Sudani in Moscow

Live: Sudani lands in Moscow for first official visit

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Erbil-Baghdad Relations

Barzani highlights a fundamental issue in the relationship between Baghdad and Erbil. According to the constitution, the country is meant to operate under a federal system. However, the current system leans more towards centralization, preventing a genuine federal arrangement. Until this core issue is addressed, other problems will persist.

“If we want Iraq to achieve political and economic stability, our brothers in Baghdad need to reflect on this,” he remarked. While it's true that Erbil manages certain affairs not typically under a federal system, Barzani points out that Baghdad's treatment of Erbil is not consistent with a federal approach.

Barzani emphasized the importance of both parties working together to reinforce the principles of the federal system, rather than operating based on power dynamics. He noted the KRG's transparency with Baghdad and expressed concern over the ongoing salary situation, emphasizing that it cannot continue in its current state.

Lastly, Barzani stated that the solution lies in Baghdad, not in Tehran.


On PUK-KDP relations

President Barzani emphasizes the importance of PUK and KDP relations, urging efforts to ensure there are no insurmountable issues between them. 

He added that both parties recognize the potential of collaboration. However, it's important to note that this sentiment may not be universally shared within the KDP. Specifically, the dominant faction led by Masrour Barzani has shown reluctance in maintaining a working relationship with the new PUK, currently under the leadership of Bafel Talabani.

On the KRI oil resumption

President Barzani states that Ankara is prepared for the oil resumption. 

However, two issues remain:

  1. The financial dues of the IOCs, and the method by which payments are provided to these companies. 
  2. The compensation, which is set at 6 dollars per barrel produced, may not suffice for the IOCs who have signed production sharing contracts with the KRG

Secondly, he says SOMO needs to sign contracts with the companies that purchase KRI oil and reconcile the more lucrative contracts signed by the international oil companies with the KRG and the less favorable terms offered by Baghdad. 
Sulaymaniyah airport

Barzani mentioned that he has discussed the matter with Ankara. They have raised concerns that need addressing, though he did not specify what these concerns are. Ankara is apprehensive about PKK activities in the Sulaymaniyah region and cooperation with the PUK.

On the PKK question

The Kurdish issues in Turkey need to be addressed through dialogue, and a political solution should be pursued rather than a military one.

He says PKK poses a significant challenge for the KRI and that they show little respect for the institutions of the KRI, and as long as this remains their stance, it hampers our ability to prevent Turkey from taking certain actions.

Meri 2023: President Barzani is on stage

Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani speaking to Hiwa Osman at Meri Forum 2023
Kurdistan Region President Nechirvan Barzani speaking to Hiwa Osman at Meri Forum 2023  
President Barzani says that as a principle and according to international law, Iraq should not be used as a security threat to any other countries. 
Regarding the security agreement between Baghdad and Tehran, he says Erbil, as a part of Iraq, has abided by the clauses of the deal. A lot of progress in its implementation has been achieved. “We reiterate the KRI is not a threat to Iran.”

He says the opposition groups, thankfully, have a very good understanding of the situation in the KRI and are concerned for the KRI.

Supreme Court dismisses suit against KRG for taxes

The Iraqi Federal Supreme Court has dismissed a complaint against the KRG prime minister and finance minister regarding two tax directives: one on private hospital taxes and the other on financial incentives at the tax and housing directorate.
The complaint was filed by Srwa Abdulwahid, leader of the NGM faction in the Iraqi parliament, and NGM MP Rebwar Awrahman.

They sought to annul directives related to a 1% surcharge on additional revenue from the General Directorate of Taxes and Housing and a 5% tax on private hospital services. However, the court ruled that the complaint was not within the scope of the court's remit to rule on.

Speaker Mohammed Al-Halbousi is currently in Belgrade, where he met with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. According to the speaker's media office, the meeting focused on enhancing bilateral relations between Iraq and Serbia in multiple sectors, including education, agriculture, and health. Discussions also centered on increasing cooperation at the parliamentary level, activating friendship committees, and exchanging experiences.

The speaker's office further stated that the Iraqi parliament supports the government in pursuing economic partnerships in various sectors and strategic projects. Halbousi called for expanded bilateral cooperation regarding Iraqi antiquities and requested the return of smuggled Iraqi artifacts currently held by Serbian agencies. He also expressed appreciation for Serbia's efforts in this domain.

Serbia has been in the news recently for a troop buildup on its border with Kosovo, which led the U.S. to issue stern warnings and led to fears of a repeat to the violence of the the 1990s.


Full readout by the Iraqi PM's office

Russian President Vladimir Putin met with Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani on Tuesday as part of his official visit to Moscow, following an official invitation.

A comprehensive meeting took place between the Iraqi delegation and their Russian counterparts. They discussed the establishment of stronger bilateral relations and means to enhance mutual cooperation across various sectors. Foremost among these were the energy sector and developments in the oil derivatives industry. The active presence of Russian oil companies in Iraq, coupled with significant investment activity, aligns with the government's future vision and strategies to develop the Iraqi economy and diversify its revenue streams.

During the meeting, various regional and international issues of mutual concern were discussed, including the concerning developments in the occupied Palestinian territories. The Iraqi Prime Minister reiterated Iraq’s unwavering stance on the Palestinian issue, affirming the rights of the Palestinian people to live with dignity and justice. He urged Russia to collaborate urgently with the permanent members of the Security Council to halt continuous assaults on the Palestinian territories.

President Putin emphasized the deep historical ties between the two friendly nations, noting the energy sector as a pivotal area for further, fruitful cooperation. He also expressed pleasure at Mr. Sudani's participation in the upcoming sixth round of the Russian Energy Week forum, which is set to take place tomorrow. This forum is seen as a significant opportunity to broaden the partnership between the two countries in the realms of energy, oil, and gas.

Addressing the recent events in the Palestinian territories, President Putin highlighted ongoing efforts to mitigate the dangerous security implications that are evidently escalating.

رئيس مجلس الوزراء السيد محمد شياع السوداني يلتقي الرئيس الروسي في موسكو •••••••••• التقى رئيس مجلس الوزراء السيد محمد شياع السوداني، اليوم الثلاثاء، رئيس روسيا الاتحادية السيد فلاديمير بوتين، وذلك في إطار زيارته الرسمية إلى موسكو، التي وصلها صباح اليوم، تلبيةً لدعوة رسمية. وجرى، خلال اللقاء، عقد اجتماع موسع ضم الوفد الرسمي العراقي والجانب الروسي، تناول العلاقات الثنائية بين البلدين، وآليات تعزيز التعاون المشترك في مختلف المجالات الحيوية، وفي مقدمتها ملف الطاقة، وتطوير قطاع الصناعات النفطية، وكذلك مناقشة تواجد الشركات النفطية الروسية في العراق، الذي يشهد حركة كبيرة في مجال الاستثمار، ضمن رؤية الحكومة وستراتيجيتها في النهوض بالاقتصاد العراقي وتنويع موارده. وشهد اللقاء التباحث في عدد من القضايا الإقليمية والدولية ذات الاهتمام المشترك، وبحث التطورات الخطيرة للأحداث الراهنة في الأراضي الفلسطينية المحتلة، إذ أكد السيد رئيس مجلس الوزراء موقف العراق الثابت إزاء القضية الفلسطينية، الذي يؤكد حقّ الشعب الفلسطيني في العيش بكرامة وعدالة، داعياً روسيا إلى التحرك العاجل مع الدول الدائمة العضوية في مجلس الأمن لإيقاف الاعتداءات…

PM Sudani, President Putin discuss strengthening energy ties 

A statement issued by the PM's office said that the leaders of the two countries have discussed ways to bolster energy ties. 

"A comprehensive meeting was held between the Iraqi delegation and their Russian counterparts. Topics discussed included the establishment of stronger bilateral relations, methods for enhancing mutual cooperation in various sectors, with a primary focus on the energy sector and developments in the oil derivatives industry. Furthermore, the active presence of Russian oil companies in Iraq, which is witnessing significant investment activity, underscores the government's vision and strategies for the future development of the Iraqi economy and the diversification of its revenue streams."

