Bloody Power Struggles continue in Disputed Territories

By Shelly Kittleson for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Bloody power struggles continue in Iraq’s disputed territories

The security situation in Tuz Khormato continues to deteriorate. On June 18, a car bomb exploded just outside the local headquarters of the largest Kurdish political party in the area, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, leaving three people dead.

Though no one has claimed responsibility, dozens of prisoners have allegedly been killed in retaliation.

The city’s chief of police, Col. Mustafa Hassan Naseif Amerli, told Al-Monitor in an interview in late May that only two Sunni Arabs had been kidnapped in Tuz Khormato over the previous two months, presenting the figure as a sign of improved security.

A few weeks later, Amerli would be dead as well.

The restive area around Tuz Khormato has long been disputed between the Kurdish Regional Government-administered north and the Iraqi central government.

Relations between various ethnic-religious groups have been severely strained since the surrounding area was retaken from the Islamic State in late 2014 and Turkmen Shiite civilians took up arms as part of the Shiite Popular Mobilization Units.

Amerli, a Shiite, was ambushed late in the evening of June 16, reportedly by IS fighters, on his way to Sunni Arab villages outside of Tuz Khormato. Most of these villages remain uninhabited, their residents in camps for the internally displaced scattered around the surrounding area, almost two years after they were retaken from IS, due to restrictions placed on them by the Popular Mobilization Units. The villages were briefly taken by IS only to be retaken by peshmerga forces, according to local sources.

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