Andrew Doran: Christian Genocide: Evidence for Its Designation and Saving Christianity in Iraq

Andrew Doran: Christian Genocide: Evidence for Its Designation and Saving Christianity in Iraq

Robert R. Reilly: I found it very interesting that in the Wall Street Journal
a week ago Monday there was a op-ed by a former U.S.
ambassador, whose son-in-law was killed in the Brussels bombing so all
condolences to the ambassador for that loss, but it was interesting in the
rallying cry he issued about the forces of civilization, gathering to defeat the
forces of barbarism. He wants to identify the enemy and what they’re against and
so he says, “Let’s be clear. This fight is not only against America and Europe and
it is not against Christianity well we’re that true there would be no need
for such an organization as in defense of Christianity which they’re
emphatically is and we’re very privileged to have our speaker here
tonight and we’re also very pleased to have the co-founder of this group and
its president two feet ba klini with us in the back of the room thank you for
coming and other members of the staff the way McHale from Iraq was an advisor
to IDC is with us this evening very happy to have you here now Andrew Dorne
is as I mentioned the co-founder of in defense of Christians and he remains a
senior advisor to the group IDC is a nonprofit organization that advocates
for the protection and preservation of Christians in the Middle East as you
know this organization or if you don’t know I know Andrew will tell you tonight
played an absolutely essential in key role in bringing attention to the issue so that
when congressman Fortenberry introduced the bill in the House of Representatives
declaring a big of a sense of the house that there is a genocide in the Middle
East it was introduced at the IDC conference at which I was privileged
privileged to be present at the time last year and as you know
extraordinarily unique event happened fairly recently when the house of
representatives passed that resolution unanimously in addition to which the
secretary Kerry of the State Department subsequently declared genocide or
designated what is happening there a genocide however only after the evidence
of that genocide was presented by IDC to the State Department in a nearly 300
page report which IDC did in concert with the Knights of Columbus and that I
know is what Andrew was going to address this evening I just want to point out
being a knight of columbus in the recent magazine they point to a poll that they
commissioned in which it the majority of americans say Christians face genocide
in the middle east so that message has gotten out and it has gotten out in
large part because of this wonderful organization in defense of christians
just a few more words about Andrew he’s published dozens of articles about u.s.
foreign policy and human rights with the focus on the Middle East he previously
served at the US Department of State in the Bureau of international
organizations for which my condolences on the executive Secretariat of the US
National Commission for UNESCO he’ll be talking to us tonight about Christian
genocide evidence for its designation and saving Christian
entity in Iraq please join me in welcoming and rural thank you very much
and thank you for for having me in for the kind introduction Bob it’s a
pleasure to be here at the Westminster Institute and and you know looking
around the room and seeing a friend and a victim of genocide his family is a
victim of genocide here in the room with us the way we Cal who was a friend and
comrade on the ground steering me around some several trips in some dangerous
places now he’s here in our home and his family is here seeking seeking asylum if
I may and you know I suppose we’ll come to this a little bit later but this is the greatest evil I think on the planet
unleashed now before us with with ISIL and and the victims are not only our
brother and sister Christians but our brother and sister human beings Sunni
and Shiah Muslims Aziz all of those people who lay in the path of ISIL
defenseless and unfortunately I’m afraid this caliphates not not not going away
anytime soon it is it is something of an injustice I think to hopefully a small
one but and injustice to be credited with with so much whereas I feel as
though I’ve been sitting back watching so many people do so many remarkable
things and of course great credit to secretary Kerry ambassador Rabbi David
Saperstein a friend and hero who’s led the way on this knock stands at the
State Department and of course congressman Jeff Fortenberry and
congresswoman on an issue with their legislation dropped September 9 2015
which as you mentioned congressman Fortenberry announced at the national
press club the day we launched our second event in six months the day we
were honored to have the report published with the Knights of Columbus
whom I think are kind of the cavalry coming
to the rescue in this story I think it was their their effort they were they
were told by state we just simply do not have the evidence to declare genocide go
get it and at that most people would have said well I suppose that’s the end
of it well they went and got it and they came back and it was so persuasive and
as they successfully drove home the point was that the standard was probable
cause as i’m sure you all know for for genocide which which essentially
essentially means establishing reasonable grounds a reasonable basis
and if you read the upwards of 300 pages of the report and i hasten to add that
many other ngos did heroic and wonderful work gathering and documenting these
atrocities on the ground and that is also adopting incorporated by reference
in his report it is worth reading it’s not nighttime reading I was rereading it
again today and it’s deeply unsettling and and and I think anyone has spent any
time in that part of the world you know for whom it’s real and we have again in
our midst someone who fled his homeland is ancestral homeland to be here with us
it’s very real I just met for the first time today of the ways daughter here’s
what four years old five years old and you you know walked away and I wonder I
got my god I hope she doesn’t have any memories of any of this so there are
some people not in the room certainly deserve recognition although if the
camera were rolling I’d skip over them Bob destro the indefatigable professor
who spent time working on the language dr. Stan the many Hill staffers who did
you such a wonderful job putting in the overtime to see through so much of this
and of course as I mentioned the nights and IDC zone staff
overworked and in the interests of not revisiting salary negotiations I won’t
have underpaid but since they may be present but we really have an amazing
team and I was talking to Marty in the hallway before coming in one of the
great things i think that we’ve seen certainly over the last six months is
