A signpost on the road from Duhok to Shingal. Photo: Rudaw
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Shingal’s “legitimate” administration, which fled to the Kurdistan Region following the Peshmerga’s retreat on October 17, 2017, is due to return Wednesday to resume its duties. However, a crowd, including some alleged PKK supporters, is protesting their return at the city gates.
Saydo Chato, the Yezidi head of Nineveh provincial council, told Rudaw the officials “have reached Tal Afar and there are no problems so far.”
“The head of Nineveh police and some other security officials of Nineveh are with us. We will first visit the village of Kocho, then to Shingal mayor’s office and then Snune,” he added.
Protesters complain that the administration that is returning to Shingal was not elected, but was appointed by the KDP.
Saib Khidir, a Yezidi MP in the Iraqi parliament, said it was "unacceptable" for the old administration to be "imposed" on Shingal.
He called for new faces to come forward and accused the central government of ignoring the issue.
"The government is still a bystander concerning the cases of Yezidis, their areas, and the rivalries," he tweeted.
Concerning claims that some Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) supporters have entered Shingal to protest the administration’s return, Chato said: “They are our people and might complain about the lack of services. We are prepared to see them.
“But this will have no effect on the return of Shingal administration officials. We are certain all the forces of Shingal will support the administration of Shingal,” he added.
The PKK, an armed group fighting for greater political and cultural rights for Kurds in Turkey, deployed forces to Shingal in 2014 to help defend the Yezidis against the genocidal campaign of ISIS.
In March, the PKK said it was withdrawing from Shingal, saying the Yezidi population no longer faced a security threat and the Iraqi government is capable of providing security to the area.
The Yezidi-led Shingal Protection Units (YBS) is tied to the PKK.
Shingal’s former Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP)-led administration was cleared to return after Erbil and Baghdad struck a deal with the backing of Nineveh provincial council on Sunday.
The decision was made during a meeting of council members, security officials, police, intelligence services, army brigades, and Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitias at the Nineveh Operations Command headquarters.
The returnees include Mahma Khalil, mayor of Shingal, Ways Nayif, head of Shingal district council, Nayif Saydo, mayor of Snune, and other district officials.
The Nineveh council had been unwilling to deal with the “illegitimate” Shingal administration put in its place, Chato said.
“Now the legitimate administration will return, and this is an important step for the normalization of the situation and the return of IDPs to their areas,” Chato added.
The Iraqi Army and security forces have promised to provide Shingal with security, he added. There is no mention of the Peshmerga returning.
Shingal is a disputed territory and home to a substantial Yezidi community. It was seized by ISIS in 2014 following a Peshmerga retreat, but was later liberated.
Political tensions have prevented the return of its residents.