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LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

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

Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:01 pm

UK misunderstandings about Iraqi constitution disadvantage Kurds
By Gary Kent

A short exchange in a Commons debate on British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson's report on the continuing battle against Daesh exposed deep differences between the UK government and many friends of Kurdistan.

Johnson reported that following the KRG's “unilateral referendum” on independence, “a decision we did not support... Iraqi forces have reasserted federal control over disputed territory, including the city of Kirkuk.”

He added that the British “are working alongside our allies to reduce tensions in northern Iraq (sic). Rather than reopening old conflicts, the priority must be to restore the stability, prosperity and national unity that is the right of every Iraqi,” and the Iraqi general election in May creates “an opportunity for parties to set out their respective visions of a country that overcomes sectarianism and serves every citizen, including Kurds.”

Johnson's rather bland blandishments elicited a subtle but profound defence of the Kurds by senior Conservative MP and former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, who was an observer on referendum day in Kurdistan and a guest with me and others of the Kirkuk governor for lunch just weeks before his offices were occupied by Shia militia and he was forced to flee for his life.

Blunt said: “In his oral statement, I thought I heard the Foreign Secretary refer to the coalition’s Kurdish partner forces, with regard to the fight in Raqqa, but the word ‘Kurdish’ does not appear in the written version of the statement that has just been handed out. He also talked about the consequences for Kurds in Iraq of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum. As matters now unfold, with the effective end of Islamic State control of territory in both Syria and Iraq, will he bear in mind the fact that the Kurds have been let down by history over the course of the past century? They think they have friends in the United Kingdom and the United States. Will he try to ensure that, when it comes to the protection of Kurdish cultural interests and freedoms in all the countries of the region, it is not just the mountains that are their friends?

Johnson praised Blunt's eloquence and asserted that “This country and this House are indeed great friends of Kurdistan. They well remember the role played by the Conservative Government in 1991 in that mountainous region with the setting up of safe havens for the Kurds, which were the origin of the Kurdish Regional Government of today.”

He referred to some Labour MPs as doughty campaigners who have also played a major role.

He added that “The Kurds can be in no doubt about our lasting friendship, but we did say to them that the referendum was not the right way forward. The best course now for our Kurdish friends is surely to take advantage of Mr. Abadi, who is their best possible hope, and to enter into a solid and substantial negotiation with him.”

These statements indicate that foreign ministries are still furious that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) declined the alternative path belatedly outlined by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson two days before the referendum.

The complete absence of any criticism, however gentle or oblique, about how Iraqi forces, including Shia militia, took control of Kirkuk sustains the narrative this was a routine matter rather than a needless choice. The omission of any reference to allegations that Iraq broke the constitution in doing so and that continued KRG control of Kirkuk and the disputed territories was completely compliant with the Iraqi constitution will embolden Abadi.

These partial statements should galvanise those anxious to detail and amplify the descent into bullying by Baghdad: its apparent desire to rip up the rules on revenue-sharing to reduce the federal contribution to under 13% or much less in practice, the attempt to destroy the regional status of Kurdistan, torture, murder and theft in newly occupied disputed territories, and more that emerges almost every day.

Johnson's formula also puts the onus on Erbil to enter into negotiations with Baghdad and ignores the deafening silence so far on Erbil's attempts to begin a proper dialogue. It may be that Abadi represents a relatively better hope than Maliki and it is also true that official statements and public messaging are often more polite than private conversations.

Yet, in the same statement Johnson did not pull his punches about the malign role of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and the Iranian regime in effectively kidnapping a British citizen for leverage. Yet there was not a peep about the involvement of Iranian involvement in action against Kurdistan to secure a military route to the Mediterranean.

The Commons exchanges also show the crucial need to put the Iraqi constitution on the table and apply it fully, fairly and with a recognition that suffocating Kurdistan will not achieve an Iraq that serves all citizens including Kurds. This means understanding what the Iraqi constitution stipulates as Kurdish rights and the position of the KRG.

Johnson has a better grasp of Kurdish politics and hopes than many. He may think he is working with what is at hand, but the main problem is that most politicians, some journalists who are late to the game, and therefore public opinion don't really understand the history that drove the Kurds to seek to break out of Iraq, however gradually. It illustrates the importance of the major Foreign Affairs Committee inquiry, which is asking for written evidence by 20 November and may issue a major report in the spring.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/081120171

Gary Kent is the Secretary of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). He writes this column for Rudaw in a personal capacity. The address for the all-party group is appgkurdistan@gmail.com.
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:16 pm

Arab, Turkmen want Kirkuk council dissolved, Kurds want new governor

Kirkuk Provincial Council has been dysfunctional for three weeks now since the Iraqi army and Iran-backed Hashd al-Shaabi militias entered Kirkuk on October 16.

Members of the Kurdish-led Brotherhood bloc in Kirkuk Provincial Council say they are waiting for the go-ahead from the Kurdish leadership in order to return to Kirkuk and vote for a new governor as the council which has been dysfunctional for three weeks now since Iraqi forces entered the city mid-October.

Rebwar Talabani, head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council told Rudaw they have sent a letter to the leaders of Kurdistan’s five main political parties on if and when they should return to their posts and from there elect a new governor.

The Arab and Turkmen bloc have asked Baghdad to dissolve the Council and replace it with a new one. X(

Talabani defied the call saying "there is no legal or constitutional article which allows dissolving the Provincial Council because the Council operates under Bremer's Law 71, which is the highest authority," said Talabani.

He said according to the Brotherhood bloc "if any problem occurred, it should be resolved through a unanimous vote."

