Hospital aftermath. Photo by Mohamed Al Masri

Live: Iraq reacts to Gaza hospital tragedy

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Atwan Atwani, the chair of the Iraqi Parliament's Finance Committee described the meeting as "important and historical," marking the first time that Baghdad has assigned the Finance Committee the task of following up on an "important and sensitive issue that has been lingering for several years."

He emphasized that the most crucial aspect of the meeting is the coordination between the KRG and Baghdad. 

Regarding the public sector salaries in the KRI, he said that "due to significant interest in this issue, it was agreed that salary processing would take place in banks approved by the Central Bank and financed or transferred through the Ministry of Finance."

He further stated that the Kurdistan Region must establish a spending plan and budget, noting that what was actually observed was "spending without a budget, which creates major problems."

He pledged to "pay and deliver all oil and non-oil revenues," adding that the committee would "study, analyze, and investigate" what was presented by both the Kurdistan Regional Government and the federal government, represented by the Financial Auditing Bureau and the Federal Minister of Finance. He noted that "we may need a change in some budget items, but the decision is not solely up to the Finance Committee."
Here is what we have from the presser of the KRG finance minister and Iraqi parliament’s finance committee chair following a four-hour meeting
credit: TV grab from presser
The KRG Finance Minister Awat Shiekh Janab says the meeting with the Iraqi Finance Minister and committee members was in a "very friendly environment," stating that there is largely a "mutual understanding on how to resolve the issue of public sector salaries and separate it from political issues." He says that all the data presented were accepted, emphasizing that "we were able to present the data accurately and completely." 

He noted a positive response from the Iraqi side, with all parties agreeing to resolve the salary issues. The meeting lasted four hours and was described as "an important and strategic step in the relations between Erbil and Baghdad," with hopes for more such meetings in the future.

He also assured that there are no hurdles concerning the 700 billion loan. It should be noted that KRI public sector employees have not been paid for the months of August and September.


Turkish parliament renews mandate for cross-border military presence

The Turkish parliament has approved a two-year extension of a presidential mandate allowing Turkey to maintain a cross-border military presence in Iraq and Syria, according to state broadcaster TRT Haber.

The mandate emphasizes ongoing national security threats along Turkey's southern borders. It states it is "crucial for Turkey to take necessary measures in response to risks... aimed at disrupting the territorial integrity of Iraq and Syria through terrorism and unlawful actions."

Part of the mandate reads: “To take all necessary precautions, within the framework of international law, against separatist movements, terrorist threats, and all kinds of security risks against Turkey's national security, and to eliminate attacks that may be directed at our country from all terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, and against other possible risks such as mass migration.

"To ensure the maintenance of our national security, effectively safeguard Turkey's interests against unjustified unilateral separatist attempts in regions adjacent to Turkey's southern land borders, and possible related developments, and to avoid encountering an irremediable situation in the future depending on the course of developments.

"In order to pursue a swift and dynamic policy, the Turkish Armed Forces will be deployed to foreign countries to conduct cross-border operations and interventions, if necessary, in a manner that the border, extent, quantity, and time will be assessed and determined by the President, and foreign armed forces will be stationed in Turkey for the same purposes."

Iraqi parliament's finance committee meets with KRG delegation

In other news, the Iraqi parliament's finance committee has met with a KRG delegation led by Finance Minister Awat Sheikh Janab to discuss the ongoing review of civil servant salaries and local revenues.

Harem Kamal Agha, head of the PUK faction in the Iraqi parliament, told PUK Media that data from the financial auditing teams in Erbil and Baghdad are “largely similar." He was referring to non-oil revenues from the KRI border crossings and the numbers and salaries of the KRI public sector.

A meeting with the Iraqi parliament's finance committee, originally scheduled for two weeks ago, was delayed due to ongoing reviews of civil servant salaries and local revenues. This meeting is part of the continuous dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad on various issues, including KRI civil servant salaries, pensions, social welfare benefits, non-oil revenues, and earnings from unofficial border crossings.

On Tuesday, the KRG delegation met with Kurdish lawmakers in Baghdad. All agreed that public sector salaries should not be linked to political disputes between Erbil and Baghdad.

