Trails in sky over Kurdistan Region towards Mosul

Live: Tensions escalate between U.S. forces and pro-Iran militias

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A lot to talk about but nothing for the media yet

KRG said in a statement that PM Barzani welcomed Iraqi PM Sudani.

No details were given.

Important issues include Erbil-Baghdad negotiations over the KRI’s share of the Iraqi budget, resumption of oil exports via Turkey, recent attacks against coalition forces in Iraq, and the other security matters.

The Iraqi PM's in Erbil

Reuters reports on the drone attacks launched by an Iranian-backed militia at the Erbil air base in Iraq, which penetrated U.S. defenses but failed to detonate.

This incident, resulting in only one minor injury, is part of a larger series of attacks in response to American support for Israel in the Gaza war, involving at least 40 drone and rocket attacks against U.S. forces by Iranian-backed militias. The attacks have led to a few dozen minor injuries, with U.S. defenses intercepting many attempts.

The U.S. is concerned about the possibility of being drawn into a wider conflict, as tensions rise with continued militia assaults and Israel's heavy bombardment of Gaza following an attack by Hamas that killed 1,400 people in Israel. The U.S. has limited its role primarily to military aid to Israel, with President Biden’s administration seeking to avoid further escalation.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Iraq to urge a crackdown on the militias, but the Iraqi Prime Minister has struggled to control these groups. After meeting Blinken, the Prime Minister appealed to Iran for assistance, but was informed that Tehran would not interfere with the militias' actions.

The U.S. has reduced its military presence in the Middle East to refocus on other global issues, maintaining a cautious stance with periodic strikes against unoccupied Iranian-linked facilities in Syria. The U.S. military is bolstering its defenses in the region in hopes of deterring serious attacks.

Critics, particularly Republicans, argue that Biden's response has been insufficient and that a stronger stance is needed to deter Iran. 

Apikur and Iraqi officials discuss resuming Kurdistan oil production

During a meeting in Dubai on Wednesday, the Association of the Petroleum Industry of Kurdistan (Apikur) engaged with Iraqi officials to explore avenues for restarting oil production from the Kurdistan Region's fields. Apikur's statement outlined a proposal from oil companies to sell crude oil directly to the Iraqi oil ministry prior to exporting it through the port of Ceyhan in Turkey and the Iraq-Turkey Pipeline.

This proposition is aimed at addressing ongoing disputes related to the contracts that oil companies hold with the KRG and the costs of oil production that are yet to be settled between Erbil and Baghdad.

Apikur has communicated to the Iraqi representatives their readiness to resume full oil production, contingent upon establishing a "clear, lawful and accurate agreement" that encompasses the resolution of any accrued debts.

Furthermore, the statement highlighted that Iraqi officials have concurred on the necessity to settle outstanding balances and emphasized that any new agreement must receive approval from all concerned parties, including the KRG.

In the previous month, Apikur member companies called for a prompt resolution to their contractual dilemmas and a definitive accord between the Governments of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region regarding future payments.
Meanwhile, Vancouver-based ShaMaran has also released its quarterly figures, highlighting an operating cash flow of $13.1 million, attributed to robust local sales from Sarsang and effective cost management strategies. 

Although Sarsang oil production for Q3 saw an increase from Q2, it remains below full capacity. The oil is sold to local refineries via trucking on a variable weekly schedule. The report mentioned that "Sarsang oil sales went to the Kurdistan local market via trucking at an average net back price of $39.41/bbl and generated net revenues and cash payments to the Company of $12.6 million." 

Sarsang's average gross production was 27.7 Mbopd during Q3 2023, an increase from 18.0 Mbopd in Q2 2023. The Atrush field, however, was shut-in during Q3 due to storage and transportation limitations but resumed production on November 7, 2023, with sales to a local refinery via pipeline.
ShaMaran Petroleum Corp. is a Canadian independent oil development and exploration company with a 27.6% direct interest in the Atrush Block | Adel Chaouch, CEO
ShaMaran Petroleum Corp.

Now for Genel Energy

Genel Energy has reported in its latest quarterly report that gross production from the Tawke license in Q3 2023 totaled 25,984 barrels of oil per day (bopd). The company indicated a significant production increase, noting that "so far in the fourth quarter output is averaging double the level of the third quarter, with the Peshkabir field having restarted production on 16 October."

It was also mentioned that the DNO-Genel contractual entitlement, which is roughly half of the volumes produced, is being sold at mid $30s per barrel, with payments made in advance before delivery. This prepayment structure successfully covered the operational expenses for Q3.

