Live: Biden and Sudani talk shop as U.S. diplomatic efforts over Gaza intensify

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The civilian toll of this year's Turkish bombardments in the Kurdistan Region amounts to 10 people killed and 12 others wounded, according to a report by the charity Community Peacemaker Teams (CPT). Turkey regularly carries out cross-border military attacks, including airstrikes and drone attacks, against PKK militants.

2022 was the deadliest year since 2015, with more than 18 civilians killed and dozens injured.

Readout from the White House on the phone call between the U.S. president and the Iraqi premier:

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani of Iraq.  

They discussed ongoing efforts to prevent an expansion of the conflict in Gaza in the wake of Hamas’s abhorrent attack in Israel.
The two leaders discussed the importance of addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in Gaza, in coordination with the UN and regional partners.  

The President and the Prime Minister also affirmed the importance of the bilateral partnership between Iraq and the United States as outlined in the Strategic Framework Agreement between our two countries.  

They finally committed to regular coordination between their teams to advance shared objectives and preserve regional stability over the coming weeks.

KDP’s Shirwan Duberdani told Sumaria News that the Kurdistan Region's oil exports would be a key discussion point during the KRG delegation’s visit to Baghdad. 

Another crucial topic for tomorrow’s meeting includes the upcoming payment of the 700 billion dinars required by Erbil for the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's (KRI) public sector salaries.

The KRG has insisted that it has complied with all the conditions stipulated in the federal budget law. This meeting aims to express Erbil’s willingness to resolve any concerns Baghdad might have out of good intentions. 

However, it appears that Baghdad maintains some reservations, as discussions, including auditing work on the KRI’s non-oil revenues and data on its public sector, are still ongoing.

السومرية نيوز – سياسة كشف النائب عن الحزب الديمقراطي الكردستاني، شيروان دوبرداني، اليوم الثلاثاء، موعد زيارة الوفد الكردي الى العاصمة بغداد، وفيما أشار الى الملفات التي ستتم مناقشتها، تطرق الى ملف تصدير النفط عبر خط جيهان.
قناه السومرية العراقية

Haval Abubakir, the governor of Sulaymaniyah, commented on the teachers’ boycott, urging Baghdad to dispatch the region’s salaries to "end this situation for the greater good." He expressed gratitude to all the teachers who have resumed their duties, noting that the majority have now returned to the classrooms.


PM Sudani’s statement on the meeting with KRG’s Health Minister didn't address the reason the Erbil officials were in Baghdad. As we reported yesterday, Barzani was in Baghdad to discuss the Kurdistan Region's share of the sovereign budget related to health needs with the Iraqi Premier.

“The main goal of the visit is to ensure the federal government meets its obligations to provide medicine and medical supplies, as mandated by the Iraqi Budget Law for 2032. This responsibility is expected to be carried out by the of the federal government's Council of Ministers.”

We wait to see how the KRG reports on the meeting.


Just in: Prime Minister Sudani Meets the KRG health minister in Baghdad

Statement by PM's office

Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani received the Minister of Health of the Kurdistan Regional Government of Iraq, Mr. Saman Hussein Mohammad, in the presence of the Federal Minister of Health, Mr. Saleh Al-Hasnawi.

During the meeting, His Excellency emphasized the government's commitment to the health sector, designating it as a high priority. The goal is to enhance and improve the quality of medical services offered to citizens across the nation.

The Prime Minister underscored the necessity of ongoing coordination between the federal health departments and the health departments in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. This coordination is vital for integrating efforts and unifying healthcare initiatives, with the aim of overcoming obstacles and delivering the best possible health services to all citizens.

We're also monitoring the anticipated KRG's delegation, headed by the finance minister, to visit Baghdad for a meeting with the Iraqi parliament's finance committee on issues related to salaries and budget-related matters, including auditing the number of the KRI's public sector employees.
Some teachers in the PUK-controlled regions of the Kurdistan Region have continued their protest over salary delays, a day after some schools opened their doors and ended their boycott in Sulaymaniyah province, Koya in Erbil province, Halabja province, and Raparin Administration. The KRG has not disbursed the salaries for August and September amid ongoing budget law disputes with Baghdad. The boycott has affected around 700,000 students, constituting nearly 40% of the 1.8 million students across the Kurdistan Region. Some of the protesting teachers are on temporary contracts, demanding permanent positions.
Erbil Governor Omed Khoshnaw has confirmed that the provincial council dissolution decree issued by the Iraqi federal court has reached regional officials. He told reporters in Erbil that the ruling was sent to the provincial councils in Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Duhok last Thursday. He said that the governors and the council members are now awaiting the KRG to take the next step. 

