The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Sherman Amendment #28 to H.R. 4350, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022, expressing the sense of Congress that the U.S. should work with the Government of Iraq to achieve the voluntary and safe return of ethno-religious minorities, such as Assyrians and Yazidis, to the Nineveh Plains region of Iraq. It also requires the Secretary of State to provide a strategy on measures to support a political and security climate that allows ethno-religious minorities in the Nineveh Plain to administer and secure their own areas in cooperation with federal authorities. The API strongly advocated for and welcomed the passage of the amendment.
The API-backed amendment was sponsored by Congressman Brad Sherman (CA-30). Earlier this week, it was ruled in order by the House Rules Committee which is chaired by Congressman Jim McGovern (MA-02). It was adopted en bloc as part of the overall NDAA. Read the full amendment text here.
"This critical amendment put forward by Congressman Sherman will help pave the way for new and informed policies that establish the conditions for the security and real equality for Assyrians and other vulnerable communities in Iraq," said Jon Koriel, API Chairman. "We thank Congressman Sherman for his persistent efforts to enable and sustain the safe return of Assyrians to their homes in the Nineveh Plain—and more broadly—for his outstanding leadership on issues of importance to the Assyrian-American community."
As part of its reporting requirements, the Sherman Amendment mandates an assessment of the impact of the Iraq and Syria Genocide Relief and Accountability Act of 2018 (Public Law 115-300) on return rates of vulnerable, indigenous ethno-religious groups, including Assyrians and Yazidis, in those areas of the Nineveh Plains region in which funds have been spent. Through this Act, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided nearly $500 million in support of the Genocide Recovery and Persecution Response initiative to help ethnic and religious minorities in northern Iraq heal and restore their communities after the genocide and ethnic cleansing campaign committed by the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
The amendment also requires a description of the progress of and ability to integrate minority forces previously trained by Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR), such as the Nineveh Plain Protection Units, into the formal and permanent Iraqi state institutions.
H.R. 4350 now heads to the U.S. Senate for consideration. The Constitution requires that the House and Senate approve the same bill in precisely the same form before it is presented to the President.