Norway's DNO also reports spike in Q3 production, revenue

In its Thursday statement, DNO ASA revealed a substantial rise in revenue and production. The company's third-quarter revenue reached $141 million, a 142 percent increase from the prior quarter, driven by heightened oil and gas sales.

The statement detailed, "Net quarterly production totaled 37,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), up 158 percent, with Kurdistan contributing 19,500 boepd. Operating profit stood at USD 40 million, reversing a loss of USD 15 million in the second quarter. Net loss of USD 55 million was driven by an accounting adjustment of USD 45 million in the book value of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) arrears."

Highlighting its recovery of receivables from the KRG, DNO mentioned, "DNO has over the last 12 months recovered around USD 15 million, including USD 8 million in October, of the accumulated KRG debt to DNO for previous oil sales in 2022 and 2023 (in excess of USD 300 million)." This statement underscores the company's progress in recouping funds owed for past oil sales.
Oslo, 9 November 2023 – DNO ASA, the Norwegian oil and gas operator, today reported third quarter revenue of USD 141 million, up 142 percent from the previous quarter, on higher sales of oil and gas across its portfolio. Net quarterly production totaled 37,200 barrels of oil equivalent per day (boepd), up 158 percent, with Kurdistan contributing 19,500 boepd, North Sea 14,300 boepd and West Africa the balance. Operating profit stood at USD 40 million, reversing a loss of USD 15 million in the second quarter. Net loss of USD 55 million was driven by an accounting adjustment of USD 45 million in the book value of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) arrears.

Dana Gas reports  modest production increase in Kurdistan Region

The UAE-based Dana Gas has reported an 8 percent increase in its production in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) for the first nine months of this year compared to the same period last year. Despite the production boost, the company has experienced a drop in profits, attributed in part to KRI discounts on local sales.

The company's statement on Wednesday mentioned, "Profitability dropped 22% due to lower realized prices amid a decline in hydrocarbon prices in international markets. The decline in profitability was also due to additional discounts on condensate sales in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), where the Company has continued to sell to third party local buyers in what is a competitive market as a result of the export pipeline closure earlier this year." Revenue from the KRI was reported at $71 million during this period.

Further elaborating on its KRI production, the company stated, "Production output in the KRI increased 8% with production averaging 37,150 boepd in 9M 2023 versus 34,300 in 9M 2022. KRI production was supported by the successful debottlenecking project carried out in the second half of 2022. Pearl Petroleum (“Pearl”) has now successfully completed the drilling of the six KM250 project development wells. Once complete, the KM250 expansion project will add 250 MMscf/d of production, resulting in 750 MMscf total daily production capacity."

Oil exports from the Kurdistan Region through the Iraq-Turkey Ceyhan pipeline remain suspended since March, awaiting Turkey's approval to resume operations. The halt came after the International Arbitration Court in Paris ordered on March 25 a $1.4 billion compensation payment from Turkey to Iraq, sparking ongoing tripartite negotiations.

The KRG has cited losses exceeding $6 billion due to the suspension, noting that prior to the disruption, the Kurdistan Region was exporting 450,000 barrels per day, with an additional 100,000 from Kirkuk.

Dana Gas highlighted its continued revenue collections from the KRG amidst the pipeline shutdown, underscoring its "strategic significance for the LRI power sector." The statement concluded, "The Company continues to steadfastly support KRI’s gas demand by the KM250 expansion. Once completed, KM 250 is expected to add at least $150 million to the Company’s annual revenue, thereby significantly improving the Company’s future dividend payouts."

Dozens suspected of drug trafficking arrested

Authorities in the Kurdistan Region report dismantling three significant drug trafficking networks, resulting in the arrest of 49 individuals, some of whom are believed to be part of international smuggling operations.

The Kurdistan Region Drug Enforcement Directorate announced the confiscation of 241 kilograms of illegal narcotics and the arrests made over the past 20 days during 17 operations across Duhok, Soran, and Haji Omran areas in the Kurdistan Region. The haul included drugs such as Captagon and heroin.

The directorate noted that one of these operations was carried out in collaboration with the Iraqi General Directorate of Drugs.

This joint effort, supported by shared intelligence, led to the seizure of 160 kilograms of Captagon pills.
The Iraqi Ministry of Defense's Military Intelligence Directorate has announced the arrest of 14 individuals with alleged ties to the Islamic State. The arrests, said to be part of ongoing and individualized intelligence operations, took place in the provinces of Anbar and Nineveh.

In a statement released today, the directorate detailed that these operations led to the detention of the IS suspects, who are now facing charges under Article 4/Terrorism.

