Live: Latest updates from Iraq, Kurdistan and New York

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The UK condemns Arbat drone attack and calls for continued "support to Iraq's security, sovereignty and territorial integrity."

Iraq's Parliament speaker urges water storage planning amid water shortage

Mohammad Al-Halbousi, Iraq's Parliament speaker, emphasized the need for new dams and enhanced irrigation systems during a visit to Diyala province, according to Shafaq News.

Speaking at a joint press conference Wednesday with Muthanna Al-Tamimi, head of the Diyala Governorate local government, Halbousi said, "We need plans to address the irrigation and watering system, and build dams. The last dam in Iraq was built in 1985."

Halbousi also stressed the need for political pressure on upstream countries to ensure Iraq receives its fair share of water according to international norms.

Amid intense drought, officials from Baghdad and Ankara have been discussing water flow from Turkey. The Iraqi Ministry of Water Resources said the country is in its fourth consecutive drought season, prompting urgent water management initiatives.

Aoun Dhiab Abdullah, Minister of Water Resources, recently told the state-owned Al-Sabah newspaper that inadequate water releases are affecting water levels in the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. However, discussions with Turkey have shown progress, particularly regarding a summer operational plan for Turkey's dams.

Turkey has indicated a willingness to increase water releases into the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, aiding Iraq's water management plans.

The water crisis in Iraq has intensified over the past three years, reaching critical levels this year with record-low water levels in rivers and dams.

شفق نيوز/ أكد رئيس مجلس الوزراء النواب محمد الحلبوسي، يوم الأربعاء، حاجة البلاد إلى خطط لخزن المياه في ظل عدم التزام دول المنبع في تأمين حصة العراق المائية.جاء ذلك في مؤتمر صحفي مشترك عقده مع رئيس الح
شفق نيوز

DPM Qubad Talabani: No other forces on site in Arbat

Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani received the European Union Representative in the Kurdistan Region, Torkild Byg, and discussed the attack on the anti-terror forces at the airport in Arbat.

In the Erbil meeting, the EU representative strongly condemned the bombing of Arbat airport and expressed hope that such an incident would not happen again.

"This incident is a dangerous development and targeted an official Iraqi and Kurdish force—the Kurdistan Anti-Terror Force—which has been the main ally of coalition forces in the fight against terrorism for two decades," he said.

Qubad Talabani strongly rejected the excuses of the attacker and said, "The martyrs and wounded were all heroic Kurdistan Peshmergas and members of the anti-terror forces. There was no other force at the airport except the anti-terror forces."

"The Iraqi government, its allies, and the European Union should take practical steps to protect Iraqi sovereignty and prevent the repetition of such violations. They should also put a limit on the military attacks on the territory of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq," he added.

Talabani with Hadi Al-Amiri, the leader of the Al-Fatah Alliance:

“The meeting addressed the terrorist attack on Arbat Airport, Iraqi sovereignty, and the situation in Halabja province, underscoring the need for ongoing coordination between the parties to resolve these issues and maintain peace and stability in both Iraq and the wider region.

Talabani stated, "Attacks on military, legal, and constitutional institutions represent a perilous turn of events that we must collectively confront. It is imperative that we not allow our country's borders to be breached under any pretext."
The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) condemn “treacherous attack targeting Arabat Airport Sulaymaniyah."

Full statement

With deep sorrow and sadness, we received the news of the martyrdom of a group of heroes from the Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG) during a treacherous attack targeting Arabat Airport Sulaymaniyah City, South Kurdistan region. These heroes, with their pure blood, forged an honorable path in the struggle and sacrifice for their people and nation.

In this regard, the General Command of the Syrian Democratic Forces extends its heartfelt condolences to the command and fighters of the Counter-Terrorism Group (CTG), the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, the families of the martyrs, and all the people of our nation. We affirm our unwavering solidarity with them in the wake of this tragic occurrence.

Our people shall forever hold their courageous heroes and the robust military and security institutions that safeguard them in the highest esteem, leaving no space for adversaries but eventual defeat.

