Live: Hostilities persist as PM Barzani urges Qubad Talabani to cease ‘misleading’ Sulaimani

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KRG Ministry of Finance: Erbil loses $850 following the suspension of oil exports

According to a source from the finance ministry, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) lost $850 following the suspension of oil exports. 

The source, who did not want to be named, told London-based Sharq al-Awsat the Kurdistan Region has lost about $850m since oil exports were halted following the verdict in Paris by the ICC International Court of Arbitration. The ICC ruled in favor of Baghdad against Turkey for facilitating the export of Kurdish oil without Iraq's consent.

"If the situation continues, Erbil will run out of money".

The verdict in Paris, which led to a temporary agreement between Iraq and the KRG to resume the exports, has yet to begin. Turkey has yet to decide how to respond to the verdict and the $1.5bn fine it received for important Kurdistan Region's oil without Baghdad's consent. It initially complied with Baghdad's request to block Kurdistan oil exports but is now dragging its heels for resuming them.


Comments similar to the one Plasschaert made about press freedom in the Kurdistan Region irritates the KRG. 

This year, a series of international reports on human rights violations and governance failures in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) sent shockwaves through the political landscape. 

Check out our previous report on how "Damning Reports on Human Rights Violations Ignite Political Firestorm in Iraqi Kurdistan."

Last month, a series of international reports on human rights violations and governance failures in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) sent shockwaves through the political landscape. Yet, it seemed that the ruling party propagated much of the controversy, with the response characterized by self-consciousness and paranoia.   These reports, released by the US State Department and Amnesty International, and an opinion piece published in the Foreign Policy, sparked heated debate within the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and beyond.   The KRG’s […]
NRT English
Some context on Plasschaert's comments on press freedom:


In 2022, the KDP-affiliated security forces were the main perpetrator of violence against journalists in the Kurdistan Region, according to a recent report by Metro Centre, with the PUK coming in second.


Metro's report indicates that the KDP was responsible for the majority of the cases of violence and harassment against journalists, including physical attacks, verbal threats, and arrests. The PUK was found to be responsible for a significant number of cases as well, although to a lesser extent than the KDP.


UN Special Representative Expresses Concern Over Freedom of the Press in Iraq and Kurdistan Region


Jenine Plasschaert, the UN Special Representative for Iraq, has expressed concern over the current state of freedom of the press in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.

In a statement, cited by KDP-affiliated Rudaw website, Plaschardt highlighted her worries about the seemingly legal measures being taken to silence dissent.


Plasschaert emphasized that when laws are used to stifle free expression, it poses a serious threat to the most fundamental principle of any society.

She expressed her concern over the recent arrests of journalists and activists in the region, noting that such actions undermine the vital role of media in any democratic society.


The chair of the US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee calls on the Biden administration to pressure Baghdad to allow for the resumption of Kurdish oil.

One concern is fears that Israel might be losing oil access in a new deal, as was reported by Washington Institute
Journalist Sentenced to a Further Five Months in Prison for Changing the Logo of His Car


Guhdar Zebari, one of five activists and journalists arrested in October 2020 on charges of “being spies” and “destabilizing national security”, has been sentenced to an additional five months in prison on charges related to changing the logo of his car.


According to NRT Kurdish, Zebari's lawyer, Kamaran Sarmami, said that the court had increased his client's sentence, which was previously seven months, to a total of twelve months.


Sarmami explained that Zebari was accused of changing the logo of his car but argued that the logo was already on the vehicle when his client purchased it. Despite this, the court still found Zebari guilty of the charges, leading to the additional five-month sentence.


Zebari's case has garnered widespread local and international attention, particularly after he was scheduled to be released last month along with three other prisoners in the Badinan detainees case. However, with this new sentence, Zebari's release has been delayed yet again.


Many have criticized the court's decision, with some arguing that Zebari's sentence is unjustified and represents a violation of his rights. Others have pointed to the larger issues with the Badinan detainees case, which has faced criticism for its lack of transparency and alleged violations of human rights.


PUK MP: Not even the KRG's FM knows how much revenue the Kurdistan Region earns

Luqman Wardi, the deputy head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc in the Kurdistan Region Parliament, has stated that Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani is concerned about the lack of transparency in the Kurdistan Region.

Wardi also mentioned that even the Minister of Finance and Economy, a member of the Change Movement (Gorran), does not know the total revenue of the Kurdistan Region.

In an interview with the Slemani News Network (SNN), a PUK-affiliated media outlet, Wardi refuted rumors that Talabani's boycott of cabinet meetings was motivated by personal interests. He clarified that the decision was made by the PUK as a party because only Prime Minister Masrour Barzani is aware of the region's total revenue.

Wardi also emphasized that the PUK's stance would not change until Barzani addresses the perceived financial discrimination against the Sulaymaniyah region in terms of budget allocations.

The Kurdistan Region continues to be troubled by intense political disagreements between the KDP and PUK, with financial allocations, security, and the upcoming November election being the primary sources of contention.

The disappearance of two former Iraq-Iran border crossing officials has raised questions and sparked concern among their families and the local community.

