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  1. Petrofac clinches $100m Iraq contracts Written by Reporter - 26/07/2017 7:05 am Petrofac news Oilfield service firm Petrofac has tied up a contract extension and a new award worth more than $100million in Iraq. Petrofac said it would provide construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two international oil companies (IOCs) in the country. The company has worked in Iraq since 2010. Sign up to our daily newsletter Subscribe TodayPackages from £10 per month Petrofac announced $70million worth of new awards in Iraq in April, securing around 250 jobs. Mani Rajapathy, managing director, engineering and production services east, Petrofac, said: “We’re delighted the IOCs in Iraq continue to choose Petrofac to support their operations. “Iraq is an important market for us and, as evidenced by the number of awards we’ve secured there this year, we’ve consistently proven our delivery and execution capability on behalf of our clients. “As we move forward, our teams will remain focused on ensuring services are delivered in alignment with our clients’ expectations to enable them to maximise value from their oil and gas assets.”
  2. Petrofac announces Iraq contracts worth $100 million Oil services firm struck Oman framework deal in June John Everington July 26, 2017 Updated: July 26, 2017 10:53 AM 1 shares Petrofac operations in Kauther, Oman. The company signed a 10-year framework deal in the country in June. Petrofac Petrofac has announced a new contract and the extension of an existing agreement to provide construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two International Oil Companies (IOCs) in Iraq, with a combined value of more than US100 million. The identity of the companies in question was not revealed. Petrofac, a London-listed oil services firm with operations in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, did not identify the companies it has contracted with. “Iraq is an important market for us and, as evidenced by the number of awards we’ve secured there this year, we’ve consistently proven our delivery and execution capability on behalf of our clients,” said Mani Rajapathy, Petrofac’s managing director for engineering & production services. “As we move forward, our teams will remain focused on ensuring services are delivered in alignment with our clients’ expectations to enable them to maximise value from their oil and gas assets.” Petrofac announced $70m worth of contract awards in April. The company The company last month signed a 10-year framework agreement with Oman’s national oil company, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), for the provision of engineering, procurement and construction management support services. The value of the contract was not disclosed.
  3. Petrofac awarded contracts in Iraq By BFN News | 07:39 AM | Wednesday 26 July, 2017 Petrofac Limited Ord USD0.02 (PFC) Petrofac (PFC), a service provider to the oil and gas production industry, has secured a contract extension and a new award with a combined value of more than $100 million. The contracts are for construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two international oil companies (IOCs) in Iraq. It builds on the $70 million of new awards in Iraq announced in April. Story provided by StockMarketWire.com
  4. Petrofac wins Iraq work worth $100m Wed, 26 July 2017 Article viewed 49 times (ShareCast News) - Oil services group Petrofac on Wednesday said it had won a contract extension and a new award with a combined value of more than $100m for construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two international oil companies in Iraq. The awards build on $70m of new work in Iraq announced in April, giving the group "good visibility of future work in the country" and securing around 250 jobs, Petrofac said in a statement.
  5. Petrofac wins $100 million in contracts in Iraq Published: July 26, 2017 3:20 a.m. ET By MarketWatch LONDON--Oil services firm Petrofac Ltd. (PFC.LN) said Wednesday it has secured a contract extension and a new award with a combined value of more than $100 million for construction management, engineering, commissioning and start-up services for two International Oil Companies in Iraq. Shares at 0715 GMT up 15 pence, or 3.3%, at 467 pence, valuing the company at GBP1.61 billion. -Write to Razak Musah Baba at; Twitter: @Raztweet
  6. Eight reasons to say ‘No’ to Barzani’s referendum initiative News ID: 4041825 - Wed 26 July 2017 - 14:36 Opinion > Op-Ed TEHRAN, Jul. 26 (MNA) – Erbil-based political analyst, Zibar Kardu, highlights that giving way to referendum initiative of Erbil rulers not only will fail to create independent Iraqi Kurdistan but will also lead to ferocious wars. Due to several reasons, the great and glorious nation of Kurds have been bereft of peace and quiet for many years. And whenever proper circumstances arise for restoring tranquility, a myriad of political selfishness and ethnocentrism only aimed at meeting individual or partial interests create a new feeble excuse for forming a new scar on body of the nation thoroughly fed-up with intruders. The point is that the egocentrism and selfishness come under pretext of defending Kurdish people, so that they can attract public opinion and hide their true face behind the beauty of slogans like ‘the Ideal of the Kurds’. The hero nation of Kurds, which has for years endured the wound caused by warmongering criminals have always sought to jeopardized its existence, have stood firmly in the face of difficulties in bid to create gleeful conditions for their children. As such, it proved unacceptable to remain silent in the face of those who are after consolidating their personal interests by putting possessions of a great nation on auction. Every freethinking Kurd will undoubtedly aspire to create a better tomorrow for the nation but the issue