tag ‘Irak’
Fight the Secularists April 13, 2014 | 10:26 am

Kadhem al-Haeri, a cleric who has close ties with the Islamic Dawa Party and the Iranian regime, issued a fatwa March 30 banning the election of secular candidates in the upcoming elections. Large banners were hung in many areas of Baghdad and included a picture of the marja (spiritual guide) and the signature of the party’s office. The banners read: “It is forbidden to elect secular candidates.” The banners, hung late in March, are still present in some areas in Baghdad. (…)

Misleading stereotypes about secularism pave the way in Iraq for religious parties. Secularism is depicted as going against religion and threatening to ban the religious freedoms Shiites acquired after the fall of Hussein. Many also believe that since the old regime was secularist, any call for secularism means a return to the previous era — even though the idea that the previous regime was secular is totally wrong.

It is striking that extremist Sunni and Shiite religious movements, regardless of their differences and religious conflicts, are united over opposing secularists, which results in the latter being threatened by terrorist groups, militias and even the government itself. While the government disregards the sectarian statements of some of its members, it issued arrest warrants against secularists for criticizing the government’s underachievement and inclination toward sectarian approaches.

A day to remember April 8, 2014 | 10:02 pm

Today we joyfully remember the 11th anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam regime! Liberation day is a nation-wide holiday commemorating the day when the American-led forces finally freed Iraq from the Baathist tyranny.

Saddam statue down

To appreciate the date, imagine what it must have meant for an area like Halabja. From 1980 on the town was shelled by the Iranians. It became a war zone. People gradually became used to the hardships and miseries of war. They learned how to survive and developed strategies how to escape the attacks: One of the best options was to hide in the basements. In March 1988 Iranian troops together with Kurdish Peshmerga succeeded to capture the town. The former attackers became the new protectors. But only three days later Saddam’s troups bombarded the town with poison gas. Shortly before the attack the people were warned through public loudspeakers. They expected “just” another bombardment. Many fled in the mountains, and many hid in the basements, as usual. But this time this was a fatal decision. Poison gas is heavier than air, it concentrated on the ground. Countless were killed in the cellars, and countless in the streets.

The whole town became a prohibited zone for more than two years. Only in 1991 it was reopened and the remaining survivors returned. Still they managed to survive, although there were no intact houses, no clean water, no clean food, no electricity, and not even medical service which was desperately needed given all the people suffering from the various late-time effects of the poison gas. Then in 1993 the civil war between the two major Kurdish factions began. Halabja was one of the epicenters of the fightings. When the civil war ended in 1997, a radical Islamist group named Ansar al-Islam took over the area and continued their brutal and crazy reign until they were finally ousted by the invading American troups in 2003. It is only 11 years that the region has been living without war and constant fear. We remember.

Failure to intervene will have terrible consequences, says Blair April 8, 2014 | 12:47 pm

The world will face terrible consequences over many years to come for failing to intervene in Syria, Tony Blair has said. The former prime minister, who serves as the envoy for the Middle East quartet of the UN, US, EU and Russia, said the failure to confront President Bashar al-Assad would have ramifications far beyond the region.

Speaking on the Today programme on Radio 4 on Monday, he said: “We have not intervened in Syria. The consequences are, in my view, terrible and will be a huge problem not just for the Middle East region, but for us in the years to come.”

Blair advocated military action against the Assad regime after a sarin gas attack on the Ghouta district, near Damascus, last August killed between 350 and 1,400 people. His stance placed him on the same side as David Cameron, who wanted to join the US in launching an attack on the Assad regime, but highlighted differences with Ed Miliband, who was highly sceptical about military intervention.

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Iranian Influence in Iraq April 7, 2014 | 05:40 pm

Americans often either over-or understate Iran’s influence in Iraq.  Iran wields considerable influence in Iraq, unquestionably more than any other foreign country and far more than the United States.  It was Iran that ultimately engineered Nuri al-Maliki’s re-election as prime minister in 2010 by strong-arming the Sadrists to back him.  It was the Iranians who preserved his rule in 2012 by convincing Jalal Talabani to refuse demands to call for a vote of no-confidence—a vote that Maliki seemed likely to lose.  There are myriad other ways in which Iran wields influence and has demonstrated that sway in Iraq.

