Live: KDP meetings in Baghdad continue as discontent mounts

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Iraqi regulator recommends ban on terms 'gender' and 'homosexuality,' suggests 'sexual deviancy' instead

Copy of the directive
Copy of the directive   credit: Shafaq News
In a directive, the Iraqi Media and Communications Commission has recommended banning the use of the terms 'gender' and 'homosexuality,' stating that "these terms carry negative connotations in Iraqi society."

The independent regulator, responsible for implementing and developing the government's media and communication policy, urges media outlets and communications companies to cease using these terms in their reporting and on social media.

Instead, they are encouraged to use the term 'sexual deviancy' to describe homosexuality.The recommendation asserts that, based on the Iraqi constitution and penal code, these terms are contrary to public norms. However, there is no law in Iraq specifically banning homosexuality, and the term 'gender' is often misunderstood, with no reference to it in the country's constitution.

Earlier this year, the Sulaymaniyah council issued a similar directive prohibiting any activities under the name of "gender." More recently, following reactions to the burning of copies of the Quran in Sweden and Denmark, rainbow flags have been burned as Iraqi lawmakers called for legislation to ban homosexuality.

Members of the LGBTQ+ community in Iraq have increasingly voiced concern over these developments, fearing that such rhetoric further limits their safety and freedoms.


The KRG has launched a Citizen Complaint System (CCS) that allows people to file complaints with any government entity or service. "The system will help citizens easily submit complaints and receive feedback from government entities," says the newly launched portal.

Through the website, the public can file and follow up on the results of their complaints.

Public institutions in the Kurdistan Region often have inefficient and lengthy procedures to complete simple paperwork, and it's often difficult to challenge wrongful decisions. The portal aims to tackle this issue. However, given the fact that political party interference is rampant and divided along KDP-PUK lines throughout the Region, it's unclear how the complaints will be dealt with.

In late July, the KRG's justice ministry launched its own online complaints form. Though it was a lot less slick than CCS, opting to use the non-proprietary Google Forms instead.


New Washington-Baghdad security deal

The US Department of Defense and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense have discussed security relations between the two countries in talks at the Pentagon.
US Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III and his Iraqi counterpart, Thabet Al-Abbasi, met Monday to discuss the US-Iraq Joint Security Cooperation Dialogue. 

The talks were aimed at "advancing an enduring US-Iraq security partnership."

The Pentagon issued a statement saying the dialogue builds on the US-Iraq Strategic Dialogue from July 2021, "which reaffirmed commitment to the 2008 Strategic Framework Agreement, resulted in the departure from Iraq of US forces with a combat role by December 2021, and led to a full transition of the military mission to training, advising, assisting and sharing intelligence with the Iraqi Security Forces."]

"Secretary Austin affirmed the United States' commitment to continue training, advising, assisting and sharing intelligence with the Iraqi Security Forces at the invitation of the Iraqi government," the statement added.

Iraqi defence minister visits the Pentagon for security talks


A decade on: The KRG claims it will finally make access to information easier

Exactly a decade after its approval in the regional parliament, the KRG says it is working to implement the law on easier access to public information. The Right to Information Law, approved in 2013, has never really seen the light of day.

One of the challenges facing journalists and the public in the Kurdistan Region is access to information, where party-controlled media outlets get priority while other media channels are left out. In addition to this, much of the KRG's decisions and other public information are held back from the public and hard to access, creating a fertile environment for mistrust and the spread of misinformation.

Furthermore, journalists are often prevented from investigating matters of public interest and may be punished for trying to uncover them.

The law was aimed at making the process of obtaining information seamless, promoting transparency, and easing the work of journalists.

The law stipulates that people have the right to be aware of and obtain information, with documents provided by any public institution. While there are exceptions based on national security, individual privacy, and the workings of the courts, if enacted, the law would greatly enhance transparency.

In a statement issued on Tuesday, the KRG says a joint committee has been formed, consisting of members from the Office of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, the Secretariat of the Council of Ministers, the Office of Media and Information, and the Independent Human Rights Commission. The aim of the committee is "to draft a guideline in light of the Right to Information Law, in order to facilitate and take systematic measures to provide accurate information by the institutions of the Kurdistan Regional Government to journalists and citizens."

Socialist Democrats celebrate anniversary with quasi-military parade

Party leader Mohammed Haji Mahmoud at today's event
Party leader Mohammed Haji Mahmoud at today's event   credit: Rachlaken
The Kurdistan Socialist Democratic Party (commonly referred to as 'the socialists' in the Kurdistan Region) celebrates its anniversary with showing off a modest amount of military vehicles and equipment.
Near his hometown of Gulakhana in Khormal district, Socialist leader and veteran Peshmerga Mohammed Haji Mahmoud told a dozen of men clad in military garb that party is always ready to defend the Kurdistan Region.

Mahmoud is one of the commanders who controls his own Peshmerga force, allegedly helped with funding by the KDP.

His party is part of the KRG’s coalition government with one minister in the cabinet. The Socialists won one seat in the previous elections.
A KDP delegation met with the Iraqi Parliament Speaker, Mohammed Al-Halbousi, on Tuesday to discuss the ongoing disputes between Erbil and Baghdad.

Here's a statement from the Sunni leader's media office:

They discussed the developments in the political situation in the country and the importance of enacting the laws mentioned in the political agreement document and the government program. This includes the oil and gas law, the amendment of the general amnesty law, and others, to be addressed during the next period. They also emphasized the importance of continuing the dialogue between the federal government and the regional government in order to solve problems in accordance with the Constitution.

The truth about potatoes

Sacks of local potatoes produced in Kurdistan Region
Sacks of local potatoes produced in Kurdistan Region   credit: KRG

There’s been a lot of buzz from KDP-media outlets lately about the export of potatoes from the Kurdistan Region. Some reports even mention big names like McDonald’s and KFC, implying that their UAE branches may have struck deals to import the potatoes.

However, the KRG statement is less specific, saying only that the contract was signed with a UAE company, without naming the company or confirming its connection to the restaurant chains themselves. It’s not even clear whether the potatoes would enter the supply chains for these franchises at all.

While it’s great to see support for local farmers, the media coverage might be making this out to be a bigger deal than it actually is. If the agriculture sector in the Kurdistan Region is to grow and create significant revenue, more will be needed than just exporting a few truckloads of potatoes. 

KRG statement

On Monday, August 7, 2023, an agreement was signed between two Kurdish companies and a company from the United Arab Emirates, in the presence of officials from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Board of Investment representing the Kurdistan Regional Government.

A spokesperson from the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources stated that the agreement entails exporting 120 tons of potatoes to the United Arab Emirates in five trucks.
The potatoes produced in the Kurdistan Region in 2023 amounted to 650,000 tons. While domestic needs and consumption stand at 100,000 tons, the remaining 550,000 tons are expected to be exported.

Potato cultivation in the Kurdistan Region has seen impressive growth, both in quantity and quality, making it desirable in foreign markets and among international brands.
On Monday, August 7, 2023, an agreement was signed between two Kurdish companies and a company from the United Arab Emirates, in the presence of officials from both the Ministry of Agriculture and Water Resources and the Board of Investment representing the Kurdistan Regional Government.
Kurdistan Regional Government

‘I am sorry’ for not taking part in the elections – Ousted PUK leader Lahur Talabany

Lahur Talabany has finally announced he will not to lead a list in the upcoming Iraqi provincial elections set for December 18, citing concerns about harming the “Kurdish voice” in disputed territories such as Kirkuk. 

Talabany released a video on his Facebook page in which he explained that, “despite enormous pressure to participate and despite the certainty that we will get a lot of votes in Kirkuk, we declare here that we are not ready to harm the Kurdish voice in these areas to win a few seats.” 

