Standoff at Makhmour camp
Standoff at Makhmour camp

Live: Reports of gunfire at Makhmour camp

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PUK leader Bafel Talabani eyes re-uniting with Gorran

On the anniversary of Nawshirwan Mustafa's death, Talabani said: "I take this opportunity to let everyone know that the PUK is ready to work toward a new accord and reunification with Gorran."

Here is the full statement:

In remembrance of Mr. Mustafa, a founding member of the PUK and a close friend of President Mam Jalal, I bend my head in devotion to his pure legacy and honor this mournful occasion in a dignified manner.

Mr. Mustafa was an intellectual, a Kurdish politician, and a leader of the new revolution. He represented a new school of thought, intellectualism, bravery, and organizational charisma that was instrumental in the advancement of the Kurdish struggle throughout all of its stages and played a crucial role in the armed uprising of our people.

I would like to add that: in addition to being a father to his own children, Mr. Mustafa also served as a father figure to the vast majority of Kurds.

I want to speak for Gorran now more than ever. If a large mountain, like Mr. Mustafa, represents your past and who you are today, there is hope for the future. This should motivate us to make more significant progress.

When a father like Mr. Mustafa, who was a mountain of courage and safety against the storm, brought peace via his shadow and tranquility via his thoughts, dies, it is painful to lose him. However, his belief serves as motivation to keep going.

Because Mr. Qubad and I felt the grief of fatherlessness, I can relate to Gorran and his descendants' suffering.

I am hopeful that Gorran and PUK will be that mountain for our nation because everyone knows that President Mam Jalal and Mr. Mustafa were very close in their last political project and step of their lives to the point of unity and took significant steps.

I take this opportunity to let everyone know that the PUK is ready to work toward a new accord and reunification with Gorran.

Without a doubt, we can achieve Mam and Mr. Mustafa's goals and dreams and complete them together.

This is the proper strategy for achieving both national and Kurdish objectives.

A thousand salutations to Mr. Mustafa's soul and the souls of all the martyrs and warriors on the path to liberation.

Video shows tension as Makhmour refugee camp residents face off with the Iraqi Army.


The Semalka border crossing, between Iraq's Kurdistan Region (KRI) and the Autonomous Administration of North and East Syria (AANES), is now shut indefinitely as extended deadline for KRI residency holders, staff of foreign NGOs, and foreign journalists to cross from Syria into Iraq expired on Saturday.


Earlier, the Rojava Information Center (RIC), a pro-AANES outlet, said the closure follows unsuccessful US efforts to reopen the crossing.


The crossing is the only one between AANES and its neighbors, as neither Turkey nor the Syrian government maintain any connections with the self-governed administration.


KRI border officials attribute the shutdown to weapons and ammunition transfers from Syria to Iraq by the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), as per a statement shared with the pro-KDP Kurdistan 24. The PYD denies these allegations and states it is unclear about the actual reasons behind the closure.


Earlier reports suggested that the closure was due to the AANES authorities barring the Kurdish National Council (KNC/ENKS), a KDP-backed coalition in Syria, from crossing over to attend the Barzani National Memorial inauguration.


Hosted by KDP leader Masoud Barzani in Barzan, Erbil province, the memorial was dedicated to his late father, Mustafa Barzani, marking Barzani's most prominent appearance since the ill-fated referendum of 2017, with guests and delegates from Iraq and other countries.


RIC warned that the closure will negatively impact NES economically and humanitarianly and exacerbate strained NES-KRI diplomatic relations.

Moreover, the KRG says that there are 928,649 IDPs and Refugees in Kurdistan Region: 664,224 IDPs and 246,810 Syrian, 7,860 Turkish, 8,241 Iranian, and 615 Palestinian refugees & 889 others.

While we are covering the tensions in Makhmour refugee camp, here is some fresh data from the KRG on IDPs and refugees who live the Kurdistan Region:


According to the KRG, only 30% of IDPs and refugees live in the 36 camps of the KRI, the rest, 70% live outside of camps. 41% of the total displaced population live in Erbil, 40% in Duhok, and 19% in Sulaymaniyah.


The AFP reports that the Iraqi army is preparing to tighten the federal government's grip on a camp housing Turkish Kurdish refugees that Ankara has called an "incubator for terrorism."


Citing a senior Iraqi official, the AFP says the plans have sparked protests by residents of the Makhmur camp, which currently has its own administration and armed camp guards.


