Garmian people angry at Shiite militias
Some Shiite militias known as “Hashd Shaabi” have entered the Kurdish areas of Diala Province to help Peshmarga forces retake the territories controlled by Islamic State in the past few months.
Although the Kurdish administration have welcomed them and granted them free roaming in the region, the local Kurdish residents of Garmian, argue that the Shiite militias treat the Kurds as foes and that they have acted with disrespect with the inhabitants of Kalar, Kifri and Khurmatoo.
According to a Kurdish official in Garmian, the Shiite groups do not respects the rules and human values and “do whatever they want.”
Akram Salih, head of the 22nd Branch of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Garmian, told a local Kurdish daily newspaper, that the Shiite forces are illegal and unorganized forces and do not follow any laws or regulations, and they don’t have sufficient knowledge about the area and the lo- cals.
“If they continue like this, they will face problems with the locals,” Salih said. “They have come to fight IS and they think they can do whatever they like.”
Last Saturday a convoy of 80 vehicles of the Shiite gunmen tried to pass through Kifri towards Qaratapa, but the Kurdish checkpoints and locals stopped them. The Shiite militias started shooting over the skies of the town and the people responded with stones. As a result of the shooting, one local traffic police officer was injured.
The KDP official says there are many similar cases of issues between the Shiites and local Kurds.
Anwar Aziz, a Kurdish resident of Kifri, said people hate them due to their “inhumane actions”.
“They should protect the security of the towns, otherwise they will face unwanted reactions,” Aziz argues. “They should keep away of the city centers and do not give a chance to anyone to disturb the security and stability of the Garmian area.”
The Shiite militia fighters and the Iranian Quds Forces participated along with Kurdish Peshmarga Forces in the liberation of Jalawla and Saadiya districts from IS last Tuesday. Since then hundreds of Shiite Arab fighters have resettled in the area and roam freely in Kurdish towns.
Currently there are 40,000 Shiite militia fighters in Iraq organized under Hashd Shaabi, and are funded by the Iraqi gov- ernment in the same way as the armed forces and other security forces of the government.
However, Sunni Arabs consider them as not different from IS, and blame them for destroying mosques and other sacred sites, especially in Diala Province, where they have reportedly burned numerous Sunni mosques and sacred sites.