the various groups of christian at those advocates organizations and individuals
well given their voice to speak out of me after the Christians of the Middle
East working in much greater unity I was looking over my notes and I was looking
at something and I thought well it’s very pessimistic about that and it
happened it was very pessimistic about this and it happened I was pessimistic
about the genocide resolution I was chucked it was pessimistic could it
would even get to the floor and then it passed unanimously and then I said well
okay well we have to plan for Secretary of State’s never going to declare
genocide for Christians so we have to plan for this move on accordingly then
eight days later he does so not that I’m ceasing to be a pessimist but I
increasingly I find myself thinking of myself as what the late benedict
Groeschel would call a hopeful pessimist and I think maybe hopeful pessimism is
the attitude we should bring to the question of the Christians in the Middle
East because now we have before us genocide declared and the next question
that everyone’s been asking of course is what next so now what and as many have
said now we’re just coming to the starting line now what do we do and and
and it will come to this I think the answer is very very clearly a special
autonomous zone a protected zone whatever I don’t want to get into
semantics or whatever we want to call it that is the concept that we’re talking
about and this haven in Iraq is key not only to help save Christianity in Iraq
we need to have a model across the Middle East as these nation-states
continue to disintegrate and to fall apart falling back into
sectarian violence the the report as I mentioned is and I have a copy here if
you don’t mind reading my markups and we have some we think Kirsten has brought
some of the nights of course have many and it’s available online at in defense
of Christians organ on the Knights of Columbus website I think 286 pages in a
PDF and at a minimum i think if you don’t want to take the only thing i
think it merits reading the executive summary which is well-crafted and very
persuasive and I think the standard clearly was met and I say that because
ISIL is an organization that is self-defined and self-proclaimed as a
genocide organization so there isn’t a great deal of dispute one concern I have
and I think most in the room will remember 1994 the rwandan genocide there
was a moment when that as heads were being lopped off and people were being
slaughtered on almost done online almost in real time this descent into a
semantic debate which had the effect of being thoroughly dehumanizing and one of
the fears one of the things I was pessimistic about was that this was
going to descend into that it was going to be this back and forth while is this
genocide or as this mere crimes against humanity because crimes against humanity
of course are tolerable well of course they’re not the what what Assad has done
in Syria certainly constitutes crimes against humanity now by the legal
definition does it meet the threshold of genocide I think probably not but let’s
let’s just suppose that that’s the case for the sake of argument mere crimes
against humanity is is certainly sufficient to command the outrage of the
entire international community and one would hope compel them to action what
action precisely I think we have models for pho nation-states being
deconstructed and the best model that we have is Richard Holbrook’s 1995 dayton
peace accords which saw the international community mobilized to end
genocide in that case against muslims in the former Yugoslavia and to see the
establishment of zones of a zone of separation be monitored by an
international not peace keeping the peace enforcing force led by NATO in the
United States principally the French the British and the Americans 20,000
Americans effective january first 1996 we don’t see any sort of leadership on
the part of the united states to mobilize the international community and
our so-called allies in the region to put this conflict to an end on the
contrary we see where we see where the turks who played a very dangerous game
since 2010 2011 22 rankled Bashar Assad letting nusrah move freely across that
border and now that violence is coming home to roost and I was inevitable in
the Gulf states we see tremendous fear I think I’ve used the analogy that Thomas
Jefferson once used of holding the wolf by the years and this is essentially the
relationship between wahhabism and the violent extremism that has come forth
from the Sunni Gulf states and I also hasten to add that our government’s
response to this has been woefully inadequate for years we have known the
funding and ideological sources of al-qaeda of all nusrah the ok to
affiliates and even the Islamic state and we have done virtually nothing about
it billions of dollars diverted from wealthy individual
perhaps with the knowledge and consent of certain people in the government but
certainly it’s known and it’s known that the many of the transactions took place
through Kuwaiti bags and this is when al-qaeda Iraq was in a conversation with
something recently we’re talking with the parallels with and I hesitate to
jump into this but with the Irish Republican Army went in 1972 I believe
Bloody Sunday they were less than 100 and then some wildly imprudent judgment
behalf of some British soldiers who were there actually to protect the Catholics
led to the death of 13 the deaths of 13 Catholic civil rights protesters
resulting with the the enlistment of thousands of young Catholic men into the
Irish Republican Army almost overnight now it’s the same inciting event did not
exist but al Qaeda Iraq in 2010 in the west of Anbar province was relatively
obsolete and then the Syrian civil war came the Arab Spring came the revolt
against Assad Assad thuggish regime crushing murdering children essentially
and sparking a revolt among Sunnis and I think reasonable Minds may differ about
whether or not there was any real hope of a moderate Sunni rebel force emerging
but now it does appear pretty clearly and convincingly I think that the
overwhelming majority of those on the rebel faction tend to be somewhere on
the Islamist spectrum and the two most powerful groups are close of course our
I Celyn and nasara who have competing ideologies and interests but I don’t
think this is a case where we can say the enemy of man
he is my friend so yesterday I heard former congressman frank wolf speak
before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission along with Carl Anderson
supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus and former congressman wolf was
as always unafraid and and he said he SAT there in his chair and and he said
we know where the funding sources are coming from and our government is not
doing enough about it and and so a man of great courage to say that and I think
