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Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 18, 2020 11:44 pm

Yazidis shold handle Shingal security

Kurdistan Region Interior Minister Reber Ahmed has said the security and administration of the disputed district of Shingal should be handled by the “indigenous people” of the area, a month after an agreement was signed over governance in the area

Kurdish, Iraqi and UN officials met in Erbil on Tuesday to discuss the agreement, signed on October 9, which aims to resolve a number of issues preventing displaced Shingalis from returning to the area.

“The people of Shingal will be the only occupants of Shingal, anyone from outside of Shingal cannot manage its security, forces and governance,” Kurdistan Region Minister of Interior Reber Ahmed said during a press conference after the meeting in Erbil.

“Both sides have agreed that local administration, security and management should be handed back to the indigenous people of Shingal,” he added.

The meeting was attended by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General (SRSG) for Iraq, Jeanine Hennis-Passchaert and Iraqi National Security Adviser Qasim al-Araji.

The district is the heartland of the Yazidi ethnoreligious community, the vast majority of whom remain displaced after the Islamic State (ISIS) genocide in August 2014.

Hundreds of people gathered in Shingal earlier this month to call on Erbil and Baghdad to speed up the implementation of the deal so that thousands of displaced Yazidis can return to their homeland.

Under the Erbil-Baghdad agreement, security for the disputed region will be Baghdad's responsibility.

“There won’t be any other force inside Sinjar (Shingal) other than Iraqi forces,” Araji said on Tuesday.

Security in the area is currently handled by a number of armed groups and militias, including the Iraqi army, Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi), the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS, linked to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party), federal police, Ezidkhan Protection Forces and Peshmerga.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/171120201
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 26, 2020 1:10 am

YBS commander unhappy

A Yazidi militia leader in the disputed area of Shingal has condemned the Erbil-Baghdad agreement to resolve security and administration issues in the area, and has warned of “war” if the agreement is implemented

“If the agreement is implemented, Shingal could return to a period of war like it did in 2014,” Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) commander Haso Ibrahim said in an interview with Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim on Tuesday.

“The people of Shingal do not want to go back to such a time,” said Ibrahim, who is also a leading figure in the Shingal Autonomous Council, a civil society administration formed by Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) affiliated groups to govern the district.

Shingal lies within areas disputed between the federal government in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Erbil. The Yazidi population fled when the Islamic State (ISIS) overran the district in August 2014, committing genocide against the ethnoreligious community.

Various armed forces have vied for control of Shingal since its liberation from the terror group, including the YBS, which is linked to the PKK. The PKK helped save thousands of Yazidis stranded on Mount Shingal in 2014.

The Iraqi army took control of the region in 2017 after the Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum.

Baghdad reached a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on October 9 over the governance and security of the disputed district.

Under the agreement, security for the troubled region will be the responsibility of the federal government, which will establish a new armed force recruiting from the local population and expel the PKK, according to details released on October 10.

Federal forces have been deployed to Shingal to secure the border with Syria, Nineveh province officials confirmed.

“Three brigades of Iraqi federal forces are placed on the border between Shingal and Syria in order to prevent any forces from going back and forth,” Deputy Governor of Ninevah province Sirwan Rozhbeyani told Rudaw on Tuesday.

The presence of PKK-linked groups in the district has brought further instability to the already vulnerable region, with Turkish airstrikes regularly hitting the area as a result of decades-long conflict with the PKK.

Displaced Yazidis and Shingal locals have called for a quick implementation of the agreement, so more Shingalis can return home.

"We ask the Kurdistan Regional Government and the central government to implement this agreement as soon as possible, for us to go back to our homes," Khelif Hassan told Rudaw earlier this month.

Officials in northeast Syria, or Rojava, have recently condemned the deal for its expulsion of non-federal forces.

“The Iraqi government and the Bashur [Kurdistan Region] government handed Shingal to ISIS wolves without a fight,” Head of Movement for a Democratic Society (TEV-DEM) Gharib Haso told Hawar News on Wednesday.

“The PKK defended the people of Shingal out of their humanitarian responsibility, and sacrificed a lot for the Yazidi community,” he added. “This deal does not benefit the Yazidi community.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/251120203

I agree with the establishment of a new armed force consisting solely of the local population

I further wish to see the UN establish a peacekeeping force

The Yazidis are a gentle people who deserve protection

Admittedly, the PKK along with other groups, helped to rescue many Yazidis

NONE of the groups or coalition members acted quickly enough to save many THOUSANDS of lives
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:47 am

14-year-old Yazidi girl married

The marriage of a 51-year-old Yazidi man to a 14-year-old girl has been dissolved after causing controversy, according to a Yazidi official who said the man regrets the marriage

It is not clear when Sheikh Jouqi Salo, from the Doumiz area of Duhok province, married the girl, who is from Shingal. The union was not officially registered and has now been annulled, according to a Yazidi community representative.

“Their marriage has been dissolved,” Jawhar Ali Bag, a deputy to Mir Hazim Tahsin Beg, chief of the Yazidi community, told Rudaw late on Thursday. He said his office contacted Salo, who said he “made a mistake and is sorry and will not repeat such a thing.”

Their marriage was condemned when it became public this week.

According to Khayri Bozani, representative of Yazidis at the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) ministry of endowment, the Yazidi religion does not allow marriage under the age of 18. “What happened was a social affair and is not related to the government,” he told Rudaw.

The minimum age of marriage in the Kurdistan Region is 18, though a 16-year-old can marry with a judge’s order and the consent of their legal guardian. Anyone forcing someone into marriage, can face up to five years in jail.

According to 2018 data from Central Statistics Organization (CSO), which is affiliated with the Iraqi planning ministry, 1.8 percent of women reported marrying under the age of 15 in Duhok province and 8.1 percent reported marrying under the age of 18.

Aid agencies reported an increase in child marriage among displaced populations in difficult socio-economic and living conditions during the war against the Islamic State (ISIS).

Wednesday was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and the start of a 16-day global campaign against gender-based violence (GBV), including child and forced marriage.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/261120201
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 29, 2020 4:38 pm

Armed groups partial compliance

A number of armed groups in Shingal district took down their flags over their offices on Friday and hoisted the Iraqi banner as instructed by the Iraqi government as part of a recent deal between Erbil and Baghdad over governance and security in the disputed region. Some groups, however, have refused to comply with the order

Dawoud Haji is a commander in the Shingal Resistance Units (YBS). He told Rudaw that they took their flag down today in downtown Shingal “as a sign of respect for the Iraqi government after the federal police arrived in the region to implement the deal.”

YBS is affiliated to the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) – an armed group fighting for the rights of Kurds in Turkey. Their positions have been targeted by Turkey many times. Some YBS units have refused to take down their flag.

A half dozen armed groups are operating in the Shingal district. They have been given two days to abide with the order or their flags will be taken down by force.

Baghdad reached a deal with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) on October 9 over the governance and security of Shingal, which is disputed between the two governments.

Implementation of the agreement began last week with the deployment of some 6,000 federal police to the areas of Shingal that border Syria. “Three brigades of Iraqi federal forces are placed on the border between Shingal and Syria in order to prevent any forces from going back and forth,” Deputy Governor of Nineveh province Sirwan Rozhbayani told Rudaw on Tuesday.

Flying only the Iraqi flag is the second phase in the deal that will ultimately put federal forces in full control of Shingal’s security.

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) are also split on compliance with some units taking down their militia flags on Friday but others refusing to do so.

Khal Ali, PMF commander in Shingal, told Rudaw they have taken down their flags and will fully abide by the Erbil-Baghdad deal if all services are restored to the district. “If only the Iraqi flag remains raised in downtown Shingal, a [new] administration is formed to serve people, and municipalities, the mayor's office, schools and hospitals are back to service, then we will support it,” he said.

Yazidi House is a small armed group. It has been based on Mount Shingal since 2014. They fly the Iraqi flag alongside their own and have refused change.

“We want them to respect us and the fact that we have resisted [fought the Islamic State, ISIS]. Therefore, we want them to respect our flag,” said Ibrahim Murad, spokesperson for the force.

Many people in Shingal are opposed to Erbil-Baghdad deal, saying it is an agreement being imposed on the local population who were not consulted. Haso Ibrahim, a YBS commander, warned on Tuesday that forcing implementation of the deal could “return [Shingal] to a period of war like it did in 2014,” referring to the beginning of the ISIS attack on the district.

“The people of Shingal do not want to go back to such a time,” the commander told Rudaw.

Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert, chief of the United Nations Assistance Mission Iraq (UNAMI), said during a virtual meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday that the agreement is “just a very first step.”

It’s a “chapter in which the interests of the people of Shingal will come first; in which reconstruction will be accelerated and public service delivery improved. A chapter in which displaced people of Shingal can return home,” she said.

Thousands of Yazidi families have not been able to return to their homes in the Shingal area, five years after ISIS militants were forced out, because of lack of reconstruction, no basic services, and ongoing insecurity.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/271120203
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Dec 01, 2020 12:37 pm

YBS has agreed to withdraw from Shingal

The Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) have agreed to withdraw its forces from Iraq’s disputed district of Shingal (Sinjar in Arabic) and relocate their forces to Mount Shingal after meetings with Iraqi forces, several local sources confirmed to Rudaw

Now they need to leave Shingal completely

As of Tuesday lunchtime there were conflicting reports of whether the forces will begin withdrawing today from the district’s key towns of Sinune and Khanasor, in addition to the town of Shingal.

Khanasor council leader Dakheel Murad told Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim on Monday that the all-Yezidi force has agreed to comply with a governance and security deal struck in October between federal Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).

Under the Erbil-Baghdad agreement, security for the troubled region will be Baghdad's responsibility. The federal government will have to establish a new armed force recruited from the local population and expel fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and their affiliated groups, according to details released in October.

The YBS, a group affiliated with Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) had until recently stood against the Erbil-Baghdad deal, but meetings have seemingly changed the tone of the group’s leadership. They have yet to release a public statement explaining the decision.

“The YBS has been told to end its military presence in the town of Shingal for now, Khanasor and Sinune will follow after,” Haidar Shasho, commander of the Ezidkhan Protection Force in Shingal, a separate armed group with cordial relations with the YBS, told Rudaw English on Tuesday.

This decision has also caused disagreements within the YBS forces as members of the group have reportedly refused to adhere to the agreement.

Groups of people have reportedly gathered in front of security force offices in Khanasor, Shingal, and Sinune upon hearing news of the decision, calling on the militia group to not leave the areas.

Leadership in YBS had until quite recently expressed firm resistance to the deal.

“If the agreement is implemented, Shingal could return to a period of war like it did in 2014,” Shingal Resistance Units (YBS) commander Haso Ibrahim said in an interview with Rudaw’s Tahsin Qasim on November 24.

Implementation of the agreement began last week with the deployment of some 6,000 federal police to the areas of Shingal that border Syria.

“Three brigades of Iraqi federal forces are placed on the border between Shingal and Syria in order to prevent any forces from going back and forth,” Deputy Governor of Nineveh province Sirwan Rozhbayani told Rudaw on Tuesday.

YBS is one of some six armed groups currently operating in the area.

ALL armed groups should leave the Yazdi homelands

A top analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) has advised against the exclusion of the armed groups from decisions about the area's future.

"There are some tensions around this as it will create a new force and this could potentially be a competition with the others. So it will be very important for the implementation of this agreement to ensure that various factions are either integrated into this force or there are other alternatives to them," the ICG's senior Iraq analyst Lahib Higel told Rudaw in October.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/011220201
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 09, 2020 1:37 am

Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad
Fights for Justice for Yazidis


Nadia Murad is a survivor. In 2014, when she was just 19 years old, ISIS militants carried out a genocide against her Yazidi community, a minority group of 500,000 people in Northern Iraq

Image

During the genocide, ISIS killed Nadia's mother and six of her brothers and half-brothers. Nadia was kidnapped and forced into sexual slavery, along with 6,000 other Yazidi women and girls. She managed to escape and soon after began speaking out about human trafficking and sexual violence.

Today, she is working to bring ISIS to justice for their genocide against the Yazidi community and rebuild what ISIS destroyed in Iraq through her organization Nadia’s Initiative.

This interview with Nadia Murad was conducted by Ambassador Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security at Georgetown University (GIWPS). It originally appeared on GIWPS‘s Seeking Peace podcast.

Melanne Verveer: You grew up in a Yazidi community in the Sinjar district of Iraq. Take our listeners back to your childhood. What was it like growing up in Sinjar?

Nadia Murad: I was born and raised in this small village of Kocho. It’s South of Sinjar Mountain in northern Iraq. My family was large and close, as most families were in Kocho and in other villages in South Sinjar. We lived a simple life. We were farmers who worked the land. My mother, she was the head of our household—and I always looked up to her. She was strong and independent. It was not a common thing in our community. She worked hard to support my family, my siblings. We were 11 siblings, so she worked hard to support us. And she is in large part why I am the person I am today.

Verveer: On Aug. 3, 2014, something terrible happened. ISIS attacked the Mount Sinjar region, killing and kidnaping thousands of members of your community. You and your loved ones were directly affected by this terrible genocide. And fortunately, you managed to escape. Sometime later, you became United Nations goodwill ambassador for the dignity of survivors of human trafficking. What made you to decide to share your experience?

Murad: When I decided to share my experience, it wasn’t easy. I did it because I wanted more than anything to seek justice for my community, family, for my mother. I wanted the world to know what happened to us and to help our community recover, and to take some steps to make sure that what happened would never happen again in Iraq or anywhere else in the world. I’m grateful that my words have reached so many people around the world. Before, not many people knew who the Yazidi were. And now they know what has happened and what has been done to my community. Unfortunately, like many vulnerable communities, once our story disappears or once they said ISIS was defeated. The world leaves us behind and my community continues to suffer. They still need help.

    In 2014, ISIS took the life of my beloved mother. For 6 long years, I & other survivors were denied the right to bury our loved ones with dignity. Today, I am overwhelmed with emotion as the mass grave where she lays beside other Yazidi women is finally exhumed. pic.twitter.com/iY3ZhQeun2
    — Nadia Murad (@NadiaMuradBasee) October 24, 2020
Here at Ms., our team is continuing to report through this global health crisis—doing what we can to keep you informed and up-to-date on some of the most underreported issues of this pandemic. We ask that you consider supporting our work to bring you substantive, unique reporting—we can’t do it without you. Support our independent reporting and truth-telling for as little as $5 per month.

Verveer: What is the status of the Yazidi community today?

Murad: ISIS may have been defeated in Sinjar. But Yazidis, they continue to feel the effects of genocide.

Six years later, over half of the Yazidi community in Iraq is still displaced inside their own country. These people survived genocide and displacement, only to be left in camps without the support they need to return to their homelands and rebuild their lives.

Six years later, no efforts have been made by either the Iraqi government or the international community to rescue these women and children. They feel the world has forgotten them. Despite all of this, Yazidis are returning to Sinjar because the camps are not a solution. They are not sustainable. And Yazidis know they can not stay in that camp forever.

Nadia Murad, at the Nobel Prize 2018, urges the world to protect Yazidis:

Verveer: You teamed up with Amal Clooney to bring justice to the Yazidi community. Tell us about your efforts to take ISIS to the International Criminal Court and what is happening in those efforts?

Murad: As you know, I have been working with Amal Clooney for the past few years to hold ISIS accountable. I am lucky to call her a friend. Working with Amal and the member states at the U.N.—we were able to help create the UNITAD team, which is working to collect evidence of ISIS crimes. We are trying to build cases against ISIS perpetrators. Survivors of sexual violence and the Yazidi community would like to see ISIS held accountable in public court. We want to see countries try their foreign nationals.

Now, only a few of the European countries, including Germany, France and Netherlands, are holding their foreign nationals accountable. Many other states have refused to do so or have tried perpetrators as terrorists.

Nadia Murad’s Speech at UN General Assembly opening session, Sept. 19, 2019

Verveer: You have not stopped for a moment trying to help your people. Tell us about Nadia’s Initiative, the initiative that you have set up to continue to help your community.

Murad: Nadia’s initiative has been working in Sinjar for the past two years. Our primary focus is to rebuild what ISIS destroyed. We have rebuilt many schools and farms, health care centers, homes, water services and electricity. We also have projects that empower women, especially survivors, by providing them with tangible support. Something that is very much needed in the region is a new hospital. We are working on building a new hospital, with the support of the French government and the president Macron. We continue to advocate on behalf of the Yazidi community and survivors of sexual violence. We have worked with the French government to relocate the women and children. I also worked with Canada and Australia to relocate survivors and their families to those countries.

Verveer: It’s so inspiring to hear about what Nadia’s Initiative is doing to understand how critical your work is to continuing to help the community. It’s not possible to do this work, I know, without support. Our listeners are hearing you today and hearing how much need there is. How can they support Nadia’s initiative?

