A security vacuum in the district of Makhmour in Erbil province has caused desolation of Kurdish villages in the area, consequently affecting agricultural production.
The security vacuum came to being after forces of the Federal Government retook the area from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) by force after the latter held a referendum on independence, giving ISIS room to be active at night.
Muhammad Ali, a resident of Girdi Bago village in Qaraj subdistrict in Makhmour district, told KirkukNow: “I am currently displaced and reside in Makhmour town. There is no water, electricity, nor any other service. Our lives are not protected, that’s why we can’t go back to live there.”
“My house was destroyed in the ISIS war. I have 250 dunams [about 0.60 square kilometres], but we can only go to our fields in day time; ISIS militants are active there at night.”
My house was destroyed in the ISIS war […] we can only go to our fields in day time; ISIS militants are active there at night
“There is a lack of electricity in the villages, and that has an effect on agriculture. For example, electricity was provided only for 10 hours in seven days. If things go on like this, we will have to give up sowing all together. It’s true that [growing] grains and some other plants doesn’t need electricity, but things like potatoes, cucumbers and tomatoes need electricity, at least for watering,” Ali added.
The Mayor of Makhmour, Rizgar Muhammad, told KirkukNow: “There has been lack of electricity in the area for a long time. The feed is weak, and demand is high. Providing electricity is the responsibility of both governments [KRG and Federal Government]. The solution is to build a new power plant.”
From the numbers KirkukNow obtained from local administrations, only four Kurdish villages of a total of 40 are still inhabited. And the four villages can only sustain one or two families.
Makhmour is part of the disputed areas. From the time of the fall of the Ba’th regime in 2003 until October 2017, it was under the control of the KRG.
Most of the villages in question are located in areas between where forces of the KRG and the central government are stationed.
Makhmour district consists of three subdistricts: Guér, Kandinawa and Qaraj. It is located about 60 kilometres southwest of Erbil City.
Hérish Husén, the commissioner of Qaraj subdistrict, told KirkukNow: “The issue is that a security vacuum has been created and ISIS is active. Three people were killed in an IED attack last month. This has led to a situation in which a few families go to their fields in day time and go home before sunset.”
The issue is that a security vacuum has been created and ISIS is active. Three people were killed in an IED attack last month
“Most of the displaced from Qaraj subdistrict are in Dibaga camp in Erbil,” Husén said.
The Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service and American forces conducted an operation against ISIS militants at Mount Qarachokh, located south of the district, in March 2020.
According to the Iraqi forces, clashes took place for 24 hours, in which 25 ISIS militants and two US soldiers were killed.
“Peshmerga forces are stationed on Mount Qarachokh. There is an agreement between Baghdad and Erbil to fill the security vacuum where it exists. If that agreement is implemented, security will return to the region.”