San Diego Chaldeans Share Passionate Reactions to Unrest in Iraq

A group of Iraqi immigrants voiced their strong opinions about further U.S. intervention in their home country

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    NEWSLETTERS

    San Diego’s East County is home to a large Iraqi immigrant community. NBC 7’s Rory Devine speaks with members of the local Chaldean community about the crisis in Iraq and how they feel about President Obama vowing that the U.S. will not be “dragged back” into combat in Iraq as long as Baghdad's leaders refuse to reform their political system. (Published Friday, Jun 13, 2014)

     As unrest spreads throughout Iraq, so does unease in the East County, home to the United State’s second largest Iraqi population.

    Many were eager to share their passionate reactions to Al-Qaeda-linked militants who are seizing large swaths of Iraq’s north, making their determined advance toward Baghdad.

    "It is horrific," said Sami Jihad, Ph.D. "The movement is uncalled for."

    He was among a group of Christian Chaldeans gathered at Nahrain Fish and Grill in El Cajon Friday.

    Some like Sameer Oro lived in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s regime and when the U.S. invaded.

    “I left Iraq in 2007. It’s the same critical situation now,” said Oro.” You know why? Nobody knows who kills who,” said Oro.

    Business owner May Pauls is vying for U.S. intervention to stop the bloodshed among those she knew.

    “The thing that makes me sad is my country,” Pauls said as she began to tear up. “What we really need [is] Mr. Obama to help us. People are dying there. People are dying. This is my country.”

    President Obama announced Friday the U.S. will “do our part” to help the troubled nation, but he will not be sending any troops back into combat there.

    The stance is one Sami Jihad understands.

    “It’s too late. Americans can do nothing now because those guys are marching, and I won’t be surprised if by the end of the day, they capture Baghdad,” Jihad said.

    Others, including Jim Behnan, disagree, saying this is the moment to stand strong.

    “I don’t care if it’s by troops, by force, by talking, by diplomacy – I don’t know. But they have to do something fast, not only the United States, but the whole globe,” said Behnan.

    The group that spoke with NBC 7 said they’re not only concerned for those they know personally, but for all people in Iraq.

    "We love them. We pray for them,” Behnan said. “Not only Christian, but every nationality in Iraq and Syria or any country in the whole Arab countries because those countries are on fire now.”