Murad: They can raise awareness on their platforms and they can do it in their communities—talk about the Yazidi case, because our struggle is not over. You can read more about what happened to my community in my book, The Last Girl. You can write to your government leaders and ask them to advocate for Yazidis—and support organizations who are working with Yazidis and survivors of sexual violence.

https://msmagazine.com/2020/12/08/the-m ... -violence/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 12, 2020 2:42 am

Divided, oppressed and abandoned

    The Yazidis are still struggling to survive
Escaping Islamic State was just the beginning

Click image to enlarge:
1280

Like a picture of purity in white robes, white shoes and a white turban, Ali Iliyas emerged from a candle-lit sanctum. He had just been inaugurated as the new Baba Sheikh, or spiritual leader of the Yazidis, on November 18th. Believers gathered at Lalish, a temple in Iraqi Kurdistan, banging drums and tootling flutes to celebrate.

But behind the scenes an unholy row is blazing between Yazidi leaders. The Asayish, or Kurdish police, had to intervene after scuffles broke out at a gathering to announce the new leader. Many Yazidi elders boycotted the temple ceremony. For the first time in its history, the esoteric Yazidi religion faces a schism.

Six years ago Western armies saved the Yazidis from Islamic State (ISIS). The jihadists killed 5,000 of their men and enslaved 5,000-7,000 of their women, mostly to rape. The genocide caused many Yazidis, who number perhaps 1m, to flee abroad. Inside Iraq new pressures are tearing the group apart. :((

Some Yazidis see themselves as part of the larger Kurdish community and have aligned themselves with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which rules Kurdistan. But others blame the KDP for not stopping ISIS. They objected when Mir Hazim Tahsin Beg, a former KDP parliamentarian, was chosen as head of the Yazidis’ spiritual council last year, believing he does the party’s bidding. Nevertheless, it was Mir Hazim who chose the Baba Sheikh.

Many of the disgruntled Yazidis hail from Sinjar, home to a mountain the Yazidis consider holy (see map below). Shia militias, the Iraqi army and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which fights for Kurdish self-rule inside Turkey, hold sway in the area—not the KDP.

A number of Yazidis went to Baghdad in October to meet the prime minister and to protest against Mir Hazim. “He rules like a dictator,” says one of them. Elders within this faction are trying to set up a more representative authority.

Click image to enlarge:
1281

Many Muslims consider Yazidis to be devil-worshippers. The peacock etched on their buildings represents Lucifer, the angel cast from heaven—though in the Yazidi telling he is Malik Taous and has been restored to grace.

In the summer Turkey, the region’s most powerful Sunni state, bombed Sinjar, claiming the Yazidis had teamed up with the PKK, which Turkey considers a terrorist group. In the Turkish-held province of Afrin in Syria, militants have driven Yazidis from their homes and defaced their shrines.

About 40% of Yazidis are thought to have fled to the West. Isolated and cut off from their homeland, many lose their religion. Yazidi elders oppose writing oral traditions down or putting them online. Meanwhile, they rigidly uphold a ban on marrying out.

Some children born of Yazidi women raped by ISIS members are put out of the flock. Other strictures—such as the insistence on marrying inside the Yazidis’ caste system—are impractical among tiny communities abroad. Falling short, many give up altogether. It is common to see Yazidis abroad wearing blue clothes, which is taboo back home.

A little bit of liberalism could solve a lot of these problems. The opponents of Mir Hazim might be satisfied if he accepted a broader and more consultative council. Yazidi elders could ease up on those rules that are all but impossible to follow—and they could start writing things down.

Many Yazidis want other countries to help rebuild Sinjar and guarantee their protection:

    They are not holding their breath

    They cite 74 massacres in their history

    They expect to keep counting
This article appeared in the Middle East & Africa section of the print edition under the headline "Divided, oppressed and abandoned"

https://www.economist.com/middle-east-a ... to-survive
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:05 am

Turkey Must Be Held Accountable
for Its Abuse of Syria’s Yazidis


An August report by the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on the Turkish occupation of northern Syria did not mince words, testifying that there has been a dramatic increase in killings, kidnappings, unlawful transfers of people and seizures of land and properties by the Turkish military and its local Syrian allies. Yet while all segments of northern Syrian society are suffering under Turkish occupation, it is the Yazidis who are most disproportionally affected.

The Yazidis are a non-Muslim, Kurdish-speaking religious minority native to Syria and Iraq. The existence of the Syrian community, numbering roughly 10,000 members mostly along the Turkish border and the city of Afrin, is severely endangered by Turkey and its allies.

According to Dr. Sebastian Maisel, author of “Yezidis in Syria,” “although there is an Afrin community that goes back to almost thousands of years, this is now erased with the removal of all Yazidis from Afrin” due to Turkey’s attack of the city in 2018.

Those who have not been fortunate enough to escape the Turkish occupational zone have suffered severe abuse by the Turkish military and its Islamist allies, including rape and in some cases even enslavement. While the 2014 Yazidi genocide in Iraq brought attention to the group and spurred a US military intervention, Syrian Yazidis remain ignored.

Although the Yazidi community of Syria is small, the horrific abuses that it has suffered under Turkish occupation are a microcosm of a larger story of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s increasing tendency to use military force to achieve his nationalist world vision — all while abusing his relationship with NATO, Europe and the United States by openly contesting, sometimes aggressively, the will of other member states in Libya, Iraq and the eastern Mediterranean.

Yet while Europe and the Trump administration have a habit of appeasing Erdogan, allowing near-total impunity for Turkish military operations in Syria, European leaders have begun to act against the rising threat that Ankara’s leadership poses to regional peace. In April, Germany began its first trial to bring the charge of genocide against a former Islamic State (ISIS) member who took part in the trafficking and abuse of Yazidi women for crimes against the Yazidis.

In May, the European Union’s Genocide Network, established to coordinate member state action against perpetrators, began urging all EU members to prosecute former ISIS members within their borders as war criminals. This offers one possible model for how Turkish and Syrian abusers of the Yazidi population of northern Syria can be brought to justice.

In September, the Netherlands announced that it would hold the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad accountable for a wide range of human rights abuses, applying the standards of the UN Convention Against Torture in an ongoing effort to bring the case to the International Court of Justice (ICJ). If the Netherlands’ attempt to hold the Assad regime accountable succeeds, it would open the way for litigation against Turkish abuses of the Yazidis in Syria. The ICJ route is important because neither Syria nor Turkey is a state party to the International Criminal Court, which can exercise jurisdiction over crimes only when the persons or location involved pertain to a state party.

The plight of Yazidis in Syria has not received as much attention as those of Iraq, but the UN report shows that the UNHRC is monitoring Turkey and its local allies. It may be that if the conflict dies down, abusers and their ringleaders will attempt to relocate to Europe and reinvent themselves — as many former jihadists who fought in Syria have already done. Europe must not let this happen.

While the prosecution of war crimes that occurred in Iraq offers a possible blueprint to use against Turkey’s local Syrian allies, holding accountable the ringleaders, particularly those high up in the Turkish government, may prove to be trickier due to Turkey’s NATO membership. America’s use of Global Magnitsky sanctions earlier this year against Chinese officials responsible for the abuses against the Muslim Uighur minority in Xinjiang offers one possible framework that Washington and Europe can use to hold Turkish officials accountable.

The Magnitsky sanctions against China served two purposes. First, they punished individual human rights abusers (as opposed to an entire country). Second, and perhaps more importantly, they drew international attention to the specific individuals and organizations that commit human rights abuses against Uighurs, helping to turn the Uighur struggle from a relatively obscure issue to a pressing moral question at the forefront of the global public’s attention. The Magnitsky sanctions could help achieve similar results for Syria’s Yazidis.

The time has long passed for Erdogan and his allies to receive any benefit of the doubt. The United States and Europe should impose Magnitsky sanctions on Turkish officials and consider moving to hold them accountable at the ICJ. Failure to act will only further embolden Erdogan and his allies, and send a signal to religious extremists that they can oppress vulnerable minority communities with impunity so long as they have powerful friends like Erdogan on their side.

https://www.fairobserver.com/region/mid ... ews-18271/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 16, 2020 12:13 am

Shingal agreement significant step

Duhok’s governor Ali Tatar has said the agreement between the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and federal government in Baghdad over the disputed district of Shingal is a “significant step” towards rapprochement between Erbil and Baghdad, amid ongoing disputes between the two sides

“It is a very important start if the agreement is signed and implemented properly … it will be the key to resolving many other issues between the Iraqi federal government and the KRG," and “can be a key solution to areas that fall within the Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution,” he said, referring to an article on the final status of territories disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

Baghdad reached a deal with the KRG in October over the governance and security of Shingal, in Nineveh province, to resolve a number of issues preventing displaced Shingalis from returning to the area. Under the Erbil-Baghdad agreement, security for the troubled region will be Baghdad's responsibility. The federal government will have to establish a new armed force recruited from the local population and expel fighters from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and their affiliated groups.

