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LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

A place to post daily news of Kurdistan from valid sources .

Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Feb 10, 2018 1:25 am

19 Turkmen killed in Iraq's Kirkuk in 4 months
By Idris Okuducu and Ali Mukarrem Garip

At least 19 Turkmen have been murdered in Iraq's Kirkuk province within the last four months, Iraqi Turkmen leaders said Thursday.

Ershad Salihi, president of the Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF), which represents Iraq’s Turkmen minority, voiced concern over the increasingly frequent attacks on members of Kirkuk’s sizeable Turkmen community.

“And we fear this number may rise further in the run-up to coming elections,” Salihi said.

Muhammad Saadaddin Ilhanli, head of the Turkmen Development Party, for his part, said that “those who want to preserve their Turkmen identity” were being “targeted” with a view to “deterring us from taking part in the polls and weakening our collective position”.

Ilhanli said it would be difficult to prevent these crimes until Turkmen were given responsibility for security in their own region.

“In Kirkuk, security is currently being provided by militiamen,” he lamented.

Iraqi Turkmen, also known as Iraqi Turks, are a Turkic-speaking minority whose total population is estimated at some three million.

Most of them live in and around Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk province.

Many Turkmen in Kirkuk, including several politicians and professors, have recently been killed in “unsolved” attacks, sowing fear among the Turkmen community.

Early this year, for example, leading ITF member Alaa Eddine al-Salihi was gunned down in Kirkuk’s Al-Askari neighborhood by unknown assailants.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Nashat Beyatli, head of the Iraqi Human Rights Association, said the number of attacks on Kirkuk’s Turkmen had risen noticeably since Peshmerga forces withdrew from the province late last year.

The most recent murder was that of Ali Almas, a Turkmen intellectual and professor at Kirkuk University.

Aydin Maarouf, a Turkmen MP for the ITF in Erbil, blamed the attacks on “those who want to sow ethnic strife in the region”.

“The central government in Baghdad, no less than Erbil’s Kurdish Regional Government, is responsible for these murders,” Maarouf told Anadolu Agency.

http://aa.com.tr/en/infographics/19-tur ... rs/1058253
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 11, 2018 4:22 pm

2 policemen wounded as bomb attack targets police vehicle in Kirkuk

Two security men were seriously wounded in a bomb attack that targeted their police vehicle in one of Kirkuk villages on Saturday night, a security source was quoted as saying.

Speaking to Shafaq News website, the source said, “A bomb exploded on Saturday night while a police vehicle was passing by Tal Khadija village in Kirkuk’s al-Rashad district, leaving two policemen seriously wounded.”

“The two security men were taken to a nearby hospital for treatment,” the source pointed out.

Iraqi forces took over Kirkuk in mid October in response to a referendum Kurdistan Region held in September for independence from Iraq. Kirkuk is one of the areas where Baghdad and Erbil dispute sovereignty.

Last week, six Islamic State militants were killed in a security campaign in Hawija city, west of Kirkuk. The city was recaptured from Islamic State last year.

In December, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced full liberation of Iraqi lands, declaring end of war against IS members.

Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary troops, have been fighting since October 2016 to retake territories Islamic State had occupied. Since then, forces took back the group’s former capital, Mosul, the town of Tal Afar, Kirkuk’s Hawija, and Anbar’s Annah, Rawa and Qaim.

The war against ISIS has so far displaced at least five million people. Thousands of others fled toward neighboring countries including Syria, Turkey and other European countries, since IS emerged to proclaim its self-styled “caliphate”.

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/two- ... in-kirkuk/
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 11, 2018 6:23 pm

PM Abadi decreases KRG's budget share even further from all-time low

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has decreased the KRG’s share of the Iraqi budget for 2018 even further from the all-time low since 2003, a Kurdish MP of the Iraqi parliament has claimed.

Masoud Haider, a Gorran MP, told Rudaw Sunday that PM Abadi has sent a revised budget bill to the Iraqi parliament that would decrease the KRG’s share by about 50 billion Iraqi dinars ($42.6 million).

The Kurdish MPs once again on Sunday boycotted an Iraqi parliament session when the parliament wanted to include the second reading of the budget bill at last minute.

Salim al-Jabouri, the Iraqi parliament speaker, has confirmed that the Iraqi Federal Government has made changes to the bill, but did not give details as to whether it included changes to the budget.

