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5. September 2023 18:30
The pro-PKK outlet Roj News reports that Turkish drones have targeted a vehicle in the vicinity of Mount Qandil, resulting in no casualties. The report also states that multiple cars sustained damage in the incident.
Thousands of people carrying flags of Iraqi Kurdistan demonstrated on Tuesday in the autonomous region over unpaid civil service salaries which they blamed on Baghdad, an AFP correspondent reported.
The protest occurred in a region where activists usually accuse local Kurdistan authorities of repressing any sign of dissent. It came in the context of simmering tensions after protests turned violent and led to the deaths of four people on Saturday in the multi-ethnic city of Kirkuk, whose control has historically been disputed between Iraqi Kurdistan and federal authorities in Baghdad.
"Kurdistan will not back down in the face of the Iraqi authorities' hostile policies," one banner said at the demonstration in Dohuk, the third-biggest city in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. "Solidarity with our people in Kirkuk," said another placard. An administrator in a hospital, Massoud Mohamed, said he had not received a salary in two months. "We must get our rights," the 45-year-old said. "They want to weaken our region."
Iraqi Kurdistan has long accused Baghdad of not sending the necessary funds to pay civil servants.
Previously the region, thanks to its oil exports, had independent funding that partially covered salaries. Since the end of March it has been deprived of this resource because of a dispute with Baghdad and Turkey, through which oil was exported.
In principle, Iraqi Kurdistan and Baghdad later agreed that sales of Kurdish oil would pass through the federal government. In exchange for this, 12.6 percent of the federal budget is allocated to Iraqi Kurdistan.
On Sunday, Baghdad unblocked a package of 500 billion dinars (about $380 million) for the region's salaries, but practically double that would be needed each month, according to the government of Iraqi Kurdistan.
The violence in Kirkuk has added to tensions.
Arab and Turkmen demonstrators had staged a sit-in near the headquarters of the Iraqi security forces in Kirkuk province on August 28, after media reports that Iraq's Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani had ordered the site to be handed over to the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which used to occupy it.
In response, Kurdish protesters tried to reach the headquarters on Saturday, and the situation degenerated. Four Kurds were killed.
5. September 2023 18:14
Kuwait has yet to respond to the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court's (FSC) ruling that declared the parliament's ratification of the maritime agreement unconstitutional. This agreement governs navigation in the disputed Khor Abdullah waterway between Iraq and Kuwait.
In a statement released on Monday, the court clarified that its decision is grounded in the violation of Article 61/Fourth of the Iraqi Constitution. This article states, "The process of ratifying international treaties and agreements shall be regulated by a law enacted by a two-thirds majority of the members of the House of Representatives."
The 2013 agreement set guidelines for navigation through the Khor Abdullah waterway, a contested estuary between northern Kuwait and southern Iraq. Both countries are building ports along this shared waterway, but have not yet reached an agreement on demarcating the maritime border. The land border was set by the United Nations in 1993 following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990; however, the maritime boundary remains a point of contention.
Here is what Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan says about the situation in Kirkuk:
'Any act disturbing the peace in Kirkuk would harm the stability of Iraq.'
Erdogan adds: Turkish intelligence and the Foreign Ministry are closely following the developments in Kirkuk.
"We see a relative calm in Kirkuk as we observed from (Turkish officials') talks with Iraqi Prime Minister Mr. (Mohammed S.) Al Sudani and their counterparts. I instructed Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan and National Intelligence Organization (MIT) President Ibrahim Kalın to follow the developments. (Our officials) held talks with Al Sudani, with the Barzani family." [Note Barzani family]
According to the daily state-owned al-Sabah, Erdogan refered to Kirkuk as the "homeland of Turkmens," an ethnic Turkic community, and "a place where different cultures peacefully coexisted for centuries. "We will not allow acts that will harm the peace and integrity of this region," he said.
Ankara says a deterioration in peace in the multiethnic Kirkuk would harm Iraq as a whole. Protests erupted on Monday in the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk...
5. September 2023 17:55
Kurdish media split on Duhok protest coverage
As Duhok Governor Ali Tatar participated in a large rally in Duhok city to protest Baghdad's delay in disbursing the Kurdistan Region's financial entitlements, several local media outlets, primarily those in Sulaymaniyah, have decided to ignore the event.
Notably absent was coverage by media outlets affiliated with the PUK, opposition-linked websites, and other independent publications based in Sulaymaniyah. In contrast, KDP-affiliated media provided extensive coverage, featuring videos and photos of hundreds of protesters waving Kurdistan flags.
Critics on social media questioned the KDP's support for this protest while cracking down on other gatherings advocating for similar demands from the KRG. In 2020, KDP security forces had aggressively suppressed protests over delayed salaries and cutbacks, resulting in multiple arrests.
Diliman Abdulkadere commented, "Under KDP/Barzani logic, a protest is legal when organized by us and attended by coerced teachers to plea for funds from Baghdad. Conversely, a protest becomes illegal and demonstrators are labeled 'terrorists and spies' when they independently take to the streets to demand their basic rights."
