Iraqi Christians take up arms to regain lost land
Christians formed armed units to regain land lost when the Ninevah Plains were invaded by the Islamic State (IS) in June 2014.
Though the Yazidi and Christian minorities of the plains distrust the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), this step was still unexpected of a peaceful group. However, the Christians’ actions fit in with the prevailing atmosphere: Everyone in Iraq is now armed.
Since early this year, Christians who were displaced from Ninevah to the Kurdish areas have formed militias in affiliation with the KRG’s Ministry of Peshmerga, while other Christian groups from different Iraqi areas are under the management of the state-sponsored Popular Mobilization Units.
Christians are no longer following a policy of noninvolvement in ethnic conflicts and armed clashes. They now are considering various options without excluding the idea of cooperation with the federal government and the KRG.
The Christians are well-aware that others, whether Arabs or Kurds, have goals for the lands that are not necessarily aligned with their interests.
Iraqi Christian Zafer Nouh, editor of Al-Fikr al-Masihi magazine, told Al-Monitor, “Our regions in the Ninevah Plains are considered part of the disputed lands between the federal government and the KRG. The Kurds see them as Kurdish regions that have to be annexed onto the KRG map, while the federal government believes they are under its administrative control, even if they are practically under Kurdish influence.”
By forming armed groups, Christians could be seeking to create a special status and participate in the conflict raging between the two major groups over the division of Iraq.
In this regard, Yaacoub Korkees, an Assyrian member of the Iraqi Parliament, said in May, “If they want to divide this country into Sunni, Kurdish and Shiite states, then we will call for a fourth state, that is a Christian state.”