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4. September 2023 18:39
Here is how the state-owned Turkish Anadolu Agency reported the ethnic tensions in Kikruk:
Türkiye on Sunday voiced concern about the unrest in Iraq’s northern city of Kirkuk, where casualties were reported at protests.
"We are saddened and concerned over tensions that have resulted in loss of lives in Kirkuk, which is ancestral homeland of our Turkmen kin," Türkiye’s visiting Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan told a joint news conference with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Amir-Abdollahian in the capital Tehran.
Türkiye demands that Iraqi authorities end increasing presence of PKK terror group in Kirkuk, Fidan also said. "The peace and stability of Kirkuk affect the overall peace and stability of Iraq. We see Kirkuk as a symbol of the culture of peaceful coexistence," he added.
Fidan said Kirkuk, a city with a long history, has recently endured great suffering and massacres. "We believe that it is essential to preserve the delicate social balance in this city and ensure equal representation and participation for all groups in governance.
"We have long supported the formula for achieving equal representation and participation of all segments in the city," he added.
Fidan further said that safeguarding the rights and interests of Turkmen groups is among the key elements of Turkish policy towards Iraq. "We will continue to oppose the politicization of Turkmen rights and support the Turkmen community in all areas."
4. September 2023 18:22
Ankara is blaming PKK for Kirkuk tensions
On Sunday during his trip to Tehran, Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan expressed "sadness and great concern" over the ongoing tensions in Kikruk and called on Iraqi officials to curtail the growing influence of the banned Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in Iraq.
Fidan further stated that safeguarding the rights of Turkmen is a central focus of Turkey's policy towards Iraq, vowing ongoing support for the Turkmen community in all aspects.
4. September 2023 18:19
Fresh protests are reported in Kirkuk today, two days after the death of four Kurdish protestors.
Kurdistan 24 has reported that protests resumed in Kirkuk following the events of Saturday, during which four Kurdish civilians were fatally shot and several others injured. In addition dozens were arrested.
The new protests saw Kurdish residents assembling in the Shorja neighborhood of Kirkuk, calling for an investigation into the deaths and detentions related to the earlier demonstrations.
Earlier reports indicate that the Iraqi government has already set up an inquiry into the fatal incidents.
The protesters are also advocating for a reduction in military presence within the city. Kirkuk has recently seen an increase in checkpoints and the deployment of military assets in various neighborhoods, particularly those that are predominantly Kurdish.
As the PUK prepares for its fifth conference on September 27, the official line is one of unity and tackling lingering issues. The event is particularly notable as it comes after the collapse of the party's co-leadership system. However, many within the party see it as a move by Bafel Talabani to consolidate his power by sidelining rivals, particularly those loyal to Lahur Talabany.
PUK conference set for September 2023 may see Bafel Talabani sweep the PUK leadership bodies to install friendly faces.
4. September 2023 17:39
Four arrested in counter-terror operation
Statement from Iraq's Special Operation Forces
Pursuant to directives from the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Mr. Mohammad Shia' Al-Sudani, and under the supervision of the Head of the Counter-Terrorism Service, Lieutenant General Abdul Wahab al-Saadi, our forces have conducted a series of specialized operations. These operations have resulted in the arrest of four terrorists affiliated with ISIS.
In coordination with the Erbil Counter-Terrorism Directorate, our unit arrested a terrorist leader, identified as W.M.M., who serves as an explosives expert for ISIS in the northern sector. In separate operations, carried out in cooperation with the Sulaymaniyah Counter-Terrorism Battalion, two terrorists were arrested in the Bazian and Chamchamal areas of Sulaymaniyah Province.
Additionally, a specialized force from the Counter-Terrorism Service executed an operation in Kirkuk, which led to the arrest of one terrorist. These targeted and swift operations by the Counter-Terrorism Service are ongoing around the clock to maintain the security and safety of the nation's citizens.
جهاز مكافحة الإرهاب يلقي القبض على (٤) ارهابيين بينهم خبير متفجرات ٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠٠ استناداً لتوجيهات القائد العام للقوات المسلحة السيد محمد شياع السوداني وباشراف رئيس جهاز مكافحة الإرهاب الفريق اول الركن عبد الوهاب الساعدي، نفذ ابطالنا سلسلة عمليات نوعية، اسفرت عن القاء القبض على (٤) ارهابيين من عصابات داعش الارهابي. اذ القت قطعات الجهاز الشجاعة بالتنسيق مع مديرية مكافحة الارهاب اربيل القبض على القيادي الارهابي (و.م.م) والذي يشغل منصب خبير متفجرات في القاطع الشمالي لعصابات داعش الارهابي وضمن التعاون مع فوج مكافحة الإرهاب السليمانية وبواجبين منفصلين تم القاء القبض على ارهابيين اثنين في منطقتي بازيان وجمجمال محافظة السليمانية. وضمن سلسلة العمليات النوعية نفذت قوة خاصة من جهاز مكافحة الإرهاب عملية القاء القبض على احد الارهابيين في كركوك. ان العمليات النوعية والخاطفة لابطال جهاز مكافحة الارهاب مستمرة وعلى مدار الساعة ليرفل ابناء وطننا بالامن والامان. ================= ٤ أيلول ٢٠٢٣
4. September 2023 16:11
KRG PM meets with Canadian MPs in Erbil
"Prime Minister Masrour Barzani received the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds group led by MP Tom Kmiec in Erbil today. The delegation presented a brief about their work and activities with the aim to support the Kurdish cause and develop relations between Canada and the Kurdistan Region. The delegation commended the culture of peaceful coexistence, religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region.
Prime Minister Barzani thanked Canada's assistance and support to the Kurdistan Region, especially in the fight against ISIS. They also discussed developments with the federal government and stressed that the Kurdistan Region has fulfilled all its obligations within the framework of the Constitution. Prime Minister Barzani expressed regret that the rights of the people of Kurdistan is still being violated and the agreement between the parties forming the government and the Federal Government Agenda that was approved by a majority in the Iraqi parliament is not respected.
Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the Kurdistani people will not give up their legitimate and constitutional rights and will not submit to any pressure and threats from those who want to return Iraq to an era of dictatorship and oppression."
Erbil, Kurdistan Region (GOV.KRD) - Prime Minister Masrour Barzani received the Canadian Parliamentary Friends of the Kurds group led by MP Tom Kmiec in Erbil today. The delegation presented a brief about their work and activities with the aim to support the Kurdish cause and develop relations between Canada and the Kurdistan Region. The delegation commended the culture of peaceful coexistence, religious freedom and freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region.
Kurdistan Regional Government
4. September 2023 16:10
Human rights coordinator calls on international community to observe Kirkuk situation
The KRG Coordinator Office for International Advocacy on Monday called for international oversight of escalating ethnic tensions in Kirkuk.
In a statement, Dindar Zebari said 40 Kurdish youth have been arrested and 14 wounded in recent protests. Zebari added that security forces have raided Kurdish homes, using hammers and military equipment to identify protesters, actions he called unconstitutional and contrary to principles of coexistence.
The KRG office denounced these tactics as violations of human rights and international law. It urged entities like the United Nations to observe the unfolding situation. "We call on international stakeholders to assess these security force violations within international norms to foster peaceful coexistence in Iraq—a nation dedicated to safeguarding freedoms," the statement read.
Zebari also claimed that several "extremist parties" are obstructing the return of other communities to the city. He said security forces have not fostered conditions conducive to the return of Kurdish political groups or the resumption of their activities in Kirkuk.
4. September 2023 15:00
Lawk Ghafuri, a former top civil servant in Masrour Barzani's administration
Masrour Barzani: The Kurdish people 'will not yield'
KRG PM Masrour Barzani says, "The Kurdish people will not yield to threats or pressure from those aiming to revert Iraq back to a dictatorial era. The rights of the Kurdish community are being infringed upon in a manner that is both unjust and unconstitutional."
Barzani says that the Kurdistan Region has fully met its obligations under the framework of the constitution. He expresses deep concern and disappointment over the ongoing violations of the rights of the Kurdish people.
4. September 2023 14:58
Acting Minister of Natural Resources Kemal Mohammed:
Mohammed says that Baghdad insists on setting the cost of oil production at six dollars per barrel of crude in the Kurdistan Region. However, this amount was rejected by the International Oil Companies (IOCs) during a meeting on August 24 in Erbil.
He notes that the KRG has communicated its concerns and wants to raise this cost. This is because the contracts between the KRG and the IOCs are different, and even in the rest of Iraq, the cost of oil production in some fields is higher than that. In addition, the risks that the IOCs have taken when they started exploring oil fields are not considered.
He adds that Iraq has allocated an extra 23 trillion dinars for oil production, in addition to the six dollars per barrel set out in the budget law.
He calls on Baghdad to seriously look into this issue to resolve the matter.
4. September 2023 13:55
'Obscure' mechanism used to allocate Kurdistan share of budget – KRG finance minister
KRG Finance Minister Awat Janab provided an overview of the series of talks. Janab said that since July, several rounds of talks have taken place, including the most recent one on August 30.
Janab indicated that the amendments introduced by the Iraqi parliament's finance committee to the federal budget bill "unfortunately led to the violation of the constitutional rights of the KRI [in the budget law] and have created many issues for the KRI, as well as for the Iraqi finance ministry."
He explained that these changes are responsible for delaying the KRG's share of the budget.
