MESOPOTAMIA NEWS : TROUBLE INSIDE OF THE KURDISH FAMILY –  Shingal agreement must be implemented or there will be war, says Yazidi commander

26-03-2021 –  Dilan Sirwan – RUDAW – ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — The commander of a Yazidi armed force part of the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces said on Friday he fears war could break out in the disputed district of Shingal as tensions between the Iraqi army and militias affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) continue to grow.  

“The Iraqi side had initially planned for all armed groups to leave the center of Shingal today, however it seems that the time could be extended until April 1,” Haidar Shasho told Rudaw English.

Shasho is commander of Shingal’s Ezidkhan Protection Force, a Yazidi armed group incorporated into the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga forces. If the armed groups do not voluntarily withdraw, he is worried the Iraqi army may use force.

“We hope the matter does not come to war, but the government needs to implement this agreement. Otherwise Shingal’s situation will be bad,” he said, referring to the agreement signed in October between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and the federal government, designed to regulate governance and security in the disputed district.

“We hope that war and an armed showdown does not happen. But if it comes down to it, we think it is better if a war happens than for Shingal to stay the way it is.”

There are a myriad of armed forces in Shingal with various allegiances, including  the Kurdistan Region Peshmerga, pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, or Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic), and groups affiliated to the PKK. They gained footholds in Shingal after ousting the Islamic State group (ISIS), which invaded the region in 2014, committing genocide against the Yazidi ethno-religious minority which made up the majority of Shingal’s residents. Disputes over control of the area have prevented most of the Yazidi population from returning to their homes.

Under the October agreement, security for the troubled region is Baghdad’s responsibility. The federal government is to establish a new armed force recruited from the local population and expel all militias.

“Today we see that implementation of the agreement has started – the federal forces are here and life is returning to normal,” Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) spokesperson Tahsin al-Khafaji told Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim on Thursday.

His forces, however, are facing resistance.

“Our administration does not accept Iraq’s request. Our people trust the YBS and Asayish [Kurdish internal security forces],” Riham Hajo, co-chair of a PKK-affiliated governing council, said in a public statement on Thursday. The Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) and Asayish in Shingal are both linked to the PKK. Clashes broke out between their supporters and the Iraqi army earlier this month.

Turkey has launched several airstrikes on the district and threatened a full scale military operation against the PKK, which is considered a terrorist organization by Ankara.