Post-cabinet statement in full 

Prime Minister Masrour Barzani chaired a meeting of the Kurdistan Regional Government Council of Ministers on Wednesday. At the beginning of the meeting, the Council of Ministers condemned the recent attack on the agricultural airport of Arbat in Sulaymaniyah Province, extending its condolences to the families of the martyrs and wishing a speedy recovery for the injured. Concurrently, the Council called for respect for the sovereignty, security, and stability of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

The first agenda item was a summary of the high-level KRG delegation's visit to Baghdad on September 14, 2023, led by the Prime Minister. The focus was on salaries and financial entitlements for Kurdish factions in the Iraqi Parliament. 

To secure the salaries of KRG employees, the Prime Minister noted that a single, unified stance was presented through a high-level delegation of the Council of Ministers. This stance was based on constitutional rights, detailed data, and a long-term plan for salary provision. At the most recent meeting of the Federal Council of Ministers, a proposal to increase the loan amount provided to the KRG was approved.

The Prime Minister emphasized that salaries for KRG employees should be recognized as a legal entitlement, separate from any conflicts or differences of opinion. Like other Iraqi employees, their salaries should be considered a rightful allocation and should not be dependent on any external factors.

*سەرۆکوەزیران، وەزارەتی دارایی و ئابووری ڕاسپارد لەگەڵ گەیشتنی پارە لەلایەن حکومەتی فیدراڵەوە، ڕاسته‌خۆ بێ دواکەوتن دەست بە دابەشکردنی مووچەی مانگی تەممووز بکرێت.
حکومەتی هەرێمی كوردستان

Here are the quick takeaways from today's cabinet meeting statement

  • KRG condemns the Arbat drone attack and calls for respecting the sovereignty and security of both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.
  • KRG reiterates the need to separate the issue of KRI civil servant salaries from political disputes between Erbil and Baghdad.
  • PM Masrour Barzani thanks the people of the Kurdistan Region for their patience. [Note: Many civil servants are on strike and have run out of patience.]
  • Barzani also thanks the Kurdish factions in Baghdad for their support during recent talks with Iraqi officials.
  • He says there is a good understanding between Erbil and Baghdad.
  • PM Barzani tasks KRG ministries with assisting the Financial Auditing Office in preparing data on the total number of KRI employees and the amounts of their salaries.
  • He also calls on the KRG Finance Ministry to start paying salaries as soon as it receives the first batch of the 700 billion dinar loan from Baghdad.


JUST IN: KRG cabinet condemns attack on Arbat Agricultural Airport

 "At the start of the meeting, the Council of Ministers condemned the attack on Arbat Agricultural Airport in Sulaymaniyah Province. The Council extended its condolences to the families of the deceased and wished for a swift recovery for the injured. Additionally, the Council urged respect for the sovereignty, security, and stability of both the Kurdistan Region and Iraq."

Busy day for the PUK leader Baghdad

Talabani meets Ammar al-Hakim, the head of the National Wisdom Movement, who was one of the first to condemn the attack in Sulaymaniyah on Monday.

PUK Media wrote: “Concerning the recent security developments and territorial violations, both sides emphasized the need for unified national efforts to counter any threats to the country's security and stability. They also condemned attacks on security institutions that have played an important role in fighting terrorism and protecting the lives and peace of citizens.”

If you're watching carbs, stay away from honey and grapes exhibition taking place in Duhok today


Iraqi Prime Minister Sudani met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on the sidelines of this year's UN General Assembly to discuss boosting bilateral cooperation in the fields of energy and natural gas. 

Sudani expressed Iraq's interest in expanding ties in clean and renewable energy sectors, while Scholz indicated Germany's willingness to share its expertise in these areas.

The meeting follows Sudani's January visit to Berlin, where he met with German officials and companies, including Siemens, to explore opportunities for upgrading Iraq's electricity sector, including production, transmission, and distribution.

Full statement by the Iraqi PM's office

Prime Minister Mohammad Shia Al-Sudani met with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in New York on Tuesday evening, on the sidelines of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Sudani highlighted the growing relationship between Iraq and Germany, pointing to progress in the action plan agreed upon during his earlier visit to Berlin. 

