Sarkis Aghajan Mamendo

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Sarkis Aghajan Mamendo
ܣܪܟܝܣ ܐܓܓܢ ܡܡܢܕܘ
Sarkis aghajan mamando.jpg
Minister of Finance and the Economy
In office
1999 – 7 May 2006(In office unofficially until 2008 when another person was given the position)
Prime Minister Nechervan Idris Barzani
Succeeded by Bayiz Saeed Mohammad
Representative in the Kurdish Parliament
In office
Leader Masoud Barzani
Personal details
Born 1962
Diana, Iraq
Political party Kurdistan Democratic Party
Religion Assyrian Church of the East

Sarkis Aghajan Mamendo (Syriac: ܣܪܟܝܣ ܐܓܓܢ ܡܡܢܕܘ‎), (born 1962) is an Iraqi Assyrian politician who was appointed Minister for Finance and Economy in the cabinet of Iraqi Kurdistan on 7 May 2006.

Early life[edit]

Sarkis was born in Diyana, Erbil Governorate of Iraqi Kurdistan in 1962. He is a Nochiya-Assyrian of the Assyrian Church of the East denomination with family origins from the district of Shamezdin in the Hakkari Province of Turkey. He was first elected into the Kurdistan National Assembly in the first Iraqi Kurdistan elections in 1992, beginning his political career. Sarkis Aghajan Mamendo was also the Minister for Finance and the Economy from 1999 to 2006, and Deputy Prime Minister from 2004 to 2006 in the Arbil & Dohuk administration. Aghajan appears to owe his ascendancy within the Kurdistan Democratic Party power structure to his personal relationship with Nechervan Idris Barzani, the Kurdish prime minister. His supporters say that as young men, the two were forced to flee Iraq with their families in 1975 after the United States withdrew its support of the Barzani clan, and so Nechervan grew up with Sarkis on the Aghajan family estate in Iran.[1]


Sarkis is known, in addition to his political roles, for massive development and aid programs he has begun in which he built or repaired dozens of Churches, roads, schools and Assyrian settlements throughout northern Iraq through the "Higher Committee for Christian Affairs" that he established. He is also a major funder and owner of the new Assyrian TV channel Ishtar TV, which is broadcast in three languages (Syriac, Arabic, and Kurdish).

Awards and controversies[edit]

In August 2006, Sarkis was awarded the "Knight Commander of the order of Saint Gregory the Great" by Pope Benedict XVI as a way to honour his work helping the Assyrian Christian community in Iraq.[2] Aghajan was awarded the title, which is one of the highest and most widely recognized pontifical orders, for his contribution to the Assyrian community and his work for Christians in Iraq.[2]

Many Assyrian non-governmental organizations claim that the Kurdistan Regional Government only appointed Aghajan to a high office in the Kurdish government in order to look tolerant towards Assyrians so that they could justify a possible annexation of Assyrian settlements in the Nineveh plains.[3] It has also been speculated that he gets some of his funding from lobbying efforts in the United States by the Assyrian American congresswoman Anna Eshoo for the purpose of rebuilding Assyrian settlements,[4] although he personally claims that the money is raised by Kurdish political parties instead.[5]

He also finances his own militia which is accused of assaulting Assyrian candidates during the 2009 Governorates Elections in Nineveh.[6]

Disappearance and reappearance[edit]

For a period during 2008-2009 the Assyrian Finance minister went missing. Many people believed that he was kidnapped or the victim of assassination. Part of this speculation was due to the fact that around the same period he went missing more than 20,000 Assyrian had been displaced and 13 killed in Mosul as part of a pogrom in 2008, and there were rumors of Corruption in the Kurdistan government, and as finance minister he might have been aware of it, leading to speculation that he might have been killed to cover it up.[7] However, after going missing, a new finance minister was appointed,[8] and then shortly after being replaced he was found again in the summer of 2009, when he appeared in his palace in Ankawa in what he claimed to be a medical vacation outside the country.[9] Later in 2010 he stopped giving funds to Assyrian Christian Communities, causing the Chaldean Catholic Church to have significant financial issues during a period where the world economy was in poor shape, and as a result they were forced to pawn land they held in the center of Baghdad.[10]

External links[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b قداسة البابا بيندكتس السادس عشر يمنح وسام القائد والفارس للسيد سركيس أغا جان
  3. ^ Assyria Council of Europe , Hammurabi Human Rights Organization. "The Struggle to Exist: An Introduction to the Assyrians and their Human Rights Situation in the New Iraq" (PDF). p. 44. Retrieved 18 October 2011. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ سركيس اغاجان لجريدة ناشيونال الإماراتية؛ الاموال التي تصرف على مساعدة المسيحيين العراقيين هي اموال حكومة اقليم كردستان، صوت العراق (Arabic)
  6. ^ [1] استهداف مدير الحملة الانتخابية لقائمة الرافدين 504], Zahrira
  7. ^ Mystery Surrounds Disappearance of Assyrian Finance Minister, AINA
  8. ^
  9. ^ Prominent Christian Figure Sarkis Aghajan Returns to Iraq
  10. ^ Financial crisis forces
Preceded by
Nuri Kino
Zinda Magazine Assyrian of the Year
2007 (6756)
Succeeded by
Attiya Gamri