The delegation includes notable figures such as Awat Sheikh Janab, minister of finance and economy; Omid Sabah, head of the Office of the Council of Ministers; Amanj Rahim, secretary of the Council of Ministers; and Abdul Hakim Khasraw, head of the Coordination and Monitoring Office, as well as various advisors.

The Iraqi foreign ministry said in a statement that it expresses full solidarity with the Palestinians under siege in Gaza. "They condemned the crimes of occupation and the actions taken against civilians, including attacks on local hospitals and residential buildings. The gathering also called upon the international community for immediate intervention and accountability."
Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein is in Jeddah for an urgent meeting of the open-ended executive committee at the level of foreign ministers of the member states. 

The statement said the meeting “is meant to discuss ending the military aggression of the occupying power against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

The PMF says its members have also observed a moment of silence in support of the Palestinians "who are exposed to many crimes and Zionist terrorism, the latest at Amdanya hospital in the besieged Gaza Strip."

This follows the prime minister’s call for state civil servants to show their support nationwide.

⭕ تنفيذا لتوجيهات السيد رئيس الوزراء.. منتسبو الجهد الهندسي ضمن الحشد الشعبي ينظمون تضامنية مع الشعب الفلسطيني تنفيذا لتوجيهات السيد رئيس مجلس الوزراء القائد العام للقوات المسلحة محمد شياع السوداني، نظم منتسبو الجهد الهندسي ضمن هيئة الحشد الشعبي، اليوم الأربعاء، وقفة تضامنية مع أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني الذي يتعرض لابشع الجرائم والانتهاكات الصهيونية وكان آخرها مجزرة مستشفى المعمدانية في قطاع غزة المحاصر. منتسبو الجهد الهندسي اعربوا عن تضامنهم الخالص وحزنهم العميق ما تعرض ويتعرض له أبناء الشعب الفلسطيني في قطاع غزة الصامد على ايدي الصهاينة المجرمين، كما قرأوا سورة الفاتحة ترحما على أرواح الشهداء الذين قضوا بهذا العدوان الآثم. وكان رئيس مجلس الوزراء السيد محمد شياع السوداني وجه الموظفين والمنتسبين في دوائر الدولة ومرافقها وتشكيلاتها كافة، وطلبة الجامعات والمدارس في عموم العراق، بأداء وقفة تضامن وحداد اليوم الأربعاء في أماكن الدوام، ولاءً وإجلالاً للأرواح البريئة من أبناء شعبنا الفلسطيني الشقيق، التي سقطت بالعدوان الصهيوني الغاشم على المستشفى المعمداني في قطاع غزّة. #هيئة_الحشد_الشعبي #مديرية_الإعلام_العامة

Explosion heard near Harir Airbase

An explosion was reported near Harir airbase in the Harir district of Erbil province. Rudaw website quoted the town’s mayor, who said they have no details of the “loud sound,” but it might have been the result of regular training by the U.S.-led coalition forces.

The website also cited an Iraqi militia, which claimed the incident was a drone attack targeting U.S. forces at the airport. The group, calling itself the "Operation Room for Supporting Al-Tofan Al-Aqsa," expressed support for Hamas militants in Israel. They reportedly said the area was targeted because U.S. forces are based there.

Pro-Iranian social media posts show smoke rising from a site claimed to be Harir Airbase. We've not yet independently verified this.

Harir airbase has been a significant airfield for coalition forces since 2003.

Overnight, the two U.S. officials told Reuters it had thwarted drone attacks at the airbase


KRG foreign relations chief issues statement

The KRG’s head of foreign relations department has issued a cautious statement on “the tragic loss of lives at Al Ahli Hospital” in Gaza.

Safeen Dizayee met the Palestinian consul general in Erbil, Nazmi Hazouri, earlier today.

Last night, the KRG spox said his government 'condemned' the 'attack' on Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. No mention of attack in this tweet by Dizeyee. More caution could be a sign that officials are less certain of the ostensible origin than they were last night.

