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Information about the present situation in North Iraq – 23.07.2014


Children paint peace

Personal report about the present situation

23. Juli 2014 written by Archimadrite Emanuel Youkhana CAPNI

Greetings from Duhok – Iraq,

I enclose for your kind information the attached report which I hope will help having closer and deeper understanding for the current crisis in Iraq.

I am very sorry for the delay in sharing the report, and for the way is been structured as I am over occupied with the daily tasks of CAPNI and follow up the situation.

 

In addition, I would like to share with you the following information/points:

 

First: Mosul churches/monasteries under ISIS control:

All Mosul churches and monasteries are seized by ISIS. They are around 30.

The cross is been removed from all of them.

Many of them are burned, destroyed and looted.

Many others are been used as ISIS centers.

The following are few examples:

Mar Ephraim Syriac Orthodox Cathedral in Al Shurta district (East side of Mosul): ISIS installed loudspeakers and is converted to mosque for prayers.

Syriac Catholic church in the old part of Mosul was looted and set to fire.

Mar Gewargis (St. George) monastery is looted.

Mar Thomas (St. Thomas) Syriac Catholic historical and old church was looted after the doors were broken. Now it is guarded by ISIS!!!

In addition, Mar Behnam (St. Behnam) Syriac Catholic monastery in the Ancient Assyrian town of Nimrod is been controlled by ISIS.

For more information about Mar Behnam monastery, visit this link:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28408926

 

The religious Sunni, Shiite and Christian tombs are destroyed in Mosul.

This is according to the ISIS Shariaa.

This destruction is endangering very ancient sites, such as prophet Jonah tomb which was broken last week according to many reporters.

The Shiite praying mosques (named in Arabic Hussayniya) are demolished as well.

 

Second: The all non-Sunni communities are been targeted by ISIS.

In addition to Christians, this includes Yezedians (a very ancient religion) and Shiite.

Indeed, Yezedians had fled Mosul couple of years ago (starting 2004 – 2010). They fled to Yezedian towns/townships/villages in Nineveh Plain, Duhok and Erbil.

I doubt there were any Yezedians left in Mosul before 10 June.

The Shiite in Mosul city and Nineveh governorate can be categorized as follows:

Turkman Shiite who were in Mosul city, Mosul west suburbs (Rashidiya, Gubba and Sherkhan) and in the big city of Telafar (North East of Mosul towards Syrian borders).

Turkman Shiite were targeted and forced to flee. Their houses are seized and many of them destroyed.

In Talafar, Tutkman Sunnites joined ISIS to persecute their brethren Turkman Shiites.

Hundreds of Turkman Shiite families from the above mentioned places, where they lived for centuries, fled towards Erbil in their way to be evacuated to Shiite provinces south of Iraq.

Iraqi central government (headed by Shiite and a Shiite Prime Minister Al Maliki) is facilitating this evacuation.

A governmental flights program is ongoing to fly from Erbil airport to Najaf (Major Shiite city in the south of Baghdad) airport to evacuate these families and to be resettled in Shiite provinces.

Another route is ongoing for the same purpose where convoys of buses and vehicles are evacuating these families through Erbil to Kirkuk to Sulemaniya and down to Khaniqin and then to southern provinces.

This long route is because the road from Kirkuk to Baghdad is blocked.

 

Shabak Shiites: are in Nineveh Plain, mainly from Mosul to Bartilla.

Most of their townships are under Peshmarga protection but there are few of their villages (between Bartilla and Mosul) which are under ISIS control or in the vfront line to ISIS.

The Shabak Shiite of these ISIS controlled villages fled.

The Shabak Shiite who were living in Mosul fled as well.

They fled to Shabak towns in Nineveh Plain and dozens of them fled seeking settlement in Shiite provinces south of Iraq. The same like Shiite Turkmans.

 

The Sunnites Turkman and Shabak are not targeted.

 

This reflects how deep the sectarian conflict is and how long it will take to recover (if any recover is to come).

Can anyone really expect the Shiite Turkman and Shabak who are fleeing to Shiite provinces in Southern Iraq leaving their roots, existence and economy of couple of centuries in will return back again to Talafar and Mosul? Personally, I doubt.

