This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Tribal Sectarian Umbrage

"It doesn't matter whether they're Kurdish or Arab -- if they've burnt our homes and kidnapped our women we won't forgive them."
Sulaiman Omar, 37, Yazidi fighter

"How can we let Arabs back? We lived with them for hundreds of years and they stabbed us in the back."
"Arabs who lived here either [Sinjar, Iraq] helped ISIL militarily, financially or sympathized with them."

"We've not seen one example of an Arab helping a Yazidi."
Jadan Darush Jadan, Yazidi peshmerga colonel

"[Yazidis] believe all Muslims are ISIL."
"Zuher [his brother] was about 70 metres from the [Yazidi] ambush and he was the first to surrender. We heard the Yazidis yell, 'ISIL have killed many of us, we will kill you."
Sadiq Saleh, 41, Sunni Kurd, Qabusi, Iraq
Kurdish Peshmerga forces, police and local officials raise Iraqi and Kurdish flags in Sinjar after a Kurdish-led offensive backed by the U.S. recaptured the city from Islamic State on Nov. 13. Kurdish Peshmerga forces, police and local officials raise Iraqi and Kurdish flags in Sinjar after a Kurdish-led offensive backed by the U.S. recaptured the city from Islamic State on Nov. 13. Photo: Ben Kesling/The Wall Street Journal 
In the city of Sinjar located in Nineveh province, Arabs, Kurds, Yazidis, Turkmens and Christians had traditionally lived together amicably as neighbours. Since the Islamic State jihadis flooded into Sinjar and targeted ethnic and religious minorities as they have done anywhere they have taken towns and cities in Syria and Iraq, the plight of the Yazidis in particular came to world attention. Yazidis practise a religion whose origins are not quite understood, but which Sunni Muslims regard as demonic.

In the onslaught of Sinjar thousands of Yazidis were slaughtered, women and children raped and taken as sex slaves. Yazidi families that survived fled in terror up Mount Sinjar to escape from ISIL terrorists and their homeless plight galvanized Syrian YPG Kurds to come to their rescue, while the Kurdish peshmerga of Iraq seemed incapable of mounting a rescue. Bad feelings between the two Kurdish militias has since emerged over their mutual blame, each wanting to be recognized as the supporters of the Sinjar Yazidis.

The Yazidis represent a minority tribal anomaly, distant relatives of the Kurds, practising their own customs and religious devotion. The Kurds, though not Arabs, are Muslims. And ethnic and sectarian groups that once lived together in peace find themselves newly aggrieved against one another since the arrival of Islamic State and the rise of sectarian hatreds, Sunni and Shiite Muslims contending each represents heretical worship.

With the help of U.S.-led airstrikes over Sinjar to dislodge Islamic State, the Iraqi peshmerga forces, the Syrian YPG Kurds and the Turkish PKK Kurds were enabled to free the city of its occupiers. Sinjar is a city in ruins. With its liberation from Islamic State and the entry of peshmerga fighters, both Kurds and Yazidis, looting of Sunni-owned homes and shops took place. The claims being that the Sunnis betrayed the Yazidis whom they lived among.

Sinjar had a majority-Yazidi population, the largest in the world. The fate of over a thousand Yazidi women remains unknown, sold into bondage for the most part. Sulaiman Omar had six brothers and among them many daughters. Long after the ISIL invasion, he has no idea whether any of his brothers are still alive, and the presence of their daughters is completely unknown; he partially blames his former neighbours.

The city is not yet re-occupied by its former residents; the city is a devastated ruin, and must be rebuilt. Hostility by the Yazidis has been extended as well to their former Kurdish neighbours, since they too are Muslim Sunnis. Sadiq Saleh, a shepherd who decided to remain in his hometown of Qabusi south of Sinjar when everyone else fled, to take care of his 200 sheep, was finally able to escape ISIL with the help of the peshmerga.

On arrival in Sinjar a group of Yazidi peshmerga accused him of stealing the sheep. Peshmerga Lt.Khero Khider witnessed events that led to the death of three Yazidi peshmerga and three Kurds. Zuher Hamza Abdullah, 21, younger brother of Sadiq, was shot seven times and bled o death. Two other Kurds were also killed. Another Kurdish man who had been freed from Qabusi described being kicked and close to killed by Yazidis.

"A group of women shielded me and they stopped", Abu Qasem, 63, explained. "Half of my family is under ISIL. We can't stop ourselves from wanting to stop the peshmerga from letting them [Kurds] through", said a young Yazidi peshmerga fighter who said that he would not have allowed Kurds to leave Qabusi. Yellow flags of the KDP, Iraqi Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, hang from lampposts.

"The blood of the peshmerga" had freed Sinjar, he said, to "become part of Kurdistan".

"The Yazidis don't trust the peshmerga and the peshmerga don't trust the Yazidis. Sinjar cannot be a place of coexistence again", stated a Yazidi tribal leader. As far as the PKK and its Syrian offshoot the YPG is concerned, there is little agreement with President Barzani's stance; they feel that Sinjar should be left to the Yazidis, their traditional home.

It is confounding that at a time in their history when Kurds should be cooperating and standing with one another to achieve their long-dreamed-of Kurdish state they should be reduced to arguing among one another over primacy. But they live in a volatile, violent neighbourhood, and where dysfunction and bloodshed are common currency, the proclivity to remain civil and open to one another diminishes in strength.

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