Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior member of Iran’s Expediency Council, rejected the notion that the Islamic Republic helped the central government in neighboring Iraq to take full control over the disputed region of Kirkuk, which was previously held by Kurdish Peshmerga forces.

“Iran has no role in the Kirkuk operation,” Velayati told reporters on the sidelines of his meeting with Special Envoy of France to Syria Franck Gellet in Tehran on Tuesday.

He further pointed to the independence referendum recently held in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan Region and said the majority of Iraq’s Kurdish people are opposed to the ambitions of Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) President Masoud Barzani.

“We saw that the region (Kirkuk) was captured by the Baghdad government almost without any clashes,” said Velayati, who is also an international adviser to the Leader of the Islamic Revolution.

Iraqi forces completed an operation to take control of all oil fields operated by state-owned North Oil Company in the Kirkuk region on Tuesday, according to a senior military officer.

They took control of the Bai Hasan and Avana oil fields northwest of Kirkuk on Tuesday, after seizing the Baba Gurgur, Jambur and Khabbaz fields on Monday, he said, Reuters reported.

Oil officials in Baghdad said all the fields were operating normally.

The fields were previously held by Kurdish Peshmerga forces, but they pulled out of the area in the face of an advance by forces of the Iraqi central government.

Tuesday’s deployment of Iraqi government forces in Dibis, where Bai Hasan and Avana are located, is part of an operation ordered by Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to take control of Kurdish-held areas outside the three provinces that form Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish region.

The latest incidents come amid simmering tensions between the central government in Baghdad and the KRG over a recent controversial referendum on the secession of the semi-autonomous Iraqi Kurdish region.

The plebiscite took place on September 25, sparking strong objection from Baghdad. Iraq’s neighbors and the international community also voiced concerns about the repercussions of the vote, which was only supported by Israel.

Kirkuk, with some 10 percent of Iraq’s oil reserves, has long been contested by Baghdad and Erbil.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

By , for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iran and the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in Iraq have historically been on good terms. During the Saddam Hussein years, Iran was one of the main countries to host Kurdish leaders. In the post-Saddam era, Tehran and Erbil have enjoyed good neighborly relations.

This relationship manifested itself in Iranian forces coming to the rescue of the Kurdish regions in their fight against the Islamic State (IS) in the summer of 2014. However, the recent independence referendum in the KRG has angered Tehran, and it is clear that the Kurdish moves will impact on both bilateral ties and wider regional alignments.

One important aspect to consider when assessing the fallout between Iran and the KRG following the independence vote is the economic dimension of their relationship in the geostrategic context of Iranian concerns.

Iran and the KRG have a multilayered relationship; most importantly, it is not all driven by the government. On the one hand, there are various trade links between the two sides, starting from very active border markets up to cross-border trade and investment.

There are five border markets between Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan. Prior to the recent events, there were plans to expand such entities to create jobs and also shift the unofficial trade toward official channels. In fact, the KRG is an important market for Iranian exporters. The trade volume between the two sides amounted to $8 billion in 2014, which made Iran the KRG’s second-largest trading partner, after Turkey.

In recent years, Iranian exports to the Kurdistan Region have dropped due to the conflict against IS. Yet, according to Kurdish sources, the trade volume between Iran and the KRG stood at $4 billion in 2016. This means that approximately 40% of the Iran-Iraq trade goes through the KRG.

Security experts for the {morning}: move the government {positive step}


Baghdad / Omar Abdul Latif
Security experts expressed their support for the federal government’s efforts to redeploy security forces in all areas, including Kirkuk, as a "positive step" to extend the rule of law on all Iraqi soil and restore the prestige of the state and preserve the unity of the country.

The security expert Hisham al-Hashimi said that "the operation was launched to secure the districts of Tuzharmatu, Daqouq and Dibs, control of the oil fields in Bai Hassan and Baba Karkar, and re-control of the base of Ki One, Kirkuk airport, southern Kirkuk and Lilian."

"Until now, the federal forces have not fully exercised their control over the official facilities and have not achieved all their objectives," he said. "The objectives achieved were to control large areas of Dibs, Tuzhermato and Tal al-Ward."

While a member of the security committee in Kirkuk province Ali Mahdi stressed the need to maintain security and stability in the province without shedding one drop of blood.

Mahdi said in an interview with al-Sabah that he hoped that the regional government would correct its mistake and revert to the national constants adopted by the federal government in a way that avoids the citizens’ military clashes near their homes and in safe cities.

While the security expert Abdul Karim Khalaf, that "the goal of the movements of the state of the redeployment of federal forces in Kirkuk extended the powers of the Federal Constitutional Government to the three provinces of the region (Sulaymaniyah, Erbil and Dohuk) to ensure the implementation of law and order and the application of financial control and integrity and accountability and justice and control of sites Sovereign, airports, borders, ports and customs, "noting that all this must be borne by the province and meet its obligations to the state.

As for the security expert, Safa al-Aasem, he saw that "the federal government began to apply the Constitution in the province of Kirkuk after it saw that all that is happening is outside the controls and laws," noting that the security forces deal with "sons of astray" may return to their

The political analyst, Basil al-Kazimi, pointed out that the religious authority and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi wanted Iraq to remain united and stood against division, sectarianism and racism.

By John Lee.

Iraq is reportedly considering using security forces to prevent Kurdistan from blocking oil output from Kirkuk.

A spokesman for the North Oil Company (NOC) told Reuters that Kurdish officials indicated that they would shut down production at the Kirkuk oilfield, ostensibly for security reasons, but as a means of putting pressure on Baghdad.

Kirkuk produces around 200,000 barrels per day, out of total Kurdish production of over 600,000 bpd.

More from Reuters here.

(Source: Reuters)

Al-Abbadi: The region must abide by the constitution before any dialogue


Baghdad / Sabah / Omar Abdul Latif
renewed the government yesterday adherence to the Constitution and national constants, calling on the Kurdistan region to adhere to them before entering into the details of any dialogue.

The government’s assurances came after the Dokan meeting between the leaders of the Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which announced its refusal to cancel the results of the illegal referendum in an irresponsible position may be the situation, according to observers, who also described the step "undisciplined."

The office of Prime Minister Dr. Haider Abadi said that Article 143 of the Constitution set the mandate of the central government on the disputed areas, including Kirkuk.

"There is no dialogue with the Kurdistan region before it recognizes national sovereignty and the commitment to the unity of Iraq," spokesman Saad al-Hadithi told a news briefing on Sunday.

He stressed that "the need to adopt the Constitution as a basis for dialogue and to be compatible outputs with the provisions of the Constitution," noting that "dialogue before the referendum is not as after and must be the local government in the Kurdistan region to abide by the Constitution and national constants before entering into the details of any dialogue."

He pointed out that "the referendum showed the existence of an attempt to separatist trend and the local government in the region to provide a guarantee not to repeat these endeavors in the future," noting that "the federal government is bound by the Constitution to impose security and protect citizens in all parts of Iraq without exception."

The federal government has conditioned the acceptance of Kurdistan package "national constants" in exchange for the start of dialogue with the region and resolve the crisis that erupted after the last referendum on secession.

The spokesman also denied the Prime Minister to set a deadline for the Peshmerga forces for withdrawal from the province of Kirkuk, and said: "There is nothing to confirm that we gave a deadline and these conversations are launched by leaders in the Peshmerga."

He explained that "the Iraqi federal forces must redeploy, and do so at this time in the province of Kirkuk and the areas where it existed before June 10, 2014, that is before the pre-emptive control of these areas."

In Dokan Sulaymaniyah, the official of the General Assembly of the Political Bureau of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Mullah Bakhtiar on Sunday that "during the meeting today (yesterday) to agree on 5 points between the Patriotic Union and the Kurdistan Democratic Party and sent to Baghdad.

"We will not retreat from the results of the referendum under any pressure but we are ready for dialogue," he said, adding that "there are proposals on how to resolve the situation in Kirkuk, and gave the necessary powers to persons who have contacts with the President Minister Dr. Haider Abadi. "

Bakhtiar said that "closing the border crossings will not solve the problem and not the political process, he said The
points agreed during the meeting are:

1.Confirmation on the unity of the Kurdish row

2. Kurdish forces ready for an open dialogue unconditional in accordance with the interests of Baghdad and Arbil and the principles

3. It is in the interest that the main political forces participate in the political negotiations between Baghdad and Erbil

4. The meeting considers it necessary for the Iraqi and Kurdish parties to participate in the negotiations between Erbil and Baghdad under the supervision of the international bodies.

5. Rejection of all kinds of military interventions and threats that threaten the relations between the region and Baghdad and consider them a violation of the Constitution and laws that refuse to use force in resolving internal conflicts.

It is noteworthy that the political offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, met on Sunday, in Dokan in the presence of President Fuad Masum, and the outgoing Kurdistan Regional President Massoud Barzani.

A presidential statement received by Al-Sabah said that the President of the Republic had discussed with the General Coordinator of the Change Movement, Mr. Omar Said Ali, and his delegation "on the overall situation on the ground, particularly the strained relations between the federal government and
Kurdistan Regional Government ."

At the meeting, which was held at the infallible residence in Sulaymaniyah, "the necessity of concerted efforts to calm the situation and work on the preparation of political climates to establish dialogue and peaceful resolution of the current issues between the two sides to reach realistic understandings that will contribute to preserving national gains The Iraqi people with all its components. "

For his part, the General Coordinator of the Change Movement expressed his "support for the efforts made by the President infallible in these difficult times to solve the problems between the federal government and Kurdistan Regional Government."

In turn, counting the head of the Iraqi group for strategic studies and confident Hashemi Kurdish leaders refused to cancel the results of the referendum "a step not considered."

Al-Hashemi told al-Sabah that "this does not convince the Baghdad government, but what is important in the matter is the conviction of the issue of participation in the administration of Kirkuk, and the status of oil, as well as a lot of things that stood a barrier between the parties and demanded by the Baghdad government in the past, By those leaders. "

Hashemi expected that "there will be more decisive actions by the Iraqi government towards the Kurdistan region."

Iran reported to have shut crossing with Kurdish region; subsequently denied by Iran

Reports on October 15 claimed that the Iranian authorities shut a main border crossing with the Kurdish region amid increased tensions.

Ali Tawfiq, director of the terminal in Sulaimaniyah province reported that the main border crossing at Bashmaq had been closed by the Iranian authorities; he added that no reason has been cited for the Iranian move.

Iran has three main official crossings with the Kurdish region; Haji Omaran in Erbil Province and Parwezkhan, and Bashmaq in Sulaymaniyah province.

Reports later on October 15 claimed that Iran’s Foreign Ministry subsequently denied reports that Tehran had closed its border crossings with the Kurdish region.

(Source: GardaWorld)

Erbil: Five conditions to end the crisis with Baghdad

Erbil, on Saturday, the government of Baghdad five conditions to resolve financial and oil problems between Iraq and the Kurdistan region, most notably the allocation of 17% of Iraq’s oil to the region.

The Ministry of Natural Resources in the region, in a statement seen by "Sky Press," that "we put five conditions for the solution of financial and oil problems between Baghdad and Erbil, and the first requirement is to pay the federal government all the salaries of service departments of the provincial government and Peshmerga, police and Asayish, Billion Iraqi dinars. "

The statement added that "the second condition is to allocate 17% of the Iraqi oil products to the Kurdistan region for internal use and power stations," adding that "the third condition includes the allocation of 17% of the operating budget in addition to the budget allocated to salaries."

Regarding the fourth condition, the ministry demanded "guarantees from the Iraqi government to provide financial benefits to international companies that invest in the oil sector in the region according to the contracts concluded."

The ministry said in its fifth condition, that "the federal government can allocate 17% of the total Iraqi oil products to the Kurdistan region, while the Government of the Territory to implement the other paragraphs relating to the allocation of salaries and budget."