"The army plans to establish a perimeter fence with a (single) entrance to secure the camp," a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.


The aim is to "regulate the movements" of camp residents, the official said, pointing to "security issues" concerning the presence of "PKK families" in the camp.


Iraqi Kurdish official Rashad Kalali said "camp residents demonstrated against the army's plans".


"The Iraqi army wants to build a perimeter fence with a single entrance and confiscate weapons" held by camp residents, said Kalali, a local leader of the Iraqi Kurds' second largest party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.


The camp, in an area of northern Iraq under federal control, was established with UN support in 1998 to host an influx of refugees from the Turkish army's scorched earth campaign against villages suspected of supporting the rebel Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).


It has become a bugbear for Ankara which regards it as a recruiting ground for the PKK in its deadly four-decade insurgency against the Turkish state.


The move by the Iraqi army comes after repeated threats by Ankara over the years to secure the camp itself if necessary.


During a major military operation in northern Iraq in 2021, the Turkish military carried out air strikes that killed several camp officials it identified as PKK leaders. 


"We will not allow the gruesome separatist organisation (the PKK) to use Makhmur as an incubator for terrorism," Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said at the time. "We will continue to exterminate terrorism at its source."


Executive Council of the Kurdistan National Congress (KNK), a Brussels-based coalition of organisations formed by exiled Kurds in Europe, has just issued this statement calling on the UN to stop the Iraqi Army's " aggression against the Kurdish refugees in Makhmour"


Urgent Call to UNHCR to stop Iraqi Army’s aggression against the Kurdish refugees in Makhmour

This morning the Iraqi Armed Forces surrounded the UNHCR Makhmour (Mexmur) Refugee Camp with tens of armoured vehicles, special forces and police personnel, and barbed wire fences.
Over two decades after being forced from their homes in 1994 in North Kurdistan (Turkey), the people of the Mexmur Camp are forced to endure new threats and challenges.

Since its establishment, this civilian refugee camp has been a perpetual target of the Turkish state. Turkish warplanes and drones (including armed drones) often fly above the camp, terrorising the refugees of Mexmur and leaving them to wonder when the next attack will come. The stated goal of the Turkish state, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and his AKP-MHP regime, has always been the destruction of the camp and the elimination or dispersal of its residents. The full might of Turkey’s modern military is used against this refugee camp, and it has also been regularly attacked by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of Iraq, which cooperates closely with the Turkish regime.

What the Turkish state could not achieve, the Iraqi government is now aiming to accomplish.
The Mexmur Camp, home to approximately 11,000 people including thousands of children born into statelessness, is officially under the authority of UNHCR. Unfortunately, however, the agency’s silence and inaction following threats and attacks against the camp show it to be more aligned with the ruling parties of the region than with its stated mission of saving the lives and protecting the rights of refugees.

UNHCR has the responsibility and the diplomatic and political means to stop Iraq, which signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the agency to enhance the protection of refugees in 2016, from violating the rights of the Mexmur refugees and must intervene immediately to save the lives of people whose homes in exile have now been surrounded by the Iraqi Armed Forces. This unwarranted, aggressive action by Iraq against a large civilian population coupled with the Iraqi security forces’ dismal human rights record is cause for serious concern, and immediate intervention is imperative.

In order to prevent any escalation that could endanger the lives of thousands of refugees, UNHCR must immediately intervene to protect the people of the Mexmur Camp.

NRT English has verified images of several individuals in Makhmour being treated for serious injuries. These injuries include deep lacerations to the head and multiple instances of projectile wounds on the backs of young men.
PUK leader Bafel Talabani met with Nahro Muhammad Al-Kasnazan, the spiritual leader of the Qadiri order worldwide, according to a statement from PUK’s official mouthpiece. In the meeting, both sides reportedly discussed "the situation in the region and political changes," and emphasized "the need to unite national efforts to maintain stability and serve the nation."

Nahro has gone from being relatively unknown outside of his order to having a fairly sizable national presence in the Kurdistan region in the last few years. With statements by his close associates to VoA Kurdish signaling his desire to enter the upcoming elections, he has had several high-level meetings with political leaders in the region in recent months.
According to local sources speaking with NRT Kurdish reporter Rizgar Kocher, two "warplanes" have been surveilling Makhmour camp, while a "distinctive Iraqi force equipped with tanks" has advanced towards the site.

