Middle East and North Africa

Iraqi Christians caught in the middle of Iraqi-Kurdish conflict

Kurdish fighters. Credt AFP

Many Christians living in Al Qosh are uncertain about their future in Iraq, due to tensions between Iraq’s government and that of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region.

Iraqi government forces, with the help of Shia militia, have retaken most of the disputed territories in Iraq controlled by the Kurds, spurred to action by the recent independence referendum held by the Kurdish authorities.

The Kurdish forces recaptured these areas from Islamic State (IS) after they drove the jihadists out in 2014.

Christians are mostly concentrated in areas like Al Qosh, Mosul, and the rest of the Nineveh Plains, northern Iraq. They fear further threats to their survival, as they seem to be caught between two struggling elephants.

Iraqi Christians are one of the oldest continuous Christian communities in the world, mostly ethnic Assyrians. Although efforts to oust IS have been successful in many places, the recent history of persecution has left the Christian community in tatters. Their population in Iraq has dwindled to a few hundred thousand from 1.5 million.