Signing of the Tal Afar Covenant Agreement and Announcement of General Principles to Support Stability and Rule of Law in Tal Afar


On August 14, 2020, more than 21 tribal, community and governmental leaders from Tal Afar signed a covenant agreement for the Tal Afar District Center that they led with support from Sanad for Peacebuilding (Sanad), a non-governmental and non-profit organization working to promote peace and non-violence in Iraq, supported by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The signing of the covenant agreement is the result of four years of dialogues and facilitated consultations by Sanad’s strategic partner, the Network of Iraqi Facilitators (NIF), with tribal leaders and local government officials. During this time, the main challenges and potential solutions to support peaceful coexistence, the rule of law and stability in the area after its liberation from the extremist Islamic State organization (ISIS) were discussed. “The initiative is important because it made this event possible. We hope that the agreement will be a document that will bring peace and prosperity to the people of Tal Afar and allow life to return to people who have suffered from war and destruction. I hope that the agreement will be translated into actions on the ground and that all residents of Tal Afar will abide by it.”-Qassim Sharif Ali, Qaim’maqam (mayor) of Tal Afar District Tal Afar is an Iraqi city located in northwestern Iraq, and administratively affiliated to Nineveh Governorate. The district center of Tal Afar is inhabited by more than 250,000 people from both the Shia Muslim Turkmen and Sunni Muslim Turkmen community, who have both relied on agriculture and herding livestock their main source of economic livelihood. The city, which is located 60 km (37 miles) away from the Iraqi-Syrian border and 70 km (40 miles) away from Mosul, was one of the first Iraqi cities to be come under the control of the extremist Islamic State organization (ISIS) on June 16, 2014, which led to the displacement of thousands of families from the city. On August 20, 2017, various Iraqi forces launched a military campaign to recapture the city of Tal Afar, which was one of the last strongholds of ISIS. The Iraqi government was able to completely liberate the city after a battle that lasted seven days, which led to the mass displacement of thousands of Sunni Turkmen families to the Republic of Turkey.
The agreement aims to find common ground through which consensus can reached on how to address the drivers of tensions and conflicts in the Tal Afar district, the most important of which are: issues of return and reintegration of displaced persons, creating a balanced representation of all local community groups in local administration, and addressing community grievances and concerns on issues of compensation and security.
In addition, the signatories to the document pledged to uphold the rule of law, promote an inclusive identity for all members of the Tal Afar community, and to comply with legal mechanisms during the conflict resolution process. Tal Afar has suffered under the extremist Islamic State since mid-2014 and, starting before that in 2005, struggled with terrorism and divide-and-rule tactics under Al-Qaeda and other extremist actors. In this document, principles, mechanisms and recommendations have been collected and announced by the local community, including women, notables, and tribal sheikhs of Tal Afar district with the support of local authorities, in order to bring peace and comprehensive justice to the region. Please see the appendix to the signed agreement that includes principles, mechanisms and recommendations. “With regard to compensation, we need to identify the families of the martyrs because they are the reason for our return to Tal Afar. Because of the blood the martyrs sacrificed, we surely need to include them in the compensation discussions.”-Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed, member of the Tal Afar Peace Committee

Signatories of the document

  1. Notables and tribal leaders from Tal Afar district center

  2. Representatives from the Supreme Religious Authority in Najaf (Al-Marjaiyya)

  3. Representatives of the Tal Afar Local Peace Committee

  4. Officials from the local Tal Afar government, including the Qaim’maqam (mayor) of Tal Afar Mr. Qasim Sharif Ali

  5. A group of women activists from Tal Afar, including women members of in the Tal Afar Local Peace Committee

Or contact Ali Dawood, the executive director of Sanad for Peacebuilding on: