Assyrian nationalism

This article is part of the series on the

History of the Assyrian people

Early history

Old Assyrian Empire (20th–15th c. BCE)
Neo-Assyrian Empire (911–612 BCE)
Achaemenid Assyria (539–330 BCE)

Classical Antiquity

Seleucid Empire (312–63 BCE)
Parthian Empire (247 BCE – 224 CE)
Osroene (132 BCE – 244 CE)
Syrian Wars (66 BCE – 217 CE)
Roman Syria (64 BCE – 637 CE)
Adiabene (15–116)
Roman Assyria (116–118)
Christianization (1st to 3rd c.)
Nestorian Schism (5th c.)
Asōristān (226–651)
Byzantine–Sasanian wars (502–628)

Middle Ages

Muslim conquest of Persia (630s-640s)
Abbasid Caliphate (750–1258)
Emirs of Mosul (905–1383)
Buyid amirate (945–1055)
Principality of Antioch (1098–1268)
Ilkhanate (1258–1335)
Jalairid Sultanate (1335–1432)
Kara Koyunlu (1375–1468)
Ağ Qoyunlu (1453–1501)

Modern History

Safavid dynasty (1508-1555)
Ottoman Empire (1555–1917)
Schism of 1552 (16th c.)
Massacres of Badr Khan (1840s)
Massacres of Diyarbakir (1895)
Rise of nationalism (19th c.)
Adana massacre (1909)
Assyrian genocide (1914–1920)
Assyrian independence movement (since 1919)
Simele massacre (1933)
Post-Saddam Iraq (since 2003)

See also

Assyrian continuity
Assyrian–Chaldean–Syriac diaspora

Assyrian nationalism or Assyrianism increased in popularity in the late 19th century in a climate of increasing ethnic and religious persecution of the indigenous Assyrians of the Middle East.

Assyrian nationalism is the ideology of a united Assyrian people, it is to a great degree geographically as well as ethnically, religiously and linguistically based. It is espoused by almost all Mesopotamian East Aramaic speaking Assyrians. They are Christians, with most Assyrians following the Assyrian Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church, Syriac Orthodox Church, Ancient Church of the East and Protestant groups like the Assyrian Pentecostal Church and Assyrian Evangelical Church. Geographically they are the native people of northern Iraq, north western Iran, south eastern Turkey, north eastern Syria (in effect a region corresponding with ancient Assyria and Upper Mesopotamia). Assyrian nationalism is also common in the diaspora communities that left these areas for Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Lebanon, Jordan and Azerbaijan and migrant Assyrians from all these lands now residing in the European Union, United States, Canada and Australia.


The ideology of Assyrian nationalism advocates Assyrian independence, and is based on the political and national unification of ethnic Assyrian followers of a number of Syriac Christian Churches (mainly those originating in, or based in and around northern Mesopotamia) with classical Syriac as its cultural language. Its main proponents in the beginning of the 20th century were Naum Faiq, Freydun Atturaya and Farid Nazha.

Within the Syriac Christian population in the near east as a whole, Assyrianism meets a degree of resistance as the result of geographic, ethnic, linguistic and confessional boundaries. Theologically in particular, the christological division between the Syriac Orthodox Church ("West Syriac") on one hand and the Mesopotamian Aramaic speaking adherents of the Assyrian Church of the East, Ancient Church of the East, Chaldean Catholic Church and Assyrian Protestants ("East Syriac") on the other. The first two churches are not divided by a formally declared schism, but their doctrine has moved so far apart for mutual accusations of heresy.

However, a number of adherents of the Syriac Orthodox Church (especially those who are Eastern Aramaic speaking and live in north east Syria, northern Iraq, north west Iran and South east Turkey) do espouse an Assyrian identity. In a geographic and linguistic context, the predominantly Arabic speaking Semitic Christians from Syria (excluding the Assyrian north east of the country), south central Turkey and Lebanon tend not to identify as Assyrians. In the bulk of Syria an Aramean identity is often espoused, and in Lebanon a Phoenician heritage is claimed.

