By John Lee.

The Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) has reportedly suspended oil exports to Iran.

According to Anadolu Agency, the KRG’s Ministry of Finance and Economy did not specify a reason for the move, and “it remains unclear whether the suspension is linked to U.S. sanctions on Iran.

(Source: Anadolu Agency)

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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

For about 10 years, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls Erbil and Dahuk provinces in Iraq, has enjoyed close working relations with the Turkish government on trade, energy and security. The main architect of this opening has been the KDP’s Nechirvan Barzani.

The KDP, unlike other Iraqi Kurdish groups, has also acted as a counterweight since the 1990s to the formidable Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerrilla movement — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s archenemy — by allowing Turkey to establish a number of military bases to monitor PKK activities.

However, Barzani, prime minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) since 2012, was not nominated by the KDP to form the next KRG Cabinet. This is causing Erdogan to worry about the fate of a 50-year secretive energy deal made with Barzani in 2014.

Click here to read the full story.

By John Lee.

The head of Iraqi Kurdistan’s Board of Tourism has reportedly said that tourism is expected to “approach” 15 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) by 2025.

Mawlawi Jabar Wahab told Rudaw that this would be roughly double the sector’s current size.

Visitor numbers are now beginning to climb once more, topping three million in 2018.

More here.

(Source: Rudaw)

The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in northern Iraq is torturing children to confess to involvement with the Islamic State (ISIS), according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Children told Human Rights Watch that in 2017 and 2018, security officers, known as Asayish, used beatings, stress positions, and electric shock on boys in their custody. Most said they had no access to a lawyer and they were not allowed to read the confessions Asayish wrote and forced them to sign.

More here.

(Source: HRW)

Fourth Deloitte report on Oil and Gas Review in the Kurdistan Region, Iraq – Q2 of 2018

Today, Regional Council for Oil and Gas Affairs has published new verified data on the Kurdistan Region’s oil exports, consumption and revenues, covering the period from 1 April 2018 to 30 June 2018, after a review of the sector by the international “Big 4” audit and consulting firm, Deloitte.

The Regional Council for Oil and Gas Affairs acknowledges the positive feedback received from stakeholders, including the international community, and reiterates its commitment to the people of Kurdistan that the two international audit firms, Deloitte and Ernst & Young, will continue to independently review the oil and gas sector, inclusive of all the streams.

As part of our arrangement with international auditing firms, it was agreed that both auditing firms will assist Kurdistan Regional Government in training and developing local resources. The Regional Council for Oil and Gas Affairs, in coordination with Deloitte, arranged a 3-days Oil and Gas training workshop, from 23-25 October 2018, which was attended by 15 participants from Board of Supreme Audit.

This was the first batch from Board of Supreme Audit receiving industry training and a plan is being prepared for more training of selected candidates from Board of Supreme Audit to equip-them with modern auditing techniques and oil and gas industry knowledge.

  1. Deloitte’s report for the second quarter of 2018 is accessible through this link (PDF), in Kurdish, Arabic and English.
  2. Frequently asked questions handbook (PDF) in Kurdish, Arabic and English to help readers better understand different sections of the report.

The report for Q1 can be found here.

(Source: KRG)

KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received Lebanese Minister of Foreign Affairs Gebran Bassil, Minister of State for Combating Corruption Nicolas Tueni, and their accompanying delegation.

In the meeting, also attended by Kurdistan Regional Government ministers and senior officials, they discussed the political situation in Iraq including the post-election process, and the formation of the new Iraqi government and new Kurdistan Regional Government cabinet.

Minister Bassil thanked the Kurdistan Regional Government for its assistance and support to the Lebanese community. He emphasized the desire of Lebanon to strengthen relations with the Kurdistan Region, especially in the fields of investment, trade, tourism and culture.

Prime Minister Barzani reaffirmed the KRG’s support to Lebanese businessmen and investors. He praised the activities of the Lebanese community in the Kurdistan Region.

The political situation in the wider region was also discussed.

(Source: KRG)

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

Intel: How the Barzanis are looking to consolidate power in Iraqi Kurdistan

Iraqi Kurdistan’s dominant clan announced today that it was nominating Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to succeed his uncle Massoud Barzani as president of the Kurdistan Regional Government. A spokesman for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) added that Massoud Barzani’s son, Masrour Barzani, the head of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, had been nominated to take over as prime minister.

The post of the presidency has remained vacant since Massoud Barzani stepped down following the ill-fated referendum on Kurdish independence in September 2017. But the elder Barzani continues to rule from behind the scenes.

Click here to read the full story.

Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani received the UK Prime Minister’s Trade Envoy to Iraq Baroness Emma Harriet Nicholson, UK Ambassador to Iraq Jon Wilks, and UK Consul-General to the Kurdistan Region Martyn Warr.

Baroness Nicholson welcomed the progress made in the dialogue between the Kurdistan Region and Baghdad to settle outstanding issues.

She also expressed her country’s desire to encourage British investors to invest in the Kurdistan Region, contribute to economic development of the Kurdistan Region and Iraq, and share expertise in modernizing various sectors.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the United Kingdom for its humanitarian and military assistance to the Kurdistan Region.

He highlighted the relations between Kurdistan and Baghdad, and affirmed that the KRG supports the new Iraqi Prime Minister, Mr. Adil Abdul Mahdi in restoring security and political stability of Iraq and developing its economy.

(Source: KRG)

Over seven million square meters in areas liberated from ISIS cleared of explosives

The Iraqi Kurdistan Mine Action Agency (IKMAA) has cleared 7,414,199 square meters in areas liberated from ISIS of explosive devices and difused 43,057 IEDs and UXO pieces, said Siraj Barzani, Head of IKMAA, in an interview with the Kurdistan Regional Government website.

From the 2014 ISIS onslaught until October 2017, three IKMAA units in Duhok, Erbil, and Germiyan, in cooperation with Peshmerga forces, started their plan to clear contaminated areas and raise public awareness of explosive devices.

Mr. Barzani said that poisonous chlorine gas bottles stockpiled by ISIS were also deactivated by an IKMMA team with the assistance and supervision of a special chemical weapons team from the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs and Ministry of Interior.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“IKMMA teams in liberated areas faced a variety of impediments, including fragile security, logistical issues, unsatisfactory information about areas and risks, pressure to hastily clear contaminated areas.”

With financial assistance from foreign governments, international NGOs – MAG, FSD, Handicap International, NPA, DDG, Sterling – participated in these clearing operations.

According to IKMMA, in 1991, 776 square kilometers of the Kurdistan Region were contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance, UXO, laid by former Iraqi regime forces, which has since decreased to 270 square kilometers, a reduction of 65 percent.

According to Mr. Barzani:

“From 1991 until October 2018, there have been 13,233 victims of landmines and other explosive devices. Today, there are fewer victims due to clearance operations and increased public awareness.’’

(Source: KRG)

By John Lee.

The Kurdistan Regional Government has reportedly started repaying its debts, clearing half of what it owes to private banks and 10 percent of what it owes contractors.

According to Rudaw, the KRG will now service its remaining debts every month.

KRG finance minister Rebaz Hamlan (pictured) told the news agency that the regional government has dedicated $100 million from its oil revenues to pay contractors in the Kurdistan Region.

Full story here.

(Source: Rudaw)