Singa, Iraq (Associated Press)-In a northern Iraqi town that was once brutally beaten by the Islamic State group, the flag of an armed force was lowered one by one. Every symbolic territorial claim was replaced by an ecstatic Iraqi state.
The flying of the national flag in Sinjar, home of the Yazidi religious minority in Iraq, is the result of months of transactions in the federal government to restore order to tangled paramilitary organizations. Liberated from IS three years ago.
This month, Iraqi troops deployed in the area for the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Lieutenant Imad Hasan climbed up the rock and overlooked the ruins of Sinjar̵
He said: “We have problems with them.” “Their leaders have agreed to withdraw troops, but some of their fighters have not.”
Reaching an agreement is difficult enough. Implementing it brings new problems. Critics say that to change Sinjar’s rule of law requires more than just changing the banner.
Yazidis was hurt by mass killings and slavery They launched an attack on the Iraqi authorities and did not trust the Iraqi authorities. They said that the Iraqi authorities abandoned them to the cruel treatment of the militants. Because of the weakness of the central government, they fear that the militias (including the Shia factions supported by Iran) will prevail in their hands.
For the past three years, militiamen have been policing Singal. They include peshmerga fighter jets from the Kurdish Autonomous Region of Iraq, as well as the Kurdistan Workers’ Party and its affiliates, which are composed of local Yazidi fighter jets, called the Sinjar Resistance Force or YBS. Yazidi also has some people attached to the People’s Mobilization Force, an umbrella group of paramilitary forces approved by the state that was established in 2014 to defeat IS.
Sinjar is showing signs of recovery. Its downtown is full of shoppers, merchants and strange Iraqi military vehicles. Of the 200,000 Yazidis displaced in the 2014 IS attack, many more are returning-between June and September, about 21,600 returned, which is many times the rate of previous years.
But to scratch the surface, almost everyone has unresolved original wounds. Everyone vividly recalled this IS attack, which killed father and son, enslaved thousands of women, and caused survivors to flee Sinjar Mountain.
At the market in Sinjar, a farmer, Zaidan Khalaf, first introduced himself by telling the Associated Press how many relatives he had lost in IS: 18. Others in the market do the same.
He said: “We have lost our dignity.”
There are still deep differences between the communities, and they are full of resentment.
“What agreement?” The Yazidi village in Tal Binat, south of Sinjar, mocked 86-year-old Farzo Mato Sabo. She and her three daughters were taken away by Islamic militants and later rescued by smugglers. Eleven of her family members are still missing.
“I lost everyone,” she sobbed. “Will this bring them back?”
Neighboring Tal Binat is the Sunni Arab village of Khailo.
“We used to be like brothers, but now Yazidis is far away from us,” said Sheikh Naif Ibrahim, an elder of the tribe. “They cannot distinguish between civilians and IS members.”
Many Yazidis accused the local Sunni Arabs of supporting Islam. Since the fall of the militants, Sunni Arabs have clashed with the Yazidi militia-many Sunnis have been killed. At the same time, many Yazidis rejected the Kurdish peshmerga, who believed that the Sinjar area was part of their territory.
Farmer Khalaf said: “Seven flags are hanging over us. You never know who will be in power that day.”
Sajad Jiyad, a researcher at the Century Foundation, said that the focus of the United Nations is the return of displaced Yazidis, but this is not the only criterion for success. He said: “It’s about service, school, safety and the ability to move around without being shaken by various groups.”
He said: “This is a test of the effectiveness of post-war governance and post-war liberation.” “Is the government ready to bring it back to normal?”
The Iraqi military will immediately defend the area, and other factions will withdraw from their positions, although many factions remain in the Sinjar area. According to the plan, the Kurdish authorities will appoint a mayor (many Yazidis opposes this position), and the local police will eventually take over security, working under the leadership of government intelligence agencies and national security advisers. The plan calls for hiring 2,500 new security personnel locally.
Most of the Yazidi leaders and residents interviewed stated that they were dissatisfied that the plan was not consulted by the government.
The mayor of Sinjar, Fahed Hamed, said: “We are the sacrifices and lost our lives.” “We should be the main interlocutors.”
“We need our own strength. We don’t trust anyone.”
The most trusted force by the locals is the faction that the plan seeks to disperse-YBS, whose combatants are mainly Sinjar Yazidis. Although other troops withdrew from the Islamic State attack in 2014, many remember that it was YBS’s efforts to ensure the safety of civilians.
“They are the only people who stayed to protect us,” said Sherko Khalaf, a militiaman in Yazidi village.
Despite local protests, negotiations led to the evacuation of YBS from downtown Sinjar.
The YBS fighters interviewed said that they are expected to be included in the “People’s Mobilization Force” to provide them with much-needed political legitimacy. Among the 2,500-3,500 YBS fighters, some have been added to the PMF payroll.
In theory, the plan requires that PMF also terminate its presence in the city. So far, they are supporting the troops and ensuring the safety of the area around Sinjar. However, Khal Ali, the commander of the Lalish brigade of the group’s Yazidi unit, told the Associated Press: “(PMF) will always exist. We are the king of the leader of the Sinjar security forces.”
This prospect makes Yazidis fall apart. Some people want to include the Yazidi PMF faction in the security arrangement. Others worry that this will expose Sinjar to the influence of the Iranian Shiite Arab faction, the dominant umbrella organization.
A famous Yazidi leader said: “If the international community and the central government don’t care about Sinjar, then PMF will gain control.” He asked to speak anonymously. “It is clear.”