Tag Archive | "Kurdistan"

The latest news from Kurdistan – security updates, reconstruction and more – brought to you by Iraq Business News

UN sees Improvements in KRI Human Rights


Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani today received Ivan Šimonović, the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights, and his accompanying delegation.

The delegation said that compared to their previous visit back in 2011, they noticed sound improvements made by the Kurdistan Region in the areas of diplomacy, foreign relations, infrastructure, a free press, freedom of speech, human rights, sheltering, women’s rights and combating violence against women.

They added that these developments as well as Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani’s role in bringing them about should be commended. Premier Barzani’s efforts are recognized and support by the international community, they said.

UN Assistant Secretary-General Šimonović highlighted the Kurdistan Region’s significant progress in terms of legislation, and said that more work could be done with respect to human rights. UN agencies are ready to run special workshops for the related KRG bodies, he said.

He also praised the government and people of Kurdistan for accommodating and aiding the displaced, saying that despite facing difficulties such as Baghdad withholding the KRG’s budget, they have embraced the displaced and refugees regardless of their religion, sect or ethnicity.

Mr Šimonović said that the delegation visited some camps where they spoke with displaced persons, who praised the KRG for providing them with security and stability, at a time when they wish to return to their homes but cannot due to the worsening security situation in their areas. More displaced and refugees are expected to come to the Kurdistan Region due to the dire situation in Syria.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the delegation for their visit, noting their feedback on the Kurdistan Region’s human rights situation and stressing that the KRG will support their steps. He asked the delegation to send any concerns, reports and violations in human rights to the KRG so that they can take the necessary measures to solve them.

Prime Minister Barzani reiterated that the KRG does not deny problems or failings, especially given the current circumstances. The KRG will spare no effort in solving them, and hopes to work on them with related UN agencies.

Prime Minister Barzani stressed that the KRG expects more support and serious efforts by the Iraqi government and the international community to better help the displaced and refugees, especially as winter approaches. He reiterated that despite the KRG’s limited capacity, it will continue to support the displaced. He added that the KRG will support Mr Abadi’s government and wishes to resolve all its ongoing disputes with Baghdad through dialogue.

(Source: KRG)

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Declaration of Commerciality on Khalakan Block


Range Energy Resources has announced that, on October 16, 2014, Gas Plus Khalakan (“GPK”), the sole contractor of the Khalakan Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, announced by press release that it has declared the Shewashan light oil discovery commercial under the terms of the Khalakan Production Sharing Contract (the “PSC”) and is preparing a Field Development Plan for submission to the Ministry of Natural Resources (“MNR”) of the Kurdistan Regional Government.

The Company is a 24.95% indirect shareholder of GPK through its ownership of 49.9% of the shares of New Age Alzarooni 2 Limited (“NAAZ2″). NAAZ2 owns 50% of the shares of GPK.

Toufic Chahine, the Chairman of the Company’s Board of Directors said:

“We are pleased to hear the news although the Company still hopes for more cooperation with our joint venture partners so that we could work together to achieve the best possible result for all.”

Range has no additional information on the extent of the discovery, including the number of barrels of oil that tests show can be produced from the Shewashan-1 well. Despite the favorable arbitration award that an arbitration panel issued last May that supports the Company’s right to obtain material information as to its investments in the Khalakan Block, neither NAAZ2 nor Black Gold Khalakan Limited, the other shareholder in NAAZ2, have complied with the arbitration award and provided Range with material information regarding the operations on the Khalakan Block.

The Company will continue to pursue its rights and remedies in an effort to obtain material information on Khalakan Block operations that it can report to its shareholders.

(Source: EIN)

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US Pledges Continued Support for Kurdistan


The United States and its allies will continue to provide support and assistance to the Kurdistan Region, a visiting US delegation told Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani yesterday.

The Prime Minister, along with a number of senior Kurdistan Regional Government officials yesterday in Erbil welcomed the United States Deputy National Secretary Advisor Anthony Blinken and his accompanying delegation.