Mohammed Kamal, head of the Kurdish-led bloc also criticized the call from the Arab and Turkmen councilors saying all the parties "have to resort to dialogue and ease the situation."

He believes, for the time being, "the key solution is handing Kirkuk's security case to the police and the withdrawal of the army and Hashd al-Shaabi."

According to data from the rights organizations and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), some 170,000 people have been displaced from Kirkuk to Erbil and Sulaimani, including local officials, among them city officials of Kurdish ethnicity.

The displaced persons urge members of the Brotherhood bloc not to return to Kirkuk until the situation has been normalized.

"The purpose behind calls on the Brotherhood bloc to return to Kirkuk is only to vote for electing a new governor for the city," Garmiyan Hassan, a displaced person from Kirkuk, told Rudaw. "A Kurdish governor, with no power is worthless and meaningless."

After Iraqi forces took control of Kirkuk on October 16, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi appointed Rakan Ali al-Jabouri, an Arab, as interim governor in place of Najmaldin Karim, a Kurd from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK).

The PUK has nominated a replacement for Kirkuk governor after the Iraqi president approved the dismissal of Najmaldin Karim from the post.

The PUK has selected its politburo member Rizgar Ali as candidate for the position of governor of Kirkuk, politburo member Rafaat Abdullah told Rudaw.

In September, the Iraqi parliament ruled to sack Karim who was a vocal supporter of Kurdistan – raising the flag of Kurdistan in the city alongside the Iraqi one and urging people to vote in the independence referendum.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/09112017
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:33 pm

UPDATE 1-Iraqi central bank orders private banks to close Kurdistan branches

Iraq’s central bank has ordered private banks to close their branches in the Kurdistan region within a week to avoid a ban on dollar sales, Iraqi banking sources said on Thursday.

The central bank’s deadline expires on Nov. 14 and all banks must report back with confirmation they have closed their branches to avoid penalties, the sources said.

The new measures are part of financial restrictions imposed by Baghdad in retaliation for a Kurdish referendum held on Sept. 25, in which the region voted overwhelmingly for independence.

In Oct. 16, a lightening advance by Iraqi government forces captured the Kurdish-held city of Kirkuk and many disputed territories in response to the Kurdish referendum.

Iraqi banking sources said the new measures are intended to control the flow of hard currency into the Kurdish region.

“Central bank seeks to re-organise relations with Kurdistan regional banking industry,” said a government financial advisor who is close to central bank policy.

Central bank sources said a decision in October to stop selling dollars to four leading Kurdish banks was still effective.

The Baghdad government has also imposed a ban on direct international flights to and from the Kurdish region.

The Shi‘ite, Arab-led Iraqi central government has rejected an offer by the Kurdish government to discuss independence.

Backed by Iran and Turkey, Baghdad has demanded that the Kurdish authorities cancel the referendum result or face continued sanctions and international isolation.

https://www.reuters.com/article/mideast ... SL8N1NF4WS
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 09, 2017 10:05 pm

Kurds Displaced by Iraq Advance Fear Reprisals if They Return

Four hours after first hearing gunfire outside his home, Abu Riwar bundled his wife and six children into his car and drove to a remote village 120 km (75 miles) away.

"We left with the clothes on our back and nothing else," said Abu Riwar, a member of the Kurdish security forces from the ethnically mixed town of Tuz Khurmato, seized last month by Iraqi troops and Iran-backed Shi’ite paramilitaries. "If the militias found out I was Peshmerga, they'd have slaughtered me."

They burned his home to the ground instead, his neighbors, who captured it on camera, told him.

Tuz Khurmato was part of disputed territory, outside the Kurdish region of northern Iraq but held by Kurdish forces known as Peshmerga, until last month, when the central government recaptured it in a lightning advance to punish the Kurds for staging an independence referendum that Baghdad called illegal.

The majority of Tuz Khurmato’s 50,000 Kurds -- around half of the population of the ethnically mixed city -- fled the Iraqi advance to Kurdish-held villages and towns in nearby countryside, said Mayor Shalal Abdul.

The mayor himself fled to the village of Zinana, 120 km east of Tuz Khurmato, where he spoke to Reuters.

Most residents have no plans to return home, citing reports of continuing attacks.

"We can’t cope if it continues like this," said the chief of police in Zinana, adding that the government and aid groups had been too slow to respond. "Families have taken over school buildings, houses and the hospital, but we can’t turn them out on the streets."

According to the United Nations, more than 180,000 people were displaced by the Iraqi government offensive on disputed territories last month. Aid agencies say most of those displaced are Kurds, though members of other minorities, including some of Tuz Khurmato’s Sunni Arabs and Turkmen, also fled.

Until Baghdad’s offensive, Tuz Khurmato had been jointly administered by Kurdish forces, local police and the Iran-backed Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) paramilitaries, allied with the town’s Shi’ite Turkmen population.

Though the Turkmen and the Kurds had worked together to push Islamic State militants out in 2014, the town's fragile coalition soon fell apart and led to open hostilities. In the run-up to the Kurdish independence referendum, tension escalated between the communities.

'CRUSHED BY THOSE MONSTERS'

In Zinana, displaced Kurds told Reuters stories of abuse at the hands of the Shi'ite paramilitaries who captured Tuz. One man showed a video he had filmed depicting the crushed body of a relative. Family members said the victim had been shot in his car, dragged out alive by paramilitaries and run over by a tank.

"He was crushed to death in front of me, by those monsters," said Abu Alan, the relative who filmed the body. "He was a good man from a good family."

A video circulated on the internet, apparently of the same incident, shows a tank running over a body while uniformed paramilitaries stand by.

The paramilitaries deny carrying out any abuse.