The comments were made during a roundtable discussion hosted by Rudaw’s Research Centre in Duhok on Tuesday. The roundtable was also attended by Jawhar Ali, a representative of the Yazidi prince, Iraqi national security adviser Saeed al-Jiyashi, Mayor of Shingal Mahma Khalil, and Haider Shasho, commander of the Ezidkhan Protection Forces, a Yazidi armed group part of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

Ali praised the importance of the KRG and Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani, saying he “has set up an office to rescue our mothers and sisters from the hands of Daesh, and more than 3,000 people have been rescued so far," using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (ISIS).

Approximately 6,418 Yazidis were kidnapped when ISIS overran the Yazidi heartland of Shingal in August 2014, committing genocide against the small ethnoreligious group. Women and young girls were sold into sexual slavery, with young boys forced to fight for the terror group. According to the Office for Yazidi Abductees' Affairs, 3,542 have been rescued - including 1,204 women.

Ali added that the people of Shingal have become victims of border conflicts between Syria and other international and regionals governments, and hopes the agreement is implemented "as soon as possible,” adding that the district should become part of the Kurdistan Region.

“It is the main way for Shingal to become problem-free,” he said.

Regarding the implementation of the agreement, Jiyashi said “more than 80 percent of external forces" have evacuated Shingal, the evacuation of the remaining forces “is being worked on,” and noted that local police are being recruited and trained.

"The Shingal mountains that have saved us from extinction 74 times are occupied by an illegitimate force, the PKK, which stands in the way of coexistence in Shingal,” said Khalil.

Shasho said he was not aware of the details of the implementation of the agreement, but hoped that “the people of Shingal ,and especially the Yazidis should be the main concern.”

https://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/151220203
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 17, 2020 1:08 am

Sabaya, Documentary on
Yazidi Sex Slaves Held by ISIS


Hot on the heels of its Sundance selection, London-based sales agent and distributor Dogwoof has acquired Hogir Hirori’s documentary “Sabaya” and will shop global rights

The film will receive its world premiere in the World Cinema Documentary section of the 2021 festival. Dogwoof previously repped Hirori’s IDFA-winning documentary “The Deminer” (2017), which follows a former Iraqi soldier on a personal mission to disarm thousands of landmines using just a pocketknife and some wirecutters.

Sabaya” is the term used for individuals abducted and forced into sexual slavery. The film follows Mahmud, Ziyad and their group of fellow Yazidis who, armed with only a mobile phone and a gun, risk their lives trying to save Yazidi women and girls being held by ISIS as Sabaya in the most dangerous camp in the Middle East, Al-Hol in Syria.

“Following a great collaboration with Dogwoof for my previous documentary, ‘The Deminer,’ it was an obvious decision to leave ‘Sabaya’ in their hands. Dogwoof was the first choice for me on both occasions,” said Hirori.

Oli Harbottle, head of distribution and acquisitions for Dogwoof, added: “Ever since working on Hogir’s astonishing previous film ‘The Deminer,’ we’ve been eagerly awaiting his follow-up.

“With ‘Sabaya,’ he has once again delivered an extraordinarily powerful piece of filmmaking which shines a light on some of the heroic work being done in the Middle East to rescue victims of conflict. Few filmmakers achieve this level of access to create such tense and vital storytelling.”

Written and directed by Hirori, the film was produced by Antonio Russo Merenda and Hirori for Lolav Media and Ginestra Film; co-produced by Axel Arnö for SVT, with support from The Swedish Film Institute; Nordisk Film & TV Fond; Film Stockholm/Filmbasen and in association with YLE and VGTV.

Hirori was born in Duhok, Iraqi Kurdistan. In 1999, he fled to Sweden and has been based out of Stockholm ever since.

The filmmaker works as a freelance photographer, editor and director, and runs his own production company, Lolav Media. His previous doc “The Deminer” received the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at IDFA. The film has since travelled to more than 50 international film festivals and aired on more than 30 broadcasters worldwide.

Doc specialist Dogwoof’s recent sales slate includes Greta Thunberg documentary “I Am Greta,” China-set COVID-19 film “76 Days” as well as David Osit’s acclaimed “Mayor.”

https://variety.com/2020/film/global/su ... 234859040/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Dec 18, 2020 2:55 am

Iraqi and Kurdistan’s Sinjar Agreement:

Consequences for U.S., Turkish, and Iranian Influence and Rebel Rivalries - Jamestown

On October 9, the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed the “Sinjar Agreement” to normalize the situation in the war-torn district of Sinjar in northern Iraq.

The agreement stated that only Iraqi federal forces should operate in Sinjar and all other armed groups must leave the town. It also gave the KRG a say on establishing a new local government, including appointing a new mayor, and planning and running reconstruction efforts in Sinjar, including related budgetary matters.

Both the Iraqi government and KRG were struggling to extend their authority into Sinjar town and the larger district of the same name. Since 2017, Sinjar district has been under the control of groups affiliated with the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

Both the PMU and PKK obviously did not welcome the recent Sinjar Agreement between the Iraqi government and KRG, and some PMU and PKK leaders condemned it (Alforat News, October 11; pleasebaghdadtoday.news, October 10).

Nevertheless, on December 1, Iraqi forces entered Sinjar and started taking over positions previously occupied by the PMU and PKK-affiliated groups (Nina News. December 2). The takeover occurred after a series of side negotiations between the Iraqi government, PMU, and PKK that spared Sinjar of renewed military confrontations once Iraqi government forces deployed to Sinjar.

However, the situation remains volatile. Some reports suggest that the PMU and PKK were not committed to either a full withdrawal from Sinjar or compliance with Iraqi government’s authority in Sinjar (Al Araby, November 29).

Sinjar’s Strategic Location

Sinjar is a strategic location for various armed groups and regional powers. For Iran and its Iraqi proxy militias in the PMU, Sinjar is a main crossing between Iraq and Syria. The US, therefore, welcomed the Sinjar Agreement in the hope that restoring Iraqi government and KRG authority in Sinjar would curtail Iranian influence.

Although Iran’s Iraqi proxy militias in the PMU objected to the agreement, Tehran was not quick to condemn it either. Iran has other means of influence in Iraq and might wait to see how events in Sinjar unfold. Similarly, for the PKK, Sinjar has represented the eastern flank of territories controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The main SDF component is the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is a PKK affiliate.

Turkey welcomed the Sinjar Agreement because it reduced YPG/PKK influence, but Turkey will closely track its implementation. Turkey considers the PKK as an existential threat to its national security and previously threatened it would invade Sinjar to drive out the PKK if Iraq was not willing to do so (turkeyalaan.net, October 11). It should be noted that the Sinjar Agreement was preceded by a significant improvement in Turkish relations with Iran and a higher degree of coordination of their activities not only in Iraq, but also in Syria (thenewkhalij.com, June 19).

The Sinjar Massacre’s Legacy

Sinjar was the epicenter of Islamic State (ISIS)’s campaign against the Yazidi community in the summer of 2014. Thousands of Yazidis suffered during mass killings and enslavement by ISIS, which considered Yazidis to be infidels. Yazidi women and girls especially suffered because ISIS captured thousands of them as sex slaves (sabaya).

Sinjar had fallen to ISIS after the KRG’s Kurdish forces (peshmerga) fled ISIS advances, much like the Iraqi army had done in Mosul and other cities. Yazidi civilians who managed to flee Sinjar found their only refuge in the nearby Sinjar Mountain, where PKK fighters were the only force that seemed willing and able to resist ISIS’ major advances (noonpost.com, August 26).

The following months after ISIS’ invasion of Sinjar saw increased fighting between ISIS and the PKK and its affiliates in Syria and Sinjar. In 2015, the PKK then played a key role in the campaign to retake Sinjar from ISIS alongside the KRG’s peshmerga, Iraqi forces, and PMU. In October 2017, relations between the Iraqi government then headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the KRG deteriorated after the latter insisted on holding a referendum on independence.

