Iraqi-Americans: In The Past, the Present, and the Future of Iraq

Iraqi-American Council (IAC)

1220 L Street NW,

Suite #100-262

Washington DC, 20005-4018

Tel:  800-416-8684 Fax:  877-803-1800   

Web site: http://www.iraqiamericans.org

e-mail:  iraq@al-iraq.org

 

 

The Iraqi-American Council (IAC):

 

The Iraqi American Council is a non-profit, non-government organization working to promote democracy and human rights in Iraq, to empower Iraqi-Americans to participate in mainstream American life, and to preserve their cultural heritage.

 

Background:

 

The United States is home to 300,000 people of Iraqi origin.  Iraqis started coming to the U.S. in the late 1930s.  Following in the time-honored footsteps of all the refugees who preceded them in coming to America, they came looking for new opportunities and better lives for their families; others came to study, then decided to settle here permanently.

 

§         From the early 60's through the 1980s, Iraq students came to the United States to study. Fleeing the repressive regimes in Baghdad, many decided to settle here permanently.  The Iraqi-American Public Affairs Council {IAPAC), or the Iraqi-American Council (IAC), evolved from a Union of Iraqi Students (I.U.I.S.).  The I.U.I.S. was established in 1979 by a group of Iraqi university students to be the first non-government voice! ce opposing the Saddam regime in Iraq, supporting the rights of the Iraqi people and empowering the Iraqi Community in the USA.  IUIS activities intensified in the years 1983 to 1991 because of Saddam's oppression of the Iraqi people, his use of chemical and biological weapons against them and his execution of their spiritual and political leaders.  Many Iraqi students were targeted by Saddam's security officers posing as students and many families of these students were subsequently harmed inside Iraq. 

 

IUIS organized activities in universities and community centers on a regular basis. These events reached their peak with the organization of the first conference for Human Rights in Iraq held at American University, Washington DC, in 1984.  IUIS published Sawt Al-Rafidain, the first Iraqi-Americans newspaper, in 1982.  The newspaper was distributed in all of North America until 1986, when it was stopped for financial reasons.

 

As the charter members graduated into the mainstream of American life, IUIS evolved into the Iraqi-American Council {IAC} in 1998.  They issued a new newspaper called The Community News, which subsequently became an electronic e-mail newsletter, the Iraqi-American Public Affairs Council Digest.

 

§         The last major wave of Iraqis began arriving after the Second Gulf War and the collapse of the uprising of Southern Iraqi Shiite and Iraqi Kurds in 1991.

 

§         Between 1991 and 2002, more than 50,000 Iraqis arrived in the U.S. fleeing a dictatorship regime of Saddam Hussein.  With refugee and asylum status through the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS), many became American citizens.  Others are in the process of gaining their American citizenship.  Most importantly, all of them are living legally in this country.

 

§         A large proportion of recent Iraqi refugees are adult males who came to the U.S. from Iraqi refugee camps in Saudi Arabia.  A smaller proportion of refugees are adult women and children from the same camps, or from Syria, Jordan or Guam.

 

§         Iraqis fled their homeland because of the relentless persecution of the dictator regime of Saddam Hussein.  Many were jailed in Iraq for their political views.  Many were tortured.  Yet others lost relatives during the Iraqi regime's campaigns of oppression.

 

§         Iraqi-American communities oppose the dictatorship regime of Saddam Hussein.  They maintain moderate Islamic views and are not involved in any fundamentalist or terrorist groups in this country or others

 

§         America is their refuge and their home.

 

§         Most of the new immigrants are Shiite Muslims, although the Iraqi-American community is a diverse body of ethnicities--such as the Kurds, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkmen-with numerous religious affiliations.

 

§         The majority of Iraqis live in Michigan, California, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.  They contribute to the workforce of America as doctors, engineers, university professors, business owners, skilled and unskilled workers in the public and private sectors.

 

§         Iraqi-Americans are great assets to the communities in which they live.  They are raising families and developing friendships in America.

 

§         Iraqi-Americans are increasingly involved in the policy-making regarding Iraq.  They promote democracy and support the human and civil rights of the Iraqi people and their right to choose their own form of government in free and fair elections.

