Kurdish journalist Ibrahim Abbas was detained by Asayish (security forces) in Erbil after he criticized the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and corruption in the Kurdistan Region. Abbas’ wife, Saadiya Mohammed, told NRT that security forces were waiting for Abbas from 8 p.m. on Wednesday until 1 a.m. on Thursday, saying that they wished to speak with the journalist. Abbas ended up being detained at the house of a friend on Wednesday night as he wasn’t at home, Mohammed added. The day of Abbas’ arrest, May 3, also coincides with World Press Freedom Day. The journalist’s brother, Aso Abbas, said that security forces had told the family that they were under orders when they detained the journalist. According to Mohammed, Abbas had previously received threatening messages over his criticism of the KDP and corruption.
The Kurdistan Region’s Department of Foreign Affairs expressed concerns over comments by Iran’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi, who stated that Iran would be against an independence referendum in the region. Self-determination is a “natural” right of the Kurdish people who have suffered greatly to have their own state, the Department of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its official website. “As it has been officially stated by the Kurdistan Regional Government, the referendum and Kurdistan independence is an internal matter for Iraq”, the statement read. “Through dialogue and understanding with Baghdad this will be discussed and decided. “We reject any statement beyond that and emphasize that intervention by any side is not allowed”, it added. It is up to the Kurdish people to decide on independence as is their own undisputed right, the statement read. Qassemi, said during a press conference on Monday that Iran supports the unity of Iraq’s soil and national sovereignty. “We oppose any division and separation from Iraq”, Qassemi added. “There is an endless distance to achieve this [independence of Kurdistan] because of different views between the Kurds and the region”. Qassemi said Kurds should not refuse the sovereignty and unity of Iraq as they have rights in Iraq’s constitution.
Nearly all Kurdish parties in the disputed city of Kirkuk on Monday showed support for an anticipated public vote on Kurdistan Region’s independence from Iraq and called for the vote to also include Kirkuk province. The Kurdish opposition Change Movement (Gorran) boycotted the meeting in Kirkuk, where all Kurdish factions gathered on Monday to discuss the referendum, in protest against the two dominant Kurdish parties, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), Gorran representative Ahmed Aziz told Rudaw. No official deadline has been set for the referendum but according to the Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani the vote will take place before the end of 2017.
An anonymous person, has sent an insulting letter to Nadhim Zahawi, a director of GKP oil company operating in Iraqi Kurdistan. The British-Kurdish millionaire Zahawi has posted on his twitter “This was delivered to my office today. It’s very sad some still want to attack me for my “background”. I’ll be reporting it to the police.” The sender could be an angry investor of Gulf Keystone Petroleum. The company operates in the Shaikan area of Kurdistan, and produces around 40,000 barrels of oil a day. It hopes to produce 110,000 barrels of oil a day in the near future. The company is currently valued at around £350m, with the share price jumping this week after reports of the discussions with Sinopec emerged. In 2015, Gulf Keystone faced huge financial problems after delays over payments from the KRG. From September last year, it has managed to negotiate payments of around $100m. As well as sitting on the select committee, Zahawi is also the co-chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Kurdistan. Zahawi has a close and long-term relationship with Ashti Hawrami, the minister of natural resources in iraqi Kurdistan who is routinely accused of corruption. Born in Baghdad to Kurdish parents in 1967, Zahawi left Iraq with his family as a nine-year-old boy, under threat of persecution from Saddam Hussein’s regime. Kurdistan considered as the most corrupted part of Iraq. According to Kurdish lawmakers billions of dollars are missing from Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil revenues.
The two Politburos of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party issued on 23rd of April, a joint communiqué as follows. Through the series of joint meetings of the delegations, in the presence of Kosrat Rasul and Masud Barzani, the two political offices of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party met today to discuss several topics. The first meeting was started to discuss the continuous efforts of the two sides on tackling the problems and crises in Kurdistan. They also stressed the support of the KRG and its institutions to improve the living conditions of citizens in all fields. The meeting also dealt with the efforts of the joint delegation to calm the convulsive situation. The second axis: The two sides stressed the results of previous meetings and priorities, especially: A- Form a referendum committee to set a date for this important process. B- How to activate the Parliament of Kurdistan in a way that serves the referendum, independence and national unity. Third axis: the project of the “road map of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan”, the Kurdistan Democratic Party will study it and discuss it before responding to it.
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Douglas Silliman said the Kurdistan Regional Government and the Iraqi government need to work on corruption and to reduce bureaucracy. The Iraqi government, for him, cannot provide jobs for everyone but Baghdad must provide an economic base for the creation of jobs: “If you can cut out the middleman, use e-payments, then do it”, the ambassador congratulated Peshmerga and Iraqi forces for their victories in the fight against the Islamic State, adding a military victory was not enough.
Kurdistan’s army forces (Peshmerga) are not partaking in the Iraqi forces’ battle against Islamic State in western Mosul. JabbarYawar, secretary-general of the Peshmerga Ministry, told Bas News that the force maintains deployment at regions it had recaptured earlier from Islamic State militants. He added that no agreement had been made with the government in Baghdad regarding participation in western Mosul battles which, he said, are solely led by Iraqi forces contrariwise the operations in eastern Mosul which launched in October and ended with the retaking of the region late January.
On Monday, the Foreign Minister of Kurdistan’s Regional Government, Falah Mustafa Bakir, had a meeting in Moscow with Mikhail Bogdanov, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation and Representative for the Middle East and North Africa, to discuss the current situation in Iraq. In an interview realesed to russian newspaper, Izvestia, Bakir outlined the issues that have been addressed, namely; request to support the Peshmerga forces, who have been fighting against terrorism; relations between Iraqi Kurdistan and Russia; fight against terrorism; refugees in Iraq; perspective of russian mediation through the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Erbin and further strenghtening of economic, political, cultural ties between Russian Federation and Iraqi Kurdistan; current state of affairs in Syria. Russia declared is avaible to provide the necessary support to the fight against terrorism. Moreover, the Government of Iraqi Kurdistan is confident about the approval of Russia, as one of their allies, in the event of Iraqi Kurdistan reaching indipendence from Iraq, since negotiations have already been opened on that issue with Baghdad.