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Despite the divisions.. One key to overcome the Sinjar crisis

Category: Report

Date: 2020-11-20T19:13:17+0000
Despite the divisions.. One key to overcome the Sinjar crisis

Shafaq News/ Differences and divisions prevail among the components of Sinjar district (located west of Nineveh governorate), due to the complex and difficult circumstances in the region. Moreover, the components of the district agree that establishing stability and security is the key to ending the crisis and returning displaced people to it, as well as ending their six-year suffering altogether. 

Sinjar is the stronghold of the Kurdish Yazidis -but it includes other Arab and Turkmen components. It has turned into a local and regional battleground over the past few years; exacerbating the suffering of its Yazidi population, especially as they were genocided by ISIS.

*Closed meeting

In a three-hour closed-door meeting in Mosul on Thursday, the UN's representative in Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, sought to fill the gaps between Sinjar’s components to open the way for the implementation of the normalization agreement between Baghdad and Erbil.

The meeting brought together 36 representatives of the various components, invited by Hennis-Plasschaert to the meeting held at the local government headquarters in Mosul.

The participants' demands on the course of ending the crisis in Sinjar district varied, but views seemed to be identical on the first step to be taken, namely, security to ensure the return of the displaced people and the reconstruction of the district.

At a press conference following the meeting, Hennis-Plasschaert urged the Federal Government and Kurdistan’s Regional Government (KRG) to accelerate the implementation of the Sinjar Agreement.

She said that the agreement was the beginning of Stability’s return to the district and an end to the suffering of its displaced population.. She also stressed that the UN mission would "fight" to implement the convention.

On October 9th, Baghdad and Erbil reached the Sinjar agreement.. It provides for the joint administration of the district, as well as the removal of all armed groups -including the anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and the Popular Mobilization forces (PMF).

*The crisis of the displaced people and the UN’s role

"We want the United Nations to intervene to solve all problems -whether security or service, as well as to end the file of political conflicts on the district to find a solution for us and end the suffering of thousands", said Retired Brig. Gen. Ahmed Hassan, representative of the Turkmen component in Hennis-Plasschaert’s meeting.

"The situation of displaced Sinjar residents is deplorable, whether they are Yazidis, Arabs, or Turkmens.. What is going on is heartbreaking”, Hassan stated to Shafaq News agency.

ISIS invaded Sinjar district in 2014 and committed genocide against Yazidis, while hundreds of thousands more fled to Kurdistan. Peshmerga forces freed the district the following year.

The Yazidis have accused some residents of nearby Arab villages of supporting ISIS, creating a rift in the area.

*Accusing the Arabs of supporting ISIS

"We have no problems with anyone, but today's charge of supporting ISIS is haunting everyone.. The bigger the conflict, the more they use this accusation against the Arabs", said ‘waid Al-Juhaishi, a former Nineveh provincial council member.

"Everyone knows that terrorism has not left an Arab, Yazidi, or Turkmen without shedding his blood. The Yazidi grievance is great, but they have to distinguish between the terrorist and the innocent", Added Al-Juhaishi, the representative of the Arab component in Hennis-Plasschaert’s meeting.

Al-Juhaishi stressed the need to, "Establish the sovereignty of the state and the law in Sinjar, so stability can normally return. The Iraqi government should address the presence of The PKK”.

The situation in Sinjar worsened dramatically when the Iraqi army -backed by the PMF, invaded the area due to tensions between Kurdistan and the federal government over the 2017 independence referendum.

The Iraqi authorities have installed new officials in place of elected officials in the district..The elected ones withdrew from the area to Duhok as Iraqi forces advanced.

Currently, there are two local Governments of Sinjar.. One is appointed by the federal government authorities and the other one is the elected government operating from Duhok.

The PKK has also formed a pro-Government faction there called the “Sinjar Protection Units”, and receives salaries from the Iraqi government as a faction within the PMF.

* Obstacles.. PKK and PMF

The removal of armed groups appears to be the biggest obstacle to the implementation of the Sinjar agreement.

"The PKK and PMF are putting obstacles in the implementation of the Sinjar Agreement’s way, as well as the displaced people’s return”, Sinjar's mayor, Mahma Khalil, told Shafaq News agency.

"The presence of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Sinjar is illegal; as it is a non-Iraqi party. The federal government is serious about implementing the internationally supported Sinjar agreement. The key to normalization lies in providing security and services for the displaced people’s return”, Mahma Khalil added.

PKK refuses to leave Sinjar district -and Turkey occasionally launches attacks against its fighters, heightening the displaced people’s fears of return.

"The only solution to ending the Sinjar crisis is to start from within the district; by building and restoring services in a real way, paying compensation to the affected, and the full redress of the victims' families”, said Dr. Ali Aguan, a professor of political science at Mosul University.

Dr. Ali pointed out the importance of, "Empowering the economy in the district to ease the pressure and community tension, initiating steps to seek community reconciliation among all components, and the presence of official security forces to bring reassurance”.

"No step can succeed unless the Presence of the PKK is completely terminated from the district. The discussions, meetings, or other steps taking place are worthless as long as the PKK is present in the district or its mountains", Aguan said to Shafaq News agency.

*Al-Nasir Al-Mubeen forces and tunnels

According to former Nineveh provincial council member Of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Dawoud Jundi, "there is a turmoil on the issue of the PKK’s presence inside the district’s center".

"Those who are present at the moment are not specifically the PKK, but political and military groups and parties operating with the same PKK's ideology -under the name of (Al-Nasir Al-Mubeen forces), and are linked to the PMF”, Jundi stated to Shafaq News agency.

However, security sources -from within Sinjar, revealed to Shafaq News agency that the PKK fighters have been preparing for months for a possible clash with the Iraqi forces.

The same sources said that the PKK has been working for several months to build tunnels in the Sinjar mountains; as if preparing to impose its presence on the Iraqi territory. This could open the door to a military clash in the future, if the Iraqi government is serious about ending the crisis of Sinjar district, returning the displaced to it, and ending local and regional conflicts in the region.

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