However, Iranian influence in Iraq is ultimately limited.  It cannot be said often enough that Maliki himself is NOT an Iranian puppet.  He dislikes and distrusts the Iranians, and sees himself as a nationalist who would like to free Iraq from Iran’s clutches.  The most important thing Nuri al-Maliki ever did as prime minister was to order (against American advice) Operation Charge of the Knights in the spring of 2008, by which American-backed Iraqi forces smashed Sadr’s Iranian-backed Jaysh al-Mahdi and drove it from Iraq.  At the time, it was a crippling blow to Iranian interests in Iraq.


Iraqi Envoy Calls on U.S. to Strengthen Relationship April 4, 2014 | 08:42 pm

The ambassador, Lukman Faily, emphasized in an interview that he was not advocating a resumed American military presence in Iraq — “no boots on the ground,” he repeated.

But Mr. Faily also said that the United States should be more generous in providing other forms of assistance to Iraq, including greater intelligence sharing about security threats; more people-to-people exchanges in fields like culture, education and health care; and expedited delivery of billions of dollars in weapons and equipment that the Iraqi government has ordered.

“The United States has an opportunity to strengthen its relationship, in cementing what you already started in democratization and development,” Mr. Faily said. “You have already invested in Iraq. You have already had your boys shed blood in Iraq. We have already shed our own blood, and we have already invested heavily in our own country.”


Heirat mit neun March 28, 2014 | 11:38 pm

Wie in fast allen von Islamisten entworfenen Gesetzesnovellen geht es um die Entrechtung von Frauen und Mädchen. Da die Fadhila treu der in der Shia dominanten jaafarischen Rechtsschule folgt, fordert sie die Herabsetzung des Heiratsalters von Mädchen auf neun Jahre, denn so alt war Mohammeds Lieblingsfrau Aisha, als der Prophet mit ihr »die Ehe vollzog«. Außerdem soll Vergewaltigung in der Ehe legalisiert und Scheidung für Frauen verunmöglicht werden, außer sie können Impotenz ihres Mannes nachweisen. Ist die Ehefrau zu jung oder zu alt, um ihrem Mann sexuell zu Diensten zu sein, soll dieser von seiner Unterhaltspflicht befreit werden. Insgesamt 254 auf Lehren des Imam Jaafari gestützte Paragraphen enthält das Machwerk, mit dem künftig das Leben der irakischen Schiitinnen und Schiiten reguliert werden soll.

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Silent Revolution March 27, 2014 | 08:53 pm

Her Report portraing Wadi’s Iraq Co-ordinator Falah Murad:

Falah Murad Shakarm is a founder of the Zhyan group that endeavors to shed light on women’s issues in Iraqi Kurdistan, and particularly focuses on the eradication of honor killings. “In the last two years we organized more than 30 protests and public meetings for raising awareness about women’s rights,” he said. “Today 26-3, when I’m busy answering you, I presented a case in court on behalf of the Zhyan group [in which a] husband killed [his wife] after he was released with [a pardon] decree in 2012.”

If there is hope for Kurdish women, it lies with activists like Falah Murad Khan Shakarm. He’s lived through all of the March’s, surviving the March 1988 chemical bombings in Halabja and the March 1991 uprising against Saddam Hussein in Rania. He’s lived through this March, hoping for women’s rights with the Nawroz New Year, and he’ll be fighting next March, and every month in between.

“I think women in Kurdistan started their silent revolution against all back-worded morals and the patriarchal system…but I see hope and people now are more educated,” he said. Still, he continued, “Women in Kurdistan, Iraq and all of the Middle East need freedom, respect and they need to be accepted us human beings. They need an environment with rule of law to protect them and they need to be present in all fields of life. They need an independent economy and less of a patriarchal system.”


