Garraf oil field Photo credit: KMSK

Live: Kurdistan Region oil export flow to resume in days – Ankara

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Amnesty releases statement on new Zebari sentencing 

Yesterday, the Erbil Criminal Court in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq sentenced journalist Guhdar Zebari to an additional six months in prison on spurious charges. He has spent nearly three years behind bars following a grossly unfair trial. 

According to Zebari's lawyers, representatives of several consulates and organizations were not allowed to attend the hearing on Sunday.

Based on his new sentence, Zebari is expected to be released on 16 February 2024.

The Kurdistan Regional Government must end its practice of detaining journalists, activists, and others who are critical of the government in an effort to silence dissent.

We call on the KRG Coordinator to release Guhdar Zebari now!
Hundreds of Iraqis gathered in central Baghdad's Tahrir Square on Sunday to commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Tishrin (October) protest movement. 
Minor clashes occurred between demonstrators and security forces, but no injuries were reported, according to the Shafaq News website. Protesters chanted slogans familiar from previous years, such as “Towards fundamental changes, no to muhassasa and corruption.” 

They also displayed images of individuals killed in past anti-government demonstrations, urging the authorities to disclose the whereabouts of those missing since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq. 

Amnesty International stated that there has been no justice for the killing of hundreds and the maiming of thousands by Iraqi security forces. Additionally, demonstrators voiced a range of political, economic, and social concerns and expressed their opposition to the provincial election law. They called for a boycott of the upcoming provincial elections scheduled for December, the website noted.

20 arrested in raids following Ankara bombing

The Turkish interior ministry announced that "DNA analysis" has identified one of the perpetrators of Sunday’s attack in Ankara. The identified individual, Hasan Oguz, codenamed Kanivar Erdal, is said to be a member of the PKK.

In an Istanbul-based operation against the PKK/KCK, 20 suspects were detained, the Minister of Internal Affairs Ali Yerlikaya confirmed. This operation, initiated by the Terrorism and Organized Crimes Investigation Bureau of the Istanbul Chief Public Prosecutor's Office and executed by Anti-Terrorism Branch Directorate teams, resulted in the identification of 26 individuals operating within the "KCK/TDÖ" political wing of the PKK/KCK. These suspects were allegedly involved in activities ranging from supporting detained members of the organization to funding the PKK.

Notably among the detainees were administrators from the Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP) in various Istanbul districts. It is alleged that an HDP provincial director, previously dismissed from a teaching position, had aided members of the PKK's mountain squad in evading capture and potentially fleeing the country. Additionally, several other prominent figures from the HDP and the Democratic Alevi Association were among those arrested. The ruling AKP frequently accuse the HDP of links with the PKK.


A high-ranking Iraqi security team arrived in Tehran on Sunday to discuss the execution of a recent security pact between Iraq and Iran, focusing on the fate of Kurdish opposition groups in the Kurdistan Region.

The delegation, led by National Security Advisor Qasim Al-Araji and including KRG Interior Minister Rebar Ahmed, aims to address the disarmament of Iranian opposition groups. During a meeting with Araji, Ali Akbar Ahmadian, the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, called for the "complete and accurate" implementation of the security agreement between the two nations, as reported by the state-run IRNA news agency on Sunday.

In September, Araji visited Erbil shortly before the Iranian deadline for the agreement's fulfillment. Both Tehran and Baghdad have confirmed that the pact, which seeks to secure border areas and disarm Kurdish groups labeled as "terrorists" by Iran, has been carried out as intended.

Iran frequently claims that the KRG shelters groups inciting attacks against the Islamic Republic. Such groups include the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI), Komala, Free Life Party of Kurdistan (PJAK), and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK). Last year, Iranian forces initiated strikes, including drone and missile attacks, targeting alleged bases of these groups in the KRI.

Iraq's Foreign Minister, Fuad Hussein, mentioned that various groups have been disarmed and relocated to other sites.


PUK's "Yes Mr. President" campaign begins

PUK leader Bafel Talabani is solidifying his hold on power and appears to be seeking public endorsement. This seems to be the objective of a social campaign initiated by the party after its recent congress.

"The Yes to the President and the Fifth Congress of the PUK has launched on social media in support of the success of the congress,” stated PUK Media.

Avin Majid, a PUK supporter based in Norway, initiated the campaign. She explained that she couldn't attend the congress, prompting her to start it online. Majid is urging supporters to amplify the message "yes."

As a Norwegian resident and social media observer of the PUK's fifth congress, the most beautiful scene I witnessed at the congress was the raising of the word yes.

