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Thread by @Matthew__Barber: "1) New updates on —this thread provides details following KDP pullout. Photo: Haider Shesho greets Hashd commander Khal Ali. […]" #Sinjar #Yazidi #YBŞ #Syria

, 90 tweets, 15 min read
1) New updates on #Sinjar—this thread provides details following KDP pullout.
Photo: Haider Shesho greets #Yazidi Hashd commander Khal Ali.
2) On KDP withdrawal from #Sinjar, see previous thread:
3) The past week’s events led to hysterical claims that Peshmerga were returning to Sinjar/airstrikes hit Sinjar/etc. All such claims false.
4) The westernmost checkpoint of the Peshmerga is now in Mahmudiyya, near Fishkhabour (Suheil). The Peshmerga burned some of their prefab >>
5) < caravan buildings upon their withdrawal. The checkpoints in the Rabi’a area that used to have Peshmerga Rojava now have Iraqi army/PMU.
6) In Sinjar, the #YBŞ are manning the first checkpoint from the northern approach, at Tribka village (8km north of Snune).
7) The #YBŞ are flying both YBŞ and Iraqi flags. YBŞ personnel are manning a lot of new checkpoints in Sinjar now.
8) YBŞ has an expanded presence in Snune; some of Haider Shesho’s men are there also—Everything west of Snune is controlled only by YBŞ/PKK.
9) Iraqi police are manning the checkpoint between Snune and Dugure. Haider Shesho’s group is the main presence in the Dohola/Borek area.
10) The above is the situation of the NORTH side of the mountain where control is currently shared by YBŞ / Haider Shesho / Iraqi police.
11) Sinjar City on south side of mountain now controlled by a combination of Yazidi Hashd, Iraqi army, Iraqi police.
12) In other words, there are no more Shiʿi Hashd forces north of the mountain or in the city. The Iraqi police are all locals—Yazidis >>
13) < and some Kurdish Shi’is from Sinjar. (These aren't Fayli Kurds but local Shiʿi Kurds that were targeted by IS along w/Yazidis in 2014)
14) Following PM Abadi’s order that Hashd al-Sha’bi forces withdraw from disputed areas, all Shiʿi Hashd al-Sha’bi in the Sinjar region >>
15) < are now in Tel Qasab, one of the Yazidi villages they liberated south of the mountain. All Hashd forces remaining in Sinjar City are >
16) < local Yazidis. The YBŞ had occupied some of the government buildings inside Sinjar City after the KDP left, but Abu Mahdi >>
17) < al-Muhandis met with YBŞ commander Dizwar Faqir and asked him to vacate the buildings so that the Yazidi Hashd could use them, and >>
18) < the #YBŞ complied. (He also asked them to fly the Iraqi flag, which they are also doing.) So... No Iranians are controlling Sinjar!!
19) Security in #Sinjar and Rabi’a should be a concern amid this transition of authority. Following the KDP Peshmerga pullout, Iraqi Arab >>
20) < refugees (Sunnis from the Sinjar area) who have been in #Syria have started to come back to #Iraqi via Rabi’a and other border >>
21) < crossings that are controlled by the #YPG on the Syrian side and which are not being controlled on the Iraqi side.
22) When the #Peshmerga were controlling the Rabi’a area, Arab refugees weren’t returning, but amid the transition these returns have begun.
23) Some of these returnees are from Arab villages adjacent to Yazidi villages in the Sinjar area, many of which assisted IS in the Genocide
24) On Oct. 18, the day after KDP withdrawal, Jahaysh Arabs from village(s) near the Yazidi village of Gohbal attacked Yazidis in the area.
25) Gohbal is northeast of Sinjar Mountain and is the northernmost Yazidi village in Sinjar. (See marker on map)
26) No reports that anyone was killed. Yazidis repelled the attack (conflicting reports—some say YBŞ repelled it; others say Haider’s men).
27) This attack was likely a show of strength more than anything else, i.e.: “We will come back; we can kill again if we need to.”
28) None of the Jahaysh villages have been repopulated; families returning from #Syria are staying in the Rabi’a area.
29) The men who conducted the attack are just individuals coming to visit their houses / villages who basically did a drive-by on Yazidis.
30) It was not a big fight. But the incident underscores the need for carefully-managed security in the Sinjar area, which will not be >>
31) < completely stable if certain Arab tribes move home. Shammar Arabs fought IS (though some Shammar individuals joined IS) and their >>
32) < communities can probably coexist with Yazidis in the area in the future. But the Jahaysh tribe officially joined IS and there was >>
33) < tremendous popular sympathy among the Jahaysh for IS. Therefore, if Jahaysh begin returning to the area, problems will develop.
34) This is just about Arab villages on the north side of the mountain—the south side has another whole set of tribes and many other issues.
35) The central government’s role in controlling the border and managing the returns will be very important.
36) If this doesn’t happen, there will probably be killings, kidnappings, small ambushes, etc. Yazidis will likely try to identify Arab >>
37) < individuals who participated in the Genocide and attack them for revenge, which will likely lead to attacks against Yazidis, as well.
38) Post-Genocide relations will be tense and local Yazidis question whether the Iraqi government will do any screening among the returnees.
39) Despite all this, the situation is very calm in #Sinjar now in both north & south sides—NGOs should immediately begin working in Sinjar.
40) Any Arab attacks on Yazidis in the area, like the one on Wednesday, are going to be small, isolated incidents.
41) #IS is gone and there will be no substantial force that will be able to attack #Sinjar.
