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Iraqi parliament bans Kurdistan flag in Kirkuk

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Iraq’s parliament has rejected a decision to raise the Kurdish flag used by Kurdistan Region alongside the Iraqi flag on public buildings and institutions in Kirkuk city. Iraqi MPs voted in favour of displaying only the Iraqi flag on Kirkuk’s buildings on Saturday, in a session attended by 186 members of the 328-seat parliament. Arez Abdullah, a Kurdish member of the parliament said that almost all the Iraqi MPs except for the Kurds voted in favor of a motion which rejects the Tuesday’s vote by the local government in Kirkuk to raise the flag over the state institutions.

UN Secretary-General Guterres meets with Iraqi Kurdish officials

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Iraq’s Kurdistan region, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres arrived in Iraqi Kurdistan capital city of Erbil on Thursday to meet with senior Kurdish officials. “A referendum will be held in the near future”, on the Kurdistan Region’s independence, Barzani said during meeting with Guterres as cited by KDP media. There is good military and security cooperation between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces which resulted in huge victories”, he added. Guterres reportedly expressed the U.N.’s support for the Kurdistan Region and Iraq to restore peace to areas IS from where IS was expelled. Guterres said the international community “has not done enough” to help the Kurdistan Region in sheltering internally displaced people.

Rivalry between Iraqi Kurdistan’s PUK and KDP over Kirkuk oil grows.

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Iraqi Kurdish politicians deny an incident involving armed men taking over oil company headquarters recently, has anything to do with political rivalry. But insiders say it does – and the problem is serious. But now that Kirkuk appears as good as in Kurdish hands, it is clear there are also internal tensions between the Kurds themselves. The rivalry between the region’s two major political parties over Kirkuk was recently highlighted when, on March 2, armed men entered the headquartersof the Iraqi oil company, North Oil, in Kirkuk. The office is in charge of sending the oil produced in Iraqi Kurdistan to Turkey through the Ceyhan pipeline, from where it is exported to the rest of the world. On the surface, it seemed that it was the same old gripe, with Iraqi Kurdistan saying that Baghdad was not giving them enough return on oil produced in the northern region. But in reality this was also about an old gripe between the region’s two largest political parties, who basically share power in the region, splitting territory, military forces and parliamentary powers between them: the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, or PUK, and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, or KDP.

 

Human Rights Watch calls on Iraqi parliament to set penalties for domestic violence

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With Iraq’s Parliament completing its review of the draft Anti-Domestic Violence Law, Human Rights Watch has called on the parliament to make key amendments to the draft law in order to further protect women’s lives. Despite women’s groups campaigning for years for legislation on domestic violence, only the Kurdistan Region of Iraq currently has legislation on domestic violence in place.  The draft law going through the Iraqi parliament does not annul provisions in the Iraqi Penal Code, HRW also noted. The Iraqi Penal Code has provisions that condones domestic violence in the case of so-called honor-based violence.So-called honor-based violence and honor killings remains a problem in both Iraq and the Kurdistan Region, with Zhyan group – a coalition of thirty non-governmental organizations – leading the fight against it in the region.

Five ministers in Iraqi Kurdistan named in anti-corruption committee list

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Sirwan Zahawi, the head of the anti-corruption committee told NRT tv that the committee continues its investigation to carry out reform to fight corruption. “Four to five members, three of whom are in this cabinet, have been selected. They may not be corruptors but their names have been chosen. Accusation is not a crime. You will be called to defend yourself” Zahawi noted. Kurdistan considered as the most corrupted part of Iraq. According to Kurdish lawmakers billions of dollars are missing from Iraqi Kurdistan’s oil revenues.

Iraq’s oil ministry claimed no information on Kurdistan oil revenue due to lack of access

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Kurdish MP in the Iraqi Parliament, Hoshyar Abdullah, asked the Oil Ministry on February 14 to disclose how many barrels of oil are exported by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) per day, as well as information regarding revenue of the region’s oil sales. Since October 2015 the Kurdistan parliament has been in recess after Barzani forces prevented Kurdistan Parliament’s Speaker Yusuf Mohammad Sadiq from entering Erbil city on October 12, 2015 and Kurdistan PM Nechirvan Barzani has removed four members of his cabinet from the Change Movement and replaced them with KDP politicians. The Kurdish opposition accused the Barzani and its KDP party of a monopoly all government’s positions in Erbil

U.S. Ambassador to Iraq said the Kurdistan and Iraqi Regional Government need to work on corruption

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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.

Peshmerga not involved against Islamic State in western Mosul battles

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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.

Talabani expressed concern that another similar to ISIS group could manifest in Iraq

Lahur Talabani, Director of the Kurdistan Region’s Protection and Information Agency, have said there were signs that ISIS was planning to shelter in the Hamrin Mountains in the northeast of Iraq. “It is a very tough terrain. It is very difficult for the Iraqi military to control” and “It’s a good hideout place and a place they could have access from province to province without getting detected”, he added. Talabani also expressed concern that another group similar to ISIS could manifest in Iraq if political leaders failed to secure reconciliation between sects: “… maybe not Daesh [ISIS], but another group will pop up under a different name, a different scale. We have to be really careful, These next few years will be very difficult for us, politically”. Lastly he have said that Iraqi forces have months of street-to-street and house-to-house fighting ahead of them before the western side of Mosul is regained from the militants.

Kurdish Peshmergas attacked Islamic State’s headquarters

Media Official of Peshmerga forces in Sinjar District announced that the Kurdish forces attacked strongholds and headquarters of the Islamic State in the area.“Kurdish Peshmerga forces attacked three headquarters of the Islamic State in Rambousi Village and Telskuf area.” have said Khalil Shafan. “Last night, Peshmerga forces located members of the Islamic State in the areas of al-Baaj and al-Balij, where the militants were trying to flee toward Syria,” he further added and that the Kurdish security forces are waiting for President of Kurdistan Region, Masoud Barzani’s orders to liberate the remaining areas of Sinjar from ISIS control.

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