Live: Oil Export Developments, More Election Drama, and Feyli Genocide Conference

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PUK's Scheduled Attendance at Cabinet Meeting Canceled,  Draw Media Reports

The website says that a PUK representative was scheduled to present the PUK's proposal to the KDP during the cabinet meeting tomorrow. However, this attempt failed, and as a result, the cabinet will not hold its regular meeting tomorrow.

This comes amid rising tensions between the two parties, most recently on the Kurdistan Region's parliamentary elections.

The cancellation of the cabinet meeting comes amid escalating tensions between the two parties, particularly over the Kurdistan Region's parliamentary elections. According to the website, KRG ministers (excluding the boycotting PUK members) were informed today that the weekly meeting would not take place tomorrow.

The PUK delegate was scheduled to present the party's counteroffer to the KDP tomorrow. This follows a meeting last month between the KRG's delegates and the disgruntled KRG Deputy Premier, Qubad Talabani, who has been boycotting the cabinet for six months.
Halabja Council Head Resigns After Six Months, Citing Interference

After serving as the the head of the council of Halabja for six months, Sayed Hakim Hanasurayi submitted his resignation upon learning that he would be "replaced."

On Tuesday Hanasurayi told Rudaw that he was aware of the individuals behind his removal and their reasons but chose not to disclose this information at this time.

Hanasurayi confirmed that he knew about the upcoming appointment of Salam Bilal, a municipal engineer, as Halabja's new mayor, scheduled for the following day. He expressed his struggle in holding the position, stating, "I took over the post of the head of the council of Halabja at an extraordinary time, while I knew that despite the fact that I am not supported by the party, I have been opposed from many places."

He added that from the first day he took office, the Halabja administration spoke to him in a commanding and prohibitive manner, which he could not accept. Ultimately, Hanasurayi was removed from his post, which he considered a significant responsibility.

In October, Kwestan Akram, the previous head of the council of Halabja, announced her resignation at a press conference, apologizing to the citizens of Halabja for not being able to serve them during his four-year term.

Hanasurayi warned that if he could not serve and the government did not help provide services to the citizens, he might follow in Akram's footsteps and resign.


The tit-for-tat between the KDP and PUK is heating up

The dispute between the KDP and PUK is intensifying, with both parties now accusing each other of causing potential delays to the upcoming November elections. This marks the second time within a year that the elections could face postponement.

The conflict revolves around the proposed amendment of the electoral law in the Kurdistan Region. As tensions escalate, the timely execution of the elections is at risk. Soran Rashid's report offers a comprehensive analysis of the main points of contention in the Kurdistan Region's political landscape.
Nahro Rawandzi, the deputy chairman of the Iraqi parliament's oil and gas committee, revealed to Rudaw on Tuesday that an agreement between Iraq and Turkey on the resumption of Kurdistan's oil exports is imminent, and they have a good understanding on the $1.5 billion compensation that Turkey has to pay.

Rawandzi stated that the oil exports are expected to start in the first half of this month since there are no major obstacles. He added that they plan to meet with the oil minister next Sunday to request more details.

According to an anonymous source from the State Organization for Marketing of Oil (SOMO) who spoke to Rudaw, there are no obstacles to exporting oil from the Kurdistan Region, except for administrative and decision-making procedures. The source noted that Iraq, Turkey, and the Kurdistan Region have agreed on many details and there are no major obstacles to oil exports.

Although the resumption of oil exports from the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) was expected earlier this month following the Erbil-Baghdad deal on April 4 to restart the flow through the Ceyhan port in Turkey, there have been few signs that the pipelines will come back online soon, almost a month after the agreement.

PUK reportedly files legal complaint calling for amendment of electoral law in the Kurdistan Region

The PUK says it has filed a complaint with the Iraqi Federal Court calling for the amendment of the electoral law in the Kurdistan Region, official PUK Media reports. 

Italian Defense Minister Guido Crosetto arrived in the Kurdistan Region capital of Erbil for his first visit and is scheduled to meet KRG officials on Wednesday.

Crosetto was welcomed at Erbil International Airport by Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Interior Minister Rebar Ahmad and Safeen Dizayee, Head of the Department of Foreign Relations for the Kurdistan Regional Government.

Earlier today, Crosetto arrived in Baghdad and met with Defense Minister Mohammed Saeed to discuss bilateral relations, according to an announcement by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense. The statement revealed that Saeed praised Italy's participation in the international coalition against ISIS.

