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Baghdad, IRAQ — Iraqi Chaldeans site that the Najaf local government are playing politics with their lives and livelihood. “They are telling the people of Najaf that we are not worthy to live in the city, just to win votes,” says Dawood Abdel, a well known Chaldean political commentator in Iraq.
Local Iraqi authorities have outlawed alcohol in the province of Najaf, home to the holiest Shiite city, saying it contradicts the principles of Islam. The decision to ban the sale and consumption of alcohol highlights efforts by religious parties to win support with Shiite voters before crucial parliamentary elections this January are causing an alarming spike in attacks against Iraqi Christians.
Alcohol consumption is forbidden under Islam, and liquor stores have often been targeted by both Sunni and Shiite extremists in Iraq. The stores are widely owned and operated by Iraqi Christians, and the move by the Najaf provincial council is seen as credible proof of the fears among the Christian minority and secular Muslims that religious extremism is growing in the country.
The Najaf provincial council's decision followed a similar measure taken in August by authorities in the southern port city of Basra. Shortly after the measure in Basra, Christians were targeted and forced to leave the city.
Khalid al-Jashaami, a Najaf provincial council member says, "In order to protect the holiness of the holy city of Najaf, the provincial council of Najaf decided unanimously to ban the selling and transit of all kinds of alcohol." Al-Jashaami adds that violators will face trial.
The continual intimidation of Christians grow as Muslim extremist move into government roles, changing laws and justifying the seizure of Christian property. “They do this slowly and try to hide what they are doing. They attack any printing house that writes about the laws being written. They have burned the warehouses and kidnapped the family members. The police do nothing, but say we are investigating,” says Abdel.
Baghdad, IRAQ — Efforts by Western and Iraqi business leaders help secure a new chapter in Iraqi’s economic stability and growth. A major breakthrough for Iraq’s oil industry is made after three international oil consortiums accept Iraq’s terms to develop two oil fields.
American Iraqi Business Group (AIBG) chairman, Sam Yono shares that recent developments have changed; more companies have agreed to meet Iraq’s price requirements for oil.
Yono leads the largest consortium of independent Western businesses seeking to conduct business in Iraq. AIBG offers education and assistance to Iraqi and Western corporations on securing bids from Iraq and better understanding business opportunities. The business group helps to form collaboration, consortiums, and build synergies to meet the needs of the reemerging Iraqi market.
After a successful endeavor of a winning bid for BP-China’s CNPC consortium which bid $2 per barrel produced to develop the 17.8 billion barrel Rumaila field with a targeted production of 2.85 million barrels per day, up from its current nearly one million barrels a day, more oil consortium’s sought to bid more competitively.
AIBG reports that they can now share that, that a total of three other consortiums also were awarded. One led by Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell, another by ConocoPhilips, and a third by Russia’s Lukoil.
New York, USA –Basima is a Chaldean victim of an accident that kills almost her entire family, including her husband and her newborn baby; she takes off her head scarf, revealing the burns on her face. She sits before an audience sharing her private hell and the suffering of the Iraqi people.
On the stage of the New York Theater Workshop creators, Erik Jenson (co-writer) and Jessica Blank (writer and director) share the personal tragedies of Iraqi citizens during the war. The play titled “Aftermath” in its final week of performance has earned impressive reviews as it depicts the private experiences of Iraqis. Including the hardest hit and most vulnerable among Iraqi citizens, Chaldeans. Leila Buck, plays a Chaldean dermatologist forced to treat the wounded against her will.
The play tries to show the war’s continual effect on ordinary Iraqis widely ignored by media coverage since a new president was elected in the United States. A voice-over during the play explains how over four million Iraqis remain refugees from their land.
From the stage a young attractive woman softly murmurs, “Most Americans don’t know what a bomb sounds like. You don’t feel your eardrums, from the sound. We also don’t know what it smells like after the bomb has hit the target.”
“You don’t get that from TV,” the translator adds.
Michigan, USA - With the help of Chaldean leaders, a Michigan University adds a new home for the Army Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). “The committed support by the College and its patriotic effort to help the United States find the best and brightest is inspirational,” says Randy Zeer. “I am glad they are here on my campus. After talking to a professor friend of mine, I am thinking of joining ROTC myself.”
Wayne State's College of Engineering is host to the Army Reserve Officers' Training Corps (ROTC) program. ROTC’s mission is to train students, build character and provide leadership experience, says Capt. Charles Caruana, assistant professor of military science, and recruiter and commander of the Wayne State unit.
Jonathan Yono joined the ROTC last January. He is a junior at Wayne State double-majoring in French and Arabic with a minor in Middle Eastern studies. He explains how his experience will be utilized later on. “Officers must have university education (at least a bachelor’s degree). What we study is up to us, but we bring different things to the Army. ROTC is designed to find people with different skills and train officers to use these skills to the benefit of the country.”