These elections are significant as they mark the first time in years that the contested province of Kirkuk is included, and the first time that Kurdish political parties are not running under a unified list.

Here are five key takeaways from his speech:

  1. Decision to not participate in the elections

Talabany states that his decision is grounded in his commitment to preserving a unified Kurdish voice. He is convinced that without a single, unified Kurdish list that represents collective interests, participation would only splinter the Kurdish voice and weaken their influence.

2. Significance of the upcoming election

Talabany emphasizes that the elections, scheduled for December 18th, hold immense historical importance.
He believes they will define the position of the Kurds in disputed territories and assert the rightful claim of the Kurds to their ancestral lands.

3. Initiative for a unified Kurdish list
Talabany stresses the need for Kurds to rally under one banner.
He reflects on his unsuccessful attempt to launch the 'People's Coalition' project to form a unified list, facing resistance from political parties more concerned with personal gains than collective goals.

4. Criticism of Kurdistani political parties

Major Kurdistani political parties, especially the KDP and PUK, are singled out for undermining unified efforts in pursuit of their own agendas.

He accuses these parties of deceptive patriotic rhetoric that fails to match their actions, stating, “These parties will not hesitate to destroy it and will participate in this important and sensitive process with multiple lists.”

5. Plea for Kurdish participation and unity
Talabany urges the Kurdish electorate to engage actively in the election, voting for candidates who genuinely represent their interests, regardless of political loyalties.

He warns against the dangers of continued fragmentation due to conflicting political ambitions and appeals for a concentrated effort toward common Kurdish goals and dreams.


He says, “In this fateful election, I am ready to do my best. I will go to the homes and villages within Kirkuk and the disputed territories and kiss the hands of every Kurdish voter. I will tell them not to believe the deceptive slogans of the political parties, but for the sake of the fate of Kirkuk and to assert their ownership of this sacred land, they must actively participate in this election so that not one Kurdish voice is wasted.”

Tellingly, he doesn't endorse a specific party, despite the video opening with the PUK emblem. Talabany labels himself the rightful co-president of the PUK, despite being ousted by an intra-party putsch by fellow co-leader Bafel Talabani. The latter has consolidated his grip on the party in Talabany's absence.
The Washington Institute has published a new piece by Erbil-based journalist Bekir Aydoğan that delves into the complicated political landscape in the Kurdistan Region.

The Kurdistan Region's parliamentary elections have been repeatedly postponed, now set for February 25, 2024, and the two main Kurdish parties, the KDP and the PUK, are at odds over issues such as election systems and minority quotas.

The ongoing disputes between these two parties have led to considerable unrest, with tensions escalating over disagreements about budget allocation, natural gas exportation, and more. This discord within the Kurdistan Region doesn't just lead to election uncertainties; it also makes the region more susceptible to external influence, particularly from the Iraqi central government. Baghdad's court rulings, budget laws, and strategic decisions are adding to the region's difficulties, undermining its autonomy, and potentially fragmenting its financial integrity.

Iraqi Kurds seem to have glossed over the election impasse


In his piece, Aydoğan encapsulates the gravity of the situation, saying, "The fact that the tenures of the KRI’s parliament and government have expired would normally ring alarm bells and raise questions of legitimacy. But between the central government’s isolating moves and the growing tensions between the parties, Iraqi Kurds seem to have glossed over the election impasse."

Morning briefing

Morning, all. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is continuing talks with figures in Baghdad. Briefings to local media have indicated that the party is growing increasingly frustrated with the way the governing coalition, of which they are a part, is implementing agreements made in setting up that same coalition.

Today, KDP officials are meeting with US Ambassador Alina Romanowski and Unami's Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert.

Whispers of threats to leave the political process in Baghdad have grown louder in media circles this week, though that does seem like a nuclear option at this point in time.

We'll bring you the latest on this and any other stories throughout the day.