In the recent days the Iraqi federal government and smaller battalions of the Iran led Hashd al Shaabi have moved military gear towards the district Shingal and Shingal city.
On the 25th of April 2022 at approximately 18:30 MEZ (19:30 local time) the Iraqi federal army has begun to deploy troops and APCs (Armored Personnel Carriers) into the city center of Shingal. Several roundabouts and check points have been peacefully handed over from the local police forces under the Iraqi federal government to the Iraqi federal army.
A large contingent of the Iraqi federal army is waiting outside of the city Shingal, awaiting an attack order by the Iraqi federal government if the local Ezidi forces (mainly the YBS) do not give up their arms and disband their self defense forces.
The move by the Iraqi federal government to occupy and reintegrate the district into the Iraqi federal government even by military means, has been agreed upon by the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi Federal Government in October 2020. Under this agreement the Iraqi Federal Government and the Kurdistan Regional Government have decided that the local self defense forces, mainly the YBS, have to be disbanded. The governance of the district of Shingal and the protection of the Ezidi religious minority in Iraq will be the responsibility of the Iraqi Federal Government.
Representatives from the Ezidi community and military leaders of the YBS have not been asked to attend the Shingal Agreement meeting nor have they been consulted to state what the Ezidis want.
What happened in Shingal? – A quick overview
In august 2014 after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has attacked and conquered large parts of Iraq including Ramadi, Fallujah and Iraq’s second largest city Mosul, they launched a massive offensive to conquer the district Shingal and prosecute the Ezidi religious minority. Even though under the Iraqi federal law the Iraqi army is responsible for the security and protection of the district Shingal. The Iraqi army quickly disbanded and fled the district Shingal after ISIS took over Mosul. With many elements of the Iraqi army joining the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
The KRGs Peshmerga under the leader and ownership of the KDP have then tried to fill in the security void between Mosul and Shingal but did not deploy enough troops nor did they deploy heavy weaponry. As a result of this strategic miscalculation and lack of planning the lines of defense were spread very thin and could not withstand any attack.
When the Islamic State attacked the district Shingal in August 2014, the KDPs Peshmerga were hopelessly outgunned and thus, in an act that is considered the most shameful act of the Peshmerga since the establishment of the KRG in 2003, the KDPs Peshmerga have decided to abandon Shingal and leave the Ezidi minority up to their fate.
Soon after the arrival of the Islamic State in the sub districts of Shingal countless massacres started. Anyone who did not immediately convert to Islam was executed. The Ezidi woman of Shingal were forcefully abducted and used as sex slaves. The children of the Ezidis were taken into the ranks of the Islamic state to be trained as combatants and suicide bombers.
The alarmed Ezidi population quickly made a desperate attempt to flee the Islamic States soldiers by seeking shelter in the mountains of Shingal. The Ezidi population was quickly encircled by the Islamic State on the mountains of Shingal and had no access to food or water. Countless Ezidis starved to death or died of thirst.
The YPG (self-protection-forces of the Kurds in Rojava-Syria) and units of the HPG (military branch of the PKK) quickly reacted to this humanitarian catastrophe and fought open a corridor into the mountains of Shingal to evacuate the Ezidis into Rojava-Syria.
As part of the resistance of the Ezidi minority against the Islamic State, each present force in Shingal has formed militias that recruited local Ezidi people who were willing to fight.
Mainly 2 militias have been formed by the 2 largest influential forces in Shingal
- The YBS (Yekîneyên Berxwedana Şingal – Resistance units of Shingal) formerly known as the Tausi/Tewis Malek Brigade has been formed and trained by experienced fighters of the YPG.
The YBS declared that they´re an independent force which exists solely for the protection of the Ezidi people. As they were equipped and trained by the YPG and the HPG, they hold close relationships with both forces but emphasis that they act independently.
As the YBS mostly teaches the philosophy/politics of Abdullah Öcalan the KDP and the Turkish State declare them to be PKK led forces.
- The HPS (Hêza Parastina Êzîdxanê – Protection units of Ezidxan) formerly known as the Hêza Parastina Şingal brigade (Protection units of Shingal) has been formed by the Shesho family in cooperation with the HPG and the YPG. The HPS later on reluctantly joined the command structure of the Peshmerga and became part of the KDPs Peshmerga units.