we saw over the past week where the Speaker of the House in the president
I’d states feel somewhat inadequate to even represent the interests of the
survivors of murder victims of 911 simply passing legislation to pursue
those parties who may have contributed to 911 and there’s an 800 billion dollar
debt held over our head as a nation like the sword of Damocles and I think it
really promised the question how did we as a nation at the United States of
America how are we somehow beholden to this frankly very extreme regime in in
the Gulf this is this is one of the questions that’s going to baffle
historians about how we got ourselves starting in the 1970s into this mess
from nineteen seventy five to nineteen ninety-five Saudi Arabia spent more
money exporting wahhabism than the Soviet Union did throughout the entirety
of the Cold War that’s just pre 911 now just imagine how many terrible regimes
we might have given those trillions of dollars in wealth to who would have done
less harm starting with the Soviets so this is this is the great conundrum
before us and we have not yet come up with a solution
I was having a conversation a couple of years ago with the foreign policy
advisor one of the current presidential candidates and this advisor said we were
having a conversation about this and the advisor said well the only solution here
is energy independence correct though that maybe it’s a completely inadequate
response to to this I mean it’s it’s very late in the game for energy
independence among the substance of the harm has been done and we should think
not only of those three thousands of victims on September 11th but also the
eradication of Christianity in the middle east of the blood of Americans
that were shed in Iraq and whether it was shed by Iran proxies of Iran or
proxies of or terrorists is funded by private individuals in the Gulf state
what difference does it make that’s American blood that ultimately had to be
shed because this extremism was spread by petrol wealth having a conversation
with another advisor to one of the current one of the former candidates of
this past election cycle it seems like there were so many in the Republican
side it’s not shocking we’re down to a few and you know was uh it was a very
telling conversation about you know that frustration about the nexus between our
energy dependence and and radical violent extremism and just the sense of
helplessness that was that was reinforced in that conversation was was
very discouraging so the US government certainly has tools I was going to add
we were talking about Iran in that discussion and I said do you know what
the number two revenue generating industry in Iran news and he said no and
I said I don’t either but I don’t think it’s significant that nuclear program is
being funded by oil revenue all of the threats to
American national security are being funded through the oil revenue of people
who do not share our values or our strategic interest so and one last point
there it’s a conversation about genocide and Christians of the Middle East and
I’m talking about the Gulf states so I hope you’ll forgive me I on the way to
the the ige meeting last tuesday about about northern iraq and the survival of
christianity there i had a palestinian driver and we were discussing this very
issue and he said i hope they are made to eat that oil and I thought what an
interesting thing he said it’ll be nothing to them in five years and
remember the coming back to the 70s that the principal source of funding for the
PLO was from the Arab cine Gulf states so this problem has taken on different
forms over the decades but it is the same problem so first you know what are
the why is the designation important first for the reasons I just mentioned
it brings to justice not only the individual soldiers who are carrying out
these atrocities this genocide but also those perpetrators and accessories and I
think that language is very significant the perpetrators and accessories and I
think this is something that we must key on because as we pursue the ideological
all the funding sources that’s that’s certainly going to be very important and
all of the agencies of the US government must be directed toward what I think the
next steps are and that’s restoring the victims to justice now what does that
look like I would say first of all securing the Nineveh playing region
which is a which is the north and eastern part of Nineveh province to give
you some sense of this Nineveh provinces I think a little over fourteen thousand
mile the square miles Armenia by comparison
is only 11,000 square miles so that should give you some size of the
magnitude of an end of a province so when we say Nineveh the none of a plane
we’re talking about a subsection of Nineveh province and then of a province
to the south and west of the end of the plane this is this is most of the second
largest city in Iraq which is a mess left abandoned after the fall of Saddam
especially late in the regime of Maliki after President Bush left and the Sunnis
there were essentially the victims of divided sectarian governance and we see
the consequences of this of course and I and I think there was a preference there
by by the way I don’t think the many of the residents of Mosul were they simply
were not passive agents and ISIL moving in and certainly the the Iraqi military
the military the central government demonstrated all the interest and
protecting mosel as you might expect in 1968 from you know an Alabama National
Guard unit deployed to put down civil unrest in Detroit you know it just there
really was no no concern there was no sense of nationhood and I think you get
this when you go to Iraq it’s just a fact there’s simply we are talking about
a broken nation no sense of itself and this I think is where the this is that
where I think we erred when we went into Iraq pluralistic democracy sort of
assumes an evolved sense of the common good and evolved sense of very post
tribal society with sense of the common good or at a minimum
common interest and if that wasn’t there in 2003 it’s certainly not there today
and so I think this is a time for me for radical creativity what passes for it
inside the beltway we have to begin to be honest with ourselves and have some
difficult conversations about about what a post ISIL Iraq is going to look like
at at a recent gathering of the Atlantic Council the KRG special representative
by an opto Rahman addressing a panel of retired generals and diplomats said
after one of them in commented the sykes-picot borders that in fact proved
to be very durable she said gentlemen this is 19th century thinking do you
have any idea how much blood has been shed to preserve those borders and
certainly Kurdish blood but let’s not forget Christian blood as well and my
friend Marty and I were talking just outside about this question of the Kurds
and I think it is an important one because those who believe in sovereignty