The referendum was also condemned by Turkey and Iran, which both have their own Kurdish minorities. In retaliation against the KRG for their referendum, the al-Abadi government ordered Iraqi forces, who were alongside the PMU, to expel the peshmerga from Sinjar, as well as other larger disputed areas in Iraq, including Kirkuk (Al Arab, October 18, 2017).

After the KRG’s peshmerga was expelled from Sinjar, the power of PKK-affiliated groups in Sinjar increased, as they now shared control of Sinjar with the PMU. The PKK had already worked to build affiliated militias comprised of Yazidi locals. The largest among those is the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS), which is estimated to have at least 7,000 fighters and was the first militia formed by the PKK in Sinjar in 2014 to combat ISIS.

The other large PKK-affiliated militia is the Ezidkhan Protection Force (EPF), whose leader is Haider Shasho. It is believed to have more than 5,000 members. Besides the YPS and EPF, other smaller Yazidi groups exist, including the National Yazidi Front, which is based in the town of Kojo to the south of Sinjar, and the Lalish Battalion (Al Jazeera, April 23, 2019).

PMU and PKK’s Regional Rivals

In the face of their common regional foes, including the KRG and Turkey, relations between the PMU and PKK were bolstered. A deal between the PMU and PKK was, therefore, designed by PMU leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in 2019 before al-Muhandis was killed in January alongside Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike outside Baghdad international airport. This deal paved the way for YPS and other Sinjar-based PKK-affiliated groups to join the payroll of PMU, which is funded by the federal government in Baghdad (Al Jazeera, April 23, 2019).

Yet, other more recent developments since 2019 led to the Sinjar Agreement. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi assumed office in May 2020 and seemed willing to try to check the PMU’s power. Additionally, relations between the Iraqi government and the KRG have significantly improved since the 2017 referendum crisis.

After the 2018 Iraqi parliamentary elections, the Kurds reclaimed the role they played in Iraqi politics since 2003 and enhanced their position in the federal government. Unlike al-Abadi, the current Iraqi prime minister, al-Kadhimi, has been friendlier with the KRG.

In his previous position as head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (Jihaz al-Mukhabarat), al-Kadhimi reportedly even built a good working relationship with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, who reportedly made a secret visit to Baghdad in June and met senior Iraqi officials (alarab.co.uk, June 13). Turkey is the main backer of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the Barzani family, which is the largest party in the KRG. In Sinjar, the goal of the KRG was to regain at least part of its influence.

Although the Sinjar Agreement does not allow the peshmerga to come back to Sinjar, it does give the KRG, and especially the KDP, an avenue to regain some of their influence in Sinjar. Thus, Turkey also gains more influence in Sinjar via the KDP as a result of the Sinjar Agreement, but it was still more important for Turkey to remove the PKK from Sinjar due to its geographic proximity to Turkey.

Intra-Kurdish Conflict

The Kurds are often mistakenly viewed in the international media as a monolithic group. In reality, however, rival Kurdish groups have differences in their positions and alliances. The situation in Sinjar is a microcosm of these dynamics. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sinjar came under the control of the KDP, which also restored some of its power in the area after ISIS was driven out in 2015.

Mahma Khalil, a local Yazidi politician and member of the KDP, for example, became Sinjar’s mayor. By that time, the PKK and PMU had significant power and influence in Sinjar as well. The 2017 rift between the Iraqi government and KRG subsequently led to the removal of not only the peshmerga from Sinjar, but also the KDP-led local administration and Mahma Khalil, who went into exile in areas controlled by the KDP. The PKK, for its part, moved in to support the appointment of Fahad Hamed Omar as Sinjar’s mayor. This gave the PKK greater influence on Sinjar’s administration.

Sinjar has become the flashpoint of a larger and long-term conflict between the PKK and the KDP. In early November, for example, the PKK launched attacks on the KDP peshmerga, which is under the KRG, in northern Iraq that killed one and injured eight Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters (Aawsat, November 6). KDP leader Massoud Barzani condemned the PKK attacks and threatened that he might reconsider his position of opposing intra-Kurdish infighting (Nas News, November 2).

However, clashes between the Kurds has been far from taboo. The Turkish-supported KDP, for example, joined forces with Turkey in several campaigns against the PKK in Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, since 2003, the KDP and PKK have avoided direct military confrontations.

The PKK, meanwhile, also fought Iraqi federal forces in March (Al Arabiya, March 18, 2019). This was because confronting the PKK, especially in Sinjar, became a priority for both Iraqi federal government forces and the KRG by that time as a result of Turkish pressure that has always loomed in the background.

Turkey has offered Iraq its support to expel the PKK from Sinjar, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened in 2018 that his forces would invade Sinjar to drive out the PKK if Iraq took no action (Al Araby, March 19, 2018). Thus, Iraq was compelled to take action in Sinjar, and the PKK responded.

PKK, PMU and Sunni Arabs’ Perspectives Under the Specter of ISIS

The PKK might prefer not to challenge the initial implementation of the Sinjar Agreement militarily, but only on the local administrative level. Many in the Yazidi community resent the KRG and remember how its forces retreated from Sinjar without protection when ISIS invaded in the summer of 2014. On the contrary, Yazidis embraced the PKK because it provided them with the only refuge at the darkest hour in their history.

The PMU was also not pleased with the Sinjar Agreement. The leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous—AAH), Qais al-Khazali, leads an almost entirely Shia group. However, he has based his argument against the Sinjar Agreement on the grounds that it is against the interest of the Yazidis (alquds.co.uk, October 11).

That the Sinjar Agreement was opposed by Sunni Arabs in Ninawa was also notable. They allege the Sinjar Agreement ignores their demands and the current situation (iqiraq.news, October 11). This is because when the Yazidis returned to Sinjar in 2015—armed and supported by the PKK and PMU—almost all Sunni Arabs from the area became displaced.

The Yazidis, meanwhile, accuse those Sunni tribes of having embraced ISIS. Acts of revenge took place against Sunnis, who obviously deny the accusation of having supported ISIS. That dimension of the conflict indicates how complex the situation is in and around Sinjar.

The UN, meanwhile, welcomed the Sinjar Agreement as a means to normalize the situation on the ground in order to pave the way for the return of displaced people. However, that goal will take much more than a single agreement. Increased disenfranchisement and suffering for the Sunni displaced people always keeps the door open for ISIS to exploit the situation in Sinjar and beyond.

The Turkey-Iran Tango

The mutual PKK and PMU influences and interests in Sinjar makes it one of the most dynamic areas in Iraq today. Both the PKK and PMU have built relations with the local Yazidi community in a way that would make it difficult for the Iraqi government and KRG to restore full control of the area. However, much will depend on Iran’s strategic decisions.

The Sinjar Agreement was facilitated by recent coordination between Turkey and Iran. The latter shows some understanding for Turkey’s concerns about the PKK. And as Turkey launched a campaign against PKK positions inside Iraq in the summer of 2020, Iran also attacked its own Kurdish PKK-linked rebels inside of Iraq called The Kurdistan Free Life Party, or PJAK (Aawsat, June 18).

While Turkey has historically supported the KDP in the KRG, Iran has supported its rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is led by the Talibani family. The usual friendly position of Iran and the PUK towards the PKK seems to have changed recently in favor of greater coordination with Turkey. Sinjar will, therefore, be the place to test that trend.

The Iranian-backed PMU and PUK position in Sinjar will depend on how much Iran is willing to concede to Turkey. Iran is unlikely to easily abandon Sinjar as it remains one of its crossings between Iraq and Syria. But Iran has clearly chosen to cooperate with Turkey as part of a larger strategy that involves the two countries’ agreements in Syria, which is another country where they have conflicting interests and have supported opposing parties.

For now, all parties are seemingly consolidating their positions in Sinjar, while closely monitoring developments in Syria, and also awaiting the possible changes in strategy that the incoming U.S. administration may introduce in 2021.

Under ISIS’s strict interpretation of Islamic sharia law, the Yazidi faith is not recognized as a monotheistic faith. Unlike Jews and Christians, who could live as second-class citizens under Islamic rule after paying a protection tax called jizya, Yazidis were considered infidels, or kafir. The ISIS ruling on the Yazidis when they were captured at war was to kill all adult males and enslave all women and children.

The PMU is dominated by Iranian-backed Shia militias, but it is also an official part of the Iraqi armed forces.

Al-Kadhimi assumed office in May after bloody street protests in Baghdad and the Shia south of Iraq against Iranian-backed political parties. Iran did not oppose the secular Shia politician, al-Khadimi. Although al-Khadimi has not delivered on his promises to fully take responsibility for Iraqi security and control Iranian-backed militias, he has shown that he is willing at least to try to fulfill that difficult and complicated mission.