During the meeting, both sides discussed the political developments and process in Iraq, the security situation across the region as well as the process of forming the new Iraqi government. The United States delegation thanked the Kurdistan Region for agreeing to participate in the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi’s new government.‎

Both sides also discussed the current security situation given the threat from Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) across Iraq, and agreed that given the urgency of the threat, there needs to be a joint plan by all sides inside Iraq who are fighting against ISIS coupled with cooperation with the international community. They also greed on the importance of the participation of Iraq’s Arab Sunnis and tribal forces in different areas so that ISIS terrorists can be defeated and routed out of the country.

The delegation praised the efforts of the Kurdistan Regional Government, the peshmerga and the Kurdish people who have demonstrated their resistance against ISIS. It also praised the peshmerga’s liberation of a number of areas that had been occupied by the terrorist organisation.

The US delegation said that the United States did not hesitate to help Kurdistan when it was under threat from ISIS and reiterated that the United States and its allies will continue to support and provide assistance to Kurdistan.

The two sides went on to discuss the humanitarian situation. The US delegation recognised the role of the KRG in embracing hundreds of thousands of displaced Iraqis as well as Syrian refugees, despite its limited resources, noting that the UN and other international organisations had praised the KRG for its cooperation in trying to manage this major humanitarian crisis.

The resistance against ISIS in Kobane was discussed in detail with the US delegation pledging to continue to provide air strikes to assist the Kurds fighting ISIS terrorists.

Regarding relations between Erbil and Baghdad, the Prime Minister said that the Kurds will participate in the government in Baghdad and work towards resolving the issues between both sides, particularly the budget, salaries as well as other issues that have been pending for too long.

Prime Minister Barzani thanked the delegation and conveyed the gratitude of the people and government of Kurdistan towards US President Barack Obama and the US government, saying that Kurdistan will not forget the friends who helped during this time of need.

The Prime Minister also pointed that the success of the political process in Iraq is the only way to eliminate the terrorist threat to the country. On this basis, the Kurdistan Region will participate in the Iraqi government and will do its best to help the country overcome this crisis and eliminate ISIS terrorists. He also asked the United States to support the dialogue between both sides so that the problems and obstacles can be overcome.

(Source: KRG)

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Call to help Abducted Yezidi Women


KRG officials call upon the international community to help abducted Kurdish Yezidi women

KRG officials seek international mobilization to consider the case of women abducted by ISIS terrorists. Following severe terrorists attacks against Kurdish Yezidi towns and villages in late July and early August, a large number of women and underage girls were abducted.

According to various accounts, the victims suffer physical, mental, and emotional trauma. They are forced into sexual slavery, tortured, and transferred from one place to another.

In a statement to KRG.org Dr Nazand Begikhani, senior advisor to the KRG Prime Minister for Higher Education and Gender Issues and member of the KRG Women’s Rights Board, said, “Local and international communities are now aware of these horrendous acts.”

She added, “These acts qualify as crimes against humanity, and they should be recognised as such by the United Nations and the International Criminal Court.”

Due to the military and security situation on the ground, precise information is not available regarding the number of victims and their whereabouts. Secretary General of the KRG High Council of Women’s Affairs, Pakhshan Zangana, told KRG.org that she estimates the number to be between 700 and 1000, based on accounts given by displaced Yezidi Kurds and other sources.

She said there are reports suggesting that the women are held at Badoush prison in Mosul, Talafar, and many others have been sent to Syria.

Dr Begikhani pointed out that these crimes are committed against women as a tactic of warfare, and there is a systematic strategy to abuse them. The tactic of abduction and sexual violence against women during conflict has been recognized as a threat to world peace and security by the United Nations Security Council in resolutions 1325 (2000) and 1820 (2008).

Action by KRG authorities

Dr Begikhani said, “The KRG has set up a task force which includes representatives from the Ministries of Justice, Interior, Labour and Social Affairs, and Martyrs and Anfal Affairs. The Prime Minister has also appointed a special envoy to Duhok [the governorate where most of the displaced people have taken refuge].

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ShaMaran Announces Rights Offer


By John Lee.

ShaMaran has announced that it will launch a CAD 75 million equity rights offering to its shareholders that is supported by a comprehensive equity support arrangement from major shareholders, Lorito Holdings, Zebra Holdings and Investments, and Lundin Petroleum B.V. (the ‘Standby Purchasers’).

The proceeds of this financing will augment the funding required for the development of ShaMaran’s oil discovery on the Atrush Block in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Pradeep Kabra (pictured), ShaMaran’s President and Chief Executive Officer, said:

“We are very pleased to enter into this equity offering with the support of the Standby Purchasers.

The financing is the result of a review of the Corporation’s future capital requirements to meet the forecasted funding requirements under the Atrush PSC, while allowing all shareholders the opportunity to participate in the growth of the Corporation’s assets.”

(Source: ShaMaran)

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Peshmerga: Iran set Ambushes for us


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

Iranian Peshmerga Chief: Iran set Ambushes for us

The head of the Iranian peshmerga said his forces acted in self-defense during rare clashes with Iranian forces on Sept. 13, which resulted in deaths on both sides.

No exact death toll has been released, but media reports said an Iranian commander and a peshmerga member were both killed in the fighting.

Speaking to Al-Monitor, Khalid Azizi, the secretary-general of the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan (KDPI), said Iranian troops set ambushes for his peshmerga forces, prompting a response from the Kurdish guerrillas. “The Iranian government set ambushes for them [the peshmerga], which triggered the fighting that led to the killing of Iranian soldiers and of one of our members,” he said.

The Iranian Kurdish leader said he was committed to resolving issues with Tehran peacefully, saying, “We cannot destroy the Islamic Republic of Iran and it cannot destroy us, therefore both sides have to find a solution for this issue one day.”

Azizi denied he came under pressure from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq to halt the fighting, but acknowledged, “We cannot use Kurdish lands [in Iraq] to launch attacks against Iran,” adding, “There is no doubt that we cannot ignore Erbil and Tehran’s interests, as the KRG and Iran have common borders and have to deal with each other, and we respect these relations. We will not conduct any armed attack against the Islamic Republic from the Kurdistan region of Iraq.”

The KDPI have not sent forces to help Iraqi Kurds battle the Islamic State, but are ready to help if they receive a request, Azizi said.

Azizi criticized the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) for moving its forces into Iraq without an official request from the KRG, and said it should pull its forces back to Turkey.

“Each part of Kurdistan has its own legal forces and peshmerga, and it is important not to create regional sensitivities here and there. If the PKK is indeed loyal to the other Kurdish parts, it should assist and support their parties without discrimination and without getting involved in the parties’ problems,” he said.

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DNO Increases Exports to Turkey


By John Lee.

In a market update this morning, Norwegian oil and gas operator DNO said it is logging the 834 meter horizontal section of the recently drilled Tawke-28 well and plans to place the well on production by early November. The next horizontal well in the field development program, Tawke-27, will spud shortly thereafter.

Elsewhere in Kurdistan, the Benenan-4 well has indicated higher volumes of oil in place in the Erbil license with movable Najmeh oil tested deeper than in previously drilled Benenan field wells. Further testing and evaluation are underway.

On the Dohuk license, DNO continues to re-assess the Summail field development plan in light of sharply declining gas production from the first two wells, one of which is now shut-in. A recently completed third well targeting deep gas did not encounter significant volumes of gas but instead discovered a 200 meter oil column in the Cretaceous interval by testing oil in the well’s three deepest zones. The Summail-1 well had earlier confirmed the presence of heavy oil in the Jurassic interval.

The company has taken steps to mitigate delays to its Tawke 200,000 barrel per day deliverability target resulting from the withdrawal of third party contractors from Kurdistan during the past few months. Installation of the new 24 inch pipeline connecting the Tawke field to Fish Khabur is proceeding and slated for completion by yearend. The new pipeline will increase export capacity and provide transportation system redundancy. Other upgrades to infrastructure and facilities to increase production and processing capacity at the Tawke field are progressing as planned.

Meanwhile, exports of Tawke oil to Turkey by the Kurdistan Regional Government for its own account currently average approximately 90,000 barrels per day. Local sales decreased to 29,960 barrels per day during the third quarter and currently average approximately 20,000 barrels per day.