that a people have a right to self-govern who believe in sovereignty
those of us on the outside have a right to demand that same sovereignty self
autonomy security is that was the point I’m coming to for the Christians and and
that’s and for the Christians the Azziz all of the religious minorities and
vulnerable peoples of especially those of the Nineveh clan northern Iraq so
recently I think some of the statements were both in central government and the
Kurdistan Regional Government have indicated that they are not only open to
the notion of this region being secure this region by the way which in both the
Iraqi and the KRG provisional Constitution allow for special rights
and special autonomy for Christians and other
other religious minorities they have indicated that they are open to
international observers perhaps even international peacekeepers I think this
is a very crucial moment for those who are advocating for the rights of
Christians in the Middle East and hope for the preservation of Christians and
other religious minorities in Iraq to make demands of both the KRG and the
central government about the rights of of Christians and the self
administration and special autonomy of Christians the next step would be
resettlement of course into these read into these Christian historic Christian
communities now we’re talking about thousands tens of thousands of empty
homes people who had to flee with little or no notice as with ISIL on their heels
going to buy acabo which is the region just a little bit to the north and west
of our meal and if you go there you see about a hundred thousand Christians at
least in this in this Christian community of many largely of IDPs so
many of these Christians have expressed to me have expressed to others in this
room congressman wolf mentioned that yesterday mr. Anderson mentioned it have
expressed a willingness to return to Nineveh and I would also like to add
that Christians I’ve spoken to whose grandparents were originally from
Nineveh who moved in 1933 after the massacre to in Nineveh to the cavora
region in Kabul River region in northeastern Syria hozuki province which
was then overrun last spring by ISIL who are now refugees in Beirut have said we
don’t want to go back to housing problems we don’t want to go back to
Syria we want to go back to the land of our ancestors we want to go back to
Nineveh none of the plane so think about this
there are refugees in Lebanon who are saying we want to go back to Nineveh
what a fascinating thing what a great opportunity this is for us to give the
Christians of Iraq after our nation whether we wherever we may stand on the
war or wherever we may have stood in 2003 we gave rise to harm that the
Christians suffered that many others suffered and we have I would say I know
that some may debate you know the duty to intervene but I think we do have a
duty to protect especially where our conduct contributed to the danger that
many now face and as Carl Anderson noted yesterday it’s not genocide declaration
and we move on this is an ongoing thing the genocide is taking place right now
and so long as the Christians are not permitted to return to their homes this
genocide is ongoing and so we we do have a duty and the question I think before
is what do we do this is my these are my thoughts and I and I would say that
there are many others who are I would say there’s a growing emerging consensus
and that’s not what this looks like I don’t know but I’m as I said at the
outset something of a pessimist a hopeful pessimist about about the
survival of Christianity specifically in the end of a plane region so security
resettlement revitalization this is the third point economic revitalization will
be necessary and it will need to be very Swift because we have a number of people
already facing a very difficult choice of do i do I leave Iraq for Europa for
the United States or Canada or Australia or do I cling to the hope that I may get
back into my home one day soon many who were there have has committed to staying
and I and I believe they want to and so this piece of economic revitalization
zation is is key I’m proud to say that Stephen hollingshead friend and
colleague has been doing work on behalf of IDC to look at that very question
what can we do to spark a very rapid economic revitalization but the
Christians the others who returned to the villages in the minima plane and
what might be done while they are still internally displaced persons and I can’t
even begin to do justice to Stevens comprehend comprehend some vision for
what ought to happen but i will say that he is he’s contemplating everything from
micro finance and micro investment to revisiting current banking practices and
and has had a number of very positive meetings with people who i would say
even three years ago would not have been aware that there are Christians in the
Middle East and now are aware want to do something about it and and I think that
that speaks volumes of the about the many wonderful people some in this room
some not in this room who have committed their their lives are portion thereof to
this to this work to preserve in Christianity in the Middle East there
again where I was once very pessimistic I think there really is hope and I think
there are opportunities and I think this is where if one of the dangers of
American institution building and this is what we do well we do institutions we
do very large well-run institutions that are very impersonal we do that very well
and there are dangers when you’re talking about things like genocide which
is becoming a kind of meaningless term an impersonal term but one of the things
we do do well is is grow institutions and this is where I think leveraging
these institutions in the Middle East to help rebuild what was destroyed I think
there’s a great opportunity before us and I and I don’t know that a complete
sweep of Mosul is going to be necessary for this resettlement revitalization and
the security portion of this to begin I i I’m I think there are different minds
on this I I don’t know that even a few years from now if Mosul is going to be
completely cleared I don’t know that it’s going to look like it I don’t know
that it’s ever going to it didn’t look very good in 2006 when I Archbishop
Bravo was kidnapped tortured murdered in the baking of dank basement in Mosul I
mean this problem these problems in Mosul did not begin in in 2014 this is a
long-term solution I’m not optimistic that the Iraqi military can can liberate
I’m not optimistic that the Kurds or can you shed blood to liberate a city and
then pull out of it or that they frankly have the means or the capability of the
training for offensive warfare the sort of urban warfare that’s going to be
necessary but just coming back to their number of groups looking at these
looking at these these possibilities how to help the Christians there and they’re