Kurdistan independence marks a drama that is abusing this pure and honorable feeling. A show which not only is far away from noble ideals of the Kurdish people, but also is definitely a detriment approach pursued to fulfill interests of a number of power-hungry individuals. In this brief note, important points will be highlighted in order to shed light on the fact that giving way to the referendum prescribed by Erbil rulers will fail to form an independent Iraqi Kurdistan as well as that it will ignite to cruel and murderous conflicts or wars as acknowledged by Masoud Barzani, President of Iraqi Kurdistan. Frist and foremost, presence of Masoud Barzani at the head of the Kurdistan Region has been illegal over the past two years. An official at an illegal position will basically have no right to decide on the future of an enlightened nation. Secondly, according to the Iraqi constitution, the decision to hold any referendum in the autonomous region needs to be approved by the Iraqi Kurdistan Parliament (IKP) and at a time when no such parliament exists, the decision will have no legal basis. Third, one essential component required for formation of a country would be having at least one outstanding advantage or economic backing for its administration. The issue is of particular importance especially to Iraqi Kurdistan, given its geographical location. Although the Kurdistan Region officials previously could have counted on Kirkuk oil wells, today, given the change in the province's security in favor of Sunni Arabs, virtually the economic backbone is no longer entirely available to the Region and could even turn into a milieu of internal conflicts between Kurds and Sunni Arabs. Also, in view of the fact that the United States and Israel, in their macro plot for regional disintegration, are surly seeking to form a Sunni Arab autonomous region, the ultimate outcome would be a source of severe conflicts between Kurds and Arabs which mainly harm the involved parties rather than designers. Moreover, given the religious beliefs of majority of Kurds who are Shafi’I, Sufi or Shias, there will be no guarantee that Laic authorities and politicians of the Kurdistan Region will remain committed to religious demands of the people. Additionally, there are now four main rivals in the Region, Democratic parties, the Patriotic Union, PKK and Goran, who have numerous ethnic and political disagreements. There is also no guarantee that if Region become disintegrated, the Kurdish people will not get involved in years of political clashes. What’s more, four neighboring countries, namely Iran, Turkey, Syria and Iraq, have clearly states their stance on the issue, and even Turkey has clearly warned against military confrontation, an issue that is not unlikely, especially by the Syrian and Iraqi governments. Under these conditions, even if no war is ignited, the possibility exists that the newly-established Kurdistan be in a boycott since it will have no access to free waters or air, sea or land routes. In this regard, the words of Americans and Israelis cannot be a solid backbone as evidenced by poor record of Americans in meeting commitments. One instance pertains to the ongoing situation in southern Sudan. It should be recalled that the United States could do nothing in Iraq and was doomed to leave the country. Therefore, Americans will gain no defense power by merely relying on only a few bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. Finally, the international situation, as a whole, regardless of the green light given by the US and Israel, is against such an agreement as Masoud Barzani’s visit to Europe also yielded no significant achievement. All in all, a referendum on the independence of Kurdistan will cause three major challenges including ‘intra-Kurdish’, ‘ethnic-religious’ and ‘international’ ones which ultimately will not be in our favor of the Kurd nation, and will only exacerbate the present situation.
  7. You already do Chuck! You already do.!
  8. The federal reserve only has control over the 12 reserve banks and not commercial banks. The Fed can not force a private bank to liquidate its assets. Only the judicial branch of government can do that
  9. Abadi warns Kurdistan against proceeding with “illegal” referendum by Mohamed Mostafa Jul 25, 2017, 8:27 pm 84% of Kurdish people support Independence according to a survey. Baghdad ( Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi warned Kurdistan Region’s Government against proceeding with a planned referendum on independence from Iraq, saying it will negatively affect all Iraqis. Speaking during his weekly press briefing in the cabinet, Abai labelled the referendum “unconstitutional and illegal”, adding that his government was “not going to deal with it” given its “negative impacts that will affect everyone”. Kurdistan had slated the non-binding poll for September 25th, and has, ever since, stressed it was not backtracking on the plan. Baghdad regularly argued the move was untimely as the country struggles to drive out Islamic State militants who had taken over large areas of the country since 2014. “The federal government will not partake, support or fund the referendum on the Kurdish region’s independence from Iraq,” Abadi said in a statement last in June. “ Regional powers Turkey and Iran have also voiced opposition to the planned poll. The United Nations has urged Baghdad and Erbil to engage in dialogue on differences related to the referendum. Kurdistan gained autonomous governance based on the 2005 constitution, but is still considered a part of Iraq. The region was created in 1970 based on an agreement with the Iraqi government, ending years of conflicts. Both governments in Iraq and Erbil engaged in political spats over regions recaptured by Kurdish Peshmerga (army) troops from the Islamic State militants since campaigns against the group launched in October.