PUK 'reconciliation' process to commence tomorrow

The PUK announces that a process to 'reconcile' disgruntled members will begin tomorrow. Saadi Ahmed Pira, PUK's new spokesperson (who is also the old PUK spokesperson), stated that a committee will start reaching out to unhappy PUK members following the election of Political Bureau members.

Some senior PUK figures, such as former Iraqi President Barham Salih, former politburo member Mala Bakhtiar, and former spokesperson Soran Jamal Tahir, chose to skip the recent party conference over concerns about the extent of Bafel Talabani's power and the (perceived) less democratic direction of the party.

It appears Talabani treats the ramming through of last month's conference as a fait accompli and that disgruntled PUK members will now have no choice but to toe the line.

The Middle East Research Institute (MERI) has kicked off its annual conference, focusing on several topics including Iraq’s domestic politics, Erbil-Baghdad relations, Iraq’s relations with its international partners, the issue of internally displaced persons (IDPs), and the country's economy. 
The conference will host senior Iraqi and Kurdish decision-makers, including Nechirvan Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and KRG Deputy PM Qubad Talabani. Here is a link to the live stream and schedule for the next two days.

Dozens detained with fake IDs in past 10 month at Sulaymaniyah Airport

At Sulaymaniyah International Airport, 37 people have been detained over the past 10 months for attempting to use fake IDs. Both Iraqi citizens and foreigners were among those arrested with falsified documents, according to PUK's Gali Kurdistan website. After verification, the individuals were taken to court where legal proceedings began, an airport statement said.

Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr has stated, "Iraq must send food and water to Gaza." This statement comes after Israel declared a complete blockade on the Gaza Strip in response to a surprise assault by Hamas militants that resulted in at least 800 deaths within Israel – most of whom were civilians – and the capture of dozens of hostages

Sadr suggested that the supplies could be provided to the Gaza Strip via Syria or Egypt. He also directed sharp criticism towards Arab rulers who have not shown support for the Palestinian cause. 

Furthermore, he described the U.S. President as a "senile old man" for backing Israel in its conflict with the Gaza Strip.

شفق نيوز/ أعرب زعيم التيار الصدري مقتدى الصدر، يوم الثلاثاء، عن الاستعداد لتجهيز قطاع غزة المحاصر بالمياه عبر سوريا أو مصر، فيما وجه انتقاداً لاذعاً إلى بعض الحكام العرب الذين لم يدعموا القضية الفلسطي
شفق نيوز

He looks happy

Don't blame him with that fabulous spin on the red carpet treatment.
Sudani all smiles upon landing in Moscow
Sudani all smiles upon landing in Moscow  

Iraq and Turkmenistan ink gas deal

Iraq and Turkmenistan have signed a memorandum of understanding to annually supply nearly 10 billion cubic meters of Turkmen gas to Iraq. The deal was reached during a Turkmen delegation's working visit to Baghdad, led by Maksat Babayev, chairman of the state gas company Turkmengaz.

The Turkmen Foreign Ministry said Iraqi officials expressed interest in importing gas from Turkmenistan via a swap scheme through neighboring Iran. They are looking at long-term contracts, potentially lasting at least five years, where Iraq would annually receive 10 billion cubic meters of Turkmen natural gas.

During the discussions, the prime minister emphasized his nation's eagerness to enhance relations with Turkmenistan, pinpointing energy as a central pillar in their partnership. He commended the agreements reached by the energy sectors of both nations and voiced confidence in a swift commencement of their actual implementation.

In addition to Babayev, the Turkmen delegation met with Iraq's Minister of Electricity, Ziad Ali Fadel. Their constructive talks centered on organizing Turkmen gas supplies to Iraq and delving into the legal, commercial, financial, and organizational aspects for prospective joint ventures in the gas sector.

Both parties have scheduled further discussions in Ashgabat from October 25-27 at the International Exhibition and Conference “Oil and Gas of Turkmenistan - 2023”.