leveraging ingenuity and so and so that is something the source of hope I think
with that i’m just going to speak for a moment about the challenges that Middle
East Christians face here and there and I think that there I would say that they
are either well a seven but they’re related on some of them are overlapping
the first to be the history and culture and you don’t ever want to suggest sort
of fatalistic view in other words that people are trapped by their history and
culture but i think i would say christopher Dawson Great British
Catholic historian just sort of in passing somewhere noted that we tend to
think of Christianity especially the early centuries of Christianity is being
Greek and Latin Greek and Latin Christendom this is how we think of it
and he said there really is a third pillar of Christendom and it’s syriac
Christianity he called it we would we might say mainly
Christian Middle East Christianity Middle East christened him oh you know
it is done that might have been going to call that Near Eastern Christianity but
Syria Christianity is out Dawson called in and he did know that unlike Greek and
Latin christened him which hearkened back to a pre-christian pagan political
era of empire in other words they had they had pre-christian political
traditions that were incorporating new Greek and Latin Christendom Middle East
Christianity never really had that so talking about the region of eastern
Mediterranean Egypt Syria the Levant Mesopotamia Anatolia the Christians of
these regions Greek monophysites maronite they were typically overrun by
by the great empires of the ancient world they were used to being in other
words of subject people from the Greeks to the Romans to the Parthian to the
Persians and then the byzantines and then the Arabs visit of course were
Christian but the and then finally the herbs that by the time the the Arab
conquests of the 7th century overrun the eastern Mediterranean to Mesopotamia
Anatolia down to Egypt they’re really essentially the religious leaders of
that of that part of the world are very much prepared to cede anything that
needs to be rendered to Caesar they’re just prepared to concede that and
they’re content to render only to God and so what happens beginning very early
on certainly by the 7th century when we have Islam and Christianity occupying
the same space much of it for several centuries predominantly Christian
places I Christian ever places like Syria sees me were I think forty percent
christian de fifty percent Christian as of just half a century ago so the
Christians I but I think that that moment when the Christians more or less
conceded the political realm started a pattern in motion that is still with us
to this day and I guess I would say that that maybe strikes an American a little
bit the religious leaders were becoming to represent the political interests of
of a people which is what happened in 2014 when we had the patriarchs coming
out of the Middle East and it was it was historic and it was a I think the first
moment of its kind since the Council of Florence at the same time in the back of
my mind I’m thinking how could this be why would this be where are the
political leaders and of course is very uncomfortable I don’t want to delve into
this too much there’s there’s the baddest exemption exception with
Michelle off lock but for the most part frankly that that was not I I don’t
think that was necessarily a Christian I mean I was every a secular movement and
and I don’t know that that has favored the Christians over the long run indeed
many of the Christians I talked to who’ve been victims of brutal Baathist
regimes will tell you that’s certainly not what one hopes he even the
architects had in mind so so I guess what a good the greater point is that
there isn’t an independent political culture that developed among Christians
in the Middle East there isn’t that willingness to engage we see that to
this day in Syria where a significant number of Christians on the ground are
perfectly willing to receive their their voice to a regime that is essentially
discredited worldwide now not for me to judge them and my heart goes out to them
and what a terrible captive place that must be I don’t think anyone in this
room places with a Christian in Syrian so I
think we dare not judge however looking at it from 50,000 feet or perhaps in the
context of 2,000 years I think it’s safe to say that the absence of an
independent political culture is certainly not ideal now where I do see
that developing and I am optimistic is in is in Lebanon and I think the
Christians of Egypt Iraq and Syria however imperfect Lebanese politics is
and certainly is there is access there to freedom of speech and an opportunity
to observe freedom of speech and parliamentary democracy in a way that
doesn’t just simply does not exist elsewhere and I would also know that
Lebanon is a very small country and it has been plagued by its own Civil War
but it is resisted for five years the possibility of slipping in the Civil War
but the fact that Lebanon a small shouldn’t really give us we should
dismiss it for that reason on the contrary I think what’s beginning to
emerge across the Middle East as these nation states especially Iraq and Syria
are falling apart r is the fact of local regional governance I heard someone in
the Middle East a very thoughtful gentleman say what’s coming in about
indica with the collapse of these false nation-states is the rise of the city
state and it’s beginning to look something more like what existed in
Europe and I thought it was a fascinating observation I can’t claim
credit for it myself quickly demography is certainly a challenge looked at the they’re the twin problems of the exodus
of Christians and the compare of the comparable perforates of of Christians
and and the prognosis there is not necessarily encouraging and I think this
is another reason why we should we should look at regional and special
autonomy the third point would be the what a Middle East Christian advocate
and a Syrian called the the dialectic we were sitting in a room on Capitol Hill
and he said the biggest problem we face is the dialectic and everyone
the room just sort of clays glazed over and I thought well that’s interesting
he’s spot on and his point was that the Christians of the Middle East among the
American foreign policy establishment are not regarded sympathetically because
institutional Christianity in the West has traditionally been identified with
the oppressor class this of course is Hagel’s dialectic of Aaron shaft connect
connect shaft I think lordship and bondage but the the church’s is
historically been I’ve been identified in the West as part of you press our
clients and this this is an unfortunate reality of many foreign policy
establishment coming from lead institutions and being prepared to
identify the Christians of that region you think about the terrible irony there
