Jeff Fortenberry Introduces Congressional Resolution to Establish a Safe Haven for Religious Minorities in the Nineveh PlainsTuesday, September 13, 2016
On Sept. 9, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry introduced a bipartisan Congressional resolution that supports the establishment of a safe haven province for persecuted religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain region of Iraq.
Drafted in collaboration between The Philos Project, In Defense of Christians and the Institute for Global Engagement, H.Con.Res 152 is a response to declarations by Congress and the State Department last March that the Islamic State is responsible for genocide against religious minority groups in areas under its control.
“Christians, Yazidis and other ethnic and religious minorities have been slaughtered and driven from their homes by ISIL’s horrific genocide,” Fortenberry said, to introduce the resolution. “One next step must be the re-securitization and revitalization of the Nineveh Plain, allowing the repatriation of those who had to flee. This resolution, which follows on the government of Iraq’s own initiative to create a province in the Nineveh Plain region, seeks to restore the ancestral homeland of so many suffering communities.”
Cosponsors include representatives Dan Lipinski, Chris Smith, Juan Vargas, Trent Franks, Jan Schakowsky, Robert Aderholt, Rob Wittman, Dan Donovan, Andy Harris, Barbara Comstock and Joe Pitts.
“Without a strategy to decentralize power to Iraq’s various regional communities and allow each to protect and govern itself at the local level, the future of Iraq is very uncertain,” said The Philos Project Executive Director Robert Nicholson.
For centuries, the Nineveh Plain region has been the ancestral homeland of Assyrian-Chaldean-Syriac Christians, Yazidis and other minorities. With the ongoing liberation of Iraqi territory from the Islamic State by coalition forces, American policymakers must now consider the United States’ role in a post-ISIS Iraq and Syria.
“The province would provide a zone of stability and influence that will weaken violent Islamic factions and protect against a post-ISIS vacuum,” Nicholson said.
Statements either granting autonomy to religious minorities or supporting the creation of a safe haven in the Nineveh region have been made by the Kurdistan Regional Government (2009), the Iraqi Cabinet (2014), various gatherings of Assyrian political leaders (2003, 2005, 2014 and 2015), the European Parliament (2015), the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations (2011 and 2014), the U.S. Republican Party (2016) and others.