"Joint patrols by the PMF and government forces are securing the town, to prevent any attacks against Kurds,” said Ali al-Hussaini, a spokesman for the PMF in northern Iraq and a commander of the largest of the armed groups, the Badr Organisation. "It's our job to keep Tuz safe for all sects."

The mayor, who is collecting stories and evidence of abuse, said seven people were killed when the town was captured, including the man who was crushed by the tank and three other civilians. He said he also knew of three women and one man who had been raped. Reuters could not verify those accusations.

More than 1,000 businesses and 2,000 homes were looted, burned down or demolished, the mayor said.

He showed Reuters images of houses and shopfronts in Kurdish areas, blown up and scorched, their residents’ belongings being carted away by men in military fatigues. Other pictures showed paramilitaries sitting in the mayor's own office, feet propped up on his desk and on his Kurdish flag.

Dozens of people were detained, and some say they were tortured, like Thiaa, a 20-year-old Sunni Turkman from the countryside who had gone to Tuz Khurmato the day after the offensive to check on his sister who was married to a Kurd.

"They detained me because I don’t speak Arabic, so they thought I was a Kurd," Thiaa said. "They kept me filthy, hungry and blindfolded in a dark room with three Kurds. They beat us with cables all day long."

Link to Full Article:
https://www.usnews.com/news/world/artic ... hey-return
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:36 am

Italian lawmakers demand Rome support KRG

A number of Italian senators and members of parliament have voiced their support for the Kurdistan Region after Iraq’s military operations against the Kurdish-held areas. They demand Italy make its position clear by supporting Erbil and urge Baghdad to respect the constitutional rights of the Kurds.

Senator Ricardo Mazzoni, deputy head of the human rights office at the senate, described events in Iraq as “unfortunate,” highlighting the fact that the Peshmerga were the first to put up a fight against ISIS in 2014 while the Iraqi army was in retreat.

He said that the people of Kurdistan have earned the right to determine their fate through a referendum after decades of sacrifices.

“The referendum had a clear outcome that the majority of the Kurdish people want independence for Kurdistan,” Senator Mazzoni said.

This legitimate right of the Kurdish people needs to be supported by the international community, “especially the Italian government has to work in this regard knowing that it has always been close to the Kurdish people,” he added.

He said it is time for Italy to break the silence against Iraq’s punitive measures and help the Kurds return to areas they previously held, including the oil-rich and diverse city of Kirkuk.

He said he hoped that the Italian government will declare its “clear and loud” position in support for the Kurdistan Region.

Umberto D’Ottavio, from the ruling Democratic Party (PD), said that he will join a number of other MPs to present a motion to the Italian government demanding Rome declare its stance on the dispute between the Iraqi and Kurdish governments. He said that the people of Kurdistan must be given the right to express their opinion in a free manner.

The Iraqi government took a number of measures against the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in response to the independence vote including military operations and an international flight ban.

Baghdad considers the vote unconstitutional and had demanded the KRG annul its results. The Kurdish leadership has so far offered to freeze the outcome of the vote in exchange for open dialogue.

Senator Luigi Manconi believed there are efforts to forget the Peshmerga contribution to the war against ISIS and to “suffocate Kurdistan.”

He accused the Iraqi government of failing to respect the constitutional rights of the Kurdistan Region and other agreements it has with the KRG. He pointed to Baghdad’s slashing the KRG’s share of the budget and lack of funds for the Peshmerga as violations.

The budget bill proposed by Baghdad allocated 12.6 percent share of the Iraqi budget, much less than the KRG’s demand for 17 percent. It is the first time Baghdad in practice has attempted to cut the KRG’s budget since the establishment of the new Iraq in 2003.

Manconi described the Kurdistan Region as “unique” where various ethno-religious groups coexist peacefully, a fact that must be recognized.

Fabrizio Cicchitto, head of the foreign affairs committee of the Italian parliament, said they have already expressed their opposition to the use of force against the Kurdistan Region and added that the committee will meet with Italian authorities to discuss the matter in December. He hoped that the situation will remain calm until then and urged Baghdad and Erbil to begin talks.

Senator Lucio Malan said the Italian government should take an official stance to “protect and defend the Kurdish people” that fell victim to military attacks by Iranian-backed Shiite militia, and “even Iranian militia.” He said the use of the militias against Erbil is in violation of the Iraqi constitution.

Kurdistan deserves the attention of Italy and the Vatican, not only because it fought against ISIS, but also because it welcomes religious minorities, Christians in particular, he explained.

“The people of Kurdistan must not be left alone. They are not alone and we hope that our government will have its own stance,” Malan said.

More than 180,000 people fled their homes in the immediate days that followed the military incursion by Iraqi forces and Shiite militia on October 16 into Kirkuk and other disputed areas, according to the United Nations.

Kurdish officials say hundreds of Christians from disputed areas of the Nineveh Plains fled their homes when Iraqi forces bombarded some of these areas with artillery.

Italy is a member of the US-led Global Coalition against ISIS. Rome enjoys close ties with Erbil, a relationship that strengthened during the war against ISIS.

Former Kurdistan Region President Masoud Barzani visited the country in 2014 before the war and met with Italian officials and the Pope. Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani visited the following year.

Italian PM Matteo Renzi visited Erbil in August 2014, shortly after the Kurdistan Region went into battle against ISIS.