I think the gentleman who made this point was precisely correct but you
think about the terrible irony of the victims being identified the oppressed
being identified with the oppressor class the the next the next two points
really are related disunity which i think is the biggest obstacle to
effective advocacy and I also want to add this is something that’s being
addressed I think just organically and naturally on its own with people working
organization commuters was working more closely together very encouraged by that
and and that this unity is a is a kind of an extension of tribalism which is a
little bit of an uncomfortable subject but one that really can’t kind of can’t
be avoided I was recently reviewing reviewing an article I was writing in it
occurred to me I thought okay well I think Jesus of Nazareth was the first
post tribal profit level you know teacher of the Abrahamic faiths and and
I thought well that’s an interesting notion i think i’ll test us at so last
week i was talking to two chris Siple and chris i believe I GE a really
thoughtful wonderful man who came up with
I think he came up with the concept of what he calls relational diplomacy which
essentially means sitting down in the Middle East and letting a dozen grown
men in a council scream at you for American foreign policy for about an
hour before you get a word in edgeways blue what you’ve seen you’ve had
occasion to see me get yelled at the Middle East yet and then absorbing that
in building trust by by telling them you know what you think and so I was I
wanted to bounce this idea of you know tribalism off Chris cycle and he said oh
yeah John for and was one of those moments I think that a lot of Catholics
have you know where is it’s John for and I I just sort of vaguely nodded you know
and thinking I hope that that’s the Samaritan woman yeah and it should have
been something in Westphalia that you know made memorizing scripture Catholics
given Catholics per engine option opt out of memorizing scripture passages but
but Chris is it chris is a fascinating guy and he said yes this this notion of
post tribalism is an important part of our work and network decided to say
we’re co-authoring a piece on it but that really is a very important
challenge and it has to be overcoming in the West I think we face the challenge
of cultural tribalism and in the middle east i think there’s still a lot of
ethno-religious tribalism and I and I hope that the Christians of the region
will realize and the Christians of the West will realize that tribalism is
fundamentally incompatible with with Christian belief and and and hopefully
we can move beyond it and then finally there’s the problem inverse
proportionality which i think is a big cultural barrier between Middle East and
Western Christians and by inverse proportionality what I mean is about
five percent of the Middle East may be approximately is evangelical and about
five percent of America would be Orthodox and those numbers would be you
know as you go from the least to the west you see these numbers switch where
we have a plurality of even in the West and then America and
Catholics would make up the next greater portion and and very few worth docs and
in the Middle East Orthodox constitute a majority select majority I believe of
the Christians in the Middle East so there’s a there’s a lot it’s not just
language it’s not just culture it’s it’s custom it’s liturgy and on so a number
of evangelical leaders i’m happy to say are taking steps to to help narrow that
culture gap and i think that that is going to be overcoming that’s going to
be a great going to give Christians a great opportunity for greater voice in
this culture so I’ll just conclude by by saying it’s it’s a real honor to be here
at the westminster institute i hope i didn’t drag on too long in it you’ll
ladder a time for some questions yes what is national reporter looked
over at reddit don’t know and actually wrote on our fathers though but in an
international legal brief report an uncoded passage which struck me because
everything else and only previous photo absolutely not there was discussion of
new jersey of the pentax Christians mean a substitution Airy tax for military
service of Christians as was a bob destroy your legal measures and signed
on for free at the press conference at the national press release report where
did that idea come from of the jizya is merely a substitution airy sir similar
to like the Civil War experiencing in America that you know you have the bonus
jumpers and so for that you get I could pay my way out of the draft you mean
army that was the podcast that’s a great question and I’m afraid I think you’d
have to ask Bob I’m not familiar with with that and I couldn’t answer that
question I thought that the the jib portion of the report was very
significant and in some meetings with members of our government I heard people
at different points dismiss you know it was sort of the mere crimes against
humanity tendon say that you saw oh the Christians it’s really not that bad they
can pay a tax well the report went to great lengths i think to make the case
that this is not what’s going on this is not the historic traditional jizya tax
that’s being levied against christians in fact when when 3,000 arab muslim
lawyers conquered a hold of byzantine held egypt in i think the year 642 they
were able to do so because of their was because it was a great deal of support
among the monophysites Christians of Egypt and once they conquered Egypt the
the Khalif was not keen to convert anyone to Christianity because he was
raking in all this money and there isn’t evidence shortly that it was anything
like what we’re seeing in Iraq and Syria in
Rocca and mosel at the hands of the Islamic state I am afraid I can’t answer
your question I just don’t have I don’t have I can be happy to reach out to
about tester or put you in touch with if you’d like to follow up with him but I
don’t feel as though I’m confident to answer that specific question because I
yeah that’s one area I just don’t know enough about thank you sir thank you
thank you for your reports fantastic report thank you I like this question
about what you said about Rosalind mostly campaign so I think correctly you
said that the Nineveh plane could be secured and there could be economic
revitalization even without taking the second largest city of Iraq so that’s
you know that’s there’s a million people there at least there’s at least four
thousand maybe 4,000 for Islam mrs. fires so my mosel because i think it’s i
think it’s an exit 3 million the population that’s too much ok it’s too
much are you sure if you used to be to me or maybe maybe many left ok yeah well
let’s say one let’s say is 1 million some some foam in Syria Oh probably one
that I did the original people who left ok somebody brought my side yeah it’s a
big sprawling cities yeah universe is there so by the waist looking Kirkuk and
so I wanted what I know that end of a plane is one of the most attractive
places in the world this is an ancient wheat growing area this is wheat has
been growing there for 6,000 years it’s great land it’s got water with the
Tigris River and this is the way we will tell you it’s sitting on top of a lake
of oil there’s this tremendous amount of petroleum the richest petroleum fields
in Iraq are in the north and they go right into Mosul so this is
precious land and also it’s empty it is the label type of a lot of people used
to live there they’re gone so there’s a tremendous amount of real estate that’s
available to be reset and it’s great for truck park you were in the State
Department so the agricultural experts that I worked with in bed nets that this
place can be fantastic for truck farming just like they did so my question to you
is don’t really economic revitalization but we know that would be very dangerous
and very inhibiting for people to try to live in an area that’s only 20 miles
away from a country is infested by killers who have hundreds of suicide
bombers who just love to go kill farmers or kill industrialists how do you see
the repopulation of the Nineveh playing without taking those I think it’s a
great question first you have a number of people who are going I think the
question is is is open as to whether or not the Islamic state will substantially
reconstitute in North Africa and Libya and and so so the dwindling number of
Isis fighters will make it easy for let’s be honest it’s going to be an
american-led coalition to sweep to sweep Moses this week close ally i don’t i
don’t know that i see that necessarily in the future i know that could be
banked on what i would say is having been to the front lines and seeing
something very much approximating the western front in world war one where you
have a thousand kilometer front trenches fixed defensive positions and no tanks
to penetrate the lines I think it was April or May of last year and intelius
calf ISIL in the middle of the night about three o’clock in the morning
packed up a truck with explosives drove it through you know their tactics are
very primitive they’re trying to pierce the line the Kurds surged and repelled
the attack and I think at some point even even Isis
got tired of the suicide bombing approach and and it didn’t prove
effective so I guess what I’m saying is you have it you have a fixed defensive
position that can’t be penetrated i don’t i don’t see ISIL coming into
position of Tanks anytime soon my point is simply that this is a defensive
position that can be held and so what is the threat at that point to a city like
like al coche the threat is mortar or artillery I think that’s something that
can be neutralized or lived with and I realize that that’s a you’re talking
about a tremendous risk for somebody who has to move back you know under that
threat but the simple reality is it’s it’s not sustainable the IDP situation
is is not sustainable and I I think that there are I’m aware that there are
different views on this and I told I completely understand and respect
anybody who would not want to move back into a city that’s still within mortar
range of of Mosul but I don’t think it’s a realistic possibility to assume that
ISIL is going to be moving north and east of Mosul anytime the near future I
simply don’t see that so I think what we’re talking about is a crisis of
confidence in the people that that they can go home and that it’s safe to go
home again I feel very I don’t feel quite comfortable telling people that
it’s safe to go back I would never say that but I think we will see that there
are many were willing to go back even when I wasn’t Ellis calf you see people
at their homes driving out to their homes and tell the scuffle you can you
can see the ISIS occupied villages with you know your own eyes they’re just a
mile or two south on the road to mosel so i hope i answered that that question
directly I’m referring to last tuesday’s event at
IG i was not on the call so I’m afraid I I don’t know what you’re what you’re
referencing there I do know that there was some upset Assyrians in the room and
I think that’s good voice voice your opinions I think that that’s and I think
that I usually would say the same thing that what they want to hear is Assyrians
I saw Syrians encourage having some respectful but but but intense
conversations and I think that’s very healthy and frankly I think we as
Americans have a duty to especially as the Kurds move toward independence and I
would never say that they should be denied their independence but I would
say if sovereignty is something that the Kurds are entitled to then Christians
are entitled to it as well and I and I think that what the Christians the
request of Christians for greater self governance in self-administration I
think those requests are perfectly reasonable because one of the things
we’ve seen I think Armenia is a good example of a people who had to they had
no help from the outside and they had to forge their own reforge their own nation
out of Ottoman Turkey and had they not done so at the Battle of circa arvada
night in 1918 it was May nineteen eighteen there would be no Armenia so so
these things can can be very very touch-and-go I hope I answered your
question which is too sad unable to answer your question that’s that’s twice
now so let’s keep let’s keep going please come on heels here
two weeks ago and the Kurdish question arose and his opinion is that he thinks
the Kurds are smart enough to understand how well they know how well they’ve been
doing for the last 20 years Furcal under us protection for much of that time and
that were they to declare independence all hell would break loose with Syria
Turkey Iran Deborah that it would not believe them to unilaterally move in
that direction yeah what do you think well I think well a few things have
happened just in recent years the kobani siege was a very pivotal moment and I
say that because the Kurds of Iraqi Kurdistan are now watching what’s
happening in syrian kurdistan with great interest and a sense of nationalism the
sense of a united people and i don’t know that that existed five years ago so
so this is a so the nationalism is a very strong movement in kurdistan right
now and it’s only the government that is that is resisting it if this were to go
to a vote I would say you know ninety-eight ninety-nine percent of the
Kurds would vote for independence and I think that’s very telling probably only
civil servants could be convinced to vote against it I think that’s how
popular does not that is the surge toward nationalism with respect to the
Christian question there my hope is that the KRG sees something that didn’t exist
five or even three years ago in the United States and that’s highly
mobilized and motivated advocacy a series of advocacy groups on behalf of
the Christians of the Middle East and while we we certainly last night for
