Chaldean Patriarch Appeal: People Before Oil, No More Conflict

In a letter to the President of the Republic, Sako urges “cooperation” between Iraqi leaders. The goal is to create a “modern and strong civilian” nation, capable of initiating economic, social and cultural reforms. The Iraqi army  takes a large portion of Nineveh and Diyala from the Kurds. Fears for Teleskof and Alqosh.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – A strong appeal for “co-operation” between Iraqi leaders, to create a “common front” against the danger of “new conflicts”, pursuing the primary goal of “protecting people before oil wells”, is emphasized in a statement written by the Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako.

The  appeal was addressed to the nation yesterday, delivered to the President of the Republic Fuad Masum and sent to AsiaNews. In the letter, the Leader of the Iraqi Church hopes for the creation of a “modern and strong civilian nation under a consolidated political leadership” capable of “initiating reforms in the economic, social and cultural sectors.” And it reiterates the call already expressed in the past for a sincere dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil, putting aside “the spirit of revenge,

suspicion, reprisals, or speeches”.

Meanwhile, after the capture of Kirkuk the Iraqi army has conquered other portions of territory until recently in the hands of the Kurds, concentrated in the province of Nineveh and Diyala. A military note confirms that government forces “have taken over control of Khanaqin and Jalawla” and of Makhmur, Bashiqa, Sinjar, and the Mosul Dam. According to some sources, the Iraqi forces are also warning the Peshmerga (the Kurdish fighters) to retreat from the Nineveh plains, especially from the Christian towns of Teleskof and Alqosh.

The fear is that new clashes may flare up in the coming hours.In this extremely tenuous situation, Sako has renewed his call for the parties to have a sincere dialogue to find a solution to the crisis.Below, the Chaldean Patriarch’s letter-appeal.These days, our country is going through unprecedented circumstances that are the result of all that happened in Iraq from the north to the south for years and until now. Therefore, this critical phase requires a comprehensive and national collaboration to go beyond this crisis and move forward to the solution of the crisis, the creation of a national and real partnership, and the rise of a new Iraq.

The incidents that took place during the last period was a part of conflicts that led to permanent tension and the collapse of the stability. In every instance, the innocent civilians were the first innocent casualties.If the unity of Iraq drew the attention of the international community, whether for strategic benefits or for principled stance, this unity is the share of all Iraqi parties, whether in terms of the responsibility of preserving it or in causing it to fail.

As the original components in Iraq are concerned in common living, they are calling to bypass this fragile situation by adopting the spirit of citizenship and law, clemency and forgiveness, and not the spirit of revenge, suspicion, reprisal, or loud voices.In this declaration, we in caution and love are calling the Iraqi Leaderships in the Center and the Region, to move forward to rescue what happened in the last years. For Iraq is the responsibility of us all, and it is in an urgent need now for a real, national reconciliation to ease the political process on the right path.

A courageous, honest, and civilized dialogue should be initiated to discuss all matters on the basis of the constitution; this is a sincere wish of wise people, confirmed by the wise authority.This national reconciliation can lead to practical and proper ways out of the whole crisis, not the referendum only.

The problems occurring in the country are not between strangers from places afar but they are among brethren and citizens living in the same homeland. Therefore, the right solutions cannot be reached without negotiations and reform of thinking. This method shall lead to offering mutual concessions courageously and the cooperation of  Iraq’s various leaderships as one front against the danger of creating new conflicts; namely, to protect the people first before the oil wells.

The goal is the rise of a modern and strong civil country under a consolidated political command to help develop the governmental establishment and to reform the economic, social, and cultural sectors.All this progress shall be supported by building confidence, developing security measures, securing stability, supporting the reconstruction process, and paving the way for the return of the displaced to the homeland, in the Iraq of coexistence and civilizations.

* Chaldean Patriarch of Baghdad and President of the Iraqi Bishops’ Conference

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