Italian military trainers have worked with the Peshmerga and Defence Minister Roberta Pinotti visited Erbil in February this year. She praised the role of the Peshmerga and said Italy’s support for the Kurdish soldiers will continue.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/091120173
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 10, 2017 1:15 am

The Price of Selling Out the Kurds
By Amb. Dennis Ross

I often take part in what's known as "track II diplomacy" — brainstorming discussions with former officials and academics that explore options for breaking major international impasses or ending conflicts. In one that just concluded, two of my longtime acquaintances from the Middle East greeted me with, "Well, once again America's word is no good. How could you abandon the Kurds?"

My Middle Eastern colleagues were calling attention to what has recently taken place in northern Iraq. There, the Iraqi military, with the clear involvement of Iranians and the Shia militias, pushed Kurdish forces out of Kirkuk, including the oil fields, and back to the positions they held prior to ISIS having taken Mosul in 2014. Crossing points to Syria have also been taken from the Kurds.

My argument to the group — that the Kurdish leader, Masoud Barzani, strategically blundered in holding an ill-advised referendum on independence and was responsible for what had happened — fell on deaf ears. In the eyes of my Arab colleagues, even if the Trump administration tried and failed to dissuade Barzani from taking this step, the U.S. could not afford to allow the Kurds to be defeated in such a manner, particularly with the Iranians playing a direct role in the reestablishment of the central government's position in Kirkuk.

For them, the Kurds were an American partner — one we had protected since 1991 with the creation of a "no-fly" zone shortly after the end of the Gulf War. One we rushed to support in the fight with ISIS when the Iraqi military had simply collapsed in 2014 and only the peshmerga was prepared to resist it.

Now we stood on the sidelines. My friends noted the contrast with the Russians, who had stood by the Assad regime, and secured it. Small wonder, I was told, that for the first time in the history of Saudi Arabia, the king had just visited Moscow. No doubt, they said, he had gone "to hedge his bets and to take account of the new Russian role in the region."

Everyone in the region now knew that if their security was threatened, Moscow was the place to look for help. Even the Israelis get this. "Look," I was told, "how many times Netanyahu has gone to Moscow."

Over two days of discussion, I repeatedly heard about the gap between American rhetoric and actions in the region. One of the participants even said, "At least Obama told us he was not going to do anything."

We need not accept these arguments. But we cannot ignore or dismiss this growing perception in the region.

President Trump's words are certainly tough, threatening to pull out of the nuclear deal and declaring that we will counter Iran's destabilizing activities in the region. CIA Director Mike Pompeo echoed his boss' words, citing "the threats from Iran...and the Shia militias, including what we see in northern Iraq...We need to push back against QF (the Quds Force), the IRGC (Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps) more broadly, and the Iranian regime itself."

But our actions belie that posture. Speaking recently, national security adviser H.R. McMaster said that 80% of the forces fighting for Syrian President Bashar Assad are sponsored by Iran. Yet Defense Secretary James Mattis, while acknowledging the Iranian threat and role in Syria, said that we have "an anti-ISIS strategy in Syria, not an anti-Iranian strategy."

In reality, at a time when the Iranians are creating facts on the ground in Iraq and Syria, we remain riveted on defeating ISIS. The Iranians are preparing for the day after — and we are not.

The lesson: Rhetorical hostility toward Iran must be guided by intelligent policy. If we want the Europeans to join us in addressing the vulnerabilities of the Iranian nuclear deal, they have to see a clear diplomatic plan — one that doesn't just make threats but that recognizes their concerns about not renegotiating the deal.

Similarly, if we want the Saudis, Emirates and others to work with us in the region and help carry the burden of filling the vacuum after the defeat of ISIS, they must see we are taking steps to, at a minimum, contain the Iranians in Syria and in the region. If the Russians could transform the balance of power in Syria with just a fraction of the air power we have in the region, is it impossible for us to convey that we won't tolerate the further spread of Iranian and Shia militia presence there?

Standing by as the Kurds were forced to retreat has sent a message far more powerful than the administration's words on Iran. After two days of hearing Middle Easterners lament the gap between the rhetoric and the reality of the Trump administration policies, I left feeling that it is time for the administration either to scale back what it claims it will do or actually begin to marry actions to our words.

Dennis Ross is the counselor and William Davidson Distinguished Fellow at The Washington Institute. He previously served as a special assistant to President Obama and was an ambassador who guided policy under the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations.

Published with the permission of ©2017 The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. First published by New York Daily News.


http://www.rudaw.net/english/opinion/09112017
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 10, 2017 12:45 pm

Kurdish gov’t seeks political unity
ahead of possible talks with Baghdad


The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) is seeking a united front through negotiations with all Kurdish parties in preparation for future talks with the central Iraqi government and for this purpose Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani is holding almost daily talks with party leaders.

Unlike the past, meetings this time around are not about government or ministerial posts, but to find a way out of the current crisis the KRG finds itself in that stared with an Iraqi invasion of Kirkuk and other border areas since the September referendum.

Dilshad Shahab, an adviser to the KRG says that the prime minister and his deputy are working on meeting Kurdish and Iraqi parliamentary blocs in the coming days.

Part of the meetings will be to tackle the issue of Iraq’s controversial 2018 budget plan which the Kurds believe has axed their share down to a mere 12.6 percent from the constitutionally agreed 17 percent. X(

“The unity of people and their parties at this stage is vital for keeping the KRG together and strengthening its hand in negotiations,” said Shahab.

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani will be meeting with two major opposition parties that have so far turned down calls from the prime minister to rejoin the cabinet.

These are the Islamic League (Komal) followed by a visit to the Gorran movement.
(Kurds would be far better off with out these groups)

Gorran leaders say they will welcome the prime minister’s visit and that they have prepared a proposal to discuss with him.

“We have prepared a proposal and when they come to visit us we will bring it to the table and see what the government will have to say,” Gorran’s head of media affairs Abdulrazzaq Sharif told Rudaw.