  10. NRT TV owner lobbies against Kurdistan independence referendum Kurdistan 24 | An hour ago Shaswar Abdulwahid Qadir, the owner and founder of Nalia Media Corporation at the US congress. July 17, 2017. (Photo: Social Media) KurdistanReferendum IndependeceReferendum NRT ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – Shaswar Abdulwahid, a Kurdish businessman and the owner of a media conglomerate that includes NRT television channels, announced Tuesday that he will form a movement against the upcoming Kurdish independence referendum and that he will urge people to vote against it. Abdulwahid explained his plans on Tuesday in an interview with his own television station, NRT. Abdulwahid is close to Nuri al-Maliki, Iraq’s former Prime Minister, whose strongly Shi’ite sectarian policies contributed to the rise of the Islamic State (IS.) At the US insistence, Maliki stepped down in 2014 to become a vice-president of Iraq. Maliki is now in Moscow, where he met Russian President Vladimir Putin and called for greater Russian involvement in Iraq to “balance” US influence in the country. Maliki also has close ties with Tehran. Earlier this year, he hailed Iran as the only country to assist Iraq in fighting IS, while he charged that the US was actually behind the creation of the terrorist group. Abdulwahid also has ties to PAM, a Kurdish media company, based in Sulaimani province. PAM has hired the Washington DC company, Mercury, which describes itself as a “high-stakes public strategy firm” to lobby the US government to oppose the Kurdish move toward independence. PAM Media, which produces advertisements for commercial products and services, is owned by Nalia Media Corporation (NMC), of which Abdulwahid is the owner and founder. NMC also owns NRT television. The campaign against the independence referendum will be run by the Managing Director in Mercury’s Washington DC office, Brian Lanza, who specializes in media strategies and public affair, according to a document submitted to the US Senate and cited by Iraqi Business News. Lanza is a leading Republican strategist. He was previously the communications director for US President Donald Trump’s transition team, as well as deputy communications director for the Trump-Pence presidential campaign. The public affairs firm has been hired to “engage the Executive and Legislative Branches of the Government on foreign relations and policy issues between the US and Iraq/Kurdistan region.” These would include trade, development, and potential US legislation, policy, or regulatory actions “that could impact the US/Iraq relationship,” according to lobbying registration documents filed in June. The Kurdistan Region plans to hold a referendum on independence on September 25 in the Kurdish areas of Iraq. Abdul Wahid’s plans, notwithstanding, it is expected that a strong majority will vote in favor of independence. Indeed, in the past, several NRT presenters have resigned over the channel’s hostility toward Kurdish issues. Most recently, two others, Shawn Harki and Kajin Hassan, publicly announced their resignations to protest NRT’s opposition to the referendum. Mercury is set to organize interviews for NRT television with members of the US Congress and officials from the State Department, as Abdulwahid was in Washington last week to discuss further cooperation with the firm for this campaign. In less than two months, the Kurdish businessman has visited Washington DC twice. He met with members of Congress and gave a presentation, mostly critical of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). Speaking to The Washington Post, Abdulwahid stated his intent to form his own political party and run in the elections, scheduled for November, in a bid to become Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Region. While NMC, through its media branch, NRT television, regularly targets the KRG on corruption, NMC has received roughly US $40 million from the government and large swaths of land for its housing and development projects in Sulaimani. In the past years, shareholders of Chavi Land, a large amusement park in the Kurdistan Region owned by Abdulwahid, have protested the businessman’s failure to pay their dividends. The issue remains unsolved. Former Kurdish Member of Parliament in Baghdad Sirwan Ahmed has previously charged that Maliki was financing NMC and using certain Kurdish media outlets to oppose the Kurdistan Region’s referendum. Kurdish media earlier published an official document from Maliki’s office confirming that Maliki had given US $87 million to Chavi Land, one of the projects owned by Abdulwahid. Sirwan Ahmed also complained that Maliki had openly threatened the Kurdistan Region during his time as premier and now aims to create tension in the region. NMC is often criticized by the people of the Kurdistan Region and Kurdish officials for having an agenda which strongly favors the Iraqi government and Iran over the KRG.
  11. Iraqi PM: Kurdistan’s independence illegal, not constitutional Baxtiyar Goran | 2 hours ago Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi. (Photo: AP) Kurdistan Independence Referendum KRG Iraq ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Prime Minister said on Tuesday that Kurdistan’s independence referendum is not mentioned in the Constitution and will not deal with its results. The Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi in a broadcasted weekly speech expressed his government’s opposition to Kurdistan Region’s independence referendum. Abadi said that there is no article mentioned in the Iraqi Constitution that talks about holding referendum in the Kurdistan Region, warning that the move will have negative effects on both Baghdad and Erbil. Abadi said his government is ready to talk with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) and revealed that a delegation from the Kurdistan Region would visit Baghdad in near future for that purpose. Abadi said that a united Iraq is better for everyone, giving the example of the ‘good coordination’ between Kurdistan’s Peshmerga forces and the Iraqi forces in the fight against the Islamic State (IS). “Going towards that direction [independence] will have a negative effect on Iraq because whatever happens in Kurdistan will affect the rest of Iraq and we want to avoid that,” Abadi said. The Kurdistan Region President in a recent statement said that there are dozens of examples where the Iraqi government did not abide by the Constitution approved by the Iraqi people. He stated that the Constitution clearly says that abidance by the laws is a guarantor of Iraq’s unity.
