No peace without security

ISIS has been ousted from the Christian towns and villages on the Nineveh Plains in northern Iraq, but Syriac-Orthodox Archbishop Timotheus Musa Al Shamani is worried about the lack of security.

“Without security and jobs no Christian will stay in Iraq,” stressed the head of the Diocese of Saint Archbishop Al Shamani urged that “an international peace-keeping force be stationed on the Nineveh Plains. We want a guarantee that our freedom and our security will be upheld.”

The archbishop believes that the United States has a special responsibility for the security of Christians. “All our politicians follow America,” he explains. Yet, he remains skeptical about the announcements made by the present U.S. government that it will be sending relief funds directly to the Christians rather than through the UN. “We hear a lot of speeches from President Trump. But we want to see action,” the archbishop said.

The prelate fears a return of radical Islamic groups. “We suspect that a group similar to ISIS will evolve in future, whatever it may call itself.”

On Aug. 6, 2014, ISIS conquered the Christian heartland near the northern Iraqi metropolis of Mosul. About 120,000 Christians had to flee. Many of them spent years as internal refugees in Iraq or fled abroad. Iraqi government troops and their allies managed to re-take the areas occupied by ISIS, and since then tens of thousands of Christians have returned to their heavily damaged homes. But will they be able to stay?