By Khales Joumah.
Interview with Yazidi MP in Baghdad: ‘Yazidi Are Divided But We Still Want Our Own Region’
Yazidi MP, Haj Kandour al-Sheikh, updates NIQASH on his people’s security situation a year after thousands were kidnapped or killed by extremists. He also talks about what the Yazidis of Iraq really want now.
In a certain house in central Baghdad, around 520 kilometres away from their traditional homeland, there are clear signs of Yazidi occupation. One of the security staff in front of the house wears a Yazidi costume and others wear elements of it.
Iraq’s Yazidis are an ethno-religious minority and up until last summer and the start of the secuirty crisis sparked by the extremist group known as the Islamic State, mostly made their home in northern Iraq. They have their own religion but are often considered to have much in common with those of the Kurdish ethnicity.
Among this group is Haj Kandour al-Sheikh, a politician and the legal representative of Iraq’s Yazidi people in Parliament in Baghdad. Notably al-Sheikh is also a member of the Yazidi Movement for Reform and Progress, which supports Iraq’s federal government and which, despite perceptions of shared ethnicity, is opposed to the Yazidi people being ruled authorities in semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan.
In an interview with NIQASH, al-Sheikh discussed the current security situation in the Mount Sinjar area, which was attacked by the Islamic State, or IS, group last year, as well as how over a thousand managed to be freed after being kidnapped by the extremists.
He also spoke about whether, given the current situation, he is really the best representative of his own people, why he’s opposed to Kurdish rule and what the Yazidis in Iraq really want now.
NIQASH: There are fighters in Iraq who claim to be the legitimate representatives of the Yazidi people. Yet there are also politicians, such as yourself, who say they are the Yazidis’ best representatives. Who’s right?
Haj Kandour al-Sheikh: At the moment there is chaos and confusion and a lot of division among the Yazidis. Politically speaking I represent the Yazidi people in Iraq’s Parliament and I was elected to do this – but before the security crisis took hold. Speaking in military terms there are a group of leaders. There is Haider Shasho and his uncle Qassim Shasho. There are also spiritual leaders like Prince Tahseen Saeed Bek.