This includes the execution of contracts signed with Siemens Energy Company, and he expressed Iraq's interest in expanding cooperation in clean and renewable energy.

The prime minister also mentioned visits by Iraqi delegations to Germany, specifically a delegation led by the Minister of Health, aimed at enhancing cooperation in the health sector, particularly in hospital management. He invited the German Chancellor to participate in a conference scheduled to be held in Baghdad later this year.

Chancellor Scholz emphasized Germany's commitment to implementing the action plan, expanding the operations of German companies in Iraq, and transferring expertise in the field of energy and associated gas investment. He also commended Sudani's policies for bringing tangible progress and stability to Iraq and expressed an interest in visiting the country.

Iranian Foreign minister says the opposition groups in the Kurdistan Region have been moved to five camps.

"We had a meeting with Mr. Fuad Hussein in New York. He emphasized that all armed (terrorist) groups in the Kurdistan region of Iraq have now been transferred to five camps, and their disarmament is being carried out according to the security agreement."

No one hurt in drone attack on civilian pickup truck near Mount Qandil

A drone attack targeted a civilian pickup truck parked near Mount Qandil, resulting in damage but no casualties, according to Nahro Abdullah, the head of Sangasar town.

Speaking to Erbil-based +964, Abdullah identified the vehicle as belonging to a resident of Endizai, near Qandil Mountain.

Abdullah also noted that the car's owner is the brother of the former co-mayor of Qandil. Turkey regularly targets Mount Qandil due to the presence of PKK fighters in the area.


PUK leader in Baghdad 

Bafel Talabani, the leader the PUK, met with Nuri Al-Maliki, the leader of the State of Law Coalition, in Baghdad today. He's in Baghdad an awful lot lately.

The meeting focused on several topics, including the 'terrorist (PUK's phrase) attack on Arbat Airport, political developments, and ongoing issues between Erbil and Baghdad, such as KRG employee salaries.

Both leaders condemned the attack on Arbat Airport and called for the Iraqi government to uphold its constitutional responsibilities. 

Talabani also declared that Halabja would become a new province within the Kurdistan Region. The Iraqi parliament has been dragging its heels on that particular front for the last week, with three delays in succession to the debate on Halabja's status.


The EU's delegation in Iraq issues a two tweet statement on the Arbat attack

As with the U.S., it doesn't mention Turkey by name as the perpetrator. 

But it did spread a very short statement over two tweets when it could have fit into one. Like upping the line spacing in Word to get a longer essay. 

U.S. urges Iraq to resolve Kuwait boundary issue

The U.S. State Department spokesperson urged Iraq on Monday to "expeditiously resolve the domestic legal status of the 2012 Kuwait-Iraq Agreement," following a recent ruling by the Iraqi Federal Supreme Court that found the maritime agreement unconstitutional.

The comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met with foreign ministers from Gulf Cooperation Council member states and GCC Secretary-General Jasem Albudaiwi in New York.

The court's ruling questioned the parliamentary approval of the agreement regulating maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah and emphasized the need to "ensure that the agreement remains in force."

Full statement
The Ministers stressed the importance of Iraq’s commitment to Kuwait’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and respect for international conventions and UN resolutions, especially UNSC Resolution 833 regarding the demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq boundary.

They called for the complete demarcation of the Kuwait-Iraq maritime boundary beyond boundary point 162 and called on the Government of Iraq to expeditiously resolve the domestic legal status of the 2012 Kuwait-Iraq Agreement to regulate maritime navigation in Khor Abdullah and ensure that the agreement remains in force.

 The Ministers renewed their support for UNSC Resolution 2107 (2013) regarding the transfer of the file related to repatriation of all Kuwaitis, including missing Kuwaitis, and return of Kuwaiti property, including the national archives, to the UN Mission to Iraq (UNAMI), and expressed their hope that Iraq will continue to cooperate to ensure progress in this file.
They called on Iraq and the UN to exert maximum efforts to reach a resolution of all the issues involved.
Baghdad loan to arrive on Sunday

This is hardly a breaking news but that is how it’s been reported.

