"KDP poster in Zakho" by Levi Clancy. Licensed under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication.

Live: All the news from Wednesday as the KDP marks its 77th anniversary

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The political bureau of the KDP reaffirms its commitment to the Kurdistan Region amidst its current challenges. It emphasizes the importance of timely elections, democratic transitions, and strengthening the region's sovereignty. The politburo is intently focused on the upcoming sixth round of parliamentary elections set for February 25. Furthermore, it stresses the importance of upholding agreements with Baghdad regarding the disagreements between the two governments.

Here's a translated excerpt from the statement:

At present, the Kurdistan Region faces a uniquely delicate and challenging time, with the destiny of the Region and its people at a critical juncture. In these times, the need for enhanced coordination and unity is paramount, ensuring that all political factions play their rightful part against attempts to weaken the Kurdistan Region or breach its constitutional rights. Our goal is not just to maintain the Region's status and honor the constitution, but also to protect its sovereignty and interests. Equally, we believe in respecting the mutual interests and sovereignty of our neighboring nations, solidifying the cornerstones of security, peace, and prosperity for our residents, and advocating a dialogue that is constructive and devoid of violence and lawlessness.

The KDP has always been a strong advocate for democratic values and the peaceful transition of authority. Consistent with this stance, we have consistently aimed for timely elections. As such, we fully support the Regional Decree No. 252 of 2023, which sets February 25, 2024, as the date for the sixth round of the Kurdistan parliamentary elections.

The purpose of these elections is to restore faith and legitimacy in Kurdistan's institutions. Through the formation of a fresh parliament and government, our ambition is to establish a contemporary constitution for the Kurdistan Region. This constitution aims to promote strong governance, bolster our position in Iraq in defense of Kurdistan's constitutional rights, and usher in comprehensive reforms to guarantee social justice, heightened transparency, and the general welfare of the Kurdish populace.

On the national front, we are dedicated to directing discussions with the federal government and its associated parties. Our objective is to maintain the agreements between the State Administration Coalition and the federal government's plan, tackling key topics like Article 140, issues related to regions outside the KRG's control, budget and financial rights, oil matters, and other lingering issues.

As we mark this significant anniversary, the KDP remains unwavering in championing the timeless values and objectives of our party. We renew our commitment to serve our people's best interests, reinforcing and supporting our lawful institutions. We continue to uphold our national duties to protect fundamental democratic principles, mutual respect, and coexistence. We understand the significance of inclusive political engagement and relentlessly work towards enhancing the economic situation and everyday lives of our constituents.

Both KRG PM Masrour Barzani and Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani issued statements. Notably, PM Barzani’s message does not mention the challenges facing the Kurdistan Region, while the KRI president’s message directly addresses some of these issues.

Here's a portion of President Nechirvan Barzani’s statement:

Today, the duty and responsibility of the KDP are as profound as its historic legacy, stature, and sacrifices. Now, as ever, it must rise to its paramount duty and responsibility. It must unite all, take decisive actions to address and surmount challenges, and champion solidarity, unity, and cohesion. Moreover, the KDP must maintain an active and pivotal role in safeguarding freedom, democracy, the constitutional rights of the Kurdish people, and fortifying the principles of federalism.

The PM's statement includes this section, highlighting the KDP’s leadership without hinting at any issues:

“The KDP shoulders significant responsibilities, bolstering the Kurdish resolve. It remains at the forefront, guiding the Kurdish people in safeguarding the national and constitutional framework of the Kurdistan Region while also advancing and fostering the prosperity and resurgence of Kurdistan."
هه‌ولێر-KDP.info- به‌ڕێز نێچیرڤان بارزانى له‌ یادى حه‌فتا و حه‌فت ساڵه‌ى دامه‌زراندنى پارتیمان پارتى دیموكراتى كوردستان پەیامێکی پیرۆزبایی بڵاوکردەوە و تێیدا دەڵێت: پارتى چۆن حه‌فتا و حه‌فت ساڵ به‌ر له‌ ئه‌مڕۆ وه‌ك پێویستییه‌كى مێژوویى له‌ خه‌ون و خۆزگه‌ و ئامانجه‌كانى گه‌لى كوردستانه‌وه‌ له‌ دایك بوو‌، ئه‌مڕۆش بۆ ڕووبه‌ڕووبوونه‌وه‌ و تێپه‌ڕاندنى ئاڵنگارییه‌كان و به‌دیهێنانى داهاتوویه‌كى باشتر، به‌ ئومێده‌وه‌ ڕێبه‌رایه‌تیى خه‌ڵكى كوردستان و ئامانجه‌ باڵاكانى ده‌كات.

