09/16/2014, 00.00
IRAQ - MIDDLE EAST

Patriarch of Baghdad: "UN mandate", not "innocent victims", needed in Iraqi crisis

Mar Sako says the Paris agreement is "positive”, but warns that any action should be under the auspices of the United Nations. The head of the Chaldean Church emphasizes that "bombs are not a solution" and hopes in collaboration of Arab nations who "know" the region. He calls for support for the new Iraqi government, even if "a true reconciliation will take time".

Brussels (AsiaNews) - The agreement reached in Paris "is a good thing," even though "any intervention" on the ground "should be coordinated by the United Nations, not by one country alone". Moreover,  "bombs are not a solution", because those dropped during air raids end up killing "innocent people2, says Mar Louis Raphael I Sako, Chaldean Patriarch of Iraq, commenting on the Paris Conference agreement to AsiaNews.

The agreement gives the go-ahead for countries of the coalition to provide the Iraqi government with military aid in its fight  against the militia of the State Islamic (IS). During the meeting, President Francois Hollande said that the Jihadist fighters constitute a "global threat" and this is why it is necessary to arm and support Baghdad "by all means necessary."

The final document of the International Conference for Peace and Security in Iraq, led by Hollande and his Iraqi counterpart Iraqi Fouad Massoum was approved by a coalition of 25 states. It calls for a "specific action" against the Daesh (Arabic term for IS). It calls for greater coordination of security services and increased border surveillance. Neither Iran or Syria were present, despite Syria being at the forefront in the battle against Islamist militias who have occupied a portion of the Iraqi and Syrian territory, particularly in the north and north-east.

In contrast, Russia was represented at the Paris conference by Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Moscow is ready to "participate in the development of additional measures to fight terrorism." In recent days, the Kremlin has intervened several times against possible US air raids in Syria without the approval of President Bashar al-Assad, a Moscow ally. Lavrov also suggested a wider discussion at the UN Security Council, in order to create a global response under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Patriarch of Baghdad favors this position.  He is currently taking part in a series of conferences in Europe and has expressed the opinion that a "UN mandate" is preferable to the initiative of one country or group of countries. He has stressed that the participation of Arab nations is also essential because they "know the language, the mentality and geography" of the region. "Any intervention - warns Mar Sako - needs the explicit mandate of the UN." However, the head of the Chaldean Church considers the joint action of 30 nations positive and highlights the work of the French president, who just recently visited Iraq giving "a sign of encouragement to refugees" and, in particular, "Christians" . The president said that they can "count on France," and "this support is very positive," according to Mar Sako.

The Patriarch of Baghdad is also buoyed by the formation of the new government, although he warns that "a true reconciliation will take time and must be truly inclusive rather than creating barriers between parties". The will is there he says, but "concrete steps are now needed". Finally, Louis Sako his thoughts turn to the hundreds of thousands of refugees, "not only Christians, but from all minorities, the Sunnis, the Shiites," who "must be protected by the international community." Among the many immediate problems, is the beginning of the school year: "The majority - he says - studied in Arabic, while in Kurdistan Kurdish is spoken and there are not enough schools for everyone".  And then there is the problem of housing, because people "need a roof over their heads and cannot stay in tents", during winter. One last issue is the need to "reinforce the Iraqi army and the Kurdish peshmerga militia, so that they are able to protect the people" from the Islamist threat. (DS)

 

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