Reconciliation initiatives between Yazidi and Arab tribes in Sinjar


The Yazidis in Iraq are still seeking to hold those who committed massacres against them in 2014 to account. Efforts to bring together Yazidi and Arab communities in Sinjar are under way.

In early August 2014, ISIS militants seized control of town of Sinjar in northern Iraq. The events that followed shocked the world and became a defining moment in the intensifying battle against the militants who were capturing territory across Syria and Iraq.

Yazidis were denounced as heretics by ISIS militants and the Yazidi population in Sinjar was subjected to a campaign of murder, abduction and forced conversions by the militant group.

Current estimations of the number of those killed by ISIS as part of a large scale genocide have been placed as high as 10,000 people; with mass graves still being discovered as the country begins to rehabilitate from the war against the militant group.

Following the formal declaration of the defeat of ISIS in Iraq in December 2017, the Yazidi people who have returned home remain highly suspicious of Sunni Arab tribes in neighbouring areas, especially the Metwiti tribe, some of whom are accused of collaborating with or sympathising with ISIS. Consequently, many Sunni Arabs cannot return to Sinjar from their temporary homes in the internally displaced people (IDP) camps in Mosul, due to the fear of being attacked by armed Yazidi factions.

In an attempt to begin the reconciliation of Sunni Arab tribes and the Yazidi people, a meeting was organised by the local security forces, administrative departments and tribal leaders. “We will continue with the people of the [Nineveh] province to promote peaceful coexistence and reconciliation in these areas,” said a spokesman for the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers following the meeting.

Yazidi leaders demand that all of the local Sunni Arabs who joined ISIS and participated in the massacres and enslavement of the Yazidi people be handed over to the judiciary. Only then will the Yazidi leaders begin to consider reconciling with their Sunni Arab neighbours. Many ISIS members fled as the group lost territory in Iraq and have since been assimilated back into their tribes without being brought to justice.

For their part, Arab tribal leaders sent a letter to the Yazidi leadership containing a promise to hand over all individuals involved with ISIS to the Iraqi judiciary. These leaders also expressed their desire to reconcile and re-establish relations with their Yazidi neighbours, which in turn will enable many Arabs and Yazidis alike to return to their homes.