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Iran’s Inroads into Christian Iraq

Iran is using its proven strategy of co-opting local militias to encroach on Iraq’s Christian heartland. The good news: the incursion is still reversible.

Published on: December 21, 2017
Yousif Kalian is researcher who focuses on Iraq, Syria, Kurdish issues, and religious minorities. He currently works for In Defense of Christians and has been published in The American Interest, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism, and elsewhere.
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  • Fargo

    I am reading this and do not believe my eyes. You call yourself a Christian and lie so blatantly? I don’t know where to start with your lies. The Christians in Iraq are appreciative of PMU and joined it to fight terrorists financed and supplied by allies of the West, such as Saudi Arabia. Iran has been exceptionally helpful to Christians of northern Iraq. The nonsense you are posting is nonsense put out by Kurds. The Iraqi Assyrian want to be part of Iraq not Kurdistan.

  • D4x

    Without a map, it is difficult to understand the point of Yousif Kalians report: ‘AFTER ISIS: Iran’s Inroads into Christian Iraq’ except to pitch
    Policy Recommendations to ??. What reader knows enough to assess the background? The citations are almost all from the existing American infrastructure of what an interested reader would think the US government relys on for post-conflict reconstruction. The United Institute of Peace was started by Congress.

    My confusion started with the photo without a caption. AP took a photo 10 24 2016 The inside of the church of Saint Shmoni, damaged by ISIS fighters, in Bartella, Iraq/ AP That was more than one year ago. Bartella is not mentioned in Kalians post. Bard Allah is the place name close enough to Bartella, about five miles SE of Bashiqah (Kalian does cite Ba’ashiqa) on the map I use: Place name spelling is a challenge. I got hooked on liveuamap in October, when I was engrossed in the situation in Alqosh, heart of the ancient Assyrian empire, where Aramaic speaking Assyrians rely on Peshmerga to protect the synagogue that houses the tomb of the Jewish prophet Nahum. They did NOT want Iraqi Security Forces or PMUs, and Alqosh has the topography of a natural fortress. I follow kurdliveumap for months, and this IS “wedged between Kurdistan and Mosul”. Bard Allah and Bashiqah are on KRG border, and American newspapers are not experts in transliteration when they get past major cities.

    So much else is happening now that, if anyone wants some more background on Iraq PMUs, this was all very helpful
    24 August 2017 Fracturing of the State: Recent Historical Events Contributing to the Proliferation of Local, Hybrid, and Sub-State Forces by András Derzsi-Horváth, with Erica Gaston GPPi, linked from their detailed news links War on the Rocks report:

    October 24, 2017 ” It’s Too Early to Pop Champagne in Baghdad: The Micro-Politics of Territorial Control in Iraq” by Erica Gaston and Andras Derzsi-Horvath This GPPi Quick Facts is extremely useful, especially to learn Badr Organization is now Iran’s political party in Iraq’s government: 16 August 2017 GPPi Global Public Policy Institute “Who’s Who: Quick Facts about Local and Sub-State Forces” [Iraq PMUs] by András Derzsi-Horváth, Erica Gaston, Bahra Saleh GPPi […] grant from the Netherlands Research Organization’s to explore Local, Hybrid and Substate Security Forces (LHSF) in Afghanistan, Iraq, and, in a more limited vein, in Syria. The project will run from August 2016 to August 2019 […] Literature review:

    I wish I could decipher Kalian’s geography well enough to know which of the specific District reports to cite, but the curious can follow the links from the citations provided. Best wishes to Yousif Kalian – may he sustain his career for another forty years, and retire with full pension and medical care. Hope your Twitter gets more followers.

    Photographs deserve captions.
    Maps are so useful.

  • Marathon-Youth

    Since the end of World war 2 and perhaps more so in the last 3 decades, the Middle East is becoming extremely radicalized. Every non Muslim faith is being purged. From Coptic Christians to Zoroastrians are either driven away or annihilated. Ancient ruins are being wiped out. The Bamiyan Buddha’s which were the tallest ancient statues to survive into the modern age were reduced to rubble by the Taliban. Assyrian, Roman and Babylonian ruins shattered into oblivion by ISIS. Even some of the most sacred shrines of Islam have been wiped out by the Wahhabi.
    The Fertile Crescent is being purged. Islam has had a strong revulsion to any symbol of the nonbeliever. There even exists a 500 year old plan to dismantle all the ruins of ancient Egypt. 500 years ago Islam did not have the technology to take down ancient Egypt’s massive monuments such as her Ziggurats, Pyramids and temples such as the Temple of Karnak. Today Islam has that technology.
    Whatever is driving Islam in the Middle East to erase any vestige or lingering memory of her pre Islamic past is gaining speed and fervor. I would not be surprised if all the ruins from ancient Persia to ancient Egypt crumble under the fury of a radicalized resurgent faith, and all those who do not bow to Mecca are driven out till the entire Middle East is an ocean of Muslims.

  • namitutonka

    The concept of non-believers has a radically shifting perspective. Place yourself, reader, in a different birthplace and your one true faith would be supplanted by another one true faith. It is all our emotional and intellectual nature to hold answers, a faith in this context, so that we have a confident sense of perspective to the mystery and wonder of life, Confident believers and non-believers have destroyed and will destroy the mystery and wonder of mother and child, So many dead mothers and children. So many widows and orphans wondering why, how, and where the simple belief in human life is not common to all of us. From the Air Force Academy graduates in high altitude bombers, to someone setting a roadside explosive device, you all so confidently believe it is OK. There are no answers, and there is no true faith. We are all infants when we can look up at the stars and admit we truly have no idea, answer, or faith that can replace simple open-ended wonder. Ah, but most of us have something to help us get a better focus, a better handle on wonder, a more comfortable perspective of wonder. A basic foundation and semblance of a sense of self from where we can think and act. Where we come to accept some construction of god. Our home planet earth is a place of collateral damage and vengeance. However uncomfortable, however justified, however ignored…….the impunity of agendas, religions, and plain fear of others who have them, will not bring back erased lives, nor will they help humanity to be free to wonder.

  • Joey Junger

    “Policy Recommendations for the United States and Iraq”

    Do what we did in Afghanistan and keep making the same mistakes, arm “moderate rebels” (whatever the hell that means) and then wait a decade until some of these guys get in on a Visa lottery and blow some stuff up here, or until our next senseless “boots on the ground” attempt to kill the moderate rebels who are now suddenly Jihadi radicals.

    If David Frum or Cheney any of the Neocons had ever seen “Chinatown,” they would know what the United States should do: as little as possible.

    When violent barbarians who like to kill people are fighting people like themselves, get out of the way and let nature take its course. Intervention by Christian NGOs to protect the Christian Iraqis might make sense, but all those fundagelicals are busy worry about Israel. Also our intellectual class in America is more worried about Christians not using frosting to write “Adam and Steve” on a wedding cake than they are about Christians being murdered in the Middle East.

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