Suspect at large as police officer killed during arrest attempt
A police officer has succumbed to his injuries after an arrest attempt failed in a village in the Kifri district of the Garmiyan Administration in Diyala province.
The Garmiyan Police Department issued a statement on the incident, saying that the suspect resisted arrest in his home in Duraj village and fired at the police team with an AK-47, wounding Officer Tariq Abdulkhaliq. The officer later died in the hospital.
The suspect is still at large.
The Esta website reported that security forces believe the suspect has fled the area under the jurisdiction of the Kurdish security forces and entered the grey areas in the disputed territories between Erbil and Baghdad.
Islamic State fighters are active in some of those areas, often referred to as security vacuums, which fall between the jurisdictions of the Kurdish and Iraqi security forces.
Claims of deteriorating security situation in Kirkuk rejected by officials
The Security Media Cell, an official media arm of Iraq's Prime Minister's Office, refuted reports of deteriorating security conditions in the Kirkuk Governorate through a Twitter thread posted Monday evening. The statement comes in response to claims made by certain media outlets suggesting that local security was losing control over the area.
The Security Media Cell insisted that "the security situation throughout the province of Kirkuk is stable," adding that anyone promoting contrary news is "trying to shuffle the cards." The organization further emphasized the unity and stability of Iraq, urging the public to seek information from official sources.
The statement comes on the heels of Saturday's protests in Kirkuk, where security forces' killed four Kurdish protestors. The Security Media Cell's tweet thread was accompanied by a video featuring a local police chief flanked by tribal leaders from Kirkuk, reassuring residents that subsequent protests were conducted peacefully and that the situation remains calm.
The Security Media Cell's latest communication calls for "accuracy in conveying information" and urges all parties to prioritize "the unity, interest, and stability of Iraq."
Zebari took to the airwaves following the release of a statement from his office last night, calling for the international community to intervene and protect democratic rights in the city, as enshrined in the Iraqi constitution. The comments from the previous post may have been an attempt to address the cognitive dissonance of advocating for these rights for Iraq while his own government and party infringe upon them within the Kurdistan Region itself.
The killing and arrest of demonstrators on September 2 in Kirkuk violate principles of human rights and international law. This is despite the federal government's decision to hand over headquarters and residences to Kurdish parties to facilitate the resumption of political activities in Kirkuk, while also inhibiting the return of other communities as political and social actors to the city.
Articles 39 and 44 of the Iraqi constitution protect the rights of political parties and their associations, and guarantee individual freedom of movement. Since the events of October 16, 2017, local security agencies have been unable to create a conducive environment for the return of Kurdish political parties and the resumption of their activities in Kirkuk. According to the constitution, each party has the legitimate right to freely conduct its activities.
Recently, the federal government decided to hand over these headquarters to Kurdish parties as part of an effort to preserve the principle of coexistence in Kirkuk. However, the situation has escalated in recent days. Following a demonstration to reopen the road between Erbil and Kirkuk, random arrests have increased; so far, the number of detainees is rising, and 40 citizens have been arrested. Fourteen injured were taken to the hospital, while several others were stoned and injured.
This incident has led to multiple fatalities and injuries, and dozens have been arrested by the security forces. Roads are now open, but several parties have raided Kurdish homes with hammers and military equipment, searching for the identities of Kurds who participated in the demonstration. This is contrary to the constitution and all principles of coexistence.
In conclusion, we urge all international bodies, including the United Nations and international organizations, to monitor the situation in Kirkuk closely. They should highlight the violations committed by security forces within the framework of international norms, in order to promote peaceful coexistence among communities. Iraq is a member of these international frameworks, and the federal government has committed to a national plan for protecting freedoms.
Office of the Coordinator of International Recommendations of the Kurdistan Regional Government
5. September 2023 11:36
Dindar Zebari: Not a single person in Kurdistan Region jailed for political views
KRG Coordinator for International Advocacy Dindar Zebari just said in an TV interview that no one in the Kurdistan Region is imprisoned for their political views.
5. September 2023 11:33
In a recent meeting held in Sulaymaniyah, Bafel Talabani received a high-level Iraqi security delegation led by Iraq’s top national security adviser, Qasim al-Araji.
The focus of their discussion was the unrest in Kirkuk and the 'need for improved security and intelligence coordination between Kurdistan and Baghdad'. Talabani conveyed his deep concern about the situation, stating, "the shedding of blood by Kurdish youth is unacceptable," and urged that "the perpetrators should be brought to justice as soon as possible."
The PUK leader emphasized the need for stability in Kirkuk, saying, "Kirkuk’s stability is a red line." He also called for harmony and coexistence in the ethnically diverse region, adding, "We would not allow the lives and fates of the Kirkuk people to be the victim of the political rivalries."
The PUK had implicitly blamed the KDP for the violence on Saturday in which four Kurdish protestors were killed by Iraqi security forces.