The apprehensions took place in various locations, including the cities of Ramadi and Rawa, as well as the Rabia district.
شفق نيوز/ اعلنت مديرية الاستخبارات العسكرية في وزارة الدفاع العراقية، يوم الخميس، إلقاء القبض على 14 عنصرا ينتمون الى تنظيم داعش بمحافظتي الأنبار ونينوى، وذلك بعمليات نوعية منفصلة وجهد استخباري يومين.
شفق نيوز
The Islamic Resistance in Iraq has claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack on the Harir military base that houses U.S. forces in Erbil province.
In a statement released on its Telegram channel, the militia said, "The Mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq have targeted the U.S. occupation base “Harir” in northern Iraq, with two drones that directly hit their targets."
🔺بيان صادر عن المقاومة الاسلامية في العراق : بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم (أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ) صدق الله العلي العظيم استهدف مجاهدو المقـاومة الإسـلامية فـي العراق، قـاعـدة الاحتلال الأمريكي "حرير" شمال العراق، بطائرتين مسيرتين ، وأصابتا أهدافهما بشكل مباشر. (وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ) المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق الخميس ٢٤ ربيع الآخر ١٤٤٥ هـ

More on the clashes in Baneh

Rights organisation Hengaw reports that the clashes were taking place near the village of Nizho on the outskirts of Baneh on Thursday morning.

Hengaw indicates that the confrontation intensified as additional IRGC forces arrived and positioned themselves in the vicinity of the village the preceding night.

The engagement reportedly lasted until 9 a.m.

There are currently no confirmed details regarding the number of casualties on either side as a result of the clash.
And here's the readout from the Canadian PM’s media office where he “reiterated his condemnation of the brutal attacks perpetrated by the terrorist organization Hamas against Israel.”

That was the part missing from the PM Sudani’s statement.
Prime Minister Trudeau reiterated his condemnation of the brutal attacks perpetrated by the terrorist organization Hamas against Israel and underscored the need for humanitarian pauses in Gaza. The prime ministers exchanged views on the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, including the need to ensure safe and unimpeded access to life-saving humanitarian aid for civilians in Gaza.
Prime Minister of Canada

Iraq PM Sudani discuss Gaza war with Canadian counterpart

PM Sudani’s media office said he spoke over the phone Canadian PM Justin Trudeau on Wednesday discussing bilateral relations, as well as the current situation in the Gaza Strip and the worsening humanitarian conditions.

No mention of recent attacks on coalition forces in Iraq in the PM’s readout.

Here is the full text

Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani received a call from Mr. Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada. They discussed bilateral relations, as well as the current situation in the Gaza Strip and the worsening humanitarian conditions.

During the call, Prime Minister Al-Sudani reiterated Iraq's unwavering support for the Palestinian cause, emphasizing the Palestinians' right to live with dignity on their own land. He strongly condemned the ongoing aggression against Gaza, including the targeting of civilians, particularly women and children. He also expressed deep concern about the tightened siege, which deprives them of basic necessities like food and medicine.

The Prime Minister emphasized the need for major and influential countries to take decisive action to uphold international law, which has been consistently violated by the occupying authorities, disregarding international legitimacy.For his part, the Canadian Prime Minister underlined his country's commitment to facilitating a humanitarian pause in Gaza, allowing the delivery of aid to civilians. He also expressed Canada's willingness to collaborate with Iraq for de-escalation and finding prompt solutions to the crisis.

Iranian Kurdish opposition official unaware of camp plans

Abdulla Azarbar, a member of Komala's Political Bureau, said his party is not informed about the details of new camps in the Kurdistan Region for its members.

On Wednesday, Qasim al-Araji, Iraqi National Security Adviser, told the state-run Al-Sabah newspaper that Baghdad is constructing two camps for members of Iranian Kurdish opposition groups, one in Erbil and another in Sulaymaniyah.

He added that over 14 meetings have taken place in Baghdad, Kurdistan, and Tehran, led by Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani, to address the presence of Iranian militants in Iraq.

"Efforts are ongoing to house them in official camps under Iraqi government supervision. Iraq has started establishing the first camp in Erbil, with the second to follow in Sulaymaniyah," he said.

However, Azarbar told Rudaw on Thursday that they are uninformed about these plans and only know that they will stay in their current camps, which will be converted into civilian compounds without armed activities.

"The existing camps will transition to civilian ones, devoid of military action or training. They will come under United Nations supervision, although the UN has not yet communicated this to us," he stated.

