Tensions in Shingal for ousting pro-PKK Asayish

Iraqi federal government troops downtown of Shingal district in 2020. Photo by KirkukNow.

Ammar Aziz, Shingal

Tensions erupted between Iraqi army and police forces in Shingal and Pro-PKK demonstrators protesting the decision of ousting their "Ezidkhan Asayish" (Kurdish Security) from Shingal.

A checkpoint of Iraqi army in Jedal on the way to Giruzer sub-district of Shingal banned supporters of Kurdistan Workers' Party PKK (Kurdish rebel group fighting Turkey and occupying northern Iraqi territories) to enter into town to held demonstrations protesting the decision to oust "Ezidkhan Asayish", pro-PKK security forces from the Ezidi dominant region of Shingal.

"Iraqi army stopped people so tension erupted, gunfire shot at the air but no casualties reported," said Dakhil Murad, president of Shingal autonomous council, a local civil administration founded few years ago and close to pro-PKK Shingal Struggle Units YBSh, in Khanasor northwest of Shingal. Ezidkhan Asayish, meaning security forces in Kurdish, has about 1,000 fighters and is part of YBSh in charge of the security in the area.

"The (Iraqi) army gave our Asayish only 24 hours notice to leave the town yet we did not accept this and will not implement it so our supporters wanted to lead a protest demonstration in Shingal," he added.

"The (Iraqi) army gave our Asayish only 24 hours notice to leave the town yet we did not accept this and will not implement it,"

Murad said finally tensions were eased and they finally let the civilians pass without carrying any guns.

Shingal, located 120 west of Mosul, centre of Nineveh province, on the border of Iraq-Syria, is home to the Ezidi religious minority and one of the disputed territories between Baghdad and Erbil.

The complex texture of the security and administrative situation in Shingal is an aftermath of ISIS reign and a source of concern of the Ezidi community in general and in particular for those returned home in hope of leading a normal life post ISIS trauma.

When Shingal fell under reign of ISIS in August 2014, Iraqi troops backed by Kurdish Peshmarga and pro- PKK fighters' ousted ISIS in October 2015 and deployed in the region.

Iraqi army checkpoint stops pro-PKK protestors heading to predominant town of Shingal in Mosul. Video by KirkuNow.  

In the Ezidi-dominant region of Shingal, only three thousand square km, Baghdad federal and Erbil regional governments compete to establish their rule: three local administrations want to administer the district, and eight different security forces are deployed.

The militant groups are pro-Iran the Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces PMF, Shingal Protection Units (YBS) which are pro-PKK, local Police, Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), and KRG's Ezidkhan Asayish and Peshmerga (Kurdish fighter).

Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Region Government KRG agreed to appoint a new mayor and jointly provide security by a unit of local volunteers in order to oust other militias in particular pro-PKK troops yet the “Shingal agreement” signed in October 2020 is not effective yet.

Occasionally confrontations arise when Iraqi government attempts to implement Shingal agreement and ask the militias to leave the center of the town.  

The local authorities claim the residents violated curfew. "Today it was curfew but supporters of YBSh from Khanasor and Giruzer wanted to to Shingal so they were stopped which led to tension," Natiq Allo, media officer of Shingal police told KirkukNow. "They attacked the army by stones."

Local residents in Shingal came into clashes with local police downtown.

"The police told the demonstrators today is curfew due to Covid-19 so no gathering is allowed yet they confronted us. Fortunately no one was injured in both events and both sides are trying to ease the tension," police spokesman said.

"Fortunately no one was injured in both events and both sides are trying to ease the tension,"

Once the Shingal agreement between Baghdad and Erbil is implemented, local police, national security and intelligence run the security of the town and Iraqi security forces will be deployed in the suburbs.

Over 550,000 Ezidis were living in Iraq before ISIS taking control of one third of Iraqi territories. About 350,000 Ezidis were displaced, only one third of them are back to Shingal district, Nineveh province for lack of stability and poor public services and living conditions.

Turkey-PKK tension is another threat to Ezidis of Shingal. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed end of January to attack Shingal at any time in pursuit of groups affiliated to PKK based in the region. The Turkish army regularly conducts cross-border operations and air raids on PKK bases in northern Iraq.

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