Responding to instability in Iraq’s Sinjar district

How a remote area of Iraq became a transnational conflict hub, and what this means for peacebuilding in the Middle East
Research paper Updated 15 May 2024 Published 21 March 2024 ISBN: 978 1 78413 598 0 DOI: 10.55317/9781784135980
Concrete wall on the border between Iraq and Syria.

Instability in the tiny Iraqi district of Sinjar, on the border with Syria and Türkiye, continues to exacerbate conflicts in the Middle East. The area’s remote location and its mountainous topography has enabled external groups to gain authority and access secure transit routes that connect conflicts in Iraq, Türkiye, Syria and Lebanon. 

Sinjar district has witnessed extreme violence in recent years, culminating in the rule of Islamic State (ISIS), which resulted in the deaths of thousands of civilians and forced many more to flee. As a result, 280,000 Yezidis are currently living as internally displaced persons in camps in a neighbouring governorate. 

Efforts to bring stability to the district have failed due to the exclusion of the two most powerful groups in Sinjar: the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF). A more transnational approach to Sinjar, which includes the PKK and the PMF in future negotiations over the district, has the potential to make real progress in stabilizing the area so that its citizens can return home.