 

 

IAC  Mission Statement

There are 4 millions Iraqis living outside Iraq among whom 300,000 of Iraqi-Americans. Can this block of voters make a significant difference in a future election? You bet it can. The Iraqi-American participation in the last Presidential election was greater than in previous elections, but a lot more needs to be done before we can be considered serious players in this political game. Both political camps were happy to receive Iraqi-American contributions to their campaign coffers, yet Iraqi-Americans have not attained  their rightful place in the American political system or in the Iraqi Opposition Parties. This second-class political status will continue as long as we fail to speak forcefully with one voice. The Iraqi American Council plans to unite Iraqi-Americans by creating a dialogue amongst us to protect our interests in the American democracy and the future of Iraq. The Iraqi American Council is dedicated to promoting, coordinating and conducting various activities and programs for the advancement of the civil rights and social, economic, educational, cultural and! ethnic interests of Iraqi-Americans throughout the United States. The Iraq-American Council (IAC) will support other local, regional , national, and global organizations in pursuit of the stated goals to present a united front for the betterment of all Iraqi-Americans and their progressive role in American society. By joining forces, we hope that we can influence the decision makers in United States and the Iraqi political groups abroad  supporting the establishment of a democratic government in Iraq, bridging the people of the two nations, and bringing a balance  between the national interests of the US on one side and the Iraqi people on the other. 

 

Members of the IAC Board of Directors (BOD):

 

Aziz  AI-Taee  (Chairman), Dr. Mahmood Thamer ( Co-Chairman), Bassam Ridha ( Vice Chairman), Salam Al-Jawad, Hon. Judge Zakia Ismael Hakki, Al Sanati, Basim Al-Ali, Dr. Talib Al-Himdani, Raad Saleh, Dr. Hayder Hadad,Gen. Fawzi Alshamari, Muhand Bahia, Wahab Hussian, Mohammed Rasheed, Omar Kerkuli, Nouman Shubar, Baha Shubar, Sabah Sadiq, Falah Al-attar, Jafar mohamad Ali, Salam AL-Tukmachi, Mazin Al-Shalchi, Dr. Samir Hakki, Dr. Mahmid Bassam, Bassim al-Ali, Dr. Hadi Hakki, Sheikh Nadeem al-Taee, Abdul wahab Alkebsi,Sayyed Hassan Al-Quzwini, Hisham Al-Hussaini,Jalal Al-Ameri. Zakria Al-Qasi,Dr. Asaad Al-Khafaji, Yousif al Qasi, Ramadhan Al-Badran , Dr Farooq Darweesh, Dr Taha Al-Sabiaa, Dr. Ilham Al-Sarraf, Mohammad Al-Hassani, Zainab Al-Suwaij.

 

Members of the IAC Executive Committee (EC):

 

President                   :  Ahmmed Kubba

Vice President           :  Hon. Zakia Hakki

Executive Director    :  Muhanad Bahia

Treasurer                   : Salam al-Jawad

General Secretary      : Aida Hassan

Government relations : Nouman Shubar

Public Relations         : Bassam Rhida

Community Affairs    : Zainab Al-Suwaij

 

 

The 2002 Annual Report of the Iraqi-American Council ( IAC )

 

 

 

 

The Iraqi-American Council (IAC) Conducted the following Activities in the Year 2002:

 

 

1-      American Elections and Campaigns Participation: The IAC conducted fund raising dinners for the cane dates on the states and national levels and registering Iraqi-Americans to vote and organizing a Get Out To Vote (GOTV) drives.

 

2-      Establishing Chapters : The Iraqi-American Council (IAC) established 13 chapters in the following states:

 

A.     Washington chapter managed by Muhand Bahia.

B.     Virginia chapter managed by Zakia Ismaeel Hakki.

C.     Maryland chapter managed by Dr. Mahmood Thamer.

D.    Boston chapter managed by Zainab Al-Suwaij.

E.     Chicago chapter managed by Dr. Asaad Al-Khafaji.

F.      California chapter managed by Sayyed Bassam Ridha Al-Hussaini.

G.    Michigan chapter managed by Dr. Hayder Haddad.

H.    Philadelphia chapter managed by Sayyed Nouman Shubar.

I.       Florida chapter managed  by  Hajji Ahmad Kubba

J.      Delaware chapter managed  by  Abdul Wahab.

K.    New Jersey chapter managed  by  Dr Fatima Hakkak .

L.     Ohio chapter managed  by  Bassim Al-Ali

M.  eorgia chapter managed by Sayyed Mohamad Al-Hassani.

 

3-      Media and Public Outreach: The IAC started a very aggressive public relations campaign to expose the crimes committed against the Iraqi people.  The campaign included the following:

 

A.     Press Conferences like the one held in Washington National Press Club on October 19th, 2002.

B.     Press releases issued regarding any important issues that affect the Iraqi people and Iraqi-Americans. These releases were e-mailed and faxed to thousands of major media outlets through out the world.

