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29. April 2023 18:39
Kalar Couple: Media advocacy group Metro Centre demands clarity on detained couple's situation
The Metro Centre has released a statement expressing concern over the unclear information provided by authorities about the Kalar couple's detention. The group highlights that no one, including lawyers and relatives, has been able to meet with the couple since their arrest.
The statement explains, "Since their arrest, neither lawyers nor relatives have been allowed to visit the two detainees. The reasons behind the accusations of abuse of power and the nature of the damage caused to public interest remain unclear."
"Though some official statements have been made about the arrest of Sharmin Ali, a member of the Kurdistan Union of Journalists, and her husband Aram Hassan, the information is incomplete, leaving the detainees' relatives in the dark about the reasons for the arrest."
The Metro Centre is demanding fair trial conditions and that both lawyers and relatives be granted access to the detained couple.
29. April 2023 17:28
KRG sends senior delegation to Turkey for oil export talks – Shafaq News
Safin Dizayee, head of the Kurdistan Region Foreign Relations Department in the Kurdistan Regional Government, recently visited Turkey. During his visit, he held several meetings with Turkish officials to discuss ways to find a mechanism to resume the region's oil exports abroad, according to Shafaq News, citing an unnamed source. The meetings were described as "positive and fruitful."
As we reported yesterday, the halt in oil exports has reduced the Kurdistan Region's already strained budget to near zero, causing public sector workers to feel the strain. With no clear signs of resumption yet, the KRG appears to be desperate to contain the fallout from the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris, which ruled in favor of Iraq.
Now that Baghdad is responsible for Kurdish oil sales, Erbil has little to show after years of an oil policy designed to grant the KRG more authority and control over its hydrocarbon resources. Moreover, if the KRG cannot secure funding for public sector salaries, pressure will only continue to grow.
29. April 2023 16:37
KDP MP claps back at Samir Hawrami's PUK Media remarks
The media war rages on. And gets increasingly petty.
Kurdistan Parliament's Idris Ismail has thrown some serious shade at the PUK, telling KDP's Bas News that both Baghdad and Tehran are giving them the cold shoulder. He snidely suggests that the PUK has been sending delegations to Baghdad and Tehran in a desperate attempt to "flog themselves off on the cheap," but that politicians in neither capital are biting.
This ongoing game of verbal ping-pong between the two parties is only getting more intense, with any hope of finding common ground or engaging in productive talks seeming elusive.
29. April 2023 14:34
The Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council has firmly denied that any attacks took place on the al-Rahman mosque in Sinjar district, Nineveh province, last Thursday. However, the council maintains its opposition to the return of certain Sunni Arab families who collaborated with and joined the Islamic State (IS) in 2014, committing horrific acts against religious minorities.
Karim Suleiman, a counselor of the Yezidi Supreme Spiritual Council, announced during a press conference today that an investigation into the Sinjar incident found no evidence of an assault on the Rahman Mosque. Suleiman also mentioned that the Yazidi Emir himself had dispatched a three-person committee to Sinjar, known as Şingal in Kurdish, to inspect the mosque firsthand. The committee discovered that the mosque had neither been attacked nor burned.
Suleiman emphasized that the Yezidis of Kurdistan, like all other groups in the country, support the unity, brotherhood, and solidarity that exist within the nation. He added that attacking mosques does not align with Yezidi principles.
The incident highlights the ongoing security challenges in the area, which lacks coordination between the Kurdish Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi army. Kurdistan Region officials regularly call for greater cooperation with Baghdad to address the "security vacuum."
Despite ISIS being territorially defeated in 2017, remnants of the group continue to launch low-level insurgency attacks against both security forces and civilians in areas straddling the Kurdistan Region, disputed territories, and Arab Iraq.
29. April 2023 12:30
Visiting Iraqi President Abdullatif Rashid and his Iranian counterpart Ebrahim Raisi have called for strengthening Baghdad-Tehran relations. During their meeting, the two presidents "discussed Baghdad-Tehran friendship relations and how to boost them and strengthen cooperation in areas such as energy, water resources, environment, climate, and tourism to best serve both nations' ties," according to a readout issued by the Iraqi presidency website.
The meeting's agenda also included discussions of several critical issues, focusing on the need to intensify efforts to ease tensions at regional and international levels and work together to strengthen prospects for peace.
Following their meeting, the leaders held a press conference where Raisi expressed Tehran's desire to increase trade with Iraq. He also addressed border security, as Tehran has been pressuring Baghdad to curb the activities of Kurdistan Region-based Kurdish rebels.
29. April 2023 12:26
The Iraqi foreign ministry has released a six-minute video showing the evacuation of 234 Iraqis and 16 Syrians from Port Sudan to Baghdad.
Last week, some Iraqis voiced their dissatisfaction with their government's efforts to evacuate fellow citizens from Sudan on social media. This came after Baghdad initially evacuated around 20 Iraqis and expressed gratitude to Saudi Arabia for assisting in the rescue efforts.
