Garraf oil field Photo credit: KMSK

Live: KRG oil losses mount to $7b as 200 days pass on export halt

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PUK special forces commander dead

A PUK peshmerga commander has died in Sulaymaniyah province, reportedly from a gunshot wound to his head. Hawlati Daily quoted the commando forces, stating that Burhan Ggafur, a commander of one of PUK’s commando brigades, died "as a result of a tragic event," without providing additional details.

Ghafur was said to be close to the late PUK special forces commander Akam Omar, who was killed in an IS explosion last year, according to the daily.


Ex-President meets UN chief 

Former Iraqi President Barham Salih met with UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the UN headquarters in New York to discuss developments in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. 

A brief statement mentioned: “Furthermore, both parties emphasized the importance of enhancing international coordination in addressing contemporary challenges. These include violence, terrorism, climate change, and environmental protection—all of which pose significant threats to global humanity.”

Salih has been relatively silent since returning to Sulaymaniyah from Baghdad after losing his re-election bid to the current President Abdul Latif Rashid. His re-election was vetoed by the KDP, leaving him in search of a new role in Iraqi politics. He recently skipped the PUK's fifth congress.

There have been reports suggesting that Salih is aiming for a high-level international position.

Iraqi Oil Report: Turkey has notified Iraq that pipeline is ready to go

Turkey has officially notified Iraq that the northern export pipeline is operational, placing the responsibility on Iraq to restore 475,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude to global markets. 

In a letter dated Oct. 2, sent to Iraq’s state oil marketing company, SOMO, and seen by Iraq Oil Report, Turkey's state pipeline company BOTAS states, "We would like to inform you that the part of the ITP [Iraq-Turkey Pipeline] system in Turkish territory will be ready for the transportation, storage, and loading of crude oil coming from Iraq on 04.10.2023."
U.S. State Department Deputy Victoria Taylor met separately with the prime minister and deputy prime minister of the KRG, discussing ongoing issues between Erbil and Baghdad, peshmerga reform, and other topics.

A statement from the DPM's office emphasized the need for urgent reforms within the Peshmerga ministry. DPM Qubad Talabani noted that such reforms, aligning with the aspirations of regional citizens and coalition forces, must advance promptly without becoming mired in political disputes to maintain coalition support.

The statement clarified that peshmerga reform was not discussed in Taylor's meeting with Prime Minister Barzani. Other discussion points included obstacles to public sector salary payments and the "importance of resuming" Kurdistan Region oil experts via the Ceyhan port.

Sudani orders aid for Gaza strip

Statement by Basim Alawadi, Iraqi government spokesperson, below:

"In line with Iraq's unwavering and principled stance on the Palestinian cause, Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani has issued instructions to provide humanitarian aid to the people in Gaza Strip, which is under siege by Zionist occupation forces. This aid, coordinated with Egyptian authorities, will include medical supplies and essential humanitarian relief for the Palestinian people."

Major Kurdish parties largely quiet on Israel-Palestine conflict

While Iraqi politicians have been vocal about the recent conflict between Israel and Palestine, most Kurdish officials have remained quiet. Exceptions include Islamist parties that have voiced support for Hamas’s atrocities in Israel.

Parties such as the KDP, accused by Iran of collaborating with Israeli intelligence agencies—an accusation they deny—are known to sympathize with Israel. Israel was among the few supporters of the 2017 Kurdistan independence referendum. Last year, Iran bombed the home of a Kurdish oil magnate and later claimed their target was a "Mossad base."

Kurdistan Islamic Union (KIU) General Secretary Salahaddin Bahadin expressed his hope that 'oppressors realize their tyranny is fleeting,' while also hoping Palestinians maintain legitimate warfare norms, respecting the rights of the deceased and captives.

A KIU website cited a statement by the union’s scholars describing Hamas's actions as a "natural reaction" to violations against Palestinian civilians, labeling it a lesson for all occupiers and urging Muslims worldwide to support the Palestinian cause in various capacities, including prayer.

Hamas's actions included the massacre of over 200 partygoers at an outdoor music festival.