Avin Majid, PUK supporter

So far, the campaign has garnered limited attention. Could do with a catchier slogan tbh.

Iraqi officials reject 'aggression' on its soil

Following recent Turkish airstrikes on PKK bases in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq has condemned "any aggression" against its territories.

In a Sunday meeting, key Iraqi figures—including the president, prime minister, parliament speaker, and leader of the Supreme Judicial Council—asserted their nation's stance against "any aggression directed at Iraqi territory, emphasizing that such actions run counter to principles of good neighborliness and pose a threat to security and stability both within Iraq and in the wider region,” as reported by the semi-official Iraqi News Agency (INA).

They also emphasized that "dialogue, mutual understanding, cooperative engagement, and coordination should be the avenues for settling conflicts and discrepancies."


Turkish energy minister: Oil flows can resume within days

Turkey is set to restart oil exports from Iraq's Kurdistan Region through the Iraq-Turkey Ceyhan pipeline within days, according to a statement from Ankara.

Speaking at the ADIPEC conference in Abu Dhabi, Turkish Energy Minister Alparslan Bayraktar said, “We expect to restart the Iraq-Turkey pipeline operation this week. Once operational, it will contribute nearly half a million barrels to global oil markets.”

Bayraktar emphasized Turkey's reliability as a transit route for oil and gas.

The decision to halt exports followed a ruling on March 25 by the International Arbitration Court in Paris. The court awarded Iraq $1.4 billion in compensation after a dispute with Turkey. Since the ruling, officials from Turkey, Iraq, and the Kurdistan Region have been negotiating the resumption of oil flow, critical to the Kurdish region's economy.

According to the KRG, the suspension has resulted in over $6 billion in losses since late March. Before the halt, the Kurdistan Region alone exported 450,000 barrels daily via the pipeline. This was in addition to 100,000 barrels from Kirkuk.

We will have a full post-mortem report on the congress later today so stay tuned for that.

PUK congress recap

Bafel Talabani re-elected leader

Bafel Talabani, unanimously re-elected, deemed the congress a success, marking a "new and important beginning" for the PUK. He expressed gratitude towards former Leadership Council members and emphasized the party's continued commitment to the partnership vision in Baghdad.

Down-sized leadership council

The Leadership Council has been reduced to 60 members. These members, pre-selected by Talabani and close allies, weren't individually voted in. Instead, delegates were given a binary vote on the entire slate. Talabani claimed this was "normal and happens in all other countries." This isn't strictly true, as we discussed in yesterday's blog.

New head of PUK interests elected

Jaafar Sheikh Mustafa is now the secretary of the High Council of PUK's Interests. Peregraf reported that Mustafa pushed for his appointment during the congress rather than being appointed by Talabani after it ended. The Council may expand to 15 members.

Internal by-laws approved
Several amendments meant to centralize power were approved. Although the discussions extended the congress duration, no significant changes were made. Peregraf noted that article numbers grew from 65 to 68, but without fundamental alterations. Questions remain on why there was two days tacked on for deliberations on the bylaws if they ended up being passed with only cosmetic changes anyway.

Notable absentees

  • Lahur Sheikh Jangi Talabany
  • Mala Bakhtyar
  • Barham Salih
  • Hakim Qadir Hama Jan
  • Adnan Mufti
  • Omer Fatah
  • Mahmoud Sengawi
  • Adnan Hama Mina
  • Hamid Haji Ghali

Political Bureau changes

12-14 members will be appointed directly by Talabani.

Support Council formation

Replacing the Central Committee, this council will include younger party members and some from the former leadership. It will comprise roughly 100 members.


The PUK is now adhering to Iraqi law, mandating party congresses every four years. The co-leadership system is dead, ending Lahur Talabany's time at the party definitively. Key questions linger regarding the next steps for Lahur Talabany and other disgruntled party members. Though the former party co-leader has announced plans to contest the next Kurdistan elections on a new rival list.

Morning briefing

Morning. Lots to chew on today.

  • Turkey is set to resume oil exports from Kurdistan via the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline after a six-month hiatus.
  • In retaliation for a PKK-claimed suicide bombing in Ankara, Turkey launched airstrikes against suspected PKK positions in the Kurdistan Region.
  • The PUK concluded its congress, introducing new bylaws that grant significant authority to party leader Bafel Talabani.
  • In the aftermath of the tragic Qaraqosh wedding hall fire, which resulted in over 100 deaths, five officials have been dismissed due to "gross negligence."