  12. Washington DC conference to discuss Kurdistan independence referendum Laurie Mylroie | 43 minutes ago The United States Capitol is the home of the United States Congress, and the seat of the legislative branch of the U.S. federal government. (Photo: Wikipedia) KurdistanReferendum Independence Referendum Kurdistan Independence Conference WASHINGTON DC, United States (Kurdistan24) – On Friday, The Washington Times, in partnership with Kurdistan 24, will host a conference in Washington DC to explore the most important issues involved in the upcoming referendum on Kurdish independence. “The Kurdistan Region: Strategic US Ally in a Tough Neighborhood” is the overall theme of the event. As Kurdistan 24’s General Manager, Noreldin Waisy, explained, the conference will shed light on crucial aspects of the campaign for Kurdish independence, including why the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) has decided to hold the referendum now and what it might mean for the US. This will be the first major conference in the US capital on Kurdish independence. In conjunction with the daylong symposium, The Washington Times will publish a 36-page Special Section on Kurdistan, which will expand on the major issues raised during the event. They include the key role that the Peshmerga have played in the fight against the Islamic State (IS), along with a look to the future after IS is defeated. Topics to be discussed include: How can the Kurdistan Region work in cooperation with the US to further peace and stability in this part of the world? How can the positive role that the Kurds have already played be continued, or even expanded? How can the US and KRG work together to ensure that no successor to IS re-emerges in the future? One panel of particular interest is devoted to the independence referendum. What is the purpose of the referendum? How will it be carried out? What will happen afterward? Senior Kurdish figures, including Masrour Barzani, Chancellor of the Kurdistan Region Security Council, and Najmaldin Karim, Governor of Kirkuk, will address those questions. Other sessions will include the safe haven for religious and ethnic minorities that the Kurdistan Region has provided nearly two million people who have fled IS. A fourth session will describe the considerable economic opportunities in a post-IS Kurdistan. The event will be held at the US Congress, and a number of congressmen are slated to speak at it. The conference will bring together Kurdish and American officials, as well as journalists, think-tank experts, and academics, and it will provide opportunities, both formal and informal, for exchanging views. Because the US is a global power, its national security agenda is typically quite crowded. However, these are particularly hectic days, with the start of a new administration, still fleshing out its own policies, an emerging and immediate threat from North Korea, and a heated dispute about Russia. Therefore, it is necessary for institutions like Kurdistan 24 to make a special effort to explain the Kurds’ situation and their perspectives to Americans and facilitate informed discussion in Washington, Waisy explained. Kurdistan 24 will broadcast the conference live and provide extensive coverage on our websites as well. RSVP to the event here.
  13. Sergey Lavrov to Rudaw: Referendum is expression of Kurdish people’s aspirations By Rudaw 20 hours ago . In this exclusive interview with Rudaw, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov says that Russia and the Kurds of Iraq have strong historical ties that go back decades and that Moscow makes sure its ties with Iraqi Kurdistan do not have a negative impact on anyone else, particularly the Iraqi central government. Mr. Lavrov says that two major Russian firms, Gazprom and Rosneft, currently operate in the Kurdistan Region and they are the basis for strong economic and trade relations with Erbil, improved upon during the visit of KRG Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani to Saint Petersburg in May. The Russian Foreign Minister says that Kurds—like all other peoples in the world—have the right to express their aspirations and that the referendum they have decided to hold in September is the means to do so. Meanwhile, he suggests, that that process and its outcome must be implemented peacefully, adding that Moscow is willing to help both Baghdad and Erbil in a way that would respect both sides. On the issue of Syria Mr. Lavrov says that the Astana talks that led to the creation of the first safe zone in southern Syria proved that cooperation between countries such as Turkey, Iran, Russia, US and Jordan could lead to actual peace in parts of the country which could be expanded to all other regions in Syria. He maintains that Russia believes that the best solution lies with the Syrian people themselves, especially between the government and opposition groups that are not listed as terrorist organizations. The draft constitution for Syria proposed by Russia, he argues, guarantees all political, ethnic and religious groups, including the Kurds, their rights in the new Syria and it could be a basis for ending the war in Syria and creating a secular democratic country as stipulated by the UN Security Council. Mr. Lavrov says that Russia and the United States must work together to solve the Syrian crisis and find a way to solve other conflicts around the world. For that, he says, the Americans must end their suspicions and phobia of Russia and instead engage in direct talks as proposed by President Donald Trump during his election campaign. We support our relations with all the political movements of Iraqi Kurdistan and we do that in a way that will not negatively impact our relations with the Iraqi government. And we also promote human and educational ties. Rudaw: Mr. Sergey Lavrov, I’d like to start this interview with a question about the visit of the prime minister of the Kurdistan Region Nechirvan Barzani to Saint Petersburg. In light of his meeting with you and with Mr. Vladimir Putin, how would you define the relations between Russia and Iraqi Kurdistan at this time? Sergey Lavrov: We have with Kurds, with Kurds and Arabs, a historical and good relationship. That relationship has a long history. Just as how in the 40s and 50s of the last century the great son of the Kurds Mustafa Barzani was in our country, today too we have good relations with the Kurds of Iraq. We have had a consulate in Erbil since 2007 and in Moscow there is the representation of the