KDP leader Masoud Barzani's message

In the name of God, the Beneficent, the Merciful

Marking the 77th anniversary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, I extend my warm congratulations to the proud families of our martyrs, our heroic Peshmerga forces, and the leadership, cadres, members, and supporters of the KDP.

On this occasion, I'd like to express my deep appreciation for the unwavering commitment and sacrifices of the KDP base. They have consistently been the foundation of resistance, ensuring continuity and perseverance and fortifying the cause of the Kurdish people during challenging and pivotal times.

The vision of both the KDP and Barzani — past, present, and future — remains the beacon of hope for Kurdistan, staunchly defending the just cause of the Kurdish populace. The KDP leadership, supporters, and members bear a significant responsibility.

To the martyrs of the path of freedom, may you forever be remembered.

Masoud Barzani  
هەولێر -KDP.info- سەرۆک مەسعود بارزانی لە یادی 77 ساڵەی دامەزراندنی پارتی دیموکراتی کوردستان پەیامێکی بڵاویکردەوە و تێیدا رایگەیاند، پارتی و ڕێبازی بارزانی لە ڕابردوو و ئێستا و داهاتوودا هەمیشە جێگەی ئومێد و دەست و بازووی بەهێزی کوردستان و پارێزەر و بەرگریکاری دۆزی ڕەوای گەلی کوردستانن.

Well wishes to the political bureau of the KDP from their PUK counterparts

As the Kurdistan Democratic Party celebrates its 77th anniversary, we warmly congratulate you and your supporters.

 We hope this significant milestone encourages further collaboration between political entities and parties. 

The present situation highlights the importance of revisiting and redefining our struggle's objectives, focusing predominantly on enhancing the well-being and prosperity of our nation. 

Let's never forget that the Kurdistan we hold dear today was built on the immense sacrifices of countless martyrs and victims.

Warm regards,

Political Bureau of the PUK


The PUK has made sweeping changes to its internal bylaws

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has unveiled a series of substantial changes to its internal bylaws, indicating a pivot in the party’s governance and direction. Bafel Talabani, who has been steadily solidifying his authority, seems to have successfully streamlined these changes, especially after the removal of co-leader Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany in 2021. This reshuffling has effectively marked the end of the co-leadership system, which was previously lauded as a symbol of power-sharing within the PUK.

Read the rest below:

Speaking of slow motion

Outgoing US Consul General Irvin Hicks Jr. is leaving nothing on the table as he does the rounds in his elongated farewell tour.

Water shortages in Erbil province prompt protest

Water shortages in Erbil province led residents of the Krekaran neighborhood to protest in front of the Erbil Water Directorate on Wednesday.

Erbil has faced water scarcity for several years, but residents say this year has been particularly harsh, with not only reduced supplies but also contamination issues. Residents allege their drinking water is polluted with sewage.

"The water we get is filthy," one resident told Gorran’s KNN TV, noting many in the neighborhood have become sick from the tainted water, some for years.

Authorities assured protesters they would address the complaints, but residents warned they would demonstrate again and might block roads if not satisfied.

While small scale, such protests tend to occur in the summer months and have been intermittently happening all summer in Erbil. 

Read excellent reportage by Winthrop Rodgers on Erbil's slow motion descent into a full-blown water crisis  

Finance ministry denies reports that a vehicle containing cash for salaries and farm subsidies overturned in Kirkuk

The KRG finance ministry on Monday denied reports of an incident in which a money transfer vehicle reportedly overturned in Kirkuk province.

The ministry said no funds — whether for salaries or farmers' wheat compensation — have been sent directly from Baghdad to Sulaymaniyah. It also said the vehicle involved wasn't linked to the ministry.