The Federal Supreme Court has dissolved the Kurdistan Region's councils due to the delays in provincial elections, which it says renders the extended mandate and all laws passed since as invalid.

Suspected drone attack near Koya leaves one dead and two injured

A victim has reportedly been identified by local security officials as a resident of the Makhmour camp, which Turkey says has become a major hub for the PKK.  

It’s been a busy few days in Baghdad, with the Iraqi capital hosting Arab officials discussing the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Earlier today, Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein met with Ahmed Aboul Gheit, the secretary general of the League of Arab States. They discussed the escalating situation in the Palestinian territories. Hussein emphasized the need for a unified Arab and Islamic stance, according to a statement from the ministry.

Hussein called for immediate measures "to curb the ongoing hostilities and violations perpetrated by occupation authorities against the Palestinian people."

He reiterated Iraq's position on current events in Palestine, noting high-level diplomatic efforts are underway to facilitate humanitarian aid delivery to the Gaza Strip.

Hussein warned further displacement of the Palestinian people would have severe consequences. He urged Arab nations to take decisive action implementing international resolutions recognizing the Palestinian people's rights.


This comes as earlier reports indicated that factions of the pro-Iran Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) including  Kataib Hezbollah have threatened to target U.S. interests with missiles and drones if Washington intervenes in support.

Hadi Al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization, has also said, "If they intervene, we would intervene ... we will consider all American targets legitimate."

On Monday, Amiri told the President of the Palestinian National Council, Rawhi Fattouh, "our hearts and swords are with you."


Iraqi premier discusses U.S.-Iraq relations with President Biden

Prime Minister Sudani’s office said that the “two leaders emphasized the significance of coordinating efforts and collaborative endeavors to promote lasting stability in the region. They also discussed reinforcing the bilateral partnership between Iraq and the United States of America, in accordance with the Iraqi-US Strategic Framework Agreement.”

The Strategic Framework Agreement for a Relationship of Friendship and Cooperation between the United States and the Republic of Iraq [what a title] covers overall political, economic, cultural, and security ties between the U.S. and Iraq. This agreement, first signed in 2008 and since revised a few times, is said to serve “helping the Iraqi people stand on their own and reinforce Iraqi sovereignty, while protecting U.S. interests in the Middle East.”

PM Sudani and President Biden also discussed the war in Gaza where they “underscored the importance of containing the conflict and avoiding the expansion of war, given the far-reaching consequences it has on regional and global peace, as well as its adverse impact on civilians.”

Iraq has expressed strong support for the Palestinians, with the government sending humanitarian aid to those in need in Gaza. However, some Shia factions (such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq) have gone as far as expressing readiness to send fighters or financial support to Hamas militants. Last week, the group’s leader, Qais Al-Khazali, said, “If we are asked to take part in the fight, we will be there. If we are required to provide material and moral support, protests, and demonstrations, we are ready and participating.”

The statement by the Iraqi PM added: “The Prime Minister reiterated Iraq's steadfast and principled stance concerning the events in Gaza. He underscored the significance of establishing humanitarian corridors to provide essential aid to the people of the Gaza Strip who are enduring the consequences of war and an unjust blockade. His Excellency further pointed out that the continued aggression in Gaza stirs outrage among people in the region and globally.”

Morning briefing

Welcome to the live blog.

Joe Biden and Iraqi PM Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani held a phone call last night as the U.S. sought to intensify diplomatic efforts that have been marked by inconsistency and resistance from Arab nations. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been on a whistlestop tour of the Middle East since last week, starting in Israel for a strong show of support before visiting many Arab states en route to Tel Aviv for another round of talks with Netanyahu's war cabinet.

The U.S. has changed its approach over the last week, moving from unequivocal and unconditional support for any Israeli response to advocating caution and proportionality to minimize civilian casualties. It also aims to prevent further escalation into a wider regional conflict.

Although Iraq wasn't one of the stops on Blinken's diplomatic tour (many of the stops on his itinerary were added while in transit), President Biden calling the PM of one of the most pro-Iranian cabinets ever (a cabinet that has also expressed its own unequivocal support for Palestine) indicates that the U.S. is adjusting its strategy following a week of Israeli bombardment of Gaza, while also keeping an eye on the potential for broader regional conflagrations.

As ever, we'll keep an eye on the Iraqi angle of the Gaza conflict throughout the day. Stay tuned.