autonomous Kurdish region. We support our relations with all the political movements of Iraqi Kurdistan and we do that in a way that will not negatively impact our relations with the Iraqi government. And we also promote human and educational ties. Annually we give education scholarships to Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan has its own share in those scholarships. And for three and a half years our media groups, RT, is working in Erbil to convey information from there to our people and the people of other countries. In general, our relations are good and beneficial to both sides. Rudaw: So we can say that the visit of Mr. Nechirvan Barzani was a step for a new relationship on a new level between Russia and Iraqi Kurdistan. Sergey Lavrov: You know, I shouldn’t say our relations are new and on a new level. I repeat that our relations are historic and we have been expanding them for years, especially with the head of the government and other officials of the autonomous Kurdish region. That is the continuation of the relationship, which as I said, is in the best interest of the Russian Federation and Iraqi Kurdistan. In that regard the role of the Kurds of the Soviet must also be taken into account who played an important role in building the good relations that we have with the Kurds within the frame of our relations with Iraq. Rudaw: I have heard Mr. Putin mention the Kurds positively in several of his speeches. To what degree is Russia ready to help the Kurds solve their cause in the Middle East and help them achieve their rights? Sergey Lavrov: We undoubtedly have very good relations with the Kurds and I stress that this is historical and we know each other well. It is important for us that the Kurds like all other people of the world achieve their ambitions and legal rights and political goals. If we look at the history of Iraq, especially when in 2003 an illegal war started, when under American leadership foreign forces destroyed that country, what is there now and what is happening will not be easily mended. That certainly did have an impact on Erbil-Baghdad relations. We know that there are efforts now to solve many constitutional issues, especially those about land, budget distribution, resources and oil revenues. Erbil and Baghdad have always tried in various stages to solve those and other questions. They have held talks and reached agreements within political negotiations. I will say it again that the desires and legal goals of the Kurds must be fulfilled like that of all other peoples, and according to the right that they have within the international law and that is tied to the decision which we understand has been made in Erbil to hold a referendum. Our relations are historic and we have been expanding them for years, especially with the head of the government and other officials of the autonomous Kurdish region. Rudaw: What is Russia’s view on Iraqi Kurdistan’s referendum for independence? Sergey Lavrov: As I said earlier, we see the referendum as the expression of the ambitions of the Kurdish people and as far as I know the majority of the population of the Kurdish autonomous region support this referendum. We see that after the final decision on that issue everything else will be considered in terms of the consequences of that move such as political, geopolitics, demography and the economy. Given the fact that the Kurdish question has gotten out of the boundaries of the new Iraq it will have an impact on its neighboring countries. We hope that the Kurdish people express their aspirations through a peaceful mechanism and the implementation of the goals of the referendum is also done peacefully in order to take into account those factors in the region. I’ve mentioned it earlier and it is taking into account the view of Iraq’s neighbors. As far as I am aware the presidency of the autonomous Kurdish region is in contact with the neighboring countries of Iraq in their own capitals. We are ready to help Baghdad and Erbil in a process that would respect both sides. As history has shown about the results of a vote, it never means all the problems and questions would be solved overnight. Once again I would say that that is a very important process and must be taken seriously and slowly within the scope that the Kurdish question is important for the whole region. Rudaw: If after the referendum Iraqi Kurdistan decided to become independent like South Ossetia and Abkhazia and other regions, will Russia still be willing to continue its relations with Iraqi Kurdistan? Sergey Lavrov: You know, I think it is better if we did not comment on hypothetical issues. As I said, we look at the situation inside Iraq and in particular the autonomous Kurdish region. We don’t want to speculate and rather see what happens in practice. You know that in South Ossetia the problem was different. The regime of Saakashvili had completely invaded South Ossetia and there was reliable information that after Ossetia they would attack Abkhazia. So, here the question was about protecting people’s lives and we had no other option. Rudaw: How would you asses economic ties between Russia and Iraqi Kurdistan especially now that the number and type of deals and contracts between Russian companies and Iraqi Kurdistan have increased? Sergey Lavrov: Yes, I’ll remind you that we have mutual interests and we want economic, trade and investment ties between us to grow. We encourage that field, and by that I mean trade and investment with us will not have negative impact on any other party and will not harm our relations with the central government in Baghdad. One of our giant firms has been working for a long time in the economic sphere of Iraqi Kurdistan and that is Gazprom. I believe it is working in two oil fields with its partners. And in February another one of our giant companies, Rosneft signed a contract with its partners in Erbil and at the World Economic Forum in Saint Petersburg several documents were signed as completion of that agreement. In my opinion we are now in a mutual relationship with Iraqi Kurdistan which I believe to have beneficial results for all partners. We see the referendum as the expression of the ambitions of the Kurdish people and as far as I know the majority of the population of the Kurdish autonomous region support this referendum. Rudaw: Let’s now move to the question of Syria. The continuation of the crisis in Syria prolongs crisis in the Middle East. Russia has a vital role in the process to find a solution for Syria. In