Growing Iranian Influence Threatens Iraqi Christians

June 12 2020

The conquest of much of Iraq by Islamic State (IS) had a devastating effect on the country’s Christian population, most of whom identify as Assyrians. While the survivors have managed to rebuild some of their communities, many are now threatened by the Iran-backed militias that have increasingly exercised power in the country. Uzay Bulut reports:

The Nineveh Plain is considered the ancient Assyrian heartland and is the only region in Iraq where the largest demographic group is Christian. Assyrians there even have their own security force, the Nineveh Plain Protection Units. Most of the Nineveh plain is currently divided between the Shiite militia and the Sunni Kurdish Peshmerga.

Ashur Sargon Eskrya, the president of the Assyrian Aid Society of Iraq, [states] that Assyrians and other religious minorities such as the Yazidis, caught in the middle of these forces, have faced both physical violence and political marginalization. “The demographic and cultural structure of the Nineveh Plains continues to change changing due to increased Iranian domination, the ongoing presence of IS, and the competing tensions between the central government of Iraq and the Kurdish Regional Government,” he said.

Bulut goes on to cite the analysis of Juliana Taimoorazy, a prominent Iraqi Christian activist:

The Islamic Republic of Iran’s reach through its Shiite militia in the Nineveh Plain has severely affected the Christians of Iraq: this is one of the main reasons why Christians in the post-IS era are not returning to their homes. And let us not forget that [the Iranian] general Qassem Suleimani’s strategy of dismantling IS as an institution was part of a larger Islamic Republic expansionist scheme to create a Shiite crescent [extending] all the way to the Mediterranean. It intended to use the Nineveh Plain as a corridor to the West.

Read more at Gatestone

More about: Iran, Iraq, ISIS, Middle East Christianity


Why President Biden Needs Prime Minister Netanyahu as Much as Netanyahu Needs Biden

Sept. 28 2023

Last Wednesday, Joe Biden and Benjamin Netanyahu met for the first time since the former’s inauguration. Since then, Haim Katz, Israel’s tourism minister, became the first Israeli cabinet member to visit Saudi Arabia publicly, and Washington announced that it will include the Jewish state in its visa-waiver program. Richard Kemp, writing shortly after last week’s meeting, comments:

Finally, a full nine months into Benjamin Netanyahu’s latest government, President Joe Biden deigned to allow him into his presence. Historically, American presidents have invited newly installed Israeli prime ministers to the White House shortly after taking office. Even this meeting on Wednesday, however, was not in Washington but in New York, on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Such pointed lack of respect is not the way to treat one of America’s most valuable allies, and perhaps the staunchest of them all. It is all about petty political point-scoring and interfering in Israel’s internal democratic processes. But despite his short-sighted rebuke to the state of Israel and its prime minister, Biden actually needs at least as much from Netanyahu as Netanyahu needs from him. With the 2024 election looming, Biden is desperate for a foreign-policy success among a sea of abject failures.

In his meeting with Netanyahu, Biden no doubt played the Palestinian issue up as some kind of Saudi red line and the White House has probably been pushing [Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman] in that direction. But while the Saudis would no doubt want some kind of pro-forma undertaking by Israel for the sake of appearances, [a nuclear program and military support] are what they really want. The Saudis’ under-the-table backing for the original Abraham Accords in the face of stiff Palestinian rejection shows us where its priorities lie.

Israel remains alone in countering Iran’s nuclear threat, albeit with Saudi and other Arab countries cheering behind the scenes. This meeting won’t have changed that. We must hope, however, that Netanyahu has been able to persuade Biden of the electoral benefit to him of settling for a historic peace between Israel and Saudi Arabia rather than holding out for the unobtainable jackpot of a two-state solution.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Benjamin Netanyahu, Joseph Biden, Saudi Arabia, U.S.-Israel relationship