Massoud Barzani, the President of the Autonomous Region of Kurdistan, has taken a stand in a public statement on the recent arrest of the Ezidi HPS Supreme Commander Haydar Shesho. Meanhwile, the situation seems to heat up as Haydar Shesho´s relatives claim that the commander is still being held captive despite an agreement on his release that was reached yesterday between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
KRG President Barzani stated that the Kurdish government was neither willing to accept another flag than the
Kurdish one nor it was poised to tolerate a resistance unit that was not fighting under the Ministry of Peshmerga. By its own account, the Ministry of Peshmerga offered all armed units in Shingal to ascribe to its command, which was rejected by Haydar Shesho. Shesho had explained months before that he was ready to affiliate his unit to the Peshmerga but was not willing to give up his unit´s label or its flag. Barzani, however, accuses the HPS of implementing an `agenda´ by having its own flag and force, pursuing other goals than the Kurdish government and thus operating independently from it. And yet Shesho repeatedly stated that his unit was defending Kurdistan too but was not going to submit to KDP party militias that had abandoned Ezidis.
The HPS flag has become a particular symbol for many Ezidis since it embodies their resistance against the terrorist organization `Islamic State´ when around 10,000 KDP-affiliated Peshmerga of the Kurdish government fled Shingal region and abandoned Ezidis to their fate when ISIS launched its offensive. The Ezidis have lost their faith in Peshmerga troops that were supposed to protect them. On the other hand, the Kurdish government proceeds against Ezidi demonstrators, activists and HPS resistance fighters for weeks now, with the result that over 130 Ezidis have been arrested so far.
HPS operatives accuse the government of using the arrests to put them and Shesho under pressure. An agreement
between the ruling KDP and PUK that was reached yesterday was supposed to set Shesho free today. The German consul general in Erbil also stepped in and demanded the release of the Supreme Commander who holds German citizenship. His arrest cumbers the Kurdish government´s image that has won the international community´s solidarity in its fight against ISIS. `The German consulate has diplomatically indicated that the German government will reconsider its military involvement,´ said an EP source who wishes to remain anonymous.
EzidiPress correspondents meanwhile report that the conflict over Shesho´s arrest seems to shift to Silemani, a PUK stronghold. The government under Barzani accused Shesho of setting up an illegitimate militia financed by Baghdad on Kurdish territory without seeking approval from the government. Shingal, the HPS operational area Barzani was referring to, is despite its controversial status juridically still part of Iraqi territory and thus located outside KRG territory. Haydar Shesho´s arrest is thus devoid of any legal basis.
The Kurdish government itself receives money into the millions from Baghdad once a month and signed a declaration of the Iraqi government regarding the finance of self-defense militias – including the agreement to establish al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Shia militias) that pro forma includes the HPS. Massoud Barzani thus indirectly accuses Shesho of treason. The PUK, however, whose official Shesho has been for many years, spoke of `treason by the KDP against the Ezidis´ and demanded Shesho´s immediate release.
For days PUK officials have been trying to put pressure on the KDP, threatening to arrest KDP members in Silemani if the KDP did not release Shesho, according to reports. The situation remains unclear in view of its hazard potential.
The HPS claims to have 3,000 fighters, 1,000 of whom who are registered and both financially and militarily supported by the Iraqi government. Haydar Shesho is a former Iraqi MP for the Kurdistan alliance (KDP and PUK) and an inactive member of the PUK.