08/29/2015, 00.00
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Baghdad patriarch calls for a government of "national emergency" to save Iraq

by Joseph Mahmoud
In a letter to Iraq’s highest authorities, Mar Sako calls for a government that represents all of the country’s components. He notes that reforms currently discussed should be wisely vetted before they are approved. Politicians should possess “high integrity and professionalism”. Ethnic and sectarian militias should be incorporated into the regular police and armed forces.

Baghdad (AsiaNews) – In a letter to Iraq’s highest political authorities, including President Fuad Masum, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Parliamentary Speaker Abdullah Salim al-Jabouri, Chaldean Patriarch Mar Louis Raphael I Sako calls for "a government of national emergency" that would represent "all of the country’s components" – whether Shia, Sunni, Christian, Yazidi, Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen – to ensure its salvation and unity in such a critical moment of its history.  

In the letter, of which AsiaNews has received a copy, His Beatitude appeals to political leaders and institutions as an "Iraqi who loves his country" and "respects all Iraqis."

The patriarch notes that Iraq has been the scene of violence and attacks, a reflection of a deep sectarian divide and an ongoing political and military struggle between the country’s minority Sunnis and majority Shias.

Against this background, the Islamic State group was able to seize large chunks of the country’s western and northern territory, including the city of Mosul.

The prevailing violence has been compounded by corruption and mismanagement, which the current government has tried to fight in an attempt to restore unity and stability to the country.

However, for reforms to be seen as legitimate in the eyes of ordinary Iraqis, they “must be wisely discussed,” Mar Sako writes.

Moreover, the political class must be "balanced" and respectful of the country’s various components. People of “great integrity and professionalism" should be chosen.

Urgent reforms are needed to pull Iraq out the emergency that has endangered the very existence of the state.

The Chaldean Patriarch’s priorities include the need to "integrate ethnic and sectarian militias into the regular army and police." These forces are needed to ensure Iraq’s security and unity.

For him, armed groups operating across the country "cannot be linked to political parties or factions,” as is the case at present, acting on their own out of personal or subjective interests, the exception being the Christian community.  

By bringing everyone under a single roof, “we can boost the military and strengthen national unity,” Mar Sako said.

In his letter, the Chaldean Patriarch also appeals to the speaker of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament Mohammed Yusuf Sadiq as a way to address the "dear brothers who represent the Kurdish parties".

First, Mar Sako notes that the Kurdish region has welcomed hundreds of thousands of Christian refugees – who fled Mosul and the Nineveh Plains from advancing Jihadi militias. For this reason, "Christians are part of it."

Secondly, he expresses hope that great achievements like "stability, security, and economic, cultural and social" prosperity can be maintained. They are, in his view, "a great blessing".

Speaking about the new constitution under consideration by the regional parliament, Mar Sako says he would like to see it put off for now to avoid being drafted too hastily. It would be better to wait in order to draft something that can stand the test of time.

In this respect, he cites the example of the Iraqi Constitution, which has failed to ensure unity and security because it was written "in haste" and has had "painful" consequences.

Finally, the patriarch called for the mandate of the regional president to be extended by two years through a “political consensus”, and not an election. The current situation requires wisdom, and the public interest should not be compromised.

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For Mar Sako, one year after the Mosul tragedy, only unity and reconciliation can save Iraq
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