Barzani’s party and its main rival in Iraqi Kurdistan, the PUK, which is led by the family of late former Iraqi president Jalal Talabani, engaged in years of civil war between 1993 and 1998. This occurred after the Kurdistan region fell outside the authority of Baghdad and under the U.S. and Western protection of a no-fly zone. Thousands were killed in the conflict that only ended when Barzani and Talabani signed a U.S.-mediated peace agreement on September 17, 1998 at the State Department in Washington, D.C. alongside then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Since 2003, the KDP and PKK have avoided direct major military confrontations. However, fighting between the two groups has become more frequent recently, including as this article went to press. Both groups blame each other for the violence.

Author’s interview with a Yazidi journalist, who preferred to remain anonymous on December 2, 2020.

https://jamestown.org/program/the-iraqi ... rivalries/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Dec 23, 2020 1:50 am

Iraqi And Kurdistan's Sinjar Agreement

Consequences For US, Turkish And Iranian Influence And Rebel Rivalries

On October 9, the Iraqi government headed by Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi and the semi-autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) signed the “Sinjar Agreement” to normalize the situation in the war-torn district of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The agreement stated that only Iraqi federal forces should operate in Sinjar and all other armed groups must leave the town. It also gave the KRG a say on establishing a new local government, including appointing a new mayor, and planning and running reconstruction efforts in Sinjar, including related budgetary matters.

Both the Iraqi government and KRG were struggling to extend their authority into Sinjar town and the larger district of the same name. Since 2017, Sinjar district has been under the control of groups affiliated with the Iranian-backed Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) and Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Both the PMU and PKK obviously did not welcome the recent Sinjar Agreement between the Iraqi government and KRG, and some PMU and PKK leaders condemned it.

Nevertheless, on December 1, Iraqi forces entered Sinjar and started taking over positions previously occupied by the PMU and PKK-affiliated groups (Nina News. December 2). The takeover occurred after a series of side negotiations between the Iraqi government, PMU, and PKK that spared Sinjar of renewed military confrontations once Iraqi government forces deployed to Sinjar. However, the situation remains volatile. Some reports suggest that the PMU and PKK were not committed to either a full withdrawal from Sinjar or compliance with Iraqi government’s authority in Sinjar.

Sinjar’s Strategic Location

Sinjar is a strategic location for various armed groups and regional powers. For Iran and its Iraqi proxy militias in the PMU, Sinjar is a main crossing between Iraq and Syria. The US, therefore, welcomed the Sinjar Agreement in the hope that restoring Iraqi government and KRG authority in Sinjar would curtail Iranian influence.

Although Iran’s Iraqi proxy militias in the PMU objected to the agreement, Tehran was not quick to condemn it either. Iran has other means of influence in Iraq and might wait to see how events in Sinjar unfold. Similarly, for the PKK, Sinjar has represented the eastern flank of territories controlled by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The main SDF component is the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which is a PKK affiliate.

Turkey welcomed the Sinjar Agreement because it reduced YPG/PKK influence, but Turkey will closely track its implementation. Turkey considers the PKK as an existential threat to its national security and previously threatened it would invade Sinjar to drive out the PKK if Iraq was not willing to do so (turkeyalaan.net, October 11). It should be noted that the Sinjar Agreement was preceded by a significant improvement in Turkish relations with Iran and a higher degree of coordination of their activities not only in Iraq, but also in Syria (thenewkhalij.com, June 19).

The Sinjar Massacre’s Legacy

Sinjar was the epicenter of Islamic State (ISIS)’s campaign against the Yazidi community in the summer of 2014. Thousands of Yazidis suffered during mass killings and enslavement by ISIS, which considered Yazidis to be infidels. Yazidi women and girls especially suffered because ISIS captured thousands of them as sex slaves (sabaya). Sinjar had fallen to ISIS after the KRG’s Kurdish forces (peshmerga) fled ISIS advances, much like the Iraqi army had done in Mosul and other cities. Yazidi civilians who managed to flee Sinjar found their only refuge in the nearby Sinjar Mountain, where PKK fighters were the only force that seemed willing and able to resist IS’ major advances.

The following months after ISIS’ invasion of Sinjar saw increased fighting between ISISA and the PKK and its affiliates in Syria and Sinjar. In 2015, the PKK then played a key role in the campaign to retake Sinjar from ISIS alongside the KRG’s peshmerga, Iraqi forces, and PMU. In October 2017, relations between the Iraqi government then headed by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the KRG deteriorated after the latter insisted on holding a referendum on independence. The referendum was also condemned by Turkey and Iran, which both have their own Kurdish minorities. In retaliation against the KRG for their referendum, the al-Abadi government ordered Iraqi forces, who were alongside the PMU, to expel the peshmerga from Sinjar, as well as other larger disputed areas in Iraq, including Kirkuk.

After the KRG’s peshmerga was expelled from Sinjar, the power of PKK-affiliated groups in Sinjar increased, as they now shared control of Sinjar with the PMU. The PKK had already worked to build affiliated militias comprised of Yazidi locals. The largest among those is the Sinjar Resistance Units (YPS), which is estimated to have at least 7,000 fighters and was the first militia formed by the PKK in Sinjar in 2014 to combat ISIS. The other large PKK-affiliated militia is the Ezidkhan Protection Force (EPF), whose leader is Haider Shasho. It is believed to have more than 5,000 members. Besides the YPS and EPF, other smaller Yazidi groups exist, including the National Yazidi Front, which is based in the town of Kojo to the south of Sinjar, and the Lalish Battalion.

PMU and PKK’s Regional Rivals

In the face of their common regional foes, including the KRG and Turkey, relations between the PMU and PKK were bolstered. A deal between the PMU and PKK was, therefore, designed by PMU leader, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, in 2019 before al-Muhandis was killed in January alongside Iranian General Qasem Soleimani in a U.S. airstrike outside Baghdad international airport. This deal paved the way for YPS and other Sinjar-based PKK-affiliated groups to join the payroll of PMU, which is funded by the federal government in Baghdad.

Yet, other more recent developments since 2019 led to the Sinjar Agreement. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi assumed office in May 2020 and seemed willing to try to check the PMU’s power. Additionally, relations between the Iraqi government and the KRG have significantly improved since the 2017 referendum crisis. After the 2018 Iraqi parliamentary elections, the Kurds reclaimed the role they played in Iraqi politics since 2003 and enhanced their position in the federal government. Unlike al-Abadi, the current Iraqi prime minister, al-Kadhimi, has been friendlier with the KRG.

In his previous position as head of the Iraqi Intelligence Service (Jihaz al-Mukhabarat), al-Kadhimi reportedly even built a good working relationship with his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, who reportedly made a secret visit to Baghdad in June and met senior Iraqi officials (alarab.co.uk, June 13). Turkey is the main backer of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) led by the Barzani family, which is the largest party in the KRG. In Sinjar, the goal of the KRG was to regain at least part of its influence. Although the Sinjar Agreement does not allow the peshmerga to come back to Sinjar, it does give the KRG, and especially the KDP, an avenue to regain some of their influence in Sinjar. Thus, Turkey also gains more influence in Sinjar via the KDP as a result of the Sinjar Agreement, but it was still more important for Turkey to remove the PKK from Sinjar due to its geographic proximity to Turkey.

Intra-Kurdish Conflict

The Kurds are often mistakenly viewed in the international media as a monolithic group. In reality, however, rival Kurdish groups have differences in their positions and alliances. The situation in Sinjar is a microcosm of these dynamics. After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, Sinjar came under the control of the KDP, which also restored some of its power in the area after IS was driven out in 2015. Mahma Khalil, a local Yazidi politician and member of the KDP, for example, became Sinjar’s mayor. By that time, the PKK and PMU had significant power and influence in Sinjar as well. The 2017 rift between the Iraqi government and KRG subsequently led to the removal of not only the peshmerga from Sinjar, but also the KDP-led local administration and Mahma Khalil, who went into exile in areas controlled by the KDP. The PKK, for its part, moved in to support the appointment of Fahad Hamed Omar as Sinjar’s mayor. This gave the PKK greater influence on Sinjar’s administration.

Sinjar has become the flashpoint of a larger and long-term conflict between the PKK and the KDP. In early November, for example, the PKK launched attacks on the KDP peshmerga, which is under the KRG, in northern Iraq that killed one and injured eight Iraqi Kurdish peshmerga fighters (Aawsat, November 6). KDP leader Massoud Barzani condemned the PKK attacks and threatened that he might reconsider his position of opposing intra-Kurdish infighting.