The KRG and foreign capitals such as Washington, Paris and London have emphasized the need for dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad in light of a complete collapse of relations in October following several days of clashes in the disputed territories and the Iraqi closure of Kurdistan Region’s airports in September.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/10112017
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Fri Nov 10, 2017 6:28 pm

Talabani's memorial marked by loss of Kurdistan’s ‘Jerusalem’

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) held a memorial in Sulaimani on Friday for the party’s late founder Jalal Talabani, who was also the first non-Arab president of Iraq.

Kosrat Rasul, acting PUK head, said that Talabani’s death was a “great loss for the Kurds, Kurdistan and Iraq. We should all try to fill the void he left.”

The charismatic Kurdish leader died just a week after Kurdistan’s vote for independence. Friday’s memorial, marking the end of the traditional 40-day mourning period, was overshadowed by the fall of Kirkuk that has ended – for now – dreams of independence and caused renewed animosity between Kurds.

Talabani, known affectionately as Mam Jalal, died in Berlin on October 3. He was laid to rest on Sulaimani’s Dabashan hill on October 6.

Former Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Barham Salih, also a former PUK senior member, praised Talabani’s leadership as he attended the memorial.

He said Mam Jalal was a “teacher, leader, and uncle to me,” adding that he will never forget his great personality.

He said Talabani will be remembered as a Peshmerga who fought against the Iraqi state in the Kurdish mountains and went on to become president of Iraq.

Many Kurds compare the fall of Kirkuk last month to a 1975 defeat of a Kurdish rebellion led by Mullah Mustafa Barzani by an alliance between Iraq and Iran, supported by the silence of the United States.

Salih pointed out that it was Talabani who was able to “resurrect” the Kurdish rebellion after the 1975 setback. He said this could be an example for the path ahead.

“Our nation is brave and has morale. We can rise again,” Salih said.

In a famous 1992 speech delivered after yet another a popular Kurdish uprising against the Iraqi regime, Talabani said that the oil-rich and multi-ethnic province of Kirkuk holds the key to solving the Kurdish issue in Iraq.

He opened his speech mentioning a group of Kurds killed by the regime after the uprising.

The fascist dictators in Baghdad believe that with the execution of 288 brave sons of Kurds, they can extinguish the fire of the Baba Gurgur [oil well],” Talabani told a crowd of thousands gathered in Erbil. “But they are daydreaming. So long as there is still a Kurd living, Kirkuk remains a city of Kurdistan. I believe that Kurdistan will give up just about any place, but there is not a Kurd, not even one single noble Kurd, that will give up Kirkuk and Kirkuk area.”

They key to the solution of the Kurdish cause is Kirkuk, Kirkuk alone, and Kirkuk itself,” Talabani said, adding that the southern border of Kurdistan extends to the Hamrin Mountains.

A former senior PUK member told Rudaw that Talabani galvanized Kurdish awareness for Kirkuk, a city he always called Kurdistan’s Jerusalem.

“When you talk about Mam Jalal and Kirkuk, the two are inseparable,” said Faraidun Abdulqadir.

Mam Jalal was the first Kurdish leader who taught us that ‘either we will get Kirkuk and Khanaqin, or we will fight to the very end,’” he continued.

Some in the party Talabani founded, the first to advocate for the Kurdish right to self-determination, have been accused of treason for the loss of Kirkuk. His family denies the accusations.

Lahur Talabany, head of the PUK’s anti-terror agency, said on Friday that the loss of Kirkuk came as the result of a “mistake by the Kurdish leadership,” that includes all the parties. He added that the Kurds will one day return back to the oil-rich province despite the current setbacks.

Asked about the fate of Kirkuk, the stronghold of the PUK, senior party member Mala Bakhtiyar said at the memorial that the military incursion by the Iraqi forces will ultimately fail.

“Every military success that comes as the result of a plot will lead to arrogance. This arrogance will not be translated into a political and administrative fact on the ground. The best thing is for all of us to go back to the table of negotiation and let the [Iraqi] constitution judge between us,” Bakhtiyar said.

Regarding some calls to turn Kirkuk into an independent region, he said such a move should be opposed by all, down to “the last remaining Kurd.”

Addressing the issue of intra-Kurdish divisions in the wake of the Kirkuk crisis, Kosrat Rasul said it is time to “put the Kurdish house in order.”

His Peshmerga force suffered tens of casualties in Kirkuk and he has blamed elements within his own party.

The PUK’s leadership council has decided to dissolve the politburo office and instead elect an 11-member committee to be headed by Rasul to prepare the party to hold its congress in early next year and run party activities in the interim. This move is still to be finalized by the party.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/101120173

Mam Jalal Talabani's famous 1992 speech:

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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sat Nov 11, 2017 8:59 pm

New Generation leader says Kurdistan needs new leaders, government

New Generation Leader, Shaswar Abdulwahid, said the Kurdistan Region needs new government and new leaders to govern the region.

Speaking during a panel of Middle East Institute in Washington on Tuesday (November 7), Abdulwahid said the New Generation wants new leaders and new government to hold talks with Baghdad.

Abdulwahid added the talks with the Iraqi officials should be regarding the interest of the Kurdistan Region’s people, not individual interests.

“What we hope in Kurdistan, having election, election and election, and one day we will find a great leader,” the New Generation leader said.

“… So what we suggest is new leader, new faces, new government talking to Baghdad, talking about the people’s interest, not talk about the personal interest,” he added.
(somebody has been reading our posts - this is exactly what we have been saying)

Since a Kurdish vote for independence in September, tensions have soared between the former allies in the war against Islamic State (ISIS).