Full article below:
The disappearance of two former Iraq-Iran border crossing officials has raised questions and sparked concern among their families and the local community. Aram Saya Khan, the former head of communication and relations at the Parwez Khan Crossing Border, and his wife, Sharmin Ali, the former head of media and information at the same crossing, were reportedly abducted from their home in Kalar district by a team of masked, heavily armed Sulaimaniyah Asayish forces, according to the victims’ family members. The […]
NRT English
credit: INA
JUST IN: The Iraqi Minister of Defense receives the two Air Force planes returning from the Sudan, carrying over 200 Iraqi nationals and expatriates.
credit: Sharmin Ali has worked as a journalist for Change Movement (Gorran)-affiliated KNN.

The fate of the two former Parwez Khan Crossing Border officials who were forcibly taken from their home in Kalar district, Sulaymaniyah province remains undisclosed, while their families demand official clarifications.

Yesterday morning, Aram Saya Khan, the former head of communication and relations at the Parwez Khan Crossing Border, and his wife, Sharmin Ali, who held the position of head of media and information at the same crossing border reportedly abducted by a team of heavily armed, masked Sulaimaniyah Asayish forces, according to Saya Khan's father and Ali’s brother speaking to NRT English.

Hassan Saya Khan, Aram’s father, told NRT English that “we asked every related person, but no one gave us an answer, we asked security forces for formal explanation.”

He said that the armed individuals forcefully entered their residence and conducted a thorough search of the house.

Here is a statement from the KRG Ministry of Endowment and Religious Affairs on the recent clip in which Light The Candle, a charity operating in the Kurdistan Region, has called for the destruction of a Yazidi shrine.

There is an organization, Light The Candle, which operates in the refugee camps [of the Kurdistan Region] under the designation of charity and humanitarian work. A team from the organization has visited a sacred site of the Yazidi brothers and sisters in Duhok province. A video clip shows that they are praying; however, the content of their prayers is contrary to the principle of co-existence and hurts the feelings of the Yazidi brothers and sisters.

Strong condemnation and call for legal consequences

We, in the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs, the General Directorate of Christians, and the General Directorate of Yazidis, strongly condemn the work of this organization, which is carried out in the name of charity. We call on the relevant authorities to take legal action against such acts that will ultimately affect co-existence and social peace.

For more details on the controversy, read this article written by Colin Ruth.
By Colin Ruth An Instagram clip surfaced last week that shows a group of Christian missionaries praying for the destruction of a Ezidi shrine.  The clip in question, now deleted, came from the Instagram account of Light a Candle, a Christian organization based in Redding, California that is dedicated to spreading its religious message worldwide.   “We break the power of this temple, we break the power of the Satanic curse that it places on people who enter Jesus …,” a […]
NRT English
Breaking: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf has announced that the two planes evacuating Iraqi citizens from Port Sudan ahave arrived in Baghdad with 234 citizens on board, including 16 Syrians.
We are excited to announce that Soran Rashid, a seasoned journalist, has joined the NRT English team.

You can follow him on Twitter to stay up-to-date with his latest articles.

Here is what Soran wrote on the security situation in the Kurdistan Region, shedding light on how some might be taking advantage of the strained relations between KDP and PUK to settle scores.

We look forward to seeing more of Soran's insightful work at NRT English.
Strained relations between the two ruling parties of the Kurdistan Region have provided opportunities for some to settle scores, exploiting the deteriorating security situation. A series of security breaches in both Erbil and Sulaimaniyah, including high-profile killings, have raised concerns that cases of individuals avenging tribal disputes and settling old feuds are on the rise. Relations between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have reached their lowest point since the infamous civil war of the […]
NRT English
NRT English reached out to Yasin Sami, the spokesperson for Sulaymaniyah Asayish security forces, for comment on the Kalar story, but has not received a response.

We will post an update if one does come through.
Joint statement from a group of Garmian-based Journalists 
"Yesterday, Garmian security forces raided the home of Hassan Saya Khan, his son Aram, and daughter-in-law Sharmin Ali, in the Shahidan neighborhood of Kalar district, Sulaymaniyah province. The reasons for Aram and Sharmin's arrests remain unknown, particularly since no explanations have been given, raising concerns about their treatment.

Both detainees are civilians, peaceful government employees with no criminal records or involvement in illegal activities. However, their homes were raided aggressively, as if they were terrorists. Numerous masked gunmen were deployed throughout the neighborhood and around their homes, where surveillance cameras were present. All their neighbors were gathered, leaving us questioning the intent behind this action.

This behavior is not only inappropriate and disrespectful towards the detainees, who are former journalists and activists, but also towards Mr. Hassan Saya Khan, a respected social and political figure. He is a long-time activist dedicated to serving society and fighting against oppression, injustice, and corruption. This incident has caused worry and anxiety among citizens.

We strongly condemn this conduct and hold the government, security agencies, and officials of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) responsible for this insult. They must issue an official apology and investigate the cases of the two detainees in a fair and legal manner."
Ex-customs official and partner reportedly abducted in Sulaymaniyah

NRT Kurdish has reported that a former customs official from Parvez Khan border crossing and his partner were allegedly abducted from their residence in Kalar, Sulaymaniyah province, by an unidentified group of armed individuals.

