Bafel Talabani/Credit: PUKNow

Live: PUK party conference under the spotlight

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Lahur Talabany on participating in the KRI parliamentary elections

"I wish to announce that our initial step will be to participate in the forthcoming Kurdistan parliamentary elections. We aim to present a diverse list that signifies a wide-reaching front for national liberation. This will include the valiant voices of the Kurdish people, both from within the PUK and outside its confines. Our list is dedicated to all those advocating for authentic change and governance reform throughout the Kurdistan Region. It will voice the aspirations of those desiring a brighter future, freedom, social justice, and a staunch commitment to the rule of law. Guided by a renewed vision, we aim to unite and pave the way for a revitalized democratic experience."


Lahur Talabany also expressed gratitude to Mala Bakhtiar for speaking out, stating, "From this point forward, we are the masters of our own decisions and will persist in our political endeavors, grounded in our unwavering principles of freedom, democracy, human rights, self-determination, and justice."

"I assure you that genuine unity among the people will be reignited, albeit through a fresh and contemporary approach. Though its name and title might have been forcefully taken, the core essence of this unity endures as a beacon of thought and philosophy. Trust that your comrades will maintain their journey on this path, preserving the spirit of unity."


Talabany warns that the congress's aim to centralize the decision-making process could lead to grave consequences.

He said, "The objective is to establish an authoritarian and subservient leadership to dodge criticism and evade accountability for your [current leadership's] shortcomings. You're trying to change the PUK from a democratic body into a centralized one where only one voice dominates. This approach has never been, and never will be, accepted within the PUK. Be certain, a time will come when you will face severe repercussions for the harm you've caused to the political integrity of the party, its leaders, and the legacies of its martyrs."

He also outlined the challenges facing the PUK, which he believes include "a decline in votes, a worsening regional situation, and the deteriorating economic health of the market. You've overlooked traders, taken over domestic revenues and border checkpoints, and militarized regions while selling off valuable land—all without proper legal scrutiny. Your actions have raised concerns not only among the Kurdish populace but also among the families of the martyrs and within the PUK itself."


Lahur Talabany pleads his innocence regarding accusations made by Bafel Talabani that he conspired to poison him in an attempted coup. Lahur Talabany contends that what transpired was, in fact, a coup against him, and he labels the current PUK leadership as "coup leaders." He notes that, instead of rectifying their mistakes, they persist in their errant ways.

Lahur Talabany voiced his criticism of the present leadership: "They have tarnished the PUK's name, reputation, and legacy as a social democratic party. They've failed to align the party with the majority of its members' hopes and expectations. Moreover, they haven't preserved the PUK's historical role as a pivotal force in addressing governmental concerns for the common good. Instead of fostering balanced domestic and international relationships rooted in mutual, genuine interests, they've become ensnared by regional agendas. Their actions have bred uncertainty, leaving many questioning who within the party remains an ally and who has become foe."


Lahur Talabany warns that the congress scheduled for tomorrow "fails to adequately assess the domestic, regional, and international contexts beforehand. It stifles freedom and democracy within the party and neglects to confront its recent failures resulting from flawed policies, thereby creating significant risks for the party." 

He emphasizes that the intent is to disenfranchise him, his supporters, and "thousands of other PUK members and activists, without fully weighing the potential repercussions, harms, and dangers."

Talabany claims that the congress is neglecting the voices of party veterans and downplaying their years of experience and sacrifice. 

He added, "This is a congress where individuals, having illegitimately seized power, aim to force their intentions upon others. They arbitrarily choose a select number of their favored members from a list of several hundred to occupy the congress hall and applaud."
Lahur Talabany
Lahur Talabany   credit: Lahur Talabany's office
Ousted co-leader Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany has issued a detailed statement describing the upcoming PUK congress as an "imposition, unlawful, counter to internal rules, and in violation of all the party's principles and bylaws." 

He warns that it could lead the PUK into a major fracture and cause internal upheaval, ultimately leading the party towards annihilation and destruction.
Outlets affiliated with PUK have largely ignored news that two artists were arrested for their work, while those affiliated with KDP have reported on the incident.

The PUK has long promoted the Sulaymaniyah region, which it controls, as a haven for journalists and artists to freely express themselves. However, this portrayal is far from accurate. While the area might be slightly more tolerant than the KDP-controlled parts of the Kurdistan Region, it still has significant restrictions and potential penalties for artistic and journalistic output falling foul of individuals within the party. 

There's a noticeable trend in the Sulaymaniyah region where extremist views are gaining traction, sometimes leading to tragedy. A case in point is the murder of 22-year-old artist Khwanas Wrya from Chamchamal.