An zweiter Stelle March 25, 2014 | 12:56 am

Seit Monaten herrscht im sog. sunnitischen Dreieck des Iraks ein erbitterter Krieg zwischen den Jihadisten vom Islamischen Staat (ISIL), irakischen Regierungstruppen und lokalen Milizen. Mit den üblichen Folgen, über die nur niemand mehr redet:

Iraq now has the second highest number of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Middle East, after Syria, with a total of more than 1.1 million registered IDPs. Most have escaped due to conflict, political strife and forced evictions on sectarian or ethnic grounds.More than two months of military operations inside Anbar have resulted in thousands of additional Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that have been forced to leave their homes in search of peace and security. Violence inside the province has even resulted in multi-displacement as many families that had made the difficult decision to leave home, were subsequently confronted by new outbreaks of fighting between militants and Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) and were forced to once again relocate in search of sanctuary in another area of Anbar. (…) The majority of these families (48,243) are displaced inside Anbar and the remaining families (20,068) are now located in other governorates, including large numbers in Salaheddin (8,745), Kirkuk (1,304), Baghdad (3,627) and the Iraqi Kurdistan region (5,331).

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant March 23, 2014 | 10:59 am

Aus dem Irak

The so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Levant’ (ISIL) has conducted a series of attacks and car bombings in different areas in Iraq. In the last few days, ISIL took control over suburban areas of Salahadeen, Kirkuk and Diyala. In their attacks, ISIL killed high-level Iraqi police officers and exploded two bridges in Diyala and Salahadeen. The Iraqi Army has failed to confront the ISIL attacks and, moreover, ISIL is now controlling more villages in areas disputed between Erbil and Baghdad. (Quelle)

Aus Syrien

Members of the al-Qaeda splinter group of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) executed on Saturday a young man in the city of Raqqa, and placed his body on a wooden cross in the main square of the city.

After executing the young man, ISIL group placed his dead body on a cross and issued a statement that the he will remain in that position for three days. (Quelle)

…. über Leichen gegangen March 21, 2014 | 11:44 am

In Irak, in Libyen und, wie jetzt feststeht, auch in Syrien, sind deutsche Kaufleute buchstäblich über Leichen gegangen, und immer waren deutsche Nachrichtendienstler informiert. Nicht über alles, sondern über manches oder über vieles. Die Lieferungen hat das nicht verhindert. Es gibt den Verdacht, dass einige Lieferungen quasi unter staatlicher Aufsicht liefen. (…)

Alles lang her, alles ganz aktuell. Auf die Frage, was ist, wenn der Staat viel weiß und nichts tut, gibt es auch im Fall Syrien noch immer die alten Antworten. Seine Quellen stelle der Dienst aus “prinzipiellen Gründen” nicht zur Verfügung, sagt ein Nachrichtendienstler. Die zuständigen Stellen würden zwar informiert, aber der Dienst habe keine eigenen “exekutiven Befugnisse”. “Der Dienst identifiziert sich nicht mit dem, was die Quellen machen”. Manche Quelle sei eben trüb. Und manchmal vergeht über all den Rechtfertigungen so viel Zeit, dass keiner mehr was machen muss.


Why are so many Kurdish women setting themselves on fire? March 20, 2014 | 12:16 pm

The Economist runs an article about women comitting suicide in Iraqi-Kurdistan and quotes Falad Murad Shakaram, Wadi’s Iraqi project coordinator:

ON MARCH 8th, while the world celebrated International Women’s Day to recognise progress in women’s rights, two women in Iraqi Kurdistan set themselves on fire. Self-immolation as a dramatic and deadly form of protest by women is known across the Middle East, from Egypt to Pakistan. But it has become alarmingly common in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq. By some estimates self-burning has claimed the lives of as many as 10,000 women, including girls as young as 13, since the region gained autonomy in 1991.

 “I can say it has happened in every family,” says Falah Muradkan-Shaker of the Kurdish NGO WADI, which tries to tackle violence against women in all its forms. The phenomenon can only be understood in the wider context of women’s rights in Kurdistan, he says. Survivors of self-burning often explain that they felt trapped in traditional, arranged marriages, which in some cases means they were betrothed at birth to cousins or tribal kinsmen. A majority have also faced some form of domestic violence whether by fathers, husbands, or in-laws.

Honour killings by male family members are still common in Kurdistan, despite laws aimed to protect women. Mr Muradkan-Shaker says this leads many Kurdish women to view their families not as protectors but as “people who might attack you at any minute.” Unable to leave abusive marriages for fear of being killed by their partners or families, and without government support for vulnerable women, victims turn to suicide. “She feels she is dead,” Mr Muradkan-Shaker explains. “So she says, ‘I’m already dead; let’s make the process faster.’”

