ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Turkmen and Arab members of the Tuz Khurmatu (Khurmatu) Council on Wednesday voted to sack Kurdish Mayor, Shalal Abdul, from his post, three months after the area’s takeover by Iraqi forces and the Iranian-backed Shia Hashd al-Shaabi militias, a Council member said.
“After two months of threats and use of force, Turkmen and Arab members of the Khurmatu Council acquired enough votes to remove the mayor from his office, with 12 votes out of 21 in favor,” Kamal Ahmed, a council member, told Kurdistan 24.
Ahmed, along with five more members of the council, left Khurmatu and refused to participate in the council’s meetings following the takeover of the town of Khurmatu, and the wider Kirkuk province, by Iraqi forces and Shia militias on Oct. 16.
He mentioned that the assembly removed Shalal for not being present in his office since Oct. 16. In a previous interview with Kurdistan 24, Abdul said the lives of almost all Kurds who wish to return to Khurmatu were at “serious risk” from Shia militias.
“Khurmatu is not safe at all. A Shia Hezbollah militia is stationed inside the Council’s building. The person who was chosen to replace Abdul as a mayor is named Hassan. He belongs to the Badr Organization, one of the key militia groups in the Hashd al-Shaabi (PMF),” Ahmed said.
Khurmatu is a multi-ethnic town, historically claimed by the Kurds, where Arabs and Turkmen also lived in peace. The disputed city is located in northern Salahadin province and southern Kirkuk Province.
Over one thousand houses, shops, and properties have been burned down in Khurmatu, and dozens of thousand people remain displaced in the Kurdistan Region since the assault.
Ahmed mentioned that Kurdish members of the Khurmatu Council plan to issue a complaint addressed to the Salahadin Governor’s office and the local court to block the removal of Abdul.
“Abdul had officially requested vacation time from the Salahaddin Governor’s office, and it was approved. The Council members who voted to remove him from office has found no violations committed by Abdul to use against him,” Ahmed added.
He stated that the looting and destruction of Kurdish houses in Khurmatu continue up to now.
Kurdistan 24 could not reach any Turkmen and Arab Council members as Iraqi authorities have banned our correspondents from areas under the federal government’s control.
Editing by Nadia Riva