The HPS chose a more nationalistic approach which declared the Ezidis to be nation of their own (Ezidxan) and seek out autonomy from the Iraqi Federal government. This approach however was largely dismissed after the HPS joined the command structure of the KDP Peshmerga to act as a counter force to the YBS.
As Shingal was liberated by a coalition of all present forces in Iraq in late 2015, the Ezidi minority was safe but felt unsafe due to the emerging power struggle between said forces in Shingal.
The KRG under the leadership of the KDP claimed ownership and sole governance of the district of Shingal, however as the Ezidis felt massively betrayed by the Peshmerga forces, they refused all cooperation with them and decided to govern and protect themselves under the guidance of the YBS which was by then mainly led by local Ezidi commanders.
As the Islamic State in Iraq was defeated in December 2017, the power struggle in Shingal continued and the Iraqi federal government decided to reintegrate Shingal back under the federal government.
The Shingal agreement:
The Iraqi federal government and the KRG have formulated the “Shingal-Agreement-Pact” in October 2020 – which mainly consists of 3 points
- Reintegrate Shingal into the Iraqi Federal Structure
- All non-government Forces must be disbanded
- The Iraqi federal government must form a military unit that consists of local Ezidi fighters
The Ezidi community was shocked by this agreement as they were not invited into the Shingal agreement talks nor were they consulted. The YBS in accordance with representatives of the Ezidi community declared that they will resist this agreement which promptly triggered the Iraqi Federal government into deploying the Iran-led Hashd al Shaabi under the command of the Iraqi army to Shingal. As tensions were rising and minor skirmishes occurred, the YBS agreed to join the Hashd al Shaabi as an independent brigade to be officially recognized by the Iraqi Federal government as a government force. Police forces and border guards from the Iraqi Federal government were deployed.
The Turkish state and the KDP refused to recognize this move by the YBS as they claim that the YBS is a PKK led force, which must be driven out of Shingal by all means.
The YBS and the Ezidi community managed to postpone the Shingal-Pact-Agreement by this move and mostly keep their autonomous structure. The YBS demanded that a second agreement will be formulated which includes the demands of the Ezidi community.
This move angered the Turkish state which then accordingly maximized their pressure on the Iraqi Government to ban and disband the YBS.
Regularly the Turkish state flies reckless sorties into the district of Shingal. Even though the Turkish state claims to only target “Elements of the PKK”, evidence in many cases show that mostly civilians have been killed and wounded by these airstrikes.
As the district of Shingal slowly recovers from the genocide and destruction by the Islamic State in 2014, they also recover their overall importance in the Iraqi Federal State.
For the Turkish state an independent Shingal which holds friendly relationships with the YPG and the PKK (HPG) is disastrous outcome.
The Turkish state will do everything in it´s power to prevent this and even threatened to militarily intervene in Shingal if the Iraqi government fails to implement the Shingal-Agreement. Thus the Turkish state pressures the KDP into acting in the interests of Turkey and demand the implementation of the Shingal-Agreement pact. The KDP also seeks out to maximize their economic power by the implementation of said agreement and consequently gain new followers in the Ezidi community by utilizing their economic power.
Since April 1st 2022 the Iraqi government has begun to amass troops in the south of the district Shingal. Units of the Hashd al Shaabi are also involved. As the deployment of troops has been finalized on April 20th 2022 the Iraqi military command has decided to move closer to the district of Shingal awaiting the Go-Signal from the Iraqi Federal Government.
The Go-Signal was given by the Iraqi state on April 25th 2022 which prompted some Iraqi troops to move into the city center of Shingal and occupy check points and roundabouts.
The YBS has not yet issued any statement but several Ezidi sources have stated that some YBS units have been mobilized. It is believed that the YBS will once again demand that a second agreement will be formulated, which then also includes the desires and wishes of the Ezidi community.
Kurdistanmonitor is an independent live-monitoring project created to provide unbiased, reliable and free information for everybody. We guarantee that we work independently and have no affiliations to any other parties.