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Halabja past and future March 16, 2014 | 01:45 pm

Remember #Halabja 26 years ago. Well tended mass graves- Just like the ones we will see in Syria 26 years from now.

( Via John Wreford)

Halabja Day March 16, 2014 | 11:03 am

Finanznöte March 14, 2014 | 11:04 am

Kurdistan Parliament member Ezat Ismail, PUK fraction, has said that the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) financial crisis will continue for years as government deficit is skyrocketing each year. The MP said that, even if Baghdad sends the money that’s due every month, the KRG still can’t afford to meet the payments and will need loan. At the same time, the Kurdistan Contractors Union warned KRG officials that the payment crisis that will jeopardize the future of investment projects. The Union stated that KRG’s current obligation in unpaid salaries already exceeds $1 billion.


Crime against Humanity March 10, 2014 | 04:52 pm

A new law recently approved by the Iraqi cabinet would permit the marriage of nine-year-old girls.

Based on Shiite Islamic jurisprudence, the new legislation also asserts a husband’s right to insist on sexual intercourse with his wife whenever he wishes, and makes the father sole guardian of his children at age two.

On Saturday, International Women’s Day, a group of Iraqi women demonstrated in Baghdad against the new legislation:

“On this day of women, women of Iraq are in mourning,” the protesters shouted.

“We believe that this is a crime against humanity,” said Hanaa Eduar, a prominent Iraqi human rights activist.


8th of March Demonstrations in Iraqi Kurdistan focusing on Honor Killings March 9, 2014 | 12:01 pm

8th of March Demonstration in Suleymaniah

On International Women’s Day, the 8th of March,  Zhyan group, a Suleymaniah based network of Women Right’s organizations WADI is a founding member of, organized a couple of protests and demonstrations.

They first gathered in Said Sadeek, a town south of Suleymaniah, to commemorate two girls, who recently became victims of a so called honor killing. Thousands of women in Iraqi Kurdistan were killed during the last decade, Zyhan criticized,  while the Government does not investigate properly. Although the Kurdish Parliament issued a progressive law against all forms of domestic violence in 2011 police and prosecutors do fail to implement it. Therefore Zyan blamed the government of being responsible for the killings. In January they submitted a list of demands to the government on how so called honor killings and other forms of violence against women should be combated, but till now not even got a reply.

In the afternoon Zhyan called for a protest march in Suleymaniah. Hundreds of demonstrators joined while members of various organizations and MPs gave speeches.

More pictures

Support for the Implementation of Law Nr. 8 to Combat Violence against Women in the Kurdish Region March 4, 2014 | 12:32 am

With support from the US consulate in Erbil, WADI implemented a three-months project to support the implementation of law No. 8 which outlaws violence against women in the Kurdish Region of Iraq.

During the project two publications and a special calendar were produced which aimed at introducing the law to the public. In the first publication the text of the law against domestic violence was printed with 4000 copies in the three languages Kurdish, Arabic & English. The second publication is a guide for Stopping FGM with 3000 copies printed. And the last one is 2000 copies of a calendar designed and carved by the famous Kurdish artist Rostam Aghala. These publications were distributed in the 12 seminars and many other events in the Kurdish region.

In a second step of the project 12 meetings were held in different regions of KRG focusing on the three areas Halabja, Ranya and Garmyan. The aim of these meetings was to make the domestic violence law known and to spread awareness among people. In discussions people shared their thoughts about the law and how they will deal with it. In total 388 people participated in the meeting, 326 women and 62 men.

In the region of Garmyan region, the Director of the department for domestic violence Ms. Lameea and the local NGO-network NBO could be won to participate in organizing four seminars.

This project got huge media interest and during the project six satellite channels, four radios and two newspapers covered the activities.

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Iraq soon bankrupt? February 27, 2014 | 10:49 am

A report issued by the International Center for Development Studies (ICDS) , based in London warned on Thursday from the bankruptcy of Iraq in three years because of the budget deficit, which now threatens the Iraqi oil sector clearly , as the report indicated that the military operations in Anbar cost per day seven million dollars.