What political impact does it have upon the Iraqi political and administrative structure? A big question.

The current situation reflects how the Iraqi structure was a fragile one.

Is there really a common Iraqi people feeling that they are one people and one country?

The situation is clearly a deep social and political crisis.

It is not a security or military battle between ISIS and Iraqi Army.

The solution (if any) can only be achieved through reviewing and restructuring Iraq to convince all.

This applies for Christians as well.

The question and challenge is how to convince Christians that they have future in Iraq.

The nice words and sympathy statements are not enough.

There should be deeds and practices.

According to majority of Iraqi Christian politicians and people, the start point is to grant the province (governorate) status for Nineveh Plain where the intensive Christian, Yezedian and Shabak demography exists.

(See the maps that I shared last weeks about Iraqi Christian demography).

The public relations nice statements such as: we are all Iraqis and all Iraq is ours are like a person who is issuing bank checks but he doesn’t have bank account.

 

Third: last night, around 22:00, ISIS tried to take over a medicine factory North East of Mosul and is far 2-3 Km west of Telkeif.

There was a confrontation with peshmarga who control and protect the area.

ISIS terrorists were forced to go back after a short fighting.

However, hearing the sound of the gun machines was enough to Christian families of Telkeif and Batnaya to escape and flee to the north in direction of Alqosh.

The Peshmarga checkpoint nearby Alqosh prevented them and asked them to go back simply because there was no threats and no battles field.

They were back to their homes.

This reflects the fear and horror of the people.

 

Fourth: Yesterday, there was a bishops’meeting in Erbil. It was headed by Patriarch Luis Sako to discuss the situation.

In addition, there was a meeting of all Christian political parties for the same purpose.

The parties called upon a demonstration for tomorrow in Ankawa and to go to UN office there demanding the International community to protect the Iraqi Christians.

 

Fifth: The following is a summary for my last week visit to Qaraqosh (Hamdaniya), Bartilla and Bashiqa.

In qaraqosh I met Mr. Anwar Hadaya (The Christian member of Nineveh Governorate Council), Bishop Jerjis Qas Mousa (Syriac Catholic Patriarchal Vicar) and

Bishop Saliba Shamoun (Syriac Orthodox).

In Bartilla I met Mr. Monther (President of Syriac Community Council of Bartilla) and bord members of the council, and Father Jacob of the Syriac Orthodox Church.

The council is the acting body and reference for the Syriac community of Bartilla.

In Bashiqa I met Father Daniel (Syriac Orthodox church) and his church committee.

I try to summarize the information that I learnt from the people I met:

 

Hamdaniya:

The major Christian town in the region. It is 45000 – 500000 inhabitants, 97% of them Christians.

They confirmed the majority (almost 80%) of the inhabitants returned to Hamdaniya after they fled it because of the confrontation between ISIS and Peshmarga.

They confirmed the confrontation was initiated by ISIS as it thought occupying Hamdaniya will lead for a fast and dramatic fall of other Christian and Shabak (Shiite)  township of Karmles, Bartilla and surrounding villages, and reaching Bashiqa (mixed Christian, Yezedian and Shabak town).

The current security situation is calm but the fear and horror is there as well.

The suffer of the people is the basic daily life needs as follows:

Electricity:

Hamdaniya, Karmles, Bartilla, Bashiqa and surrounding villages were connected to Iraqi Electricity network coming from Mosul. Now it is been cut by ISIS.

They don’t have electricity. The generators are not providing enough hours and the price is too high because of the diesel is very expensive. One ampere price is 12.000 IQD.

Before two days, Kurdistan Region connected the electricity to Kurdish region electricity network and started to supply 40 Mega Watts for the region.

It is little but is helpful.

 

Drinking water:

The above mentioned towns were provided from Salamiya water station (a huge one on Tigris).

The main pipe was connected from Salamiya to Hamdaniya and from there was pumped to Karmles, Bartilla, Bashiqa, etc.

Salamiya is currently controlled by ISIS who cut the water from this region.