your view, what development is expected to happen with regards to Syria in a near future? What can Russia do to end the crisis in Syria and combat terrorism in the region? Sergey Lavrov: First and foremost we should be talking about the fact that Syrian parties must and can decide for themselves because the solution of that crisis is in their hands and counts on them. It has been discussed and signed on at the Security Council that only the people of Syria themselves can decide their own future. The international community, foreign players and neighboring countries must do all they can do eliminate the threat of terrorism and create the best atmosphere in which Syrians themselves can reach an agreement on the negotiating table as to how they want to live. There is something that we cannot escape from and it is that we cannot avoid negotiations. In the documents of the Security Council it says that Syria must be a democratic secular country. That is very important as many of the opposition groups who have built themselves on a democratic basis reject that which is important for reassuring that the future Syrian state is a secular state and a kind of state in which all groups among them Islamic and all political groups are reassured of their rights and have their security guaranteed and that all will be able to participate in state institutions. That is the general framework on which all have agreed and within that limited framework a solution could be found to the Syrian crisis. We are working with a number of countries so create that environment and that began with fighting ISIS, al-Nusra Front and their likes which are all known as terrorist organizations in the Security Council. And we also work to protect the ceasefire between the Syrian government and some of the opposition groups, those that have no terrorist characteristics. That is important to make sure any group that qualifies for the ceasefire also becomes a participant in the process. Another one of our works is delivering humanitarian aid to people, people affected by the war and for that we have, with Iran and Turkey, created safe zones in the Astana talks. And in implementing the safe zones we brought the United States and Jordan into the agreement and on July 7, Russia, US and Jordan agreed to create the first safe zone south of the Syrian Arab Republic. In recent days and now the details of that safe zone are being discussed and analyzed, for example the organization that monitors the ceasefire, reassurance about the delivery of aid and about the borders of the safe zone in a way that people can enter and leave the safe zone. It has been discussed and signed on at the Security Council that only the people of Syria themselves can decide their own future. That is a window for a solution which we agreed on in Astana, and it is being implemented now. In my opinion, apart from the safe zone of southern Syria, three other safe zones will be created. That window of solution will organize many things such as protecting the lives of people through the end of the armed conflict and delivery of aid to places that are most in need. Many admit that the Astana talks have been great help to the Geneva talks which had stagnated for nine months and were reactivated January this year. We are ready and we work very actively with Staffan de Mistura and all other participants for a solution. We work with the representatives of the Syrian government and all governments that want to help find a solution. We work with European countries, the United States, all Muslim and regional countries. Certainly, the best effort is for direct talks between Syrian government representatives and the opposition to take place. I mean those who have taken up arms against each other, opposition groups and the Syrian government, they are the most important players in this process and we agree for representatives of the political opposition parties to join the Geneva talks and among those who have migrated and become displaced can defend their country with arms on the condition that it is all within the boundaries of the Syrian state. Rudaw: About the constitution project that Russia had proposed for Syria, what is the latest outcome of it? Sergey Lavrov: The process is just starting, we published it at the time as a sample of the draft constitution, which was our point of view to what we were seeing not as what was being said outside the country or what was being imposed. It meant that if you want, go ahead and we have put together this, and at that time last year few people could talk about the constitution and they each had their own interests in mind if they came to power. Each one of them had their own purpose in finding a solution for the Syrian crisis. That project is an example of a constitution in which everyone will have a role in society. Why is that important? Because some were saying that they will topple Bashar al-Assad then solve all the problems. Those people were not thinking about the country, and were only thinking about reaching power. Some were saying they were not ready to hold any political negotiations unless there was a ceasefire all across Syria. They said that but they were not correct because it was shown that that was not possible. They could at least have asked for a stop to the war on terror. For a long time our partners in America could not differentiate terrorists from the good opposition groups. We could also say that for a long time our partners in America could not differentiate terrorists from the good opposition groups. Now we have been able to do just that in the safe zones and the results could be seen. And those who said that without complete victory over terrorism no solution could be found anywhere in Syria, did not do a good thing and did not help with the Geneva talks. We fully believe that that constitution project reassures everyone in Syria, the groups that I talked about, all religious, non-religious and political groups will feel reassured in the new law, in the important laws drafted for the Syrian government, and when those groups feel they have guarantees it will be, I believe, easier for them to reach an agreement on power-sharing. It will then be easier to make suggestions for government posts and will be easier to maintain the balance and preventing chaos. We stand by the outcome of the latest round of Geneva talks and what de Mistura suggested in terms of four directions. First one is how would Syria be able to keep control in the current stage in a way that benefit