29. April 2023 12:23
UAE's Dana Gas increases Kurdish hydrocarbon output in H1 2023 by 9.5%
Dana Gas issued a statement on its website on Thursday, announcing a 9.5% year-on-year increase in hydrocarbon production in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) for the first half of 2023, and a 7.6% sequential quarterly growth. This resulted from a 50 MMscf/d production capacity increase at the Khor Mor Gas Plant in Q3 2022, following the successful completion of a plant-debottlenecking project.
As of January 2023, total production capacity stands at 500 MMscf/d.
Regarding the KM 250 gas expansion project in KRI, the company has set a new target date of April 2024 for the start of natural gas production. Additionally, Dana Gas announced that its affiliate, Pearl Petroleum, is exploring various financing options for the KM-250 expansion project at the Khor Mor field, including a potential bond issue.
Khor Mor faced attacks in June and July last year, leading to a production halt. Total Kurdish production reached 34,500 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boe/d) in H1 2022.
29. April 2023 12:07
PUK considers separate Sulaimaniyah-Baghdad deal
The PUK has suggested that a separate Sulaimaniyah-Baghdad agreement to receive its share of federal revenue, bypassing Erbil, is on the table. This could be a stick for poking the KDP into making concessions or a genuine threat.
It isn't the first time the PUK has threatened breaking away from the Kurdistan Region. With tensions at a multi-decade low, the possibility of such a deal might be more real than before.
However, Baghdad's agreement would be crucial, as Sudani's government needs KDP support. Samir Hawrami, spokesman for KRG Deputy Premier Qubad Talabani, told PUK media outlets: "Qubad Talabani is constantly working to resolve the financial issues of the Sulaimaniyah and Halabja regions; if this isn't resolved with the KDP, we hope to reach an agreement with Baghdad, so Sulaimaniyah's administration is no longer oppressed."
Last week, KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani's office criticized Qubad Talabani, accusing his PUK party of "misleading statements" that blamed the KDP for Sulaimaniyah's revenue shortage. Barzani accused the PUK of blocking government access to domestic revenues collected in Sulaymaniyah and Halabja provinces. He emphasized the need for a robust monitoring system to ensure proper revenue allocation.
The ongoing KDP-PUK disputes have led the Deputy Prime Minister and his PUK ministerial team to boycott cabinet meetings. This is partly due to KRG Prime Minister Masrour Barzani's consolidation of power within his party and cabinet, which has limited the Deputy Prime Minister's influence.
The intense rivalry between Barzani and PUK leader Bafel Talabani has further divided the Kurdistan Region, raising concerns about a potential dual administration. Security, finance, and upcoming elections remain ongoing issues.
29. April 2023 12:02
Law of the jungle
We previously reported on strained relations between the Kurdistan Region's two ruling parties and the resulting opportunities for score-settling amid a deteriorating security situation. Echoing this, Voice of America's Kurdish Service published an article discussing the region's shift towards "the law of the jungle."
The report connects the increase in violent crimes to the lack of rule of law and deepening divisions between the PUK and KDP. Darya Mohammed, a Koya court lawyer, attributes the weak rule of law and judiciary mistrust to the absence of a central authority. Mohammed highlights the growing prevalence of jungle law as both the KDP and PUK control their regions' security and shelter suspects wanted by the other party.
29. April 2023 11:32
Two days after the disappearance of former Iraq-Iran border crossing officials Aram Saya Khan and Sharmin Ali, PUK security forces have finally confirmed the married couple’s detention in Sulaimaniyah on “abuse of power” charges, according to an exclusive report by Draw Media
Colonel Salam Abdulkhaliq, the Kurdistan Region Asayish Department’s Director of Media and Public Relations, stated that the couple was arrested under Article 341 of the Iraqi Penal Code, concerning abuse of power.
Ali Hama Hassan, Sharmin Ali’s father and a veteran PUK peshmerga, appealed to PUK authorities for information about his daughter and son-in-law’s arrest and their current location.
Aram’s father, Hassan Saya Khan, informed NRT English that armed individuals had forced their way into the couple’s home, thoroughly searching the property. Reports also suggest the couple was taken away with their hands and feet bound.
Both Aram and Sharmin previously worked in the media and communications office at the Parvez Khan Border Crossing. This crossing, one of the three main entry points between Iraq and Iran, is under PUK control. Last year, it sparked a dispute between the PUK and its historical rival, the KDP, when the PUK refused to allow KDP-affiliated security forces to oversee operations.
Long-standing disagreements between the two parties stem from customs and excise revenues, as each controls its border crossings with neighboring countries and the rest of Iraq. Each party has accused the other of embezzling public funds at these borders.
29. April 2023 11:03
Good morning from NRT English, and welcome to our live blog. Here's what we're keeping an eye on today:
The tension between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) continues to escalate. The spokesperson for the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) deputy premier has claimed that the Sulaymaniyah region will consider negotiating its own agreement with Baghdad to secure revenues if it cannot reach a deal with the KDP.
After two days of uncertainty, Sulaymaniyah security forces have informed local media that the two missing former customs officials are now in custody and face charges of "abuse of power."
Lastly, UAE-based Dana Gas reports a nearly 10% year-over-year increase in gas production within the Kurdistan Region.