Live: News from Iraq and Kurdistan plus final day of MEPS Forum

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Mashan Al-Jaburi, a prominent Sunni politician, has accused Halbousi of corrupt practices, including hiring a 'U.S. company for personal support' (presumably a reference to his party allegedly hiring prominent a U.S. lobbying firm on the hill) and manipulating media portrayals. He alleged that Halbousi prioritized personal and familial interests over public duties, predicting Halbusi's removal and potential trial on corruption charges.

Speaking to Rudaw TV, Jaburi said, "He acted in the best interests of himself, his family, and those close to him. I was sure he would be removed. He may also be tried on corruption charges."


The Presidency of the Iraqi Council of Representatives has officially terminated the membership of Speaker Mohammed al-Halbousi following the Federal Supreme Court's recent decision.

According to a letter signed by Deputy Speaker Mohsen Al-Mandalawi, the court's decision led to the termination of Mohammed Rikan Hadid Al-Halbousi's membership in the House of Representatives for the fifth electoral cycle, effective Nov. 14, 2023.


Faleh Al-Fayadh, head of Iraq's Popular Mobilization Forces, met with Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, in Moscow, according to the Russian state news agency TASS on Monday.

"Nikolai Patrushev and Faleh Al-Fayadh discussed aspects of Russian-Iraqi cooperation in the security domain, as well as the situation in the Middle East," the Russian Security Council staff reported.


On vision for the future

"I'd like to see time have value. I'd like to see bureaucracy stop. I'd like to see everyone getting fair and equal opportunities. I want to see people in Kurdistan not see any other country to look up to but to be a model and symbol for other countries to look up to."

Then a slight non sequitur

"I'm so flattered that everybody is so enthusiastic and so keen about the rights of freedom of expression. What about the right to existence?"

[rapturous applause from the audience]

"We as a nation also are entitled to exist and to be free. So how could you focus on the freedom of an individual but ignore the freedom of a whole nation."

Moshiri asks why not do both.

"I'm not saying one should be forsaken for the other," he replies.

More applause. 

Now we move on to the U.S.-Kurdistan relationship.
He says he hopes people will compare data on freedom of expression five years ago compared to his record today.
"People criticize my government every day and they're free."
"There's a difference between chaos and freedom. There's a difference between freedom of speech and defamation."

Lots of freedom, but... in this response

"Personally I respect them [journalists] very much.
"Youth are the future of this country."
"I'm a firm believer that the youth need to be empowered."
"There are individuals that need to be held accountable for their bad deeds."
"That that doesn't help if the circle of corruption continues to roll."
We need to have a system corrupt people cannot take advantage of, says Barzani.
What are you doing to fight corruption, asks Moshiri?
"My way of fighting corruption is to stop corruption."

He says the My Account initiative aims to put 1m public sector employees onto digital banking by the end of 2024 and says it will transform participating banks into Iraq's "biggest banks" overnight.
Barzani laments Iraq and Kurdistan's cash based economies.
"I want to call this a revolution in transforming Kurdistan."

It's not just diversifying the economy but digitizing governance.
Moshiri asks how the Kurdistan Region is diversifying its economy.
"Kurdistan is blessed with fertile land. We have many other areas where we can develop and diversify our economy and increase sources of revenue."

"Yes, we have oil and can export oil and benefit from it but revenues can be reinvested in other sectors."
Q: Do you foresee exports starting before the new year?
A: We are ready. If Baghdad is willing to pay the correct production costs to the IOCs in Kurdistan then oil can be exported.
International oil companies need to be reimbursed for production costs, says Barzani.

"But Baghdad is giving numbers that are not real. They're introducing $6 extraction cost limits for Kurdistan oil when some cost $32 [elsewhere in Iraq]."
He suggests some in Baghdad want to centralize power in the federal government.

On oil exports

"The conflict between Baghdad and Erbil over oil is because the constitution was not interpreted or respected in the sense that it was written."

"Kurdistan has rights in the constitution that unfortunately have been ignored. Those rights are extraction and production and selling oil."

"The main question is very clear: are we a federal state or is Baghdad a central government."

"In a federal state there needs to be power sharing and distribution of power to the regions, as stipulated in the constitution."

'I think the timing was wrong,' says Barzani on Halbousi ouster

"I'm not doing to talk about the decision, but the timing definitely wasn't good for Iraq."

"This was an unwanted crisis, an unwanted problem. I think it shouldn't have happened. And if there was any way to address this issue it should have been through different channels."

"But to have in one institution above everything and to make unilateral decisions without looking at the consequences and the overall situation in Iraq is not helpful."
"I don't think that slogans are going to help the people in need of medicine, people in need of food, people in need of security."
Q: Do you see a role for Iraq?
A: I think the best thing Iraq can do is to stay away from this conflict. Iraqis have had enough problems. If there is a way to provide humanitarian assistance that's fine. That's what we in the KRG are doing.
"Of course we are worried about the expanding of this conflict to other parts of the Middle East."

On the war in Gaza

"Are the people in Gaza better of today or were they better off before October 7th," asked Barzani?

