World Ousted by war, Iraq's Christians struggle to reclaim homes

06:53  22 february  2021
06:53  22 february  2021 Source:   afp.com

Decades after the Gulf War, Iraq’s youth view oil as a curse

  Decades after the Gulf War, Iraq’s youth view oil as a curse Iraq’s youth protesters are demanding an end to corruption in the oil industry 30 years after the Gulf War.The call to specifically end corruption in Iraq’s oil industry quickly became one of the biggest battle cries among demonstrators.

The Christians of Iraq are considered to be one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world. The vast majority of Iraqi Christians are indigenous Eastern Aramaic-speaking ethnic

The Crusades were a series of religious wars between Christians and Muslims started primarily to secure control of holy sites considered sacred by both groups. After various internal struggles over control of Antioch, the Crusaders began their march toward Jerusalem, then occupied by Egyptian Fatimids (who as Shi’ite Muslims were enemies of the Sunni Seljuks). Encamping before Jerusalem in June 1099, the Christians forced the besieged city’ s governor to surrender by mid-July.

Fleeing war or threats of persecution, Iraq's Christians left behind thousands of homes in recent years -- returning to find them occupied by militiamen or secretly sold using fabricated deeds.

a person sitting on a wooden table: Fleeing violence or persecution, Iraq's Christians left behind thousands of homes but getting them back is a bureaucratic process that usually ends in failure © Zaid AL-OBEIDI Fleeing violence or persecution, Iraq's Christians left behind thousands of homes but getting them back is a bureaucratic process that usually ends in failure

Getting those houses back, families, clergy and officials told AFP, is a dizzying bureaucratic process that usually ends in failure.

"In the end, I sold my home at the price they demanded," said Fawzi Bulos, a Catholic veterinarian, who once owned a spacious house on the Iraqi capital's plush Palestine Street.

Francis prepares first-ever papal visit to Iraq

  Francis prepares first-ever papal visit to Iraq Pope Francis is to start the first-ever papal visit to Iraq on Friday, an act of solidarity with an ancient but dwindling Christian community and a symbolic outreach to Muslims. At the time, Pope Francis endorsed military action against IS and considered visiting northern Iraq in solidarity with Christians there. Video: Iraqi Christians, decimated by Islamist violence, prepare for pope's visit (Reuters) Your browser does not support this video That trip never materialised, but Francis has kept a close eye on Iraq, condemning the killing of unarmed protesters during mass anti-government rallies from 2019.

Iraq War , conflict in Iraq (2003–11) that consisted of two phases: a conventionally fought war in March–April 2003, in which a combined force of troops primarily from the United States and Great Britain invaded Iraq and defeated Iraqi military forces, and a second phase consisting of a U. S .-led occupation of Iraq .

Estimates of the casualties from the Iraq War (beginning with the 2003 invasion of Iraq , and the ensuing occupation and insurgency and civil war ) have come in several forms, and those estimates of different types of Iraq War casualties vary greatly.

He hasn't stepped foot in it since 2007.

At the time, Baghdad was gripped by a sectarian war that had erupted following the 2003 US-led invasion.

Fearing persecution, Bulos took his dentist wife and children north to the relative calm of Iraqi Kurdistan.

But soon, squatters moved into his home.

For years, he begged high-level government officials and military commanders to evict them, even travelling to Baghdad when it calmed down to see the house in person.

Mediation efforts ended in death threats and a legal complaint failed -- the squatters were too well-connected.

A decade after he fled, Bulos reluctantly sold his home to the squatters for around $400,000, the same amount he had spent in legal fees and bribes paid to opportunistic middlemen promising to resolve the case.

Turkey summons Iran envoy over remarks on Iraq operations

  Turkey summons Iran envoy over remarks on Iraq operations Turkey says the PKK presence in Iraq is a national security threat and it is Baghdad’s responsibility to take action.Ambassador Mohammad Farazmand was called in to Turkey’s foreign ministry after Iran’s ambassador to Iraq made the comments about Ankara’s cross-border military offensive against Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters based in northern Iraq.

Iraq ' s Christians worry over Iraqi -Kurdish conflict - Продолжительность: 2:33 Al Jazeera English 5 146 просмотров. Iraq : Christians celebrate a new beginning as troops prepare to liberate Qara Qosh - Продолжительность: 1:31 FRANCE 24 English 19 290 просмотров.

" Christianity in Iraq ," he said, "one of the oldest Churches, if not the oldest Church in the world, is perilously close to extinction. Those of us who remain must be ready to face martyrdom." He referred to the current, pressing threat from Islamic State (IS) jihadists as a "final, existential struggle ", following the group' s initial assault in 2014 that displaced more than 125,000 Christians from their historic homelands. "Our tormentors confiscated our present," he said, "while seeking to wipe out our history and destroy our future. In Iraq there is no redress for those who have lost properties, homes and

"I thought it was better I come out alive," he said.

- Forced doors, fake deeds -

Before 2003, Baghdad counted a diverse Christian population.

But once sectarian bloodletting began, they fled to Iraqi Kurdistan or abroad, leaving their homes in the care of relatives or Muslim neighbours until they could return.

Within months, many discovered that other families had moved in, claiming to be the real owners, or that armed factions had turned their homes into command centres.

"In many cases, people just broke down doors. In others, they tampered with the deeds," said Yunan al-Farid, a Greek Orthodox priest in Baghdad who advocates on behalf of victims of squatting.