C.     TV and Radio Interviews and shows were conducted by major Americans and International media outlets like Abu-Dhabi satellite channel, Al-Jazeerah Satellite Channel, MSNBC, FOX news channel,WB Warner brothers , CNN, ABC news, CN8 Comcast news , NPR radio, Swedish TV, French TV , C-SPAN, BBC, and many other local channels.

D.    Newspapers interviews with major agencies like the Washington Post, NY times, Los Angeles Times, Associated Press, UPI ,the Orlando Sentinel and many others.

E.     Emailing Iraqi-Americans and Iraqis worldwide the latest news and articles about Iraq.

F.      AL-IRAQ.ORG and IRAQIAMERICANS.ORG  web sites were published to help the world community understand the Iraqi culture and get the views of  Iraqis.

G.    Rallies and Demonstrations participations like the No To Saddam Rallies in Washington DC, San Diego on October 16 , and the Anti Saddam Rally in

H.    Washington DC on October 26th.

 

4-      Community Outreach: The IAC participated in many events as a part of its outreach program in the following community centers :

 

A.     Durul Salam in Virginia lectures and events like the meeting with the SCIRI delegates in August 11th ,2002 and Ambassador David Mack .

B.     Baited Al-Qaim Community center in New Jersey like the 30-day Ramadan program and the Friday Prayers and Imams birthdays.

C.     Ahlul Bait Center in Pomona California in all its events.

D.    The Iraqi Islamic Center and Karbala Center in Michigan.

E.     Foundation of Islamic Education and  Al-Aqsa Center in Philadelphia.

F.      AL-Khoei Center in New York.

G.    Assyrian Club in San Diego California like the meeting in June 29th 2002.

 

5-      Community Services: The IAC provided the following services to the community at large :

A.     News about Iraq and Iraqi-Americans.

B.     Immigration and Naturalization legal referrals and recommendation letters.

C.     Community social services .

D.    Refugees assistance and job referrals.

E.     Defending the civil liberties of the community regarding  issues of common interest like INS registration and FBI Monitoring of Iraqi Americans.

F.      Representing the different views of  Iraqi-Americans in the meetings with local civil service and elected officials meetings and meeting of the Iraqi oppositions .

G.    Presenting a positive image of the community among the other communities in the US like the African American , Hispanic, Asian, Korean , Russian … etc.

H.    Conniving the message of the local , state , and national governments to the Iraqi-American community.

 

6-      Iraqi Opposition Outreach: The Iraqi-American Council presented the community views  to the leaders of the Iraqi opposition in the following ways :

 

A.     Attending the Iraqi Opposition meetings with US officials on August 10th-13th 2002. In the state department, the white house and the congress. The IAC representatives were present to support the unity of both the Iraqi opposition and the different departments of the United States government regarding Iraq. They also made sure that the interest of the Iraqi people would not be compromised in any deal .

B.     Inviting the Iraqi Opposition leaders to meetings with the Iraqi-American Community in different cities throughout the US . Washington DC, Annandale VA, Detroit MI, Seattle Washington ,LA and San Diego California , and Houston TX are some examples.

C.     Meeting one-on-one with high representative of the IO to discuss the current events in Iraq.

D.    Sending delegation to the Iraqi Opposition Conference in London to present the Views of the Iraqi Community. The delegation included Sayyed Bassam Al-Hussaini , General Fawzi Ai-Shimari , Saffiya Talib Al-Suhail , and the Hon. Judge Zakia Ismaeel Hakki.

E.     Providing support to all groups of the Iraqi Opposition who work for the interest of the Iraqi people regardless of the Political affiliation or ideology.

