The Honorable Congresswoman/Congressman
Members of House Committee on Foreign Affairs
Washington, DC 20515
Today, March 20th marks the 14th anniversary of the US and allies’ invasion/liberation of Iraq. Only three days ago, and specifically on March 17th, we marked the 1st. anniversary of US declaration of ISIS Genocide against the ethno-religious minorities of Iraq and Syria. As you’re getting ready to meet with the Prime Minister of Iraq; Dr. Haider al-Abadi, the liberation of the city of Mosul from the hands of ISIS continues, however the suffering of the most vulnerable of Iraq’s citizens the very same victims of genocide also continues, most notably the Yezidis, the Assyrians and other Iraqi Christians and the Turkmens.
The ancestral homelands of these minorities; Sinjar, Talafar and the Nineveh Plain districts of Ninawa Province although mostly liberated from ISIS, are mainly now under the control of the Kurdish regional government. Several military and political Kurdish leaders have stated openly that they consider these areas to be part of “Kurdistan” and that they do not intend to withdraw their forces from them. This in our opinion will lead to new military confrontations between the Iraqi military and the Kurdish Peshmerga as each side claims ownership over the three districts.
The ethno-religious minorities of Iraq remain victims of the contentious and dysfunctional relationship between Baghdad and Arbil. Reconstruction efforts of these devastated areas is being delayed because there is no attempt to find a political solution. Hundreds of thousands of people remain internally displaced because their homes are destroyed or because militias loyal to one side or another do not allow them to return. Even if the international community funds the rehabilitation and the reconstruction of these areas, many believe that due to high level of corruption in the country, these funds will never benefit or reach the intended recipients.
The prime minister of Iraq must be asked the following questions:
- What amount of funding has been allocated for the reconstruction of the minorities areas?
- What mechanisms does his government have in place to make sure these funds reach the intended projects and recipients?
- Why isn’t his government bolstering local defense forces such as the Nineveh Plain Protection Units and local independent Yezidi and Turkmen forces?
- How will his government resolve the status of these “disputed areas” with the Regional government in Arbil?
The victims of ISIS genocide; Yezidis, Turkmens and Assyrians and other Iraqi Christians are seeking to establish a multi-ethnic and multi-religious region comprised of three provinces; Talafar, Sinjar and the Nineveh Plain. Iraq’s constitution allows for such region to be formed since it’s not based on any one religion, sect of a religion or ethnicity. By establishing the Al-Rafidein Region, with ties to the federal government in Baghdad, these minorities will rule themselves and have direct control over International efforts and funding to reconstruct their towns and villages. At the same time these areas would be removed from the almost certain future military conflict between Baghdad and Arbil that is expected to arise once ISIS is defeated in Mosul.
To ensure the future of the Al-Rafidein Region, International support is paramount. We define international support as follows:
- The international community to train and equip local independent forces.
- An international force stationed temporarily in the region to deter anyone from attacking it until local forces can protect it.
- Reconstruction funds to be used exclusively to rehabilitate and reconstruct the region.
- To help the region establish a regional government with its own parliament and institutions.
A multi-ethnic, multi-religious region for minorities with international support is the only solution left for these minorities to stay in Iraq after they were attacked by ISIS and left to fend for themselves by both Baghdad and Arbil.
David William Lazar, MBA
P.S. I am attaching with this letter a copy of the document announcing the formation of a Yezidi-Assyrian-Turkmen alliance calling for the establishment of the Al-Rafidein Region for minorities.
Source: Restore Nineveh Now