Janab elaborated on what he says is an unfair mechanism used for budget allocation: "The way they deal with us suggests that the Kurdistan Region is not considered part of Iraq. Iraqi provinces do not include the Kurdistan Region when it comes to calculating actual expenditures. While they find it acceptable to take all of our oil and non-oil revenues, they do not provide us with full amounts in return. Even if they used actual expenditure as the basis for our share, our dues for the last five months would amount to approximately 1 trillion dinars per month. Instead, they rely on an obscure formula based on the allocated amounts for the other 15 provinces, from which sovereign and investment expenditures are deducted. They then multiply the remaining amount by 12.67 and say that is our share. According to this formula, we do not receive more than 580 billion Iraqi dinars."
He stated that "the talks have not yielded any results, and the mechanism for obtaining loans from Baghdad is no longer viable, similar to before, because we no longer have oil revenues to cover the shortfall."
Janab concluded that the KRG has some 320 billion in non-oil revenues, and along with the 500 billion from Baghdad, this would still not be sufficient to cover salaries. "We want the talks to continue, and we want to emphasize that what we have received is unacceptable."
4. September 2023 13:50
The KRG spokesperson and the Baghdad delegation, which includes the finance and acting natural resources ministers, held a press conference today to discuss the latest round of talks between Erbil and Baghdad, as well as the delayed salaries for the Kurdistan Region's civil servants.
Here are the key takeaways:
Spokesperson Pehsawa Hawramani says that Baghdad has decided to send the KRG 500 billion dinars (approximately $380 million) following a series of talks between the two governments. The money is intended as a monthly loan for the next three months.
Hawramani notes that Erbil needs approximately double that amount—950 billion dinars—to be able to pay its civil servants.
He reiterates that Erbil has abided by the agreement it reached with Baghdad, but the Iraqi government has failed to do the same.
He adds that the KRG's share of the budget has not been received because Baghdad is implementing "a policy of austerity" against the people of the Kurdistan Region. He accuses Baghdad of "conflating the rights of the people of Kurdistan with existing political issues."
4. September 2023 12:08
The PUK has voiced its 'concerns' about the escalation of tensions and has called for stability.
Saadi Ahmed Pira, a member of the PUK's politburo, says that the KDP exploited the recent protests for their own political gains. "The people who supervised the demonstrations in Kirkuk actually live in Erbil," Pira said.
Aso Mamand, an executive of the politburo, expressed concerns about the timing of the events in Kirkuk. "These problems are occurring at a bad time, and we condemn these tensions," Mamand stated. He emphasized that the headquarters is not 'worth creating tensions between Kurds and Arabs', especially considering the volatile situation in the region. Easy to say when it’s not your HQ.
This is how the piece starts off. Emphasis ours: "To preserve the public interest and for the safety of all, the Iraqi Supreme Court suspended the handover of the headquarters of the Kirkuk Operations Command to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).
Just to be clear, it's the Iraqi PM who (reportedly) ordered the confiscated properties to be handed back to the KDP, who are due to contest elections in the city and may find it hard to do so without access to their offices. It's not the KDP who blocked roads and demanded the Iraqi PM 'rescind' his instructions. It was 'protestors' allegedly aligned with pro-Iran militias. You'd think from this piece by PUKMedia that the KDP had decided to storm federal government positions by force.
Readout from the PM's office on his crisis talks last night with Kirkuk constituency MPs in the federal parliament
Prime Minister Mohammed Shai Sudani met with several members of the House of Representatives from various communities in Kirkuk province. The Second Deputy Speaker of the House, Mr. Shakhawan Abdullah, was also present at the meeting.
The discussion focused on recent developments and the current internal situation in Kirkuk province. A key point raised was the need to maintain security, stability, and social peace, given the province's role as a model for harmonious coexistence among all Iraqi communities.
Mr. Sudani emphasized that anyone attempting to disrupt order or sow division would be dealt with according to the law.
He further stated that the security forces in Kirkuk are committed to safeguarding the lives of the province's residents, as well as protecting their right to a decent life, freedom of expression, and a safe environment characterized by tolerance and mutual respect.
Lots to unpack in the KRG PM's pithy late-night seven-word tweet (post?). The context is last night's Iraqi Federal Supreme Court decision to 'suspend' Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani's order to hand over KDP premises in the disputed city of Kirkuk back to the party six years after it left the city. See yesterday's live blog for more on that. You may want to sort by oldest first.
First: Scare quotes around the phrase federal court
Second: It's a 'farce'. No equivocation here.
Third: The cherry on top has to be the passive aggressive '-mb' at the end. This denotes that the tweet was drafted by Masrour Barzani himself rather than the social media team or Twitter (sorry, X) admin. It's usually reserved for special occasions, celebrations, or severe crises.
Happy Monday, folks! Welcome to another edition of our live blog.