Daily Beast: Iraqi Christians Appeal to Putin for Support

Monday, 30 Jun 2014 11:53 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Christians living under siege in Iraq in latest outbreak of Islamic strife are so disillusioned with the West that they are appealing to President Vladimir Putin to help with the establishment of an independent Assyrian Christian state in northern Iraq.

Others Christians are exiting the country en masse, following in the footsteps of the roughly two-thirds of Iraq's 1.5 million pre-war Christian population that has already left the country, The Daily Beast reported.

"I don't want to leave. I don't want these terrorists to do what no one's ever done before: push Assyrians out of our historic homeland, but I can't work like this," Ramy Youssef, an IT technician and Christian, told the Daily Beast.

"This is America's fault. It's the Muslims who are killing us, but this never would have happened if the West hadn't turned our lives upside down," he said. "Maybe we'll be able to return one day if we have proper allies."

In the quest to find an effective ally, the Assyrian Patriotic Movement (APM) has for two years been lobbying the Kremlin for support, and the group has been welcomed to Moscow to talk with officials about how the Putin administration might help.

"Russia proved through history that it's the only defender of Christians," Ashur Giwargis, head of the organization, told the Daily Beast. "They assured their support for the Assyrian cause, but we're looking for a serious Russian stand in the international arena."

In return, members of the group have been publicly supportive of Russia's foreign policy endeavors in other regions of the world in an attempt to solidify the relationship.

Ultimately, Russia is unlikely to take up the cause so as to avoid further tensions with the Arab world, and only 10 to 15 percent of Iraqi Christians back the APM's courting of Putin, according to the Daily Beast.

Nevertheless, the effort reflects a level of anger many Eastern Christians feel, believing they have been overlooked and abandoned by the West.

"When everything got violent, the Shiites received help from Iran, the Sunnis had the Gulf, and us? Well, we were left unprotected," an Erbil-based civil engineer told the Daily Beast.


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