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Iraqi Christian Militia Leader Threatens Sunnis In Northern Assyrian Town.

A leader of a Christian militia in the Shiite-majority nation of Iraq threatened to "dispose of" Sunni Arab tribes in the northern Assyrian town of Tel Keppe if they did not vacate the area by Friday, according to Middle East Monitor (MEMO).

Salman Esso Habba of the "Christian Mobilization" militia - a part of the Shiite-dominated Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) paramilitary organization - warned the Sunni Arabs to leave, claiming that Tel Keppe's homes belonged only to Christians in the town, MEMO reported Wednesday. He is also reported to have said that Christians' homes and rights could not be taken away, which, he alleged, happened following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion that ousted Saddam Hussein - who was a Sunni.

In 1990, the Christian population in Iraq was 1.5 million. However, currently, less than 300,000 Christians remain in the country.

"Salman [Habba] is suggesting that Iraq is a state with democratic rights for all, including tiny minorities such as Christians," Ahmad Al-Mahmoud, an analyst at the London-based Iraq monitoring organization Foreign Relations Bureau of Iraq, (https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20170208-iraq-christian-militia-threatens-toethnically-cleanse-sunni-arabs/) told MEMO.

"Apart from the fact that Sunni Arab tribes have been in and around Mosul for over a thousand years, no one should be able to dictate who lives where. I'm not surprised [Habba] has turned to sectarianism considering the company he keeps within the Hashd Al-Sha'abi," Al-Mahmoud said, referring to the Arabic name for the PMF, which serves as an umbrella organization for several militias.

Last month, (https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/01/06/integrating-iraqi-fighting-forces-not-enough) Human Rights Watch reported that Shiite armed forces associated with the Iraqi government have committed "horrific abuses" against the Sunni Arab population in the country ever since the former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, took power in 2006 and reportedly brought in anti-Sunni policies. Since the U.S. pulled out its forces in 2011 from the war-torn country, the Sunni population has (http://www.ibtimes.com/iraq-isis-incursion-presents-dilemma-sunni-muslims-1600822) reportedly felt alienated and discriminated against by sectarian Shiiite-dominated governments.

Last October, Amnesty International (http://www.ibtimes.com/iraqi-forces-torture-child-hammer-isis-information-war-islamic-state-iraq-torturing-2435190) accused  Iraqi Shiite groups of targeting Sunni Arab men in "revenge" attacks.

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Publication:International Business Times - US ed.
Geographic Code:7IRAQ
Date:Feb 10, 2017
Words:366
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