Discord deepens in Shingal

Iraqi army and Yabsha refuse to recognize each other

Ninewa, December 2021: An Iraqi army force in Shingal district. Media of West Ninewa Operations Command

By Ammar Aziz in Ninawa

Disagreements are exacerbating day after day in Shingal (Sinjar), in light of the Iraqi army's efforts to keep the security file of the district in the hands of the federal government only, which is rejected by the pro-PKK Shingal Struggle Units YBSh (Yabsha).

According to (KirkukNow) follow-ups, The Iraqi army has deployed additional troops in Shingal, specifically in the center of Sinuny district, a step provoked some of its residents, especially those loyal to the armed factions close to the Kurdistan Workers Party PKK.

On the 14th and 15th of this month, forces were sent from Mosul and Kirkuk to Shingal, and there are currently approximately 9,000 soldiers in the district, for example, there are 16 military Humvee vehicles spread over nine kilometers only inside the Sinuny sub-district, said Khudeda Elias, in charge of the Autonomous Administration Council in the Sinuny sub-district, northwest of Shingal.

The past week witnessed another standoff when a unit of the Iraqi army on January 15th removed the statue of Zardasht Shingali, one of the leaders of Yabsha, from the center of Shingal district, where it was scheduled to be unveiled in a special ceremony.

Zardasht Shingali, the former commander-in-chief of the Yabasha, along with three other Yabasha fighters, all of them from the Ezidi (Yazidi) component, were killed in a raid by Turkish warplanes targeting one of their headquarters on January 15, 2020.


Ninewa: A group of fighters of Shingal Protection Units Yabsha. Media of Yabsha

Yabsha and several other pro-PKK groups and forces were found and stationed in Shingal and its outskirts since 2014, after that the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant ISIL attacked Ninewa province, targeted the vulnerable Ezidi community, committing atrocities mounted to genocide, and took over large swathes of Iraq.

"The statue was not returned to us. The army says Shingali is not an Iraqi, and they have not received orders to hand the statue over to us, despite our frequent demands," said Khudeda who thinks this behavior and “sending additional forces an attempt by the Iraqi government to implement and enforce the Shingal Agreement by force."

Sending additional forces is an attempt by the Iraqi government to implement and enforce Shingal Agreement by force

 According to the content of the agreement concluded between the Iraqi federal government and the Kurdistan Regional Government KRG in October 2020 to reorganize the administrative, security and service file in the Shingal district, the local police, the intelligence service and the National Security Service, in coordination with the security forces of the KRG will be assigned to manage the security file of Shingal while the armed forces of the federal government will be deployed in the outskirts of the.

The past two years witnessed several protest demonstrations by supporters and members of the Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal against the Erbil-Baghdad Shingal Agreement.

Brigadier General Atheer Hamza al-Rubaie, commander of the 20th Division of the Iraqi army stationed in Shingal, told (KirkukNow), "The army can restore security and stability to the district and provide the best services to citizens.

Al-Rubaie stressed “Upon the recommendation of the Commander-in-Chief of the Iraqi Armed Forces, Shingal stability is currently achieved thanks to coordination between all security forces, including the police, the army, the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, hashid al-Shabi), the Tribal Mobilization and the Peshmerga (Kurdish Fighters).”

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Shingal, March 11, 2021: Tension and clashes between supporters of the Autonomous Administration Council and the Iraqi army at the Jidali checkpoint in al-Qahtaniyah sub-district (Tal Uzair). KirkukNow

An army commander told the semi-official Iraqi News Agency INA that Shingal needs service projects and that the army is creating a safe environment to attract investments to the district.

There are more than eight different armed groups within the borders of Shingal district, including the pro-Iran Shiite paramilitary PMF, Ezidikhan Asayish (security), Yabsha, the local police, the federal police, the Iraqi army, the Ezidkhan Peshmerga and the KRG Peshmerga forces stationed in A religious shrine.

Khudeda Chuki, mayor of Sinuny, said, "The district does not need the presence of additional forces because it is safe yet when people see all these forces and military vehicles or some strange security maneuvers, they feel that fighting will erupt."

Chuki informed the West Ninewa Operations Command of these concerns, "but they only carry out orders and that is the main reason behind the recent tensions. Part of that is related to the ongoing negotiations to form the new Iraqi government, while some parties seek to trade in the Shingal file and exploit it for their own ends."

