ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Haider Shasho, the Head of the Ezidi Democratic Party, has called on the new Iraqi and Kurdish governments to create a governorate in the Sinjar (Shingal) region as part of the Nineveh Plains, similar to Halabja in the east.
“It is very difficult, but we want our own governorate,” Shasho told Kurdistan 24.
According to the Ezidi official, such a move “needs pressure from the European Union on the Kurdistan Region and the Iraqi government,” before Shingal can become a governorate like Halabja.
“We hope that the new president and government of Iraq and the parliament will help the Ezidi’s and hear their voices,” Shasho added.
“Also, the new Kurdish government can help the Ezidis save and protect themselves so that Shingal can protect itself from any enemies.”
Most of the Ezidi factions in Shingal prefer an autonomous status and international protection. However, some want this region to be under Baghdad, while others prefer the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
The now-former Iraqi MP, Ezidi Vian Dakhil, who helped to draw international attention to the Ezidi genocide when she made a passionate speech in the Iraqi Parliament, also supports giving the Ezidis autonomy.
“We asked this request to the Iraqi prime minister [in 2013], but when Da’esh [Islamic State] came, events delayed these decisions,” she said.
“It’s very important for Shingal to be a governorate, for its own services, administration, and security. We hope we can achieve that.”
Dakhil was also happy with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Nadia Murad. “This is a good thing, and she can bring support to Shingal and help Shingal to be a governorate.”
Nadia Murad visited Shingal 10 days ago and promised to open a hospital in the future.
One day later, the road between Sihela and Shingal was reopened, over a year after the attack by Iraqi forces and Shia militias that pushed Kurdish Peshmerga from the area.
Officials say the visit of Masoud Barzani, the former president of the Kurdistan Region and the current leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), in November to Baghdad had a substantial impact on the reopening of the Sihela – Shingal road.
On Dec. 14, the Brussels-based think tank, International Crisis Group (ICG), said the new governments formed in Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region should resume talks about the status of Iraq’s disputed territories including Shingal now that relations between the two are improving.
“The new government and the UN should jump at this chance to work with [Ezidi] leaders to rebuild [Shingal] as an example for all Iraq,” the ICG said.
“Failure to stabilize [Shingal] would come at considerable risk for the federal government and its international partners,” the ICG report concluded.
According to Shasho, tensions between Baghdad and Erbil in the past led to a deterioration of services in Shingal. “There are no services and no electricity,” he said.
“The administration of the Popular Mobilization Units [Hashd al-Shaabi] is not very good, the situation is bad.”
On Monday, 30 Ezidkhan Protection Force fighters were arrested by the Hashd al-Shaabi’s Badr Organization. They were released shortly after mediation efforts.
“We need a good administration that can serve our people in the future,” he concluded.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany