RNNF meets with senior advisers to Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi
In mid-March representatives from the Restore Nineveh Now Foundation (RNNF), met with senior advisers to Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi to discuss the inclusion of the Nineveh Plain Protection Units (NPU) in the US Government’s aid program for Iraq.
In light of the US State Department’s declaration that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is committing genocide against Iraq’s religious minorities, RNNF is calling on the US Government to work with Prime Minister al-Abadi to include NPU in its Iraq Train & Equip Fund (ITEF).
The objective of ITEF is to train, advise, and assist the Iraqi Army in initiating and sustaining combat operations against ISIL. According to The National Defense Authorization Act for FY16, US Government defense articles, services, and related training must be extended to “Kurdish and tribal security forces and other local security forces.” The Joint Explanatory Statement to the NDAA/Subtitle C-Matters Relating to Syria and Iraq defines local security forces as those “…that are committed to protecting highly vulnerable ethnic and religious minority communities, such as Yezidi, Christian, Assyrian and Turkmen.”
The Nineveh Plain Protection Units, which were formed in late 2014 to protect Iraq’s Assyrian Christians from the genocidal onslaught of ISIL, are the only registered, local security force under the authority of Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi.
Since the NPU is headquartered thirty miles from Mosul and is strategically positioned for the upcoming military campaign to expel ISIL from Iraq, RNNF made the case that thousands of NPU members urgently require US military assistance to participate fully in the anti-ISIL campaign.
In a letter (see below) sent to President Obama, select members of Congress and the Department of Defense, RNNF pointed out that while both Kurdish and Sunni tribal security forces have been trained and equipped by the US, the program has yet to include other minorities such the Assyrian NPU.
In addition to fulfilling Congress’ mandate to aid Iraq’s military capacity, including the NPU into ITEF will temper competing sectarian-based territorial claims over the Nineveh Plain, promote national unity by integrating Iraq’s minorities within the country’s national security institutions and be a beneficial step towards a more inclusive, united Iraq.