Jerusalem post article on ADM/Assyrians

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Posted by Middle Finger from ( on Monday, May 12, 2003 at 8:26PM :

Just FYI...nothing really to cheer for.

(Copyright 2003 The Jerusalem Post)

BAGHDAD - Last week, Yonadam Y. Kanna, secretary- general of the
Democratic Movement (ADM), did something unusual for one of the leaders
Iraq's 60 or so emerging political parties: He cleaned the bathroom
sink at
ADM's headquarters.

While other leaders enjoy the princely luxury allotted for the first
to leaders other than Saddam Hussein, Kanna seems to work hard at
practicing the democracy he preaches.

Considered a medium-sized movement, ADM has all the trappings of what
considered a serious Iraqi party these days - impressive offices, a
charismatic leader, a clear vision, and lots of men with AK-47s
guard outside.

ADM is not one of the six parties, including Ahmed Chalabi's Iraqi
Congress and the Kurdish groups, on the steering committee that is set
establish an interim government later this month. However, the fate of
one day might hinge upon parties like ADM, which might swing the
away from Islamization or authoritarianism.

A grassroots leader, who ate standing with the rest of his men Tuesday,
Kanna fears the return of "fossil ideology," the type of arcane and
impracticable policies that guided many Arab states, including Iraq,
civil and financial ruin.

Kanna, who derides the "Pan-Arabic media" as "extremist and bribed by
Saddam," paints himself as a true moderate. He believes in a secular,
democratic, and constitutional Iraq, which would accept the cultures
traditions of its minorities.

Unabashedly, he envisions a peace agreement with Israel, once the issue
"Palestinian statehood is solved." Many Arab countries, he says,
to invest heavily in the conflict, using it as a tool to persuade their
people. They have been too busy lining their own pockets and looking
their own interests."

Nobody wants an American presence on Iraqi soil, adds Kanna, but he
a steadfast supporter of an international presence in the country,
we need the tools, the technology, and the experts to rebuild."

It is ironic, or perhaps a symbol of what could happen in the new Iraq,
that ADM has ensconced itself, and its many armed guards, in the former
headquarters the Fedayeen Saddam paramilitary group, the regime's main
of repression.

Midway through the interview, Kanna notes offhandedly the two death
sentences the regime meted out against him.

Isaak Ishak, the movement's deputy secretary-general, reasons that for
years Iraq sought the patronage of the communist bloc, "and the country
now much worse off than it was before Saddam. So now we will try to
the lead of Europe and the US."

The cooperation has already begun in earnest. Saddam's regime often
considered the Assyrians its most faithful servants. Nevertheless, it
an Assyrian employee of the regime who on April 10 alerted American
intelligence officers that Saddam and his sons had entered a Mansur
district restaurant.

While the bombing missed its mark, American officials nonetheless
hailed it
as the closest it had come to decapitating the regime. ADM, its
make pains to note, also took part in the liberation of the key oil
of Kirkuk and Mosul in the North.

Long before Arabic dominated the Middle East, the Assyrian language and
Aramaic served as the region's lingua franca. But the centuries have
treated this shrinking Christian sect kindly.

ADM began fighting Saddam in 1979. Suffering continuous losses, it
north toward Iraqi Kurdistan in 1988 and joined the Kurdish forces
there to carve out a semi-autonomous safe haven.

The Assyrians claim to hail from the biblical-era nation that conquered
much of what is today Israel. They claim a 7,000-year- old history in
present-day Iraq. A few churches dating back to the fifth century still
the northern countryside.

In modern times, the group, which today numbers about 1.25 million, was
doubly mistreated; first by the regime and then by their Kurdish

Few locals have heard of ADM, and it appears doubtful that it will be
to garner enough votes to influence Iraq's future when the country goes
a referendum later this month. The balance of power is heavily tilted
toward Shi'ite groups, many of them radical.

While they cling to a semblance of tolerance, proffering a future
and multi-party system, there could be cause for suspicion among the
burgeoning Shi'ite groups.

During a visit to the Diyala Governorate, a stronghold of the
and funded Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, its local
leader, Abu Muslim al- Jaffari, offered Iran as a model for a
state," arguing intensely for over an hour that minorities enjoyed
and even some power there.

Responding to reports that as many as 700 of the party's Badr Brigades
militia flooded Diyala, he vowed that none had entered any part of
"No one here is armed. We are politicians and civil servants only," he

But merchants hawking vegetables, AK-47s, and pistols lined Diyala's
capital of Ba'aquba. When Jaffari's interview with The Jerusalem Post
ended, he accompanied me to the large lobby of the former governor's
office, now commandeered by SCIRI. Several of his men were fiddling
with an
AK-47. They were dressed in fatigues, and like mischievous schoolboys
self-consciously tried to hide the gun behind their backs.

Al-Dawa, the most veteran of the Shi'ite political groups, which
against and suffered bitterly at the hands of the regime, also promises
democracy. But Iraq must be Islamic, argues an eloquent Abdul Karim
al-Anzi, the group's Baghdad leader. He refused to say that he desires
state with "constitutional Islamic laws."

When probed on what action he would take to limit the hundreds of
selling alcohol in Baghdad's streets, he replied, "We would have to
persuade them against it."

Back at the partially destroyed Fedayeen headquarters, Kanna concluded:
"There is still some of the virus that was Saddam in this region, still
extremism - and frankly, we need some help to save us from that fate."

-- Middle Finger
-- signature .

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