An Asaib Ahl-haq spokesperson said their forces do not need Kurdish consent to enter Shingal. Photo: Haidar Mohammed Ali/AFP file photo
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A Shiite military leader has said that the decision for their forces to enter Shingal region will come from the Iraqi prime minister and they do not need Kurdish consent despite opposition raised by the Kurdish leadership against the Hashd al-Shaabi operating in Yezidi-populated areas.
Jawad Talibawi, spokesperson of the Asaib Ahl-haq, an armed group within the Hashd al-Shaabi, told Rudaw, “The decision allowing Hashd al-Shaabi forces to enter Shingal areas is at the hands of Haider al-Abadi, general commander of the Iraqi armed forces, and it does not need consent from Kurdish leaders.”
“Let them beat their heads against the wall if they do not like the decision,” Talibawi said.
He asserted that “the Hashd al-Shaabi will enter Shingal and will control the remaining areas still held by ISIS.”
Earlier this month, in a meeting with Shingal officials, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani said that the Shiite forces must not enter Yezidi areas
Talibawi accused the Kurdish leadership of following an external agenda in opposing Hashd al-Shaabi operations to oust ISIS from the Shingal region, but reiterated that they operate under Abadi’s command “and do not need consent from Kurdish leaders.”
As a part of ongoing operations to retake areas from ISIS in northern Iraq, the Shiite force announced on Thursday it had cleared the extremist group out Qairawan completely.
There are 13 villages and complexes in Qairawan town in the Shingal region. The area is disputed, claimed by both Erbil and Baghdad and subject to Article 140 of the Iraqi constitution.
The center of Qairawan town is inhabited by Arabs, but the surrounding complexes and villages including Tal Banat, Tal Qasab, Kocho, and Gir Azer are mostly Yezidi.
The bulk of the villages in Qairawan town were declared controlled by the Hashd forces, most notably Kocho village, the hometown of ISIS survivor and UN goodwill ambassador Nadia Murad.
In response to the remarks made by Talibawi, Mahma Khalil, Shingal mayor, told Rudaw that the Kurdish Peshmerga do need take permission from the Hashd al-Shaabi to protect Shingal and other areas.
“Where was Asaib Ahl al-Haq three years ago when the Peshmerga re-controlled Shingal?” he asked. “The Peshmerga does not take permission from the Hashd al-Shaabi to protect Shingal and other areas.”
“We do not want these areas destroyed again,” he said, adding that it was the Hashd who were executing an external conspiracy.
“There is probability they execute an external plot to demolish this region,” he suggested.
About what force should protect Yezidi areas, Khalil said, “It is the Yezidis deciding that. The Hashd al-Shaabi has not become their decision maker.”
Welcoming the announcement that ISIS had been forced out of Kocho, Nadia Murad issued a statement in which she warned against rival armed groups continuing to bring violence to Yezidi lands.
“Our fear today is that the Yazidi homeland in Sinjar will be divided into three or more regions and the opposing factions will fight for control on our land – not to advance the dignity of our people," Murad wrote.