could also be derived from the opposition. The second is how to prepare the constitution, third is how to lay the ground work for elections and the fourth is to make sure the war against terrorism continues. I think that development in the Geneva talks is acceptable by all, except the extremist rebel groups. But they could be put outside the political process because they have proven that they are unable to reach agreements. Rudaw: In this process, how does Russia see the rights and obligations of Syria’s Kurds? Sergey Lavrov: As part of and like all the other groups I mentioned we see the Syrian Kurds and that they must be part of the agreements and they must believe that their rights are protected within Syria. For many years we have been working at the UN for all countries to benefit from the cyber world. Rudaw: There is dryness in communication between Russian and American foreign policies. Is there any hope that Russia and the US could find a way to cooperate on solving their disagreements through which they could also solve conflicts elsewhere in the world? Sergey Lavrov: We must and it’s important that we and America find a way to cooperate. If we really and seriously want to have a role on the world stage, I mean Russia and the US, to find a way to help each other to find solutions for all the troubles in different parts of the world, for the issue of preventing banned weapons, finding a solution to problems related to our strategies to create stability. We ourselves must have a role in solving the conflicts. What is happening now between us and America is certainly not good. We are left with many issues from the Obama administration. Those decisions that were made then are now before us like a fire. The Obama administration was in a shock on its way out due to the election results. They wanted to use the time they had left in the White House to do bad things and above all their goal was to deteriorate relations between America and Russia. We understand how difficult it is when someone in Washington wants to think logically to get out of the disease they have contracted from their Russophobia. So many months have passed since the new administration and no one examined this issue, to show at least one proof that Russia had meddled in America’s domestic affairs. Ordinary people is something else, but I never believed that American politicians would get the complex they now have against Russia. When I was working in New York I talked to many of them and I had understood them differently, so what I see now from the Americans is astonishing to me. I believe most of those who act this way towards Russia are acting unnaturally. American politicians themselves know what they do is not good and that somehow they must end this kind of thinking and behavior towards Russia. Unfortunately they put themselves inside a fort which is difficult to get out of later on. Anyway, I must say that that air comes from some people whom no one can help. They themselves must try to get out of it otherwise they will be exhausted from that ailment. Once again I say it that they have not been able to prove that Russia meddled in American internal affairs and there isn’t a single reason for it. What is there in American newspapers and on TV stations is insulting. It is like our expression, excuse me if it is inappropriate, but we call that “finger sucking”. The plan that President Donald Trump and his colleagues announced before the elections for making cooperation with the Russian Federation and our answer to them was the same way for getting cooperation with America. The first meeting between the presidents of both countries took place at the G20 summit in Hamburg on July 7 which came after three telephone calls between both presidents and in that meeting there was an agreement on creating safe zones in southern Syria. We are left with many issues from the Obama administration. Those decisions that were made then are now before us like a fire. That way we proved concretely that we could work together to find solutions and in a way that would be good for all regions and to solve problems around the world. We also agreed with America on finding a way to solve the crisis of Ukraine as had been previously planned and the plan still has energy left in it and we work with it and we are working on forming a joint group to solve any problem that might come up in the field of cyber security. Some congressmen complained to Trump that such an agreement would be superficial and they said that Trump was sitting with the devil at the same table. I think that is a childish view if they are so hesitant about working with Russia and if they think what they do is illegal. I say that all good people must speak directly with the opposite side on any topic that is in doubt. For many years we have been working at the UN for all countries to benefit from the cyber world and for that we have prepared many documents on cyber security. But they are suspicious and claim that we do not want to talk openly and directly on that issue. That’s really difficult. But I hope the American society does not tie the hands of the current administration from talking to Russia. Rudaw: What role is Russia playing in finding a solution for the crisis between Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and others? Sergey Lavrov: We have spoken on that issue and we are in contact with all the parties of that crisis. President Putin has spoken by phone with the King of Saudi Arabia and the presidents of Turkey and Egypt and with the Prince of United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Qatar. I have spoken with my counterparts of the Qatar foreign ministry and I have spoken by telephone with my other counterparts of the member states of the Arab-Russia cooperation council. We have spoken on a presidential level and openly. We want that problem solved on the basis of common good and the fact that solving it would be in the interest of all involved in the process. We support the efforts of the Emir of Kuwait. If within that effort or in any way Russia can offer something good we are ready to do so. We see that other countries too have efforts to solve this crisis. Rex Tillerson was in the region and he held a number of important meetings and I understand that France and the United Kingdom have also expressed readiness to help. We will help with anything that would prevent the situation from getting worse so that that important region of the world does not go towards a long-term turmoil.