Baghdad has taken economic and military measures, banning international flights to and from the region’s airports and seizing large swathes of territory disputed between Erbil and Baghdad.

The independence referendum was held on Sept. 25, despite opposition from neighboring countries and the United States. The referendum saw over 92% of Kurds vote to declare independence. :ymparty:

http://www.nrttv.com/EN/Details.aspx?Jimare=17438
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Sun Nov 12, 2017 12:53 am

Families from Hawija settle in Dubiz after Kurds flee

More than a thousand displaced families from Hawija and its surroundings through a decision made by Baghdad were settled in Dubiz and other area, a move seen by locals and officials as another Arabization process against the Kurdish inhabitants of the area.

Fazil Mohammed, a displaced from the Dubiz sub district of Sargaran told Rudaw: “Most Arabs have come back to our area and want to seize our properties, the same way done before the fall of Saddam Hussein. They have seized the lands notarized in the names of our ancestors.”

In Sargaran alone, refugees have seized more than 72 houses, tens of cars and people's orchards. X(

“Big damage has been inflicted on people. They have left their homes and their lands, livestock, orchards have been seized. This is not law. It is another Arabization to the people of Kurdistan,” Ghazi Hadi, a refugee, told Rudaw.

After the events of Oct. 16 which led to the fall of Kirkuk to the Iraqi army and Hashd al-Shaabi forces, tens of thousands of people from the city fled home in Dubiz and Sargaran in Kirkuk. They fear abuses and retribution. Some of them claim that their properties, cars and orchards have been seized.

By a decision made by Baghdad, more than 1,270 refugee families from Hawija, Riaz, and Rashad have been allowed to settle in Dubiz and surrounding areas. They have been permitted to plow the lands belonging to Kurdish people.

Diverse Kirkuk is historically home to Kurds, Arabs, Turkmen and other groups. It is a disputed or Kurdistani area claimed by both the Kurdistan Regional Government and Iraq. Up to 150,000 people fled Kirkuk after the imposition of federal control in October, according to KRG statistics.

More than 22 security and administration positions have been taken away from Kurds since Hashd al-Shaabi seized control of Kirkuk, namely, positions of governor and the head agriculture.

“Yes, the Arabization process has resumed,” Rebwar Talabani, head of the Kirkuk Provincial Council, told Rudaw.

Talabani added “This is happening while the provincial council was not there. All the steps they are taking are illegal. They have taken no constitutional steps since Kirkuk fell. Neither the council not Kirkuk administration is aware of this.”

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/111120173
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 14, 2017 2:58 pm

Iraqi Kurds accept court decision to ban secession from Baghdad

Kurdistan Regional Government says it hopes acceptance begins a new phase in efforts to restart stalled negotiations over its future

Iraqi Kurdish authorities said on Tuesday they would accept a court decision prohibiting the region from seceding, signalling a new phase in efforts to restart stalled negotiations over its future.

Iraq's Kurds voted overwhelmingly for independence in a referendum in September, defying the central government in Baghdad - which had ruled the ballot illegal - as well as neighbouring Turkey and Iran which have their own Kurdish minorities.

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) said on Tuesday it would respect the 6 November ruling by the Supreme Federal Court, which declared that no Iraqi province could secede.

"We believe that this decision must become a basis for starting an inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad to resolve all disputes," the KRG said in a statement.

"We strive for peace and we believe our rights must be safeguarded, as it is stated in the Constitution. To reach a comprehensive agreement, we call for constructive and genuine negotiations in order to build a secure future for all Iraqis.

"We also call upon religious leaders, all Iraqi political parties, civil society organizations and all those who believe in the Constitution, stability and peace to stand against those who encourage hostilities between Arabs and Kurds and use violence and aggression in response to disagreements."

The concession marks the Kurds' latest attempt to revive negotiations with central government, which imposed retaliatory measures following the independence vote.

They included an offensive by Iraqi government forces and the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces last month to wrest back control from the KRG of the oil city of Kirkuk and other disputed territories.

Iraq's prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, had previously urged the northern semi-autonomous Kurdish region to abide by the court's decision.

The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and the country's regions and provinces. Its decisions cannot be appealed, though it has no mechanism to enforce its ruling in the Kurdish region.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/iraqi ... -373064496

I AM FURIOUS ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:52 pm

Abadi welcomes KRG decision on court ruling

Iraq’s prime minister said he welcomed the decision of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) with respect to the Federal Court ruling on secession.

“We welcome the decision made by the Kurdistan Regional Government,” Haider al-Abadi said in his weekly news conference on Tuesday.

Earlier in the day, the KRG issued a statement that they would respect the court’s interpretation of Article 1 of the constitution and expressed hope that the court decision could be used as basis to begin “inclusive national dialogue between Erbil and Baghdad.”

Abadi stressed that the constitution protects the integrity of Iraq, “ensuring security, stability and enforcing the federal authority in all places. This stance serves the interests of our citizens, especially Kurdish citizens.”

He called on the KRG to “coordinate and cooperate” with respect to oil revenues, airports, and borders.

He said that he has asked the military committee, which has been tasked with negotiating terms with the Peshmerga, “to form a high committee to prevent any unjustifiable confrontation or casualty. We don’t want any military confrontations to happen.”

Abadi also said his government would “regain control over border areas without escalation. We will not wait forever, we will take action regarding the border areas.”

Baghdad wants to bring Kurdistan Region’s international borders under federal control – one of the steps the central government has taken in the wake of Kurdistan’s independence vote.

Iraq particularly wants access to the borders in order to export Kirkuk oil via a pipeline to Turkey.

Deputy Peshmerga Minister Sarbast Lazgin told Rudaw last week that they have made it clear in discussions with their Iraqi counterparts that they are not ready to hand over the border crossings, “but through the context of political talks between Erbil and Baghdad, we are ready to administrate them with coalition partners.”

The KRG, backed by the United States and United Nations among others, have repeatedly called on Baghdad to sit down for political talks to resolve their problems. Baghdad, however, has set preconditions, not least of which is cancellation of the result of the independence referendum.

In his press conference on Tuesday, Abadi also reiterated his government’s commitment to paying the salaries of KRG employees.

Amid concerns about the structural integrity of Darbandikhan Dam when cracks appeared after Sunday’s earthquake, Abadi said the dam “is in no danger.”

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/141120174
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:12 pm

Who will govern Kirkuk?

Although Baghdad imposed its authority on Kirkuk on Oct. 16 and appointed a new temporary governor, Kurds still hope to reach an agreement with Baghdad that will allow them to appoint a Kurdish governor in the disputed province between Baghdad and Erbil. In the latest development, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) nominated a Kurdish candidate (the former head of the provincial council, Zarkar Ali) on Nov. 12, and demanded that the provincial council hold a meeting to vote on the new governor.

The Kurds' proposal is one of several options on the table.

The first option is appointing a military governor. Some members of the Arab and Turkmen communities in Kirkuk proposed this before and after the Kurdish referendum. For Kurds, appointing a military governor, even if for a while, means Kirkuk’s restoration to the pre-2003 era and the reminder of bitter memories when the Kurds were the most aggrieved and affected group in the city. The central government may be powerful enough to hold Kirkuk for now, but appointing a military governor would push the Kurds to one side, which is likely to prove both provocative and unsustainable. Election results indicate that the Kurds are larger than other groups in the province, although there has been no official and reliable census for some time.

Kurds will reassert their claim on Kirkuk at the first available opportunity — both for the symbolic reason that many Kurds regard Kirkuk as their "Jerusalem," and for the economic reason that control of Kirkuk’s oil would play a big role in any future Kurdish independence bid. The upshot is that Kirkuk was and remains a "disputed territory"; as a US State Department statement said Oct. 20, "The reassertion of federal authority over disputed areas in no way changes their status — they remain disputed until their status is resolved in accordance with the Iraqi constitution."

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi might decide against this option if he takes into account that, in the post-Islamic State period, the Arab-Kurdish conflict over Kirkuk and other disputed territories could be the biggest potential threat to stability in Iraq. In addition, such a move could be both ineffective and dangerous, for it has a great potential for escalating into ethnic violence.

The second option is to hold provincial elections in a few months, which would lead to a new council and a new government. Kirkuk province is the only province that has had only one election since 2005; the Kirkuk provincial council is now the longest-serving such council in Iraq. In 2005, 41 members were elected in a public election for the council: The Kurdish Brotherhood List has 26 members, while there are nine Turkmens and six Arabs. Other provinces (apart from the provinces forming the Kurdistan Region) held elections in 2005, 2009 and 2013. Conducting only one election within 12 years in Kirkuk province is a clear indication of the depth of disputes among the three main ethnic groups regarding Kirkuk's governance.

The current situation in Kirkuk is a good opportunity for holding a new provincial council within a few months. A member of the Kurdish provincial council told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that “the provincial council is a tired council, let a new council come with new members.” Holding a provincial election, however, needs the consent of the main three groups of Kirkuk. Attempts to hold provincial elections in 2009 and 2013 failed partly because, in the view of the Arabs and Turkmens, the Kurds would win any election thanks to the process of Kurdification since 2003. The Kurds deny this allegation of Kurdification. But if Baghdad were to attempt to hold a provincial election to form a new council and then a new governor, it would need to reach an agreement between the three main groups in Kirkuk, which is unlikely to happen.

The third option is to renew the current council and push it to appoint a new governor. Although Turkmens and the PUK once supported the dismissal of the council, both now favor the council's renewal. Before the Kurdish referendum, the Iraqi Turkmen members of parliament had even launched a petition calling for the dissolution of Kirkuk’s provincial council and collected 74 signatures of members of parliament for that purpose. Similarly, Bafel Talabani, a PUK member and son of former Iraqi President Jalal Talabani (who died last month), addressed the people of Kurdistan on Oct. 12, suggesting the dissolution of the Kirkuk provincial council and the removal of the governor, if needed.

After the federal takeover of Kirkuk, 15 to 16 members of the provincial council from the Kurdish Brotherhood list left for Erbil, changing the balance of power on the council. The current situation and the absence of these members have put the Kurds in a weak position. If there were to be an election for a new council, the Turkmens likely would go from being the second strongest list in the province to the third; Turkmens are overrepresented on the council as a result of a low Arab turnout in the 2005 election.

Bafel Talabani’s statement, on the other hand, had much to do with rivalry between between the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Kirkuk and internecine squabbles within PUK wings. His wing has now struck against the KDP and his opponents within the PUK. For example, the KDP, which has held sway in Erbil, is the Kurdish party that has been hurt the most by the recent events in Kirkuk and other disputed territories. The governor of Kirkuk who was removed, Najmaddin Karim, is a Bafel Talabani rival in the PUK. In an interview with Bloomberg commenting on the recent events of Kirkuk, Karim said, "The day before the attack, Bafel, Talabani's nephew Lahur and his older brother Araz came to Kirkuk and met with [Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander] Qasem Soleimani's representative there. He gave an ultimatum, 'You either give up your positions or we will attack you.’" Thus, by weakening the position of the KDP in Kirkuk and removing Karim, who is accused by some PUK members of being pro-KDP, Bafel Talabani and his cousins may have achieved their goals and lost interest in dissolving the council. As for the Arabs, they seem comfortable to maintain the current status quo, as the Arab who was Kirkuk's deputy governor, Rakan Saeed al-Jobouri, now acts as the province's governor.

There also are legal problems to deal with. According to Rebwar Talabani, head of the Kirkuk provincial council, "There is no legal or constitutional article that allows dissolving the provincial council because the council operates under Bremer's Law 71, which is the highest authority." Thus, due to both political and legal obstructions, Prime Minister Abadi may avoid resorting to this option too.

To conclude, the current situation presents both risk and opportunity for Abadi. The risk is taking further escalatory actions and the opportunity is to put an end to the policy of imposing a fait accompli in Kirkuk and instead try to find a solution with regard to the future of the province under Article 140 of the constitution.

https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/origin ... istan.html
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Wed Nov 15, 2017 6:41 pm

Unidentified armed group seen on mountain range south of Kirkuk

An unknown armed group numbering around 200 has been stationed in two villages near Tuz Khurmatu south of Kirkuk, a local official said.

"For a while now an unknown group has been stationed near Palkana Salim and Palkana Sedakan villages,” Mullah Karim Shukur, a local Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) official told Rudaw.

He believed that around 200 men were made up the group.

Shukur said they had information that Kurds and Arabs were inside the group yet they did not belong to either the Iraqi army nor the Kurdish Peshmerga.

He added the group's location is opposite Sleman Beg 25 kilometers south of Tuz Khurmatu.

He described their location as "a mountainous area" which lies between the Peshmerga and Iraqi army positions, adding the armed men's identities have so far remained unknown.

According to Mullah Hassan Garmiani, a Kurdish member of the Salahadin Provincial Council, who has also been displaced to Sulaimani, members of the group had refused to answer when asked by locals if they were associated with ISIS.

Tuz Khurmatu fell to the Iraqi army and Iran-backed Shiite groups on October 16.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/151120173

I suspect the group are al Nusra - if they were ISIS they would have killed someone by now :ymdevil:
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Re: LAST NEWS ABOUT KIRKUK

PostAuthor: Anthea » Thu Nov 16, 2017 11:09 am

Global pressure on Baghdad to talk to Erbil is growing

International allies have welcomed the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) statement of respect for an Iraqi court ruling on the issue of secession and are urging Baghdad to finally come to the table and begin negotiations with Erbil.

“This is an important gesture of readiness to dialogue. Now, the Iraqi government should do its part to respond and start resolving the disputed political questions as soon as possible,” Germany’s foreign ministry stated on Thursday, welcoming the KRG’s move.

An Iraqi Federal Court interpreted Article 1 of the constitution to guarantee Iraqi unity and prohibit the secession of any part of the country. The KRG stated that it respects this ruling as a basis for dialogue.

“If all sides work towards the same goal, and the unity of the country and the constitutional system remains protected, Iraq could possibly overcome the major challenges it has faced,” the German statement added.

Germany’s backing the Kurdish call for dialogue follows on the heels of similar statements from France, the United Kingdom, the United Nations, and the European Union, among others.

The European Union’s foreign affairs office welcomed the KRG’s statement on the court ruling as a “significant step.”

“It should open the way to a comprehensive dialogue between the Government of Iraq and the Kurdistan Regional Government. This is the only manner to resolve all the pending disputes in the interest of a peaceful and prosperous future for all Iraqi citizens,” the EU stated, adding that it is ready to support dialogue, if requested by all parties.

“France welcomes the recognition by the Kurdistan Regional Government of the opinion of the Federal Supreme Court of Iraq of 6 November on the unity of Iraq, as well as the availability of its dialogue,” read a statement from France’s foreign ministry.

Urging Iraqi and Kurdish authorities to engage in dialogue, France reiterated that it supports efforts by the UN representative in Iraq, Jan Kubis.

Kubis was in Erbil on Wednesday, delivering a letter from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani and Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani.

Guterres urged both Erbil and Baghdad to create an environment where “genuine negotiations” can take place.

The UK also welcomed the KRG’s stance on the court ruling, as has the Netherlands, which said it "should pave the way to start political negotiations."

The US special representative to the anti-ISIS coalition, Brett McGurk, is currently in Baghdad where he met with Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and “Affirmed importance of dialogue under the constitution to resolve outstanding issues with KRG,” he stated on Twitter on Thursday.

Kurdish and Iraqi military representatives have met several times to discuss security matters, largely related to control of disputed areas and international borders. No final resolution has yet been reached.

The Kurds have repeatedly called on Baghdad to also engage in political talks and have prepared experts to go to Baghdad to negotiate, including on the matter of the controversial 2018 budget. Baghdad has so far resisted all calls to engage in political dialogue though Abadi did welcome the KRG’s respect for the court ruling.

Kurdistan Region parliamentary leaders met with representatives of diplomatic missions in the Kurdistan Region on Thursday.

“We expressed our words frankly that we are for dialogue and talks between both sides, Erbil and Baghdad, within the framework of the Iraqi constitution and all the Iraqi laws and agreements we signed with the Iraqi government in the past concerning the budget of the Kurdistan Region,” Begard Talabani, parliamentary secretary, told reporters.

If Baghdad fails to sit down and talk, “we… will have the option of withdrawal from the political process of Iraq,” she added, but stressed that they prefer dialogue.

The dispute between Erbil and Baghdad follows from Iraq's rejection of Kurdistan's independence vote and military takeover of disputed areas.

http://www.rudaw.net/english/kurdistan/161120171
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