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17. May 2023 18:31
Gorran, once the dominant opposition party and now a coalition partner in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), has attributed ongoing disputes among political factions in the Kurdistan Region to internal party interference in governmental affairs.
Hoshyar Ali, the Head of Foreign Relations for Gorran, expressed this perspective to Rosy Cave, the UK Consulate General in Erbil. According to Zamen Press, a media outlet associated with the party, Ali stated that "a fundamental solution is building national institutions."
Ali also criticized the frequent delays in conducting elections, labeling them a "black spot" in the political process and an affront to democracy. His party's MPs co-signed the draft law to delay the elections late last year.
Border measures on the Iraq-Iran border are under review by Baghdad and Erbil, according to KRG Interior Minister Reber Ahmed. He discussed Iraq-Iran border security with the visiting Iraqi National Security Advisor, Qassem al-Araji, in Erbil.
For years, Iran has accused Iranian Kurdish opposition parties based in Iraq’s Kurdistan Region of smuggling weapons and conducting cross-border operations. Last year, Tehran blamed the Kurdish opposition for drone attacks on a munitions factory in the central Iranian city of Isfahan.
In 2022, Iran repeatedly infringed on Iraqi and Kurdistan Region sovereignty by targeting locations they alleged were occupied by militant Iranian-Kurdish opposition parties.
These attacks escalated with the onset of nationwide protests sparked by the custodial death of a young Iranian-Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini. Iran accused Iranian-Kurdish opposition groups of inciting unrest in Iran.
In response to these Iranian attacks, Iraq, together with the Kurdistan Region security forces, has strengthened border security. Meanwhile, Tehran continues to protest Iraq’s perceived failure to control dissident groups operating from the Kurdistan Region.
The agreement between PUK and KDP has cast a shadow of uncertainty over Lahur Talabany's political maneuvers, according to a fresh report by Bwar News.
In early May, the ousted Co-Chair of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan Lahur Talabany began a series of visits to key political figures. He met with Salahadin Bahadin, Secretary-General of the Kurdistan Islamic Union, Ali Bapir, President of the Justice Group (Komal), and Omar Saed Ali, the former leader of the Change Movement (Gorran).
Following these meetings, Cheto Salih, a member of the PUK Leadership and delegation, addressed the media, expressing an intention to maintain dialogue with political parties, including the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and plans for a formal meeting. Salih hinted at a positive relationship between Talabany and Prime Minister Masrour Barzani, asserting they would be welcomed by the KDP's Vice President.
Soon after, Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, who had been boyotting cabinet meetings for eight months, met with PM Barzani. This meeting could be perceived as a trigger for the lull in Talabany's political jostling.
The KDP seemed to show interest in Lahur Talabany while navigating issues and tensions with the current PUK leadership. Reports suggest that PM Masrour Barzani proposed replacing boycotting PUK ministers with candidates chosen by Talabany. However, this move was blocked by the Kurdish Region's President, Nechirvan Barzani, who believed it would escalate existing problems.
According to certain media reports, despite pressure from senior US officials, DPM Qubad Talabani was uneasy about the strengthening of ties between PM Barzani and Lahur Talabany.
Talabani feared that Lahur might negotiate a deal with PM Barzani to fill ministerial positions.
Lahur Talabany's political future is now uncertain once more given the recent easing of tensions between the two parties.
The Kurdistan Parliament has adjourned its session today, the first in months, postponing the vote on the resignations of the Kurdistan Justice Group (Komal) MPs, according to a statement issued by the parliament.
Ziyad Jabar, the PUK's leader in the Kurdistan Parliament, told NRT English that they suggested deferring the vote on the resignations of the seven Komal MPs, given the current conciliatory climate in the Kurdistan Region.
Jabar hopes this delay will allow the Komal faction to reconsider their decision.
"We wanted to work together more for the nation’s benefit. Our suggestion today was in hopes that our friends at Komal would reconsider their decision and that we could keep working together inside the parliament."
However, Abdulsatar Majeed, the head of the Komal faction, remains resolute, telling Rudaw that they will not reverse their decision to resign. He said he hopes the matter will be up for a vote in the next week's session.
Two weeks ago, after the initial resignation, Majeed, a member of the party politburo and the former Minister for Agriculture, commented that Komal views the current parliament as "expired". This refers to the decision to extend the legislature's term last November due to disagreements between the KDP and PUK.
The party spokesperson had earlier indicated that the resignations were a tactic to trigger fresh elections. But now, with the recent reconciliation between the KDP and PUK increasing the likelihood of November elections, the key question remains: Will Komal see it as advantageous to reverse their resignation decision?
On Tuesday, a Komal spokesperson welcomed a KDP initiative to hold high-level meetings with the PUK with the aim of resolving outstanding issues and holding the elections in November. The two ruling parties have been under pressure both locally and internationally to hold the delayed elections on time.
17. May 2023 16:42
According to Draw Media, MPs Daban Mohammed, Dyari Anwar, and Ashna Abdulla have submitted their resignations to the Presidency of the Kurdistan Parliament. Shireen Amin is expected to submit her resignation on May 21, 2023. The primary reason cited for these resignations is the extension of the parliamentary term, leading these MPs to boycott parliamentary sessions.
Three of the resigning MPs were formerly associated with Gorran, while Anwar was an independent MP. Gorran is expected to appoint new members to replace them.
In response to the parliamentary term extension, members from the New Generation and the Islamic Group (Komal), along with five other Kurdistan Parliament members, have either boycotted meetings, resigned, or halted their activities.
During today's Kurdistan Parliament meeting, the resignation of Komal MPs was postponed at the request of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan's bloc.
New Generation MPs were the first to leave Kurdistan's parliament last year, after the ruling coalition forced a vote through parliament to "extend" the terms of the cabinet and legislature.
The MPs from the Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) were next to depart, leading to their replacement by MPs from the hardline Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (who secured these seats thanks to the joint list with KIU that they campaigned under in the last election).
Dler Abdoulkhaleq and Soz Abdoulkader from Gorran have taken the seats previously occupied by Ali Hama Salih and Shayan Askari, following their respective resignations.
17. May 2023 16:17
A neighbor of the suspect involved in today's fatal shooting in Koya expressed shock in an interview with NRT Kurdish: "We're taken aback. The man has never had conflicts with his neighbors before."
Ali Abdullah, Koya chief of police, stated that the suspect has no documented history of mental health problems in police records.
17. May 2023 14:57
UN Security Council to discuss developments in Iraq on Thursday.
Sulaymaniyah-based Westga News has a cracker of an exclusive interview on the curious case of the so-called assassination attempt on Karwan Gazneyi MP.
A KDP Peshmerga forces commander claims he and his bodyguards were the other party involved, refuting earlier allegations by a PUK member of parliament (MP) of an assassination attempt.
Zana Khalid, the commander, told local media they were initially attacked by a black Nissan Patrol with tinted windows, owned by Karwan Gazneyi, a Kurdistan Regional parliament member.
"As we approached the checkpoint, we thought this car was tailing us," Khalid said. He added that Gazneyi's car crashed into them at the checkpoint, causing a blockade.
Khalid asserts the confrontation ensued after Gazneyi's driver exited the vehicle and started hurling insults. Responding to Gazneyi's claim of a terrorist attack, Khalid dismissed it as slander and pledged to take legal action.
"I've spent my life combating terrorism and now this man brands me a terrorist. I will sue him for calling us terrorists," he said.
Khalid insisted that Gazneyi fired shots at them.
"This is Mr. Karwan's gun, which he used to shoot at us," Khalid stated, brandishing a firearm. "If we had wanted to assassinate him, we could have. We took his gun; if we were terrorists, we could have carried out the assassination."
Though Khalid has vowed to take the matter to court, Kurdistan parliament members enjoy legal immunity during their terms.
While Gazneyi technically completed his term as an MP last year, the Kurdistan Region's failure to conduct timely elections leaves the current deputies with their legal immunity intact.
Yesterday, Gazneyi said in a press conference that 20 armed men started shooting at him at the scene of the incident.
KRG welcomes statement by foreign representations, including the US, the EU and the UK, urging the KRG and Kurdistan parliament "to all necessary steps to ensure that elections take place without further postponement."
Following three months of renovation and development, the highly-anticipated reopening of Shar Park in the heart of Erbil city is finally happening tomorrow. Situated near the iconic Erbil Citadel, Shar Park enjoys a prime location, making it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists.
Well-known for its picturesque fountains, which feature prominently in many generic "Erbil skyline" stock photographs on the internet, offers a tranquil haven amidst the bustling city. It also sits within easy reach of Qayseri, the historic shopping quarter of Erbil, making it an ideal spot to unwind after a day of retail therapy.
A suspect has been arrested by the PUK-affiliated Kurdistan Region Security Agency in Koya.
The individual is alleged to have killed four people, three of whom were members of his family, in the Koya district of the Erbil province.
Spoiler alert: The security forces have already labelled the suspect as a “killer” before a trial or (presumably) a confession. This is common practice in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, where suspects are often referred to as “terrorists” or “killers” before due process and trial take place.
This is the third shooting incident in Koya in the last two days, but the incidents are unrelated. Though, to be fair, they begin with “killer” and then pivot to “suspect” later in the statement.
Here is the full statement:
The Kurdistan Region Security Agency has arrested the killer of a family in Koya.
The man who shot his family members was arrested by the security and operations forces.
Suspect Rizgar Qadir Rasul, a retired Peshmerga, killed his wife, two daughters and a son over a family dispute in Azadi neighborhood of Koya today at 10:30AM. He also killed a local shopkeeper.
Following confrontations with our security forces, he was arrested under Article 406 of the Iraqi Penal Code based on an order by a judge.
17. May 2023 13:17
In a dispatch from Human Rights Watch (HRW), Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Division, Adam Coogle, has shed light on the Iraqi government's failure to compensate the victims of ISIS atrocities in Sinjar. As per Iraqi Law No. 20, these victims are entitled to claim compensation for damages incurred during war operations, military mistakes, and terrorist operations.
Despite the approval of nearly half of the 10,500 compensation applications submitted by Sinjaris since ISIS attacked the district in 2014, Coogle says no payouts have been made so far. This disparity stands in stark contrast with other regions in Iraq, where some compensation has been disbursed.
Coogle highlighted the myriad obstacles faced by Sinjaris in their quest for compensation, including ongoing political disputes, an arduous and costly application process, and the government's failure to distribute the allocated funds. These factors have left approximately 200,000 displaced Sinjaris, many of whom live in camps, in a state of uncertainty and hardship.
The only group within the Sinjar community that has received compensation is a small number of Yazidis who applied under the Yazidi Survivors Law, a provision not accessible to most Sinjaris.
The HRW dispatch underscored the need for urgent action from the Iraqi government to remove the bottlenecks in the compensation process. This critical support would provide a lifeline for the Sinjaris in their attempts to rebuild their lives after years of conflict.
Salim, 42, lost everything when fighters from the Islamic State (ISIS) stormed his village in the Sinjar district of Iraq in 2014. “We used to have a farm, but ISIS destroyed it,” he told Human Rights Watch. “They damaged my home and stole all of my furniture.” Since returning to his village in 2016, he has struggled to get back on his feet and support his family.
Human Rights Watch
17. May 2023 12:59
The Iraqi government has transferred an additional 200 billion dinars ($152 million) to the KRG account. Faris Essa, the KRG's representative in Baghdad, tells party mouthpiece KDP.info that the money has been deposited into the KRG's bank account. A second instalment of the same amount is expected to be deposited in the next few days.
Essa also noted that Baghdad is set to continue sending 400 billion dinars to the Kurdistan Region for employee salaries until the Iraqi budget bill receives approval.
The KRG is teetering on the brink of financial meltdown after crude oil exports from the Kurdistan Region were halted on March 25 following an arbitration ruling.
The International Chamber of Commerce in Paris ruled in favor of the Iraqi government against Turkey, ordering Ankara to pay $1.5 billion. This ruling comes after the Turkish government exported the region’s oil from 2014-2018 without Baghdad’s consent.
Observers suggest that Ankara is unlikely to permit the resumption of oil exports at least until the conclusion of the Turkish elections on May 28. Meanwhile, Baghdad has announced that it has officially instructed Turkey to resume oil flow.
We have retracted the article titled “PUK MP Karwan Gazneyi Survives Suspected Assassination Attempt".
Upon further investigation, we’ve determined that our initial report lacked sufficient independent corroboration of sources and exhibited problematic source selection.
The details provided to our NRT English reporter, Soran Rashid, by three sources were insufficient to corroborate the claims made by Karwan Gazneyi MP in media appearances and press conferences yesterday. We regret this lapse.
We’re staying on top of this story and will be sure to sift through the conflicting accounts and bring you the full picture.
17. May 2023 11:51
If you miss watching Kurdistan parliamentary sessions, here is the link
Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) commander, Zana Khalid, is accused of opening fire on a Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) MP. In response, Khalid claims that the MP was the actual aggressor and presents the latter's seized handgun as 'evidence'. Khalid also announces plans to sue Karwan Gazneyi MP for labelling him a "terrorist" in a press conference yesterday. NRT English has discovered that Khalid's vehicle was indeed hit by Gazneyi's car, leading to the altercation at a PUK-controlled checkpoint.
The Kurdistan Parliament convenes for the first time in over two months. The agenda includes a variety of issues, such as voting on the resignation of seven MPs from the Kurdistan Justice Union (Komal) and the appointment of replacements for their positions in different parliamentary committees. Speaker Rewaz Faiq informs reporters that MPs are attentively observing the ongoing negotiations among political parties, hoping for an agreement that would ensure the November elections take place.
Yet another fatal shooting in Koya claims the lives of two people.
The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has received additional funding from Baghdad to aid in the payment of public sector salaries.