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Iraqi foreign minister looks to boost ties in Ankara


During a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, Turkish Minister of Customs and Trade Bulent Tufenkegi expressed on Saturday (May 5) expressed his country’s desire to expand the Ibrahim al-Khalil crossing with Iraq and to open an additional gate in Feshkhabur in northwestern Iraq. “The unity, stability, and well-being of Iraq are the stability of Turkey. Iraq is a strong economic partner of Turkey and Turkish companies account for a large percentage of foreign companies in its southern neighbor,” he said. “Turkey is hosting a forum for the reconstruction of Iraq and providing investment support. [We are also convening] meetings of the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce and the Turkish Foreign Trade Relations Commission and meetings between Iraqi banks and Turkish banks, to increase the volume of cooperation,” he said.

Baghdad took control of the Ibrahim Khalil and Feshkhabur border crossings with Turkey following law enforcement and security operations carried out in the disputed areas with the Kurdistan region in October. The 18th session of the Iraqi-Turkish Joint Committee for Economic and Technical Cooperation was held in Ankara on Saturday, during which the minutes of the meetings were signed, including the activation of the comprehensive economic partnership agreements signed in 2009, the promotion and protection of mutual investments. Additionally, they discussed the issues of water, energy, industry, agriculture, health, environment, culture, tourism, education, science, and technology, “according to Jaafari.

Fuad Masum says relations between Baghdad and Erbil are “normal”


Iraqi President Fuad Masum said relations between Baghdad and the Kurdistan Region are now “normal,” after ties between both sides deteriorated following the Kurdish independence referendum in September 2017. During an interview with the Saudi newspaper Arab News, published on Thursday, Masum said that there is a “calm and unpublicized dialogue” between Baghdad and Erbil. “With regards to ties between Baghdad and Kurdistan, relations are normal and there is dialogue between the two sides,” he said. Baghdad and Erbil need each other, the Iraqi president added, and that neither side will give up on the other.

PKK reportedly exits from Sinjar in Iraq


The Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) said on Friday it would pull out its fighters from northwestern Iraq after Ankara has warned on several occasions it could launch an attack on the Yazidi-majority area. The KCK, considered the PKK’s political branch, said fighters who were deployed in Iraq’s Sinjar region to protect the Kurdish-speaking Yazidis from the brutality of ISIS would be withdrawn. “The conditions that were imposed by the August 3, 2014 events (the attack of ISIS) have gone,” it said. “With their goal achieved,” the KCK “are withdrawing from Sinjar,” it added.

Iraqi FM denounces Turkish air raids on Kurdistan region


Iraqi Foreign Ministry condemned Turkish air raids on the villages in the Kurdistan Region, which led to the death of a number of unarmed civilians. The ministry’s spokesman Ahmed Mahjoub declared: “We condemn the continuation of these violations against unarmed civilians of our children in Kurdistan”. Mahjoub added Turkish airstrikes on the Kurdistan Region’s areas do not serve the development of relations between Iraq and Turkey, denouncing the strikes. “We insist our position and reject the presence of any troops on Iraqi territory or any attempt to carry out military operation by any neighboring country”, he said.

Kurdish leader: meetings between officials in Baghdad and Erbil to reach a solution of pending disputes


On Wednesday, Mulla Bakhtiar, a senior leader at the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said in statements that a series of secret meetings between officials in Baghdad and Erbil have been held to reach a solution of pending disputes. Talks in Baghdad between the central government and the Kurdistan Region government signed a “detente” in the crisis. Mulla Bakhtiar added in later statements on social media that the meetings have shown that “Baghdad is pretty prepared for dialogue, while the Kurdistan government is working on setting the suitable atmosphere to that end”. “Officially, there will be no clash between Iraqi forces and (Kurdish) Peshmerga troops” Bakhtiar stated, adding “The issue of land and air ports, as well as customs, are currently being handled thoroughly, and after those are resolved, an action plan will start to resolve the budget, payments and disputed territories’ issues”. Bakhtiar also urged the Kurdish government to hold a meeting with parliamentary blocs to agree on points of negotiations with Baghdad to ensure “an inclusive solution”.