During the meeting, "the two sides discussed ways to develop relations and joint cooperation between Iraq and the Republic of Italy," the ministry said. Italy is a member of the international coalition against ISIS, and several Italian military advisers are training Iraqi Peshmerga and soldiers in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

On December 23, 2022, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni visited the Kurdistan Region and met with KRG officials.
PUK MP: KRG Fails to Distribute Salaries to Unified Brigades of Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs

Deputy Head of the Peshmerga Committee in the Kurdistan Region's Parliament and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP, Osman Sedari, has revealed that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has not been distributing salaries to the unified forces within the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.

Speaking to PUK Media, Sedari highlighted the ongoing delays despite the United States providing $25 million per month for the unified brigades' salaries.

According to Sedari, even though the necessary funds are received from the US every month, the delays in salary distribution continue to persist.

In response to these revelations, a source from the Finance Ministry informed PUK Media that the salaries for the unified forces are scheduled to be distributed today. The situation highlights the need for increased transparency and accountability in the distribution of financial resources to the Peshmerga forces.

Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal) representatives in sulaymaniyah provincial council "abide" by party leadership in resigning

The Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal) representatives in the Sulaymaniyah provincial council have resigned, citing the "expiration" of the institutions due to a lack of recent elections. Peyem, a news outlet affiliated with Komal, reports that the decision follows instructions from party leader Ali Bapir.

Komal, an anti-establishment Islamist party, announced yesterday their decision to withdraw from the Kurdistan Region parliament, provincial councils, and local administration in Sulaymaniyah in response to the "stagnant" political landscape.

Members of Komal in the Sulaymaniyah provincial council adopted the leadership's instruction to their members to resign.

They emphasized that the delayed decision demonstrates that it was not a political "bargaining tactic," and thus, different from the withdrawals of other political parties. As a result, they believe there is no reason for allies or adversaries to criticize their party leader for this action.

This is likely a veiled reference to the resignation of New Generation Movement's deputies from parliament last year after the government forced through a vote to 'extend' its own mandate. However, the logic seems unclear.

If they're not resigning en masse for political point-scoring with elections on the horizon, there's no coherent reason why they didn't resign earlier in both the lapsed provincial council and the 'extended' parliamentary mandate. The notion they refrained from doing so to avoid some kind of bandwagoning appears to be a logical contortion.

The Komal members who resigned from the Sulaymaniyah provincial council expressed satisfaction with their decision, stating that no one has benefited from the current government. Koma's representative has also told Peyem that their withdrawal from the political process was intended to "ensure" that fresh elections are held on time, as there was no guarantee they would be.

Elections, which are scheduled on the 18th November this year, look more and more likely to be postponed again following the political "disagreements" between the political parties, particularly the ruling KDP and PUK parties.
credit: Peyam
Kurdistan Parliament Speaker meets foreign diplomats

Snap Analysis: Examining the Stakes in the Upcoming Kurdistan Elections

As the date for the postponed Kurdistan Region parliamentary elections approaches (with no certainty that it will take place), different political parties and factions have varying stances on whether and how they should be held. Here's a closer look at the positions of some key players:

  1. Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP): The KDP favors holding elections using the current method, as it believes it could at least maintain its seats. Conducting elections regularly would also help legitimize the Kurdistan Region as a democratic entity.
  2. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK): The PUK has made it clear that it will not allow elections to take place unless electoral reforms are made. This includes proposals for multi-constituency elections representing provinces and the controversial redistribution of minority quota seats among provinces or allowing only minorities to vote for those seats. The KDP's alleged use of security forces to vote for proxy minority parties occupying quota seats has also raised concerns. With its internal issues, the PUK would prefer delaying elections, as other parties are vying for seats in Sulaymaniyah.
  3. New Generation Movement (NGM): Buoyed by successful Iraqi parliamentary elections and the internal struggles of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the NGM is confident that it can secure more votes in the upcoming elections.
  4. Change Movement (Gorran): Currently a partner in the government, Gorran could suffer significant losses in any election and would likely prefer to delay it further. The party's seats are at risk of being taken by the PUK, NGM, or a PUK-splinter bloc or bipartisan alliance led by ousted PUK co-leader Lahur Sheikh Jangi.


The First International Scientific Conference on the Genocide of the Kurdish Nation (Feyli Kurds) commenced today in Erbil.

Here's what the organizers say about the goals of the conference:

  • Define and introduce all aspects of this crime to the whole world.
  • Shed light on this genocide from various fields of science.
  • Document numerous aspects of this crime.
  • Identify the historical and legal responsibilities of this offense.
  • Present this crime in academic centers and encourage experts and researchers to investigate different dimensions and aspects of this offense.
  • Ignite and reorganize academic efforts in the field of genocide studies to internationalize this issue.
  • Understand the Faily Kurds' situation and provide help and support to them.
  • Offer a prospective view on the after-effects of the Faily Kurds genocide and its dimensions.
  • Strengthen Kurdistan's position as a world center for genocide research.


