take control over Baghdad as well.

Law explained that while Kurdistan has remained united and has managed to secure its territory from such attacks, there is tension due to the looming militant threat.

“Everybody is afraid of them. They are afraid of them, because of their radical take on Islam. We’ve seen some of the stories on the news — they’ve crucified people, [they've carried out] beheadings, they’ve tried to enforce a very strict Sharia law. So there is an element of fear because of the unknown. Even in Kurdistan, though it was safe and secure, there is definitely a sense of tension in the air, just because of the unknown,” he said.

Law noted that it is difficult to predict what ISIS’ next move will be, and whether it will be satisfied with Iraq splitting apart and with the possible formation of a Sunni state.

World Compassion, which has written about the situation at the refugee camps on its website, is seeking donations that will help it increase its relief efforts, which already provide food to 4,000 refugees each month.

“We come in with the love of Christ. For us, it’s compassion ministry, but it’s also evangelism. So we have to be careful with that, and be respectful of the local church there that we partner heavily with,” Law said.

“Our aim is that we empower the local churches that we have been connected with there for many years now, and partner with them and train and equip them to conduct relief efforts in order to build relationships with these people. So it’s not just relief, it’s also mission-focused, but carefully and tactfully because of the nature of the environment.”

Law added that the church can bring stability, hope and peace in such situations where people face instability, fear and hopelessness.

“I don’t think we need to run from these situations as a church, I think we need to run to them, and my heart is to rally the church and rally the body of Christ, even along denominational lines,” he continued.

“So let’s respond and help meet the needs of these people, so they remember Jesus and they think of Christians when they think of the people who helped them when they were at their lowest place in life.”

The World Compassion website offers various ways people can get involved to help the refugees.

Assyrian International News Agency

Taliban Debate Merits of Islamic State’s Caliphate Announcement

By , July 12, 2014 2:49 pm

WAZIRISTAN Pakistan (Reuters) — The Afghan Taliban have urged Muslims to avoid extremism and remain united, a message apparently aimed at the Islamic State (ISIL), which recently declared an Islamic caliphate in territory it controls in Iraq and Syria.

The Arabic message, posted on the Afghan Taliban’s website on Thursday and translated by SITE intelligence group, addressed fighters in Iraq and Syria whose announcement of a caliphate last month poses a direct challenge to al Qaeda’s dominance of global Islamist militancy.

“It is worthy for a shurah (consultation) council to be formed from the leaders of all the jihadi factions and the distinguished people among the experts and the scholars in Sham (Syria) in order to solve their conflicts,” the message said.

“Muslims also should avoid extremism in religion, and judging others without evidence, and distrusting one another,” it said. “They should avoid conflict and dispute, and not think their opinions are better than others. Mercy and compassion should prevail.”

On June 29, an al Qaeda offshoot previously known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant announced that it had renamed itself Islamic State and proclaimed its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as “Caliph” – the head of the state.

The group had fallen out with al Qaeda over its expansion into Syria, where it has carried out beheadings, crucifixions, and mass executions.

In recent weeks, fighters from the Islamic State have overrun the Iraqi city of Mosul and advanced towards the capital of Baghdad. In Syria they have captured territory in the north and east, along the border with Iraq.

Taliban spokesmen in both Pakistan and Afghanistan declined to comment on al-Baghdadi’s claim to be the global leader of all Muslims. The Afghan and Pakistani Taliban are separate but allied.

Privately, some commanders said that they did not want to anger al Qaeda, who they considered a long-time ally in the fight against NATO troops in the region.

Some Taliban, including some of the younger commanders, were enthusiastic about ISIS. In small mud homes in Pakistan’s Waziristan, men eagerly debated the new movement.

Pakistan’s own insurgency is on the back foot after the military launched an offensive against the Taliban’s key stronghold last month.

Most senior commanders are in hiding. Drone strikes have depleted many of the Taliban’s and al Qaeda’s most experienced and charismatic commanders.

“We are happy with the great efforts of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Dozens of my colleagues from here are with them. Soon Sham and Iraq will be Islamic states,” said one militant in his thirties who commanded 60 men.

“I like the way of fighting … it is a very effective,” he said, wearing a vest with ammunition and hand grenades. “We need that here in Pakistan. Many of our fighters have gone there,” he added.

Younger fighters sitting on the muddy carpet around him nodded and jostled to get closer. Many had video clips from ISIL burnt on to discs that they played on a computer.

“We like the modern way of there fighting, it is really a holy war, God send us there,” said one.

But another Pakistani commander interviewed by Reuters said he doubted that many fighters considered al-Baghdadi to be their global leader.

“No militants see (al-Baghdadi) as their leader,” he said, speaking to Reuters on the phone. “But no one will talk against him.”

In the northwestern region of Bannu, where hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis displaced by the military’s latest offensive have fled, graffiti praising ISIL has appeared.

“Congratulations to the chief of Syrian organization Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said one message on a hospital wall in front of the military’s heavily guarded cantonment area.

Two previously unknown Pakistani militant groups have also sent out messages pledging allegiance to the Islamic State, but their strength and existence could not be verified.

Editing by Nick Macfie.

Assyrian International News Agency

Beware of Isil, Rouhani warns ‘petrodollar’ states

By , June 22, 2014 3:26 pm

Beware of Isil, Rouhani warns ‘petrodollar’ states
By: afp on: 22.06.2014 [11:44 ] (224 reads)

Beware of Isil, Rouhani warns ‘petrodollar’ states

President says those nations will become their next target
Published: 15:24 June 22, 2014

Tehran: Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani warned on Sunday that Muslim states which funnel petrodollars to jihadist Sunni fighters wreaking havoc in Iraq will become their next target.

Rouhani did not name any country, but officials and media in mainly Shiite Iran have hinted that insurgents from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil) are being financially and militarily supported by Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

“I advise Muslim countries that support the terrorists with their petrodollars to stop,” Rouhani said in remarks reported by the website of Iran’s state broadcaster.

“Tomorrow you will be targeted… by these savage terrorists. Wash your hands of killing and the killing of Muslims,” he added.

Isil militants have seized a swathe of Iraqi territory in a lightning offensive, with the Baghdad government’s security forces hard-pressed to prevent the advance.

Riyadh has warned that Iran-ally Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki is steering Iraq towards civil war through policies that exclude the country’s Sunni minority.

Iran says it will support Al Maliki against Isil, which is also battling the regime of Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, another Tehran ally.

Rouhani called for unity between “Shiites and Sunnis who are brothers”.

For centuries, Shiites and Sunnis have lived alongside each other in Iran, Iraq, the Levant, Lebanon, the Arabian Gulf and North Africa, in peaceful coexistence, he said.

Since Isil began its Iraq offensive, Tehran has urged Iraqis to unite against the jihadists.

“The Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds are our friends,” parliament speaker Ali Larijani said in remarks reported on the Majlis website.

“We have always insisted that all ethnic groups must have active and constructive participation in Iraq’s power structure.” (en) RSS feed for articles and news

ISIS: Common Enemy of Iran and the United States

By , June 16, 2014 6:06 am
 The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps

The advance of ISIS into Baghdad is on hold at the moment in part due to resistance from the Iraqi military and Shia militias. On Sunday, the Washington Post reported:

An Iraqi general told reporters in Baghdad that the armed forces have “regained the initiative” in recent days and are confident that Baghdad is secure. As part of the effort to protect the capital, soldiers headed into the desert to dig a trench, according to footage broadcast on local television stations.

Sure, that oughta do it. More to the point, at the Daily Beast, Eli Lake and Tim Mak think the United States can make quick work of ISIS.

President Obama has so far turned down Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki’s request for U.S. air strikes against the Islamic extremists taking over his country. But if Obama changes his mind, U.S. jets could be flying over Iraq in less than a day.

U.S. air bases, housing dozens of American fighters and bombers, are well within striking distance of Iraq. High-flying spy drones like the Global Hawk can just as easily fly over Iraq as Afghanistan or any other conflict zone in the region. The aircraft carrier U.S.S. George H.W. Bush is a few days’ sail away, in the North Arabian Sea. And it boasts dozens more fighters on board.

That’s why a number of retired high-ranking U.S. Air Force officers, including Lt. Gen. David Deptula, who served as the Air Force’s first deputy chief of staff for intelligence, say any strikes, if ordered, could begin almost immediately.

“If you can provide me with the appropriate intelligence we can start doing (air strikes) within 24 hours,” he told The Daily Beast.

Down, boy. Meanwhile, on Thursday, in an article that garnered widespread attention, the Wall Street Journal reported that, with ISIS gaining territory

… Iran deployed Revolutionary Guards units to Iraq, according to Iranian security officials. … Two Guards’ units, dispatched from Iran’s western border provinces on Wednesday, were tasked with protecting Baghdad and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf, these security sources said.