The Kurdistan Region requests the Iraqi parliament to allocate 17 percent of the budget as was the case since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, a demand opposed by PM Abadi, who argues that Erbil is entitled to no more than 12.6 percent from Iraq's overall budget.

Kurdish MPs have already rejected the 12.6 percent argument, and with today’s announcement, they are more disappointed than ever.

Haider who sits on the finance committee of the Iraqi parliament told Rudaw that they were “surprised” by the new change made to the bill.

“This shows that Abadi wants to make problems and complications so that the bill would not pass,” Haider claimed.

PM Abadi has said on more than one occasion that the bill has to pass at the earliest time possible.

The Kurdish MPs have tried to pressure Abadi to listen to the International Monetary Fund’s recommendation that 12.6 percent is not sufficient to cover the needs of the people in the Kurdistan Region for 2018.

Abadi attended a January 31 session of parliament that was boycotted by all Kurdish factions. After the session, the prime minister met with a delegation of Kurdish MPs, but he refused to amend the bill.

Three Kurdish MPs, including Haider, in the Iraqi parliament had their membership suspended for 15 days and salaries cut for these days after they blocked the parliament from its second reading of the budget bill last week.

A concern of the Kurdish representatives is that the current funds allocated to the Kurdistan Region “does not suffice for even one province,” Kurdish MP Arafat Karam pointed out, according to the parliament’s statement on Monday’s session.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/110220182
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Feb 13, 2018 3:28 pm

Islamic State still poses serious threat to Kirkuk's security

Kirkuk (Iraqinews.com) – Kirkuk Governor Rakan al-Jabouri warned on Tuesday that the Islamic State group still poses a serious threat to his governorate’s security.

Speaking to the Russian Sputnik news agency, Jabouri pointed out that ISIS members are still active in Kirkuk’s remote areas and farms around villages.

Therefore, he called for “launching a new military operation to dislodge ISIS remnants from Kirkuk.”

“ISIS militants surprisingly disappeared from the scene after Iraqi troops launched a military operation to liberate the province from them,” the governor said.

Jabouri further accused ISIS militants of launching attacks against security forces and kidnapping citizens.

Kirkuk officials previously urged reinforcing military troops in the south and west of the province, as the region still has Islamic State members who escaped during liberation of Hawija to remote areas.

Iraq declared the collapse of Islamic State’s territorial influence earlier in November with the recapture of Rawa, a city on Anbar’s western borders with Syria, which was the group’s last bastion in Iraq.

ISIS declared a self-styled “caliphate” in a third of Iraq and neighboring Syria in 2014. A government campaign, backed by a U.S.-led international coalition and paramilitary troops, was launched in 2016 to retake ISIS held regions, managing to retake all havens, most notably the city of Mosul, the group’s previously proclaimed capital.

https://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/isla ... -governor/

I wish Kurds would launch a new military operation to dislodge thieving Iraqis from Kirkuk :D
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 12:39 am

Baghdad okays international flights for Kurdistan’s pilgrims

With the consent of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority has granted permission for international flights to depart Kurdistan Region airports for those traveling to Saudi Arabia for Umrah.

“Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave consent for airplanes carrying [those who do] Umrah to take off and land at the Erbil and Sulaimani international airports,” the Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority announced in an official letter.

The consent is conditional on the provision that the authorities are informed of the number of flights. The letter, dated 1 February, was sent to travel companies specializing in Umrah trips.

Muslims in the Kurdistan Region wishing to perform the non-mandatory Umrah pilgrimage to Mecca have been unable to do so since the international flight ban was imposed on Kurdistan Region’s airports.

“No one from the Kurdistan Region has made the Umrah journey yet, whereas the Umrah season started a few months ago. And this is because of the ban on international flights at the Kurdistan Region airports,” Nabaz Ismael Kamal, the spokesperson for the KRG’s Ministry of Religious Affairs, told Rudaw.

The number of people performing Umrah in the Kurdistan Region fell with the financial crisis, but it witnessed a comeback in 2017, only for it to drop to zero due to the flight ban.

A PUK official has claimed that there is agreement “in principle” for KRG’s airports to be opened by the end of the month. In late December, Baghdad authorities extended the international flight ban until February 28.

Iraqi Civil Aviation Authority representatives are in the Kurdistan Region making preparations for reopening the airports.

Foreign delegations visiting the KRG have reiterated the need for the airports to be opened to international travel. Last week, UK Foreign Minister Boris Johnson spoke with Abadi by phone, urging him to allow the resumption of international flights into the Kurdistan Region, among other topic discussed.