Peshmerga Officer Dies in Accidental Shooting in Balisan Valley 

A Peshmerga officer by the name of Sadraddin Mohammed, was fatally shot in an apparent accident in the Balisan Valley, according to NRT Kurdish.

Mohammed, who held the rank of lieutenant, was rushed to a hospital in a village in the Shaqlawa district of Erbil governorate. His relatives told NRT that the officer was preparing to return to work and was cleaning his weapon when he accidentally discharged it, causing his death.

Sadraddin Mohammed, a father of four with his eldest child aged thirteen, now becomes another contribution to a tragic statistic in the Kurdistan Region, where accidental deaths and injuries from firearms are all too common. 

The easy accessibility of weapons in the region has raised concerns, prompting the Kurdistan Regional Government's (KRG) Ministry of Interior to announce a new law suspending unlicensed weapons. However, implementation is lagging.


PUK Media accuses KDP of reneging on election promises

PUK Media, the official mouthpiece of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), recently reported that the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has reneged on its promises concerning the upcoming parliamentary elections.

The report stated that all parties, except the KDP, have agreed to hold the elections on time, despite the KDP's change of stance, which has dampened bipartisan meetings.

Citing Sitran Abdullah, a member of the party's politburo, the report said that the PUK would not participate in an election where the KDP already controls 11 seats, referring to the minority quota seats largely filled by KDP proxy parties.

The article emphasized that the PUK is not the source of contention between the two parties and has consistently taken steps to resolve outstanding issues. However, it accused the KDP of backtracking on issues whenever a resolution seems imminent.

The report also highlighted the agreement between the PUK, Change Movement (Gorran), Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal), and Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) to update the voter register, amend the election law, and reactivate the commission, asserting that these measures serve the democratic process.

As ongoing disputes over the election process persist in the Kurdistan Region, the likelihood of the elections—scheduled for November 18th following a decree by the Presidency—being postponed continues to increase.

The issue of minority quota seats remains a sticking point not only for the PUK but also for other political parties, as it gives the KDP (who already benefit disproportionately from the electoral system for the other 100 seats) a decisive leg-up in parliament for crucial bills.


Why minority quota seats matter

Understanding the importance of minority seats in the Kurdistan Parliament is key to grasping the evolving political dynamics in the region and why it has gained such prominence in recent years.

The Kurdistan Parliament has a total of 111 seats, with 11 designated for minority groups: five for Turkmens, five shared between Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Syriacs, and one for Armenians. The KDP, which currently holds 45 seats, would be able to pass laws with a simple majority if they secure support from these 11 minority seats.

The issue isn't the existence of quota MPs but the way they're elected. Parties are known to instruct cadres to vote tactically for minority candidates amenable to their party's leadership. There are no checks for voters to opt for minority lists and it is possible that strategic voting turnout for minority seats far outnumber voters from those communities.

This potential accumulation of power has sparked unease among the PUK and other regional political parties. The KDP's stronghold on the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), the Kurdistan Region Presidency, and its sway over minority representation in the legislature could generate an imbalance in the political landscape. 

Anxiety arises from the prospect that the KDP's control over various government branches might hinder the region's political diversity and curtail the influence of other parties in the decision-making process. This scenario emphasizes the critical role of minority seats in preserving a balanced political atmosphere and guaranteeing equitable representation for all parties involved.

Here is a statement from the main opposition leader, Shaswar Abdulwahid, on the issues of the elections
Escalating Tensions Surround Kurdistan Parliamentary Elections

The KDP has accused the PUK of obstructing a parliamentary session meant to lay the groundwork for the upcoming Kurdistan parliamentary elections. The KDP faction in the Kurdistan Parliament alleges that the parliament speaker, a PUK member, has been hindering the session, thus delaying the elections.

Peshawa Hawramany, the spokesperson for the KDP faction in the Kurdistan Parliament, said at a news conference: "We have compromised on most of our demands just to hold the elections on time, but the PUK, through Rewaz Fayaq, the speaker of the Parliament, does not allow parliamentary sessions to be held."

According to internal regulations, Rewaz Fayaq, President of the Kurdistan Parliament, holds the exclusive authority to call members for a session 48 hours in advance, signifying that no other entity, like the KDP, can initiate this action independently.