Citing Prime Minister Sudani, Turkmenistan's state news agency TDH reported: "While Iraq boasts abundant hydrocarbon resources, the surging demand from its national economy and populace for gas and electricity necessitates ramping up gas imports."

Throughout the entire period of its independence, neutral Turkmenistan has pursued an open and predictable domestic and foreign policy in all spheres of life of the state and society. 

Excerpt from the PUK Leadership Council statement [emphasis ours]

The PUK leader stressed two key principles underlying the party's policy. The first is a commitment to serving the Kurdish people, focusing on issues related to their salaries and livelihoods. The second is the promotion of the national and constitutional rights of the Kurdish people within Iraq. He stated that these goals can only be met by adopting a policy that is both Kurdish and Iraqi in nature. This would require genuine unity, substantial governance reforms in both Kurdistan and Baghdad, and balanced alliances and partnerships. To this end, the leadership meeting emphasized the need to strengthen relations between Kurdish and Iraqi forces and parties to achieve common national objectives.

President Bafel Jalal Talabani stated that the new PUK leadership and its members face two significant challenges in the near future: the provincial council elections and the Kurdistan parliamentary elections. He emphasized that these responsibilities should be approached using appropriate and democratic methods. Talabani added that, amidst these duties, it is crucial not to lose focus on defending the rights of the Kurdish people. These rights, he stated, should not be compromised by political conflicts, whether they occur between the Kurdistan region and Baghdad or within Kurdistan itself. "The well-being of our people is a red line for us, and we will never give up on it," he concluded.

More on the Sudani visit

The Russian Sputnik agency reported the two leaders will "discuss bilateral relations between Iraq and Russia." If they're not making things up they just state the obvious.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said relations between Iraq and Russia remain strong despite sanctions on Moscow and Russia's descent into diplomatic pariah status following its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

Al-Sumaria News quoted Sudani discussing the Moscow visit. Topics will include bilateral issues and regional security and stability. On the potential for Iraqi banks to service Russian financial markets, he said that hinges on trade volume as Iraq moves toward an open globalized economy.

The pro-Iran government in Baghdad has often expressed its desire for positive ties with both the U.S. and its adversaries, including Iran, Russia and China.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said he will discuss regional and Iraqi security with the Iraqi prime minister.

Trade between Russia and Iraq was about $313m in 2021. Seeking to diversify trading partners after losing access to European markets due to its war on "Ukraine, Russia is boosting economic ties with China and other markets.

Although Russian investments in Iraq have centered on energy, they are hampered by U.S. sanctions. Last year, the Central Bank of Iraq warned against government deals with Russia.

Here's the PUK politburo membership

  • Bafel Talabani (Party President)
  • Qubad Talabani (Deputy PM of the Kurdistan Region; brother of Bafel)
  • Aso Mamand
  • Ahmad Hama Karim (Sheikh Ahmadi Nokan)
  • Burhan Saeed Sofi
  • Darbaz Kosrat Rasul (son of senior PUK leader Kosrat Rasul)
  • Shalaw Kosrat Rasul (ditto)
  • Talar Latif
  • Jawan Ihsan
  • Rafat Abdullah
  • Shanaz Ibrahim Ahmad (first lady of Iraq; maternal aunt of Qubad and Bafel Talabani)
  • Shalaw Ali Askari
  • Imad Ahmad
  • Nizar Amedi (Iraqi environment minister)
  • Daro Sheikh Nuri

Reserve list

  • Yousif Goran
  • Rewaz Faiq (Former speaker of the Kurdistan Region's parliament)
  • Sarkawt Zaki
  • Rizgar Haji Hama
  • Shwan Qadir

Khasraw Gul has been appointed as the 'representative of the PUK president' in the party’s three leadership councils.

Morning briefing

Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani is in Moscow. It was already going to be a fascinating visit to monitor given the war in Ukraine. Now the chaos in Gaza and Israel adds another dimension.

No word on the agenda yet. The PM's office issued a pithy statement that fit into our headline in its entirety. We'll keep you posted on that and all other stories throughout the day.