Domestic flights have not been affected by the ban.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/130220183
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 14, 2018 1:08 am

Iraqi Turkmen Front officer attacked in Kirkuk
By Ali Mukarrem Garip

An Iraqi Turkmen Front (ITF) officer and his family got injured in an armed attack on late Tuesday in Kirkuk city, according to security sources.

“Kirkuk’s Bulava village representative for ITF Ahmad Bulavali and his family were attacked in their car by unknown assailants and three people were injured in the armed attack,” Kirkuk Police Department spokesperson Afrasyav Kamil said.

“Bulavali, his wife and his brother are under treatment at the Kirkuk State Hospital,” Kamil added.

Over 20 Turkmen killed in last 4 months

More than 20 Turkmen in Kirkuk, including several politicians and professors, have been killed in the attacks in the past four months.

Earlier this year, leading ITF member Alaa Eddine al-Salihi was gunned down in Kirkuk’s Al-Askari neighborhood by unknown assailants.

The most recent murder was that of Ali Almas, a Turkmen intellectual and professor at Kirkuk University.

Iraqi Turkmen, also known as Iraqi Turks, are a Turkic-speaking minority whose total population is estimated at some three million.

The Turkmen Front occupies two out of 328 seats in the Iraqi parliament and nine out of 41 seats in the Kirkuk provincial council.

Since October, Iraqi forces have controlled the entire province of Kirkuk, ending the presence of the northern regional forces Peshmerga.

http://aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/iraqi-t ... uk/1062450
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 16, 2018 9:48 pm

Baghdad gives Kirkuk parties 1 month to divide posts

The Iraqi government has given political parties and officials of Kirkuk one month to proportion out government posts with 32-percent for each Arabs, Kurds, and Turkmen. Kurdish officials are calling it unconstitutional and an effort to target Kurds.

    "According to the constitution, something cannot be imposed on us from Baghdad for us to implement. Concerning the 32 percent [division of governmental posts], we accept it only when it is from top to bottom," Jamal Shukr, chief operator of PUK's office in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.

Kirkuk has special status in the 2005 Iraqi constitution.

Shukr added that they have data that the number of Kurdish employees in government departments and bureaus does not even reach 10 percent.

The remaining 4 percent of Kirkuk’s government posts is allocated for Christian parties and other components.

    The 32-percent ratio was proposed by former Iraqi president and PUK leader Jalal Talabani to further coexistence and strengthen unity in the diverse province following the US invasion in 2003. Talabani died in 2017.

    Kurds, however, insist that if the system were to be implemented, it should include all bureaus and departments, not solely the high-ranking positions.

"It cannot be expected for Baghdad to take any step at this time to resolve either the Kirkuk [issue] or the issues facing the Kurdistan Region. We believe that it is necessary for Kurds to organize themselves," Sheikh Sadiq, head of Kurdistan Communist Party's office in Kirkuk, told Rudaw.

    Sadiq adds that it is unfortunate that the Kurdish parties have neither met nor spoken concerning the matter, and even if they should meet, not much can be done without the presence of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP).

KDP’s offices have all been confiscated or turned into military compounds by the Iraqi forces and Iranian backed Hashd al-Shaabi. Some have been looted and burnt down.

    The KDP has decided not to run for elections in Kirkuk, claiming it is an occupied and sold-out city, arguing that without normalization, fair and free elections cannot be held.

    "Baghdad wants to impose a de facto because we have heard Baghdad announcing that if we do not reach a settlement then they will come and divide [the posts themselves]. Let them divide them, but no one will recognize that," said Adnan Kirkuki, spokesperson for KDP's Kirkuk and Garmiyan leadership council.

    Kirkuki added that such a step would amount to a legal and constitutional violation, something the Iraqi government “has become famous for.”

    Turkmen are eyeing the position of Kirkuk governor, a position filled by Rakan Ali al-Jabouri who is a Sunni Arab following the ousting of Najmaldin Karim, the Kurdish governor, by the Iraqi Army following the events of October 16.

Many major security and governmental positions have had their Kurdish members ousted and replaced by Sunni Arabs and Turkmen.

“Our position is clear, and we want the posts to be filled and for problems not to remain, but under the condition that the current governor remain,” Ismail Hadidi, the deputy head of the Arab Political Council in Kirkuk, told Rudaw in December.

The current Kirkuk governor has issued many letters and decrees allowing for the return of Arabs to Kurdish lands, and at one point ordered the eviction of Kurdish residents of two Kurdish neighborhoods based on an order from the times of Saddam’s regime.

He denied it, saying it was a misunderstanding.

Iraqi Security Forces and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitaries took control of oil-rich Kirkuk and other disputed or Kurdistani areas in October. Both Baghdad and Erbil claim the areas.

Arabization

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/15022018
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 19, 2018 3:13 pm

There is Hope Left Before Kurdistan Submits

Former Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki cut the Kurdistan Region’s budget share in February 2014. But this didn’t immediately affect peoples’ living conditions because of individuals’ high income rate, abundant job opportunities, and peoples’ savings.

In addition, there was much cash in private and government banks as well as Iraqi bank branches in the Kurdistan Region. The KRG used the cash, which is why the budget cut didn’t take immediate effect.

At that time, Baghdad had not passed its oil and gas laws. In accordance with a political agreement reached between Erbil and Baghdad in 2007, the Kurdistan Region had independent of Baghdad made preparations for the exploration and exportation of oil.

That is why the Kurdistan Region immediately started to export its oil after the budget cut. The cut didn’t immediately affect the region for these reasons, including high oil prices at the time.

The Kurdistan Region finally faced economic crunch because of the complexities and implications of internal problems and ISIS war as well as falling oil prices. The economic crisis affected the government, people, companies and businessmen altogether.

Peoples’ resilience and rising oil prices helped the Kurdistan Region overcome these problems. Employees were expected to receive their full salaries and projects were also expected to resume as a result. But the implications of October 16 events took the Kurdistan Region many steps back, which even led to military and political failures.

Since October 16 — from the intention of Baghdad to make the Kurds come to their knees to what goes no now — Kurdistan passed the dangers that were planned. Kurdistan is about to rise up. But this too is a transitional stage. The scenarios have not ended yet.

Rather, the way rivalries were done has merely changed. Previously, Baghdad wanted to enforce its agenda by force. Now it is trying to do it softly by controlling the income source of the people of Kurdistan under the guise of the constitution without finding an alternative for the livelihoods of the people of Kurdistan.

On October 16, Baghdad seized control of large areas and revenue sources that Erbil had needed to because of crises. It has now been four months since Baghdad has retaken these revenue sources from Erbil in the name of implementing the constitution without implementing the other constitutional clause that obligates him to provide for peoples’ livelihood.

There is high international pressure on Baghdad to give the Kurdistan Region its share from the overall budget. But Baghdad is playing with time under different excuses and has not committed to the Kurdistan Region’s constitutional rights and entitlements. Contrary to the expectations of the people of Kurdistan, Baghdad is busy seizing the other income sources from Kurdistan. X(

What can we do if Baghdad manages to seize control of the rest of the Kurdistan Region’s income sources and refuses to send Kurdistan its budget share under different excuses?

In such a case, the Kurdistan Region can do two things. First, Kurdistan can resort to the federal court, which is the constitutional way. Second, it can resort to the international community.

In 2014, then PM Nouri al-Maliki cut Kurdistan’s budget share without consulting the parliament and without getting the approval of the council of ministers. The Kurdistan Region then resorted to the constitution and the federal court labeled Maliki’s decision unconstitutional and called for it to be revoked.

But Maliki didn’t abide by the federal court and continued the policy of making the people of Kurdistan hungry. The Kurdistan Region finally resorted to the United States and its friends in the international community, but these international pressures bore no fruit.

Baghdad wants to seize control of all the income sources of the Kurdistan Region and not send its budget share. If this is case, the Kurdistan Region can turn the same two ways: to the federal court and to the international community.

But the question is what Kurdistan should do in case those produce no result. Nowadays, unlike in 2014, there are fewer job opportunities and lower individual income rates. Moreover, the KRG doesn’t have access to peoples or banks’ cash it had before and cannot do the kind of investment it did in the oil sector before.

The goal of Baghdad is to reverse the economic growth that happened between 2003 and 2014 in Kurdistan and then politically invest in the economic collapse that follows.

The question is whether the Kurdistan Region has the ability to pass this phase without submitting to Baghdad, especially now that we have an economic crisis, political problems and rivalries which will further deepen the economic crisis. This certainly is difficult, but not impossible.

The developments and events happening in the region are all interrelated. There is still hope, and this hope is tied to the status and position of the PKK. Future equations will change and the Kurdistan Region will have more leverage if Afrin doesn’t fall. The Kurdistan Region should play the long game and not submit to Baghdad.

The imperative thing to do currently is improve peoples’ living conditions. The KRG should regain its confidence so it can provide salaries to its employees for one year.

And this requires political will and brave decisions to regulate revenue sources, retake the debt lent to some officials and ghost companies, and taking rent for the public properties used by the private sector, such as the farms built illegally and the lands given to private universities in Duhok, Erbil and Sulaimani. The money made from these sources can account for yearly salaries of Kurdistan Region employees.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/170220181
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Feb 21, 2018 2:40 am

The beauty and tragedy of Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan could become a great travel destination, "if people would only stop confusing it with the Iraq they see in the news," said Tim Neville at The New York Times. That might be a tall order, given Iraq's bloody recent history.

The semi-autonomous Kurdistan region, in the country's northeast corner, is nothing like battered, dusty Mosul. It's "a Middle Eastern Montana with ruins: a cooler, welcoming tableau of crisp mountain streams and scrappy peaks." The local tourism industry was dealt a near-fatal blow in 2014, when ISIS pushed into the region.

Following the jihadist group's collapse, Kurdistan is again becoming a place where a traveler can ride a gondola to ski slopes or kayak on a calm mountain lake. What's more, "you can stroll around Erbil, the regional capital, concerned with only how to decline, politely, invitations to drink tea."

I spent a week exploring the region last spring with Balin Zrar, a charismatic, chain-smoking guide from Kurdistan Iraq Tours. At Erbil's bustling bazaar, I stuck my nose into sacks of za'atar and sumac and watched two teen lovebirds, "she in a hijab, he in jeans" kiss behind a tree in a park. We also visited Mar Mattai, one of the world's oldest Christian monasteries, which clings to the side of a mountain. "On a clear day a visitor can stand against its fortress-like walls and discern far below the winsome farmlands of Upper Mesopotamia."

Outside the city of Dohuk, I walked the battlefield where in 331 B.C. Alexander the Great routed the forces of Persian King Darius III, a victory that allowed Alexander to build an empire stretching from Greece to Pakistan.

War will always haunt Kurdistan. My whole trip oscillated between "breathtaking beauty" and "heartbreaking anguish." We danced in shin-deep water at the Gali Ali Begg waterfall, then visited the city of Halabja, where in 1988 Saddam Hussein murdered many thousands of Kurds in a chemical gas attack.

Standing in the husk of one of Saddam's lavish palaces, I gazed across endless peaks stretching toward Turkey. Later, I met the 25-year-old founder of a kayaking club who hopes to one day open an outdoor shop in Erbil. "When there is no war in my country," he said, "Kurdistan is the best place."

http://theweek.com/articles/755685/beau ... -kurdistan
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 23, 2018 12:13 am

Kurdistan to reopen Erbil routes to Kirkuk, Makhmour

The Kurdistan Region is set to reopen the Erbil-Kirkuk and Erbil-Makhmour roads and all the closed roads next week.

    “At the beginning of next week, the Erbil-Kirkuk, Erbil-Makhmour roads and all the roads related to the livelihoods of the people will be reopened,” Kemal Kirkuki, commander of the Peshmerga’s Western Kirkuk front, told Rudaw.

“The Peshmerga forces will remain in their places to protect the areas,” he added.

The Erbil-Kirkuk and Erbil-Makhmour roads were officially closed after clashes between the Peshmerga forces and Iraqi forces with Iranian-backed Hashd al-Shaabi last October.

The road closures have caused many problems. People living in Makhmour have complained about difficulties accessing healthcare and having to take indirect routes, traveling on secondary roads.

While the Kurdish authorities have pledged to reopen the roads, Iraqi officials have not immediately made a similar announcement.

“We will open the roads on our side, and the rest rests with them,” Kirkuki explained.

Erbil’s provincial council met on Tuesday and unanimously decided to send an official letter asking the KRG’s Council of Ministers to enter talks with Iraq concerning the closed roads.

According to Tariq Nuri, head of Erbil’s Asayesh (security force), the KRG is not the factor keeping the roads closed. The Iraqi government must take steps to reopen them, he said.

The Duhok-Mosul road was reopened this week after a decision by the governor of Nineveh, allowing the resumption of trade.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/220220182
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Feb 23, 2018 9:26 pm

‘Kirkuk is secure:’ police urge calm amid fears of ISIS sleeper

Kirkuk police are reassuring the population that the region is secure amid concerns of possible threats from ISIS sleeper cells in the area.

Some units of Iraqi forces, Hashd al-Shaabi militias, and Federal Police have moved from positions west of Kirkuk and Daquq over the last three days. They explained the movement as redeployment, but some people are afraid because of the proximity to the Hamrin area where ISIS sleeper cells are believed to be located.

Hamasur Doshwani, member of PUK’s central council in Kirkuk, claimed to Rudaw that “ISIS has controlled 40 percent of the governorate, but Iraqi forces do not acknowledge this truth.”

The spokesperson for Kirkuk police, Afrasiaw Kamil Waisi, stressed that the situation was under control.

“The situation in Kirkuk and the surrounding areas is calm. Let the people be assured that there is no threat and what exists is only propaganda,” he told Rudaw.

ISIS sleeper cells are a persistent threat in the region. On Sunday, 27 Hashd fighters were killed by the group.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/23022018
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:29 pm

Will the Kurds simply wait for Iraq’s next crisis?

Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s window of opportunity to make Iraq a functioning state will not stay open forever. Only a mix of three very fortuitous developments allowed him to bring Iraq back from the brink after 2014: the sheer brutality of the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), a lead American diplomat unduly sympathetic to Baghdad and Abadi’s Dawa party (Brett McGurk), and never-ending divisions amongst Iraqi Kurds (with the Gorran split from the PUK in particular undermining what was previously a successful KDP-PUK power-sharing arrangement in Kurdistan).

As a result of these three factors, Baghdad received almost limitless military support to push back against the ISIS advances of 2014. That support came with virtually no strings attached by Washington – Abadi’s government could continue to deny a budget and military supplies to the Kurds, it could still fail to power-share with other political communities in Iraq, and it could even arm anti-American Shiite militias with M1A Abrams tanks provided by the United States.

In Iraqi Kurdistan, Baghdad could turn to Iranian help to unravel a divided Kurdish political establishment, which last October allowed Mr. Abadi to quickly gain back all the disputed territories Iraq’s army had abandoned to ISIS and the Kurds in the summer of 2014.

Against the odds, Mr. Abadi was able to completely roll back an Iraqi Kurdish drive towards secession. That push crested in September of 2017 with the referendum on independence, which saw some 92% of voters in Kurdistan and the disputed territories vote for independence from Iraq. With Washington apparently blasé about the Iraqi army and Iranian-controlled Shiite militias using American weaponry against its secular Kurdish allies, Mr. Abadi worked to isolate the Kurds. As Iran closed its border to Kurdistan and Turkey threatened to do the same, Baghdad used its authority to close the airports of Kurdistan as well.

Those airports remain closed today, as the collective punishment of Kurdistan continues. The budget freeze for Kurdistan continues as well, with Mr. Abadi unilaterally declaring that even if Kurdistan one day resumes getting its share of the Iraqi budget, that share will be 12% rather than 17% (without a census to point to, Mr. Abadi announced that 12% is more reflective of Kurdistan’s share of the population).

Ignoring constitutional articles on the issue, Mr. Abadi’s government also continues to insist on Baghdad’s monopolization of everything to do with oil, gas and hence finances in all of Iraq. Five months after the referendum, myriad other punishments meted out by Baghdad continue as well, despite occasional pleas from the international community for reasonableness. Baghdad cherry-picks constitutional articles it likes, while ignoring those that give rights to Iraq’s regions and governorates.

This is what politics looks like in the dysfunctional state of Iraq anytime the central government feels strong. Baghdad does as it wills and the weaker parties suffer as they must.

Change, however, is the only constant and it is only a matter of time before the next crisis hits Baghdad. It may come in the form of a riotous Shiite population in the south, fed up with corrupt politicians in Baghdad failing to deliver services or even a semblance of good governance. It may come in the form of a renewed Sunni Arab insurgency, perhaps lacking the senseless savagery of the last and hence less likely to garner Baghdad all the support it needs to stop it. It may come in the form of a breakdown within Baghdad’s Iranian sponsor, removing the support and guidance currently flowing to Iraq’s central government. It may come from all of these factors together, or others we cannot foresee at the moment.

When the next crisis comes, as come it must, the Kurds will have a new, risky, opportunity to break free of Iraq. Whether or not they choose to take it will depend a lot on how Baghdad treats them now. If the Abadi government gives the Kurds a fair deal when it is strong, respects the constitution’s provisions for autonomy and power sharing in Iraq, and treats them as partners rather than subjects, then they will see little incentive to push for secession again.

If, on the other hand, the old mentalities in Baghdad persist unchanged, then all bets are off. The Kurds might even learn from their past mistakes and face the next crisis of opportunity sufficiently united to say goodbye to Baghdad for good :ymparty:

David Romano has been a Rudaw columnist since 2010. He holds the Thomas G. Strong Professor of Middle East Politics at Missouri State University and is the author of numerous publications on the Kurds and the Middle East.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/25022018
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:27 pm

Iraq extends flight ban by 3 months for Kurdistan

The flight ban imposed on the Kurdistan Region by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been extended by three months

Talar Faiq, the head of the Erbil International Airport, told Rudaw on Monday that the decision to block international flights to and from the Kurdish airports has been extended until May 31 X(

It was set to expire on Wednesday. The ban affects international flights to and from the Kurdistan Region's international airports in Erbil and Sulaimani, forcing passengers to obtain an Iraqi visa to transit through Basra or Baghdad.

Omed Mohammed Salih, the spokesperson for the KRG’s Transportation Ministry said “given the steps the Kurdistan Region and Iraq took to get close to each other, we did not expect the closure of the airports be extended by three more months.”

Salih, however, was optimistic for the airports being re-opened before the deadline.

“This decree is from the Iraqi Civil Aviation, it could be changed with a decree from Haider al-Abadi,” he asserted.

He explained the three-month extension will not strip the two Kurdish airports of their internationality.

“Granting international identity to any airports comes from a set of measures which the World Aviation Organization provides," he said, explaining that the Erbil and Sulaimani airports do not lose their international recognition just because they have closed down for a specific period of time.

People in the Kurdistan Region view the flight ban as punishment for holding the September 25 referendum on independence, as Abadi imposed the international flight ban days later.

Iraqi elections are set for May 12.

Omed Mohammed Salih, spokesperson for the KRG’s Transportation Ministry said “given the steps the Kurdistan Region and Iraq took to get close to each other, we did not expect the closure of the airports be extended by three more months.”

Salih, however, was optimistic for the airports being re-opened before the deadline.

“This decree is from the Iraqi Civil Aviation, it could be changed with a decree from Haider al-Abadi,” he asserted.

He explained the three-month extension will not strip the two Kurdish airports of their internationality.

“Granting international identity to any airports comes from a set of measures which the World Aviation Organization provides," he said, explaining that the Erbil and Sulaimani airports do not lose their international recognition just because they have closed down for a specific period of time.

Omed Mohammed Salih, spokesperson for the KRG’s Transportation Ministry said “given the steps the Kurdistan Region and Iraq took to get close to each other, we did not expect the closure of the airports be extended by three more months.”

Salih, however, was optimistic for the airports being re-opened before the deadline.

“This decree is from the Iraqi Civil Aviation, it could be changed with a decree from Haider al-Abadi,” he asserted.

He explained the three-month extension will not strip the two Kurdish airports of their internationality.

“Granting international identity to any airports comes from a set of measures which the World Aviation Organization provides," he said, explaining that the Erbil and Sulaimani airports do not lose their international recognition just because they have closed down for a specific period of time.

Omed Mohammed Salih, spokesperson for the KRG’s Transportation Ministry said “given the steps the Kurdistan Region and Iraq took to get close to each other, we did not expect the closure of the airports be extended by three more months.”

Salih, however, was optimistic for the airports being re-opened before the deadline.

“This decree is from the Iraqi Civil Aviation, it could be changed with a decree from Haider al-Abadi,” he asserted.

He explained the three-month extension will not strip the two Kurdish airports of their internationality.

“Granting international identity to any airports comes from a set of measures which the World Aviation Organization provides," he said, explaining that the Erbil and Sulaimani airports do not lose their international recognition just because they have closed down for a specific period of time.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/260220181
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Mar 01, 2018 9:29 pm

Kurdish MPs say most demands not met in boycotted budget bill in

9:53 pm

Heads of government fail to agree on budget

Iraq’s three heads of government failed to reach an agreement on the budget, Abdulla Aliyawai, advisor to Iraqi President Fuad Masum, told Rudaw.

After a meeting on Thursday evening, the three presidencies (president, prime minister, and parliament speaker) recommended the parliament’s finance committee resolve the budget issue, Aliyawai said, adding that the finance committee will meet on the matter on Friday.

-----

7:05 p.m.

Iraqi PM, President, Parliament Speaker meet

The three heads of government are in a closed-door meeting on Thursday evening.

Rudaw has learned that Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, President Fuad Masum, and Speaker of Parliament Salim al-Jabouri will discuss the budget bill and other issues.

Abdulla Aliyawai, advisor to Fuad Masum, the Iraqi president, told Rudaw that “the closed meeting will occur where discussions about the budget bill and other matters will be held.”

------

3:56 p.m.

Iraqi parliament votes on first two parts of budget bill

BAGHDAD, Iraq — The parliament in Baghdad voted on the Iraqi budget bill for 2018 during a session boycotted on Thursday by Kurdish MPs, who say "most of their demands were not met" including the budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga.

There were two main changes made to the bill, Rudaw's correspondent for the Iraqi parliament, Halkawt Aziz, reported.


First, the Kurdistan Region is referred to as the "Kurdistan Region" not "provinces of Kurdistan"

Second, a budget has been allocated for Peshmerga forces' operational needs, but not for their salaries.

Aram Sheikh Mohammed, a Kurdish MP who is also deputy speaker, told reporters at a press conference attended by all Kurdish factions that the three presidencies of Iraq were supposed to meet later in the day to find a negotiated way to resolve the budget disagreement.

The session held today by the Iraqi parliament "aborted" all such attempts, Mohammed said, adding that the meeting between the presidencies of the Iraqi parliament, Council of Ministers and the Iraqi presidency may no longer be needed.

The Kurdish factions, in their joint statement, called on the international community, and the Kurdish parties to take all measures "to correct the injustice" against the Kurdistan Region.

They said that "most of their demands were not met" including the budget for the Kurdish Peshmerga.

"We reject the bill [as it is],"the statement added.

Masoud Haider, an MP from Gorran, told Rudaw that Kurdish MPs were going to boycott the session because the budget bill has not met Kurdish demands.

Haider claimed that the Shiite and Sunni MPs have "plotted" against the Kurdistan Region to pass the bill in spite of Kurdish objections.

Salim al-Jabouri, the speaker of the Iraqi parliament, said earlier this week that Iraqi MPs had reached a formula "acceptable" to everyone. Kurdish MPs did not attend that meeting with Jabouri in Baghdad.

The Kurdistan Region demands the Iraqi government to allocate 17 percent of the Iraqi budget, as has been the case since the new government formed after the US-led invasion.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has insisted that the KRG's share should be less

, in proportion to the Kurdish population, estimated by Baghdad to be 12.6 percent.

The Iraqi government cut the KRG’s share of the budget in early 2014 because of Kurdistan’s plans to export oil to the international markets — independent of Baghdad.

The budget cut has caused an ongoing financial crisis, further worsened after the Kurdistan Region lost control of the Kirkuk oil fields to Iraqi forces in October.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/middleeast/iraq/010320183
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK/KURDISTAN

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Mar 23, 2018 11:03 am

Largest color festival in Erbil bookends Newroz celebrations

Kurdistan’s largest-ever spring color festival starts at 11:00 a.m. Friday in the in Erbil. 15,000 tickets have already been sold for the two-day festival organized to celebrate the Kurdish new year.

The festival runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. It includes primarily a color festival, activities for kids and food stalls.

"We held the first [color] festival last year, one that was very successful. So this year we wanted to expand it even further," one organizer told Rudaw, referring to other activities for the festival goers such as music and entertainment.

Tickets cost 10,000 Iraqi dinars. Once purchased, buyers will be given a box which includes a Spring Festival T-shirt, a bag of color powder to throw, a wrist band and a pamphlet of instructions written in Kurdish and English. Children under the age of eight can enter for free.

The theme of the festival is “peace and coexistence,” with organizers expecting people to attend the festival from across the Kurdistan Region, other parts of Iraq, and neighboring countries.

"People as far as Basra and Baghdad have asked for tickets," Hejan Dijwar, an organizer, told Rudaw.

"The festival is to reflect the various color we emanate,” she said, making reference to various people coming from different backgrounds expected to participate.

The festival takes place at Glkand Park, across from the University of Kurdistan-Hewler (UKH) campus.

The Spring Festival is co-organized by Babylon FM with the help of Nishtiman Youth Network (NYN).

Another color festival is scheduled to take place in Sulaimani on March 30 :ymparty:

http://www.rudaw.net/english/lifestyle/23032018
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