example the KRG hosted a special event on the hill recognizing the great
historic ties between the Jewish people and the Kurdish people and their
presenter there was a woman I think in most instances what we would say is a
special representative who was a woman coming from the Muslim world holding a
special event to recognize the contributions of Jews and within the
framework of courage culture is not insignificant I mean to borrow a phrase
from Margaret Thatcher these are people we can do business with however what we
have to be clear about is that this is christian advocacy apparatus has to be
very clear that any support we should be neutral the question of Kurdish
independence because it doesn’t directly touch the survival of Christianity in
Iraq but we’re going to be watching very closely how the rights of Christians are
protected and their willingness to intern honor article 35 of their own
provisional Constitution which calls for special autonomy for Christians what’s
good for the goose is good for the gander and I think this is what we this
is the standard we have to hold the Kurds to with respect to the Christians
is it is a great deal of distrust there and I don’t how can I possibly tell an
Assyrian Christian he has no right to be skeptical of being covered by the Kurds
when there’s significant evidence on the ground that they were they were left you
know to rock my nice okay so bye-bye pesh MERGA forces now the push Mary are
nothing like centralized are unified right I mean it’s just but that’s that’s
something that’s a helpful projection to the west but they’re governed by more or
less by political parties there is increasing centralization and there is a
movement toward independence but but they’re trying to project more
orderliness I think than exists in reality I open to the question but yes
well being at the house whether you are there tom
yes the one phrase that struck me from ambassadors have assigned was he talked
about we’re trying to seek a pluralistic democratic Iraq so I you know hey what
are these ideas in policy circles working up of karishma pennant orbit
Ottoman are in an hour I think the autonomous zone is somewhat consistent
with the what’s called a Biden guilt Biden’s Joe Biden’s 2006 co-authored
he’s in the New York Times Leslie gelt called him for in essence the Dayton
model to be implemented in in Iraq it’s not calling for the breakup of rockets
calling for decentralization a more federated governance structure more
regional autonomy I think certainly step in that direction is what’s called for I
can certainly appreciate that that ambassador Saperstein might not be
comfortable deviating from the talking points at state but and I certainly but
it would agree with that this is what we will do it all up to see pluralistic
Iraq but it’s it’s simply not the reality right now so we have to deal
with in the framework of reality I don’t know that the u.s. government can fund a
program that’s going to cause a rack to transcend sectarian and tribal violence
anytime in the foreseeable future I don’t know that I don’t even know what
that program would look like you know so that’s it so I guess what I’m saying is
we have to deal with in the framework of a reality and you know I was there and I
did hear some Robbie George’s remarks were wonderful of course I did hear some
people discuss the limits of of state action and the possibilities of NGOs but
not just but also how much of this becomes engaging in civil society and
there I believe rabbi Saperstein did talk about the importance of of engaging
something like recycle would advocate relational diplomacy really at the at
the town and in which the individual level 2 for these
communities to reconcile and I think that’s that really is what’s going to be
what’s going to be necessary i hope i answered question Thank potion okay
we’re maybe Steve you have the community of discussing issues violent extremism
language itself has a certain origin and as a certain Verity that generates that
kind of Jarrett’s also i would say questionable outcomes and questionable
oppositional tensions so that the temple what we’re talking about the lobbies
women are extreme we’re talking about what certain schooling and that my team
extreme or what the Kurds are doing that they’re doing in at least on painting
pie then becomes extrudes and the question i have is there is something
underlying a wild experience unless you can be explained in terms of
they say Islam is there any you know cutting through the dance of violent
extremist events have to yeah you know Bob and I were talking
before we started out here and neighbors earlier it’s earlier today we were
having a conversation they said every conference I go to his true true last
week every conversation I’m a part of people are are moving around it seems
they were unable to quite put their finger on what the problem is and I
think the regensburg address hits it nails it spot on and it’s very rare that
i would say publishing a book is courageous but the closing of the month
most of mine by Bob comes very directly to this point what’s what we’re seeing
is a crisis of reason when you read this what you’re reading about is a crisis of
reason and I might my own belief is that violence before it’s carried out with
wielding of a sword or the firing of a gun it is first it is first an act of
violence against reason in other words it’s a it’s a form of violence against
against reason and and this is what we’re seeing what we’re seeing is
violence to reason I’m not keen to jump into you know my the plausibility of
your revealed religion against the plausibility of my revealed religion I i
think what ought to be what we ought to strive for is is a notion of common
reason and by that what I mean is what what can you and I and the next person
agree to independent of revealed texts and revealed faith about our common
humanity and and that word is hellenization so I think Bob answered
that better than I possibly could Andrew thank you very much I want to
acknowledge the presence in the room of Drew bowling as I mentioned Congress
fortin Barry’s great role in the congressional resolution as having
introduced it and drew worked so hard to bring this to fruition that he is owed a
great deal of thanks along with IDC and all the other organizations that work
for this and I should mention in that respect our office mate here at
Westminster is Barnabas aid and you may see in the next room the literature from
Barnabas aid and the work they have done to help persecuted Christians in the
Middle East and elsewhere and also to bring greater attention to this and in
fact with Drew’s help Barnabas aid will be presenting congressman congressman
Fortenberry with the tens of thousands of petitions they also signed to help
draw attention to this same issue as does IDC so thank you very much for

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