According to the Telegraph,the Christian community in Iraq is creating a new militia to protect them from violence. This is a different type of militia than the Mehdi Army, though. From the report it does not seem that the Christian militia acts as a governing entity, issuing laws and enforcing them like Mehdi did.
The creation of this force a bit late, as half the population has fled the country or been killed, due to relentless radical Islamic attacks from Shiite militias, Sunni insurgents and terrorists have brought havoc and destruction to this population. Since the surge began, churches have reopened and Christians feel a little bit safer. There are actually photos of Muslims attending the first service at a church that was rebuilt last year after being destroyed by terrorists as a show of solidarity. Iraqis I talk to seem pretty happy with the Christian minority in their country, and see them as helpful, caring partners in their pursuit of a tolerant, better world.
That being said, the possible annihilation of this community (and no, that statement is not exaggerating their situation) is probably the most under-reported story of the Iraq War. No sect or minority has suffered more than the Iraqi Christians. Although I do not know for sure, I remember reading a report that the Christian community before the surge advocated a very small autonomous section of the country to give them safe harbor and the ability to govern themselves, along with a substantial U.S. presence on the streets. This request was denied.
This new Christian militia, according to the report, maintains contact with Coalition forces by radio and is also funded with American dollars. Most importantly, local politicians in Mosul who opposed the militia’s presence have dropped their objections.
This also strikes a broader point. The militias in Iraq were powerful due to the insecurity the populations suffered from. The success of the militias, including even this one, is directly tied to the success of the Coalition efforts in bringing security to the population. When Coalition forces failed to do this, the people turned towards the militias to protect them and provide some sort of authority. When Coalition forces were successful, the support of the militias quickly died.
When the Iraqi Christian community feels safe, is an active part of the democratic process, and regains its position as a vibrant, growing community, we will know victory is near.
Source: McElroy, Damien. “Iraq’s Christians Form New Militias To Combat Islamic Extremists,” The Telegraph, July 27, 2008.