'vote' to elect Bafel Talabani as leader involved holding up green paddles

Live: Day two of PUK congress gets underway as Bafel Talabani elected leader again

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Lack of justice remains acute for Tishreen protest victims

Amnesty International has expressed deep concern over unresolved abuses from the 2019 Tishreen protests in Iraq as the four-year anniversary of the nationwide anti-government movement nears.

The protests, dubbed the Tishreen protests, saw severe crackdowns from Iraqi security entities, including the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) — an integral part of the Iraqi Armed Forces. The toll was devastating: hundreds dead, thousands injured, and an untold number disappeared.

Razaw Salihy, Amnesty International’s Iraq Researcher, stated, “The meagre number of prosecutions and investigations... clearly demonstrate that the authorities are not interested in accountability.”

Families yearning for justice and answers face threats, and sometimes deadly retaliation. A father, actively seeking his disappeared son since October 2019, was killed in March 2021. Sajjad al-Iraqi, an activist against corruption, went missing in September 2020, with his family subsequently facing consistent threats.

A UNAMI report in June 2022 further highlights the prevailing impunity, noting just a handful of convictions related to the protest violence.

Government transparency is also under scrutiny. Several investigative committees, notably the 'Fact-Finding Committee' from 2020, were created post-2019 to probe into the protest-related abuses. Their findings, however, remain largely undisclosed. In April 2023, Prime Minister Mohammed Shia’ Al Sudani’s office revealed some actions of the Fact-Finding Committee but stopped short of offering substantial findings.

Amnesty International pointed out that the August 2023 draft of the "Missing Persons Law", while aiming to address the issue of enforced disappearances, fails to criminalize such acts or detail penalties for those responsible.


Turkey said it has "neutralized" 1,351 members of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) and Syria's People's Protection Units (YPG) this year.

The term "neutralized" is used by Turkish authorities to mean the fighters either surrendered, were killed or captured.

Last week alone, 80 were "neutralized," a National Defense Ministry official said during a briefing, as reported by the state-run Anadolu Agency. Of those, 991 PKK/YPG fighters were neutralized directly by Turkish soldiers, the official added.

Since January, there have been 342 incidents and attacks by YPG/PKK fighters in areas where Turkey has military operations, including the Iraq-Turkey border region.

However, it's challenging to verify these numbers independently, as Turkey faces accusations of inflating casualty figures to hurt enemy morale.


Delegates at the PUK congress are currently deliberating on internal bylaws

More than 50 delegates put their names forward to be on the committee for deliberations on the PUK's internal rulebook. There's apparently some level of disagreement on the content.

Though this could also be the PUK's media arms trying to boost any semblance of internal debate at a congress that has seen delegates handpicked for ideological consistency. 

Duhok imposes tighter regulation for pyrotechnics following Qaraqosh tragedy

Following the tragic fire in Qaraqosh that claimed over a hundred lives and injured many, the Civil Defense Department in Dohuk province has implemented strict regulations against the use of pyrotechnics in enclosed spaces. The new rules took effect Thursday.

Lt. Col. Bewar Abdulaziz, spokesperson for the Dohuk Fire Department, informed Shafaq News Agency that the regulations prohibit the use of pyrotechnics and firecrackers in closed venues like wedding halls, cafes, and hotels. 

Abdulaziz emphasized the new measures are crucial to reinforce safety protocols and prevent future incidents.

شفق نيوز/ فرضت دائرة الدفاع المدني في محافظة دهوك، يوم الخميس، قراراً جديداً يقضي بمنع وبشكل صارم ممارسة الألعاب النارية داخل المباني المغلقة في المحافظة.وقال المقدم بيوار عبدالعزيز المسؤول الإعلامي ل
شفق نيوز

PUK forced to deny rumors of scuffles on congress floor

The PUK denied rumors of altercations during its party congress. Talar Latif, the liason at this congress, refuted the claims, explaining that a member had an accident on an escalator which caused others to fall. 
The injured member is being treated at a hospital for minor injuries, Latif told the party broadcaster KurdSat.

"Those rumors on social media are false and seek to sow discord."

Fair enough. 
The final segment of the first 700 billion dinar loan from Baghdad has been deposited into the KRG finance ministry's bank account.
Following last week's two installments totaling 450 billion dinars, Baghdad has now transferred an additional 200 billion dinars.

These loans were agreed as an interim measure to allow KRG ministries to pay public sector workers. The KRG has not received its share of the budget since helping pass it earlier this year. 
PUK leader anticipates ‘golden era’ for this party

PUK leader Bafel Talabani showcased the party's accomplishments in the Kurdistan Region during a speech to congress members. He emphasized the PUK's commitment to democracy, freedom of expression, enhanced female and youth political participation, and reformed security agencies.

