Dusty sunset on Erbil-Koya Road
Erbil-Koya Road on May 13th 2033 – Ahsan Mohammed & Ahmed Ahmed

Live: Shooting in Koya; cabinet meeting reaction

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Speaker of Parliament Rewaz Faeq released a statement "vehemently condemning" on the shooting of an MP last night in Koya. It appears to be the first official statement on the attack by a PUK leader.

Statement in full

"Karwan Gazneyi, a member of the Kurdistan Parliament, was assaulted by unidentified armed individuals at the Tobzawa checkpoint in Koya last night. Gazneyi was travelling from Sulaymaniyah city to Erbil city, via Koya.

We vehemently condemn this appalling attack on Karwan Gazneyi MP. In response to this atrocious act, we urge security agencies to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring the culprits to justice. It is imperative to uphold the rule of law and ensure the integrity of our checkpoints, which serve the people first and foremost, in addition to safeguarding the lives of MPs and all individuals.

Press Office
Speaker of the Kurdistan Parliament"
Omar Bakir, head of the KDP's Culture and Media Department, told Kurdistan24 that tomorrow's KDP delegation consists of:
  • Mahmoud Muhammad
  • Rebwar Yalda
  • Ali Hussein
  • Pshtiwan Sadiq
  • Hemin Hawrami
  • Jaffar Eminki.

The PUK delegation includes 
  • Shalaw Ali Askari
  • Khasraw Gull
  • Imad Ahmad
  • Rizgar Haji Ham
  • Miran Mohammed
  • Amin Baba Sheikh
Breaking: Delegates from the KDP and PUK political bureaus are scheduled to meet tomorrow in Sulaymaniyah to discuss the upcoming parliamentary elections and address other outstanding issues between the two sides.

Mahmood Mohammed, a prominent figure and member of the KDP's Political Bureau's executive committee, is anticipated to lead the delegation, according to Kurdistan 24 website.

This meeting will be the first in several months between the political bureaus of the two parties, following a period of increased tensions. It also comes hot on the heels of the PUK ministerial team's return to the KRG cabinet just yesterday.

IS suspect killed, infiltration prevented in Nineveh - Iraqi defense ministry

The Iraqi Ministry of Defence has announced the killing of an Islamic State (IS) suspect and the successful prevention of an infiltration attempt by IS militants in the village of Tal Hakim, located in the Nimrud district of Nineveh province.

According to a ministry statement, the 3rd Brigade of the 16th Infantry Division and members from the Popular Mobilization Forces, acting on precise intelligence information, thwarted the IS infiltration attempt in Tal Hakim. The ensuing conflict resulted in the death of an IS suspect who was wearing an explosive belt, effectively neutralizing the group's attempt to destabilize the area's security.

Massoud Nouri, the head of the nearby town of Gwer, told the Rudaw website that the clashes occurred at 2 am today and also resulted in an Iraqi soldier getting wounded.

Nouri further noted that there has been an alarming increase in IS activities in the area over the past 20 days, causing concern among the local residents.

On Saturday, following a suspected IS attack on an Iraqi security post in the Gwer sub-district of the Makhmour district, part of Erbil province, Peshmerga forces initiated a comprehensive sweep of the area to ensure there were no remaining threats from IS militants.

In a statement, the Ministry of Peshmerga emphasized the forces' commitment to maintaining security and peace in the area and ensuring the safety of its civilians. They reassured residents of their continued efforts to secure the region and protect it from any further IS threats.

The PUK's underwhelming media performance

The press and foreign bureaus of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) recently convened to discuss cooperation, a roadmap for coordination, and media development, as reported by the party's official channel, PUK Media.

The PUK's media strategy has traditionally been lackluster and outdated. Despite continuing to rely on affiliate outlets such as Kurdsat News and Gali Kurdistan TV, it struggles to compete with media powerhouses like Rudaw, Kurdistan 24, and NRT TV.

The Esta Media Network, aligned with Bafel Talabani and although relatively new, hasn't managed to launch with the same force and influence as the Big Three of Kurdish news media.

Former PUK co-leader Lahur Talabany endeavored to launch a media outlet of comparable stature in the form of iPlus TV, even poaching the former host of Rudaw's flagship interview show, Rudawi Emro, as CEO. However, it was forced to close down just before launch due to Talabany's ousting in an internal party coup.

Founded by intellectuals, the PUK arguably should have been the first to establish a nationwide and international media outlet. Yet, they have fallen behind the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has successfully launched Rudaw and Kurdistan 24.

In a TV interview last year (ironically with Rudaw), PUK leader Bafel Talabani claimed his party's own 'Rudaw' was in the works. However, nothing noteworthy has materialized since.

NRT, founded by media mogul Shaswar Abdulwahid and originally the region’s first independent media channel before Abdulwahid established the New Generation Movement (NGM), had the potential to fill the power vacuum left by the PUK. However, it has since become as much a partisan media outlet as any of the others.