"The answer is very clear."
"It's an honor and privilege" to interview "his excellency Prime Minister Barzani," says BBC News's Moshiri.

Masrour Barzani interview about to begin

The two takeaways in her tweet are Iraq's "steps to prevent attacks on U.S. personnel" and "ways the U.S. government can support Iraq's economy and prosperity."
Are the two objectives linked?

And this is how the Romanowski in Iraq described her meeting with PM Sudani


Iraqi PM meets U.S. Ambassador

Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia Al-Sudani met with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Alina Romanowski, on Monday to discuss strengthening bilateral relations and expanding joint cooperation across various sectors.

According to a press release from the prime minister's media office, key topics included collaboration between the Central Bank of Iraq and the U.S. Treasury ahead of a significant meeting scheduled between these entities next week.

Sudani and Romanowski also reviewed the situation in Gaza, addressing the ongoing conflict and its impact on civilians. The prime minister expressed Iraq's firm stance on the Palestinian issue, calling for an end to the violence and the establishment of humanitarian corridors for essential supplies.

Emphasizing Iraq's commitment to international diplomatic norms, Sudani's office says he assured the safety and security of diplomatic missions and advisers within the Global Coalition Against Islamic State. He highlighted the proactive role of Iraqi security services in maintaining stability and security within the country.

Sudani's cabinet has been under pressure to ensure the protection of U.S. forces in Iraq. The prime minister has promised to ensure the safety of coalition bases and personnel, a goal not yet achieved.

One way the U.S. can exert pressure on the Iraqi government is through control of dollar allocations to Iraq’s Central Bank. In recent years, the U.S. Treasury has pressured the Central Bank of Iraq to introduce policies leading to a dollar shortage, unofficially devaluing the dinar.

As Iraqis rely on many imported products priced in dollars, millions have seen their purchasing power decrease. Sudani has so far struggled to reverse the dinar's decline.

The U.S. has urged Iraqi banking authorities to better control the circulation of the dollar due to concerns about currency smuggling, particularly to Iran. The U.S. also sees a more disciplined money supply approach by the Central Bank of Iraq as key to integrating Iraqi financial institutions into the global banking system, thus curbing international money laundering, a major concern of the U.S. Treasury.

The Islamic Resistance in Iraq claimed responsibility on Monday for another attack on the "Ain al-Assad" military base, which houses U.S. forces in western Iraq. In a statement released on its Telegram channel, the militia stated, "In response to the crimes committed by the enemy against our people in Gaza, the Mujahideen of the Islamic Resistance in Iraq targeted the American occupation base 'Ain al-Assad' in western Iraq with a drone and directly hit its target."
🔻بيان صادر عن المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق : بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم أُذِنَ لِلَّذِينَ يُقَاتَلُونَ بِأَنَّهُمْ ظُلِمُوا ۚ وَإِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلَىٰ نَصْرِهِمْ لَقَدِيرٌ صدق الله العلي العظيم رداً على الجرائم التي يرتكبها العدو بحق اهلنا في غزة ، استهدف مجاهدو المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق، قاعدة الاحتلال الأمريكي "عين الأسد" غرب العراق، بطائرة مسيّرة، وأصابت هدفها بشكل مباشر. (وَمَا النَّصْرُ إِلَّا مِنْ عِندِ اللَّهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ) المقاومة الإسلامية في العراق الاثنين ٦ - جمادى الاول -١٤٤٥ هـ

U.S. Centcom announces major successes in counter-IS operations

The U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM) issued a press release Monday detailing recent achievements in the fight against IS in Iraq and Syria during September and October. According to USCENTCOM, a total of 79 operations were conducted in collaboration with coalition and partner forces, resulting in the death of 13 IS operatives and the detention of 78.

The press release highlighted the capture of prominent ISIS leaders and operatives, including those involved in planning attacks and attempting to free IS prisoners to replenish their ranks. In September, 31 operations led to eight IS deaths and 19 detentions, while October saw an increase in intensity with 48 operations resulting in five deaths and 59 detentions.

USCENTCOM's breakdown by country revealed that in Iraq, 53 partnered operations led to 10 deaths and 33 detentions, whereas in Syria, 26 operations (including three solely by US forces) resulted in three deaths and 45 detentions.

Gen. Michael Erik Kurilla, commander of USCENTCOM, reiterated the commitment to the enduring defeat of IS in the press release. These operations signify the ongoing efforts to prevent ISIS from regaining strength and highlight the need for continuous targeted military actions against the terrorist group. The press release underlines the success of these coordinated efforts in maintaining regional stability and combating the threat posed by IS.

This comes as anti-IS U.S.-led coalition forces have come under a series of attacks in Iraq and Syria by Iran-backed Shiite militias in response to the unfolding war between Israel and Hamas.

In around 45 minutes, the MEPS Forum at Duhok's American University of Kurdistan will be host to a 'special conversation' between KRG PM Masrour Barzani and the BBC's Maryam Moshiri.
In the run up to the event, MEPS (in a now deleted tweet) promised the PM would be subject to 'probing questions'.