However, clashes between the Kurds has been far from taboo. The Turkish-supported KDP, for example, joined forces with Turkey in several campaigns against the PKK in Iraq in the 1990s and early 2000s. However, since 2003, the KDP and PKK have avoided direct military confrontations.

The PKK, meanwhile, also fought Iraqi federal forces in March (Al Arabiya, March 18, 2019). This was because confronting the PKK, especially in Sinjar, became a priority for both Iraqi federal government forces and the KRG by that time as a result of Turkish pressure that has always loomed in the background. Turkey has offered Iraq its support to expel the PKK from Sinjar, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened in 2018 that his forces would invade Sinjar to drive out the PKK if Iraq took no action (Al Araby, March 19, 2018). Thus, Iraq was compelled to take action in Sinjar, and the PKK responded.

PKK, PMU and Sunni Arabs’ Perspectives Under the Specter of ISIS

The PKK might prefer not to challenge the initial implementation of the Sinjar Agreement militarily, but only on the local administrative level. Many in the Yazidi community resent the KRG and remember how its forces retreated from Sinjar without protection when ISIS invaded in the summer of 2014. On the contrary, Yazidis embraced the PKK because it provided them with the only refuge at the darkest hour in their history.

The PMU was also not pleased with the Sinjar Agreement. The leader of Asa’ib Ahl al-Haq (League of the Righteous—AAH), Qais al-Khazali, leads an almost entirely Shia group. However, he has based his argument against the Sinjar Agreement on the grounds that it is against the interest of the Yazidis.

That the Sinjar Agreement was opposed by Sunni Arabs in Ninawa was also notable. They allege the Sinjar Agreement ignores their demands and the current situation. This is because when the Yazidis returned to Sinjar in 2015—armed and supported by the PKK and PMU—almost all Sunni Arabs from the area became displaced. The Yazidis, meanwhile, accuse those Sunni tribes of having embraced ISIS. Acts of revenge took place against Sunnis, who obviously deny the accusation of having supported ISIS. That dimension of the conflict indicates how complex the situation is in and around Sinjar.

The UN, meanwhile, welcomed the Sinjar Agreement as a means to normalize the situation on the ground in order to pave the way for the return of displaced people. However, that goal will take much more than a single agreement. Increased disenfranchisement and suffering for the Sunni displaced people always keeps the door open for ISIS to exploit the situation in Sinjar and beyond.

The Turkey-Iran Tango

The mutual PKK and PMU influences and interests in Sinjar makes it one of the most dynamic areas in Iraq today. Both the PKK and PMU have built relations with the local Yazidi community in a way that would make it difficult for the Iraqi government and KRG to restore full control of the area. However, much will depend on Iran’s strategic decisions. The Sinjar Agreement was facilitated by recent coordination between Turkey and Iran. The latter shows some understanding for Turkey’s concerns about the PKK. And as Turkey launched a campaign against PKK positions inside Iraq in the summer of 2020, Iran also attacked its own Kurdish PKK-linked rebels inside of Iraq called The Kurdistan Free Life Party, or PJAK.

While Turkey has historically supported the KDP in the KRG, Iran has supported its rival, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which is led by the Talibani family. The usual friendly position of Iran and the PUK towards the PKK seems to have changed recently in favor of greater coordination with Turkey. Sinjar will, therefore, be the place to test that trend.

The Iranian-backed PMU and PUK position in Sinjar will depend on how much Iran is willing to concede to Turkey. Iran is unlikely to easily abandon Sinjar as it remains one of its crossings between Iraq and Syria. But Iran has clearly chosen to cooperate with Turkey as part of a larger strategy that involves the two countries’ agreements in Syria, which is another country where they have conflicting interests and have supported opposing parties.

For now, all parties are seemingly consolidating their positions in Sinjar, while closely monitoring developments in Syria, and also awaiting the possible changes in strategy that the incoming U.S. administration may introduce in 2021.

ttps://www.eurasiareview.com/23122020-i ... -analysis/
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Dec 24, 2020 12:39 am

Syria’s Afrin Yazidis Fearful
Following Recent Attacks


Yazidi community members in northwest Syria say they are in a state of fear after Turkey-backed Islamist rebels in control of the area launched a weeklong blockade and arrest campaign against the religious minority in Afrin

The campaign started this month after an explosion near the two predominantly Yazidi villages of Basoufan and Ba’ay in southern Afrin targeted a leader of Faylaq al-Sham, an alliance of rebel groups operating under the umbrella of the Turkish-backed National Front of Liberation.

Following the explosion, the injured leader was taken to the hospital, and the militant group besieged Basoufan, imposed a curfew on its residents and arrested more than 30 Yazidis from the villages in the area.

Hisham, a displaced Yazidi lawyer from Basoufan who preferred not to disclose his full name for safety reasons, told VOA those who were detained have faced verbal abuse and beatings. He said most of the villagers were later released, except for a woman who was in poor health because of physical abuse she had suffered.

“These practices are taking place daily against all Afrin residents, and mainly against minorities like Yazidis,” said Hisham, adding that the Basoufan woman had been repeatedly harassed for years because one of her sons was killed fighting against the Islamist groups during the Turkish invasion of Afrin in early 2018. “They do not tolerate minorities living in the area.”

Yazidis, a Kurdish-speaking religious minority, are viewed as heretics by Islamist groups. During the 2014 onslaught on the Yazidi town of Sinjar in Iraq, IS fighters killed scores of Yazidi men and kidnapped several thousand women and girls as sex slaves in atrocities that amounted to genocide, according to the United Nations.

Yazidi rights activists say their community in Afrin has faced a similar fate, with Islamist groups confiscating their lands, forcing them to convert or leave the area

"We were afraid from the threats these militants impose,” said activist Hisham. He fled with his wife and two children from Basoufan to Aleppo as Turkey-backed militias advanced into the town in January 2018 to remove Kurdish fighters affiliated with the People’s Protection Units (YPG).

“We saw what happened to Yazidis in Sinjar in 2014,” Hisham told VOA. “These groups carry the same extremist thought as IS and commit the same actions. The violations we are seeing today against Yazidis and all Afrin residents prove that our fears came true.”

Basoufan was home to nearly 3,500 Yazidis before the Turkish offensive. According to local sources, the majority of the residents have since fled the village; about 200 people remain, mostly elderly.

Plea for protection

Earlier in December, 25 Yazidi rights groups issued a statement following the attack on Basoufan, pleading for international protection for the minority in Afrin.

“Faylaq al-Sham militants raided the village after its Yazidi residents didn’t respond to calls to convert to Islam,” the statement said. “The armed faction has been conducting recurring arrest campaigns targeting Yazidis every now and then, to intimidate them into leaving their village.”

In the past two years, Afrin reportedly has seen a major decrease in minority populations, including Yazidis, Christians and Alawites.

According to local rights groups, out of 25,000 Yazidis who lived in 22 villages of Afrin before the 2018 Turkish invasion, just 5,000 remaintoday.

‘Propaganda’

The Turkish government has repeatedly rejected claims of abuse against civilians in Afrin, saying its military targets only the YPG, which is viewed by Ankara as an extension of the Turkey-based Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), an organization considered terrorist by Turkey and the United States. The YPG, however, has been a key U.S. partner in the fight against IS.

“The real and imminent threat against the people of Afrin has always been originating from PKK/YPG,” Turkey’s embassy in Washington told VOA in a statement.

Accusing Kurdish militants of “black propaganda,” it said Afrin “enjoys a more stable, secure and pluralistic life” under the rule of Turkey-backed rebels.

Attacks that included shelling, rocket fire and vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices "against innocent civilians in Afrin aim at fueling [such] propaganda” that territories under rebel control are unstable, the statement said.

The Turkish Embassy added that the Syrian Interim Government, a self-styled, Turkish-backed Syrian opposition body, “thoroughly” investigates allegations of human rights violations in the region.

Demographic change

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria in a report in September said it documented “corroborated systematic patterns” of looting and property appropriation by different Syrian National Army brigades in Afrin and Ra’s al-Ayn.

“In April 2020, several Yazidi shrines and graveyards were deliberately looted and partially destroyed across locations throughout the Afrin region, such as Qastel Jindo, Qibar, Jindayris and Sharran, further challenging the precarious existence of the Yazidi community as a religious minority in Syrian National Army-controlled regions, and impacting both the tangible and intangible aspects of their cultural heritage, including traditional practices and rites,” the report said.