Yabsha had warned in a statement issued on January 21, saying, "We pledged to live in a free Shingal, and we will not accept otherwise for ourselves." The statement came after that one of its commanders was killed in a Turkish raid targeted a vehicle of Yabasha in Shilo area, west of Shingal the same day.

The reinforcement of the forces is to serve people not to intimidate them

The Turkish raids provoked clashes between the Iraqi army forces and supporters of the Yabsha on December 12, 2021, when the two sides clashed after organizing a demonstration to denounce the Turkish bombing and "the failure of the Iraqi government to stop the attacks." The clashes resulted in the injury of a number of demonstrators and an Iraqi soldier.

The head of the pro-PKK Council in Shingal says, "The Iraqi government wants to expel these forces which it describes as illegal but the Yabsha and Ezidkhan Asayish are not illegal forces and they are from Shingal. Therefore, we will continue our struggle and we do not need the presence of other forces."

The Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal was formed years ago by several Ezidi and Arab parties and other components and is considered close to the PKK. The council is currently managing Shingal district admin affairs without any recognition by Baghdad and Erbil.

A well-informed security source in Shingal, who refused to reveal his name, told (KirkukNow), "There are some disagreements but they are mostly political and cannot be mixed with other problems because the security services know more than people and realize what is required to be provided to the region in terms of security, Therefore, the reinforcement of the forces is not to intimidate the citizens, but to serve them."

"Shingal has no security problems. A new army division has been deployed, but the aim is to secure more protection for the area," the source added.

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Ninewa, January 21, 2022: Turkish raid targeting a vehicle of Yabsha. Firat News Agency

This comes at a time when previous follow-ups by (KirkukNow) have shown that the security aspect is one of the barriers ahead of the return of the people of Shingal from the areas to which they were displaced, where the number of displaced families is estimated more than 27,000 families.

The Commander of West Nineveh Operations, Major General Jabbar al-Tai, revealed in a statement he made earlier this month that the responsibility for the security file inside the Shingal district was entirely entrusted to the army, noting that this year will witness the formation of a new force made up of Ezidis.

According to Shingal agreement, 2,500 security personnel will be appointed, 1,500 of Shingal IDPs in the camps, and 1,000 of current residents in Shingal district, at a time when nearly 10,000 young Ezidis have applied to join the security forces.

Efforts to form this force come at a time when problems between the army and pro-PKK groups are escalating, despite the fact that several high-level Iraqi security delegations had previously visited Shingal for this purpose.

 People are tired of discord and clashes between the army and other forces

 Nizar Barjas, a civil activist of Sinuny district, said, "We have told the commander of West Nineveh operations publicly and clearly that people are tired of discord and clashes between the army and other forces and we do not want families of any party to pay for this.”

Barjas was among the participants in a meeting with military officials in Sinuny, which was organized by the Jisr Al-Shabab Organization on January 21, following the conflicts between the army and Yabsha, with the aim of preventing the recurrence of armed clashes.

"Officials in the Iraqi army pledged to put an end to the problems and calm the situation... At the end, we submitted 13 demands that were related to preventing tension and armed clashes, forming a new administration in Shingal and reorganizing those forces that are described as illegal by dismissing them or merging them into other armed forces."


Ninewa, January 21, 2022: A number of young Shingalis met with military leaders in the Iraqi army to prevent tension and clashes in Shingal district. KirkukNow

 There have been two administrations for Shingal for five years, one located inside Shingal and the other based in Dohuk province, beside the pro-PKK Autonomous Administration Council while Shingal agreement provides for the formation of a new administration for the district.

Several nights ago, a number of youths from Sinjar district took the initiative to provide meals to the Iraqi army, federal and local police deployed to protect the people there, as well as collecting wood from different areas and delivering it to the security points to set fire, coinciding with the low temperatures in the area.

Hussein Saeed, one of the activists participated in the initiative, said, "Through this step, we wanted to express our gratitude for their efforts to protect us in this harsh cold."

In this context, the forces of the 20th Division of the Iraqi army delivered food baskets, medical supplies and quantities of kerosene to help hundreds of displaced families residing in camps on Mount Shingal, which earlier appealed via KirkukNow to the Iraqi government.

Shingal district, located 120 km west of Mosul, is administratively part of Ninewa province and part of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad. ISIL militants overran the from August 3, 2014, before it was recaptured on November 13, 2015.

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