The denial follows local media reports of a vehicle, said to belong to the Iraqi Finance Ministry and transporting money to Sulaymaniyah, overturning near the Chiman security checkpoint, prompting a sizable security response.

The ministry urged the public and journalists to rely on its official statements for accurate information.

The Iraqi Ministry of Finance said it has signed an agreement to fund the fifth phase of the Basra Refinery Development Project, part of a loan from Japan facilitated by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency, focusing on the catalytic cracking unit.

The signing at the finance ministry was attended by Japanese Ambassador to Baghdad Futoshi Matsumoto and other senior officials from both countries.

The loan for the project has been incorporated into the 2023 General Federal Budget Law, according to the finance ministry. The initiative aims to close the gap between supply and demand for oil products in Iraq, reducing the need for imports.

Finance Minister Sami thanked Japan for its support, citing the country's understanding of Iraq's economic challenges amid global and regional turmoil. Sami underscored the project's importance, saying it aims to improve the quality and quantity of products like gasoline and diesel. The new catalyst cracking unit in Basra aligns with government efforts to produce higher-value oil products, boost private sector energy involvement and create jobs.


Arrest warrant issued against former minister of transport

The Iraqi Integrity Commission said today it has issued an arrest warrant for the former transport minister over allegations he intentionally damaged the funds and interests of his office. The move is part of a broader anti-corruption push by Prime Minister Sudani that some have criticized as a witch hunt against officials from the previous administration.

The commission said the allegations involve irregular employee placements at the General Company of Iraqi Airways offices abroad. The former minister reportedly transferred workers to Spain, Sweden and Tunisia, where Iraqi Airways doesn't have offices.

Last year, the Rusafa Investigation Court, which handles integrity cases, ordered the former minister be questioned about the transfers. The new arrest warrant is tied to Article 340 of the Penal Code.


Iraq's cherished amber rice faces extinction due to water crisis

WaPo's Baghdad bureau reporter Mustafa Salim delves into the deepening water scarcity crisis in Iraq, spotlighting the devastating loss of the nation's signature amber rice. 

For years, amber rice has been emblematic of Iraq's culinary culture. The once-lush rice fields of Al-Mashkhab are now desolate, victims of Iraq's most severe heatwave in decades. The droughts have led the Euphrates and Tigris rivers to near record lows, intensifying the water crisis in areas where farming techniques haven't evolved with the changing climate. The local farmers' heart-wrenching tales reveal not just the loss of income but a fading way of life. 

While the government tries to take measures, like prohibiting most rice planting in 2021 to conserve water, many farmers remain skeptical. As Salim reports, "There is nothing else in life that we are good at other than growing rice," an older man disclosed, voicing the sentiment of many.

Without amber cultivation, I feel a sense of loss


Senior PKK member reportedly killed in Duhok province

Turkey's National Intelligence Organization has reportedly killed a senior member of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in the Kurdistan Region, according to the state-owned Anadolu Agency citing security sources.

The intelligence agency said it "neutralized" Celal Birdal, also known as Sidar Serhat, during an operation in the Gara region. Sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, confirmed the operation. Turkish officials often use the term "neutralize" to indicate the PKK member either surrendered, was killed or captured.

Birdal was believed to be the press and archives officer for the PKK and was active within the group during his time studying engineering at a university.

Turkey has stepped up its efforts against PKK members in the Kurdistan Region.

Guhdar Zebari set to be released

Journalist Guhdar Zebari is set to be released from prison, barring any last-minute antics by the judiciary.

He has sentenced to six years in 2021 on what many consider to be trumped-up charges. President Nechirvan Barzani cut his sentence in half via executive order.

But first, more suspected Turkish strikes

KDP-linked Kurdistan 24 has user-submitted videos of suspected Turkish airstrikes in Duhok province's Mount Gara.

We haven't independently verified the footage.

Morning briefing 

Hello! It's the KDP's (and party leader Masoud Barzani's) birthday today. We'll bring you all the news, views, and comment from the Kurdish and Iraqi interwebs as the day progresses.