Great! Let Iran handle it. Again, not so fast. The Wall Street Journal again:

The involvement of Iran would pose yet another security challenge for the White House, and raises the prospect of the U.S. and Iran fighting on the same side. The U.S. opposes Iran’s support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, but with Tehran is jointly supporting Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

But, wrote Juan Cole at Informed Comment on Friday:

The specter of Iranian troops on Iraqi soil can only recall the first Iran-Iraq War.

Cole also reminded us:

In the looming second Iran-Iraq War, the US will be de facto allied with Iran against the would-be al-Qaeda affiliate (ISIS was rejected by core al-Qaeda for viciously attacking other militant vigilante Sunni fundamentalists in turf wars in Syria). The position of the US is therefore 180 degrees away from what it was under Reagan.

In the end, as the New York Times reports, ISIS

… has exploited widespread disenchantment among the country’s Sunnis with the government of Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, to align with other Sunni militant groups, such as one organization that is led by former officers of Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party.

Still, it would provide the United States and Iran another area of nascent cooperation, along with the nuclear talks.

Postscript: In the post cited above, Juan Cole gave us the best description ever of the difference between Shias and Sunnis.

Shiites are more like traditional Catholics in venerating members of the holy family and attending at their shrines. Contemporary Salafi Sunni Islam is more like the militant brand of Protestantism of the late 1500s that denounced intermediaries between God and the individual and actually attacked and destroyed shrines to saints and other holy figures, where pleas for intercession were made.

Foreign Policy In Focus

New Chaldean Bishop for Eastern United States

By , May 9, 2014 5:59 am

Bishop Frank Kalabat.Chaldeans in Michigan and the eastern half of the U.S. will soon have a new religious leader, as their population grows in metro Detroit while declining in Iraq.

Based in Southfield, the founder of the American branch of the Chaldean (Iraqi Catholic) Church, Bishop Ibrahim Ibrahim, is stepping down after 32 years and will be replaced next month by a West Bloomfield priest.

Rooted in Iraq, Chaldeans are one of the oldest Christian groups in the world and speak a version of Aramaic, the language that Jesus Christ spoke. Pope Francis announced Saturday that Ibrahim, 76, will be replaced by Father Frank Kalabat, born in Kuwait in 1970 and ordained a priest in 1995, according to a news release from the Vatican’s news agency.

Kalabat, 43, has been deputy priest of Mother of God Chaldean Church in Southfield and is currently pastor of St. Thomas Chaldean Catholic Church in West Bloomfield.

“The whole Chaldean community is joyful for this appointment,” said Joseph Kassab, president of the Iraqi Christians Advocacy and Empowerment Institute in West Bloomfield. “Father Kalabat is very well known for his humbleness, simplicity, transparency and strong spirituality. I really see in his personality some resemblance with Pope Francis’ character and spirit.”

Born in Iraq, Bishop Ibrahim was named by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to head the American eparchy (diocese) for Chaldeans. It is separate from the Archdiocese of Detroit but still has allegiance to the pope. Known as the Chaldean Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, it once covered the entire U.S.

In 2002, the diocese was split into two, for the Western and Eastern halves of the U.S. There are 105,000 Catholics who are members of the Eastern diocese, said the Vatican news release. Many of them are in metro Detroit, which has the highest concentration of Chaldeans in the U.S.

Ibrahim has been critical of the Iraq war’s effects on Chaldeans and other minorities in Iraq, saying the U.S. failed to protect them. Hundreds of thousands of Chaldeans have fled Iraq amid growing violence and religious persecution, say Chaldean leaders.

“No one is defending us,” Ibrahim told Catholic News Service in 2008 after a Chaldean archbishop was killed in Iraq. “They are killing Christians because they are Christians.”

“We know that before the invasion of the Americans in Iraq, (terrorism) was no such a thing,” Ibrahim added. “Christians and Muslims were living together, exactly like brothers and sisters, and that’s it. But since the invasion, everything changes.”

Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, praised Ibrahim for “building a diocese with 10 parishes, a re-evangelization center, Chaldean camp and most importantly a community dedicated to its faith and serving the less fortunate.”

Manna said that the incoming bishop “is one of the most humble and spiritual people I have ever known. He’s done a wonderful job connecting with the youth and always puts others first.”

Kalabat will be formally installed as the new bishop on June 14 at Mother of God church. Archbishop Allen Vigneron, head of the Archdiocese of Detroit, is to take part.