One resident told NRT Kurdish: "[Iraqi] forces opened fire on the camp's inhabitants, injuring seven individuals, one of whom is severely wounded."

IRGC warns of resumption in Kurdistan border strikes 

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) warns it may resume border strikes in Kurdistan if the Iraqi government doesn't act promptly.

In a statement to Tasnim news agency, IRGC Ground Force Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Pakpour expressed his anticipation for Iraq to honor its commitments to quell perceived terrorist threats.

"As Iran faces fallout from ongoing protests since last September, it's focused on what it calls 'separatist groups' in Kurdistan," Pakpour said. An agreement was signed with Baghdad in March to reinforce border security.

This warning follows an invitation by the Kurdistan Democratic Party's leader, Masrour Barzani, for an Iranian Kurdish opposition ceremony. This action led Iran to summon the Iraqi ambassador in protest on May 14, resulting in an uncommon visit by Iraqi National Security Advisor Qassem Al-Araji three days later.

Both parties discussed the need for enhanced border security measures during the meeting, according to Kurdistan Regional Government Interior Minister Reber Ahmed.

The latest IRGC statement to Tasnim news agency hints Iran's dissatisfaction with Iraqi measures taken thus far.
تەقە لە کەمپی مەخمور کراوە و بریندار هەیە بە گوێرەی ئەو زانیارییانەی ڕۆژنیوس بڵاویكردۆتەوە هێزە عێراقییەکان بۆ بڵاوەپێکردنی ناڕەزایەتییەکانی کامپەکە بە چەک هێرشیان کردە سەر خەڵکی کەمپی مەخموور و خەڵکەکەش بە بەرد وەڵامیان داوەتەوە لە ئەنجامی تەقەی هێزە عێراقییەکان بۆ سەر خەڵکی مەخموور، گەنجێک بریندار دەبێت و گەیەندراوەتە نەخۆشخانە. بەپێی زانیارییەکان ئەو گەنجە بریندارە ناوی ئەحمەد عیمەر میجینییە.

Reports of gunfire breaking out in the Makhmour camp with apparent injuries among the camp residents.

We're closely keeping up with the story. For important background information, check out Dilan Sirwan's excellent coverage.

Full letter by the sons of Nawshirwan Mustafa on the anniversary of his death

In the name of God, the Almighty, the Most Merciful,

Dear citizens and supporters of Gorran,

As we mark the sixth anniversary of the passing of the late Nawshirwan Mustafa, it is clear that the living conditions of our people and the state of governance in the Kurdistan Region have sadly deteriorated over the past six years. Concurrently, the Gorran Movement has seen setbacks.

On this solemn occasion, we eschew evasion and downplaying of faults. Instead, we take the lead in admitting to our esteemed nation: Yes, following the death of our leader, we have made significant mistakes on several fronts. One of the invaluable lessons from our late father was acknowledging mistakes without defensiveness, dedicating his life to rectifying them and averting their recurrence.

We learned from our father that as part of this nation, we should always be transparent with you and never distance ourselves from you.

These mistakes led to the justified punishment of our movement by the committed supporters and conscientious voters of Gorran, so that it can restructure and once again serve as the bulwark and protector of the Kurdish people.

We are confident that had our late father been alive, the lives of the people, the struggle, the march of Gorran, and the organizational life of the movement would have remained intimately tied to the citizens and the streets: Gorran's heartbeat would have been in synchrony with that of the street.

On this day, we, the sons of Nawshirwan Mustafa, seize the opportunity to sincerely apologize to our selfless and sacrificing people for any pain we may have inadvertently caused. We also ask forgiveness from the pure spirit of our father for any errors we may have committed.

Furthermore, acknowledging that every activist has the right to voice their opinions and suggestions according to the internal constitution of the movement, we put forward the following recommendations:

  1. The decision of the National and General Councils to reconcile and reorganize Gorran should be implemented promptly. All comrades who have dedicated ten years of their lives to Gorran should be approached and invited to return to the movement.

    We acknowledge that many Gorran supporters are currently uneasy about the movement's decision-making and management processes. As such, any actions taken without the input and consent of the majority of activists and voters risk further undermining Gorran, and we must prevent this.

    We believe that those currently leading Gorran bear the primary responsibility to execute the decision for reconciliation and reorganization as part of the movement's leadership.

  2. At this stage, the needs of Gorran and the wishes of its supporters necessitate that the National Council establish an interim committee. This committee should consist of present members of the Gorran Movement, some of Gorran's government team, and distinguished, capable, and loyal activists who are accepted by the people, Gorran supporters, and activists of the movement not currently active. 