In August, Baghdad and Tehran reached a border security agreement to coordinate their border protection efforts. As part of this agreement, Tehran agreed to halt military operations within Iraqi border towns. In return, Baghdad will dissolve Iranian Kurdish opposition groups along the Iran-Iraq border, relocate them, and extradite individuals wanted by Tehran.
Subsequently, Iran imposed a September 19 deadline for Iraq to disarm the Iranian Kurdish opposition in the Kurdistan Region as part of the security agreement.

Tehran has blamed these groups for inciting anti-government protests following the police custody death of a Kurdish woman, Jina Amini, over a year ago. Iran labels these groups as "terrorists" and has intensified pressure on Erbil and Baghdad to relocate and disarm them. Last year, Iran conducted several deadly assaults on camps housing Kurdish groups, resulting in numerous fatalities.

These organizations include the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (PDKI), Komala, PJAK, and the Kurdistan Freedom Party (PAK). Last year, Iranian forces launched attacks, including drone and missile strikes, against these groups' alleged positions in the Kurdistan region.
بغداد: عمر عبد اللطيف كشف مستشار الامن القومي قاسم الأعرجي عن إنشاء مخيم في أربيل وآخر في السليمانية لإيواء المسلحين الإيرانيين المتواجدين على الأراضي العراقية، مشيراً إلى أن هذا الملف قد يكون بوابة لحل مسألة المياه بين البلدين. وقال الأعرجي، في حديث لـ"الصباح" : إن "الحكومة عازمة
جريدة الصباح

Two drones targeted Harir air base overnight

"Two drones equipped with bombs attacked the military base of the international coalition against ISIS at Harir Airport. According to information from the Kurdistan anti-terrorism unit, the attacks occurred last night at 23:30 and 00:40 at the coalition's military base at Harir Airport in Erbil province. The reports indicate that there was no human or material damage."

The Pentagon said Wednesday that it has struck an IRGC weapons facility in eastern Syria that was also used by affiliated groups

"Today, at President Biden's direction, U.S. military forces conducted a self-defense strike on a facility in eastern Syria used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. This strike was conducted by two U.S. F-15s against a weapons storage facility. This precision self-defense strike is a response to a series of attacks against U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria by IRGC-Quds Force affiliates. The President has no higher priority than the safety of U.S. personnel, and he directed today's action to make clear that the United States will defend itself, its personnel, and its interests.

"The United States is fully prepared to take further necessary measures to protect our people and our facilities. We urge against any escalation. U.S. personnel will continue to conduct counter-ISIS missions in Iraq and Syria."


Estonian commander visits troops in Erbil

Brig. Gen. Michael Ecker, the leader of the military advisory group for Operation Inherent Resolve, inspected the Estonian forces' stationing area at the Erbil base in Iraq on Wednesday. He reviewed their operational procedures, accommodations, and safety protocols, according to the privately-owned Baltic News Service.

The Estonian compound has been reinforced with concrete barriers to enhance security. Ample fortified shelters are available for personnel against aerial threats, said Lt. Col. Vladimir Kolotogin, the head of the Estonian detachment.

During Brig. Gen. Ecker's visit, Lt. Col. Kolotogin provided detailed information on the Estonian troops' operations, living conditions, and defensive measures at the base. Additionally, Maj. Priit Lillemets, the commander of Estcoy-19, briefed him on the unit's capabilities and responsibilities in Iraq.

This visit comes as U.S. forces in Iraq and Syria have seen an uptick in attacks, facing 38 assaults by Iranian-backed Iraqi armed groups in less than a month. The U.S. has warned it will take "all necessary measures" against Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its affiliated groups.

Tensions have escalated in the Middle East following an Israel-Hamas conflict that erupted in October.
Xendan: Clashes between PJAK fighters and IRGC forces in Iran border regions

Xendan reports that there have been clashes overnight between the PKK-affiliated Iranian-Kurdish Kurdistan Free Life Party and Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps forces in Baneh. 

It says the "the clashes occurred after several Revolutionary Guards vehicles were stationed around the village."

We have footage of U.S. troops in the Kurdistan Region's Duhok heading down the Duhok-Mosul highway

We were unable to fit it into the tweet but this is also the road leading to the Syrian border and Rojava, where the U.S. also has a significant military presence. Though the U.S. hasn't retaliated on Iraqi soil yet, it has struck positions in Syria. 

Though U.S. troops regularly use this road to travel between the two countries, the context of the past weeks of tensions here is significant this time round.

Statement by Centcom

"Following a series of attacks against U.S. persons in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) forces conducted an air strike against a facility in Syria used by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and affiliated groups. We will take all necessary measures to defend our people against those who are responsible for the attacks and will respond at a time and place of our choosing."