U.S. says Sinjaris interests should remain at ‘heart’ of any plan to restore security

Destroyed houses after clashes are seen in Sinjar, Iraq February 6, 2019. Picture taken February 6, 2019. (Reuters)

SULAIMANI (ESTA) — The U.S. Department of State said on Saturday that the interests of the people of Sinjar should remain “at the heart” of any plan to restore lasting security in the district, after Erbil and Baghdad reached an agreement over Sinjar governance and security.

In a statement, the state department welcomed efforts by the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to resolve “longstanding” political and security challenges in Sinjar.

“We hope the agreement announced October 9 will create conditions that foster the revival of Sinjar and the safe and voluntary return of those who were displaced by ISIS,” the state department said.

“The interests of Sinjaris, particularly the victims of genocide, should remain at the heart of any plan to restore lasting peace and security.”

On Friday, the Iraqi government and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) reached a “historic agreement” to bolster the federal government’s authority in Sinjar in accordance with the constitution.

The agreement “ends the power of intruding groups, and paves the way for the reconstruction of the city and the return of its people in coordination with the Kurdistan Regional Government,” said Iraqi government’s spokesman Ahmed Mulla Talal.

Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi sponsored the agreement, according to Talal.

On Saturday, the U.S. Consulate General to Erbil said in a tweet that the United States hopes the agreement would lead to lasting security and stability for the Iraqi people.

Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Iraq Jeannine Hennis- Plasschaert also welcomed the agreement in a statement released on Friday, hoping it would usher in “a new chapter for Sinjar, one in which the interests of the people of Sinjar come first”.

It would also “help displaced people to return to their homes, accelerate reconstruction and improve public service delivery”, she said.

Hennis-Plasschaert cautioned that “for that to happen, stable governance and security structures are urgently needed”.

She also emphasized continued U.N. support to help normalize the situation in the district, according to the statement.

“Against all odds and in their darkest hour, the people of Sinjar remained determined to build a better future. May that future begin today”.

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