Iraqi Kurdistan / by Alistair Galloway

The Kurdistan Region’s ruling parties agreed to form a referendum committee. While no date is set, Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani hopes a vote regarding Kurdish independence will take place before the end of 2017. The head of the Shia Ruling Alliance of Iraq, thought by some Kurdish officials to be a supporter of the Kurdish cause, came out in support of Baghdad. Turkish military jets carried out strikes in northern Iraq and northeast Syria as a means to prevent the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) from sending terrorists, arms, and explosives to Turkey. Iraqi leaders as well as other prominent international political figures have claimed the strikes are a clear violation of Iraqi sovereignty even though Turkey claims the operation was within the scope of International Law. Relations are also a little tense with the Qatari government after they issued a complaint regarding millions of dollars wrongfully sized by Iraqi authorities. Iraq claims the funds, intended to be used to secure the release of Qataris kidnapped in 2015, were intended for armed groups within Iraq. Participation numbers for the Peshmerga have risen in the past 3 years since the war against the Islamic State (IS) first began. A senior Peshmerga official reported that the US State Department approved a $295.6 million weapons sale with aims to establish a unified wireless communication network. The Iraqi parliament will restore the Kurdish share of the health department’s medication and equipment budget after initially cutting them last month. The Jordan Hashemite Charity Organization (JHCO), in cooperation with the Jordan Armed Forces-Arab Army, sent a plane with humanitarian, medical, and in-kind ail to Iraq’s Kurdistan Region. The Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) resumed crude oil exports via the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline. Iraq sold its first cargo of Basra Light crude oil through an auction on the Dubai Mercantile Exchange underscoring Iraqi attempts to diversity its means of getting cash for crude oil. Iraq’s minister of Oil, Jabbar Luaibi, said that Iraq fulfilled its obligations to reduce oil output in accordance with the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) agreement by 97%. The third and final phase of work to expand Iraq’s southern Halfaya oil field was launched. The expansion project intends to double its output capacity in 2018 to 400,000 barrels per day. The Iraqi Ministry of Electricity has plans to import power for Mosul and surrounding areas from the Kurdistan Region. Iraq’s Ministry of Transportation banned all cargo planes bound for the Kurdistan Region from landing directly in Kurdistan however, they quickly repealed the decision. A delegation from the Kurdistan Parliament visited the European Parliament in Strasbourg after a request to meet by the Council of European Union and European lawmakers to discuss Kurdistan’s economic and political crises. Kurdistan’s Ministry of Agriculture plans to set up a company in the Kurdistan Region to manufacture tractors in an attempt to aid the Region’s farming industry.