Iraqi Kurdistan / by Alistair Galloway

Turkey continued air raids in Northern Kurdistan targeting the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). Kurdistan is experiencing a rise in illegal gun sales and violence amongst citizens thought to be due to the influx of weapons used in the fighting against the Islamic State (IS). The Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) was happy to report the death of a senior IS leader following airstrikes in Mosul. Towards the end of the month Baghdad experienced a string of suicide car bombs that left many injured as well as many fatalities. Iraq also faces non- military security threats such as the imminent deterioration of the Mosul dam which is need of urgent repair. If left neglected floodwaters would put millions at risk. Kurdistan continues to enrich its foreign diplomatic relations with a delegation traveling to Russia this month to both meet with President Vladimir Putin as well as attend the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). A new political party affiliated with the PKK was founded in the Shingal province of Kurdistan after requesting official recognition from Baghdad. Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan continue to be major suppliers of oil. It was revealed that OPEC’s newest production cut would not include oil exports from the Kurdistan region. Although the Iraqi government recently authorized a project in Kurkuk, Kurdistan is facing a suit by a consortium of companies seeking financial compensation for delayed project starts in oil fields. If they are not paid they may be able to seize Kurdistan’s assets. Iran and Kurdistan continue to have good relations after officials in Tehran stated they would be open to create an oil pipeline leading from Kurdistan to Iran as well as in addition recently opening a fourth international border crossing. Human rights in Iraq and the Kurdistan region continue to be a key focus for officials domestically as well as international organizations.