Iraqi commander's threats spark discontent of Shingalis

Nineveh, February 12, 2022: Iraqi army troops intercept pro-PKK people to demonstrate against video by Iraqi commander in Shingal threatened to crush any one hangs photos of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of Kurdistan Workers Party PKK. Credit of Roj News

By Ammar Aziz in Nineveh

The Ezidi community are unsatisfied with the threats by the Iraqi military commander which threatened people of Shingal (Sinjar) to crush any one that hangs photos of Abdullah Ocalan, imprisoned leader of Kurdistan Workers Party PKK.

The Brigadier General Atheer al-Rubaie, commander of the 20th Division of Iraqi army deployed in Shingal district, on February 11th appeared in a video holding an Iraqi flag surrounded by soldiers in military uniform, widely circulated on social media platforms.

The threats of the Iraqi officer followed hanging photos of PKK leader Ocalan by some pro-PKK people in al-Yarmouk square, downtown of Shingal district, (Sinjar), 120 km west of Mosul.

“To all the people of Sinjar, this is the flag of Iraq in my hand. God is witness and I say it three times: anyone hangs pictures of Ocalan; I will bury him here in this yard. I am a fighter and I fought terrorism...Anyone who breaks the laws will be crushed under the tires of Humvees."

These threats prompted a number of Yazidi activists to go out in demonstrations in Khana Sur and Bork complexes of Shingal, home to the Ezidi community, some of them raised pictures of Ocalan.

Mustafa Hussein, a Yazidi activist in Sinjar, said, "The statements of the commander of the Iraqi army brought back to our memory the threats of Daesh (ISIS) militants who were threatening us while chanting Allah Akbar (God is great).

“The worst thing is that his threats were directed at all the people of Shingal though not all the people of Shingal are supporters of Yabsha (Shingal Resistance Units). There are many who have independent views,” Hussein critizied the commander.

not all the people of Shingal are supporters of Yabsha

“We are also not in favor of raising any other flag except for the Iraqi flag, but the question is why do they not hold Hashid (pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Units PMU) members accountable who hung dozens of pictures of Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis on the streets of Sinjar?”

Shingal Resistance Units Yabasha and Asayish Ezidikhan are described close to the PKK which is fighting Turkey since 1980s and holding territories in Iraqi Kurdistan region and the disputed territories.

Ahead of these late tensions, an Iraqi army unit deployed in war-torn Shingal has withdrawn on Friday following tensions with supporters of militant groups affiliated to PKK.

The Iraqi government sent members of the regiment from Mosul to two areas in Shingal following the events of December 12, when clashes erupted between an army detachment and a number of demonstrators who took to the streets to condemn the Turkish bombing of the area, and the clashes resulted in the burning of an Iraqi army Humvee vehicle.

Shingal district is administratively under Ninewa province and part of the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad. ISIL militants overran the town since August 3, 2014, before it was recaptured on November 13, 2015.

The pro-PKK groups then played a role in securing a safe passage for the vulnerable Ezidi community to escape Islamic ISIS atrocities mounted to genocide, toward Mount Shingal and IDP camps in Northern Duhok province where still thousands prefer life under tents and plain shelters to life in war-devastated hometown.

The groups played role in the war against ISIS which has paved the road for Shingal residents show support for the groups, while accusing Iraqi and Kurdish forces of turning their back to them to face IS atrocities by themselves.

Shingal Resistance Units Yabasha and Asayish Ezidikhan are described close to the PKK which is fighting Turkey since 1980s and holding territories in Iraqi Kurdistan region and the disputed territories.

The Iraqi government and the KRG are trying to restore power in Shingal gradually via Shingal Agreement signed in October 2020 and at the same time to exclude the paramilitary groups such as pro-PKK groups and Shiite paramilitary of Popular Mobilization Forces PMF.

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 (Kurdish fighter) forces.

Nineveh, February 12, 2022: Iraqi security forces and a number of demonstrators holding pictures of Abdullah Ocalan in Shingal. Roj News

Pro-PKK militant groups mount Ocalan portraits in a number of Shingal streets, while the pro-Shiite PMU militants post pictures for Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

Al-Muhandis, deputy head of the PMU in Iraq, was killed along with the former commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian army, Qasem Soleimani, in a US air strike near Baghdad airport early 2020.

"We do not accept the threats of that military commander in any way," said Yazidi activist Mustafa Hussein. "Some of the youths of Shingal intend to file a case against him in court."

Hussein described Al-Rubaie's statements as an "insult" to the families of the victims and demanded that he apologize to the people of Shingal.

For his part, Azad Hussein, co-chair of the pro-PKK Autonomous Administration Council in Shingal, said, "The threats of that military commander were not directed at a specific party or force, but rather for all the people of Sinjar. We strongly condemn his statements and he should not have made such statements threats because he was speaking on behalf of the state."

Uploading and mounting protraits of Ocalan coincides with the 23rd anniversary of his arrest on February 15, 1999 by the Turkish state.

"All these clashes and tensions arise because of political parties that want to ignite fighting in Shingal," said Hussain without mentioning the names of those parties.

So far, the Iraqi army has not provided any clarification on the threats made by the 20th Division commander despite attempts by KirkukNow.

Khudida Elias, head of the Autonomous Administration Council in the Sinuni sub-district of Shingal, told (KirkukNow), "To denounce the statements of the military commander, a number of Ezidi women and men went out in demonstrations in Burek and Khana Sur, raising pictures of Abdullah Ocalan. On the other hand, the Iraqi army forces intercepted and threatened them."

Regarding the situation in the region, Elias ​​said, "The situation has calmed down today, Sunday, but we do not know what will happen hours from now."

According to the content of the agreement concluded to reorganize the administrative, security and service file in 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.

  • FB
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • YT