KDP’s Kurdistan 24 cites a cabinet source as saying the 700-billion-dinar loan, earmarked for Kurdistan Region civil servant salaries, are to be sent in two batches starting on Sunday.
Once the cash arrives, the KRG will start distributing salaries. Most public sector employees haven't been paid since July. 

Last week, KRG’s finance ministry said the loan would arrive next week.

On the agenda in KRG cabinet meeting: unpaid salaries, not Sulaymaniyah drone attack

The KDP-led KRG cabinet is meeting for its weekly session in Erbil to discuss the recent visit to Baghdad and the subsequent deal to increase the loan provided by Baghdad. However, salaries have yet to be paid, as the KRG’s Finance Ministry is still waiting for the cash.

Arbat drone attack

Although the fatal attack on Arbat Airport in Sulaymaniyah should have been on the agenda, its omission highlights the KDP's stance toward the PUK and its control over the government agenda, which the PUK views as discriminatory against matters affecting the Sulaymaniyah region. We know that Barzani referred to "illegal activities" in his brief statement on the attack, alluding to the PUK's recent engagement with the Syrian Democratic Party (SDF), especially its Counter-terrorism Groups.

For more on the recent rise in the importance of military power in the PUK-controlled Sulaymaniyah, check out our earlier reporting on the (re-)militarization of the Kurdistan Region’s Green Zone.

In July, Bafel Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), staged an impressive demonstration of military strength with the Counterterrorism Group’s (CTG) “largest ever” parade in Sulaymaniyah, just a day before a high-level meeting with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). This rare parade aimed to showcase the PUK’s military capabilities, including its personnel and equipment. The notable presence of the contentious CTG head, Wahab Halabjayee—who an Erbil court has sentenced to death—alongside Talabani, sent a clear message to […]
The Citadel

Check out this new piece for AUIS's Institute of Regional and International Studies

New analysis Hayder Al-Shakeri offers a revealing look at Iraq's economy that's at odds with its seemingly successful façade. It talks about how places like Dijlah Village in Baghdad represent a booming economy, but only for the wealthy and politically connected. Across the river, the Dora Oil Refinery serves as a bleak reminder of where the country's resources are really going — toxic gases released into the air and valuable gas flared away instead of being harnessed for electricity generation.

The author also dives into the difficult conditions that average businesses have to work under, dominated as they are by Iraq’s powerful political entities. "I am already paying bribes to keep my restaurant afloat," admits a Baghdad restaurant owner, highlighting the pervasive corruption that small to medium businesses must navigate.

And then there's the blatant misuse of state funds. The political elite aren't just misallocating resources; they're siphoning money away from state coffers. "These investments provide a way for the elite to launder money acquired from state entities and government contract manipulation," the report notes. This comes at a high price for ordinary citizens, who are left dealing with rising costs and economic instability.

While it's easy to be lured by the image of progress in Iraq, the report urges a closer look. It warns that unless substantial changes are made, this supposed economic boom could lead to an almighty bust. The government and international bodies need to focus on leveling the playing field and offering genuine support to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Al-Shakeri concludes with a set of recommendations including increased transparency, modernizing e-governance infrastructure, and international support. "The urgency of this problem will only increase as demographic and climate pressures grow and more people migrate to the cities looking for work," he stresses.

What stands out is the contrast between the glamorous image put forth by projects like Dijlah Village and the hard truths of an economy rigged to enrich those at the top.
Introduction Dijlah Village, a sprawling 6,000-square-meter complex boasting restaurants, high-end meeting rooms, and a health center, opened in Baghdad in summer 2022. It sits on the banks of the

Morning briefing

Hello! Welcome to the midweek edition of The Citadel's live blog. The UN General Assembly is in full swing. 

Turkish bombardment of the Kurdistan Region remains in full flow. 

Speaking of flow, Kurdistan's economy awaits the payment salaries for this month after Baghdad decided to transfer loans to cover the payments.

Stay tuned!