Chaldean Patriarch calls for Christian militias not to be armed
Patriarch Louis Raphael I Sako, the Chaldean patriarch, last week urged the US not to arm Christian forces fighting the Islamic State ISIS in the Middle East.
"There are no ' Christian militias', but only politicized groups and simple people who are in desperate need of a salary," he said. "The remaining Christians in Iraq are only the poor and those belonging to the middle class—among them there are 100,000 displaced people."
"It is a total mess," Sako added. "Everyone wants to exploit the Christians of the Nineveh Plain for their ambitions and political in- terests. It is an area with different ethnic groups and religious communities. I am afraid that all these talks will turn the Nineveh Plain into a continuing conflict region, and in this case, no Christian will return to their homes.”
"Christians, if they want to have a future, must integrate themselves with the institutions and follow the legitimate authorities that govern the place where they live," he said. "And if the U.S. really wants to defeat Daesh [ISIS], they have to support the regular armies that are part of the central government and the autonomous Kurdistan government, instead of creating sectarian mili- tias.”
The Patriarch was responding to a defensespending bill currently in discussion by the US Congress and Senate. On the bill, a report said: "The committee believes that the United States should support appropriately vet effective indigenous groups, such as Iraqi Christian militias, with a national security mission."
Steve Oshana, executive director of A Demand for Action – a campaign group that has pushed for the legitimacy of Christian militias to be recognized – previously told Christian Today the move was a "huge step forward".
"This is significant be- cause Christian forces in Iraq and Syria have spent the past 18 months building capacity and in Syria one group has already received support from the US," he said.
Congressman Jeff Fortenberry last week commended the bill for expanding protections for religious minorities in Iraq.
"Two months ago, Congress declared that ISIS is committing genocide against Christians, Yezidis, and other minorities. The House of Representatives has now taken concrete steps to support the victims," he said.