42) The security concerns underscore the importance of moving forward in establishing a permanent, local, Yazidi force for Sinjar >>
43) < as Yazidis have requested for the last 3+ years. The majority in Sinjar are very happy now—one man whose daughter is still in IS >>
44) < captivity said (about the KDP withdrawal) “it’s like my daughter came back from Da’esh”—he sees the withdrawal as a true liberation.
45) However, there is a degree of confusion regarding the plans of the central government whom the people want to see assert more >>
46) < leadership and become more involved. The Iraqi army is mostly in the city, not on the north side. There is no clear arrangement >>
47) < between the PKK and central government, and the future of their relationship is completely uncertain (though it's good at the moment).
48) Though the Shiʿi Hashd have withdrawn, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis has been the sole leadership figure supervising this process—there needs >>
49) < to be a direct governmental role in Sinjar. Sinjar also needs more than a police force; one of the demands of the Yazidis has been >>
50) < the creation of a local, Yazidi national guard entity that can prevent any future instance of genocide from occurring.
51) It needs to be a small local army with reasonable defensive capabilities. Yazidis will continue engaging Baghdad about the creation >>
52) < of this force, which the Yazidi Hashd and other groups could transition into. It appears that Iraq intends to create the local >>
53) < Yazidi force (rather than protect the area solely with the army), as the Hashd al-Sha’bi yesterday began arming the Yazidi Hashd >>
54) < battalions with heavier weapons than they have given them previously. (This coincides with the withdrawal of the Shiʿi Hashd.)
55) The Hashd al-Sha'bi also gave the Yazidi Hashd trucks (but not Humvees or armored vehicles). All Iraqi army forces now in the Sinjar >>
56) < area are part of the 16th division, though I do not know how many battalions are there. Locals wish that the presence were greater.
57) People want to feel secure until a Yazidi national guard is created. If such a force is created, it should have a mandate to only >>
58) < provide security in Yazidi areas. Abuses could occur if it were given jurisdiction in Arab areas. The Iraqi army and police need to >>
59) < take responsibility for security in Arab villages. In other words: Iraqi needs to help Yazidis create a protection force for Sinjar, >
60) < since Yazidis no longer trust their security to others, but at the same time, Iraq needs to help manage relations and security >>
61) < between Yazidis & Sunni Arabs, to protect both from revenge/ongoing feuding. Screening returnees to identify and prosecute former >>
62) < members of IS is also paramount. Moving on… Relations between the Hashd and the YBS are surprisingly good at the moment.
63) The YBŞ have begun flying the Iraqi flag at their headquarters and checkpoints. This understanding, at least for the moment, is holding.
64) Norma Costello was told that YBŞ is not allowing Hashd forces on top of the mountain; however >>
65) < I checked on this and am told that everything is peaceable between the groups now. A challenge in transitioning local Yazidi fighter >
66) < groups into a national guard is that no clear leader among the Yazidi fighters stands head and shoulders above his peers.
67) Among the Yazidi Hashd are Khal Ali, Naif Jasso, and Qasim Shevan; then there is Haider Shesho; finally there is the YBŞ whose >>
68) < fighters have legitimacy and experience. How can these 3 entities be merged and who will lead? Haider Shesho probably has the least >>
69) < legitimacy of all groups in Sinjar now, but he still has a following. How long his following will last is a question, since it is >>
70) < assumed that his funding originated with the KDP and may no longer exist. Haider made some recent statements:
71) Haider's statements reveal several things: First, he blames the KDP Peshmerga for withdrawing, which Haider will probably present as >>
72) < a “change” in their behavior which necessitated him distancing himself from the KDP (justifying his earlier affiliation with them);>>
73) < second, presenting his force as “in charge” in Sinjar and “allowing” the Yazidi Hashd to enter the city (highly exaggerated); >>
74) < third, dissatisfaction regarding the Yazidi Hashd setting up shop in the offices vacated by the KDP (hard to understand what could >>
75) < be wrong with that unless he wanted those offices himself); fourth, he demanded that Iraqi army withdraw from Sinjar—very strange >>
76) < since most people want more security, not less, at present. Khal Ali, a Yazidi from Khanasor who created the first Yazidi Hashd >>
77) < battalion, will probably garner more respect than Haider. Khal Ali has the backing of Abu Mahdi and the Hashd al-Sha’bi, and Haider >>
78) < is now trying to figure out how he can stay relevant.
79) Something else very urgent for Sinjar now is the restoration of services. Many are saying that as there is no more military conflict >>
80) < in Sinjar, it is time to restore services and create civil administration. There are few doctors now—people are asking to have the >>
81) < hospitals and schools opened immediately. NGOs must begin working in Sinjar now. Instability should not be an excuse to neglect the >>
82) < area—The area was more politically divided when the KDP was present, and conditions are more favorable now than before the withdrawal.
83) However, the #KDP could threaten NGOs based in the KRI with closure if they continue to work in Sinjar:
84) Urgent that international community give the KDP a strong message: They are not allowed to bully NGOs into not providing aid to #Sinjar!
85) The absence of NGOs is a serious concern in the short-term:
86) Very good news: a number of #Yazidi enslavement survivors have been rescued from #Syria this past week as #IS has lost ground there.
87) Moving to Nineveh, #Assyrians feel optimistic after Iraqi forces have replaced the KDP Peshmerga in a number of non-Kurdish areas.
88) In the village of Alqosh, however, Peshmerga have begun digging trenches as though preparing for a standoff:
89) But I am reminded that Peshmerga berms & trenches don’t mean anything—they also dug them in Sinjar recently, but later just walked away.
90) Hopefully Alqosh—a non-Kurdish, Assyrian town—will be freed of KDP presence soon so Assyrians can interface directly w/their government.
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