According to the report , the deficit exceeded $ 50 billion , Iraq would be at risk of bankruptcy in 2017 . Iraq will be unable to pay the salaries of its employees . It seems that the indicators of bankruptcy is looming , especially that the Iraqi government pays the salaries of its employees , including the salaries of the staff of Kurdistan Region in monthly form, which has allocated 4.5 billion dollars for February and did not send the salaries of next March , because the available amount is not enough but for one-third of the staff of Iraq .


Tunneled Democracy February 8, 2014 | 07:57 pm

Prevailing political and intellectual theories have it that democratic regimes are based on certain cultural, societal, and ethical foundations. Still, the political regime in Kurdistan can be described as a “tunneled” democracy, as it lacks the three most important pillars of any democratic regime: an independent judiciary, professional police and army, and independent and professional media. Some in Kurdistan – and political elites are content with leaving it at that – believe that the available freedoms, the possibility of holding parliamentary and municipal (and, implicitly, “presidential”) elections, and the formation of a government where power is shared among parties is a convincing-enough form of democracy. Others adhere to the outdated notion that a change in political roles is essential to the establishment of a democratic regime.

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Kurdistan’s Political System: Coming Major Controversy February 8, 2014 | 11:03 am

A must read from Mohammad Hussein about the controversy, if Iraqi-Kurdistan should transform into a parliamentary system:

I know it is not easy to build a democratic government just through an appropriate constitution, but the right constitution could be a useful tool for preventing despotic rule. A presidential system could work if there are strong, active political parties, free and independent media, NGOs and active civil societies, but unfortunately these are non-existent in Kurdistan. Kurdistan’s society is really vulnerable to the danger of a strong president due to already “rising authoritarianism, absence of financial transparency and increasingly evident gap between the haves and the have-nots in Kurdish society,” as described by Denise Natali, a specialist in Iraq, regional energy issues and the Kurdish problem (Al-Monitor) (…)

Back to the risks of a presidential system, another factor is the structure of Kurdistan’s political parties. In Kurdistan, all political parties, except the Gorran movement to some extent, are based on a Stalinist model of “centralist democracy,” which means a hierarchy of power from the president to the local committees inside the parties. The structure is not based on a democratic tradition of campaigning and competitions, dialog and real political participation. On the contrary, the parties are just channels to produce charismatic leaders who always expect people’s blind-following. The leaders have proved that they won’t be able to create any hope for building real democracy as much as they are skillful to prompt civil war, stealing from the public budget, and polarizing the societies about some tribal interest and identities.

With this political tradition, it is clear how a strong president could threaten Kurdistan’s hopes for democratic governance. I know it is too naive to think that a parliamentary-elected president could guarantee a democratic government, but parliamentary accountability would make the president’s evolution towards direct dictatorship more difficult.

Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation; Action in Asia is needed February 5, 2014 | 06:01 pm

By HIVOS and WADI; The Hague, Suleimania 5 February, 2014.

On the fourth official International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female genital mutilation (FGM), the practice is far from being eradicated. While the numbers of mutilated girls are decreasing in Africa after decades of concerted efforts, large regions where FGM is practiced are entirely neglected in this worldwide battle. This is particularly true for Asia. The practice is widespread in Indonesia and Malaysia, it exists in Iran, Iraq,  and Jordan. In several countries of the Arabian peninsula FGM is practiced by relevant parts of the population.

These countries need to make an effort to fight FGM among their population. We also call upon Indonesia and Malaysia, where the practice is legally carried out in hospitals, to ban FGM and initiate a strong campaign against it. In some Arab countries and Iran the practice is not legal in hospitals, yet governments shy away from tackling the issue. As a first step reliable studies must be conducted and a campaign initiated. In some countries authorities must stop censuring voices that talk about FGM.

In Europe FGM deserves far more attention. The United Kingdom has seen an immense campaign this last year against the practice common among several migrant communities in Britain. France has taken some action. Yet, little to no campaigning has been seen in other European countries – even though migrant communities known to practice FGM are present in most European countries. It is more than likely that some have kept their tradition and practice FGM in their new homeland – just as has been found out for Britain. FGM can certainly not be viewed as a solely British problem. Governments and politicians all over Europe need to take initiative.