Under President Bafel Jalal Talabani, the PUK is witnessing a "golden era characterized by unity, determination, and solidarity," he said in his address.

This marks Talabani's inaugural speech since his re-election, where he highlighted achievements following the ousting of co-leader Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabani in 2021.

PUKMedia published the text, which outlined challenges in the Kurdistan Region, including international apprehension about dwindling freedoms and human rights. Talabani pointed out the PUK's proactive approach to these issues.

Regarding elections, Talabani asserted the PUK's defense of minority rights and improvements to voter records. He also emphasized the party's dedication to 'equitable' oil and gas revenue distribution.

He underscored reforms within the party that bolstered the roles of women and younger members. Additionally, Talabani branded the PUK as environmentally conscious, labeling it as "the first in Iraq and the KRI" to prioritize the environment, citing its support for clean energy.

Military and security reforms

He claims that, despite external pressures, particularly from the KDP, the PUK successfully restructured five brigades of the Force 70 peshmerga. In total, 30 brigades in the KRI underwent restructuring, including two involved with the Iraqi security forces in disputed territories.

In his speech, Talabani stated, "Attention to the 70th Forces in areas like logistics, capacity building, armament, and financial development has increased. They're undergoing a modern, scientific reorganization that's in progress. Training reforms have consolidated previously disparate forces into a single unit: the PUK and Kurdistan forces."

Talabani also highlighted significant modifications in intelligence and security agencies, emphasizing their revamped operations in service to the Kurdistan Regional Government.

PM Sudani visits victims of Qaraqosh fire, orders investigation

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani visited hospitals treating those injured in the recent Qaraqosh fire on Thursday, emphasizing the government's commitment to public safety nationwide.

Concerns have been raised about the safety of the building where the fire occurred. Why the venue permitted to operate without fire extinguishers; why were pyrotechnics allowed indoors, and why the venue used flammable (and toxic) cladding that has apparently been banned by federal regulators. 

Sudani, accompanied by ministers of interior, health, culture, and immigration, toured the Republican and Qaraqosh Hospitals. He also directed the transfer of critically injured patients abroad for specialized care.

The prime minister insisted on the accountability of administrative unit directors for strict safety protocol enforcement. He called for the harshest legal penalties against anyone found negligent in the fire's spread.

In a follow-up meeting, Sudani stressed the importance of inspecting safety standards in public venues, including event halls, restaurants, and hotels. "We must implement measures to prevent tragedies like fires or other incidents," said Sudani.


Check out the latest dispatch from Qaraqosh

The tight-knit community in Qaraqosh is in mourning. The latest reporting from AFP files from the funeral proceedings.
A large portrait of Jesus Christ dominates the crowd, making way for a procession of coffins after a fire ravaged an Iraqi Christian wedding. In the cemetery of the northern city of Qaraqosh, mourners surrounded clergy from various churches, chanting prayers in Syriac and giving sermons in Arabic. Some attendees displayed portraits of their deceased loved ones. Just a day prior, the individuals in those portraits had gathered in an upscale banquet hall for a wedding. But while the bride […]
The Citadel

Kosrat Rasul and Hero Ibrahim appointed PUK's 'supreme symbols' 

Kosrat Rasul Ali and Hero Ibrahim Ahmed were unanimously appointed as "the supreme symbols of the PUK due to their unwavering commitment, positions, and contributions to the party's history."

Incidentally, Hero Ibrahim is Qubad and Bafel Talabani's mother and the daughter of PUK co-founder Ibrahim Ahmed. She's also former first lady of Iraq. Her own sister is the current first lady of Iraq. 

Both were not able to attend the congress due to health reasons.

Well that's certainly one way of putting the old guard out to pasture.

Morning briefing

It is day two of the PUK congress, and Bafel Talabani has been re-elected as the PUK leader. His unanimous re-election was not in doubt. He ran unopposed.

Today, there will be a vote on the amended internal by-laws. For more details on the changes, refer to our previous report. These amendments aim to further consolidate the powers of the PUK leader.

Discussions will also take place regarding the reformed top party bodies: the Higher Council, Leadership Council, and Support Council. It's anticipated that the number of Leadership Council members will be significantly reduced from 124 to 50. 

A new body, the Support Council, is expected to be introduced, which seems to function as a second-tier Leadership Council. A smaller Leadership Council is likely easier to control and manage.

Furthermore, the Higher Council of the PUK interests is expected to expand, with the political bureau members being appointed directly by the PUK leader.

In other news, the Iraqi PM has arrived in Mosul in response to the tragic fire incident in Qaraqosh. During his visit, he went to a hospital and met with the families of the victims.