  14. Iraqi Kurdistan: Going Forward with Independence Referendum on Sept. 25 By Harout Manougian on July 25, 2017 in Headline, News // 0 Comments // // “There will be no delay. The referendum [on independence] will take place on Sept. 25.” It was a clear message from Bayan Sami Rahman, the representative of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) [of Iraq] to the United States, during a panel discussion at the U.S. House of Representatives co-hosted by the London Center for Policy Research and Soran University. Erbil (Arbil/Hewlêr), the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan (Photo: Myararat83) Earlier this month, U.S. officials had been trying to convince the KRG to postpone the referendum, citing worries about how it may affect Iraq’s 2018 parliamentary election, according to Rudaw, an Iraqi Kurdish media outlet. The announcement of the referendum had also triggered angry reactions from Baghdad, Ankara, and Tehran, who have concerns about what an independent Iraqi Kurdistan might mean for the future of the region. Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who was also one of the panelists at the event, expressed his unreserved support for an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. Last year, he brought forward a bill in Congress to authorize shipments of arms directly to the KRG, without coordinating with Iraq’s federal government in Baghdad—the bill did not pass under the Obama administration. He recognized the role of the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in the war against ISIS and expressed the need to align Iraqi Kurdistan directly with the United States instead of allowing it to be dominated by “Islamist regimes in Turkey or Iran.” Bayan Sami Rahman is the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Representative to the U.S. (Photo: ANCA) Another panelist, retired Brigadier General Ernie Audino, called for the establishment of a permanent large-scale U.S. military base in Iraqi Kurdistan. A London Center Senior Fellow and a Senior Advisor to the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria, he highlighted the KRG’s resistance to Islamic jihadism and described Erbil as “an island of decency and humanity floating to the top, like cream.” Dr. Kamal Kolo, a Christian native of Kurdistan, stated that the KRG had spoken in favor of an autonomous area for Christian minorities within an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. He used the flow of Chaldean and Assyrian refugees into Iraqi Kurdistan as evidence that they felt safe under the jurisdiction of the KRG. He expressed that it was now up to those Christian minorities to begin negotiations with the KRG on what their status in an independent Kurdistan would look like. (L to R) Congressman Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) and Brig. Gen. Ernest Audino (left) spoke out strongly in favor of an independent Iraqi Kurdistan. (Photo: ANCA) Professor Walid Phares, an adviser to Donald Trump during his presidential campaign, in his remarks, speculated that American opposition to the referendum could be overcome if the following four conditions are met: first, the vote is well-organized and conducted without irregularities; second, that minorities are “well-represented” and do not raise objections; third, that the KRG is subsequently able to successfully conclude negotiations with Baghdad; and, finally, that an independent Iraqi Kurdistan does not encourage separatism in other countries. All the panelists agreed that the referendum would serve only as an initial step, providing the KRG with the mandate to enter into negotiations with Baghdad towards a final settlement. Eli Gold, cofounder of the conservative London Center for Policy Research and its Senior Vice-President, concluded with the thought that, in Kurdistan, it is known that foreign governments cannot grant them independence; only they can grant it to themselves.
  15. World US Congressman sends message of hope to Kurds, supports independence Karzan Sulaivany | An hour ago United States Congressman Trent Franks during an interview with Kurdistan 24. (Photo: Kurdistan 24) United States US Congress Washington Kurdistan Independence Referendum ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan 24) – A United States Congressman recently pledged his support for the people of the Kurdistan Region and their upcoming independence referendum. In a recent interview with Kurdistan 24, Congressman Trent Franks highlighted his support for Kurds and their fight against the Islamic State (IS) on behalf of humanity. “I have supported the Kurds for so long because they have supported the cause of human freedom,” he said. The Congressman expressed his gratitude to the Kurds and said he backed their upcoming referendum scheduled for Sep. 25, 2017. “I am grateful to all [Kurds],” Franks told Kurdistan 24. “I support your referendum to become a sovereign state.” “I hope with all of my heart that you will continue to make it easy for people like me to support the Kurds — for all kinds of good reasons,” he continued. The US official pointed to the religious tolerance and inclusiveness in the Kurdistan Region and the Kurds’ commitment to protecting the values of minorities. “Be the independent people that is committed to protecting all individuals,” he said. “You’ve shown great courage in protecting Yezidis and Christians,” Franks added. “Please stand for their rights to be free and to hold to their own religious freedom.” The Congressman stressed the new US administration under President Donald Trump “wants very much to support” Kurds. “It’s a different administration in America now, and I think the Kurds can have a closer relationship with America than ever,” Franks concluded. A member of the Republican Party, Franks represents Arizona’s eighth congressional district and has been serving in Congress since 2003.