Assyrian International News Agency

Iraqi funds in the United States will not go to creditors after the lifting of immunity

By , April 23, 2014 2:23 pm

Iraq is still an important focus in the policy of the United States

By , April 17, 2014 4:28 am

Please any Questions: send to I will get to your questions as soon as possible by personal e-mail, blog post or audio “If you Knew you could not fail, what would you try today?” Philippians 4:13

State Dept Vows Support for ‘All Post-Soviet States’

By , March 29, 2014 10:46 pm

State Dept Vows Support for ‘All Post-Soviet States’
By: Jason Ditz on: 30.03.2014 [00:08 ] (65 reads)

March 28, 2014

Looking to further undercut Russia along its frontier to spite them over the Crimea dispute, the US State Department has pledged support for “all post-Soviet states” and are sending officials to Central Asia.

The announced visits come as analysts see Russia trying to improve ties with those same states, Krygyzstan, Kazakhstan, and others, with an eye toward bringing them into the Eurasian Union.

Russia has envisioned the Eurasian Economic Union as a regional bloc across eastern Europe and central Asia similar to the European Union. With the loss of Ukraine in a recent regime change, Russia needs to find partners in the east.

Though State Department officials talked up supporting the “territorial integrity” of the Central Asian nations, there is no indication that Russia has even nominal designs on the territory of any of those nations, beyond hoping to bring them into an economic union.

h ttp:// (en) RSS feed for articles and news

Lebanon Calls on Gulf States to End Iran-Saudi Rift

By , February 19, 2014 9:24 am

BEIRUT — Speaker Nabih Berri called on Gulf countries to play a mediating role between Iran and Saudi Arabia and encourage rapprochement, as he left Kuwait to continue his tour of the region in Tehran Monday.

“I asked the Kuwaiti emir to mediate between Iran and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and he reassured me he would do everything possible to bring their points of view together,” Berri told Al-Rai, a Kuwaiti newspaper, in an interview to be published Tuesday.

Prior to his departure, Berri said he considered strengthening the Army an urgent issue for Lebanon. “Today, I consider strengthening the Lebanese Army a national priority,” he said.

“Lebanon is about to turn into a [new] front line in the Syrian [war], that is already plaguing Tripoli, Hermel and Akkar,” Berri said during a dinner held Sunday by the Lebanese ambassador in his honor.

“The truth is that all of Lebanon is a target — its Army, its resistance, its regions, its capital and its [southern] suburbs — and not just political figures,” he added.

Lebanon continues to feel the repercussions of the conflict in Syria, with recurrent armed clashes in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Border regions in Akkar, in the north, and Arsal, in the northeast, have also come under repeated Syrian bombardment since the uprising began in March 2011.

The southern suburbs of Beirut and the northeastern town of Hermel, areas where support for Hezbollah runs high, have also been the scene of recent car bombings linked to the Syria crisis.

Berri assured Lebanese living in Kuwait that Lebanon “will not fall,” despite the threat of terrorism.

He stressed that Lebanon would not remain “neutral” in the face of Israeli attacks, and vowed to continue supporting the aspirations of the Palestinian people.

“I support an Arab Lebanon which favors a political solution in Syria and agreement among Syrians to improve the regime,” he said. “[I support] an Arab Lebanon that favors a united Iraq and Egypt.”

He said Lebanon should not only be strong in its “resistance” along the national borders, but should also work toward resolving the socioeconomic crisis, and holding timely presidential and parliamentary elections based on a new electoral law.

Upon his arrival in Iran, Berri issued a statement calling for the presidential election to be held on time “before May 25, since the constitutional period for holding the election is between March 25 and May 25.”

“In a country like Lebanon, there must be an agreement, and when I said that I would not discuss this issue before March 25, it was not because I want to postpone it, God forbid, but on the contrary, we want to hold a presidential poll but we need to set the foundations first and get the political parties together to secure quorum,” so constitutional deadlines are not broached, he said in the statement.

On the advisories warning Kuwaitis and other Gulf nationals against travel to Lebanon, Berri said the rationale behind them was unfair: “Security incidents, demonstrations and road blockages can happen in any European and Gulf state or any country in the world.”

“This [advisory] which was implemented by the Gulf states is not in the interests of Lebanon or Arabs in general. If Kuwaiti, Saudi or UAE nationals are subject to any kind of danger I wouldn’t say this, but when the incidents in Lebanon are due to external elements, which could occur in any country, then I must say these words and insist on my point of view.”

Gulf states, including Kuwait, have advised their citizens to avoid all travel to Lebanon and urged those in the country to leave given the tense security situation.

Assyrian International News Agency

United States working to promote the growth of Iraq’s economy

By , February 10, 2014 9:25 am

The United States of America, on Tuesday, its commitment to support Iraq, indicating that it is working to promote the growth and development of a diversified economy that would create jobs for the labor force is growing.