A picture taken on December 20, 2017 shows security forces riding in a vehicle as they chase down demonstrators in a street in the city of Raniya, 130 kilometres north of Sulaymaniyah in the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan region, as protests against political corruption raged for a third day despite a clampdown by security forces after five people were killed.
Protesters have unleashed their fury at all five of the autonomous Kurdish region's main political parties, not just the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) of former regional president Massud Barzani who organised the fateful poll for independence in September 2017 which drew sweeping reprisals from Baghdad and dealt a heavy blow to the region's already flagging economy. / AFP PHOTO / SHWAN MOHAMMED
Kurdish security forces riding in a vehicle as they chase down demonstrators in a street in the city of Raniya, 130 kilometres north of Sulaimaniyah, as protests against political corruption raged forShow more

Iraqi Kurdistan in disarray as ministers resign amid deadly protests



Two political parties have withdrawn from the Kurdish regional government in Iraq amid street protests over delayed salaries, poor services and rampant corruption.

Three ministers from the Change Party and two from the Islamic Group Party left the 21-minister cabinet on Wednesday, Sarwa Abdul-Wahid, who leads the Change Party bloc in the Iraqi parliament in Baghdad, told The Associated Press. The Change Party-affiliated regional parliament speaker and the head of the board of investment are also set to resign, she added.

Tension has been high in the region since the central government in Baghdad imposed tough measures in response to an independence referendum called by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) in which Kurds voted overwhelmingly to secede.

Mounting expectations coupled with an underwhelming post-referendum scenario fuelled a sense of exasperation among Kurds, and in recent days thousands have taken to the streets of Sulaimaniyah to protest. Five demonstrators are reported to have been killed and countless injured as Kurdish security forces made use of tear gas and fired live rounds to disperse stone-throwing crowds. Curfews have now been imposed in some cities.

____________

Read more:

____________

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, prime minister Nechirvan Barzani blamed external forces for the violence that has broken out in some parts of the region.

On Wednesday, the United Nations Assistance Mission for Iraq (Unami) released a statement calling for restraint and calm on all sides, as well as urging security forces to exercise maximum restraint and demonstrators to avoid any act of violence. The UN agency also emphasised the critical role of free and impartial media and urged the authorities to protect them. This follows the forced suspension of local outlet NRT because of their coverage of the demonstrations.

And as Iraq's autonomous Kurdish region continuous to descend into seemingly untameable chaos, its security forces have come under fire for their alleged mistreatment and disappearing of detainees.

Over 350 prisoners held by the KRG have been forcefully disappeared, said Human Rights Watch (HRW) on Thursday. Most prisoners are suspected ISIL-affiliated Sunni Arabs, displaced to Kirkuk or residents of the city.

The New York-based rights group suspects that the number of detainees disappeared is far higher.

The men are said to have vanished from detention centres following the Iraqi federal forces' retaking of Kirkuk from Kurdish Peshmerga forces on October 16. First hand accounts of the arrests recount late night raids carried out by armed men in black Asayish — Kurdish security — uniforms followed by complete lack of information on the whereabouts of their loved ones.

Although it is unclear where the men have been relocated to, sources point to the Kurdish-run Al Salam military base in Sulaimaniyah where Kurds are known to be running a number of informal detention facilities, sparking concern among human rights organisations and family members alike.

Recently released detainees of Al Salam are said to have reached out to the relatives of four disappeared prisoners to inform them that they had been in the same cells as their family members. The bulk of the disappeared are thought to be there, while a smaller number could be in the capital Erbil, HRW senior researcher Belkis Wille told The National. 

"The Kurds are holding so many Sunni Arabs they captured from camps and elsewhere. With the breakdown in relations between Baghdad and Erbil, loved ones will have a harder time visiting them or at the very least getting information about their well-being," said Ms Wille.

But these findings are not new to human rights organisations working in Iraq and Kurdistan, with past reports accusing the regional government of similar human rights breaches.

In 2007 HRW released a report entitled "Torture and Denial of Due Process by the Kurdistan Security Forces", in which the group highlighted prisoners' lack of access to lawyers and torture by Asayish members among other alarming findings. Ten years on, little has changed and in the aftermath of ISIL, Sunni Arabs have seemingly become the prime target.

"While I can't say anything categorically, I have been working on disappearances cases in the KRI (Kurdistan Region Iraq) and disputed territories for a while now and I have only come across two cases of Kurds who were disappeared; both times Kurds that grew up in Arab communities and did not speak Kurdish," said Ms Wille. "And the hundreds of other cases I have worked on have been mostly Arabs and some Turkmen,"

The hundreds of disappearances prompted a statement by Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi who called for an investigation into the disappearances.

The former head of the security committee of Kirkuk's provincial council, Azad Jibari, has denied that Kurdish forces played a role in kidnappings and forced disappearances.

"Generally across [areas controlled by] the Kurdistan Regional Government, authorities have been cracking down on critical free speech. Unfortunately with the current tensions as high as they are and fighting continuing between KRG forces and Baghdad we'll likely see a continued crackdown in the new year which will impact most acutely the media and civil society," said Ms Wille.

In its 2017 World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders ranked Iraq 158 out of 180 countries.

World Cup final

Who: France v Croatia
When: Sunday, July 15, 7pm (UAE)
TV: Game will be shown live on BeIN Sports for viewers in the Mena region

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Revibe
Started: 2022
Founders: Hamza Iraqui and Abdessamad Ben Zakour
Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
Funds raised so far: $10m
Investors: Flat6Labs, Resonance and various others

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

‘White Elephant’

Director: Jesse V Johnson
Stars: Michael Rooker, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: 3/5

The biog

First Job: Abu Dhabi Department of Petroleum in 1974  
Current role: Chairperson of Al Maskari Holding since 2008
Career high: Regularly cited on Forbes list of 100 most powerful Arab Businesswomen
Achievement: Helped establish Al Maskari Medical Centre in 1969 in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region
Future plan: Will now concentrate on her charitable work

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

INDIA'S TOP INFLUENCERS

Bhuvan Bam
Instagram followers: 16.1 million
Bhuvan Bam is a 29-year-old comedian and actor from Delhi, who started out with YouTube channel, “BB Ki Vines” in 2015, which propelled the social media star into the limelight and made him sought-after among brands.
Kusha Kapila
Instagram followers: 3.1 million
Kusha Kapila is a fashion editor and actress, who has collaborated with brands including Google. She focuses on sharing light-hearted content and insights into her life as a rising celebrity.
Diipa Khosla
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Diipa Khosla started out as a social media manager before branching out to become one of India's biggest fashion influencers, with collaborations including MAC Cosmetics.
Komal Pandey
Instagram followers: 1.8 million
Komal Pandey is a fashion influencer who has partnered with more than 100 brands, including Olay and smartphone brand Vivo India.
Nikhil Sharma
Instagram followers: 1.4 million
Nikhil Sharma from Mumbai began his online career through vlogs about his motorcycle trips. He has become a lifestyle influencer and has created his own clothing line.
Source: Hireinfluence, various

Kill Bill Volume 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Stars: Uma Thurman, David Carradine and Michael Madsen
Rating: 4.5/5

Blue Beetle

Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Stars: Xolo Mariduena, Adriana Barraza, Damian Alcazar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
Rating: 4/5 

Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Dubai Hurricanes

Runners up: Bahrain

 

West Asia Premiership

Winners: Bahrain

Runners up: UAE Premiership

 

UAE Premiership

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes

 

UAE Division One

Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II

 

UAE Division Two

Winners: Barrelhouse

Runners up: RAK Rugby

A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos