A new plan floated to return Yazidis to Sinjar
A new security and reconstruction plan for Sinjar, that has been put forward by the Iraqi government and Kurdish authorities, might end up dividing families and stoking tensions.
It is being hailed as a “historic” agreement. The government in Baghdad, working with the authorities in the Kurdish capital of Irbil, has charted a plan that would bring peace to Sinjar and persuade the hundreds of thousands of Yazidis who were displaced from there by the Islamic State to return. The town was devastated in 2014 when the Islamic State invaded, slaughtering and capturing thousands of Yazidis, who they proclaimed were godless heretics. More 3,000 men were killed, 7,000 women and girls were enslaved and much of the 550,000 people who lived there had to flee.
This shocked the world into military action against the Islamic State and by 2015, US-backed Kurdish forces had driven them out. The town and the surrounding areas remained under the control of various armed groups like the Kurdish militants, Yazidi fighters, the Iraqi army and Shiite militia, each with different loyalties. Despite the defeat of the Islamic State, the Yazidis found is impossible to return home and languished in various refugee camps in Syria and Iraq.
This government plan is a major intervention designed to persuade Yazidis that security and other basic services will be provided. The Baghdad and Irbil governments would choose and a new mayor and also appoint 2,500 security personnel. They will also be involved in the removal of Kurdish groups like PKK, outlawed in Turkey and working out of northern Iraq, and other militia, by the Shia dominated Popular Mobilization Forces. Observers say it would be tough to eject these groups as they wouldn’t disarm and leave so easily.
This could split up families as in many cases different family members are fighting in different groups. For example, there is a Yazidi faction with the PMF and the PKK and they would be effectively pitted against each other. The Yazidis feel they haven’t been consulted in the drafting and execution of this plan and there was a demonstration against the deal in Sinjar this weekend.