    This committee will possess the authority to work alongside institutions, particularly the General Council and the National Council, to manage the organizational and political life of the Gorran Movement. This includes making decisions on Gorran's involvement in the Kurdistan Regional Government, the Kurdistan Parliament, local government, national conference, financial and media policy, political and diplomatic relations, and the forthcoming elections. We presented a roadmap to implement this step in a letter read to the conference preparatory committee and both councils several months ago.

  3. We believe that our shared goal of revitalizing and strengthening the Gorran Movement is so profoundly important that it warrants all conceivable sacrifices. This calls upon us, the sons of Nawshirwan Mustafa, along with the esteemed comrades presently steering Gorran and those serving in the KRG, to support and respect the decisions laid out in the previous point.

    Let us then, in unison, implore our citizens and Gorran advocates to entrust the impending phase of our movement to the comrades who will bear its responsibility, collaboratively striving to ensure the success of our collective efforts. It is abundantly clear to us all that in the absence of our late leader Nawshirwan Mustafa and the setback of the Gorran Movement, the conditions of the Kurdistan Region and its citizenry have deteriorated rather than improved.

  4. We assert that the current state of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq necessitates that our citizens and Gorran supporters place reconciliation and accountability at the heart of our efforts to address and resolve the forthcoming challenges. We must acknowledge that past tendencies towards conflict, retribution, and self-interest have caused considerable harm to our nation. Let us now renounce this toxic legacy.

To this end, we direct our message to our esteemed and loyal comrades presently at home, saying: If previously you were accountable for the Hill [Gorran Headquarters], from today onwards, you should assume the responsibility for this new phase. No longer mere observers, you must become actively engaged, initiating and promoting the reconciliation process, devising and implementing future strategies, strengthening the movement, and restoring hope to our people.

We once again affirm with utter clarity and insistence that our father's decree was that as long as Gorran remains the people's vanguard and the fortress of Gorran's supporters, no individual has the right to exploit it for personal gains. The experiences of the past six years have borne out this truth, and will continue to do so in the future.

Our father's vision involved the establishment of cultural, research, and educational institutions on the Hill to educate future generations. His untimely demise deprived him of the chance to fulfill this aspiration. As the sons of Nawshirwan Mustafa, we consider it our duty to see this dream realized.

It is important to mention that regardless of any past disagreements, we honor the dedication and tireless efforts of all those who have stood with our father: the seasoned veterans, the youth, all activists and voters of the Gorran Movement.

Our collective endeavors are focused on working harmoniously to restore faith, fortify the Gorran Movement, and rekindle hope for our nation. In pursuit of this goal, we implore everyone to fulfill their duties. We remain open and prepared to undertake any support and obligations required of us.

Nima Nawshirwan Mustafa
Chia Nawshirwan Mustafa

Hemorrhagic fever in Iraq

In a statement to Baghdad Today, an official from the Iraqi Ministry of Health reports there have been 119 confirmed cases of hemorrhagic fever, with 18 fatalities to date. The disease is reportedly most prevalent in the Salahadin governorate, although other regions are also gradually reporting cases.

The first instances of the fever were reported just over two weeks ago, and the spread does not appear to have slowed. While the Health Ministry asserts that the rate of spread is less severe compared to last year (which saw 212 confirmed cases and 27 deaths), it still represents a significant increase from earlier periods. According to AFP, the country only reported 6 cases between 1989 and 2009.

Efforts to contain the disease are ongoing throughout the country. Leaked documents reveal that Basrah governorate has decided to ban all imports of animals from other regions of the country. Meanwhile, although no cases have been reported in the Kurdistan region, the Kurdistan Ministry of Agriculture has published a set of guidelines and has issued a warning against the import of animals through unofficial border crossings.
The KDP have been visiting various political parties today for election talks. 
Former NRT English editor Winthrop Rodgers has this, based on local media reports:

US Ambassador to Iraq Alina L. Romanowski spoke to KRG PM Masrour Barzani and Deputy PM Qubad Talabani today. According to a statement she published on her Twitter account, she "applauded them on successful dialogue and progress through Kurdistan Council of Ministers" and encouraged them "to strengthen cooperation on shared priorities" including Peshmerga reforms, dedication to human rights, and elections by the end of 2023.