Some Syrian human rights watchdogs claim the violations over the years are an intentional attempt by Turkey-backed groups to force minority groups into leaving the area and replace them with rebel families who had fled from other parts of Syria.

“These actions are a systematic policy against minorities in the region,” said Ibrahim Sheiko, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Organization, a group that documents violations in Afrin.

“What they did against Yazidis is a religious prosecution to push the residents to get out, and to settle displaced people from other areas,” he told VOA.

Sheiko said minority members often are accused of collaborating with Kurdish fighters, and then they are locked in prisons where they face torture.

He said one of the local prisons in Afrin was holding 300 to 400 detainees, including Yazidis.

“These attacks against Yazidis won’t stop until they empty the area of all Yazidis,” Sheiko said.

https://www.voanews.com/extremism-watch ... nt-attacks
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Dec 25, 2020 12:17 am

Northern town brutalized by ISIS

One by one, the flags belonging to a patchwork of armed forces were lowered in a northern Iraqi town once brutalized by the Islamic State group. The territorial claims symbolized by each were replaced by the fluttering of just one: The Iraqi state’s

The hoisting of the national flag in Sinjar, home to Iraq’s Yazidi religious minority, is the result of a deal months in the making for the federal government to restore order from a tangled web of paramilitaries, who sowed chaos in the district during the bedlam following liberation from IS three years ago.

This month, Iraq’s army deployed there for the first time since the 2003 fall of Saddam Hussein.

Lt. Imad Hasan hiked up a rocky ascent overlooking the deserted ruins of Sinjar’s old town, vacant since IS was dislodged. His gaze fell on a lookout on the other side of the mountain — the last, he said, that belongs to a local affiliate of an outlawed Kurdish guerrilla group, known as the PKK.

“We have problems with them,” he said. “Their leaders have agreed to withdraw, but some of their fighters have not.”

Sealing the deal was hard enough. Implementing it brings new problems. Critics say it will take more than a change of flags to cement rule of law in Sinjar.

The Yazidis, traumatized by the mass killing and enslavement that ISIS unleashed against them, have no trust in the Iraqi authorities they say abandoned them to the militants’ brutality. With the central government weak, they fear militias — including Iranian-backed Shiite factions — will gain sway over them.

The militias policing Sinjar the past three years are a mix. They include peshmerga fighters from Iraq’s Kurdish autonomy zone, as well as the PKK and its affiliate made up of local Yazidi fighters, called the Sinjar Resistance Units or YBS. There are also Yazidi units belonging to the Popular Mobilization Forces, an umbrella group of state-sanctioned paramilitaries created in 2014 to defeat ISIS.

There are signs of recovery of Sinjar. Its city center hummed with shoppers, merchants — and the odd Iraqi army tank. More of the 200,000 Yazidis displaced by the 2014 ISIS onslaught are coming back — some 21,600 returning between June to September, many times the rate of previous years.

But scratch the surface, and almost everyone harbors raw, unresolved trauma. Everyone vividly recalls the ISIS attack that murdered fathers and sons, enslaved thousands of women and sent survivors fleeing up Sinjar mountain.

In Sinjar’s market, a farmer, Zaidan Khalaf, introduced himself first by telling The Associated Press how many relatives he lost under ISIS: 18. Others in the market did the same.

“We lost our dignity,” he said.

Communities remain deeply divided and bitterly resentful of one another.

“What agreement?” scoffed Farzo Mato Sabo, an 86-year-old in the predominantly Yazidi village of Tal Binat, south of Sinjar. She and her three daughters were taken by ISIS militants and later saved by smugglers. Eleven of her family members are still unaccounted for.

“I lost everyone,” she sobbed. “Will it bring them back?”

Neighboring Tal Binat is the Sunni Arab village of Khailo.

“We used to be like brothers, but now the Yazidis stay away from us,” said a tribal elder, Sheikh Naif Ibrahim. “They can’t distinguish between civilians and IS members.”

Many Yazidis accuse local Sunni Arabs of supporting ISIS. Since the militants’ fall, Sunni Arabs have had frictions with Yazidi militias — and a number of Sunnis have been killed. At the same time, many Yazidis reject the Kurdish peshmerga, who consider the Sinjar area part of their domain.

“Seven flags ruled over us, you never knew who had power over you which day,” said Khalaf, the farmer.

The U.N. has focused on the return of displaced Yazidis, but this is not the only criterion for success, said Sajad Jiyad, a fellow at The Century Foundation. “It’s about services, schools, security and the ability to move around without being shaken down by various groups,” he said.

“This is a test for the effectiveness of post-war governance and post-war liberation,” he said. “Is the government prepared enough to allow the return to normalcy?”

The Iraqi military will secure the area for now, with other factions leaving their positions, although many remain in the Sinjar area. Under the plan, the Kurdish authority is to appoint a mayor — a prospect many Yazidis oppose — and local police are eventually to take over security, working under the government’s intelligence agency and National Security Adviser. The plan calls for 2,500 new security personnel to be hired locally.

Most Yazidi leaders and residents interviewed said they were irate the community was not consulted by the government in the making of the plan.

“We are the ones who sacrificed, lost our lives,” said Fahed Hamed, Sinjar’s district mayor. “We should have been the main interlocutors.”

“We want a force from our own. We don’t trust anyone.”

The force most trusted by locals is a faction the plan seeks to eject — the YBS, whose fighters are largely Sinjar Yazidis. While other forces retreated from the IS onslaught in 2014, many recall it was the YBS that fought to secure a safe route for civilians.

“They were the only ones who stayed to protect us,” said Sherko Khalaf, a Yazidi village mukhtar.

Despite protests by locals, negotiations led to the withdrawal of YBS from Sinjar’s city center.

YBS fighters interviewed said they expected to be subsumed as a unit of the Popular Mobilization Forces, providing them with much-needed political legitimacy. A portion of the 2,500-3,500 YBS fighters are already on the PMF payroll.

In theory, the plan calls for the PMF to end its presence in the city as well. To date, they are supporting forces and securing Sinjar’s peripheries. But Khal Ali, the commander of the Lalish Brigades, a Yazidi unit of the group, told the AP, “The (PMF) will stay forever, we are kings over the heads of the security forces in Sinjar.”

That prospect has divided Yazidis. Some want Yazidi PMF factions included in the security arrangement. Others fear it will bring Sinjar under the influence of the Shiite Arab factions close to Iran that dominate the umbrella group.

“If the international community and central government don’t care about Sinjar, the PMF will take control,” one prominent Yazidi leader said, requesting anonymity to speak freely. “This is clear.”

https://apnews.com/article/Islamic-Stat ... f1402f3607
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Re: Yazidi UPDATES genocide has occurred and is ongoing

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Dec 26, 2020 1:10 am

Young Yazidi survivors of ISIS
want to go back to school


Young people who survived Islamic State (ISIS) captivity say they have not been able to resume their formal education for years while living at camps for the internally displaced in the Kurdistan Region

Malik Maraan, a 13-year-old Yazidi, wants to be a dentist when he grows up. But like thousands of other Yazidis, he was taken captive by ISIS in 2014 with his family when he was in the second grade.

Malik now lives in Rwanga camp in Duhok province with his cousin. The rest of his family has been missing since they were kidnapped from the the village of Kocho in Nineveh province, he said while appearing on Rudaw’s Berpirsiyar program.

“I wanted to go back to school with my friends, but they told me that I have grown up and cannot return,” Malik told Berpirsiyar host Shahyan Tahseen on Thursday.

Shirin Ibrahim, now 20 years old, was in the eighth grade when she was taken captive by ISIS. She said she has missed out on a formal education ever since.

“I tried several times to return to school, but the education directorate rejected my requests,” Shirin said.

The spokesperson for Iraq’s Ministry of Education put accelerated learning forward as a solution to the plight of young Yazidis missing out on a formal education.

“The accelerated learning method serves people like Malik, as they will be able to catch up with their peers,” spokesperson Haidar Faruq told Rudaw.

“If he goes back to second grade at the age of 13, he won’t graduate from primary school until the age of 17. But with accelerated learning, he will be able to finish two or even three grades in a shorter period of time.”

The education ministry has paired up with global humanitarian organization Mercy Corps in a program called “Your right is in education”, to help students like Malik catch up on missed schooling, Faruq said.

“The aim of this program is to make education accessible to places struck by poverty, or post-conflict areas,” he added.

https://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/25122020
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