Christians and other religious minorities unite to call for semi-autonomous region in Iraq

Assyrian Christians, Yazidis and other religious minorities are calling for the establishment of a semi-autonomous region in northwestern Iraq.

(REUTERS / Youssef Boudlal)Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, who fled violence in the Iraqi province of Nineveh Plain in northern Iraq, take shelter at Margurgis Church in Dohuk, August 20, 2014.

In an interview with Breitbart, Turkmen Rescue Foundation chief Dr. Ali Akram Al Bayati, who is also a Shiite Turkmen, explained that a semi-autonomous region under Iraq is the only way that they can protect their people and country from terror attacks. However, he said they need the support of the international community, just as it supported the establishment of the autonomous Kurdish Regional Government in the northern part of the country. 

In light of the situation, religious minority groups have formed a coalition to call on Baghdad and the international community to let them establish their semi-autonomous territory called the Al Rafidein Region. Shiite Turkmen and members of the Shabak community have also joined the said coalition.

"The coalition has an aggressive legislative strategy in place, one that will engage members of the United States Congress, Ministers of the Iraqi Parliament, and key members of the international community," American Mesopotamian Organization chairman David Lazar said in a statement. "Their aim is to establish this region as a semi-autonomous area with its own parliament, policies and defensive force, similar in composition and function to the Kurdish regional area in northern Iraq."

Late last month, Iraqi Kurdish leaders began thinking about offering land that their Peshmerga fighters had captured from ISIS to Baghdad as part of its bid to push for independence. Foreign Minister Falah Mustafa said it is high time for Kurdistan to break away from Baghdad even though the anti-ISIS coalition was on the verge of succeeding in its mission to defeat the terror group, The Guardian reports.

Mustafa's call for independence came as calls for autonomous regions in the mostly Christian-inhabited Nineveh Plains arose.

The members of the coalition of religious minorities have suffered atrocities at the hands of Islamic State militants and those from other jihadist groups. The U.S. and the United Nations have already declared that the Islamist group has committed genocide against these minorities.