Bethnahrain Patriotic Union: Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian presence in Nineveh Plains endangered by Shiafication policies of Iran-backed Shabak militia

NINEVEH PLAINS, Iraq – The Bethnahrain Patriotic Union (HBA) has sounded the alarm bells over the future of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian presence in the Nineveh Plains as a result of ongoing ‘Shiafication’ practices by pro-Iranian Shabak militia active in the Plains. Although it has already been several years since the liberation of northern Iraq from Islamic State (ISIS) control, HBA President Yusuf Yahqub Matti told Basnews, that fear still prevails among the displaced Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people (Suraye) who wish to return to their original living areas in the Nineveh Plains

According to Yahqub Matti, this fear to return to their original living areas can be attributed to several factors, including the lack of confidence Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian IDPs have in the Iraqi state in terms of security, work opportunities, the upholding of the rule of law and its dealing in a just and equal manner towards all components in the Nineveh Plains.

All is much exacerbated by the control of armed militias, especially the Iran-backed Shabak militia, who seize lands and properties of the Suraye in the Nineveh Plains with the aim to discourage the return of IDPs. Observers, activists, and politicians of various ethnicities and religions from the Nineveh Plains have indicated that the Christian Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian areas are exposed and subjected to a policy of ‘Shiafication’ in an organized and systematic manner by Iran-backed Shabak militia:

“The Christian (Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian) problem in the Nineveh Plains is racist, religious, and sectarian,” Bethnahrain Patrictic Union President Matti said to Basnews, indicating that the Shia political agenda has spread throughout the area with the aim to control the Nineveh Plains.

“The Shia are expanding in the Nineveh Plains in many various ways. Since 2005, a significant number of Shia families from the Tal Afar district and other areas of Mosul have been settled in the Nineveh Plains; this is Shiafication,” Matti declared. Most of the ‘Shiafication’ violations occurred in the Nineveh Plains after the Shia Shabak militia transferred thousands of their families to the originally Suraye towns of Bartella and Bashiqa. The Shabak also obtained commercial buildings and residential complexes there by overtaking the lands of the municipality, as well as agricultural lands in the Baghdede (Qaraqosh), Hamdaniye district.

Bethnahrain Patriotic Union Yahqub Matti emphasized that all these practices are considered nothing less than demographic change and are the cause of continued displacement of Christian Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians (Suraye).

HBA President Yusuf Yahqub Matti (third from the right) at the Brussels Conference: “A Future for Christians in Iraq”, 28-30 June 2017, Brussels.

Researcher and analyst from Nineveh, Muayad Juhaishi told Basnews that Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians are an integral part of Nineveh society. No armed faction should be allowed to carry out demographic change there because this violates all Iraqi and international laws and human values. He accused the Shabak militia – Shabaks are a Shia minority in the Nineveh Plains – were only able to acquiring their power, money, and weapons with Iranian support.

“The hate speech of pro-Iranian armed factions and the arousing sermons from outside Iraq, influence the militia in Iraq and empowers them to intimidate the residents and seize their property in the Nineveh Plains,” Muayad Juhaishi confirmed to Basnews.

Also read: A Future for the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in Iraq? Interview with Bethnahrain Patriotic Union President Yusuf Yahqub Matti