Tags: Iraq | Joe Biden | biden | iraq | displaced | homeland | christians

Will Biden Back New Iraq Province for Persecuted Christians?

Image: Will Biden Back New Iraq Province for Persecuted Christians?

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Monday, 12 Sep 2016 11:57 AM Current | Bio | Archive

A leading human rights group is proposing a new homeland within Iraq for Christians and other displaced groups — an idea similar to the federated Iraqi state conceived by Vice President Joe Biden when he was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2006.

The idea to carve out a secure province within the strife-torn nation was discussed last week during a three-day conference in Washington, D.C., organized by advocacy group In Defense of Christians.

Neither Biden nor any other member of the Obama administration has commented on the idea.

"A new province of 1,600 square miles would allow [displaced peoples] to return home," said Robert Nicholson, executive director of the Philos Project, which is the leading force behind the proposed province known as the Ninevah Plain.

He added that the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi supports the new province concept and the idea of decentralization, or "pushing power to the local level."

Under the plan, spelled out 10 years ago in an opinion piece in The New York Times, Biden and Leslie Gelb, past president of the Council on Foreign Relations, proposed a plan in which Iraq would be decentralized into a loosely-federated confederation with Kurdish, Shiite, and Sunni states "giving each ethno-religious group … room to run its own affairs while leaving the central government in charge of common interests."

I asked participants at last week's IDC press conference whether Biden’s plan fit into their idea of a province of displaced persons.

"The federated model has worked very well," said Dr. Katrina Lantos Swett, past chairman of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, recalling how Biden’s plan was modeled after the Dayton Peace Accords that concluded the war in Bosnia in 1995.

Swett, a former member of Biden’s Senate staff, added that the model is "consistent" with the plan for a federated state with decentralized authority that Biden advocated a decade ago.

As to whether her former boss would become an advocated for a province for the displaced within the Obama Administration, she predicted he would go along with the administration policy. President Obama has yet to commit to supporting the proposed province.

Likening the current plight of Christians in the Middle East to those of his ancestors, Aram S. Hamparian, executive director of the Armenian National Committee of America, declared that just as the "Armenian nation required a homeland," so do the displaced people of the Middle East.

Calling on the administration to embrace the policy, Swett warned: "if the U.S. doesn’t lead, nothing will happen."

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

 

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A leading human rights group is proposing a new homeland within Iraq for Christians and other displaced groups - an idea similar to the federated Iraqi state conceived by Vice President Joe Biden when he was a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 2006.
biden, iraq, displaced, homeland, christians
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2016-57-12
Monday, 12 Sep 2016 11:57 AM
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