Frederick P. Isaac

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Articles and book information on Assyrian issues including contemporary history, experiences under Islamic rule, leadership and Assyrian aspirations to nationhood.


Indigenous Peoples

Under the Rule of Islam

 

by Frederick P. Isaac

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Balance and Counterbalance  

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Survival Under Despotism

 

 

False Allegations and Betrayal
 

 

Some individuals, who are academic and influential, describe the Assyrians as peasants and aliens to Iraq. To justify his government's policy of suppression of the Assyrians, Abdul Rahman al-Bazzaz, former Prime Minister of Iraq, published in the mid-sixties a book in which he demeaned the Assyrians. He described them as primitive aliens and foreign intruders to Iraq. Robert Springborg, Senior Lecturer, in Middle East Politics, Macquarie University, NSW, Australia, in an article he published in the Sydney Morning Herald, in the late eighties, described the Assyrians as backward and uncultured peasants.

On behalf of the Australian government and its allies, the article rebuffed allegations of ill treatment of the Assyrians. The report reassured endorsement of the British old policy of the Thimmitude ‘millet’ provision of the Islamic Shari’ah Law on the Assyrians in complicity with the Iraqi sovereign rule of Saddam Hussein. The newspaper in question and other local newspapers refused to publish the Assyrian response to Mr. Springborg's false allegations. By distorting facts, to please their masters, people like them play down the inhumane treatment of the Assyrian people.

Falsification of truth encourages the regime of the tyrant Saddam and others to continue to pursue the policy of indolence against the Assyrians. Individuals like them, who deny the truth, claim that the Assyrians make such allegations because they are far below the educational standard of the rest of the Iraqis. They describe them as uncultured peasants that have only recently drifted from northern villages into big cities in search of better job opportunity.

It was with the efficient help of the so-called Assyrian “uncultured peasants” that the British were able to run the oil companies of Iraq since 1936 until its nationalization by the Iraqi regime in mid-1974. This is how the British reward the Assyrians for a job well done. It is not surprising that the British have always rubbed shoulders with enforcers of the millet provision, treating the native inhabitants as Indians of a lower caste.

The Assyrians have been living in their traditional homeland of their capital city Ninweh of the Mosul Province and the highlands of Arbil and rolling hills of Kirkuk of northern Mesopotamia for generations. They had been living there since the dawn of history - long before its conquest by the Arabs in the mid-7th century AD and creation of Faisal’s Arab Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq by the British in the early 1920s.

Those who claim that the Assyrians are foreign intruders and uncultured say so either under compulsion or for personal gain. They are either ignorant or feign ignorance to please the hierarchy and their petrodollar masters. For over fifty years, the British controlled Iraq through the loyalty, bravery, discipline and fortitude of the Assyrians. They controlled elements hostile to the Arab Iraqi central government; aborted rebellions, quelled armed resistance, safeguarded oilfields, oil pipelines, and protected the expatriates and their families.

The British at the Habbaniya Air Base and Shu’aiba, along with the Assyrian Levies, maintained law and order and normalised life throughout the whole of the country for over half a century.
Below, Perley describes the heroic and loyal service the Assyrians gave the British vis-a-vis their mistreatment and betrayal.

 

“The Heroism of the Assyrians in defeating the Axis-planned Rebellion in Habbaniah near-Baghdad again in 1941, when Iraq tried to stab Britain in the back by calling in Hitler’s Luftwaffe, still echoes in the Middle East. It was here that the Assyrians crushed Rashid Ali Gailani’s forces into impotence and forced him to flee to his paymasters in Berlin. The British Air Commodore J.L.Vachell, qualified in the extreme by virtue of intimacy, brings to the world’s attention the achievements of the Assyrians - Our Smallest Ally as he calls them - by the following unanswerable, truthful and moving statement, which alone would sustain their claim to recognition:

 

The period between the two wars, the Assyrians were primarily responsible for safeguarding our airfields in Iraq and for providing the ground forces, which are an essential complement to air control. Not only did air control in Iraq save this country many millions of pounds, but [also] it served as a model, which was extended, to several parts of the Empire. What is not generally appreciated is that, after severe disillusionment during that period, the services of the Assyrians during the present War have exceeded anything they did before. Had it not been for their loyalty at the time of Rashid Ali’s German-inspired revolution in Iraq in May of 1941, our position in the Middle East might have become most precarious.” Perley (pp 26-27).

 

In recent past, a couple of academic mercenaries have dared accuse the Assyrians of being no more than an ignorant bunch of ‘uncultured peasants’. Unfortunate, maybe, but uncultured, far from it. The Code of Hammurabi that goes back to between (1724-1682) BC, and the Assyrian ‘Mona Lisa’ Ivory Female Head, found in Nimrod, likened to par excellence in artistry, put such accusers to shame. British show of support to the Assyrian cause has always been rhetorical without any substance, failing to produce any meaningful results. It is not surprising that after reading such unbalanced reports, Islamic regimes like Iraq, Nigeria, the Sudan and Indonesia become emboldened to continue to come hard on the non-Muslim native inhabitants, by introducing the Islamic (shari’ah) law and applying it on all their subjects regardless. (Beek, A. Martin, 1962: pp. 80, 83, 86, 109).

The Assyrians were forced to move into towns and large cities for lack of jobs in the north. The Iraqi regimes not only did not create jobs, but also made it very difficult for the Assyrians to remain in their villages and on their farms in the north. The Assyrians, after being displaced and left unprotected, fell victim to their hostile environment. Dispossessed and struggling for survival, they became a scapegoat for Britain’s greed to promote its interest in the region at the expense of the dispossessed Assyrians. In the ensuing turmoil, many, to escape persecution, wandered aimlessly looking for safety and subsistence. Others immigrated to various countries, especially after the August 1933 Simele massacre. Since ascendance of the tyrant Saddam to power, the overall conditions of the Assyrians have worsened and they live in misery. (Pryce-Jones, 1989: pp 169-170; Polk, 1991: p127; Nisan, 1991: p164).

 

 

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Balance and Counterbalance  

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Survival Under Despotism

 

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