Iraqi Kurdistan / by Alistair Galloway

The question of Kurdish independence continues to be a key topic of debate in Iraq, amongst economic troubles, the care of IDPs and refugees, as well as the ongoing battle against Islamic State (IS). Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildrium met with President of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Masoud Barzani while visiting Iraq, to enhance ties between Turkey and the KRG. The KRG expressed discontent with the involvement of Baghdad backed Shi’ite Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) in the liberation of Kirkuk from IS. Several IS members were arrested which prevented a planned attack on the city of Kirkuk. Germany’s Parliament voted to extend training missions of Kurdish Peshmerga. US President Donald Trump signed an executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim countries, one of which is Iraq, from obtaining American visas. KRG President Barzani attended the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos Switzerland, where he met with various world leaders and discussed ending conflict in Iraq and Syria. Belgium and Japan both signed agreements looking to establish Consulate Generals in Erbil. The Kurdistan Ministry of Higher Education reported dropping enrolment rates at private higher education institutions. It also announced a scholarship program for Hungarian students to study in Kurdistan over the 2017-2019 academic years. Kurdish business leaders and officials expressed concerns over Baghdad imposed taxes on imports of foreign goods into Kurdistan, which has affected Turkish imports in the autonomous region. Norwegian gas and oil operator DNO announced the discovery of oil in Peshkabir-2 well’s Cretaceous Horizon in the Peshkabir field, which is currently being drilled in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. The KRG said it is close to resuming regular monthly payments to international oil companies as their depleted treasury is slowly restored. Truckloads of Kuwaiti medical aid weighing 10 tons arrived in Kurdistan to aid internally displaced Iraqis.

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