No official statements from the authorities on this yet.
Ah, perhaps it was coincidental after all

In its session on Wednesday, the Kurdistan Parliament will apparently not address the elephant in the parliamentary lobby:  Amending the election law, which is a significant point of contention between the KDP and the PUK. The two parties have yet to find common ground on this issue.

Another substantial topic not on the session's agenda is the reactivation of the Higher Independent Electoral Commission. This step is crucial to preparations for the upcoming elections in November.

The parliament will, however, cast votes on the resignation of seven MP from the Kurdistan Justice Union (Komal), as well as on replacements for their various committee memberships.

On May 1, Komal representatives in the Kurdistan Region parliament, provincial councils, and local administration in the province of Sulaymaniyah, collectively resigned. They cited the extension of the current house's term by a year last November as a reason, calling into question its legitimacy. No explanation on why they took this long to realise all these institutions have no democratic legitimacy. 
Here's what we know about today's shootout in Koya:

At approximately 11AM local time, a shooting took place near Azadi Police Station in the PUK-controlled city of Koya.

  • Health officials in Koya told NRT Kurdish that the incident resulted in five injuries. One of the injured, Nabaz Qadir, later died. Another is still in critical condition. Among the injured are members of local police forces.
  • The altercation reportedly involved local police and Peshmerga members. Early reports suggest that the son of a local Peshmerga commander may have been involved in the shootout.
  • A local lawyer informed NRT TV that the clashes began when a suspect with an outstanding arrest warrant resisted police apprehension.
  • A witness shared a video with Rudaw allegedly showing a man firing a weapon from a moving pickup truck in a busy part of town. The sound of gunshots can be heard in the footage.
  • This event marks the second shooting incident in Koya within hours, following the alleged assassination attempt on PUK MP Karwan Gaznayee last night.

Check out our earlier report on a series of security breaches in both Erbil and Sulaymaniyah, including high-profile killings, which have raised concerns about the increasing trend of individuals avenging tribal disputes and settling old feuds.

Sulaimaniyah and other PUK-controlled parts of the region have become hotspots for social, economic, and political disputes in recent years. Between 2021 and 2022, the city witnessed five politically-motivated assassinations. It's not uncommon for politicians and officials in the region to maintain their own militias and specialized armed forces.

While security incidents like these are not uncommon, their frequency has surged in recent months, coinciding with intra-PUK conflicts and escalating tensions between the KDP and PUK.
Just in: The Kurdistan Parliament is scheduled to convene for a regular session on Wednesday. This development comes in the wake of a breakthrough between the KDP and the PUK, along with the return of PUK's ministers to cabinet yesterday.

Perhaps coincidentally, Wednesday also coincides with the "deadline" to pass a bill for holding elections on time in November. The PUK has been holding up elections until its demands on electoral reform were met. 
The Iraqi Interior Ministry has banned transactions in US dollars to control the black market exchange rate.
The move follows a crisis in which the dinar's value has plummeted, triggering protests and leading many to rely on the dollar.
The US has since tightened transfer regulations, accusing Iraq of funneling dollars to sanctioned countries, contributing to the dinar's volatility.

Despite these measures, the black market exchange rate remains significantly higher than the official rate.

Scant details so far on the specifics of this decision. Many receive salaries in USD and it's fiat currency in everything from mobile phone purchases to real estate. Nor do we know if it'll be enforced in the Kurdistan Region. We'll do some digging and post another update if we get more details.
For months, the US has been prodding the PUK and KDP behind the scenes to mend their relations. American officials have grown increasingly tired of the escalating tensions and incessant bickering, a sentiment that reportedly culminated in an ultimatum to leaders of both parties: Repair your relationship or risk losing our support.

Just prior to the recent détente, US Assistant Secretary of State, Barbara Leaf, visited the Kurdistan Region to underscore the importance of diffusing tensions.

Click the link below for a transcript of Leaf's unusually candid press conference, which followed her meetings with Kurdistan's leaders.

Statement from the US Consulate General in Erbil

"U.S. Consulate General Erbil welcomes the return of Patriotic Union of Kurdistan ministers to Kurdistan Regional Government’s Council of Ministers after reaching agreement with the Kurdistan Democratic on critical issues. We look forward to close collaboration with the Kurdistan Regional Government on our shared priorities to further this progress."
Good morning!

Welcome to NRT English's daily live blog.

Here are the main stories so far:

  • Fresh shootings and assassination attempts have been reported  in the Kurdistan Region after several days of calm. Last night, Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP Karwan Gaznayee reported an assassination attempt on his life. He claims to have been targeted by "trained masked gunmen" at a security checkpoint near the Koya district of Erbil province.
  • In a separate incident today in the town of Koya, at least one person was killed and four others were injured during a shootout. According to reports, the violence erupted during clashes between police and gunmen at a local police station.
  • Contradicting earlier reports, the Change Movement (Gorran), a junior coalition partner in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), has denied reports of discord in its ranks with the recent agreements made between the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK during yesterday's cabinet meeting. The PUK's ministerial team re-joined the cabinet meeting yesterday after several months of boycotting these sessions.