by: Bishop Sarhad Yawsip Jammo
The damage done to the foundations of Iraq in the past few years has shaken its basic fabric. Never in recorded memory have religious sects or ethnic factions exercised such brutality toward each other on such a large and comprehensive scale. Christians, of Chaldean majority, have had to suffer the heaviest and most drastic losses, ending up in mass exodus from their ancestral land. This is a humanitarian and cultural tragedy for the whole civilized world, but it is, most of all, an Iraqi self-destructive act.
The Shiite faction, a preponderant majority of the actual population, as a major Moslem sect and as belonging to the Arabic culture, can claim historic roots in Mesopotamia since the Moslem Conquest in the middle of the 7th Century; nevertheless, the Shiites preserve strong and interwoven religious, cultural, and social, ties to Iran, and obey devoutly Iranian Imams. While they are the heaviest segment of Iraq and the dominant leadership of its present forces, they need to be integrated with other segments of the Iraqi composite to be able to reflect and represent adequately the culture and collective agenda of this Land of the Twin Rivers and its state.
The Sunni faction, as being Arabic and Moslem, could claim similarly the Iraqi identity beginning from the Islamic Conquest, and could as well claim a genuine Iraqi allegiance, but the Iraqi Sunni, with the Arab Shiite, assert nevertheless their belonging to a larger Arabic nation that dilutes regional particularities and loyalties, and super-imposes on them a higher allegiance to a prospected Pan Arabic nation and homeland. Therefore, neither Sunni nor Shiite, with their factual dependencies, can claim historic and cultural continuity with ancient Iraq, or contain their national allegiance to the Iraqi state.
Kurds, within Iraq and outside Iraq, have a different story and different dialectic. As far as our subject is concerned, they are a fundamental and integral segment of the Iraqi population and state, but, as a distinct culture and religion, they cannot express the Mesopotamian historic core-identity and its continuity with itself; similar assessment could be made about the other ethnic, cultural, and religious segments of the Iraqi population, though all of them are integral and relevant parts of the Iraqi rainbow.
The Christians of Iraq, mainly the Chaldeans, through their living Aramaic culture, authentic scriptural heritage and apostolic Christianity, can legitimately and rightfully claim to maintain and preserve the unique Mesopotamian features of identity. Babylon is their principal historic reference, and all of Iraq–mountain and valley, north and south, before Christ and after Christ, before Islam and after Islam–is their ancestral land, to which they give their undivided love, as they have shown generation after generation; Chaldeans are truly the best expression of the historic core of Iraq. How sad it is that the actual leaders of contemporary Iraq are not using this their best asset, in order to establish a balanced and genuine Iraqi road map for its cohesiveness and its successful future.