New Tuz Khurmatu mayor sees IDP Kurdish return as a priority

August 7, 2018 at 9:47 am

New Tuz Khurmatu mayor sees IDP Kurdish return as a priority

New Tuz Khurmatu mayor sees IDP Kurdish return as a priority

Omer Jawad – KirkukNow
The new mayor of the volatile and disputed town of Tuz Khurmatu, Hasan Zein al-Abideen, sees the return of Kurdish internally displaced people as a priority, as he promises to establish the rule of law without any discrimination.
Zein al-Abideen was sworn a mayor on 1 August, replacing the former Kurdish mayor Shalal Abdul, after a longstanding dispute over his position which prolonged for seven months.
KirkukNow interviewed Zein al-Abideen, where he started with saying that their priority is to focus on those Kurdish families who fled after the federal raid on the peshmerga-controlled disputed areas on 16 October, “We will facilitate their return.”
The raid started after KRG unheeded all the international and regional calls to postpone the independence referendum of 25 September 2017, a request which Baghdad was a staunch proponent.
However, after the federal raid, the town has always been a hotspot of sectarian and ethnic violence, often leading to murder and abduction among its people.
Zein al-Abideen has started to mount pressure on the various Iraqi parties in the government to compensate the victims of such cases.

Tuz Khurmatu, 19 October 2017, the town's IDPs in Omer Sofi village in Nawjool town, northeast of Tuz. Photo: Ali Mahmood

Tuz Khurmatu, 19 October 2017, the town’s IDPs in Omer Sofi village in Nawjool town, northeast of Tuz. Photo: Ali Mahmood

The scale of violence was vast, as KirkukNow reported on 26 October 2017 that 200 houses, 100 shops and stores were set ablaze or looted in Komar neighbourhood. Kurds had the lion’s share of the damages, where 50 homes of peshmerga and Kurdish officials were detonated or set ablaze. Hundreds of Kurdish families fled the town.
Salahadin governor has instructed the new mayor to work for consolidating coexistence among different components, and he said, “The mayorship takes any step in its disposal to protect the brotherhood of Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmens, whether Shia or Sunni.”
Zein al-Abideen is a Turkmen himself, a point which Kurdish officials criticised as they saw the position as their share.
He was soon accused of corruption by the former mayor, referring to a decade-old case of corruption. However, the new mayor insisted that he was cleared of any wrongdoing in the corruption case of the Health Department of Salahadin, at a time when he was a director in 2007.

Tuz Khurmatu, February 2018, a Kurdish shopowner sees its shop set ablaze during the tension of 16 October. Photo: KirkukNow

Tuz Khurmatu, February 2018, a Kurdish shopowner sees its shop set ablaze during the tension of 16 October. Photo: KirkukNow

The town suffers from enormous damage and ongoing disputes, as the new mayor is set to focus on imposing the rule of law first. However, he does not deny the dire service situation.
Zein al-Abideen was set to replace Abdul in a vote of the Khurmatu District Council earlier this year, but could only take charge in August, as the former mayor appealed against the decision in the administrative court.
Tuz Khurmatu is the only disputed town between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad in Salahadin province, with a population of Turkmens, Arabs and Kurds.

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