 

7-      Security Council and United Nations outreach: The IAC advocated the human and civil rights of the Iraqi people by writing letters and collecting signatures on  petitions related to the implementation of the security council resolutions regarding Iraq, specially resolution 688.Also, lobbying the members of the council to support the rights of the Iraqi people by sending letters , faxes, and e-mails.

 

8-      Organizations outreach: The IAC initiated a dialogue and activities with following advocacy groups and organizations to help the interests of the Iraqi people and the Iraqi community . some of these organizations are:

A.     American Islamic Council-AIC

B.     Iraq Institute for Democracy-IID

C.     Islamic Society/Circle of North America-ISNA/ ICNA

D.    Inter Faith Foundation-IFF

E.     The Republican and Democratic National Committees-RNC/DNC

F.      Russian American Council

G.    Czech- Polish American Community

H.    Assyrian Bait AL-Nahrain.

I.       Iraqi Islamic Patriotic Front-IIPF

J.      Iraqi National Front

K.    The Islamic Institute-II

L.     Iraq Foundation-IF

M.  Iraqi Officers Movement-IOM

N.    Iraqi National Congress-INC

O.    Supreme Council of the Islamic revolution in Iraq-SCIRI

P.      American Muslim Council-AMC

Q.    Iraqi Democratic Union-IDU

R.    Iraqi Forum for Democracy-IFD /Iraqi Community-IC

S.      Council on American Islamic Relations-CAIR

T.     Arab American Institute-AAI

U.     Arab American Anti-Discrimination Committee-ADC

V.     Asian American Federation-AAF

W.   Detroit Chaldean News-DCN

X.     American Muslim Society of the Tri-State Area-AMS

Y.     Muslim American Society-MAS

Z.      The Independent Iraqi Women Organization.

 

 

9-      9-Iraqi People Outreach: The IAC formed the IRAQIAMERICANS e-mail group to help Iraqis worldwide communicate to each other and to Iraqis inside Iraq. Thousands of messages have been exchanged by Iraqis worldwide through this service, which became a major medium of communications among all Iraqis Arabs and Kurds, Shiva and Sunnis, Muslims and Christians, Assyrians and Caledonians.

 

10-  Future Iraq Working Groups: Members of the Iraqi-American Council are actively participating in the working groups planning for the future of Iraq including the groups established by the State department. Some Of these groups are:

       

A.     The Transitional Justice Group/ Judge Foud Jawad, Judge Zakia Hakki, Swarmed Al-Sara, Esq.

B.     The Health and environment Group/ Dr. Mahmood Thamer.

C.     The Public outreach Group /  Bassam Rhida And Ahmad Kubba

D.    The local government Group / Sgt. Nouman Shubbar.

E.     The Infrastructure Group/ Dr. Assad Al-Khafaji.

F.      The Civil Society Group/ Salam Al-Jawad, Aziz Al-Taee, Zainab Al-Suwaij , Basim Al-Ali.

G.    The Refuge Group/ Zainab Al-Suwaij

H.    The education Group

I.       The Transition to Democracy Group

J.      The Political Group.

 

 

11-  Financial Status: All the Expenses of  2002 were covered from the donations of the members.

 

 

12-  Goals for 2003: The IAC Goals For the Year 2003 includes:

 

A.     Held the general body meeting of the organization .

B.     Open 12-15 chapters through out the united states.

C.     Increase the membership of the IAC.

D.    Participate in rebuilding Iraq post Saddam.

E.     Recruiting volunteers to help the Iraqi Refugees of War.

F.      Defending the Civil Liberties and Constitutional Rights of Iraqi-Americans from any Backlash due to a possible War with Saddam.

G.    Raising the level of representation of Iraqi-Americans in Iraqi Opposition Committees.

H.    Increase the participation of Iraqi-Americans in the American political process.

I.       Encouraging Iraqi-American and International Companies to invest in the Iraqi economy post Saddam.

J.      Minimizing the differences and increasing the unity among members of Iraqi Community in and outside Iraq by providing the means of better communications and knowledge.

K.    Starting an aggressive grassroots youth and women activism programs.

       

 

 

      For some samples of the Press releases, letters, pictures of the events conducted by the Iraqi-American Council please visit our web site www.iraqiamericans.org   or e-mail us at   iraq@al-iraq.org

 

 

Aziz Al-Taee