According to Saya Khan's brother, Aram Saya Khan and his wife, Sharmin Ali, were taken by a team of heavily armed, masked men.

Local police sources informed NRT Kurdish that they have not yet been made aware of the incident.

Sarbaz Ali, Sharmin's brother, told NRT English that they have not received any information on the reasons for their detention or their current whereabouts.

Sarbaz believes that their abduction is likely connected to their employment at the customs office in Kalar, as they were taken directly to Sulaymaniyah.

Sharmin also served as a correspondent for the Kurdish News Network (KNN) in Kalar. KNN is owned by Gorran, the former opposition movement in Kurdistan. However, her brother considered it unlikely that this was the reason behind their abduction.
Rawanduz mayor narrowly escapes shooting

The Mayor of Rawanduz, Ahmad Qadir, escaped unharmed yesterday morning after being targeted by unidentified assailants. According to a spokesperson for Soran police, three suspects have been arrested in connection with the attack.

Reports from Rudaw suggest that the incident was the result of a long-standing social dispute between Qadir's family and another local family that has been ongoing for more than three decades.

Kurdistan 24, a news outlet widely believed to be affiliated with PM Masrour Barzani, reported that Qadir was attending a funeral the previous night when he was confronted and threatened by a group of individuals before being shot.

Legal action is reportedly being taken against those responsible for the shooting, as confirmed by Halgurd Sheikh Najib, supervisor of the Soran Independent Administration, in an interview with Kurdistan 24. Najib also stated that the initial dispute had been political but had been resolved due to the families' close relationship.
Iraqis boarding flight in Port Sudan to return home
Iraqis boarding flight in Port Sudan to return home   credit: Iraq Foreign Ministry

PM's office issues stinging statement targeting Deputy Prime Minister

The office of KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani issued a statement overnight criticizing Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani. The statement accuses Talabani and his PUK party of preventing the government from accessing revenues collected domestically in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja provinces. It also stressed the need for a robust monitoring system to monitor revenue collection and ensure that it is used for public administration.

The statement demanded that Talabani cease misleading the public about the issues at hand and return to cabinet meetings. Luqman Wardi, the Deputy Head of the PUK bloc in the Kurdistan Region's parliament, criticized the statement from the Prime Minister's office, stating that it lacked principles, etiquette, leadership, and statesmanship.

He said that the statement resembled the language of defamation and insults used by KDP's shadow media, and it was clear that the Prime Minister was difficult to work with.

The ongoing issues between KDP and PUK have led to the Deputy Prime Minister and PUK ministerial team abstaining from cabinet meetings. This can be attributed to the consolidation of power by KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani within his party and the cabinet, leaving the Deputy Prime Minister with limited influence.

Barzani's intense rivalry with (the equally impulsive) PUK leader Bafel Talabani has further contributed to a divided environment in the Kurdistan Region, with concerns about the potential for another dual administration. Security, finance, and upcoming elections remain ongoing issues.

Opposition leader Shaswar Abdulwahid dismissed the rivalries, stating that the PUK and KDP were fabricating issues to create an illusion of conflict. He argued that if they were willing to cooperate, an agreement could be reached 'within an hour'. However, by manufacturing disputes, they are using them as an excuse to avoid holding elections in the Kurdistan Region.

Breaking: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ahmed Al-Sahhaf has announced that the two planes designated for evacuating Iraqi citizens from Port Sudan are en route to Baghdad with 234 citizens on board, including 16 Syrians.
Rescue workers and crew loading supplies
Rescue workers and crew loading supplies   credit: Foreign Ministry
Iraq's foreign ministry announces that its aircraft have landed in Port Sudan to bring home the Iraqis rescued from the country. This development comes amid criticisms over Iraq's response to evacuate its citizens.

Some Iraqis have voiced their dissatisfaction with their government's efforts to evacuate fellow citizens from Sudan on social media.

The Iraqi foreign ministry previously shared that around 20 Iraqis have been evacuated and expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for assisting in the rescue efforts.
Morning briefing

Good morning from London and welcome to the NRT English live blog. Here's the morning briefing to get you started.

  • The office of KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani issued a strong statement on the government's website addressing Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani's continued absence from cabinet meetings. The Prime Minister urged the Deputy Prime Minister to stop misleading the public in Sulaymaniyah and return to the meetings.
  • NRT Kurdish reports that a former Parvez Khan customs official and his partner were forcibly taken from their home in Kalar district, Sulaymaniyah province, by an unidentified group of armed individuals. Aram Saya Khan and his partner were reportedly abducted by a team of heavily armed, masked men, according to Saya Khan's brother.
  • Iraq has begun evacuating its citizens from Sudan after sending two planes yesterday, as confirmed by the Iraqi foreign ministry. The spokesperson informed the Iraqi News Agency that the planes had landed in Sudan.
  • Lastly, the mayor of Rawanduz was targeted in a shooting yesterday morning but escaped unharmed. A Soran police spokesman confirmed that three people have been arrested.