ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Yezidis (Ezidis), a religious minority group in the autonomous Kurdistan Region and northern Iraq, have secured four posts in the new Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) cabinet, a Ezidi source claimed on Sunday.
One of the posts is reportedly the KRG’s deputy minister, a source from the Ezidi’s spiritual heartland, Lalish, told Kurdistan 24 on condition of anonymity.
This comes as the Prime Minister-designate, Masrour Barzani, prepares to present his cabinet to the Kurdistan Parliament in the coming days, before July 12.
“Sheikh Shamo will serve as an adviser to the KRG’s Minister for Ezidi affairs,” the source continued.
“Mahma Khalil, the current Mayor of Shingal (Sinjar), will serve as an adviser to the Kurdistan Parliament’s leadership for Ezidi affairs.”
The source also mentioned that the Ezidis would continue to hold the post of Director-General of Ezidi Affairs within the KRG’s Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs.
The emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and its violent assault on Shingal in 2014 led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Ezidis. Most of them fled to the Kurdistan Region, while others resettled in neighboring countries in the region or Western states.
Others were not as lucky and remained stranded in the war zone, where they experienced atrocities and mass executions at the hands of the extremist group for years. Militants subjected women and girls to sexual slavery, kidnapped children, forced religious conversions, executed scores of men, and abused, sold, and trafficked women and girls across areas they controlled in Iraq and Syria.
Before the 2014 attack, there were roughly 550,000 Ezidis in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq. As the militants took over large swaths of territory in Nineveh province, 360,000 Ezidis escaped and found refuge elsewhere, according to the KRG’s Ezidi Rescue Office.
Kurdish and Ezidi Peshmerga forces, with the support of the US-led coalition, retook Shingal from the Islamic State in November 2015.
Shingal, an area disputed by Erbil and Baghdad, is currently under the control of Iraqi forces and Shia-dominated militias. These forces, plus a limited number of Peshmerga and other Kurdish fighters, are present in Shingal and its outskirts. It is often reported there are tensions between them over who will control the strategic town that lies near the Syrian border.
Although Shingal was fully liberated from the Islamic State by late 2017, around 200,000 Ezidis remain displaced in the Kurdistan Region due to insecurity and the lack of basic services in their hometown, which was left in ruins.
Editing by Nadia Riva