According to media reports, pressure from the US was instrumental in the recent rapprochement between KDP and PUK, and the ambassador seems to reaffirm previous joint statement on May 16th by 13 diplomatic representatives urging the region to hold election on time.
credit: Dana Gas press pack
Mees reports that Dana Gas's expansion of the Kor Mor gas field, known as the "KM250" project, has resumed operations. The project, which aims to increase capacity by 250 million cubic feet per day, has been in progress for over three years and is partially financed by a U.S. loan. Its progress was hindered by the global COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent repeated rocket attacks on Dana Gas's facilities, leading to multiple delays.

As revealed in Dana Gas's Q1 report published on May 10th, the new anticipated completion date for the expansion is set for April 2024. However, due to a history of recurrent delays and the uncertain security climate in the region, it remains to be seen if the project can adhere to this latest deadline.

Kirkuk gas pipe explosion

Yesterday, a gas pipeline owned by the North Oil Company caught fire near Kirkuk, leading to a large explosion that could be seen and heard from the city itself. Police reported that they quickly managed to bring the resulting fire under control.

Speaking to NRT Kurdish, Brigadier General Azad Muhammad, head of the first Energy Police brigade, claimed the pipeline fire was due to its age.

He stated that "technical faults" led to the explosion while his team was trying to repair it. He further confirmed that the maintenance work has been successful, and the gas flow through the pipeline has resumed.

Footage from Makhmour

Footage, reportedly from Makhmour today, shows a sort of standoff between locals and Iraqi security forces.

The caption reads "#makhmourisunderattack"


Election could be held in three weeks – Saadi Ahmed Pira

On the anniversary of Gorran founder’s death, Saadi Ahmed Pira, a member of PUK’s leadership committee, spoke to the media. He claimed, “If PUK and the KDP come to an understanding, the election will be held in three weeks.” 

However, in an interview with VoA Kurdish, Sleman Mustafa, deputy head of the Kurdistani Independent High Referendums and Elections Commission, contradicted Pira's claim. He stated, “Internal procedures for members of the electoral commission indicate that a minimum of six months is needed to prepare for each election...”

Statements echoing Ahmed Pira's, albeit less dramatic, have recently gained popularity. Fazel Mirani, speaking to VoA Kurdish two days ago, also expressed, “There are no impediments to an election this year if the KDP and the PUK reach an agreement.” 

To be fair, that's a significant qualifier.

High-ranking members in both KDP and PUK appear to be emphasizing the significance of the recent détente between the parties, while downplaying the technical and legal difficulties associated with holding an election. This strategy is likely an attempt to stave off local and international criticism as they navigate a political settlement on contentious issues, particularly the distribution and voting mechanisms related to minority quota seats.

Iraqi forces try to 'seize' Makhmour Camp

On Saturday, hundreds of members of Iraq's security forces tried to take control of Makhmour Camp, an official from the camp reported.

Bewar Amin, the camp's relations officer, told NRT English that the group consisted of Iraqi army, police, and other security personnel. He said they claimed to act on a decision from the Iraqi government to take control of the camp, install security cameras, fence it, and set up checkpoints around it.

Amin reported that camp residents protested against the forces' presence and their attempt to take control. He added that the forces surrounded the camp with tanks and artillery.

The Makhmour Refugee Camp is home to more than 11,000 Kurdish refugees from southeastern Turkey and is primarily controlled and managed by guerrillas affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).

The Iraqi forces' attempt to seize Makhmour Camp signifies a notable development in the ongoing conflict between the Iraqi government and the PKK. Both Turkish and Iraqi governments have long accused the PKK of using Makhmour Camp as a base for its Turkish operations. It's likely to escalate tensions between the Iraqi government and the PKK, which previously vowed to resist any attempts by the Iraqi government to seize the camp.

Makhmour Refugee Camp, established in 1996, is located near the town of Makhmour, about 60 kilometers southwest of Erbil.
Snap Analysis: Lahur’s participation in upcoming elections

Whether and how Lahur will participate in the purportedly upcoming Kurdish elections is a matter of significant debate. 

Since Lahur formally announced his return to the political scene in late February, the predominant topic he and his associates have focused on is the election. From advocating for it to be held as soon as possible to emphasizing its importance, it is rare for a statement from Lahur not to mention the elections in some way.

Despite this, however, neither he nor his close associates have definitively declared their intention to participate in the election, nor is it clear how they'll participate (though many of those same associates have implied it on the record. Others have briefed it on background to journalists throughout the Kurdistan Region). Claiming to represent the "True PUK", he still associates himself with the party and Jalal Talabani’s name.

Meanwhile, although Bafel Talabani has purportedly expressed acceptance of Lahur participating in the election, his own statements and rumors circulated by local media paint a different picture. They suggest that one of Bafel’s preconditions for holding the election is to bar Lahur from participating.

Infamously, at Rudaw’s Erbil Forum earlier this year, he declared, “I don't believe elections can solve our problems. Above all, due to what I hear some elements in KDP are planning to do, which if they follow through, the election will be a source of problems. It is possible elections will never take place.”

While there is precedent for excluding specific movements from participating in Kurdish elections, especially those connected to the PKK, this measure is only taken in exceptional circumstances. 

Even if reports of Bafel attempting to prohibit Lahur’s participation are true, it is unclear whether he has the political capital to push that decision through. It is also uncertain how international partners of the region will react, being among the most prominent voices pushing for an election in Kurdistan.
Omar Gulpi
Omar Gulpi   credit: Gulpi's Twitter profile

NRT English spoke to Omar Gulpi, one of Komal's seven members of parliament who are resigning. He claimed that their party is still adamant about leaving the parliament, even without a vote on their resignation. "The parliament will meet again on Monday, and the resignation of our MPs will be on the agenda," Gulpi said.

Whether a vote is concluded or not, we are insistent on our resignation because we believe that staying in a parliament whose duration has been extended is unjust to the people of Kurdistan and is illegal.

Omar Gulpi

The Kurdistan Regional Parliament extended its term by an extra year in October 2022, a session that was boycotted by opposition parties, including Komal. "At the time of the extension, we decided to boycott the parliament. Now, we have taken an extra step and have offered our resignation from the parliament. This has nothing to do with the PUK or any other party," Gulpi said.

The Kurdistan Regional Parliament has published the agenda for its session on the 22nd of May, which includes the following:

1. Voting on the resignation of seven members of parliament from their roles (KJG MPs and independents).
2. The second reading of the draft law pertaining to the implementation of the Federal 'Anti-Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism Act' of 2015 in the Kurdistan region.
3. The second reading of the draft law on the "Implementation and amendment of the 2012 Iraqi Agricultural Quarantine Law amended in the Kurdistan region."

Notably, there is once again no mention of the election (ostensibly to be held in November) on the agenda, reflecting the stalled efforts to reach a compromise between the two ruling parties in Kurdistan.

The decision to finally adopt Iraq's 2015 anti-money laundering law is also significant as it likely reflects federal efforts and international pressure. The region has seen an increased implementation of measures against money laundering in the past six months.

Lahur: New social contract needed between politicians and citizens

In an interview with the media on the 6th anniversary of the death of Gorran founder Nawshirwan Mustafa, the ousted former PUK co-president Lahur Talabany claimed, "Now, more than ever, we need a fundamental change in the political landscape, through which we can establish a new social contract with the people."

The recent political disputes between the KDP and PUK have created some space for Lahur to operate, with high-profile visits to Gorran and the KJG among others. However, as we reported on Thursday, the recent détente between the two parties has made Lahur's political future uncertain. Fazil Mirani stated in no uncertain terms, "As I see it, we shouldn't meddle in the PUK's internal affairs, just as we wouldn't appreciate others meddling in ours."

Although Lahur is no longer referred to as the "co-president of the PUK" on outlets close to Masrour, which might seem inconsequential, it symbolizes the transactional backing he had from the latter. And with rumors of one of Bafel’s preconditions being the barring of Lahur from the upcoming elections, it is unclear where he'll go from here.
Happy weekend! Here are the biggest stories from Kurdistan and Iraq this morning.

  • According to media reports, yesterday’s meeting between the KDP’s and the PUK’s Election Teams didn't result in any concrete agreements. A second meeting between KDP and PUK’s Politburos is scheduled for Sunday.
  • Last night, a gas pipeline owned by the North Oil Company exploded in Kirkuk. The Kirkuk Civil Defense Forces swiftly controlled the resulting fire. The cause and the impact of the explosion remain unclear.
  • A large presence of Iraqi forces has been observed near the Makhmour refugee camp. Sources close to the PKK allege that the objective is to erect a fence around the camp. The government has not released any official statements yet.

Stay tuned for more on these stories and more throughout the day.