Arab, North Iraqi in Syria

Arab, North Iraqi
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People Name: Arab, North Iraqi
Country: Syria
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 387,000
World Population: 10,578,900
Primary Language: Arabic, North Mesopotamian Spoken
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.70 %
Evangelicals: 0.20 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Arab, Levant
Affinity Bloc: Arab World
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Iraqis have lived in Syria for many years. Syria has a track record for taking in refugees, especially from other Arab majority countries such as Lebanon and Iraq. When Iraq became destabilized, starting with the 1991 invasion, and accelerating after the end of Saddam Hussein’s long-term dictatorship, many Iraqis have fled to neighboring countries like Syria. Iraqis were drawn to Syria because of a similar language and culture, a flourishing informal economy, it’s easily accessible, and a relatively tolerant religious environment. Once some Iraqis were established there, others came to join their families, so the flow continues. Unfortunately for all involved, Syria is in a long-standing civil war exacerbated by foreign intervention. This has left both Syrians and Iraqis in impossible war zones.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Iraqi Arabs have suffered a great deal since the two gulf wars started in 1991. Sectarian violence in Iraq had made life unbearable. At one time it seemed that Syria provided a stable alternative for Iraqis. However, today Iraq’s violence seems tame compared with the regular bombings in Syria. Most of the Iraqi Arabs who now live in neighboring countries like Syria are from the middle class. They have a better education than most people, which gives them an advantage in the job market. With an ongoing civil war, the job market is greatly hampered. The vast majority of the Iraqi Arabs in Syria are either Sunni or Shia Muslims which makes them vulnerable to getting involved in Syria’s sectarian war whether they want to or not.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Islam has greatly influenced the lives of the Iraqi Arabs. Most are either Sunni or Shia Muslim, the latter being unusual for Arabs. The Shias are allied with their religious counterparts over the border in Iran. They are in the category of the "Twelvers," meaning they follow 12 imams (teachers), the 12th being Muhammad ibn al-Hasan, whom they believe will someday return to bring peace and justice to the world. Shia Muslims also stress victimhood and martyrdom, and they commemorate events where their leaders were killed. The latter might be a possible bridge to the death of Christ on the cross. There are also some traditional Christians among the Iraqi Arabs.

What Are Their Needs?

Like their Syrian counterparts, the Iraqi Arabs in Syria need peace. Wicked men continue to kill, steal, and destroy in an attempt to gain personal power at the expense of Syria, leaving a path of death and destruction. Until there is peace, the lives of all people in Syria, including those of the Iraqis, will be tragic.

Prayer Points

Pray for a just peace in Syria and Iraq. Pray for the Arabs to have the willingness to cooperate with all factors, allowing Syria to rebuild. Pray for a spiritual hunger that will lead Iraqi Muslims to Jesus Christ as the answer to their spiritual needs. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among Iraqi Arabs.

Text Source:   Joshua Project