The head of the Justice Coalition in the region, "Barham Saleh," revealed yesterday evening, the approval of the authorities of the Kurdistan region to freeze the results of the referendum in Kurdistan, which was held in late September.

Agility has opened a state-of the-art training facility, known as the Center of Excellence, at the Rumaila Energy Park in southern Iraq.

In partnership with Strategic Analytics Team (SAT), the Center of Excellence offers training courses for the local workforce in the oil and gas industry, led by internationally accredited trainers.

Training covers a wide variety of topics, including health and safety, lifting and hoisting, defensive driving and logistics solutions. With SAT’s expertise in the field of operational logistics, courses will meet international oil and gas industry standards and focus on developing accredited local content, while enhancing the capabilities of Iraq-based contractors.

The Rumaila Energy Park is a one million-square meter, fully serviced industrial park developed by Agility Real Estate to provide a one-stop-shop for companies operating in southern Iraq. The park includes warehouse facilities, workshops, lay-down yards and offices. It is strategically close to the region’s major oil and gas subcontractors.

The inauguration was attended by representatives from oil and gas companies and academic institutions, as well as Iraqi government officials.

Colin Hindley, CEO, Agility Iraq, said:

“The Center of Excellence is part of Agility’s ongoing commitment to building Iraq’s infrastructure and human capital. We are strongly committed to building local capacity in our areas of operations, and this new center is part of this strategy.”

Paul Jorgensen, Senior Partner, Strategic Analytics Team, said:

Our partnership with Agility makes the Center of Excellence the first of its type in the Gulf region. At SAT, we take pride in our knowledge and skills in the logistics business, and we are in a unique position to impart the same to aspiring professionals seeking further development.

“This is a very exciting opportunity for both SAT and Agility. With a fully developed culture of learning in an open environment that enables access to the latest information and technological innovations, we want the Center of Excellence to become the go-to resource for both logistics companies and students.”

Agility Iraq has offices in Basra, Baghdad, and Erbil, serving international airports and the ports of Umm Qasr and Khor Al Zubair.

Agility’s operations include freight forwarding (air, ocean, road), cross-border trucking, customs clearance, project logistics, open yard/warehousing distribution, approved HSSE training and route surveys. All of Agility’s operations in Iraq are ISO 9001, ISO 14000, OHSAS 18001-certified.

(Source: Agility)

Barzani’s party sets a condition for resuming its participation in parliamentary sessions

The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) on Wednesday called for the participation of its bloc in the Iraqi parliament by committing the Iraqi government to conducting an unconditional dialogue and stopping what he called the policy of "punishing" the region, stressing the importance of unity of the position of the Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament.

The Office of the Deputy Chairman of the Kurdistan Democratic Party in a statement, seen by "Sky Press," that "the office of the Vice-President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party met with the Kurdistan Democratic Party bloc of the Iraqi parliament," stressing "the need for serious dialogue between Baghdad and Erbil."

He added that "the meeting decided to share the Kurdistan Democratic Party in the meetings of the Iraqi parliament subject to the acceptance of the Iraqi government to conduct an unconditional dialogue and stop the policy of punishing the Kurdistan region," stressing "the importance of unity of the position of the Kurdish blocs in the Iraqi parliament on all issues.

The statement accused some blocs and members of the Iraqi parliament of "meeting to punish the members of the Kurdish blocs in violation of the Constitution and laws," and called for "the need to stop these procedures because the history proved failure to try to punish the people of Kurdistan and its representatives."

It is worth mentioning that the Prime Minister, "Haider Abadi," pledged to impose "the rule of Iraq" in all areas of the Kurdistan region by what he called "the power of the Constitution," while stressing that his government will defend the Kurdish citizens inside and outside the region.

By John Lee.

Mobile phone operators based in Iraqi Kurdistan have reportedly been told by the Iraqi government to move their headquarters to Baghdad, following the region’s recent vote for independence.

Asiacell is based in the Kurdish city of Sulaymaniyah, while Korek is based in Erbil; Zain, however, is based in Baghdad.

According to a report from Reuters on Tuesday, neither Asiacell nor Korek has received any formal demand to move.

(Source: Reuters)