In order to hold elections, we agreed to their [PUK] proposal to re-activate the electoral commission and the amendments to the electoral law together in parliament.

Peshawa Hawramany

He further mentioned that the central issue concerns the minority quota seats that the PUK intends to utilize to enforce its agenda and assert control over the minority population.

Hawramany claims the PUK aims to dictate decisions on behalf of minorities by allocating four quota seats specifically for Sulaymaniyah.

"In contrast, the KDP believes that minorities should have the autonomy to determine their own representation through a unified constituency approach when addressing quota seats," he added.

However, the PUK accuses the KDP of political gamesmanship in attempting to hold the parliamentary session before parties agree on the details, including restructuring how the 11 minority quota seats are elected.

The ongoing electoral disputes between the KDP and PUK concerning election mechanisms have raised concerns that the election, slated for November 18th, could potentially be postponed for another year.

Erbil Governorship bans smoking advertisements

The Erbil governorship has announced a prohibition on smoking advertisements. This means no more promotions for vapes, cigars, cigarettes, and e-cigarettes across all media channels – including visual, print, audio, and even your favorite social media platforms.

Authorities will enforce legal action against anyone found violating the ban, according to the decree. The ban covers all social media influencers, many of whom have recently taken up the habit of promoting nicotine products. 

Enjoy your smoke-free browsing, everyone!
ّWho are the Feyli Kurds?

Faili Kurds are an ethnic group historically inhabiting both sides of the Zagros mountain range along the Iraq-Iran border, and can be considered a cross-border population.

Today, the estimated 1.5 million Faili Kurds in Iraq live mainly in Baghdad, as well as the eastern parts of Diyala, Wasit, Missan and Basra governorates. A sizeable population can also be found in the autonomous Kurdistan region.
They speak a distinct dialect of Kurdish, which is a sub-dialect of Luri.

Unlike the majority of Kurds, who are generally Sunni Muslims adhering to the Shafi’i school of Islam, Faili Kurds are Shi’a Muslims. Their dual Shi’a and Kurdish identity has historically exposed them to stigmatization and persecution, most notoriously in the 1970s and 1980s under the Ba’ath regime.
London-based Qatari New Arab reports that Iraq has lost around $1 billion in oil revenue since Turkey stopped oil exports from the Kurdistan Region.

An official from the Kurdistan Region told the website that a joint delegation from Iraq, including members from the federal oil ministry and the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources, will head to Ankara to sort out issues and restart oil exports.

The report cited oil expert Bahjat Ahmed as saying Turkey has the following conditions before allowing the resumption of the oil:

  1. Dropping the $1.5 billion fine imposed on Turkey by the ICC International Court of Arbitration.
  2. Turkey wants to buy Kurdish oil at a discounted price based on prior agreements between Ankara and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). However, Baghdad and Iraq's oil marketing company, SOMO, do not accept this.

Turkey is still relying on the agreement signed with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which allows it to sell the region's oil to Ankara at reduced prices. However, this agreement has become void as a result of the decision by the Iraqi judiciary, which annulled all oil agreements signed by the region.

Bahjat Ahmed

The report says that the delegation plan to discuss nearly finished deals with four international oil companies and ensure oil sales through Iraq's oil marketing company, SOMO. Turkey halted the Kurdistan Region's oil shipments to Ceyhan starting March 25th after the ICC International Court of Arbitration ruled in favour of Iraq over Turkey, resulting in a $1.5 billion fine for Turkey.

Even though Baghdad and the KRG reached a temporary agreement to resume oil exports to Turkey, Turkey has yet to allow oil export due to concerns about the fine and the higher oil prices set by SOMO.

Morning briefing

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

  • According to the New Arab, a joint Iraqi delegation of the federal oil ministry and the KRG Ministry of Natural Resources will visit Ankara to discuss the issues surrounding oil export via Turkey. Turkey refuses to resume oil imports due to the fine imposed on them by an international court and due to the increased price of oil following a temporary agreement between Baghdad and the KRG.

  • An International Conference on the Genocide of Feily Kurds begins today, highlighting the crimes by the previous regime against the community. The event is hosted by KDP leader and former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani and sponsored by Kurdistan 24, which is affiliated with the KDP.

  • The director of Erbil security forces, as reported by Rudaw, has stated that a suspect accused of torturing a lawyer in Erbil has escaped to Europe through Iran. The lawyer was targeted for representing a woman seeking legal separation from her husband. Authorities are attempting to apprehend the individual with the help of Interpol.

  • And lastly, the Erbil governor bans online smoking advertising.