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Indigenous peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates and State Violence

Published: November 13, 2019, Author: Rÿser Rudolph C.
Indigenous peoples of the Tigris and Euphrates and State Violence

The ancient Fertile Crescent is aflame with mass murders, displaced peoples, bombings by Turkey, Iran and Israel. The Yezidi, Mandaeans and Zoroastrians are being killed and mass protests by Shi’a Arabs against the Iraqi government are filling the streets while Iranian snipers are selectively shooting protesters. It was not always so, but outside interventions in West Asia have changed things. Even the Baathist Party Generals of Saddam Hussein and the organizational backbone of the Islamic State (ISIS) are returning in the face of the Iraqi government’s near collapse.

West Asia (Middle East to western Europeans), is the birthplace of the peoples of Sumer, Babylon and the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers—the arc of land forming what became known by historians as the Fertile Crescent. Cultures in the region reach back 7000 years. The original peoples of this area of the world are now variously known as the Yezidi and Assyrians among others; and the Yezidi (Ezidikhan) to this day maintain a calendar celebrated at the new year in April that counts 6,769 years. These societies originated 4,764 years before the dawn of Christianity and 5000 years before the arrival of Islam. They have been joined by other peoples—Arabic ashira headed by Sheiks and each with many clans and families. There are about 150 non-Arabic tribes and Arabic ashiras in Iraq alone and many more in Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Iran, Kuwait and beyond. The Bedouin (Arabic for “dweller of the desert”) communities in Turkey, Syria, Iraq, and Jordan originated in the Arabia peninsula creating in Syria two large confederations: Shammar ashira and the Aneza ashira. In Iraq, Bedouins migrating north from the Arabian peninsula settled in the lower Tigris and Euphrates Basin forming thirty distinct communities—most of whom follow Islamic Shiism. These communities are headed by Sheiks.

Surrounded by Arabic Bedouin descendent ashiras and Kurds the combined population of what is now called Ezidikhan and the Alliance of Indigenous Nations of the Middle East with a population in excess of 2 million people are the remaining indigenous populations of the Tigris and Euphrates River Basin. All of these peoples live in agricultural and livestock communities. The 46 Yezidi communities are headed by Mirs.

West Asia is a complex social, cultural, and political mix of societies. Interventions by the Ottomans beginning in the 13th century and later the French, British followed by the Americans have complicated life and society further. Due in large measure to these outside interventions, the otherwise self-sustained Arabic and indigenous societies have suffered major dislocation, disruption of economic, social, political and cultural life and massive violence—mostly introduced by weapons brought in by outsiders.

The George Bush/Richard Cheney “war on terror” that was predicted to destabilize and cause the collapse of West Asia grew into the American unprovoked war against Iraq (2003) is being completely realized. The disaster that is caused by the Bush/Cheney disaster—and later exacerbated by Obama/Biden, followed now by Trump/Pence—Ignorance of West Asia coupled with an overwhelmingly naive American confidence in its military wreaked havoc in Iraq and much of the surrounding region. Syria, Libya, Somalia and by proxy in Yemen too became American theatres of military violence. Officials warned in 2003 that if the Americans attacked to force regime change in Iraq that would trigger devastation throughout West Asia.  Well, here we are thanks to George Bush and his whisperer Dick Cheney.

Shi’a Arab ashira protests against the Iraqi government in Baghdad and major cities to the south of Iraq-October 2019 (Source: Ezidikhan Public Information Bureau).

West Asia only comes into the newsreel view of Europeans, Russians, Americans and others when there is a major violence—a calamity that touches on an outsider’s interests. Just such an event occurred recently when the American government’s President Trump arbitrarily destabilized a region of northern Syria to allow a Turkish government invasion into Yezidi, Mandaean and Kurdish communities. The Americans thoughtless pullout on its small group of Kurdish aligned forces in northern Syria has added destabilizing repercussions across West Asia. The Turks aided by Russian weapons flooded into the area left by the Americans, killing hundreds and displacing thousands. America’s most recent abandonment of a regional conflict it essentially stirred in 2003 is now contributing to the near collapse of the Iraqi state and Turkish military bombing of Yezidi villages in northern Iraq—hundreds of kilometers south of the Turkish/Syrian border.

For the last month, our years-long efforts at CWIS through the Yezidi Cultural Rights Project have been concentrating on security in Ezidikhan (Land of the Yezidi) and attempting to help prevent Turkish, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi devastation in Ezidikhan. The Russians have now entered and the American forces in Iraq have been the focus of attacks by Iranian supported militias, and Israel has lobbed bombs to attack Iranian militias. The Americans, Russians, Israelis and Iranians have begun the early stages of what amounts to a proxy war centered in Iraq—primarily in Ezidikhan. The combination of events that are tangible evidence of regional destabilization involve the Shi’a tribal rebellion against the Iraqi government in the form of mass marches, the reemergence of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist military leaders (who were closely associated with forming ISIS). In addition, the entry of more than 120 thousand refugees from the Turkish invasion of northern Syria into Kurdistan and the Turkish bombing of Ezidikhan further demonstrate the rolling collapse of Iraq.

Baathist Party Generals publicly demonstrate in Baghdad, Iraq and are reported to have taken over a major radio station in Baghdad on 11 November 2019. (Source: Ezidikhan Public Information Bureau)

The evidence is quite clear that the indigenous peoples of Iraq and Syria and the Arabic communities are not the cause of the breakdown of Syria and Iraq. It is the intervention of the Americans, the Turks, Iran, Israel, and Syria as militarized states that have caused the violence and dislocation of hundreds of millions of the peoples of the Tigris and the Euphrates.

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