In the details, they told me that in the first they were on telephone contacts with the Iraqi staff in Salamiya water station. The Iraqis were providing them with water one to two hours every day, but then the Islamic princes (Amir) (According to their dialect were from Yemen and Saudia) instructed the staff to cut off the water completely. The princes spoke over phone and insulted the Christians who were calling the Iraqi staff, and they told them: (You are picks and you don’t deserve to drink water).

 

So, there is no drinking water at all.

The alternatives are the drinking water wells.

However, the possible alternatives are different from each town to the other.

For Hamdaniya, the alternative is to dig water wells and connect them to the existing pump station.

 

Medicines:

Of course, ISIS is not providing the hospital of Hamdaniya with medicines.

There is a huge shortage and great need for medicines.

 

Financial income:

There are no salaries paid to the governmental offices. Simply because there is no Iraqi government in Mosul. It is Islamic State which is not to pay for Hamdaniya and other regions which are not under ISIS control.

Indeed, to what we learnt from sources inside Mosul that ISIS sorted out the lists of governmental offices staff and will not pay for any non-Muslim staff even if he will attend the office. We don’t think there are Christians to stay in Mosul and work in Islamic State offices.

In addition, the banks are closed and the people don’t have access to their cash in the banks.

The private sector is almost paralyzed in this situation.

All together make the life challenges very hard to the people.

 

Municipality services:

The cleaning and other services are totally collapsed.

The machinery and vehicles are not working.

In addition, the coworkers from the surrounding Sunni villages are not working as their villages ar4e controlled by ISIS and are not able (even if we suppose they like) to come to Hamdaniya.

 

Migration:

The tendency to migrate is there, and is expected to increase.

Many families are not migrating now because they don’t have their cash in hand as it is in the banks.

In addition, they are waiting to sell their properties before they depart. The properties market is frozen for now.

 

The future scenario:

Depends on the political agreements/disagreements between Iraqi political powers.

So far, the indicators are for more and deeper conflicts and disagreements between Shiite in one side, and Sunni and Kurds in other side.

However, on security level, it is not expected ISIS will try to expand the control to Nineveh Plain for the following:

  • the Peshmerga are enhanced and will prevent such attempts
  • the military pressure from Iraqi military on ISIS in Tekrit will push ISIS to avoid such battles and fronts against Peshmerga
  • the region is not an Arab or Sunni region to accept or cooperate with ISIS

 

In addition, many Sunni powers who are opposition to AlMaliki are in Erbil. This reduces the tension of Sunni areas against Kurdish and Peshmarga controlled regions.

 

Bartilla:

The suffer is the same.

Bartilla has another siffer because of Shabak pressure.

Shiite Shabaks of Bartilla had already seized land and properties of Christians. The Iranian council was a regular visitor to Bartilla.

All Shiite political parties has centres in Bartilla.

This created Sunni position against Bartilla.

The poverty is everywhere in Bartilla.

However, hundreds of Shiite Shabaks from Mosul, Bartilla and surrounding villages fled to south of Iraq to the Shiite provinces of Najaf, Karbala, etc.

This plan to flee the Sunni region and to be hosted in southern Shiite provinces is a clear solid indicator on how deep the conflict is, and how long it will take.

No one is expecting the Shiite of Mosul and Ninevh Plain who are fleeing to the south Iraq will come back again.

 

Water needs of Bartilla:

The alternative in Bartilla to help in drinking water is to install units to purify the water they can get from the existing water wells.

They asked for two units to be installed to two of the wells they have in the church property.

Lacking the drinking water, electricity, medicines, etc increased the disease cases.

 

Bashiqa and Bahzany:

The same problems.

210 Christian displaced families from Mosul are hosted by the church.

This is good but it is extra burden upon the church whose resources are limited.

The solution of the water problem in Bashiqa is to provide a tanker to transport the water from the existing water wells.

 

 

Keep Iraqi suffering church and people in your prayers.

 

Archimandrite Emanuel Youkhana

ܐܪܟܕܝܩܘܢ ܥܡܢܘܐܝܠ ܝܘܚܢܢ

 

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