UNAMI expresses concern over violence in Kurdistan region


In a statement on its website, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) expressed on Wednesday deep concern over violence in Iraqi Kurdistan region, saying “is deeply concerned about the violence and the reported casualties during demonstrations in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in the last two days, and calls for restraint and calm on all sides”. It stressed that people have the right to participate in peaceful demonstrations, and the authorities in KRI have the responsibility of protecting their citizens, including peaceful protesters. KRI security forces also are urged to exercise maximum restraint dealing with the demonstrators. UNAMI also exhorted demonstrators to avoid any act of violence, including the destruction of public and private properties. The United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq urged the authorities to respect and protect the media, after NRT TV was ordered to suspend its broadcasts because of the content of its reporting on the demonstrations. “The Mission urges the media to abide by the law, while emphasizing the critical role of free and impartial media in any democratic society”, the statement concluded. Several media reported that Kurdish forces have launched a wide-scale arrest campaign in Sulaymaniyah to silence demonstrators, who have protested since Monday because of delayed salary payments and poor services.

Federal court says Kurdistan’s independence referendum “unconstitutional”


On Monday, the Supreme Federal Court issued a verdict about Kurdistan’s independence referendum considering it “unconstitutional”. In fact on September 25, Kurds held a referendum voting to break away from Iraq and defying the central government in Baghdad as well as neighboring Turkey and Iran who have their own Kurdish minorities. The court had already decreed on November 6 that no region or province could secede. The Court’s verdict of today declared the unconstitutionality of the referendum and the court also cancelled all results of the controversial vote, sparking outrage between Erbil and Baghdad. “The Federal Court issued the verdict to consider the Kurdish region’s referendum unconstitutional and this ruling is final” and “the power of this ruling should now cancel all the results of the referendum”, as a court spokesman said. The court is responsible for settling disputes between Iraq’s central government and regions including Kurdistan. Last week the Kurdistan Regional Government said it would respect the verdict that cannot be appealed.


Kurdistan: 92% voted “yes” for independence from Iraq


Initial results have shown that 92% of Kurdistan citizens support independence from Iraq, the autonomous region’s electoral commission said Wednesday as regional pressures mount from neighbors opposed to the secession plans. The Independent High Elections and Referendum Commission (IHERC)  said ‘Yes’ vote scored 92.73 percent, compared to only 7.27  of ‘No’ vote. The commission previously stated that the turnout for Monday’s referendum was 72.16 percent. The results announced come amid opposition from the Arab-led Iraqi government in Baghdad, the United Nations, the United States, the European Union and regional powers Iran and Turkey who view the move as untimely due to Iraq’s unfinished campaign to expel Islamic State militants.

Iraq’s top court orders suspension of Kurdistan independence referendum


Iraq’s Supreme Federal Court ruled on Monday (September 18) to suspend a referendum on independence of Kurdistan scheduled for September 25. A statement by the General Secretariat of Council of Ministers said the court had ordered the suspension of all activities related to the Kurdistan Region’s referendum until complaints claiming the vote would be unconstitutional have been heard. The court approved Prime Minister Haider al- Abadi’s demand to consider “the breakaway of any region or province from Iraq as unconstitutional”, his office said in a statement. Kurds are set to hold the referendum on September 25 but Baghdad opposes it, with lawmakers voting to reject it. Iraq’s neighbors, Turkey, Iran and Syria, also oppose the referendum, fearing it could fan separatism among their own ethnic Kurdish populations. High Referendum Council said on Sunday the process of referendum on independence of Kurdistan would continue, just few days after representatives from U.N., U.S., U.K., Germany and France suggested alternatives to postpone referendum.

Iraqi Parliament rejects Kurdistan independence referendum


Iraqi Parliament on Tuesday (September 12) voted to reject Kurdistan independence referendum scheduled for September 25. Iraqi Parliament rejected with a majority vote the referendum on independence of Kurdistan following a session on the issue. Parliament also authorized Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take all measures to preserve the unity of Iraq. A member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) bloc in Iraqi parliament, Mohammed Othman, told NRT that Kurdistan Region’s referendum was put in the parliament’s session on the request of 80 lawmakers. The decision to reject Kurdistan independence referendum was made without taking views of the Kurdish lawmakers, Othman added. He further aid Kurdish lawmakers left the session after the other members of Iraqi parliament did not listen to the Kurdish lawmakers, who called for a committee to tackle the issue.

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