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Community Dialogue: No to FGM … Men’s Session February 5, 2014 | 03:26 pm

WADI conducted a couple of community dialogues about Female Genital Mutilation in Kurdistan. This project was supported and funded by UNICEF.

Last week one of the first discussions with men took place in Kalar. Without the support of men campaigns against FGM are only partly successful. Therefore Wadi is planning to hold many more of these meetings.

Succesfull protest of Women’s Rights group January 26, 2014 | 08:51 pm

For Friday night the NGO network Zhyan group has called to protest in front of the Parliament’s building of Iraqi-Kurdistan in Suleymaniah. With the slogan Start Dealing With Crimes Against Women in Iraqi-Kurdistan they present a list of demands to the Kurdish Parliament and Government.

Around 200 people attended the event and fifty stayed all night long. Dozens of parliamentarians joined for open discussion and the local media broadly reported, for example here.

In front of the Parliament Building

In front of the Parliament Building

More pictures:

Inside the tent the protesters set up

Inside the tent the protesters set up


Falah Murradkhin from WADI reads a statement of Zhyan Group to the media

Falah Muradkhin from WADI reads a statement of Zhyan Group to the media

Teheran and the Iraqi Shia January 17, 2014 | 12:12 am

The contest between Iran’s theocracy and Iraq’s Shiite religious scholars is asymmetrical and highly volatile. Tehran enjoys vast economic and political resources and has a record of cunning and ruthless responses to perceived threats. Ayatollah Sistani and the Najaf hawzah have none of these advantages, but they do have a strong and growing base of popular support inside Iran. Neither side seems eager for a direct confrontation, which would have dangerous and unpredictable consequences for all involved.

It is too early to tell how this contest will end. Perhaps Tehran will neutralize Iraq’s independent religious establishment, buying the Islamic Republic a renewed lease on life until the next crisis comes along. Alternatively, the rebirth of Najaf as a world center of Shiism may deprive Iran’s present rulers of their religious pretensions, paving the way for the end to the regime’s Islamist system. But with close to two million Iranian pilgrims visiting Iraq each year, an amicable divorce between these two rival interpretations of Shiism seems unlikely.

Until one side or the other prevails, the religious dimension will play an important role in Iranian-Iraqi relations. Observers of these affairs should pay close attention to the pilgrimage, which may in fact be the single most important bilateral tie between the two countries. For policymakers, the pilgrimage is an important reminder that, even with all eyes turned on Iran, events in Iraq may continue to play a pivotal role in the region’s future.

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Königsmacher in Teheran January 15, 2014 | 05:57 pm

Der Einfluss des Iran auf die Regierung in Irakisch-Kurdistan wächst weiter. Seit die USA kein Interesse mehr am Irak oder Irakisch-Kurdistan zeigen, übernimmt sukzessive der Iran die Rolle der Schutzmacht. So reisten Vertreter der kurdischen Parteien kürzlich nach Teheran, um sich dort Ratschläge  für die Regierungsbildung zu holen. besonders die PUK steht der iranischen Regierung traditionell sehr nahe.

Upon PUK’s request, Tehran leaders propose for the caretaker PM, Nechirvan Barzani, to form the new government cabinet based on the PUK-KDP Strategic Agreement. Barzani has been also told that Tehran has concerns about the opposition parties’ insistence on the governmental positions in the new cabinet.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan PUK and Kurdistan Democratic Party KDP delegations are on a two-day visit to Iran to meet with Iranian officials on various issues.

According to PUK’s official news sources, the PUK delegation consists of Kosrat Rasul, Barham Salih and Hero Ibrahim. KDP’s delegation is led by Nechirvan Barzani. It is said that Barham Salih first proposed the PUK and KDP’s visit to Iran.

Lvinpress received information revealing that the main aim of the visit is to discuss with Iranian officials various issues such as KRG cabinet formation, internal issues facing PUK, Kurdish-Shia relations and deteriorating situations in Iraq.

After all, the formation of Kurdistan Regional Government KRG cabinet won’t be different from the structure that Iran is supposed to propose.