(Source: DNO)

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Weekly Security Update, 07 – 13 October 2014


By Anne-Laure Barbosa at Constellis Consulting

Elevated levels of violence continued to be reflected in a high number of casualties, with at least 408 recorded deaths over the reporting period. While reporting remains interrupted in large swathes of the North, evidence of war crimes committed by Shia fighters against Sunni populations was described in a briefing released by Amnesty International on 14 October. Citing abductions and execution-style killings, the report reignites fears that Iraq’s cycle of violence may lead to a full remobilisation of extremist Shia militias and precipitate an all-out sectarian conflict comparable to the 2006-2007 civil war. Meanwhile, Turkey has agreed to provide military bases to the US and their allies. This decision follows international criticism with regards to Turkey’s reluctance to join the airstrike campaign initiated by the US and supported by a number of NATO and Arab countries. Despite the progressive organisation of the various forces joining the fight against ISIS in Syria and Iraq, ISF ground operations remained largely ineffective in attempting to reverse ISIS’s territorial gains. On the contrary, insurgents managed to consolidate their positions in Anbar, securing one of their main supply routes from Syria and increasing their areas of operations west of Baghdad. ISF’s lack of efficiency was coincident with a stagnant and divided political landscape, with opaque discussions towards filling the government’s key security positions failing to yield any result.

North

While the northern frontline remained largely stable, ISF counter-offensives conducted over the past weeks failed to deter ISIS from launching large-scale assaults against pro-government forces. The most deadly incidents occurred in Diyala, where a joint force of ISF and Kurdish soldiers attempt to contain and repel ISIS. On 12 October, a triple suicide bombing killed at least 26 Kurdish security forces in Qara Tappa, in the north-east of Baquba. The first bomber reportedly detonated an explosives vest at the gateway to a security compound, quickly followed by two suicide bombers who drove VBIEDs into the compound. At least 60 people were wounded in the attack, including a large number of civilians. Heavy clashes were also reported in the Sadia area, with a series of ISIS-led assaults and pro-government counter-attacks maintaining the territorial status quo. Intelligence sources reported that insurgents moved a large number of fighters to southern areas of Kirkuk, in preparation for an attack in the province. Militant activity was also recorded in districts north of Samarra, where most of the Shia volunteer units are stationed. Current dynamics indicate that important clashes should be confined to north-eastern districts over the next days, with the fronts in Nineveh and Salahuddin expected to remain stable.

Central

ISIS militants consolidated their positions in and around Hit, forcing Iraqi troops to retreat from their nearby training base on 13 October. The capture of this military camp is the latest blow to the ISF, which has abandoned several positions to ISIS in Anbar over the past weeks. ISIS is now in control of most of the territories between the Syrian border and Fallujah, confirming their grip on the western province and reinforcing their supply route from Syria. In this context, reversing territorial gains made by insurgents will be much more challenging. While the ISF remain in control of the strategic Ain al Assad base which protects the Haditha Dam, government forces reportedly evacuated several positions in Ramadi, where a roadside bomb killed Anbar’s police chief on 13 October. Prisoners were reportedly moved from Ramadi’s central prison to other facilities in Baghdad, in a bid to prevent a large-scale militant operation aimed at freeing inmates. Levels of violence in Baghdad remained aligned with previous averages despite an increase in VBIED assaults, with six car bombs recorded. These attacks killed at least 59 people and injured over 100. Levels of militant activity are expected to remain elevated over the next reporting period, with possible operations in Baghdad’s southern belt.

South

As previously assessed, the South-East avoided the series of low-impact VBIED attacks witnessed in the previous reporting period. Levels of violence continued to follow established patterns, with Babil’s northern districts concentrating the majority of militant incidents, and greater operational freedom translating in increased levels of criminality in the South-East. Recent weeks have seen displays of greater confidence from criminal gangs, resulting in an increase of kidnap-for-ransom incidents, particularly in Basra.  At least four kidnapping incidents were reported in Basra alone over the past week. As ISIS establish their presence in Anbar, neighbouring southern governorates could be exposed to increased levels of militant activity over the next weeks.

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