Baghdad scores nearly $9b in oil revenues

Baghdad collected $8.9 billion in crude oil revenue due to the steady price of oil, averaging $84.7 per barrel. 

This high oil price offset losses from the halt in oil exports from the Kurdistan Region through the Turkish port of Ceyhan. 

Iraq's Ministry of Oil said final oil revenues for August totaled $8.997 billion from the sale of 106 million barrels. 

The State Oil Marketing Company (SOMO) said most of these exports, about 105 million barrels, came from central and southern Iraq. Smaller quantities were exported from Qayyarah and Jordan. 

The ministry said 38 international companies from various countries participated in the export operation, using several ports and transportation methods.

In February, before the halt of about 400,000 barrels of oil from the KRI, Baghdad raked in $7 billion when the oil price averaged $76.7.

Two artists detained in Garmiyan over alleged Islam insult

Two theatre directors, Omar Abdullah and Shiko Omar, have been detained in the Garmiyan region on charges of "insulting Islam."

The charges pertain to a play titled Let's All Be Dogs, performed three years ago in Kalar district. 

The detention, reported by Xendan on Tuesday, came in response to a complaint filed by the Garmiyan branch of the Kurdistan Islamic Scholars Union. Fellow artist Kardo Mohammed commented that the play included a religious character which some interpreted as disrespectful to Islam. 

Mohammed has stated there are plans for a protest against the detainment in the upcoming days. 

The scholar’s union had previously condemned the play in a 2020 letter, asserting that it insulted Islam and threatened social cohesion. They advocated for consequences and measures to prevent similar plays in the future.

'Creativity in Action, Consensus in Decision-Making'

Sometimes, the headlines really do write themselves.

Two decades on, Abu Ghraib survivors still await compensation

Twenty years after invading Iraq, the U.S. has not provided a path to compensation for survivors of abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, Human Rights Watch said Monday.

"Two decades later, Iraqis who suffered at the hands of U.S. personnel still can't easily file a claim or get any form of redress or recognition from the U.S.," said Sarah Yager, Washington director at Human Rights Watch. "U.S. officials suggest we should move on from torture, but its lasting impacts are still felt daily by many Iraqis."

The organization spoke to individuals including Taleb Al-Majli, a former detainee. He claimed to be in a known photo where U.S. soldiers stacked hooded prisoners, nude, in a pyramid at Abu Ghraib.

Majli described sexual humiliation, abuse involving dogs and water hoses. Released after 16 months without charges, he began biting his hands and wrists, dealing with trauma. The scars now prevent him from wearing short-sleeved attire.

"The 16 months transformed my entire existence negatively. It broke me and my family," he told Human Rights Watch, noting they couldn't confirm his entire story.

Eleven U.S. soldiers faced convictions for abuses at Abu Ghraib. However, critics argue the penalties were lenient, with no senior officials prosecuted.

Human Rights Watch found no legal avenue for Abu Ghraib victims to get compensation, neither through the U.S. nor Iraqi channels.

"The U.S. must offer compensation, recognition, and official apologies to abuse survivors and their families," Yager stated.

From 2003 to 2009, the U.S.-led coalition reportedly detained about 100,000 Iraqis.

The rights group highlighted a 2004 report by the International Committee of the Red Cross. It mentioned that U.S.-led coalition intelligence guessed that 70-90% of those detained were wrongly arrested.

President Barack Obama, who criticized the Iraq war and was elected in 2008, promised the U.S. would refrain from torture. Yet, he chose not to pursue action against officials from George W. Bush's administration.

A Congressional act also means the U.S. hasn't compensated those released from Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.


In a comprehensive interview with The National, Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani discussed his government's priorities and challenges.

The topics ranged from domestic issues like rebuilding public trust and combating poverty, to foreign relations and maintaining regional stability. Here are the main points:

Public trust

  • PM Sudani cited that his most significant challenge since assuming office has been to regain the Iraqi people's trust. 
  • He feels that trust can be restored by providing basic services, combating corruption, and introducing economic reforms. 
  • The premier emphasized that credibility and delivering on promises are pivotal in restoring trust.

Economic plans

  • PM Sudani portrayed Iraq's foreign policy as being “balanced and sovereign,” emphasizing mutual interests without compromising Iraq's needs.
  • He highlighted Iraq's strategic importance in the region and pushed for regional stability through joint projects, such as the "Iraq development road project" aiming to fortify ties between Asia and Europe.

Foreign policy

  • In his discussions with U.S. officials, Sudani clarified Iraq's stance on the foreign troop presence and bilateral relations, emphasizing the need only for military advisors and advocating for a clear timeline for their presence.

Kuwait relations

  • Amid tensions with Kuwait, PM Sudani reaffirmed Iraq's commitment to international laws and UN Security Council decisions. 
  • He expressed a desire to bolster ties with Kuwait and highlighted post-2003 Iraq's difference, emphasizing cross-border projects with all neighbors, including Kuwait.

Poverty alleviation

  • Sudani unveiled a multi-pronged strategy to address poverty, including a $4 billion budget in 2023 for cash support to 1.7 million individuals and families.
  • He underscored the importance of the private sector, especially considering the country's reliance on borrowed funds due to decreasing oil revenues.


  • Sudani stressed the 'ongoing efforts' to curb corruption and stabilize the economy, touching upon corporate taxes, customs payments, and currency exchange rate regulations.
  • He acknowledged challenges like illicit trade and smuggling, especially in relations with Iran and Turkey, and detailed efforts to regulate these areas.

Private sector

  • Recognizing the budgetary pressures, Sudani accentuated the indispensable role of the private sector in Iraq's economic future.

Regional cooperation

  • Sudani emphasized regional stability and invited nations to engage in joint ventures, using the "Iraq development road project" as an example.

Internal politics

  • Displaying confidence in Iraq's political scenario, Sudani pointed to the support of 280 out of 329 MPs as evidence of the country's political stability.

The PMF has announced the initiation of a military operation in the western province of Anbar, which borders Syria, with the goal of preventing infiltrations by the Islamic State (IS).

The semi-official Iraqi News Agency (INA) cited Qasim Moslih, the Commander of Anbar Operations, as saying that the PMF has begun "an extensive security operation in the western desert regions of the province. This includes areas like Wadi Al-Kaara, Al-Walid, Al-Rutba, Akashat, and their surroundings, as well as the strip along the Iraqi-Syrian border." Moslih stated that this move was prompted by reliable intelligence indicating the movements of IS terrorist groups in these uninhabited regions.

Furthermore, he emphasized that the security operations will persist until all "terrorist cells" and their affiliates are eradicated.

In related news, the Iraqi Security Media Cell reported on the same day that nine IS suspects were detained in both Anbar and Nineveh provinces.


Here is a preview of some of the changes proposed to PUK govorning structures, which are likely to be approved during the party conference:

  • The number of members in the Political Bureau will be reduced to 10, according to Serkawt Zeki, the Head of the Organization Bureau.

  • The High Political Council of PUK Interests will undergo a reorganization. Its member count, currently at nine, is expected to increase. Mala Bakhtiar suggests it might go over 20 members. These members will be appointed by the PUK leader. There are plans to make the council more active, and its name might be changed to "The Council of Protecting the PUK's Interests."

  • The Leadership Council will consist of 51 members, including the president of the council, as stated by Zeki.

  • A new council, named the Support Council, will be introduced and is expected to comprise approximately 100 members. This council aims to nurture new cadres, youth, and women. It will serve as a platform for future leadership development and will operate based on the president's recommendations.

Statement from the U.S. Consulate General in Erbil on press freedom in the Kurdistan Region

In recent years, particularly since the current Prime Minister Masrour Barzani transitioned from his role as intelligence chief to premier, there has been a noticeable decline in the state of press freedoms and freedom of expression in the Kurdistan Region.

Several journalists and activists have received severe prison sentences in trials frequently characterized as "grossly unfair."

Full statement:

[Consul General] CG Stroh met with journalists from several independent media outlets to learn about their work, the media landscape, and challenges faced by independent media.

The CG commended the journalists on their ongoing efforts to provide impartial coverage of the politics, economy and society of the region.

We continue to be concerned about recent backsliding on press freedom, including arbitrary detention, warrantless device searches, and lack of implementation of the IKR Press Law and Access to Information act.


Morning Post

Today is a big day in the Kurdistan Region as the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) finalizes preparations for its much-criticized party conference scheduled for Wednesday. Although the event is under close scrutiny, it is largely considered a pre-planned affair in which the current PUK leader, Bafel Talabani, is expected to further solidify his control over the party.

A statement is awaited from the ousted PUK co-president, Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany, who has been barred from participating in the conference, along with his close associates.

On Monday, PUK veteran Mala Bakhtiar expressed strong criticism of the manner in which the conference has been organized.

We have an upcoming analysis by journalist Renwar Najm that will delve into how this conference differs from previous ones. Check back later to read the piece.

In other developments, the U.S. consulate in Erbil has expressed ongoing concerns about the erosion of press freedom, citing issues such as arbitrary detentions, warrantless device searches, and the lack of enforcement of the IKR Press Law and Access to Information Act.

Additionally, the Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) have launched a security operation in Anbar province, near the Syrian border, aimed at preventing militant infiltration.