Abuse of power and abuse of authority over armed militias have taken a level that public shootouts are not uncommon in PUK-governed Sulaimani.
Ten members of the security forces were wounded during a shooting incident late on Monday night (June 21) in Sulaimani’s Sarchinar neighborhood, which allegedly involved members of a variety of units affiliated with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).
A source who spoke on condition of anonymity told local TV channel NRT that the clash involved members of the Sulaimani Police and Asayish on one side and the Peshmerga’s Golden Force unit on the other.
The Golden Force is affiliated with Kurdistan Region Vice President Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa, a senior member of the PUK. Sheikh Mustafa also confirmed that one of his daughters (Lana Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa) was at the scene.
According to a local supermarket clerk, Lana Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa got in a dispute with Asayish forces after being stopped due to traffic violations. She was seen furiously phoning her father’s militia; the Golden Force.
When the Golden Force arrived at the scene, the shooting started immediately. Ten members of security forces were wounded, some of them critically.
“Spoiled sons & daughters of former revolutionaries have become a cancer on Kurdish society. Where on earth a daughter of a senior official calls on her dad’s private militia to kill and wound members of security forces in crowded places.”, comments Yerevan Saeed, Middle Eastern Affairs analyst and PHD candidate at Carter School for Peace and Conflict Resolution in the US.
Locals also express their resent of the situation on social media. They are angry that Lana Sheikh Mustafa will get away with her actions without further consequences. They are also angry that high-level figures in Kurdish society seem entitled to owning their own private militias.
“Only in Kurdistan you can find the children of military commanders having their own little armies. This is a failed-African-state level corruption.”, reads one of the many comments.
Monday’s events are not the first time militias shoot at each other in a crowded Sulaimani neighborhood. On February 10, one member of Asayish was killed in a fight between the Golden Force and the Asayish at the Tasluja checkpoint near Sulaimani. Five other members of the Asayish were wounded, including two who were listed as being in critical condition when they arrived at the hospital.
All those who were killed or hurt were stabbed.