Muslims lost their homes in similar ways following Saddam Hussein's ouster, either during the chaotic civil war or as retribution against members of his toppled regime.

In 2008, with sectarian violence easing, Iraq created a commission to return homes in Baghdad to their rightful owners.

‘Wake up call’: Deadly Iraq rocket attack puts pressure on US

  ‘Wake up call’: Deadly Iraq rocket attack puts pressure on US Rocket barrage launched from inside Iraq’s Kurdish region raises questions about who is responsible.A volley of projectiles targeted the main military base inside Erbil’s airport, which hosts foreign troops deployed as part of the US-led coalition that has helped Iraq fight the armed group ISIL (ISIS) since 2014.

Refugees of Iraq are Iraqi nationals who have fled Iraq due to war or persecution. Throughout the past 30 years, there have been a growing number of refugees fleeing Iraq and settling throughout the

Kurdish and Iraqi fighters have reclaimed control of the country's largest dam from ISIS militants who captured it less than two weeks ago, an army spokesman in Baghdad said. The Mosul Dam, spanning the Tigris River just north of Iraq ' s second-largest city, would mark the first major victory for forces Mohammed Abudullah - who runs a takeaway food store in Liverpool - gave an interview to Sky News saying he felt just as at home holding an assault rifle in a war zone as he did running his shop. The retaking of the Mosul Dam would be a significant morale boost for Kurdish and Iraqi troops as they try

More than a decade later, the body told AFP it had successfully returned more than 26,500 homes in Baghdad, now a city of 10 million people.

Gallery: Yazidis slain by Islamic State seven years ago finally buried in Iraq (Reuters)

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Mourners carry remains of people from the minority Yazidi sect, who were killed by Islamic State militants, after they were exhumed from a mass grave, to bury them in Kojo, Iraq. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani

Among them were only 50 Christian-owned homes, said current commissioner Mudhir al-Mulla. The body has not published the overall number of return requests it has received.

- 'We have no one' -

One of the reasons is bureaucracy, with dozens of stamps and signatures needed to process a complaint.

Even Christian owners who acquired eviction orders found security forces unable or unwilling to enforce them, said William Warda, who heads the Hammurabi Human Rights Organisation.

After seeing fellow Christians lose their homes even with court orders, many are too sceptical to even begin the process.

"Then, judges say they can't do anything unless they are presented with a complaint," Warda said.

More broadly, Christians say the system is rigged.

The post-2003 power-sharing system paved the way for Shiite parties and armed groups to win unprecedented sway in Iraq's parliament, ministries and security forces.

One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops

  One dead in rocket attack on Iraq base hosting US troops At least 10 rockets slammed into a military base in western Iraq hosting US-led coalition troops on Wednesday, security sources said, leaving one civilian contractor dead. The attack on the sprawling Ain al-Assad base in Iraq's western desert comes after several weeks of escalating US-Iran tensions on Iraqi soil -- and just two days before Pope Francis's historic visit. Ain al-Assad hosts both Iraqi forces and US-led coalition troops helping fight the Islamic State group, as well as the unmanned drones the coalition uses to surveil jihadist sleeper cells.

Christians, who make up less than one percent of Iraq's 40 million people today, were granted a quota of five lawmakers in the 329-seat legislature.

But the MPs are seen as weak, and beholden to the larger political factions with whom they have aligned.

"At least Muslims can go to their political parties or tribes, who will defend them," said Farid, the Greek Orthodox priest. "But us, we have no one."

- Little hope to go home -

Iraq's Christians were hit with another devastating blow in 2014, when the Islamic State group swept through their historic heartland in the northern province of Nineveh.

Tens of thousands of Christians fled their homes, often forgetting their deeds.

Returning after IS's defeat in 2017, they found their properties had been taken over by armed groups that had gained tremendous power after battling the jihadis.

Many of the occupying forces were themselves minorities, including Christian, and were subsequently blacklisted by the US for illegally seizing civilian property.

In recent months, an unlikely figure has emerged as a self-styled champion of the issue -- cleric and former militia leader Moqtada Sadr.

A terrifying name in the 2000s for US troops and Iraqi minorities alike, Sadr now heads parliament's largest bloc.

He recently called for Christian-owned homes to be protected and returned to their rightful owners.

With a bitter smile, Iraqi Christians and government officials pointed out to AFP that a number of forced expropriations were carried out by Sadrists themselves.

With a historic visit by Pope Francis due in March, the issue could gain new traction -- but advocates are not hopeful.

"Of the cases I know, 20 percent were resolved. But the remaining 80 percent are still a huge problem," said Farid.

Without institutions, some said, Christians are forced to beg for rights from top leaders, like second-class citizens.

"There's no law, no institution to guarantee Iraq's diversity and citizenship for all," Warda told AFP.

"And as long as this is the case, Christians will be subject to the whims of the powers that be."


U.S. 'War on Terror' Covered Nearly Half the World in Past 3 Years, This Map Shows Where .
Brown University's Stephanie Savell told Newsweek the president's "America is Back" rhetoric "is worrisome because it signals a potential return to a militarized status quo in which the US is exporting its militaristic approach and its weapons to many, many places."The data was released Thursday by the Costs of War project at Brown University's Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs. Researchers found that the U.S. conducted counterterrorism operations in some 85 countries from 2018 through 2020.

usr: 1
This is interesting!