Following the Peshmerga’s mid-October pullout from Shingal and other parts of the disputed areas they controlled in Nineveh, the predominantly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary forces, including ones closely aligned with Iran’s goals in the wider region, have gained a foothold in the area. What this means for the beleaguered minorities previously under Peshmerga protection there – namely Christians and Yezidis –remains unclear.
One way the Hashd is consolidating its control in these areas is by taking over command of local armed groups.
Kyle Orton, a Middle East researcher at the UK’s Henry Jackson Society, argues that the infiltration of Iranian-backed Hashd groups into Nineveh “does not present an immediate threat to these minorities.”
“This is because Tehran has chosen to instrumentalize them, using their fear of being swallowed into polities dominated by more cohesive, larger communities, specifically the Sunni Arabs and the Kurds,” he told Rudaw English.
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