Leaders from the Kurdistan Justice Union (Komal) echoed this support, attributing Hamas's actions to divine commands and citing the ongoing violence by "Zionist forces" against Palestinians as crossing boundaries, exhausting the patience of Palestinian resistance and eliciting the observed reactions.

They called for universal Muslim solidarity with the Palestinians, advocating for any available form of support, including prayer.

Iraq is prioritizing investments in renewable energy, aiming to shift from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources, said Hayan Abdul Ghani, the country’s oil minister and deputy prime minister for energy affairs. Ghani discussed Iraq’s strategic energy goals during the sixth session of Russian Energy Week Forum.

A ministry statement elaborated on Ghani's emphasis on global collaboration to address climate change, reduce emissions and diversify energy sources. Ghani also stressed strengthening ties with oil-producing countries to navigate challenges in the global oil market effectively.

Ghani focused on exploring renewable energy investments to support the transition from fossil fuels to clean energy. The goal is to enhance national production by encouraging investment projects and ensuring consistent growth in crude oil production, the statement said. It also highlighted the importance of building relationships with oil-producing nations and other stakeholders to develop a comprehensive strategy for addressing global oil market challenges.

PUK leader meets Victoria Taylor

PUK leader Bafel Jalal Talabani and Victoria Taylor, U.S. State Department Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, recently discussed Erbil-Baghdad relations and Peshmerga reform. According to official PUK media, Talabani emphasized the necessity of establishing relations grounded in the Iraqi Constitution and promoting dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to remove political process hurdles.

He said that to fundamentally resolve these issues and safeguard people's rights and lives, matters concerning people's lives and salaries should be excluded from political disputes. He suggested several essential steps to achieve this objective.

Disagreements between Erbil and Baghdad, such as those concerning the Kurdistan Region's share of the federal budget and control over oil and non-oil revenues, remain unresolved. Due to these disputes, Kurdistan Region public sector salaries have been unpaid for August and September.

Discussing Peshmerga reform, Talabani highlighted the challenges confronting this national objective. He stressed a strong resolve to overcome these hurdles with allies' support to build a formidable national force. Talabani affirmed the PUK's full backing for achieving this national aim, advocating for equality and justice.

The U.S.-led coalition against IS offers financial and military aid to some of the region’s Peshmerga forces and has persistently advocated for the unification and restructuring of forces affiliated with the KDP and PUK. Both parties have expressed commitment to supporting the unification process, yet progress has been sluggish. The coalition has recently intensified pressure on both parties to hasten the unification efforts.

Iraqi Parliament to debate Israel-Palestine crisis next week

The Iraqi Parliament plans to meet in an extraordinary session next week to discuss the Israel-Palestine crisis. Lawmaker Yousif Al-Kilaby said on X, formerly known as Twitter, that more than 50 parliamentarians supported a request for the special session. The lawmakers will consider potential laws supporting Palestine. Al-Kilaby said the focus would be the "alleged genocide and crimes against humanity" faced by Palestinians.

Iraq has no formal diplomatic ties with Israel, a position held since Israel's formation in 1948.


Iranian FM arrives in Baghdad for the first leg of tour

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian arrived in Baghdad on Thursday as part of a trip that includes stops in Lebanon and Syria. The visit comes amid ongoing war in Gaza and Israel.

Earlier Thursday, Iran’s Tasnim Agency reported that Amir-Abdollahian would depart Tehran for Baghdad, the initial destination of his regional journey.

A Wall Street Journal report alleged that Tehran has assisted in recent terrorist acts by Hamas militants against Ismaili civilians, resulting in hundreds of deaths and dozens of captives.

Iran, a staunch enemy, has vehemently condemned Israel’s retaliatory attacks on the Gaza Strip. Iran has also announced its willingness to host an emergency meeting of the foreign ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on Palestine.

Additionally, the mission expressed Amir-Abdollahian’s gratitude to OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha for a constructive exchange of views on developments in Palestine.


Spokesperson's conference is back after a long hiatus

Recently appointed KRG Spokesperson Peshawa Hawramani begins by acknowledging the long hiatus between editions of the U.S.-style press briefings by the administration's spokesperson.

  • He expresses his government's appreciation for the 'resilience' of public sector workers in the face of months-long delays in salary payments.