Here's the AFP report on Biden backing Israel's explanation for what happened last night

Key quote:

I was deeply saddened and outraged by the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday. And based on what I've seen, it appears as though it was done by the other team, not you

President Biden to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv

Read the full report below:

Iran calls for oil embargo on Israel by Arab states

Bloomberg's Javier Blas doesn't think that's a call likely to be heeded.

Again, to reiterate, we have no clear indication (at least not yet) whether the strike originated in Israel or within Gaza itself.

For what it's worth:

Biden claims that, based on information available to him, the projectile originated in Gaza, not Israel.


Kurdistan opposition leader also condemns 'attack' on Gaza hospital

Here is New Generation leader Shaswar Abdalwahid's take:

"We can do nothing but condemn the inhumane attack on the Gaza hospital.  This is immoral and even far from all the laws of war. The entire international community must immediately stop this inhuman war and deliver humanitarian aid to Gaza."

Ex-PM demands ejection of Western forces

Former Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi has reiterated the call for enforcing the Iraqi House of Representatives’ decision demanding the withdrawal of foreign forces, referencing the ongoing turmoil in the Gaza Strip.

Abdul Mahdi’s statement demanded two 'urgent' actions: the immediate enforcement of the 2020 parliamentary decision calling for the exit of all American and Nato forces, and a heightened state of readiness to confront upcoming challenges.

The presence of U.S. and Nato troops in Iraq has been primarily focused on training and advising Iraqi security forces, as well as counterterrorism efforts against remnants of Islamic State (IS). 

The U.S. military completed a formal withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. However, troops returned in 2014 to combat the emergent threat of IS. Since then, there has been a persistent foreign military presence aimed at bolstering Iraq’s internal security capabilities.

The 2020 parliamentary decision came in the wake of the U.S.-orchestrated assassination of Iranian Quds Force commander, Qassem Soleimani, and the leader of the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces, Abu Mahdi Al-Muhandis, near Baghdad airport.

Iran has been angling for the withdrawal of Western forces from Iraq for a long time as it seeks to tighten its grip over the battle-scarred country.
شفق نيوز/ دعا رئيس مجلس الوزراء الأسبق عادل عبد المهدي، يوم الأربعاء، إلى تفعيل قرار مجلس النواب الذي يقضي بانسحاب القوات الأجنبية من العراق، وذلك على خلفية الأحداث الجارية في قطاع غزة بفلسطين.وقال عب
شفق نيوز

This all follows spontaneous protests in Baghdad last night, mirroring similar ones across much of the Muslim world

Last night In Baghdad, hundreds rallied in Tahrir Square and dozens more in the Adhamiya area, protesting the American presence in Iraq and Israeli activities in the region.

Demonstrators in Tahrir Square attempted to march into the Green Zone towards the American embassy but were halted by security forces.


This is the directive that was published last night by the PM's office 

Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani has directed all government employees, along with students in universities and schools across Iraq, to observe a moment of solidarity and mourning at 9 a.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, at their respective locations. 

This act is a demonstration of loyalty and respect for the innocent lives lost among our Palestinian brothers due to the severe Zionist aggression at Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital in the Gaza Strip. 

"To God, we belong, and to Him, we shall return."

Media Office of the Prime Minister
October 17, 2023

Moment of silence observed by public sector workers

Public employees and students across Iraq took a moment today to stand in solidarity with the victims of the Gaza hospital bombing. Directed by Prime Minister Sudani, the gathering aimed to show respect and mourn the losses incurred due to the Al-Ahli Hospital tragedy last night.

Schools, universities, and state departments participated, marking a unified moment of silence.

Check out the link below for a photo gallery: 


Morning briefing

We don't know much for sure. Neither does anyone else. It hasn't stopped the likes of Al Jazeera stating definitively that Israel struck Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital last night.
Al Jazeera headline on Wednesday 18 Oct.
Al Jazeera headline on Wednesday 18 Oct.   credit: Google News
Hamas says it was an Israeli strike. Israel denies this, blaming Palestinian Islamic Jihad for a misfiring missile aimed at Israel. 

Today, reaction from Iraqi officials and politicians is beginning to come in. We are prefacing coverage of that with the qualifier that we (and they) still don't know for sure it was an Israeli strike.