Why should “Murad Ismael” be Mayor of Sinjar?
Saad Salloum
The coming August 3rd will mark the sixth anniversary of the Yazidi genocide. At a time when Sinjar receives high numbers of displaced people who are returning to their destroyed land where the geopolitical framework of the region has attracted regional ambitions, and internally, the issue of the dual local administration remains an expression of an ongoing conflict between Erbil and Baghdad on the identity of the region and its future. I believe that the best present Al-Kadhemi’s government can offer to the Yazidis on the occasion of the Genocide anniversary is to resolve the issue of dual administration by choosing an independent Yazidi voice for the Sinjar administration. This choice would overcome the chasm of Yazidis’ lack of confidence in the political figures coming from the traditional partisan circles of the two Kurdish parties or the circle of the parties currently involved in conflict in Sinjar, and this could be considered a step to restore the Yazidi public’s confidence in the Iraqi government, liberate the Yazidis cause from an excessive politicization, liberate the region from an internal/regional power balance game, and ultimately address circumstances that prevent IDPs from returning to their homes.
Celebrating the 6th anniversary of the genocide requires that we give the Yezidis hope that encourages IDPs to a sustainable return, and takes the region out of the conflict that has become a sustainability factor for the genocide so that we are talking about “the extermination is still continuing.” While Sinjar’s important discourse on international stage has become a stereotyped as a place of extermination and death, and because of the internal and regional geopolitical conflict it has become an example of Iraq’s failure as a country, for all that, it is important that Sinjar becomes a measure of Iraq’s success and viability as a country. In my opinion, “Murad Ismael”, who holds two master’s degrees, the last of which is from the University of Houston in the United States, is the most appropriate choice. Murad is one of the most eloquent voices in expressing the Yazidi cause at the international level, and his role was crucial in founding Yazda, an international organization that has become a pioneering example of civil society work on an international level, and has contributed to rebuilding the confidence of Yazidis in themselves, who have established dozens of organizations to serve their community. Murad also ran the “Nadia Murad” campaign for two years, and this campaign paved the way for her winning the Nobel Peace Prize. Murad has achieved unparalleled respect during the past years by international forums and institutions, and built a network of international relations that can be invested more carefully than anyone else to rebuild Sinjar, and in light of the economic crisis facing the Iraqi government, his choice (a practical choice) becomes important in this context, it is also an appropriate option thanks to his experience as an individual, the vision that he implies, and his dedication. Murad’s appointment is also manifestation of an idea of creating an alternative social reality for post-conflict, a pathway of creating a new paradigm for success. This idea is based on the ambition of taking Sinjar, a geographical troubled area that is a source of ethnic conflict, and turning it into an attractive region controlled by dynamics of comprehensive economic development. This will be turning the social conflict into a positive competition for the development of Sinjar. Elites of Mosul, Nineveh Pains, and Sinjar and the rest of the region will then compete to develop their areas – which will be part of a new vision of ending competition of cultures that then could be adopted in rest of Iraq. Yes, Sinjar can be transferred to “Iraqi Singapore” or “Dubai of Iraqi minorities”, especially with the presence of elite Yezidi businessmen in Germany and other countries that want to invest and launch a series of projects that absorb unemployment and revitalize the stricken area. This investment is conditional on seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and sense of a hope. This context could also be extended to Chaldean elites in Michigan and Assyrians in Chicago to invest in the Nineveh Plain when they see growing hope and success in Sinjar. This is a path that adopts a methodology for transforming conflict from ethnic conflict into economic competition, and the development of a post-ISIS success model for all areas of death and political nothingness.
I say that Christian and Yazidi diaspora can be used as leverage for (post-conflict) model in Sinjar and the Nineveh Plain. Whoever visits Armenia with its resources will immediately touch the role of the Armenian diaspora in rebuilding Armenia and fully understand the capabilities of the post-genocide diaspora to heal the wounds and move the society forward to a state of collective recovery and healing. Likewise, there is also the example of Rwanda in the African context. We can lite the path of Sinjar with hope on the sixth anniversary of genocide.
It is important to stress also that the need to appoint (Murad Ismael) is a sign of a new spirit for the recovery of the Iraqi political process after the October youth revolution. Similar to appointment of Al-Kadhemi as Prime Minister of Iraq, which represents a symbolic step in the reform process launched by this revolution, I have no doubt that appoint of (Murad Ismael) for administration of Sinjar in a similar step; a great step to free Sinjar from political competition, a step to restore the Yazidi citizen’s rights and place in the society. We desperately need a new political leadership that will lead the country to safety, in a manner equivalent to that achieved by the new political leadership in the Horn of Africa, those leaders who liberated a region where conflict has endured for decades to an environment attractive to regional and international investment and joint work between the parties to the conflict that serves mutual interests of competing parties. The liberal Ethiopian President (Abi Ahmed), a former intelligence officer and Nobel Peace Prize winner 2019, and the Somali President (Farmajo) with a master’s degree in international relations from Buffalo University, were two examples of an elite that dismantled a complex political neighborhood filled with hatred and a bitter colonial legacy, who led to a settlement, a historical innovative reconciliation that served everyone’s interests. Likewise, new Iraqi political figures like Murad can lift Sinjar from a place of genocide to become an example of Iraqi success, such as Rwanda’s great and successful path to freedom after the Genocide. The uplifting of Yezidi citizens from victimhood into stage of active citizens and part of human capital that is more precious than natural resources. Therefore I urge all Yazidi tribal and popular leaders of Sinjar such as Sheikh (Naif Jasso), a tribal leader of Kocho village, and in the shrine of Sharafuddin the leader (Qasim Shishu), the leaders (Qasim Shafan) and (Haider Shishu) and all the leaders of the Yazidi resistance, the leader (Khal Ali), the Sinjar board of directors, and all the political parties in Sinjar to consider supporting a wise choice that would save the Yazidi society from dispersion and deeper consequences of genocide. It is time for a unified Yezidi decision, to Yazidi leaders, I say your people are looking to you for survival. Finally, I call on the Prime Minister (Mustafa Al-Kadhemi) to consider appointing people like (Murad Ismael) in leadership position as part of the plan to reform the political system and manage the disputed areas wisely. Members with strong skills and expertise like Murad when part of Al-Kadhemi administration, will make up the foundation to build a viable state after decades of failure.

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