This is in part due to the term Syriac being generally accepted by the majority of scholars to be a derivation of Assyrian, and in part because the majority of the Christian population of these areas are not geographically from what was Assyria or Mesopotamia, and thus do not identify with an Assyrian heritage in the way that the pre Arab, pre Islamic Mesopotamian Assyrians from Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey, Iran and the Caucasus naturally do.

According to Raif Toma, Assyrianism goes beyond mere Syriac patriotism, and ultimately aims at the unification of all "Mesopotamians", properly qualifying as "Pan-Mesopotamianism". This variant of Assyrianism is independent of Christian, ethno-religious identity and qualifies as a purely ethnic nationalism, in that it identifies the Assyrian people as the heirs of the Assyrian Empire, and as the indigenous population of Mesopotamia, as opposed to Arabism, which is identified as a chronologically later, non indigenous, and foreign intrusive element, due to the non indigenous Arab Muslim conquests. This is expressed e.g. in the Assyrian calendar introduced in the 1950s, which chooses as its era 4750 BC, the estimated date of construction of the first (pre-historical, pre-Semitic) temple at Assur.

Organisations advocating Assyrianism are the Assyrian Democratic Organisation, Assyrian National Congress, Assyrian Universal Alliance (since 1968) and Shuraya (since 1978). The Assyrian flag was designed by the Assyrian Universal Alliance in 1968.[1]


Main article: Assyrian independence

The ideology of Assyrian independence is a political movement that supports the creation of nation state corresponding to part of the original Assyrian homeland, in the Nineveh plains of Northern Iraq. The issue of Assyrian independence has been brought up many times throughout the course of history from before World War I to the present-day Iraq War. The Assyrian-inhabited area of Iraq is located primarily but not exclusively in the Ninawa-Mosul region in Northern Iraq where the ancient Assyrian capital of Nineveh was located.[2] This area is known as the "Assyrian Triangle."[3] Assyrians are generally found all over northern Iraq, including in and around the cities of Mosul, Erbil, Kirkuk, Dohuk, Amadia and Rawanduz, and there are a fair number of exclusively Assyrian towns, villages, hamlets and agricultural communities in the north, together with others that have significant Assyrian populations. Other communities exist over the borders in south eastern Turkey (Mardin, Diyarbakir, Harran, Bohtan, Kultepe, Hakkari), north eastern Syria {Al Hasakah, Qamlishi Khabur delta) region and north western Iran (Urmia), there are a number of Assyrian villages and towns in Syria and a few remaining in Turkey also.

In post-Ba'thist Iraq, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (or ADM) was one of the smaller political parties that emerged in the social chaos of the occupation.[4] Its officials say that while Assyrian members of the ADM also took a full and active part in the liberation of the key oil cities of Kirkuk and Mosul in the north, the Assyrians were not invited to join the steering committee that was charged with defining Iraq's future.

Continuity claims

Main article: Assyrian continuity

The continuity of Assyrian identity is endorsed and supported by many non Assyrian modern Assyriologists, Iranologists, orientalists, linguists, geneticists and historians, while others see the connection between ancient Assyria and the modern Assyrians as more complex. There was Assyrian resistance to Persian rule in Achaemenid Assyria. H. W. F. Saggs in his The Might That Was Assyria clearly supports cultural continuity.[5]

See also


  1. "Assyria". Archived from the original on October 12, 2008. Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  2. Minorities in the Middle East: a history of struggle and self-expression By Mordechai Nisan
  3. The Origins of War: From the Stone Age to Alexander the Great By Arther Ferrill - Page 70
  4. John Pike. "Assyrian Democratic Movement". Retrieved 2011-12-28.
  5. Saggs, pp. 290, "The destruction of the Assyrian Empire did not wipe out its population. They were predominantly peasant farmers, and since Assyria contains some of the best wheat land in the Near East, descendants of the Assyrian peasants would, as opportunity permitted, build new villages over the old cities and carried on with agricultural life, remembering traditions of the former cities. After seven or eight centuries and after various vicissitudes, these people became Christians. These Christians, and the Jewish communities scattered amongst them, not only kept alive the memory of their Assyrian predecessors but also combined them with traditions from the Bible."

External links

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