With German Weapons against Yazidis

BERLIN/ERBIL (Own report) - The German government's Kurdish protégés in Northern Iraq are using German weapons to attack the Yazidi minority. This has been confirmed by new photo and video documents circulating around the internet for the past few days. These documents depict the Erbil-based Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Peshmerga and its allied militias attacking Yazidis with Dingo infantry mobility vehicles (IMV), G36 assault rifles and other German weapons. The Peshmerga is seeking to round off the KRG territory and annex the region surrounding Shingal ("Sinjar" in Arabic) before the planned secession from Iraq of the regions under Erbil's control. Shingal had been the focus of international attention in the summer of 2014, when the IS/Daesh killed thousands of Yazidis and abducted, enslaved and raped thousands of Yezidis. Yazidis, who have always been harassed and discriminated against by the KRG are now fearing expulsion. For years, Erbil - which Berlin is supporting politically, as well as with training and arms for its Peshmerga - has been systematically expelling Arab speaking inhabitants from the territories under its control. Already in 2015, US observers were accusing the KRG of "ethnic cleansing."

Ethnic Cleansing

Warnings have repeatedly been voiced about the consequences of the ethnic secessionist policy being pursued by the ruling Barzani clan in Erbil. In an interview with a German daily in late February, Masoud Barzani, head of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) had again reiterated that he is seeking to organize a referendum on the secession of Iraq's Kurdish speaking regions.[1] The KRG's armed forces, the Peshmerga, are known to have been using the war against IS/Daesh over the past few years to expel Arab-speaking inhabitants from cities and villages of northern Iraq. These expulsions are obviously part of the preparations to secede the region, a "campaign of ethnic cleansing" for an ethnically pure "future Kurdish state," US specialists had already noted in 2015.[2]

Dingos and G36s

From a German perspective, these allegations are of special importance. On the one hand, for more than ten years, the German government has been providing political and economic support to the KRG's secessionist ambitions.[3] On the other, within the framework of the war against IS/Daesh, it has supported the Peshmerga with comprehensive training and arms supplies.[4] Last fall, the Bundeswehr announced it had already trained 3,400 Kurdish militias and in late 2016 that Berlin has provided Erbil "more than 2,600 tons" of military hardware.[5] The arms the Bundeswehr has furnished the Peshmerga - officially for combating IS/Daesh - included a large quantity of G3 and G36 assault rifles, various MG3 machine guns and Milan anti-tank guided missiles. Erbil has also received Dingo IMVs.

Battle over Shingal

As has now been made known, those weapons Berlin furnished the Peshmerga are not being used solely in the war against IS/Daesh. The KRG is also using them in operations to round off the territory under their control in preparation for secession - including operations against the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq. This is concretely taking place in the current battles for control over the city of Shingal, which was the focus of international attention in the summer of 2014. At that time, the IS/Daesh had murdered up to 5,500 Yazidis in an offensive, and abducted, enslaved and raped more than 6,300 Yezidis. The Peshmerga had fled Shingal, without any military resistance, which, for a while, gave IS/Daesh a free hand. Today the KRG is attempting to retake the region, to possibly include it into the territory of the nation it hopes to found. However, the Peshmerga and their allied Kurdish militias, comprised of Syrian refugees, are meeting stiff resistance from Yasidi units, defending their homeland from falling under Peshmerga rule. There were casualties in the past few days of battles.

For the Second Time

Photo and video evidence now confirms that the Peshmerga and its allies are using German weapons and military equipment in their battle for Shingal. The images show Peshmerga units advancing against their enemies in Dingo IMVs. Other Peshmerga fighters are posing with German G36 assault rifles.[6] Still other photos show Peshmerga combating Yasidis with G3 assault rifles and MG3 machineguns. Yazidi sources confirm that the Peshmerga had killed several Yazidi defenders with G36 assault rifles. Evidently, the Barzani regime is currently using "the German weapons to expand their power," noted the German parliamentarian Jan van Aken (of the Left Party), a disarmament expert. It is "horrifying to imagine" that "the Bundeswehr's arms deliveries and training" are now being used to "oppress and drive out the Yazidis for the second time."[7]

Harassed and Discriminated

In fact, Erbil, which enjoys Berlin's strong support, in its efforts to secede a Kurdish-ethnic nation from the rest of Iraq, has been applying strong pressure on the Yazidi for quite some time. For example, Yazidi residents, from the Shingal region, are not allowed to sell their products in the Kurdish Autonomous Region nor are the Yazidis allowed to buy Kurdish products from the region under KRG rule. Observers see this as an economic blockade. The KRG is also blocking deliveries of supplies from aid organizations. At the beginning of the year, human rights organizations protested Erbil's shutting down the Yazda aid organization's Dohuk office. Observers, at the time, suspected it could have been because of a scheduled major Yazda aid delivery for the greater Shingal region.[8] It is reported that the Yazidi are being suppressed economically and politically. According to a former Yazda employee, the KRG was even preventing Yazidi refugees from returning to their native regions around Shingal, because they feared losing complete control. Occasionally they use brutal repression against Yazidis.[9] The recent Peshmerga attacks on the Yazidi - with German weapons - is escalating the situation.

[1] See Breaking up Iraq.
[2] Sara Elizabeth Williams: Destroying Homes for Kurdistan. foreignpolicy.com 23.07.2015.
[3] See (Irakisch) Kurdistan, From Baghdad to Erbil (I) and Middle East Partnership Cultivation.
[4] See The End of an Epoch (I) and Waffen für die Peschmerga.
[5] See Die Schlacht um Mossul (III).
[6] Waffen der Bundeswehr gegen Jesiden eingesetzt? www.bild.de 06.03.2017.
[7] Matthias Gebauer, Christoph Sydow, Gerald Traufetter: Kurdenmiliz kämpft offenbar mit deutschen Waffen gegen Jesiden. www.spiegel.de 06.03.2017.
[8] Iraq: KRG Restrictions Harm Yezidi Recovery. www.hrw.org 04.12.2016. Belkis Wille: Kurdish Officials Shut Down Group Aiding Yezidis. www.hrw.org 03.01.2017.
[9] Matthew Barber: The KRG's Relationship with the Yazidi Minority and the Future of the Yazidis in Shingal. www.nrttv.com 31.01.2017.