  • He decries the moves by other Kurdish parties to have Baghdad pay Kurdistan's public sector payroll directly, inviting them to read the Iraqi constitution for an idea of how 'impossible' the gambit is. He also reminds them that the Kurdistan Region has its own government, treasury, and finance ministry. He says anyone who signed the letter disrespects the martyrs who died to give the Kurdistan Region its status and powers.

  • The KRG has done 'all in its power' to facilitate elections.


Don shrouds, says Sadr to Baghdad protestors marching in solidarity with Gaza

Prominent Shia cleric Moqtada Al-Sadr has urged demonstrators, who are rallying in support of Gaza amid Israeli strikes, to wear shrouds in a symbolic gesture during a planned large-scale demonstration in Baghdad's Tahrir Square.

Saleh Mohammed Al-Iraqi, a close associate of Sadr and referred to as the "minister to the commander," conveyed the message on social media, urging participants to wear shrouds as a united front to "terrify the enemies."

The call for demonstration and symbolic attire is to "condemn Israeli actions," according to Sadr. Israeli forces launched air strikes in response to attacks initiated by Hamas, which included a surprise incursion into Israeli territories that resulted in substantial civilian casualties. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, with a notable incident involving the loss of over 200 innocent civilian lives at an outdoor music festival.


Turkish intelligence agent reportedly killed in Sulaymaniyah

A clash in Sulaymaniyah resulted in the reported death of a member of the Turkish intelligence agency (MIT), during a conflict with Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fighters, according to sources.

Pro-PKK Roj News reported that the incident occurred in Sangasar town when two MIT agents on a motorcycle reportedly opened fire on a "nation defender," believed to refer to a PKK fighter. In the ensuing gunfire exchange, one MIT agent was reportedly killed, and the targeted individual was injured and is currently receiving medical treatment.

Roj News also shared an image, claiming it to be the identification of the deceased MIT agent, and reported that the agent had resided in Sulaymaniyah since 2019. However, there hasn't been official confirmation from local security forces regarding the incident. The Citadel hasn't independently verified the image.

This incident comes amid a backdrop of escalating tensions in the region, marked by an uptick in drone attacks and assassinations targeting PKK fighters. Turkey has recently announced an intensification of its cross-border military operations in the Kurdistan Region.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, on Wednesday, reiterated Turkey’s commitment to enhancing air operations in northern Iraq and Syria, aiming to eliminate "terrorist group members" wherever they might be located.

Moreover, an additional report from the Turkish defense ministry revealed that a Turkish soldier succumbed to injuries sustained from an IED detonation in the Kurdistan Region earlier this week.


Morning briefing: 200 days pass on KRG oil stoppage

Apikur, a consortium of energy companies operating in the Kurdistan Region, has released a detailed press release on the ongoing closure of the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline (ITP). The organization advocates for and represents the common interests of its members by acting as a unified voice towards all stakeholders in the oil and gas industry. 

Last month, Apikur warned that unless payment terms aren't clarified and debts not repaid, member companies would refuse to export oil even if Turkey, Iraq and the Kurdistan Region came to an agreement. 

Highlights from Apikur's press release

  • Duration of the Closure: October 11 marks the 200th day since the halt of oil export deliveries through the ITP.
  • Economic losses: The closure has caused a total loss of $7 billion in export revenues. This collective loss affects the Government of Iraq, Kurdistan Regional Government, and Apikur member companies.
  • Daily liability: Since Turkey expressed its intention to reopen the ITP on October 4, Iraq may be incurring almost $1 million in liability each day. 
  • Impact on local communities: The closure significantly affects the livelihoods of Iraqis and local communities who have depended on the economic benefits of Apikur member company investments for over 15 years.
  • Tariffs: A failure to deliver a minimum of 35 million tonnes of oil per annum through the ITP would result in the Iraqi government incurring a tariff of approximately $300 million per year.
  • Calls for swift resolutions: Apikur member companies are urging for a quick resolution to the contractual issues and a clearer understanding between the Governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region regarding future payments.
  • Engagement: Members of Apikur express willingness to engage with all parties to reach a commercial resolution that preserves contractual rights and promotes a favorable investment climate in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.